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Vacuums have come a long way. You no longer have to suffer the indignity of dragging around an unwieldy plastic hose connected to a clumsy, wheeled canister the size of a Galapagos tortoise. In fact, you don’t even need to get off of the couch. Though it still feels like a relatively new product category, there are several good robot vacuums available to help you dispose of dust, pet hair, and other debris in your home—without needing to lift a finger. Which is the right one for you? We’ve rounded up our highest-rated robot vacuums, and provided a few pointers to help you find just the bot you’re looking for.
Robot Vacuums vs. Cansiter and Upright
Unlike more traditional canister or stick models, robot vacuums are autonomous and (for the most part) intelligent. The vacuums we’ve tested are equipped with lasers, motherboards, sensors, and even Wi-Fi to navigate around your home without the need for assistance. With a few exceptions, you barely have to interact with them at all.
Most robot vacuums come with charging docks and can even charge themselves. Just pick a robot-accessible spot for the dock, and the bot will return on its own before it runs out of juice. When it does, it will sit there until it has enough energy to go back out and continue to bust dust from where it left off. You can also set schedules for most bots to wake up and start a cleaning job, so it can take place while you’re out of the house. That means you can potentially avoid all physical interaction until the vacuum needs to be emptied—you still can’t take that step out of the equation.
Also unlike many traditional vacuums, all of the robots included here don’t use bags to hold the dust, hair, and other debris they suck up. Instead, they use an easy-to-remove dustbin you can simply eject and empty into the nearest garbage can. And many come equipped with HEPA filters that prevent allergens from spreading through the air.
Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?
A robot vacuum is usually higher in price than a traditional vacuum (though not always; the Dyson Cinetic Animal + Allergy costs $700). The models listed here range from under $200 to $1,000. That’s a pretty sizable investment, even on the lower end. Let’s consider just what you get for the price.
Unless you really love to vacuum, the task itself is pretty mundane. Depending on the size of your house, a robot vacuum can save you anywhere from minutes to hours of your time every week by taking care of a pretty thankless chore. That alone is reason enough for some people to consider one.
In addition, robot vacuums have reached the point where they’re basically just as effective and powerful as regular vacuums. The robots rounded up here use filters, side brushes, and spinning brushes that will do an equally good job of cleaning your home as their upright equivalents. They’re also fairly compact, so they won’t take up much space in your storage closet. And they’re able to travel underneath most couches and tables, so you don’t have to rearrange furniture. Even if you do, the more advanced robots on this list use memory banks to note where furniture is placed, so as not to bump into anything on a future pass.
Also worth mentioning: Smart robot vacuums are much more affordable now. What are the benefits of connectivity? Most Wi-Fi vacuums can be programmed and controlled remotely using your smartphone. Some can even be activated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.
Premium connected bots can generate statistics and maps of the areas they’ve cleaned. Some of Neato’s Botvacs even create personalized floor plans that eliminate the need for you to use physical “virtual walls” to cordon off sections of your home. Meanwhile, the Samsung Powerbot R7070 can easily integrate into existing routines with other smart home devices if you have a SmartThings Hub. So while connected bots are generally pricier, they do come with some nice perks.
Which Vacuum Is Best for Pet Hair? Hardwood?
Generally speaking, all the vacuums we’ve tested can handle hardwood floors and pet hair without issue. Floor-cleaning robots like the iRobot Braava Jet specialize in mopping and sweeping. They aren’t eligible for this list because they don’t suck up dirt and debris, but they will get your hardwood floors nice and shiny. Some vacuums, like the Bobsweep PetHair Plus and Bobi Pet come with mop attachments, but they’re not as effective overall.
For more, see our list of The Best Robot Mops.
How We Test Robot Vacuums
We test robot vacuums in PC Labs and in our actual homes, with the following categories in mind: battery life, navigation, setup, suction, and if it supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the app experience.
Chances are you don’t want to babysit your vacuum. That means you’re looking for a robot that can traverse different floor types or maneuver around furniture without needing help. This is especially true if you have dark flooring, as infrared sensors might confuse a black carpet with a ledge, and refuse to pass over it. We test vacuums on hardwood, tile, and darkly colored rugs to see how well they manage the transitions across various surfaces.
Battery life is also an important factor to consider based on the size of your home. In general, most robot vacuums can run for at least 60 to 70 minutes, which should be enough to tackle many apartments and single-floor homes. If you have a bigger living area, you’ll want to look for something in the 90-minute range so it can hit every room in the house before requiring a recharge. To test this, we charge the battery to full, start a cleaning cycle, and time how long the robot runs before it needs to be docked. And if a robot says it can automatically dock, we check to see if it can easily find its way home.
Another note on battery life: The number you see listed in the chart above is our tested result in normal mode. High-power or other modes often bring that number down a bit.
Most robot vacuums are reliable when it comes to getting rid of standard household detritus, so you don’t really have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to suck up lint, dirt, or hair. Since we test all the robot vacuums in the same home environment, we check how full dustbins get and whether obvious debris like food particles and visible dust bunnies are picked up. We also note whether the robot uses a random or methodical cleaning pattern. Random cleaners often run across the same space multiple times but take a longer time to get everything. Methodical cleaners don’t take as long, but may only pass through a room once unless programmed otherwise.
Finally, we test how easy it is to set up, program, and control the robot. Some only require an initial battery charge, while others ask you to install side brushes and batteries. For connected bots, app design and reliable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi connectivity are major factors that impact your experience. We provide a detailed analysis of our experience in each review, and you can see our Vacuum Product Guide for the latest models.
Best Robot Vacuums Featured in This Roundup:
Ecovacs Deebot N79S Review
$215.00 at Amazon Pros: Affordable. Powerful suction. App control. Amazon Alexa compatibility. Cons: Finicky Wi-Fi setup. Minor navigation issues. Bottom Line: The Ecovacs Deebot N79S robot vacuum offers powerful cleaning, app control, and Alexa voice command support for an unbeatable price. Read Review
iRobot Roomba 960 Review
$549.00 at Amazon Pros: Good navigation capabilities. Handles different floor types well. Relatively quiet. Works with smartphone app and voice control via Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Shows map of cleaned areas. Cons: Occasionally gets stuck under low furniture. Can’t steer using phone app. Bottom Line: The iRobot Roomba 960 isn’t cheap, but thanks to a mix of premium features and performance, it’s the best high-end robot vacuum for the price. Read Review
iRobot Roomba i7+ Review
$949.99 at Best Buy Pros: Self-emptying dustbin. Multistory mapping. Excellent camera-based navigation. Automatic room recognition. Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. Cons: Expensive. Noisy. Clean Base is bulky. Bottom Line: With the ability to empty its own dustbin, iRobot’s Roomba i7+ is the first robot vacuum we’ve tested that truly does all of the work for you. Read Review
Neato Botvac D4 Connected Review
$499.99 at Amazon Pros: Excellent laser navigation. Supports cleaning maps. Virtual No-Go boundary lines. Smart charging. Alexa and Google Assistant compatible. Integrates with IFTTT and the Apple Watch. Cons: Battery life could be longer. Loud. Bottom Line: The Neato Botvac D4 Connected isn’t cheap, but it offers virtual boundaries and customized cleaning maps for less than any other robot vacuum. Read Review
Neato Botvac D7 Connected Review
$813.99 at Amazon Pros: Excellent navigation capabilities and battery life. Detailed, interactive cleaning maps. App-based virtual boundaries. Expanded third-party integration including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT. Cons: Expensive. Small dustbin. Loud. Bottom Line: Neato’s Botvac D7 Connected offers interactive cleaning maps, long battery life, and better third-party smart home integration than any other robot vacuum. Read Review
Eufy RoboVac 11s Review
$220.44 at Amazon Pros: Affordable. Compact. Quiet. Strong cleaning performance. Good battery life. Cons: No virtual barriers or app control. Limited scheduling options. Bottom Line: The Eufy RoboVac 11s is an affordable, frills-free robot vacuum that’s small enough to clean under even the lowest furniture. Read Review
iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner Review
$159.99 at Amazon Pros: Compact size. Long battery life. Supports scheduling and multiple cleaning modes. Cons: Occasionally became lost returning to charging dock in testing. Bottom Line: The iLife A4s is a compact, no-frills robot vacuum cleaner that sucks up dirt and debris without emptying your wallet. Read Review
iRobot Roomba 690 Review
$299.00 at Amazon Pros: Relatively affordable. Controllable via phone app. Compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands. Powerful suction. Cons: Navigation issues with dark flooring and docking in testing. Bottom Line: iRobot’s Roomba 690 vacuum offers lots of functionality for the price, including control via smartphone and support for voice commands through popular smart home devices. Read Review
Neato Botvac D5 Connected Review
$476.99 at Best Buy Pros: Relatively compact. Good at cleaning edges and underneath cabinets. Excellent battery life. Sleek, easy-to-use app. Cons: Pricey. No steering options. Dustbin is small and finicky to remove. Bottom Line: The Neato Botvac D5 Connected is an all-around solid robot vacuum with accurate laser navigation and built-in Wi-Fi for app control from your phone. Read Review
Samsung Powerbot R7070 Review
$499.99 at Amazon Pros: Powerful suction. Flat edge works well in tight spaces. Manual steering option. Smart navigation over different floor types. App control. Cons: Middling battery life. Wi-Fi features aren’t utilized well. App crashed often and frequently needed to reconnect in testing. Alexa integration is unreliable. Bottom Line: The Samsung Powerbot R7070 is a connected robot vacuum that gets a lot of things right, but unimpressive battery life and some connectivity issues hold it back.