Best Robot Vacuum 2020: Time-Saving Smart Vacuum Cleaners
TL;DR – These are the Best Robot Vacuums:
1. iRobot Roomba 960
Best Robot Vacuum
Robot vacuums vary in price from $200 all the way up to over $1,000, so it’s tough to pick a “best” for everybody—but my one overall recommendation is the iRobot’s Roomba 960. Unlike cheaper robots, it has the ability to map your house using its camera and optical sensor, leading to a more methodical and reliable cleaning that doesn’t miss big spots. It also uses brushless rollers, which are great for picking up hair without getting tangled. Furthermore, Roomba vacuums are remarkably repairable, partially because their popularity creates a healthy supply of replacement parts.The 960 also has Wi-Fi functionality, so you can start a cleaning with Alexa or Google, as well as through the iRobot app when you’re away from home. It isn’t exactly cheap at $600, but it’s far from the most expensive, and if you want a great vacuum without climbing all the way to the top of Roomba’s price range, the 960 is a great pick for anybody.
2. Eufy RoboVac 11S Max
Best Budget Robot Vacuum
You may have never heard of Eufy before, but if you’ve ever searched for Bluetooth speakers or portable power banks, you’ve probably heard of Anker. That’s just the company behind the Eufy brand of smart home gadgets, and the company’s attention to affordable quality has led to some great robot vacuums. Eufy has a strong position in the budget section of the robot vacuum market, and it’s grown even better with the RoboVac 11S Max.
This new model updates the RoboVac 11S we already favored at the budget segment. The RoboVac 11S Max is a slim (under 3 inches tall), robot vacuum that can slip under plenty of furniture to ensure your whole floor is getting cleaned. In spite of its size, it offers up 2,000Pa of suction power and can tackle hard floors and medium-pile carpets. On its standard setting, it can clean for up to 100 minutes, letting it tackle big cleaning jobs.
At the price, it’s an impressive option, though you also could go with the now-cheaper RoboVac 11S and trade off a bit of suction power. If you don’t need your carpets cleaned, you can also check out the RoboVac G10 Hybrid, which adds in smart navigation and a mopping function with only a small increase in price.
3. Tesvor S6
Best High-Power Robot Vacuum
For powerful suction, the Tesvor S6 has you covered. This robot vacuum can pull in with a whopping 2,700Pa of suction power, blowing away (or sucking up) much of the competition. That suction alone could make the Tesvor S6 appeal to some, but it matches that with some serious functionality for a robot vacuum at its price point.
The Tesvor S6 maps your home and navigates it using Lidar, not the bump-and-run approach of some of the more affordable options on the market. But, it gets even smarter than that. Drop sensors will help it avoid the peril of stairways, and you can program it to avoid cleaning certain areas. After it’s done vacuuming or if it’s low on battery, it can head back to the charger automatically. And, if all the dust is cleared but your floor still needs cleaning, you can swap on an optional water tank to run the Tesvor S6 in mopping mode.
4. iRobot Roomba 675
Best Midrange Roomba
The Roomba 675 offers a more affordable vacuum from the respectable iRobot brand. It’s a simpler model than the more premium (and much more expensive) Roombas, but it can still get the job done when it comes to cleaning your home. This robotic vacuum has enough power to handle hard floors and carpet, and can cruise around your space for up to 90 minutes on a single charge. You don’t have to worry about it falling down your stairs either thanks to a special built-in sensor. You can easily schedule it to keep your place clean, or control it through Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant for more impromptu cleanings.
5. iRobot Roomba s9+
Max High-End Robot Vacuum
Let’s say you’re on the opposite end of the spectrum. You’ve already got money growing on a tree in your backyard, and you want the most intelligent, powerful robot vacuum you can buy. That, my friends, would be the Roomba s9+, which costs a whopping $1,400. It takes everything great about the Roomba 960 and amps it up to 11, with incredibly powerful suction, a more advanced mapping system, a new design that’s better at cleaning corners, and a dust bin built into its home base, so you don’t have to empty it after every cleaning.
You can tell it which rooms to clean and which to avoid right from the app, and repairing it is just as easy as other Roomba models. If you have the cash to spend, this is the most powerful robot vacuum you can buy today. (If you want to save a bit of money, though, the slightly older Roomba i7+ has a lot of the same benefits for “only” $1,100).
6. Roborock S5 Max
Best Robot Vacuum and Mop Hybrid
Roborock may not have the name recognition that iRobot Roomba does, but it’s building a rock-solid reputation for itself. The Roborock S5 Max follows up on the S5 that we already liked plenty. And, for a price below many Roomba models, it can handle not just vacuuming but also mopping. The Roborock S5 Max has advanced sensors to map out rooms and prevent falls. That also lets you set up sections of your space you don’t want it to go or only want it to vacuum without mopping. It offers powerful suction and a three-hour battery life, giving it plenty of time to get your space clean. If it needs more power to get through a large space, it can even intelligently head back to the charge, juice up, and resume cleaning as soon as it has enough power.
7. Roborock S6 MaxV
Best Smart Robot Vacuum
When it comes to robot vacuums, few come close that smarts offered by the Roborock S6 MaxV. A lot of that comes down to this vacuum’s implementation of sensors, including LIDAR and two front-facing cameras. That pairing allows for advanced room mapping and object detection and recognition. In other words, the Roborock S6 MaxV learns its way around and will do a better job avoiding the fatal mistake many other vacuums make: running over stuff (like pet poo and power cables) you really don’t want it running over.
It’s not just the smarts, though. The Roborock S6 MaxV is also packed with capabilities. It can run in a mopping mode to clean deep, or it can vacuum on a low-power setting for up to three hours, even heading back to the charger if it needs a quick top-up to finish a larger cleaning job. It even will show you a map of the cleaning it did and anywhere it had to avoid an obstacle, letting you easily find what’s left and finish the cleaning.
8. Dyson 360 Heurist
Best Multi-Surface Robot Vacuum
After looking at so many robot vacuums, its’s surprising how many of their features are nearly identical. The designs are often so close to one another that you’d be forgiven for mistaking one for another. That similarity can make many of them at risk of the same issues, like struggling to get over small obstacles on the floor. The Dyson 360 Heurist is one robot vacuum that’s built different.
Not only does this vacuum use Dyson’s own, powerful suction motors, but it also ditches the skinny disk design for something more like a little tank. In fact, the Dyson 360 Heurist actually uses a tank tread design to help it roll around your house with ease. It features a wide brush bar that stretches the whole width of the vacuum for thorough cleaning of hard floors and even carpet. Just mind the height of this one, as it’s not as likely to squeeze under a lot of furniture as many of its competitors.
What to look for in a Robot Vacuum
These are far from the only robot vacuums on the market, but they are generally regarded as the best—and there are a lot out there that kind of suck (or don’t “suck,” as the case may be). And even among these few models, there are a lot of different features to look for that you may not have considered when setting out on your robot-buying expedition.
In particular, you want to keep an eye out for:
Suction power: Obviously, you want a vacuum that’ll pick up as much junk as possible, especially if you have thick carpets. Most robot vacuums don’t advertise their suction power (measured in pascals, or “pa,” of pressure), but a few do—so if you see a pascal rating when deciding between vacuums, it can be a helpful measure of its cleaning power. Not the only measure, mind you, but a helpful one.
Sensor type: Some robot vacuums navigate using optical sensors, like cameras—these can be great, but don’t always work in dark rooms (which may or may not matter to you). Other robots use infrared navigation, which works better in the dark and can more easily avoid objects.
Many robots use a combination of sensors for navigation, plus others that sense objects or tangles in the brushes. These little differences can affect how well they move around your home, so it’s worth looking at the idiosyncrasies of each robots’ movement—you don’t want to get stuck with one that…well, gets stuck a lot.
Wi-Fi capabilities: In my opinion, the best part of smart tech is being able to control it with your phone or voice—which requires a Wi-Fi chip in the vacuum. Some robots have this, and some don’t, but the ones that do tend to be a bit more expensive. It’s up to you whether those remote control conveniences are worth the extra price.
Mapping features: Cheaper robots tend to head in a random direction until they bump into something, then turn around and roll in another direction…repeating this process until they’ve covered most (or all) of your home. Pricier models, on the other hand, usually contain some sort of mapping feature, that navigates in a more methodical, grid-like fashion. Some vacuums clear this map from their memory after each cleaning, while others remember it for next time, allowing them to navigate it more effectively as they learn. You can also use those maps to clean specific areas with the tap of a button, thanks to…
Boundary setting: Again, cheaper robots may have boundary features—like the Roomba’s infrared boundary markers—that help keep them away from specific areas you don’t want to be cleaned. Eufy uses magnetic strips that lay across your floor. More advanced robots, though, may allow you to do this through the app, blocking off certain rooms by drawing virtual lines. Some robots can even automatically detect rooms on their map, allowing you to pick which rooms to clean at any given time. If you have areas you want the vacuum to avoid, this can be a crucial feature. Size, shape, and sound: You’ll also want to consider the design of your vacuum. Most models look pretty similar, so it isn’t really about style—it’s more about their ability to fit into corners, under beds and couches, and through tight areas. Smaller models may have a bit more maneuverability, but sacrifices in other areas, like suction or the size of their dust bin. You’ll also want to consider sound. None of these vacuums are silent by any means, but some are much louder than others and maybe the difference between running it while you’re watching TV and having to run it only while you’re out of the house.
Battery life: This only matters a little since most robot vacuums will go “home” and charge themselves before continuing on their route. Battery life is ultimately less important than with most gadgets, so I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Finally, remember that robot vacuums aren’t necessarily a replacement for your traditional vacuum—they’re more designed to keep your house clean in between regular cleaning. Few, if any, have the power and maneuverability of a stand-up vacuum you run yourself, and you’ll still need to vacuum and mop occasionally. But for those in-between cleanings, especially in homes with pets or kids, they can be a godsend to run each morning while you’re out of the house. I shudder to think of what my house would look like without one.
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Whitson Gordon is a writer, gamer, and tech nerd who has been building PCs for 10 years. He eats potato chips with chopsticks so he doesn’t get grease on his mechanical keyboard.
Mark Knapp is a regular contributor to IGN and an irregular Tweeter on Twitter @Techn0Mark