What Is A Robotic Vacuum? And What One Should You Buy Based On your Needs?
The basic function of a robotic vacuum cleaner is similar to its non-robotic counterpart: it vacuums. However, it varies from a standard vacuum cleaner robot because it’s smart enough to do the job on its own. That’s right, getting yourself one of the best robotic cleaner devices means you’ll spend significantly less time doing the cleaning.
While robotic cleaners may not really be considered as an alternative or replacement to the standard vacuum cleaners, you can better utilize them to maintain the dust-freeness of your home on days when you don’t have the time to do it yourself.
Things You Should Consider First:
A robot vacuum that can function with the least amount of human input or control is one of the things you should look for when you’re searching or a vac that could take cleaning matters out of your hands. Of course, it also matters how well that robotic vacuum can do the job that you require of it.
Different kinds of debris can pose different challenges to your vacuum cleaner robot. If your home has a lot of pet fur or human hair lying around, robotic vacuums without dirt sensors can just pass over this debris without picking them up.
When picking your robotic vacuum, choose one that has enough power to pick up debris (and not one that instead pushes them deeper into the carpet). If you don’t, you’ll just make your part of the cleanup harder.
You should also consider whether your robotic vac can clean most floor surfaces from carpets to hard floors. Thick carpets like shag carpets can mean trouble for some vacuums as they can’t work on such surfaces.
Other types of carpet are usually manageable, but you should also note the climbing height capacity of your vacuum as they transition from a flat surface to a slightly elevated one (carpets). Most of these vacuums cannot handle a slope more than 15 degrees. Also, these bots can’t climb or go down any stairs.
Another thing you might want in your vacuum cleaner robot is one that can effectively adapt to the environment that you’re going to use it in. Some vacuums come with a mapping technology that familiarizes the device to the layout of the area where it’s used, but others don’t.
As such, it would help to find a model that at least has a sensor for:
- obstacles like appliances
- ledges that it can potentially fall from
- stair steps it can bump into
- door thresholds to pass through
If it does not have a sensor, at the very least, choose one that will be gentle when bumping into things. Other robot vacuums are not quite so gentle when encountering obstacles like furniture and walls, and this could lead to more damage over time.
Some robotic vacuums are also notorious for eating up cords lying around, especially thin ones. They can also get tangled up in thick cords, so it’s ideal that your vacuum cleaner robot has a good obstacle sensor to avoid any accidents like this.
Length of Use
This refers to how long your vacuum works after one charging. It also considers the amount of time it takes for the unit to charge fully. Think about it, the less time it takes to charge, the more time is spent on the cleaning up your house.
Apart from that, the longer it lasts on one charging also ensures that you get more use out of it. Most robotic cleaners have a work time of 120 minutes on a single charge, but you can find some that are able to clean for 160 minutes once fully charged.
Some robot vacuums have charging stations, and they are cleverly designed so that they can bring themselves to the charging base to charge on their own. Bear in mind that some robotic vacuums don’t have this feature though. In those cases, you would need some sort of signal light to inform you when it’s nearly time to charge your vacuum.
While all robot vacuums need to be manually cleaned up regularly, it’s a great perk if the robot vacuum makes the job easier for you. Some take considerably less time to get cleaned, and that’s going through all the motions like emptying the dust bin, cleaning out the filter, removing hair and other debris from the brushes, and so on.
Another factor in the convenience of purchasing a vacuum is the amount of time it takes for you to assemble and set it up. The initial setup includes setting schedules, boundaries and so on. The quicker you can get through this step, the sooner you can get your new device to clean up your house, right?
As already stated, there are robotic vacuum cleaners which are programmed to return to their docking stations when they are done with the cleaning where they will recharge themselves.
Also, there are some models which can be controlled through a smartphone. This way you can easily set cleaning schedule for the entire week, and you will receive notification on your phone once the cleaning is done.
Quiet or Noisy
Due to their size, most robot vacuums are significantly quieter than their standard counterparts. But just so you don’t get surprised, do make sure you check the noise level before purchasing. This is because there are still some models that are just as noisy as a regular one.
This may not really matter if you set your model to do its duty while you’re out of the house, but it’s worth mentioning. Some robotic vacuum cleaners are quiet when vacuuming and cleaning hardwood floors and slick surfaces, but they can get quite noisy once they climb on the carpet.
But that’s not the general rule because some robotic vac cleaners don’t have that feature. None the less, don’t expect your new robotic vacuum cleaner to work without making at least a minimal level of noise.
There are robotic vacuums that can function as a mop on their off days as a vacuum. Apart from the added utility, it also helps you save money on buying other cleaning appliances as it has multiple functions for the price of one machine.
You may also want to consider whether the vacuum offers a spot cleaning option and/or multiple passes over an area that has already been cleaned.
Other vacuums also have side spinning brushes that help push debris toward the bottom of the robot so that they can be effectively vacuumed up. Some high-end robotic vacuum cleaners have a feature that allows them to locate areas that are dirtier and they will spend more time cleaning the mess.
This is a great feature because not every part of the floor has the same amount of dirt covering it and sometimes areas that are dirtier can be left uncleaned.
Of course, your budget is an important consideration when it comes to purchasing a robotic cleaner. As expected, a robotic one would understandably cost a lot more than a mere electric one. So be sure to ask yourself: what is the acceptable price tag for you when buying a robotic vacuum cleaner?
This is probably the most important question you as a potential buyer should ask before you set out to look for one. Just like with many other things, you might find that a robotic mchine at a higher price point will usually give you better quality and come with more features.
However, you don’t necessarily need to shell out a small fortune to get a robotic vacuum cleaner that will do the job right. Premium manufacturers such as iRobot and Dyson have carried out a market analysis which has revealed exactly how much people are willing to spend on the robotic cleaner.
In one study which involved almost 200 hundred participants, only 0.5% have stated that they are willing to spend more than $500 on a robotic vacuum cleaner. 4.15% said that they are three to spend anywhere between 350 and 400 dollars.
The biggest percentage group which consisted out of almost 26% participants said that they wouldn’t have a problem with purchasing a robotic vacuum cleaner for $150 to $200. At the end of the day, consider your budget and try to find one that will give you the best bang for your buck. With so many brands and varieties on the market these days, you probably find that you won’t have much trouble with that.
While robotic vacuum cleaners seem to be quite similar when it comes to size, you’ll be surprised to know they do still vary from brand to brand. There are no given standards to what maximum or minimum size is required when designing and building a robotic vacuum.
This is a great thing because you can find a robotic vac cleaner that suits your needs the most.
You will have to take into account the amount of the furniture you have and the amount of space between them. The smallest robotic cleaner available on market today is only 9.5” in diameter. A robotic vacuum this small is great for smaller rooms with lots of furniture.
Since it is really small, the robotic device won’t have too many problems navigating through the room. Also, you need to think about the height of a robotic cleaner.
If you buy a robotic vacuum which is rather tall, it won’t be able to go underneath the furniture and clean.
If you are looking for a bigger vacuum cleaner, you can get yourself one with a diameter of 14”. Bigger robotic vacuum cleaners will have much more problems navigating through rooms with many pieces of furniture but they are great for open floors because they can cover more ground in less time.
Do keep in mind however that while smaller robotic vacuum cleaners are generally better for tight spaces, they can’t hold too much dust and debris because they tend to have small dustbins.
Upgrade And Repairs
When it comes to technological products, you’d always want to make sure you’re covered for warranty and repairs.
Be sure to consider whether your new robotic vacuum cleaner is easily repairable if it gets broken. Most of the reputable manufacturers offer a 2-year warranty for their robotic cleaners. However, if your robotic cleaner might get broken after 3 years or more, so you should consider how easy it is to get it repaired or how costly it will be.
When it comes to upgrades, there are some robot cleaners that can be upgraded. Of course, we are talking about firmware updates that make your little helper even more efficient while cleaning.
Since robotic vacuum cleaners are much smaller than regular vacuum cleaners, they also have smaller dust bins. This means that you will have to clean them out more frequently but they are easy to clean. Dust bins don’t require bags which means that you just have to take them out, empty them and put them back in.
That’s it. You won’t have much problem getting your robotic helper clean and ready to go in a matter of seconds. You can forget about buying disposable dust bags from now on!
While not entirely necessary, some robot vacuums offer nifty accessories that can make it so much easier for you to set up schedules and control your vacuum bot. It may come in the form of the more traditional remote control, or even in a smarter technology form of an app.
Others also have magnetic strips that you can stick to areas that you’d prefer your vac not to touch. So, if there are areas in your house you don’t want your device to reach, you can just set it up.
Top 10 Best Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Options of 2018
Obviously, all robotic vacuums are not made equally. To help you decide which will suit you best, we will take you through the best robotic vacuum cleaner of 2018 that you can buy. You can’t go wrong with these – each of these vacuums on the list will keep your home clean, while you enjoy your free time.
1. bObsweep PetHair
This vacuum has a 1 litre dustbin which is currently the largest you can get. In addition to all that, this vacuum utilizes HEPA filtration that removes any harmful allergens there might be in the air. You can program cleaning schedule and watch how your floor shines. Check out the below feature to see why you will think this is one of the best robot vacuum cleaner models on the market.
- Really big 1 litre dustbin
- Great for pet owners: Does great job with cleaning pet hair
- Quiet compared to other models on the market
- Simultaneously sweeps, vacuums, mops, and UV sterilizes all types of floors
- Personalized cleaning schedule and automatic self-charging
- HEPA filtration removes harmful allergens from the air
- Edge sensors detect edges and drops, including stairs and platforms
- Covers even fairly large rooms very well on one battery run
- has no problems transitioning between hardwood and carpet
- The remote control is nice
- Schedule programming is straight-forward once you read the instructions
- Does not do well cleaning carpet or thicker area rugs
- Mop option doesn’t work well
- Gets stuck into furniture from time to time
- Frequent cleaning needed, as short pet hair and dust bunnies get wrapped around its brush and wheels
- It’s loud compared to other similar models
- May be rough on natural fiber area rugs.
2. Neato Botvac D3
Just with your phone, you will be able to start him, schedule a cleaning program and receive notifications. It has a built-in laser smart navigation which is guaranteed to clean your floors perfectly. Unlike other robots on this list, Neato Botvac D3 is shaped like a letter “D” which allows him to clean more thoroughly near walls and furniture.
- It shape like the letter “D” allows better cleaning
- Easy to use and control
- Long lasting battery
- Comes at a really affordable price
- Cleans floors efficiently and across multiple rooms
- Links to Wi-Fi networks and communicates with a companion mobile app
- Does a great job when cleaning corners
- Eco/Turbo is a nice feature
- Can operate in the dark
- Might have problem responding to smartphone commands
- It often gets stuck when trying to pick up pet hair
- Runs slowly compared to Neato’s set-up models
- No carpet-boost mode
3. bObi Pet Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
bObi Pet Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is able to simultaneously mop, vacuum, sweep, HEPA filtration, and UV sterilize all floor surfaces in your home. It has a dustbin which is entirely washable, and it comes with a digital barrier that will keep this little guy in a designated perimeter.
- Great for households with pets
- Simultaneously sweeps, vacuums, mops, UV sterilizes, and HEPA filtrates
- Really nice attractive design, well made and sturdy
- Really quiet compared to other models
- Comes with a nice remote
- Sterilizes floors
- Comes with a washable, fully submergible dustbin
- Easy to clean
- Can be used on many different surfaces
- Comes with a good sized dust bin
- The battery lasts long
- Might develop problem with sensors
- Time-consuming setup
- All components require installation and batteries
- Prone to errors and snags
- Doesn’t provide strong suction like other models
- Can’t handle stairs
4. ILIFE A6
Also, this little guy can clean up to 160 minutes, which is significantly longer than other robots. After that, he returns to dock and charges. Less frequent charging and longer cleaning time will preserve the battery life. Program the cleaning schedule and watch him clean your house.
- Great design, well built and nice looks
- 3-stage cleaning system
- The motor has side brushes that sweep dirt, debris, and dust into the robot’s path
- CyclonePower prevents clogging
- The Roadrover wheels make the iLIFE A6 really mobile and able to easily avoid the obstacles that it encounters
- Comes with a Max Mode Cleaning (turbo mode)
- Comes with a big dirt box with an ultra-performance filter
- Longer work time
- Really user friendly
- You can choose from three main cleaning modes
- Has a problem picking up smaller particles
- Gets stuck frequently
- You’ll need to frequently empty the bin, especially if you have a pet
- Gets confused on black rugs and black areas
5. iRobot Roomba 650
It can detect areas which are dirtier and clean those areas more thoroughly. This auto vacuum is also equipped with an iAdapt system which is an advanced sensor system which enables Roomba to clean more efficiently. Also, you can set up Virtual Wall that will keep Roomba in perimeter designated by you.
- It is a small and compact, weighs about 12 pounds
- Works on any type or height of carpeting, adjusting automatically
- The bin is larger than in other models
- Thoroughly cleans all surfaces
- 3-stage cleaning system
- Great for cleaning pet hair
- User friendly: Very simple to program and start
- Able to detect furniture, cords, and stairs
- Very quiet compared to other models
- Great suction power
- It might develop problems with sensors
- Takes a long time for the battery to become fully charged once it has died
- Might leave patterns in the carpeting that are hard to disguise
- Can get stuck sometimes, but very rarely
6. EC Technology Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
It has a 3-stage cleaning system, it is quiet, and it has side brushes which are great for cleaning carpets and areas that are hard to reach. You won’t have too much problem cleaning this robotic vacuum either since it has easy-to-clean dust box.
- A really budget-friendly option
- Automatically docks and recharges
- It’s 3.15 inch (80mm) tall, so it can conveniently clean where is difficult to reach
- Easy to take care of: Comes with an easy-to-clean dust box
- 3-Stage Cleaning System agitates, brushes and suctions floors
- Automatically adjusts to all floor types – carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate & more
- Works great with cleaning pet hair, great option for pet owners
- Super user friendly, really easy to use
- Comes with two spare sweepers and a spare filter
- Can fall down the stairs sometimes
- Can get stuck in furniture from time to time
- The directions it comes with are a little difficult to understand
- Noisier than other models
7. iRobot Roomba 980
If you are looking for one of the best robotic floor cleaner options that is able to clean everything up, then look no further. iRobot Roomba 980 is equipped with iAdapt 2.0 Navigation system along with Visual Localization technology which allows this robotic vacuum cleaner to clean up the entire level of your home without breaking a sweat.
Roomba 980 will clean for two hours, and after that, it will return to its dock and recharge. Also, once this little guy climbs on the rug, he will automatically switch to carpet cleaning mode with 10 times stronger suction. You can program cleaning schedule and alter settings using your smartphone.
- iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization enables it to navigate and clean an entire level of your home
- Runs for up to 120 minutes, then automatically recharges and resumes cleaning to complete the entire job
- Comes with a built in iAdapt camera, which helps it continually build and update its map of rooms within a home
- Cleans wall edges and into corners with the spinning side brush
- Uses a 3-Stage Cleaning System – a combination of agitation, brushing and suction
- Can be controlled via smartphone: iRobot HOME App works on iOS and Android and lets you clean, schedule & set custom cleaning preferences
- App helps monitor maintenance with the diagnostics data
- Great for cleaning rugs: Automatically provides up to 10x the air power on carpets and rugs
- Tangle-free extractors prevent hair and debris jams
- Simple Operation – Just press Clean and the robot gets to work
- iAdapt Responsive Navigation – Learns how to navigate through the home, cleaning around clutter and avoiding stairs
- You can schedule cleaning times up to 7x per week
- Somewhat pricey
- Loud when cleaning carpets
- App doesn’t work perfectly, can be better
- Doesn’t work in complete darkness
- Carpet boost is really loud
- Pricey compared to other models
8. ILIFE V3s: Best Robot Vacuum For Hardwood Floors
It is capable of dry mopping, sweeping and vacuuming. It has a low profile (3 inch sleek slim design), which means that this little robotic vacuum will be able to access all kinds of even the smallest places where you otherwise wouldn’t be able to clean.
You can program a cleaning schedule, and when the cleaning is done, this robot will return to its dock to recharge and get a rest. Since robot vacuums work on their own, they need sensors to know where they are going and where they need to clean.
ILIFE V3s has built-in sensors which protect him from falling off of stairs or getting stuck in furniture. Unlike some other popular robotic vacuums on the market, the V3s produces a low 55 db of noise when working.
- Great for hardwood floors
- Best robot vacuum for pet hair
- Offers 4 cleaning modes to choose from
- Really easy to operate just press “clean” on the remote control
- Simple setup: You can get it up and running in about five minutes without consulting the manual
- The remote control works great and is really handy if you need to robot to clean a particular spot
- Great battery life: The listed battery life is one hour forty minutes, but it can actually last for almost two hours
- Self-charging – returns back to its station for recharging once it’s done cleaning
- Less noisy than other models: 55db around low noise during working
- The total of 14 sets of smart sensors built in prevent the robot from falling off of high places like stairs and from bumping into furniture
- Comes with a 15mm obstacle-climb degrees, which helps it provide a multi-Floor Surface Cleaning
- Comes with a 2600mah fade-free battery, delivers around 100 minutes of constant non-stop cleaning
- Affordable price compared to other similar models on the market
- Underperforms on rugs, because it has a microfiber cloth underneath
- Can struggle with cleaning cat litter
- It has been known to “eat” wires
- Can experience some difficulties when trying to come back to the charging station
- “Random” cleaning patterns can make the V3s miss some parts of the floor in a room
- Doesn’t always emit a distress sound when it gets stuck
9. ILIFE A4
Also, you can program this robotic vacuum cleaner’s schedule to suit your own need and he will return to his dock all by himself after he’s done cleaning and will recharge on his own. The ILIFE A4 model works with a 3-step cleaning system and can clean the floors for up to two hours, and because of its low profile, it won’t get stuck easily.
It comes with built in tangle free sensors that will keep it safe – prevent it from bumping into walls and falling off from the high edges in the house. With its high capacity fade-free battery, the ILIFE A4 can deliver up to 120 minutes of working time.
- Powerful battery – 4 chip 2600mah battery with fade free technology brings 110-120 minutes working time after one full charge
- 3-stage cleaning system
- Setting it up is easy to figure out without instructions. Everyone can do it
- Great for people with pets, does amazing job with pet hair
- Works on carpet (including the really short hair carpets) and hard surfaces
- Very durable and well made
- Charges quickly, it takes it about 1 hour to fully charge
- Comes with a control remote to use when you need to direct the robot to a specific place
- Planning function is really handy and works great
- Comes with extra set of brushes and filters
- Equipped with a full set of Tangle Free Sensors
- Can run for a good couple hours or so on one single charge
- “MAX” mode for enhanced powerful cleaning on dust traffic area
- Automatically docks and recharges, and is always ready to clean
- Infrared sensor equipped in the front wheel avoids getting stuck
- A full suit of cliff sensors keep the robot from falling off stairs
- Affordable price compared to more popular models on the market
- Unable to clean larger mess
- Its path is random. It gets about 70% of the floor by the time it goes back to its dock
- There’s no way to block doorways
- It gets stuck under furniture
- Sometimes has trouble returning to its station, so you might have to move it closer to it
- Somewhat noisy but definitely nowhere near the volume of a vacuum cleaner
- Can get caught up on floor mats in bathroom that are too light and get grabbed by the wheels
10. iRobot Roomba 650: Best Robot Vacuum For Pets
What makes this robot really practical is that you can schedule its cleaning program (up to 7 times per week). Another super handy thing about Roomba is that you can turn it on whenever you like, and you will never have to worry about recharging it, because this little guy always returns to its charging dock after cleaning.
- Very well-made, sturdy with great sleek design
- Returns to charging dock for self-charging when done
- You can schedule a cleaning program with up to 7 schedules per week
- Works with a 3-stage cleaning system: agitates, brushes and suctions floors
- Works and automatically adapts to all floor types – carpet, tile, hardwood, laminate & more
- Very simple to set up
- Recharges fully really fast
- Runs a long time on a single full charge
- The invisible walls work perfectly. Position it right and it will not go where it’s not supposed to
- Great for pet owners – does a good job collecting fur
- Edge cleaning capability is great
- The parts are easy to disassemble even if you are not a mechanic
- Can get trapped under the furniture
- Carpet patterns might confuse the robot
- It’s a bit noisy, but can be ignored
- A bit pricey compared to other models
- You have to learn to pick up chords and small/loose objects that can get stuck
- You will need to clean its brushes from time to time to prevent stuck parts from scratching your wooden floors
Vacuum Cleaner Robot: Our Final Thoughts
These are best robot vacuums you can get in 2017. Our top pick would be bObsweep PetHair. It has a bigger dustbin which means you won’t have to clean it out as often. Its better capability for handling pet hair is great, even if you don’t actually have pets.
It does have a better reputation for cleaning compared to others. If the bObsweep PetHair is not your cup of tea, pick any other one from our top 10 list and you can be sure to have a reliable, capable auto vacuum in your home.
Do share with us in the comments!