Robotic Vacuum Icon The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners 2020 – Reviews & Comparison

updated: July 23, 2020
Robotic Vacuum at work

Browse our reviews to find the best robot vacuum that matches your flooring and lifestyle. The best models are quiet and go about their business with hardly any help needed from you. They’re designed to fit your budget, with as many or as few automatic features as you want. They’ll thoroughly clean your specific floor type, whether you have hardwood floors or carpet.

Are robot vacuums worth buying?

Some models can clean just as well as ordinary vacuum and help you with routine cleaning tasks.

It really depends on how much you love manual vacuuming. When they first came on the market, robot vacuums were very costly and a little primitive when compared to the smart tech features you can find on today’s models. While they’re still more expensive on average than regular vacuums, some models can clean just as well as your upright or canister vacuum.

Plus, they’re compact, with low profiles that can easily glide under furniture. And they have tons of automated features that make floor cleaning nearly hands-free.

Which robotic vacuum cleaners are best for pet hair?

Most models could handle pet hair, especially on hard floors.

Most of the robot vacuums we’ve reviewed do a fair job of cleaning up long pet hair, especially on hard floors.

However, if you want a high performer with good suction for carpet, opt for models such as the iRobot Roomba s9+ or Neato Robotics D7, which can handle this task much better than cheaper models.

 

For hands-free cleaning, nothing beats an automatic vacuum

Depending on the model, some robot vacuums come with sensors that allow room mapping for more efficient cleaning. They can return automatically to their charging docks when their batteries are low. Most have sensors that keep them from falling down stairs and can be programmed to stay out of certain areas. Those with smartphone apps often have the ability to set virtual barriers and specific zones or rooms.

Stephen A. Hancock - Cleaning Expert
If you want to save money, keep in mind there are robot mops that don’t have any suction. As a dry mop, they do a decent job of picking up pet hair, while their wet modes can clean up pet stains and pawprints.
Robotics Expert

They can be scheduled to run while you’re asleep or at work. Many are also equipped with Wi-Fi so you can control and monitor them with a mobile app. The only hands-on work you have to do is emptying the dustbin. Just pop it out and empty into the garbage can. Replace, and it’s ready to roll out again at your command.

Of course, now there are self-emptying robot vacuums on the market such as the Roomba s9+ and i7+, so that’s yet another task you don’t have to worry about.

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Best Robotic Vacuums – 2020 Reviews & Comparison


1Smartest AI Vacuum Robot
Intelligent ReactiveAI robot with precision navigation and long-lasting battery.

Roborock S6 MaxV Robot Mop and Vacuum can detect small obstacles using its twin camera’s ReactiveAI technology. The three-hour battery life of this device sets it apart from other vacuum robots in its category. The Roborock S6 comes with a moping water tank of 297 ml capacity, and as a vacuum, it generates a Hyper Suction Force of 2500 pa. Not only that, but the navigation, routing, and mapping capabilities of this device are top-quality.

ProsThe Good

High-Precision LiDar Navigation allows the Roborock S6 MaxV to precisely map a cleaning area for future operations. It features two cameras that provide this device true vision for efficiently detecting and avoiding any obstacles in its path. The Robot offers 2500 Pa of suction capabilities, which is 25% higher than the previous model and can be easily controlled via voice or app commands. The three-hour battery time of this vacuum robot also provides it an edge over other machines in its category.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

Firmware updates are essential for any device, and the same is true for the Roborock S6 MaxV. That said, these updates can be a little time-consuming and bothersome until configured correctly. Another downside some users have experienced is issues with the main brush getting stuck, though this issue seem fairly uncommon. However, others have noted the S6 MaxV has trouble with darker color carpets, so be cautious if all your floors are dark.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers find this robot vacuum to be more technologically advanced and efficient when compared to other big names in the market. The mapping capabilities of this device are fast and to the point. Others love how the ReactiveAI technology allows the S6 MaxV to operate smoothly and avoid all obstacles. Many noted how good it was at building an internal model of the house without needing to be babysat.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum and Mop
    Roborock S6
    Price: High

    The Roborock S6 is an upgrade from Roborock’s popular S5 model. This design packs in some powerful smart tech improvements and performance. It’s quite similar to the powerful S6 MaxV, only lacking some of the power and functionality, such as less suction and less wattage. Aesthetically, it’s still the same barebones white, black, or rose gold and the same dimensions. It comes with a compact charging dock, extra filters, brush cleaning tool, 5 disposable and 2 reusable mop cloths, and a brush cleaning tool. Read more >

  • Roborock S5 Robot Vacuum and Mop
    Roborock S5
    Price: High

    The Roborock S5 is cheaper and more basic than the S6, but still a worthy competitor for higher-priced brands. It acts as both a robot mop and vacuum, with 4 vacuum modes plus a versatile app with mapping that includes cleaning zones and virtual barriers. It can save up to 3 floor plans. The carpet boost function automatically adjusts suction for different flooring types. Unlike the S6, it doesn’t have Alexa or Google voice control, nor can you select individual rooms and zones. Read more >

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2Most Advanced Technology
Top of the line technology for hands-off, thorough performance

iRobot’s newest Roomba is quickly becoming a fan favorite. With several design upgrades, self-emptying bin, and its ability to pair up with a robot mop, floor cleaning has never been this automated. Unfortunately, it comes with a big price tag.

The s9 is 3.5 inches high, 12.5 inches wide, has a run time of up to 120 minutes, and produces 65 – 68 dB of noise. It has a 1-year limited warranty.

ProsThe Good

The unique D-shape and corner brushes allow the s9 to clean corners better than any Roomba has before. A HEPA-style filter and fully sealed dustbin keep allergens contained. Unlike previous models, the s9 doesn’t avoid dark flooring or rugs. More suction power and better brush rollers help it deep clean even thick carpets.

The s9 also pairs up with the Braava Jet m6 robot mop. Control via iHOME app, or with voice commands through Alexa or Google Assistant.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

It’s expensive, so it won’t fit the average homeowner’s budget. There’s no carry handle for easy transport to other rooms or floor levels. It won’t work well for those who aren’t tech-savvy or who don’t have good WiFi.

The corner brushes wear out quickly, especially on thicker carpet. It’s also loud, especially when at the Clean Base while emptying. Maps cannot be shared between older versions or with the Braava Jet m6 mop.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love the self-emptying feature. They also love the improved suction and better carpet cleaning. Pet owners were impressed with this machine for how much hair it picked up without getting clogged and without them having to empty the bin themselves.

Those who bought the first round of s9 robots had more issues with software bugs. Several complained the corner brushes wore out quickly. Many felt it took too long for the s9 to learn floor plans.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • iRobot Roomba s9+ and Braava m6 combo
    iRobot Roomba s9+ and Braava M6 combo
    Price: High

    Via the iRobot app and a new feature called Imprint Link Technology, the Roomba s9 and Braava Jet m6 work in sequence. Once the vacuum is done and back on the dock, it sends a signal to the mop, which then sets out and cleans the freshly swept hard floors.

    The s9 is self-emptying and nearly hands-free, while the m6 is the most advanced robot mop on the market. Both robots save you time with top notch navigation that lets them cover a lot of ground on one charge. Read more >

  • iRobot Roomba i7+
    iRobot Roomba i7+
    Price: High

    The Roomba i7+ is the first robot vacuum that can empty its own dustbin. With a battery run time of up to 90 minutes, the i7 covers a lot of ground while picking up a ton of hair and other debris that can clog up other vacuums.

    With Imprint Smart Mapping, the i7 learns your floor plan with just 2-3 cycles, seamlessly avoiding furniture and other obstacles. The iHOME app gives you an infinite array of control possibilities from scheduling times, choosing rooms, and more.

    Find out more with our detailed review of the iRobot Roomba i7+ >

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3Best All-Around Performance
An average-priced Roomba with good performance on a variety of floors

A more budget-friendly alternative to the higher-priced Roombas, the 960 tops our list as an all-around good robot vacuum. It’s average in price for the Roomba brand and is 3.6 inches high with a battery runtime of 70-75 minutes.

This model has a smartphone app (iRobot HOME) as well as Google and Alexa voice controls. It delivers 5X the suction power compared to earlier Roomba models.

ProsThe Good

This model has a camera for navigation that keeps it from banging into furniture and other obstacles. It doesn’t get confused when moving onto area rugs or from one type of floor to another. Dual multi-surface rubber brushes flex easily to stay in contact with all flooring types.

A HEPA-style filter captures 99% of allergens up to 10 microns in diameter. It can be set to make two passes to catch any dirt it missed the first time, plus it alerts you when the dustbin is full.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

The battery has a run-time of 70 – 75 minutes, which isn’t as long as some models. It can get stuck under low furniture. You can’t steer it with the mobile app, either. There’s no carpet boost mode for increased suction on carpet and rugs.

It may not be able to find its charging station. If a room or a floor is too dark, it may not be able to navigate well, which makes it a challenge to operate overnight.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Many customers were happy with how quiet this model is. They’re amazed with how much dirt and debris it can pick up in a cycle. Reviews were mixed with how well it picked up pet hair – it did much better on hard floors.

Customers didn’t like that it wouldn’t run well on dark or black carpet since the color messes with the cliff sensors. Several customers didn’t like having to empty the dustbin so often. Customer service is hit or miss.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • iRobot Roomba 690
    iRobot Roomba 690
    Price: Average

    Another budget-friendly model, the 690 has very similar features to the 630, except that it can be controlled remotely via the iHome app and with Google and Alexa voice commands. It has the same dirt detect sensors, which will send it back over extra messy areas when needed. It doesn’t have a HEPA filter, but it is quieter than the 960 and 980.

    Navigation is basic, with sensors but no mapping, so cleaning patterns are random. It shares some of the same challenges as the 960 with dark flooring triggering the cliff sensors and not being able to find its docking station.

  • iRobot Roomba 980
    iRobot Roomba 980
    Price: High

    This model is a step above the 960. However, it’s cleaning settings are more customizable, and it has a longer battery life of up to 120 minutes (compared to 75 minutes on the 960). Like the 960, it has Google & Alexa voice control and will automatically go back to the charging dock and then resume cleaning until the job is complete.

    The 3-stage cleaning system has carpet boost for up to 10x the suction power on carpets and rugs (compared to 5x on the 960). Dirt detect sensors help it concentrate on high-traffic areas to ensure they get extra cleaning.

  • iRobot Roomba 630
    iRobot Roomba 630
    Price: Average

    This is a budget-friendly Roomba at around half the price of the 960 with more basic features than the upscale models. It has on-board scheduling rather than remote scheduling like the 960 or 980. Navigation isn’t as advanced with iAdapt rather than iAdapt 2.0 like the others.

    It has the same dirt detect sensors and 3-stage cleaning with counter-rotating brushes that do a good job on most floor types. It makes multiple passes and is operated by simply pressing the “clean” button. It doesn’t have a HEPA filter, nor does it operate with voice commands. Battery run time is relatively short, at about 60 minutes.

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4Best Quiet Robot Vacuum
A sleek, no-frills vacuum that’s great for maintenance cleaning

This is a very budget-friendly robot vacuum, one of the cheapest offered by Eufy and is a slimmed-down version of the original RoboVac 11. This super quiet machine (55dB) is great for your general maintenance cleaning and is best on hard floors to low-pile carpet.

It’s 2.85 inches high, with a battery run time of 100 minutes, a 0.6L dustbin, and 1300Pa of suction power. It lacks smart features, but it’s a great basic machine.

ProsThe Good

The S in the 11S stands for “slim”. It has a very low profile compared to others. The black, tempered-glass top gives it a sleek look. Setup time is quick, with no sensors and mapping time needed. Just set up the charging station and press the start button. You can set it to clean on a schedule.

It has extra modes like heavy duty spot cleaning and edge cleaning. BoostIQ automatically increases suction on areas when needed.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

For tech lovers, you’ll probably be disappointed in the controls. For one, there are no app or voice controls. There IS a remote control, which might appeal to the technophobes. The random cleaning pattern can cause an inefficient performance if it has to dodge a lot of obstacles.

It’s not great with pet hair, which often gets caught in the brushes and has to be cleaned out. You also need a lot of free space for the charging dock.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love the low profile that easily allows the 11S to clean under beds, furniture, and other areas that uprights can’t reach easily. Those who like the no-frills controls are happy with the simple operation.

However, several didn’t like having to rely on the remote control for scheduling nor did they like that it didn’t pick up pet hair very well. The vacuum getting stuck in random spots was another common complaint.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S MAX
    eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S MAX
    Price: Average

    This upgraded version of the 11S boosts suction power from 1300 to 2000 Pa, making it better for cleaning carpets. Increased power means this robot will be a little louder around ~60 – 65 dB. The dustbin’s wider wind tunnel and inclined filter help it hold more debris than the 11S. The 11S Max has the same slim profile as the 11S: 12.8” W x 12.8” L x 2.85” H and the same simple operation with no room mapping and no app control.

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5Best for Pet Hair
Smart home integration and intelligent mapping eliminates pet hair

This little bot eschews the usual circular shape for a D shape with one straight side. This innovation allows it to work into corners better than other models. It’s 3.9 inches high, including the height of the turret where the sensors are housed and has a 0.7L dustbin. Technophiles will love the smart home integration and advanced mapping/navigation features. Battery life is up to 120 minutes. It’s great for pet hair on hard floors and low pile.

ProsThe Good

Includes magnetic divider strips that you can cut up to establish no-go zones. But you can also set up no-go zones on the virtual map in the app. With this feature, you can basically create a map for the bot that’s much more versatile than the strips.

Not only does this vacuum work with Alexa and Google Home, but also IFTTT, which other vacuums haven’t implemented yet. Plus, the roller brush is large, and the vacuum works fast.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

This thing isn’t cheap. It’s similar to the Roomba 900 series in price. It may take a few times to accurately map cleaning areas. If the sensors get dirty, obstacle avoidance could malfunction, letting it run into walls and furniture. It’s also rather loud at up to 67 dB.

Connectivity can be a challenge, with the bot often losing floor plans, requiring remapping of the space. The bin is pretty small if you have a lot of pet hair, often requiring emptying during cycles.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers really loved the versatility of setting no-go zones to keep the bot out of certain rooms or areas that housed power and charging cords. Many pet owners were happy with its performance for hair. Some suggested using the “gentle navigation” mode to prevent damage to walls and other items should the sensors fail. A few noted a design flaw that required repairs – fur can get sucked into a gap between the brush and housing.

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6Germ & Allergen Destroyer
Pet hair destroyer that traps allergens and kills germs

The bObsweep PetHair Plus hybrid vacuum/mop comes in 4 colorful shades (champagne, charcoal, cobalt, and rouge). Though it hasn’t got much in the way of smart tech, this robot has several unique features and is designed specifically for homes with pets. It both vacuums and mops while tackling allergens and germs. A US-based customer service team and 2-year warranty make this a safe investment.

Dimensions: 13.8” W x 13.8” L x 4.2” H. Weight: 8 pounds. Warranty: 2-year.

ProsThe Good

With 4X Boosted TurboLift suction, this guy can tackle pet hair like a boss. An 1100 mL dustbin is 3X larger than those of the average robot vacuum. A dual-layer filter and UV-C light are effective in trapping pet dander and killing germs.

It comes with a blOck Plus, which is a box-like accessory that creates up to 2 virtual barriers. The FullCommand remote lets you navigate your robot and set up weekly cleaning schedules. A 2-year warranty is backed with excellent customer service.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

Setup of this unit is overly complicated. You have screw in the side brush, then sync the dock, remote, and virtual wall block. Batteries are NOT included. There is no WiFi or app connectivity, nor any water tank. You have to wet the mop pad yourself.

The average battery runtime of 65 minutes is short compared to other models, even those in the bObsweep lineup. It’s also loud and may too tall to fit under low-profile furniture and toe kicks. For homes with mixed floor types, it can struggle with transitions.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

People are VERY happy with the customer service. They were responsive to all issues, often offering full replacements or refunds. Customers love the large dustbin. Pet owners are satisfied with how much hair this thing can pick up.

Common complaints involved the bot getting stuck under furniture or on carpet. A few said it also struggled moving from light to dark floors or rugs. Some users thought it was too loud. Others didn’t like the random pattern and lack of smart features.

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7Best Smart Tech for the Money
Impressive smart tech features for a fraction of the cost

This affordable robot vacuum has a lot of great features for the price. It includes some advanced smart tech that is usually seen in higher-priced models, such as app and voice control. It performs well, with cleaning power from 500 – 1000 Pa, depending on which mode you use.

Battery runtime is up to 120 minutes. It’s 3.3 inches tall, 13.9 inches wide, has a 300 ML (0.3L) dustbin, and is fairly quiet at 67-70 dB.

ProsThe Good

The nice thing about this one is that it’ll be a hit with both technophiles and technophobes. You can control it with a manual remote control, with a mobile app, or Alexa voice commands. There are multiple cleaning modes such as spot cleaning, edge cleaning, and single room.

Anti-collision and drop sensors keep it from damaging furniture or falling down the stairs. It’s also quiet enough to run overnight.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

With a rather basic plastic cover, it’s not an eye-catcher, so if you’re looking for style, you won’t find that here. It can get stuck in cluttered areas, and connectivity with your mobile device can be buggy.

With all the cleaning modes, it may take a while to find which ones work best for your needs. It could also get stuck under low clearance furniture at times. Finally, the only smart home system it works with is Alexa.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

This is a great maintenance cleaner and won’t totally replace a good upright vacuuming, but some customers say they only use the upright once a month now. Several people run it overnight since it is not too loud.

One common complaint was the small dustbin and having to empty it so often, along with cleaning out the brush roller. A few customers said it tripped the cliff sensors on dark floors and rugs.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • ECOVACS DEEBOT 711
    ECOVACS DEEBOT 711
    Price: Average

    This model would make a good upgrade to the N79S. It looks a little sleeker than the N79S. Its battery life is shorter at only 110 minutes run time per cycle, but it has better room mapping features to keep it from going over the same area twice (unless you tell it otherwise). This ensures a quicker, more efficient cleaning.

    This model works with a mobile app, as well as both Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. It’s the same size as the N79S. Noise level is also the same at about 64 dB. It uses 4 cleaning modes: edge, spot, auto and max (1000 Pa).

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8Robot Vacuum and Mop
Old school but affordable and gets the job done

Falling into the budget robot arena is this robot vac and mop hybrid from iLife. The V8s is a simple machine with very little in terms of smart tech, but for those who like simplicity or for bot beginners, this may be a great option. It’s a better vacuum than mop with several modes and scheduling features and up to 100 minutes of run time on one charge.

Dimensions: 13” W x 13” L x 3.2” H. Weight: 5.9 pounds. Warranty: 1-year.

ProsThe Good

User-friendly is the motto for this robot vac / mop. Those new to robots and those who aren’t tech-savvy will appreciate not having to rely on a smartphone app. One big plus is the scheduling feature. It automatically re-docks and runs up to 100 minutes on one charge.

There’s a generous dustbin, 6 cleaning modes, and a remote control. To mop, simply pop out the dustbin and replace with the water tank. iDropping technology controls the water flow so floors don’t get too wet.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

While the scheduling feature is nice, setting it up is akin to old-school flip phone texting with repetitive button pushing. It’s not intuitive, either, so you’ll likely need the user manual to guide the process. It’s also rather loud compared to other models (67 dB in max mode).

Navigation is random, with no map storage. It’s not good at discerning hard floors from low pile rugs and carpeting, so it may get those wet. Mopping performance is very light-duty, with not enough friction to handle stuck-on dirt or scuff marks.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Older customers and those with back problems found this to be a great alternative to using their upright vacuums so often. They also liked that it had good obstacle avoidance and didn’t get stuck as often as other models.

Some customers with heavy-shedding pets found that the suction nozzle easily clogged with hair which inhibited performance. Some wished it had less of a random pattern and better cleaning coverage. A few users said it got tangled in power cords.

Take a Look At These Alternative Models:
  • ILIFE V5s Pro Robot Vacuum and Mop
    ILIFE V5s Pro
    Price: Low

    The ILIFE V5sPro is very budget-friendly with a battery run time of up to 120 minutes. It is smaller and lighter than the V8s at 11.8” in diameter, 3” high, and 4.5 pounds. It comes with a remote control like the V8s and features iDropping technology for efficient water dispersal. Scheduling for vacuuming isn’t quite as advanced in this model. You can only schedule time of day, whereas the V8s allows for specific days and times. Read more >

  • ILIFE A4s Robot Vacuum
    ILIFE A4s
    Price: Low

    The ILIFE A4s is a budget-priced, single-function vacuum with no mopping feature like the V8s. It has a slim profile of 12.2 inches in diameter and 3 inches in height. Like the V8s, it comes with a remote control, which is the only way to schedule cleaning times, steer, or choose cleaning modes. It has random navigation with no WiFi necessary and runs up to 140 minutes in one charge. The A4s has 4 cleaning modes and is best on hard floors and low pile.

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9Best for Small Homes
Simple operation for those who don’t need extra features

Bissell is synonymous with floor cleaning, so it’s no surprise they have some robotic vacuums on the market. This model works well on hard floors, area rugs, and low pile carpet. It’s not overly blessed with smart features, however. It can be operated with a manual remote control which you can use to schedule cleanings too. Battery run time is up to 100 minutes.

Dimensions: 12.8” W x 12.8” L x 3.5” H; Weight 4 pounds; Warranty: 1-year

ProsThe Good

This model has a simple and somewhat futuristic look about it. Technophobes will appreciate the simplicity of operation. The manual remote control allows you to create custom schedules and activate various cleaning modes. It automatically adjusts suction when moving to a different type of floor.

It’s good for small homes and apartments with mostly bare floors or low pile carpet. It cleans well in corners and against walls with the side sweeper brushes.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

It has no mobile app or smart home voice control. It’s not great with anything thicker than an area rug. The 100-minute runtime means it’ll need a lot of recharging for a larger home. It doesn’t store mapping data, so it has to start the cycle over each time it leaves the dock instead of remembering where its been.

It has no obstacle detection and bumps into things often. Since cleaning patterns are random, it may not finish a room before recharging.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers with small homes such as studio apartments are happy with this vacuum. They feel it’s a good value for their money to clean a small space. Many pet owners said it did a good job with pet hair. They like that you can direct the vacuum with the remote and schedule cleaning times.

Some customers weren’t happy about the lack of mobile app or voice controls. Several weren’t happy with the relatively short battery life.

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10Robot Vacuum
Simple, quiet, and affordable with a super slim profile

Another of the more affordable, simplistic robot vacs, the Bagotte B600 is a super thin design meant to get easily under furniture and cabinets. With 1600 Pa suction and 100 minutes of battery life, it’s ideal for hard floors and low pile. While it’s not loaded with smart tech, it’s simple enough for pretty much anyone to operate.

Dimensions: 12.4” W x 12.4” L x 2.7” H. Weight: 6 pounds. Warranty: 1-year.

ProsThe Good

Quiet! This little vac runs from less than 40 dB to ~55 dB. It has 6 cleaning modes: auto, scheduling, edge, spot, max, and single room. The automatic mode has 4 cleaning routes as well. It automatically returns to the dock when the battery is low or a cycle is complete.

The short profile allows this vacuum to reach under low-profile furniture and cabinet toe kicks. It comes with a remote control to steer, choose cleaning modes, and schedule cleanings.

ConsThe Not-So-Good

Entry level Roombas are not that much more expensive and have more smart tech features. There is no WiFi, smartphone app control, or smart home integration in the B600. It does not create or store floor plans.

Navigation is mostly random, especially in auto mode, so some spots could be missed. There’s no display to see battery life or cleaning mode on the machine. Dark flooring can trip up the cliff sensors and stall the machine.

Customer OpinionWhat Customers Say

Customers love how quiet this robot vac is and that it can clean under beds and other hard to reach areas. It’s been good at picking up big debris like cat litter. Many people let it run while they’re asleep. Customer service has been very responsive to any issues.

Some customers have reported that the vac sometimes gets stuck spinning in a circle. Several other quality control issues were noted, including false errors about the bin being full, etc.

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What makes a good robot vacuum

When shopping for your ideal robot vacuum, there are several things to look for. First of all, what’s your budget? Typically, robot vacuums cost less than $200 to over $1,000.

There are many models of robotic vacuums in different price ranges.
You could choose the good model in every budget.

That’s a big range, and within those prices, features can differ drastically. Sometimes, you may be paying more for a brand name than actual beneficial features. So don’t rule out lesser known brands that might have all the features you want for less cost.

Beyond price, there are other things to consider

The best robot vacs have advanced navigation

The most basic models will move in random patterns.

The most basic robot vacs will move in random patterns. They’ll simply move until they hit an object or wall, turn, and go again until they hit the next object.

If you run the vac long enough, it’s more likely to do a thorough job, but this means it can take a lot longer to clean a big or cluttered room than a vacuum that can make a virtual map and plan an efficient cleaning path. This means more time and energy spent on recharging the battery.

Larger homes require more advanced navigation.

If you have a large home with a lot of furniture and other obstacles, you’ll want more advanced navigation. Look for features such as room mapping, virtual barriers, auto-adjust suction, and obstacle avoidance.

But, keep in mind that efficient, high-tech mapping features may restrict the vacuum to a single pass over each area. Therefore, it may not have the suction power to provide a thorough clean.

So don’t write off the random pattern bots that will traverse over the same area multiple times. Or look for vacuums that come with a manual remote control or a spot cleaning mode so you can direct it to concentrate on certain areas that need extra TLC.

They have versatile operation

Some models could be controlled by home integration systems like Alexa and Google Assistant.

Many robot vacs have several ways to operate them. Those dependent on one method, like a remote control or smartphone apps, can be risky. Remote controls can be lost. WiFi can go down. It’s a safer bet to opt for those with several methods of operation. These include buttons on the vacuum itself, remote control, smartphone app, and voice control with home integration systems like Alexa and Google Assistant.

That way, if you lose the remote or forgot to pay your internet bill, you can still run your robot vacuum.

They don’t get stuck

Robotic vacuums sometimes can’t navigate out of tight corners when they’re surrounded by a lot of furniture legs.

One of the most common complaints with robot vacs is that they get stuck somewhere along their cycle. They can get stuck from getting tangled in wires, socks, rug fringes, and other objects. They sometimes can’t navigate out of tight corners when they’re surrounded by a lot of furniture legs.

Dark flooring and rugs can trip the drop sensors on some vacs, making them think your black rug is a cliff, so they won’t go over it. Taller thresholds can also be a problem if the bot can’t climb over them. Some have trouble finding their charging dock, so the battery may die, leaving them in the middle of the room.

Taller thresholds can also be a problem for the robot vac.

Many things affect how well a bot can deal with these obstacles, such as the type of sensors and brushes. Any robot vac can have a tendency to get stuck, even the more expensive ones.

It all depends on the environment its working in vs. the design of the vacuum. A small, uncluttered room with solid wood flooring, for instance, won’t pose much of a navigation challenge for any vac.

They pick up obvious debris

Robot vacs (right now, at least) don’t usually match uprights in their ability to suck up fine particles. This is why they work best on hardwood floors, vinyl, laminate, and low-pile carpeting and not so much on shag. It’s also why they should be thought of more as a maintenance floor cleaner to be used between vacuuming sessions with an upright.

Robot vacuum should have the power to suck up most visible debris.

But, a robot vacuum should have the power to suck up most visible debris, while leaving your floor feeling clean when you walk on it. They should have a good brush roller with at least one side brush for effective cleaning.

If you have a wide variety of flooring types you want your robot vac to clean, look for models that have auto-adjusting suction power or those that let you choose between several cleaning modes. This will give you a lot more control over debris removal.

Other things to consider

    The quieter a robot vac is, the more you’ll be able to tolerate it running.
  • Noise level – The quieter a robot vac is, the more you’ll be able to tolerate it running while you’re watching TV or even while you sleep. Vacuums such as the Eufy 11S and the Bagotte BG600 that run at around 55 dB (decibels) are considered very quiet. Those that run at 65 – 70+ dB, while still quieter than a normal vacuum, will be hard to sleep through.
  • Height – The shorter a robot vac is, the more it can get under low profile furniture and under cabinets. Bots such as the Eufy Robovac 11S and iLife A4S that are 3 inches tall or less are considered low profile. Keep this in mind if you need more under-furniture cleaning.
  • Some models offer either virtual or physical barrier markers.
  • Barriers – Some robot vacs offer either virtual or physical barrier markers. Some offer both. Physical barriers come in the form of magnetic streps that you lay across areas you want the vac to avoid. Virtual barriers can be set within the vac’s mobile app. If you have a lot of no-go zones where you can’t just shut a door, this feature will come in handy. For example: pet food/water dishes, media hubs with several charging & power cables, play areas littered with several small toys.
  • Wifi connectivity – Adding your bot to your home wifi network lets you control it via mobile app or through voice commands via smart home integration with Alexa, Google, etc. This allows you to operate the machine when you’re away from home. From most apps, you can set cleaning schedules, change cleaning modes, set boundaries, and monitor where the vacuum has been, among other features. Techies will appreciate this feature more than those who just want a simple vacuum.
  • If you have larger rooms or need multiple rooms cleaned, you’ll want a robot with a long battery life.
  • Battery life – This is more important in random path robots, because you want them to cover as much ground as possible during a cycle. More advanced robots will return to their charging docks mid-cycle if the battery is low, where they’ll recharge, then set out again. If you have larger rooms or need multiple rooms cleaned, you’ll want a robot with a long battery life. Vacs with 90 or more minutes runtime per cycle such as the ILIFE A4s (140 minutes) or the Roborock S5 (150 minutes) are considered long-running enough to cover a lot of ground in one go.
  • Size of the dustbin – If you have a lot of pet hair or high traffic areas that accumulate dirt quickly, a bigger dustbin will be your friend. Otherwise, you may find yourself having to clean out the dustbin at least once per cycle. If you really hate that task, you could opt to splurge for the newest Roomba s9+ that automatically empties its dustbin at the charging dock, which holds up to 30 cycles worth of dirt.

What does the future of robotic vacuums look like?

Other, more advanced technologies are on the horizon.

It seems a new robot vac with innovative features comes out every other day. This is a time of exponential growth in all areas of technology, and robotic appliances are certainly riding on that wave. Already, we have the latest feature of self-emptying vacuums in the newest Roombas.

Other technologies are on the horizon. Ecovacs will soon release the DEEBOT OZMO 960, with an advanced camera and 3D vision feature. It promises super smart obstacle detection that current robot vacs don’t have. For instance – it will dodge things like small toys, socks, dog messes, and even certain types of furniture.

Frequently asked questions.

Frequently asked questions

Here are a few questions that homeowners often ask regarding robot

  1. Are they safe for wood floors?

    Yes! The earliest models could scratch now and then, but today’s robot vacs are designed specifically for hardwood and other hard flooring, plus low pile carpeting. Their brushes aren’t super stiff, nor the bristles very long. Plus many of them have suction power and brushes that either self-adjust or can be adjusted for different flooring types.

  2. Bigger brands have invested a lot in data security and transparency in how they use your data.
  3. Do robot vacuum apps have security measures in place to keep my private information safe?

    Mostly. Keep in mind, however, that security protocols aren’t uniform across all manufacturer platforms. Any app that stores your name, email, phone, address, and maps of your home’s interior could be sharing it with third parties. Or your data could be the target of hackers.

    Obviously, vacuums with zero mobile tech or smart home integration have no risk of sharing any data. Your bigger brands such as iRobot have invested a lot in data security and transparency in how they use your data. Just be sure to read all that fine print first so you know what you’re agreeing to.

  4. How do you keep a robot vac maintained?
      Washing filters is the part of the routine maintenance.
    • Be sure to register your robot vac on the manufacturer’s website as soon as you get it so your warranty will be activated. This will make returns and repairs much easier
    • Shake off or wash filters every few cycles
    • Remove hair caught in brush roller as needed
    • Clean brush roll bearings, caster wheels, and side brushes every few weeks (some vacuums come with a special tool for this)
    • Wipe sensors clean as the manufacturer recommends
    • Use compressed air to remove dust from gears or other hard to reach cracks
    • Replace filters & side brushes a few times a year, the brush roll once yearly, and the battery as necessary (every other year or so, depending on frequency of use)
  5. What CAN’T robot vacuums do?

    Like every machine, a robot vac has its limitations. They do not play well with shag carpeting for the most part. Anything thicker than low pile will either not be cleaned well or will bog down the machine until it’s stuck.

    Robot vacuums can’t go up or down stairs.

    They also do not play well with anything string-like. This means charging cords, shoelaces, ribbons, yarn, etc. Unless you can close off a room with those items or can set no-go zones on your bot, it’s best to pick up all those stray stringy things so there’s no damage to them or your robot.

    Robot vacs also can’t go up or down stairs. They can’t clean upholstery or curtains. They won’t fit in tight spaces such as behind the toilet and pedestal sinks, unless there’s at least 13” – 14” space.

  6. For repairs, you may need to ship it to the manufacturer or take it to a certified repair technician.
  7. What if something breaks?

    Most manufacturers offer a 30-day no questions asked guarantee, then a 1-year limited warranty after that. The 1-year warranty will cover any kind of “normal” damage. Like if the dustbin cracks or the battery won’t charge. If your 3-year-old tosses it into the bathwater, well, good luck.

    ALWAYS keep your owner’s manual and warranty card stored somewhere you can access it easily. In there, you’ll find contact info for customer service. They may respond by offering a refund, replacement parts, or repair. For repairs, you may need to ship it to the manufacturer (might want to keep that box too!) or take it to a certified repair technician.

Author
Stephen A. Hancock received his M.S. in Mechanical Engineering (Robotics Track) from University of Utah in 2004. Since then, he’s contributed to numerous articles and has been a consultant for many technical publications and websites.
image description Comments
Maria DeAngelo
April 28, 2020 at 5:40 pm

Between the ilife v5s pro and the ilife v8s, which would you go with? The v8s is on sake now for $169.99 and the v5s pro is on sale for $179.99. I feel like I should automatically go with the newer model – v8s – but the v5s pro seems to cover more area in one charge than the v8s. And another thing I’m not sure about is the dust bin on the v8s – it says you can’t get it wet when you clean it out because it now houses an electronic part. Is that the same for the v5s? Thank you for your help.

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
May 7, 2020 at 8:45 am

Hello Maria, thank you for reaching out with your question! While the iLife V5s Pro does have a slightly longer operating time than the V8s, the V8s actually navigates more quickly than its predecessor, meaning you’re able to clean more space in less time using the newer model. The dustbin on the V5s does not house an electronic component and is able to get wet when cleaning. I wish you all the best with your purchasing decision and future 2-in-1 robot!

Marshall
January 28, 2020 at 7:51 pm

We’re considering buying a Roborock, but can’t decide whether the Roborock S6 or Roborock S5 is the better deal. What’s your take on it?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
January 30, 2020 at 10:16 am

Thanks for your question. There isn’t a ton of difference between the two, especially the mopping function, but the S6 will cost you more. It’s still quite a bit cheaper than the top Roomba models. Both have great navigation with LIDAR (laser) navigation that makes them very accurate.

With the S6, you get the added advantage of Alexa and Google Assistant voice control plus a longer battery life (up to 150 minutes), and it’s 50% quieter than the S5. The main advantage, however, is that you can name rooms and set custom cleaning schedules and routes in the app. Plus, the added 32-bit quad core processor makes navigation 20% more efficient than the S5.

If you want quicker, quieter, and more control over cleaning cycles, we’d suggest the S6. The cost difference is worth it.

B Robertson
December 3, 2019 at 6:33 pm

I’m looking for a small robot vacuum that will sweep up my wood floors in my kitchen… Requirements:

– Small so it can get around baby high chair.
– Good at crevices under cabinets.
– Doesn’t try and go into my other rooms (where it will certiaintly get stuck on all the baby toys laying around in the family room)
– Capable of getting to a dock that would be under the table with obstacles nearby -OR- a vacuum smart enough to leave my dining room travel into the kitchen and clean only the kitchen and then return.

I’m highly skeptical in a vacuum properly performing this task without getting stuck so i’d like a lower cost to entry to try it…

Any recommendations?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
December 7, 2019 at 8:32 am

Hi and thanks for your question. It’s hard to find any one robot vac that meets all of your criteria at a low price. The closest one we’d recommend would be the eufy RoboVac 30. It’s very affordable and a step up from the 11S, which we did a full review on here: https://cleanup.expert/eufy-boost-iq-robovac-11s/.

It’s only 2.85” high so it will fit under toe kicks and furniture that other vacs can’t reach. It also has a redocking feature so it will return to the dock when the battery is low. For all robot vacs, it’s best to place the charging dock in an uncluttered area, so under a table with chairs wouldn’t be ideal. If you can find a spot against the wall with good clearance, that would be best.

While navigation isn’t as advanced as the Roombas, it does come with boundary strips that you can lay in front of power cords or doorways to keep it out of unwanted areas.

It’s not perfect, but it might be a good one for you to start with.

AGoins
November 24, 2019 at 6:13 am

I can’t believe the Shark robot vac didn’t make the list! I love mine. It did come with a strip. Virtual avoidable areas would be nice and a automatic bin emptier , But other than that I have no complaints! It picks up cat hair, dust, dirt easiely goes from my linoleum to thick carpet. It has a app I can control it from or set automatic cleanings weekly,daily ect. .It rarely gets stuck. I do vacuum every once in awhile with my large vacuum but honestly the floors are clean so i dont worry about it much!! I do however keep the cords,socks, toys up so they don’t get run over. It goes under my beds, maneuvers around dining room chair legs an always gets the whole house clean before it makes its own way back to charge! I have never owned a roomba but I think Im going to stick with works for my family of 6!! (plus 2 indoor cats!!)

Wilma Shaver (NY)
September 29, 2019 at 1:22 am

We have various types of carpet from low pile to thick plush. Will a robot vacuum really work on all carpets?

Kevin (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 29, 2019 at 8:04 am

Many robot vacuums will struggle with anything beyond a low pile. That is, unless they have added features that increase the suction power needed to clean thicker fibers. Your best bet is to go with a robot vacuum that has something like Carpet Boost such as the iRobot Roomba 980. It will automatically adjust the suction power when transitioning between flooring types so it cleans much more thoroughly than those that don’t have this ability.

Amanda
September 24, 2019 at 12:41 pm

Will a robot vacuum last as long as an upright, and is it worth the expense? How long do they usually last?

James (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 24, 2019 at 6:11 pm

Like most everything, that depends. For one, with robot vacuums, you usually get what you pay for, meaning that a premium priced brand will likely outlast a bargain priced one. With good maintenance, many robot vacuums can last at least 4 – 6 years, longer for a high quality one. To keep it running well, you will need to replace various parts on it at different times.

Here’s a very general idea of replacement schedules:

  • Battery – every 2 years
  • Brushes – every 6 months
  • Filters – every 3 – 6 months
  • Sensors – every 2 years
  • Dirt bin – as needed

It’s important to follow all the maintenance steps in the owner’s manual for keeping the dirt bin and brush rollers clean, etc. You can pre-purchase replacement filters and brush rollers ahead of time so they’ll be ready when it’s time to change.

Nancy Wesley
September 23, 2019 at 4:49 am

I know a lot of these robot vacuums have schedule functions. With pets (2 dogs in particular) I’m wondering how often should I run the vacuum?

James (Cleanup.Expert Team)
September 23, 2019 at 8:41 pm

There is no set time to run your robot vacuum. It will depend on how dirty your floors tend to get and what type of robot vacuum you have. If your dogs shed a lot, many pet owners set their vacuums to run daily, like while they’re at work or overnight. Some pet owners find they only need to run theirs 3 – 4 times per week.

Try running it a few times per week and observe the results. If you find you need more hair pickup, then run it every day or every other day. Some brands will be more efficient on some types of floors and dirt types than others. The Neato Robotics D7, for instance, was rated best for pet hair in our reviews. So it may not require as many cycles to do the job well.

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