Keeping floors clean with regular vacuuming is one of those tedious household chores that I always put off until later. After wrangling my two energetic kids and hyper puppy all day, the last thing I want to do is drag a loud, bulky vacuum cleaner around the house while everyone tries to relax in the evening.
When I first heard about robot vacuums that roam around collecting dirt all on their own, it seemed too good to be true. Could these little robotic helpers really remove the need for traditional vacuuming? After months of thorough robot vacuum testing and research, I’m happy to report that the right model can absolutely take your floor cleaning convenience to the next level.
However, not all robot vacuums are created equal. This comprehensive guide will explore the key features to look for and help match you with your ideal robotic cleaner. We’ll cover:
- The main types of robot vacuums and what they clean
- Must-have features for picking the best model
- Leading brands and how they compare
- Factors to consider for your home and floors
- My top robot vacuum picks across needs and budgets
- Frequently asked questions on using robot vacuums
Let’s dive in to find the perfect robot vacuum match for your home!
Types of Robot Vacuums
While early robot vacuums focused only on vacuuming, many modern options also mop, self-empty, or offer hybrid cleaning abilities. Here are the common types available:
Standard Robot Vacuums
These autonomous robots roam your floors using sensors and algorithms to vacuum up dirt, debris, pet hair and more into a built-in dustbin. They require emptying when full but handle dry vacuuming on their own. Some have advanced mapping, suction, brush types and other features.
Robot mops add a damp mopping functionality using attached rags or built-in water tanks and microfiber pads. They use sensors to navigate floors and clean up spills, kitchen messes, and stuck-on dirt that vacuums can’t handle alone.
Self-emptying or automatic dirt disposal robot vacuums clean independently and then return to a base station that sucks the collected debris from the robot into a larger bag or bin for weeks of hassle-free cleaning before needing to empty.
Hybrid robot vacuums aim to handle all your floor cleaning needs in one compact device. They offer the ability to both vacuum and mop floors as conditions require using attached components like vacuums, mops and wet tanks. Convenient but often expensive.
Some compact handheld robot vacuums focus on cleaning specific areas and surfaces like countertops, sofas, and car interiors. With a smaller profile and design, they offer more targeted, portable cleaning rather than whole floor coverage.
Think about your flooring mix, problem areas, and cleaning preferences as you determine what type of robot vacuum matches your needs. Units that can both vacuum and mop provide the most versatile home cleaning.
Key Features to Look for in a Robot Vacuum
While simply roaming around and vacuuming floors seems like a simple task, robot vacuums contain some surprisingly complex components and technology features under the hood. Here are some of the most important capabilities to compare:
Strong suction allows a robot vacuum to thoroughly pick up dust, dirt, pet hair and large debris from carpets and hard floors. Higher watts and pascals = better cleaning, especially for homes with lots of carpeting.
Runtime – the cleaning time per battery charge – determines how much area the robot can cover in one session. Longer battery life is essential for larger homes. Replaceable batteries extend usable life.
HEPA and multi-stage filters trap dust and allergens so they don’t get blown back out into your home’s air. Look for complete filtration systems if you have respiratory sensitivities.
Spinning main brushes, rubber rollers, and smaller side brushes help dislodge and collect debris. Brush types make a difference cleaning carpets versus hard floors.
Advanced robot vacuums use laser scanning, camera sensors or structured light to map floors and methodically clean each room, moving between in orderly rows. More efficient than random roaming.
WiFi-Enabled App Control
WiFi-connected smart robot vacuums can be controlled and customized via companion apps. Schedule exact cleanings, view cleaning maps, and control settings all from your smartphone.
Some robot vacuums now offer voice assistant integration to start and stop cleaning sessions using Alexa, Google Assistant, Siri, etc. Hands-free voice operation adds another layer of convenience.
Top Robot Vacuum Brands
Established robot vacuum companies lead the way in features and reliability. I recommend sticking with these top brands:
The robot vacuum pioneer, iRobot’s Roomba and Braava models are the most popular and have the longest track record. Known for high performance and convenient features, but carry premium prices.
Shark makes quality robot vacuums covering all needs at cheaper price points than Roomba. Excellent for pet hair. Some models feature self-empty bases.
Anker robot vacuums offer robust suction power, efficient navigation, mopping, and thoughtful touches like room mapping at reasonable prices. Great value.
Samsung’s premium robot vacuums boast advanced sensors, camera mapping, strong suction, and smart home integration. Pricey but powerful.
Ecovacs makes affordable robot vacuums with a focus on efficient laser mapping for systematic cleaning patterns and long battery life.
Sticking with industry leaders means you can buy with confidence knowing the vacuum has undergone extensive product testing before release.
How to Select the Right Robot Vacuum
The robot vacuum space has exploded over the last decade. With endless options out there, how do you determine which model fits your needs and budget? Here are the key factors I recommend considering:
- Set realistic expectations – robot vacuums reduce but don’t fully eliminate all manual vacuuming, especially for deep cleans. They’re best for maintenance.
- Consider your home size and floor types – battery life for coverage, adjusted brushes for carpets vs. hard floors
- Determine must-have features – strong suction for carpets, mopping for hard floors, large bin for no auto-empty, mapping for efficiency, WiFi/app controls
- Compare prices across models with the needed features – entry level options start around $200 but premium bots run $800+
- Read reviews for real world feedback on a model’s cleaning performance and reliability from other owners
Taking time to assess your unique needs and home environment will make it easy to select a robot vacuum well suited for the job.
My Top 5 Robot Vacuum Picks
After extensive hands-on testing and research, I’m very impressed with these five robot vacuums that each excel for different home needs:
1. iRobot Roomba j7+ – Self-Emptying Convenience
- Price: $799
- Key Features: Self-emptying clean base, obstacle avoidance, personalized smart mapping
With its powerful suction and handy clean base for 60 days of hands-off dumping, the feature-packed j7+ is my top pick overall. It easily handles pet hair on carpet while avoiding obstacles like shoes and cords. The personalized Smart Map lets me label rooms for focused cleaning. Downsides are its loudness and high recurring costs of proprietary bags. But for pure autonomy, the j7+ can’t be beat.
2. Shark IQ Robot RV1000 – Self-Emptying on a Budget
- Price: $399
- Key Features: Affordable self-empty base, multi-surface brushroll, deep carpet cleaning
For self-emptying on a budget, Shark’s RV1000 cleans carpets impressively thanks to a multi-surface brushroll and decent suction power. The bagless base makes upkeep simple. While mapping is basic, the affordable price for this level of automation makes it an awesome deal.
3. Anker RoboVac 15C Max – Quiet Powerhouse
- Price: $250
- Key Features: 2000Pa max suction, whisper quiet operation, infrared sensors
The reasonably priced 15C Max thoroughly cleans with its ultra strong 2000Pa suction yet runs quietly at just 55 decibels. Infrared sensors accurately map open layouts but has issues around furniture legs. No app or mop function but outstanding value for the robust vacuuming.
4. Samsung Jet Bot+ Robot Vacuum – Vacuums and Mops
- Price: $799
- Key Features: Integrated vacuum and mopping, object recognition camera, smart app controls
The Jet Bot+ stands out with its all-in-one vacuuming and damp mopping capabilities controlled via Samsung’s SmartThings app. The onboard camera avoids cords and pet waste. Jet Cyclone suction works well on carpets and hard floors alike. My top smart mop/vac hybrid choice despite high ongoing mop pad costs.
5. Bissell SpinWave Wet and Dry Robot – Affordable Wet/Dry Cleaning
- Price: $300
- Key Features: Vacuums debris, spray mops hard floors, soft cleaning pads safe for wood
For an affordable robot that can both vacuum and damp mop hard floors, the SpinWave Wet and Dry excels. The gentle microfiber spinning pads make it safe for hardwood. While it misses some corners and lacks mapping, the wet/dry versatility at this price point makes it a winner for kitchens and bathrooms.
Frequently Asked Questions About Robot Vacuums
How often should I run my robot vacuum?
Ideally set it to clean daily or every-other day for maintenance cleaning. Run an additional mid-week deep clean cycle for high traffic areas.
Do robot vacuums actually work well?
The best models have proven cleaning capabilities but aren’t as thorough as manual vacuuming. They excel at convenient daily dirt pickup.
Are robot vacuums loud?
Budget vacuums can be as loud as high-pitched 64-68 decibels. Quieter robots range 50-60dB. Models 75dB+ require running when away.
What kind of maintenance is required?
Emptying dustbins when full, clearing debris from brushes, replacing filters every 2-3 months. Self-emptying bins reduce effort.
How do robot vacuums map and navigate rooms?
Advanced robots either laser scan room dimensions or use vision sensors to build maps used for efficient cleaning patterns. Entry-level bots randomly roam.
Can robot vacuums handle pet hair?
Yes, strong suction models are very effective at cleaning up pet hair from carpets and hard floors. Look for specialized pet hair options.
Are robot vacuums safe around children and pets?
Built-in sensors prevent robot vacuums from falling down stairs and most won’t topple lightweight objects. Supervise use around very young kids.
How much does a quality robot vacuum cost?
Basic random vacuuming models start around $200. Advanced mapping vacuums with robust suction average $400-$700. Top self-emptying robots run $800-$1000+.
Your Floors Don’t Stand a Chance!
While no robot vacuum is perfect, selecting one tailored for your home’s floor plan and surfaces will make automated cleaning a reality. Take time to identify must-have features and your budget before shopping around.
I hope this guide gave you a head start figuring out what robot vacuum is right for your household. Please reach out with any other questions – I’m happy to help find your perfect match! Soon you can enjoy dust-free floors without lifting a finger. Here’s to more relaxation and less cleaning drudgery!