Buyer’s Guide: Robot Vacuums
Looking to hire a high-tech robot vacuum to do the dirty work for you? These three options have impressive cleaning power at a reasonable price point.
No one enjoys vacuuming back and forth across the floor of each room, only to have to repeat the chore just a week or two later. Unfortunately, dust, dirt, and pet hair don’t stop for anyone!
The desire for a better, more convenient way to vacuum reached its inevitable conclusion with the advent of robot vacuums. Though early models were more novel than practical, robot vacuums have improved by leaps and bounds, swiftly becoming household helpers well worth the investment for gadget lovers, clean freaks, and everyone in between.
Keep reading to find out what you should know before purchasing a robot vacuum and why these three top models stand out as the very best.
- BEST OVERALL: iRobot Roomba 675
- BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Eufy RoboVac 11S
- BEST VALUE: GOOVI Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Key Considerations for Choosing a Robot Vacuum
Cost vs. Cleaning Power
First and foremost, understand that even the best robot vacuum will not clean better than a traditional vacuum. For starters, a robot vac’s suction power will be less and its dust bin smaller. Moreover, in many cases robot vacuums cannot distinguish between areas that require only light vacuuming and areas that are heavily soiled and need more thorough cleaning. That said, robot vacuums can save you a significant chunk of time in your cleaning routine.
Although there is no standard system for testing and rating robot vacuums, more expensive models tend to boast superior cleaning power. As you might expect, the least expensive robot vacuums typically deliver the least power, and they don’t always operate on all types of flooring. Mid-range models are more effective. But don’t judge a robot vacuum’s efficacy strictly on price; consider also the features that may make one model more suitable for your needs than another.
Figure Out the Features
When choosing a robot vacuum, homeowners are often most interested in the machine’s cleaning power. But the effectiveness of any specific model depends on a variety of factors, such as the size of the room you intend to clean, the type of flooring you have, the vacuum’s battery life, and the vacuum’s ease of operation. Before choosing a model, consider the following:
- Floor Covering: Check the manufacturer’s specs carefully. Some models are designed for low- and medium-pile carpeting but not shag, while others should only be used on solid floorings, such as hardwood planks or tile.
- Battery Life: Even if a robot vacuum advertises great suction, it won’t clean effectively without a properly charged battery. Manufacturers often list battery run time as well as the area size (in square footage) that the vacuum will successfully clean on a single charge. During an extensive cleaning cycle, some models will even automatically dock in their charging stations until refueled and then continue vacuuming where they left off.
- Remote Control: While the exact functions depend on the model, many robot vacuums come with remote controls to program the operating modes (see below) or activate the vacuum when necessary, whether to clean the whole room or just one spot on the floor.
- Smart Technology: Newer robot vacuums connect to Wi-Fi, allowing users to operate them remotely through an app on their smartphones. In addition to programming the miniature machines as a remote might otherwise do, the app may also monitor the robot’s cleaning progress, battery life, and dustbin.
- Size and Shape: Though all are relatively close in size (ranging from 2.8 inches to 5 inches tall), the height of a robot vacuum can be a tie-breaker between two leading models. Ideally, you’ll want to choose one that clears even short chair or table legs and other low-to-the-floor furniture. The round shape you’ll see in most robot vacuums allows for easy turning and route patterns, but the D-shaped models can turn flat for close cleanup along the baseboards.
- Program Options: To cater to the amount of cleaning you need, robot vacuums often include a selection of operating modes: “turbo” modes that offer quick and intense cleaning power, “eco” modes that save battery power, and “quiet” modes that won’t interfere with your every day (studying, working, or television time). The ability to program a cleaning schedule in advance—typically from three to seven days—may also be high on your priority list for a vacuum that makes the whole chore practically automatic.
Our Top Picks
1. BEST OVERALL: iRobot Roomba 675
Features like quiet-operation mode and a superior navigation system make the iRobot Roomba 675 a big hit with reviewers. At only 3.5 inches high and 13.4 inches in diameter, this machine runs its patented three-stage cleaning system for up to 90 minutes on hard floors and carpeting, all while being able to skim under open-leg chairs and sofas without getting stuck. Press “Clean” on the robot vacuum to start it, or schedule a cleanup from anywhere via the iRobot HOME app or a voice assistant. When the iRobot’s battery runs low or the job is complete, the vacuum automatically return to dock in its recharging station.
2. BEST FOR SMALL SPACES: Eufy RoboVac 11S
Neither carpeting nor low furniture can stop the Eufy RoboVac 11S. Its slim, 2.85-inch-tall design fits under most furniture, while its large wheels ease transitions from hard flooring to low- or medium-pile carpeting. Activate the robot vacuum manually or schedule the time and mode for a future cleaning using the unit’s remote control. Operation is worry-free, thanks not only to the built-in BoostIQ technology (which delivers extra cleaning power automatically, as needed), but also to drop sensors that prevent the vac from falling over a ledge or down the stairs. Running quietly for up to 100 minutes at a time, the RoboVac auto-docks when it’s finally out of juice.
3. BEST VALUE: GOOVI Robot Vacuum Cleaner
This affordable option from GOOVI features a 2.83-inch-tall profile, drop sensors, and pre-set vacuuming times, all while delivering up to 100 minutes of cleaning power before needing to dock and re-charge. Compared to robot vacuums that cost considerably more, the GOOVI offers just as many features and delivers just as much satisfaction.