While it would be nice if families, pets and everyone else picked up after themselves, getting a robotic vacuum might be a more realistic way to deal with the issue.
Some people even grow to consider their little cybernetic cleaners to be members of the family because of the great job they do with household chores.
You’ll want to make sure that you get the best robot vacuum for your particular use case because not all models are rated for all conditions.
For instance, some might be rated for use with pet fur while others might handle looser messes but cover a wider range of flooring types. You should be looking to match your specific use case and needs with the kind of vacuum you’re getting.
Our picks of the Best robot vacuum
How to Choose the Best Robot Vacuum?
Type of Sweep Required
Start by considering what substances mess up your floors the most. Some dogs drop heavy fur while others have something approximating human hair. Certain cats and some dogs leave clumps around. You might have rice spilled on the floor during cooking.
Those who live in sandy regions will want to be sure that whatever vacuum they get can handle extremely small particles that might get stuck in a filter.
You’ll want to look at the size of the debris extractors mounted on the bottom of the units you’re considering to determine the best robot vacuum cleaner for the type of conditions you live under.
The bigger the clumps left around your home, the bigger the extractor roller and motor assembly you’ll need.
In any case, consider units that won’t get carpet threads tangled around their wheels, like for example this Roomba 880 claims. Unless your home only has hard floors, this is going to be a serious issue.
While those who use upright vacuums might not have a problem with periodically cutting threads away from the rollers, it could be much easier to have a machine that handles this problem on its own.
While you can save money by going with a robotic vacuum that doesn’t feature any kind of automation technology, you’ll probably want one that you can schedule cleanings with. Many people fight a daily battle with dirt tracked in from the outside, so you could schedule a vacuum like this to clean up automatically each day.
Look for models that allow you to specify which areas need to be cleaned at what times. This will help you program a rational schedule that picks out problem area if you have any.
You could also schedule it to clean up while pets and children out of the room, since there are some who don’t like the noise that a robotic vacuum makes.
Make sure that you opt for a unit that has been tested to work with these boundaries, if that’s important. As the following video shows, there are some cases where a robot vacuum could actually avoid the virtual barriers altogether:
Most users will have no trouble at all using an onboard scheduling feature that includes a calendar built into some kind of LCD display. This is an area pet owners might consider rather important.
If you find that your pet tends to drop a good deal of dander when you’re not home, then you may wish to opt for wireless networking for remote management of your robot vacuum over mobile application. Keep in mind that each new feature adds another layer of fragility to the design.
Those with small children might also appreciate this feature, as it allows them to react to messes no matter where they are. Voice control could be vital in these cases, since it ensures you’ll be able to activate the unit even when your hands are messy.
In other use cases, the best robot vacuum for your situation might very well be a durable simple model. A combination of pet fur and thick Berber carpeting can really wear out extractors, so you might want to sacrifice a fragile wireless antenna for a powerful motor. You generally won’t find both of these features on the same unit.
Extra Cleaning Features
While these features are often unnecessary, extra cleaning functions might be important to those who have special problems. Tangle clearing rollers might be the most important optional extra most consumers will look into. You may be interested in other bells and whistles like UV sanitizers.
Robot vacuums that offer this kind of technology kill microbes on the floor, but you won’t want to be around when it does it considering that looking into an ultraviolet lamp isn’t a good idea.
More grounded solutions, like vibrating side brushes, will help sweep up dirt on harder floors. This makes them attractive if you have a dog door in your kitchen and find that your four-legged friend tracks sand into the house.
While robot mopping technology is still in its infancy, an increasing number of robotic vacuums can also mop the floors. You might want to at least consider this if you’ve had problems with people tracking wet mud into the home that then gets caked onto the floors.
Make sure that whatever robot vacuum unit you get has a strong enough battery to handle tough debris clumps. Cutting through these kinds of messes can use up a lot of torque.
Robot vacuums drain voltage out of the battery pack each time they need to generate extra torque, which means hair and fabric fuzz can very quickly run down the battery.
Resume Cleaning Feature
Some units come with resume functionality, which means they’ll pick up where they left off if they had to run off and get charged up during a cleaning session. If you leave them alone, then they’ll return to the same spot they left off on once they sense that their battery is charged enough.
Robot Vacuum Prerequisites
While you shouldn’t have to worry too much about what things you’ll need to have on hand before you receive your new cybernetic helper, you will want to make sure that there’s enough room for a charging dock in a central area of your home.
You might have to forgo robot vacuums altogether if you live in a manufactured or mobile home that also has a prominent drop between the extension and trailer section. In these cases, even the best robot vacuums would only be able to clean one side of the home.
You might consider an extremely simple unit in these cases, which you would then need to help out by physically picking it up and then taking it over to the other side of the home.
Otherwise, you could be looking at using an upright and broom until someone invents a robot vacuum ramp.
Best Way to Use Robot Vacuum
Homes with hard wooden or laminate flooring will see the biggest benefits from robotic vacuums, since they can almost totally replace sweeping on these surfaces.
Start by configuring your robot vacuum to sweep the same amount that you currently do and let it go to town for a week or two before you make any changes.
You can then either increase or decrease the intervals based on how much debris remains laying around. Before running your unit the first time, take the opportunity to restructure the furniture to make it easier for your smart vacuum to get around.
You can optimize the pattern as a series of concentric rectangles with clearly defined boundaries. Think of a living room sectional or a dining room table with chairs. These kinds of configurations are often ideal for both people and for robot vacuums.
Reviews of the Best Robot Vacuums
Having taken the opportunity to look over a number of different models, we figured that the following were among the best choices for homeowners who have a wide variety of debris causing problems around their house.
While it comes with a huge list of smart home automation options, the biggest reason that the iRobot Roomba 960 would be attractive to homeowners is the fact that it comes with iRobot’s patented AeroForce cleaning system.
This technology loosens, lifts and then sucks up dirt with an extremely powerful airflow belt. The tangle-free brushes are designed to tackle fine material, which should help if you have a pet that goes through a monthly shedding cycle.
It can even handle human hair from the pet’s owner if that happens to be an issue in your home. If there’s a particular part of your house that’s coated in dander for whatever reason, then the 960 can activate iAdapt 2.0 Navigation technology to clean the entire level without stopping to reorient itself.
- Runs for up to 75 minutes straight before needing to recharge
- Automatically resumes when it had to stop for more juice midway through a cleaning
- Lithium battery solves most of the problems associated with Roomba charger packs
- Rated to clean all types of floors
- Virtual wall barriers take AA batteries
- Doesn’t feature the advanced cleaning setting seen on 980 series Roomba units
- A bit larger than most other units
- Relatively small dust bin
If you need a robot vacuum that has all of the features of the Roomba 960 plus advanced cleaning options for dealing with small particles, then you might want to look at the Roomba 980.
This larger cousin of the older unit has all of the features it does including AeroForce suction and tangle-free debris extractors so that it can power over tough clumps of pet fur or sand. This is especially important if you live in a mild climate like that of southern California or Florida, where this becomes a major issue.
On top of this, it comes with a certified HEPA filter that’s capable of removing almost all allergens related to pets and plants. This includes pollen that sticks to everything during the early weeks of Spring.
Unfortunately, this kind of technology comes at a price and some homeowners may suffer from sticker shock as a result. It would have also been nice if iRobot’s engineering team could have figured out a way to get the debris extractors to swallow up kitty litter.
- Comes with extra side brush
- Offers one of the most efficient filter for pet dander currently on the market
- Low profile to clean under furniture
- Captures particles as small as 10 microns
- Among the most expensive consumer-grade robot vacuums
- Filter door hinge is very rigid
- Sometimes gets confused wen dealing with rugs
- Can’t capture kitty litter
Homeowners who need filtration technology to get rid of various types of small particulate matter might also want to take a look at the Neato Botvac D5. The unit comes with a filter that, while it isn’t capable of 10 microns worth of cleaning, works very well to remove most allergens that make people sneeze.
You may not even be able to see material that small, but the D5 will pick it up! Precise laser navigators and a spin flow system ensure that the robot is capable of moving right over large clumps of fur or heavy carpeting without getting the wheels tangled up.
It also shouldn’t rip up the carpeting in the process. Prospective buyers often pay close attention to the unusual shape of Neato’s robot vacuum solutions.
The company claims that the fact their units are shaped like an upper case letter D means they can get closer to walls and into corners better. This might be an attractive solution for those who have puppies that like to hide at the edges of the room.
- Power Clean mode to power over pet fur
- Extremely large dirt bin
- Accurate navigation
- Complete control from a mobile device
- Wheels have a tendency to make noise
- Filter is difficult to clean
- Taller than some other units, which could prevent it from getting under low couches
- Case doesn’t hide scratches very well
The self-cleaning brush and roller system has attracted a number of pet owners to the Shark ION ROBOT 750, but this robot vacuum is quite a good choice for any homeowner. This system ensures that hair, fur and thread doesn’t get trapped around the rollers themselves.
Instead, it eventually makes it into the debris cup and therefore you won’t have to waste time trying to trim strands of it off the bottom of your vacuum. A pair of spinning brushes pull in debris from the edges and comes with a one-touch activation system.
This should allow you to turn on a burst of extra cleaning power when you find that dirt or sand is really worked into your carpet and a regular cleaning doesn’t get the job done.
Depending on the type of flooring you have in your home, you might find that it works equally well on both hard floors as well as carpeting. This is relatively rare in the world of automatic vacuum cleaners.
- Smart sensor navigation is a stock feature
- Ensures hair, fur and thread doesn’t get trapped around the rollers
- Battery pack lasts for over 60 minutes
- May scratch certain types of floors
- Might have trouble with thick carpets
- Wireless antenna can get damaged
- May loose network connection in some parts of the house
Out of all the bells and whistles that the N79 provides, homeowners will be most interested in the triple-tiered cleaning system.
A direct suction vacuum picks up debris while dual-side brushes and a smart motion guided cleaner chooses from one of three different techniques to clean up whatever mess it senses.
The helix brush rollers can power right over debris clumps and don’t need to even go through a self-cleaning cycle because they’re designed in a way that they can’t get tangled up.
- Extremely quiet
- Anti-collision as well as fall sensors
- 100 minutes of battery life
- High-efficiency air filter
- Not compatible with Amazon Alexa
- Might suffer from some quality control problems
- Dust cup sometimes doesn’t fit quite right
Which is the Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner Overall?
Out of these five finalists, the iRobot Roomba 960 would appeal to the largest number of users. This unit comes complete with the AeroForce cleaning system that makes the 900 series of Roomba robot vacuums so useful while not always carrying the heftier price tags of other units in the series.
It features plenty of automation features for those who need them, but it never skimps on the cleaning aspects of the equation. Chewing through tough messes won’t run down the battery either.
Naturally, you might prefer one of the other units for your particular use case so don’t forget to take a look at them all before you make a final decision.