The best robot vacuums can make your life easier by taking on the chore of floor cleaning for you. Not only do they have the similar suction power to many of the best cordless vacuums out there they also use a range of sensors to work their way around your home without colliding with walls or furniture.
It’s no wonder the best robot vacuums are becoming increasingly popular - the ability to outsource sucking up dust and debris to an appliance letting you put your feet up is the stuff of dreams. Some robot vacuums can even be controlled by your voice rather than a smartphone, while others can mop hard floors as well as vacuum them thanks to built-in water tanks. Whether you have carpet or hard floors, there’s a robot vacuum out there to suit you.
Whether you have carpet or hard floors in your home, if you’re looking to replace one of the best vacuum cleaners with one of the best robot vacuums on the market, there are some things to consider.
Battery life is an important aspect, as nobody wants a robot vacuum that runs out of power halfway through cleaning your home. Also, look for a smart mapping feature that ensures the robot vacuum learns the layout of your home and can clean specific rooms or areas at the touch of a button. You may also want a robot vacuum that empties its own dust canister, meaning it really can be left to clean your floors unaided.
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to robot vacuums, so we’ve tested and reviewed a range of models to make it easier to find the best robot vacuum for you.
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The best robot vacuums we've tested 2021: ranked
The Roomba i7+ was always going to be an impressive cleaning machine, as it boasts the same smarts to keep from crashing into objects and environment mapping so it quickly learns every nook and cranny of your home, just like the iRobot Roomba 980. However, integration with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant along with the ability to store maps of every room in your home in a secure area online speeding up cleaning time, means it’s been elevated to another level.
The jewel in the crown for us is the robot vacuum’s ability to automatically empty its dust bin. When it docks, the debris in the dust bin is immediately sucked up and stored in a disposable bag which makes up part of the dock. These bags hold around 30 days worth of dust. You’ll get an alert on the app when it needs replacing, but at $14.99 / £21.95 / AU$59 for three bags, this creates an ongoing cost for the robot vacuum.
It retains the familiar circular design and rotating body found on previous Roomba robot vacuums, so it has no problems manoeuvring through narrow areas. We were impressed at its dust pick-up both on floorboards, tiles and other hard surfaces, as well as carpet. This is, in part, thanks to the rubber rollers. As well as being two rollers rather than just one, they have more refined grooves which further improves the dust pick up.
Read our full review: iRobot Roomba i7+
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is a robot vacuum to rival the Roomba i7+, and we mean that. It's a good looking vacuum that more than gets the job done, but its laurels don't rest there.
The revelatory feature with the Neato Botvac D7 Connected are so-called 'no-go lines', which allow you to cordon off areas of your home that you don't want the vacuum to venture into. This could be your desk, which is moated by wires that would normally spell treachery for a robotic vacuum.
Creating a boundary for robot vacuums isn't unique to the Botvac D7, but it's really nifty in this application because you can draw a line using the app while the vacuum is in use to, say, keep the D7 from venturing into a room you want it to stay out of.
The biggest draw back with the D7 is that its bin isn't as big as the original Botvac Connected, and it doesn't have a 'bin full' sensor, so it ends up overfilling.
Read our full review: Neato Botvac D7 Connected
Where the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI stands out from the rest of the best robot vacuum cleaners competition is in its ability to mop your floors.
Sure, you won't get an elbow-grease effort out of the robot vacuum cleaner as it slushes water over your linoleum, but it can whisk away footprints and other surface-level stains in a snap. Although, you’ll need to remove the mopping plate when you want it to vacuum carpets.
It’s got a built-in camera designed to help it ‘see’ (and avoid) small objects, like cables, socks or toys - although they can still be sucked up by the vacuum, so ideally pick them up first. When the vacuum isn’t cleaning, you can get it to act as a security guard for your home, letting you see and speak to anyone in the house through the app.
We were impressed by it’s battery life, too. Ecovas claims it’ll last up to three hours, and we found there was still some juice left to spare after it had made its way round an average-sized two-bedroom apartment on the highest suction level.
While we found the dust pick up on hard floors and carpets was good, it tended to misse corners and edges. The mopping function was pretty woeful, too. There’s no scrubbing action, either so it struggles to remove spills and stains.
Read our full review: Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI
The Roborock S6 MaxV stands out for battery life. Roborock says it will manage up to three hours of continuous cleaning in its least powerful mode. During testing, we used the middle-of-the-road ‘balanced mode’ which meant 30 minutes cleaning over an area of 20 square meters (215 square feet) depleted the battery by 20% - a decent level of performance.
The Roborock S6 MaxV has dual cameras and a LiDAR, so it’s quick when it comes to mapping a room, it’ll even mark obstacles like discarded shoes or furniture on the map, and snap a photo which can be seen in the app. The app even uses AI processing to identify the obstacle, which works most of the time.
We were impressed with its dust pick up on carpets and hard floors - offering similar suction to its competitors. It can mop as well as vacuum, too but its dual function means it’s one of the biggest robot vacuums we’ve tested. At 19.2 x 16 x 6.1in (48.8 x 40.6 x 15.6cm) it takes up a significant amount of space and did struggle to get between chair legs. However, it’s surprisingly quiet in use, making it more of a gentle giant.
Read our full review: Roborock S6 MaxV
The Eufy RoboVac 11 isn't the most tech'd out or high-end robot vacuum, but it isn't afraid to get down and dirty and get the cleaning job done.
The best part about the RoboVac 11 is that it's cheaper than most robot vacuum cleaners on the market, so you can get the convenience of a vacuum that works on its own at a fraction of the cost.
Unfortunately, that low price means you miss out on things like a companion app, so you have to use a remote instead, and overall the RoboVac 11 is more... manual than we would have liked. The more recent RoboVac 30C fills in these gaps with an app and smart assistant capability, but there's still something to be said for the bargain vacuuming on offer here.
What's more, battery life leaves something to be desired, though while it's not as long-lasting as higher-end models, it's probably plenty of juice to satisfy your cleaning needs.
Read our full review: Eufy RoboVac 11
Not all robot vacuums are shiny, whirring pucks from the future. Some, like the Ecovacs Deebot N79S, are more subdued. This isn't an ugly vacuum by any means, but possibly one that's a bit on the plain side. Still, it's really about how it cleans that matters, not how it looks.
You have several modes to choose from with the Deebot N79S, and it comes with a remote that it's quite responsive to. Yes, you can use your smartphone to control the N79S, but the vacuum seems to prefer using the paired remote.
In our tests, we were impressed with the Deebot N79S' ability to not plunge to an early end at the bottom of our steep stairs, so its world-sensing abilities are up to snuff. It did tend to get stuck under furniture, however, so you may come home to find your Deebot wedged under a coffee table, unable to get itself free.
Don't expect a deep clean with this robot vacuum, but it will suck up enough to get surface dirt and dust off of your hardwood floors and carpet. Nicely, the Deebot N79S is rather quiet, making night vacuuming possible.
It's also compatible with Alexa, so you can set the Deebot N79S robot vacuum cleaning using just your voice.
Read our full review: Ecovacs Deebot N79S Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
How we test robot vacuums
To identify the best robot vacuums, we put models from big brands such as Shark, Dyson, and Roomba to the test along with smaller names including Eufy and Roborock. We evaluate the dirt pick-up of each model covering both fine dust and cookie crumbs, along with larger particles including cereal, while also looking at whether its pick-up on edges and in crevices is as good as on large surface areas.
As well as assessing how effectively the robot vacuums clean floors, we also compare how easily they maneuver on carpet and hard floors, as well as whether the robovac takes a logical path around a home or cleans in a random pattern, which means areas could easily be missed. We also looked for robot vacuums that can learn the layout of your home meaning they can be dispatched to clean a certain room or areas in just a few taps.
We rate each robot vacuum on how easy it was to empty, how loud it is in use, and how long the battery lasts between charges, too.
Is it worth buying a robot vacuum?
In short, yes. Robot vacuums can be more expensive than an upright or cordless vacuum but you’re paying for the added convenience of not having to do the vacuuming yourself. Robot vacuums are a great solution for busy people who simply don’t have time to put the vacuum around but they also offer a good alternative for those with mobility issues because all you need to do is switch them on.
Many robot vacuums cope well with both hardwood floors and carpeted areas but if your home has lots of staircases then, you’ll need an additional vacuum to clean the stairs. With many robot vacuums suitable for programing from your phone, you’ll be able to switch these devices on when you’re out and about and come home to clean floors.
Can a robot vacuum replace a normal vacuum?
Robot vacuums can offer a very impressive clean, even on thick carpets which makes them a good alternative to an upright or other types of vacuums. They’ll be more convenient too as you can set them to work when you’re busy doing other things. The dust cups on robot vacuums are often smaller than you’d expect to find on a canister or an upright vacuum cleaner.
While robot vacuums don’t have crevice tools that work well down the side of your sofa or on your stairs, these machines do normally have small brushes on the outside of their shells. The brushes do a good job of getting close to baseboards and making sure that any crumbs or dirt on hard floors doesn’t escape the vacuum’s suction.
Which robot vacuum should I buy?
We’ve included a range of robot vacuums above and have crowned the iRobot as the best robot vacuum on the market, however, the right option for you will depend on what you’re looking for.
If you’ve got pets at home, you might want to consider a robot vacuum for pet hair or one that can even empty its own dust cup so you don’t have to worry about that. Alternatively, if you need a robot vacuum to whizz around when you’re busy, and you already have an upright or a cordless vacuum to tackle deep cleaning, your best bet might be an affordable Eufy robot vacuum as these are often cheaper than the premium models.
Whatever you’re looking for, consider the battery run-time, the bin capacity, and any smart features that are included with each model.
How do robot vacuums work?
Robot vacuums have a series of brushes on the underside of the machine that work together to collect dirt and dust that they come in contact with. The dirt is then sucked up into the dust cup, which is fitted in the body of the vacuum. Most are fitted with smaller brushes that extend past the circumference of the vacuum and the purpose of these is to reach dirt that’s settled against baseboards or in awkward places.
More advanced robot vacuums have lasers on the front of the machine and some on the underside of the machine too. These lasers detect where furniture, objects, and edges are in your home helping to avoid bumps and cliff detection prevents the machine from falling down the stairs. Read our article How do robot vacuums work to find out even more.
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