A Guide to Selecting a Robot Vacuum
Robot vacuums for home use have been around since 2002 when robotics technology started to become advanced enough that a robot vacuum could avoid obstacles and falling down a flight of stairs. In the 20+ years since then, robot vacuums have only become “smarter”, being able to avoid mistakes such as the “pooptastrophe” (where a person’s Roomba robot vacuum spread dog doody all over a person’s living room). Now, they can vacuum your carpet and mop your floor, automatically adjusting to the transition between the two. And they can learn the layout of your home–even if they have to clean three floors!
Many of these features are common to even the most affordable models nowadays. If you’re interested in spending a bit more, you can get even more advanced robot vacs, that will allow you to schedule which rooms to clean, and when to clean them. Some can even empty out their dustbin when full, and others can handle pet hair and other allergens without getting their brush entangled.
We’ll look at some of the best robot vacuums available in the Best Reviews Guide list. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by their capabilities–and how conveniently they can ensure your house is clean!
Types of Robot Vacuums
As the use of WiFi technology becomes more widespread (and affordable), more and more robot vacuums are controllable by means of a smartphone app. But, not all models use WiFi yet. And even among those that are controlled by a smartphone app, there are still some variations between models. For example,
Remote control, no WiFi: You’ll see robot vacuums that you program by means of a handheld remote control. The remote control allows you to select between auto mode, edge clean mode, spot clean, and “quick clean”, where it quickly goes through the house. You can also use the remote control to get it out of a jam if it gets stuck in between the legs of a chair. An example is the eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S Max. Although it can’t be controlled by a smartphone app, it still has impressive sensors that can make the transition from hard floors to carpets. It also has the BoostIQ feature, which allows it to automatically employ more suction when it’s vacuuming a carpet than when on a smooth hard floor.
eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S Max
Control by Smartphone app: The majority of robot vacuums nowadays can be controlled by means of a smartphone app. For example, the iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum and Mop can be told when to clean, which rooms to vacuum, which rooms to mop, and even how much water to use when mopping—all from your smartphone!
iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum and Mop
All of the smartphone-controlled options that we reviewed also feature voice commands, interacting with the robot vacuum by means of Alexa, Siri, or Google Assistant.
What reviewers say
Here are some pieces of advice from manufacturers and customers reagarding select robot vacuums:
Unibody filter vs. triple filter system: Some vacuums use a series of three separate filters, one of them being a HEPA filter that removes 99.7% of impurities larger than 3 microns. But, there are also vacuums that use a unibody filter, such as the eufy Robovacs. It’s a single unit that performs all of the filtering functions of the triple filter system. you just remove the filter unit and wash it. This tends to last longer than 3 separate filters.
Avoiding obstacles: As we mentioned in the introduction, a robot vacuum only became practical when it could effectively avoid obstacles around your house or flights of stairs. But what if your pet has an accident? The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ has been programmed to know what it can clean, and what it should avoid. For example, it won’t try to scoop up pet waste and risk spreading it all over your house! It will also avoid common household objects that might be on the floor, such as clothes, shoes, and towels.
Other features for pet owners: Avoiding dog pooh is not the only feature these robot vacuums have. The iRobot Roomba Combo j7+ also has a special brush that will still effectively pick up pet hair, without the brush getting tangled.
Treats multiple surfaces: One customer said that their iRobot Roomba was able to handle wood and laminate floors, tile, and carpets. It was smart enough to know not to use cleaning fluid on the carpet and would use more cleaning fluid on dried-up dirt.
Here are some features to look for in choice robot vacuums. Some are common to practically all robot vacuums nowadays, while other features are unique to certain models:
Adjusts the suction: Many robot vacs will not only be able to transition from carpets to hardwood or vinyl floors. They’ll even know to adjust their suction, by using more suction when on a carpet, and relaxing when they go on a hard floor. The suction of a vacuum will be given in the units of Pascals, or Pa, which is pressure per square meter. One of the most powerful models we studied was the Yeedi robot vac, with a suction of 3000 Pa.
Adjusts for height: Besides adjusting the suction level, these robot vacs are also able to adjust for the height of the surface that they’re cleaning. Thus, when it hits a carpet, it will lift up the mop pad, and only vacuum.
Advantage of a D-shape: You’ll notice that many robot vacuums are circular. This can present a problem when they encounter walls or corners. Many robot vacs will have side brushes in addition to a central roll brush. The side brushes will help clean along walls. But, some robot vacuums will be D-shaped, with the front being straight. This will allow them to get into corners with ease. An example is the Neato D6 Robot Vacuum.
Neato D6 Robot Vacuum
Self-charging: A nice feature of these robot vacuums is that they sense when they are low on battery power. They proceed to the docking station to get recharged. When fully charged, they resume cleaning exactly from where they left off!
Self-emptying feature: Robot vacuums will collect debris in a dustbin. Some more advanced models allow the vacuum to deposit the collected debris in the charging unit. For example, the charging unit on the iRobot Roomba s9+ can hold enough debris for 60 days of cleaning! The dustbin on the vacuum itself can hold 400 ml of debris, and the dust bag on the charging unit can hold 1 liter.
We briefly discussed the advantages of the present generation of robot vacuums. They can maintain your home’s carpets and floors with a minimum of maintenance: you just have to supply the water reservoir with cleaning fluid if you need it to mop and empty out the dustbin when necessary. Otherwise, they can essentially be programmed to do all the vacuuming and mopping when you’re either asleep or away! Let a robot vac do these stultifying chores for you, so you’re free for more important things!