When you watch the sci-fi movies and TV shows of yesteryear, they promise us a future full of cool robots that can do just about anything. Instead of this fully-automated future, we have pocket-sized computers that suck the life out of us and robots that clean your floor. I’m not complaining. I’m just saying sci-fi writers are more disappointing than offers of “free beer.”
Anyway, robotic vacuums have been around for a couple decades now, but they are still cost-prohibitive for most of us. I’ve ghostwritten extensively about these Kafkaesque cleaners for several tech websites, and if you have the money and the laziness, they are well-worth the cost. But, you need to be savvy when you’re shopping. Below is what you need to look for as well as Brains Report’s top picks for the best robotic vacuums.
Traditional Vacuums Still Reign Supreme
According to the Brains Report’s Department of Nonsense Statistics, 31 percent of our tax dollars go to developing robot vacuum technologies. Yet, these cute little cleaning circles do not generally have much canister capacity to hold your filth, they get caught on some items in your home, and the suction typically isn’t as strong as the vacuums you have to push around.
On the other hand, you can expect good performance from the models that made our list, and they are ideal if you’re like me and would rather move to a new place than do any sort of cleaning.
How big is your home? Some models can’t handle a huge house on a single charge. Of course, if you’re willing to splurge on one of the $$$ picks below, you can expect it to clean thousands of square feet and never have to worry about dying in the middle of a job. Before you shop for your robot maid, be sure to get a precise square footage measurement of your dwellings to be sure you choose a machine appropriate for you.
The size of the vacuum also matters. If you want it to clean under your futon, you will need to make sure the Roomba isn’t too tall.
What about Carpeting?
Many robotic vacuums are designed to be used on either hard floors or carpeting. You will need to know whether you have these surfaces in your home and want to clean them before you shell out hundreds of bucks on the wrong type of robot. All-surface robotic vacuums clean hard floors and carpeting, but they will not clean all surfaces so don’t go popping it into the toilet.
How Many Cats Is ‘Too Many’?
Robotic vacuums are ideal for cat people, both people who own cats and people who are cats. Many models specialize in picking up pet hair, including locks from toddlers who turn their safety scissors on themselves. Be sure to pick a model with a HEPA filter if you suffer from allergies. These will decrease the number of “gesundheits” in your home.
As with everything great in life, there are downsides to robot vacuums that clean up pet hair. For one, you will need to replace the HEPA filter every year or so, which can be a costly endeavor. Also, pet hair can clog your robot.
Get with the Program
Most of the newer robotic vacuums make it easy for you to program your little friend to clean on a precise schedule. You just let it know when you want it to be on the clock, and it does the rest. For instance, we recommend that you program your robot to vacuum when you aren’t home so it isn’t constantly scaring the creamed corn out of you.
Remote controls are also nice because you can direct the robotic vacuum where it is most needed, or you can have friends bring their Roombas over for your own revival of the hit television show BattleBots.
The really fancy models have Wi-Fi connectivity. This allows you to use your smartphone to let your brushy pal know that he better get to work cleaning because things are going well at the bar, and you might bring an anal-retentive love interest home with you.
Let’s Get Down to Brass Tacks Here
As an Amazon Associate, I’ve sworn an oath of secrecy regarding the costs of robot vacuums. Well, actually, I can’t list prices here because they would probably be outdated within minutes. To solve this problem, I’ll give you some general pricing guidelines:
- $ = about $150 to $249.99
- $$ = about $250 to $349.99
- $$$ = about $350 to $700
For more specific pricing, be sure to click any of the products below to see the current best deals on Amazon.
Now that you have an idea of what to look for, here are our picks for the top 10 best robotic vacuums:
- Works on laminate, hardwood, tile, carpet, and all other floor types
- Three-stage cleaning: agitates, brushes, and vacuums
- Uses iAdapt Navigation to adapt to your mess of a home
There are two features that make the iRobot Roomba 630 cool. First, the iAdapt is an advanced system of sensors and software that ensures the Roomba covers every part of your floor several times, including under cabinets and furniture, along walls, and around everyday obstacles. The three-stage AeroVac cleaning is also pretty cool. It uses a spinning side brush to loosen dust and dirt, another brush acts like a broom to pull debris from the floor, and the vacuum gets the debris, hair, dirt, and Lego pieces. Users are impressed with its ability to get into the hard to reach places. This model is 3.6-inches tall.
2. iRobot Roomba 650 Robot Vacuum – $$
- Has same iAdapt and three-stage cleaning as above model
- Schedule up to seven times per week
- Works on all floor types
On paper, about the only differences between the iRobot Roomba 650 and our top choice, the 630, are that the 650 costs about $50 less and allows you to schedule cleanings. So, why isn’t this our number one? The main reason is that there are some buyers who report that the suction isn’t as good. You do need to make sure that the area where the dirt and debris collects is cleaned out regularly, or you can forget about suction. Also, if you have a pet that “has accidents,” you might want to avoid the scheduling feature. Otherwise, the Roomba will spread the poo across your floor like peanut butter on warm toast.
3. Eufy RoboVac 11+ – $
- Three-point cleaning that is similar to the above models
- Runs for 100 minutes on a single charge
- Comes with remote control and twelve-month warranty (which is one year in my book)
The Eufy RoboVac 11+ is the only robotic vacuum in our top six that isn’t a Roomba, and it isn’t just because the name sounds like UFIA. The fancy “technology” that the RoboVac uses is Power Boost, which increases suction power to 1000Pa automatically when extra strength is needed for stubborn surfaces, like carpeting. Verified purchasers are particularly impressed with how quiet it runs and were surprised that it worked better than older-model Roombas.
4. iRobot Roomba 652 Robot Vacuum – $$
- Dirt Detect sensors tells robot where to work harder
- Auto-Adjust Cleaning Head that adjusts automatically to clean hard floors and carpet
- Scheduling and three-stage cleaning
How is the iRobot Roomba 652 different from the 650 and 630? Well, it’s the least expensive Roomba on our list, the battery life is longer, and it is not rated as highly as the other two. Buyers complain that it misses a lot of debris and that it is a pain to clean the brushes after every few uses. Still, users with experience using the Roomba are impressed with how well this one does in nooks and crannies but especially nooks but also especially crannies.
- Alexa can tell Roomba what to do
- iRobot HOME app allows you to customize your cleaning preferences using your phone
- Uses iAdapt 2.0 Navigation
Do you get it yet? iRobot, a company founded by MIT roboticists in 1990, knows their stuff. That’s why no one calls these machines “robotic vacuums.” They’re called Roombas. And, the 960 is the most advanced model on our list. It costs more than twice as much as everything else on here (except for the 770). Users found that this has the most suction power of any Roomba model while also having higher intelligence that rivals Stephen Hawking. This is the model you need to watch out for because it could become self-aware and enslave us all.
- Automatically docks and recharges
- 6” tall
- Virtual Wall technology keeps Roomba in room you specify
I don’t know why the Roomba 770 is expensive. It doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity. It doesn’t empty its own dustbin or anything. And, it doesn’t perform sexual favors (as far as I could tell). The 770 has the standard Roomba features, but you would probably be better off with one of the above models.
- Wi-Fi connectivity
- 100+ minute battery life
- One-year warranty
The ECOVACS DEEBOT N79 is one of the most affordable options on our list, and it comes with an impressive array of features for its price. This could easily be higher on our list, except that it’s relatively new so we’re not sure how it will work long-term. So far, users are surprised that it does as well as some higher-end models.
- Cleans for up to 140 minutes
- Uses brushless DC electric motor, which allows for quiet operation
- Three-step cleaning
The ILIFE A4s has a surprising amount of suction for a cleaner of its price. It is programmable, has a remote control, and works on all types of floors. It picks up everything, including socks and tissues, which will cause it to turn off. So, maybe you should be more considerate of your robot critter and not be such a slob?
9. bObi Pet Robotic Vacuum Cleaner – $$
- HEPA filter
- In addition to vacuuming and sweeping, it UV sterilizes and mops
- bObsweep says it has a “TouchMe” texture
Amazon says that the bObi Pet vacuum is knocked down from a regular price of $849, but I think they’re just saying that to make you feel like you’re getting this product for a steal. The bObi Pet was specifically designed for cat ladies. It comes with a two-year warranty and a 60-day money-back guarantee. This model also comes with bObi blOcks that section off parts of rooms. This product is ideal for allergy sufferers, pet people, and weirdos who like inappropriate capitalization.
10. PureClean Robot Vacuum Cleaner – $
- 3.1-inches tall
- 90 minutes of cleaning before automatically recharging
- HEPA filter
With some buying guides, by the time I get down to the 10th option, I’m usually talking about products that are just good. On this list, every alternative is great, including the PureClean Robot Vacuum Cleaner. This is the cheapest solution in our top 10. Yet, you still get a low-profile design, HEPA filter, 24w suction, remote control, and the ability to program and schedule it.
There! I just wrote a whole buying guide about vacuums without making a clever reference to how much they “suck.” I am available this weekend to accept my Pulitzer Prize.
If you know a dirty bird who could use a good cleaning, share this guide with them!