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Published Feb. 23, 2022

Robot vacuums follow your commands to spot clean, run the perimeter of a room, or take care of daily surface dirt. They’ve come a long way from the bumbling robots that took the occasional tumble down the stairs. Sophisticated (and expensive) models may use GPS mapping, self-empty, or function as both a vacuum and a mop, depending on the attached accessories. The layout of your home, cleaning goals, and budget can help determine the model that’s best suited for you. We’ve picked five standouts and provided some tips to help you make your pick. Remember that the best robot vacuum will run quietly in the background while you’re away, doing other jobs, or relaxing elsewhere.  

How We Selected These Products 

Methodology 

Robot vacuums are a popular product that I’ve tested and researched multiple times over the years. They’re a handy tool for the right home, but not everyone needs a model loaded with the latest features. As I made these picks, I considered:

  • Suction Power: Robot vacuums aren’t quite as powerful as upright or canister vacuums, but they need enough suction power to remove surface dirt from carpet and most debris from bare floors. 
  • Dust Bin Capacity: Dust bin capacity largely determines how much daily maintenance the user performs. Models with larger bins may be able to run several times before emptying. Self-emptying models could potentially run maintenance-free for several weeks before the user needs to empty the base. 
  • Mapping: How does the vacuum navigate? Those with GPS or other smart navigation features may remember the home layout for better cleaning and accuracy. Others may rely on basic navigation sensors to avoid obstacles. 
  • Features: Spot cleaning, perimeter cleaning, high-suction modes, and automatic suction detection are only a few of the extra features you may find on a robot vacuum. I considered the features included and how well they functioned in conjunction with the vacuum’s other features. 
  • Smart Features: Some vacuums can connect to virtual assistants for voiceless control. Others use sophisticated GPS mapping technology to learn, remember, and better clean the home. 
  • Battery Life/Running Time: A good robot vacuum should be able to run for at least 60 minutes on the basic suction mode. That’s enough time to clean one big room or possibly several small rooms. Keep in mind that the use of extra features may go through more battery power than standard settings, reducing the running time. 

The Best Robot Vacuums: Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: iRobot Roomba i7+

iRobot

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Why It Made The Cut: The i7+ balances several premium features with excellent suction and low maintenance, making it the best overall robot vacuum. 

Specs:

  • Battery Life: 60 minutes
  • Mapping: Multistory and automatic room recognition
  • Bin Size: .38L

Pros:

  • Maps and saves multiple stories (up to 10 floor plans)
  • Uses a sensitive navigation camera
  • Rubber brush works well for pet hair
  • Returns to base for charging and self-empties

Cons: 

  • Loud
  • Expensive

The iRobot Roomba i7+ doesn’t quite fall into the premium category, but it has a few premium features that make it one of the best robot vacuums on the market. The i7+ can map up to 10 floor plans/rooms for multistory or multiroomed homes. It takes several uses for the mapping to complete, so expect to use the i7+ three or four times per room before it will buzz around on its own. However, it also uses its mapping features to learn wall and door locations so it can better navigate from room to room. 

The i7+ avoids obstacles using a navigation camera, but there’s an app for setting the running schedule(s) and controlling the vacuum. You can connect the i7+ to Google Assistant or Alexa to use voice control too. Through the app, you can get cleaning suggestions, build a favorites list, and adjust schedules as needed from anywhere with an Internet connection. 

This model also self-empties into the somewhat bulky base. That means you don’t have to empty it every day. The vacuum returns to the base when it’s full or when the battery is getting low. Speaking of the battery, the i7+ doesn’t have one to brag about, but you get a solid 60 minutes per charge.

As far as weaknesses, the i7+ is on the loud side. If you’re noise sensitive, you might want to set the cleaning schedule for when you’re out of the house. The other issue — it’s pricey. It’s not as expensive as the premium Roomba models, but it will still set you back a few dollars. 

Best for Pet Hair: Eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac 11s 

Why It Made The Cut: The 11s has a combination of features, like BoostIQ, high suction, and a low profile, that let it tackle pet hair in places it likes to hide.

Specs:

  • Battery Life: 100 minutes
  • Mapping: Bounce navigation
  • Bin Size: .6L

Pros:

  • BoostIQ increases suction on thick carpets or extra dirty floors
  • Slim height fits under furniture
  • Large dustbin capacity
  • High 1300Pa suction power

Cons: 

  • No mapping or advanced navigation

The Eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac 11s has a combination of features, including BoostIQ and powerful suction, that effectively trap pet hair. The slim 2.83-inch design also glides under furniture, where pet hair likes to hide. 

The 1300Pa suction works well for pet hair, especially in conjunction with BoostIQ. BoostIQ adjusts the suction power used based on the depth of the carpet and dirtiness of the floor. For example, the suction power will increase on pet-heavy areas and reduce on bare floors with little debris. That extends the battery life and more effectively removes dirt. 

The 11s also has a large .6L dustbin. While that’s far smaller than a full size vacuum, for a robot vacuum, that’s a great capacity. That allows this vacuum to collect more debris during it’s 100 minute run time. 

On the downside, this model only has bounce navigation. It will bounce in a random pattern because there’s no mapping or navigation memory. 

Best Mop/Vacuum Hybrid: Roborock E4 Mop Robot Vacuum

Roborock

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Why It Made The Cut: The Roborock E4’s navigation outpaces the price and works well whether it’s the mop or vacuum that’s taking on dirty floors, making it the best mop/vacuum hybrid.

Specs:

  • Battery Life: 200 minutes
  • Mapping: Maps while it runs
  • Bin Size: .64L

Pros:

  • Impressive navigation system that connects rooms automatically
  • Does well on different surfaces
  • Automatically charges and returns to last cleaning area
  • Offers a silent and turbo mode

Cons: 

  • May have trouble with stairs

The Roborock E4 Mop Robot Vacuum comes at an affordable price and does a great job of navigating multiple-room, single-story homes. That, combined with the hybrid features, effectively reduces your cleaning load. 

Many robot vacuums wander before finding their way home, but not the Roborock E4. It’s accurate, charges, and starts where it left off. Whether you’re using the mop or vacuum, the Roborock E4 returns to the base for charging with surprising accuracy.

The vacuum and mop work well on bare floors, and the vacuum is average at carpet work. For the price, this model comes with a surprising number of modes, including turbo and silent modes, so you can base the mode on your mood or needs. It’s controlled through an app that lets you adjust the cleaning schedule or assign certain rooms for cleaning. 

The navigation is awesome, but oddly enough, the Roborock E4 has trouble with stairs. More than one has taken a tumble.

Best Self-Emptying: Shark RV1001AE IQ Robot Self-Empty XL

Why It Made The Cut: The Shark’s large base holds several weeks’ worth of debris for a set-it-and-forget-it vacuum that gets the best self-emptying award. 

Specs:

  • Battery Life: 97 minutes
  • Mapping: Maps as it goes and allows for virtual no-go zones
  • Bin Size: Base holds 45 days’ worth of debris

Pros:

  • High-capacity base
  • Self-cleaning brush roll reduces maintenance
  • Excellent mapping and navigation options
  • Returns to last position after recharging

Cons:

  •  Loud

The Shark RV1001AE IQ Robot Self-Empty XL gets top marks for the sheer size of the base. It can hold up to 45 days’ worth of debris. Just imagine how many times you won’t have to empty it after a full day’s cleaning. 

The Shark also has fairly impressive navigation, mapping out the home during the first few uses. You can use the app to create virtual no-go zones to keep it from entering certain spaces or avoid obstacles. However, you can also lay down physical strips to keep it from falling down stairs or running into other objects.

Along with the high-capacity base comes a self-cleaning brush roll that takes care of much of the maintenance for you. It runs a full 97 minutes on standard mode and returns to its last position after charging if it hasn’t completely finished a cleaning cycle. 

However, like many robot vacuums, the Shark is fairly loud. If you’re sensitive to noise, it’s best to run it when you’re gone.  

Best Budget: Eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac 15C

Why It Made The Cut: The Eufy performs well above its price point, runs quietly, and lets you program it using an app, making it the best budget robot vacuum. 

Specs:

  • Battery Life: 100 minutes
  • Mapping: None, uses bounce navigation
  • Bin Size: .6L

Pros:

  • Works via remote control or app
  • Compact design fits under furniture and other objects
  • Compatible with Google Home and Alexa

Cons: 

  • No mapping features
  • Does not support 5 GHz WiFi

The Eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac 15C comes in under $200 but offers excellent suction and versatile control options that are sometimes missing from premium models. 

The 15C works with a remote control or through the app. However, to use the more advanced features like scheduling, you’ll have to use the app. The remote still lets you adjust the suction level and change cleaning modes.

A slim design fits under furniture and other obstacles, reducing the number of places the 15C gets stuck. It has BoostIQ that adjusts the suction level based on the flooring type, providing more efficient cleaning. For the price, it offers good cleaning options, with five cleaning modes and three power levels. 

You do miss a few features in this price range, like mapping of any kind. It also works only on 2.4 GHz, so if you’re on 5 GHz WiFi, you’ll need a different robot vacuum.

Things to Consider When Buying a Robot Vacuum

Brush Design and Material

A robot vacuum’s brush makes a big difference in its performance. Models with rubber or silicone components, for example, attract pet hair better than those with nylon bristles. Rubber and silicone also tend to be easier to clean and less prone to tangles. Self-cleaning brushes or those with quick-release designs are easier to keep clean and remove the inevitable tangle of hair that eventually accumulates. 

Bin Size

Robot vacuums have comparatively small bins, ranging in size from .3L to .7L. A larger capacity reduces the number of times you need to empty the bin. It also affects the surface area the vacuum can clean before it has to return to the charging station. 

The bin size on a self-emptying model is less of an issue because the vacuum returns to the station, empties itself, and then returns to cleaning. Self-emptying models can often go weeks without emptying. 

Navigation Technology

Inexpensive robot vacuums may rely on bump sensors to avoid hitting objects with little else to navigate the floor. They usually have an edge sensor to detect stairs, but some models have better sensors than others. Those with poor sensors may take a few tumbles if stairs aren’t blocked off. 

More sophisticated models have built-in mapping systems that remember the layout of a room. The vacuum requires several uses in the same room to develop a layout memory. It can then connect the layouts of several rooms and quite successfully navigate a home. The most expensive models usually have GPS mapping systems that help the vacuum map, navigate, and develop a cleaning pattern. 

Mapping systems may also create a vacuum pattern to avoid missed areas. These types of systems require the vacuum to have memory and advanced navigation sensors. 

FAQs

Q: Can a robot vacuum replace a normal vacuum?

In most circumstances, a robot vacuum cannot replace a normal vacuum. While robot vacuums do a good job of getting surface dust and dirt, they don’t have the suction power for deeper debris that may get caught in the carpet. These vacuums are designed for lighter daily cleaning supported by deeper cleaning every few days. 

Q: How long do robot vacuums last?

A well-cared-for robot vacuum can last four to six years. To last that long, the vacuum needs regular emptying, hair removal, and filter maintenance. The life of the vacuum will also depend on how often it’s used and the difficulty of the vacuuming it undertakes. For example, a model that takes on thick carpet will wear out faster than one that’s used only on hard floors. 

Q: Do robot vacuums clean carpet?

Robot vacuums do clean carpet, though they’re not as thorough as a full-size upright when it comes to debris removal. However, they do a good job of removing dirt, dust, and hair on the surface of the carpet. Some models have sensors that detect carpet and increase the suction for better cleaning on this thicker surface. 

Final Thoughts

The iRobot Roomba i7+ brings a combination of navigation, suction, and hands-free operation that makes an excellent vacuum, especially if you want to set it up and not think about it for a few weeks. If you’re on a budget, the Eufy by Anker BoostIQ RoboVac 15C offers impressive suction and navigation for a vacuum at this price. It skips some of the higher-end features but offers performance that’s worth saving a few dollars. 

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