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Robots are taking over. But that might be a good thing, as robots are now helping out with everyday chores.
One of the most popular ways to upgrade your life with robotic aid is a robot vacuum. These devices roam around your home, cleaning up dirt, debris, pet hair and even stains. The implications of a robot maid are pretty straightforward: you can enjoy clean floors without lifting a finger.
Robot vacuums have been around longer than you might think, as iRobot actually launched the now-famous Roomba way back in 2002. This has given the robot vacuum market ample time to develop products that work well and utilize plenty of smart features to clean like a human — or even better.
These little machines use sensors to explore your home. Some even go so far as to map the space for more efficient cleaning. They can navigate around furniture — or under it, depending on the model — and transition between hardwood and carpet. After a job well done, the robot vacuum will return to its dock to recharge. Debris gets collected in a small dust bin, which you do need to empty from time to time.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Robot Vacuum
Even though robot vacuums are a relatively new invention, there are still plenty of options to choose from. Below are some specs you’ll want to consider before making a decision.
Dust bin: All that pet hair, dirt and grime has to go somewhere. One of the drawbacks of (most) robot vacuums is that they can’t hold too much debris, meaning you’ll need to empty the dust bin after each vacuum job. However, some higher-end models such as the Roomba i7+ feature larger dust bins that can be left alone for months at a time.
Size: The size of your new cleaning robot is important for two reasons. Firstly, smaller robot vacuums can squeeze under low couches for a more complete cleaning. Secondly, a large vacuum can also be burdensome in small apartments and might get in the way.
Controls: Robot vacuums are either controlled with an included remote or via an app on your phone. Some also connect to smart home assistants such as Alexa for voice activation, so you can tell the vacuum to, say, clean up that cereal you spilled while working from home. App control is usually much easier and offers more features than a remote, and added voice control makes things even more high-tech.
Battery life: If you have a large home that requires big cleaning jobs, you’ll want a robot vacuum with longer battery life. This will allow the vacuum to get the job done in one go without needing to recharge halfway through.
Below is our shortlist of the best robot vacuums. Obviously, the famous Roomba is present, but we also have some very impressive Roomba alternatives that are worthy of any dirty floors.
1. iRobot Roomba i7
iRobot pioneered the robot vacuum world with the Roomba, and it’s still the best option. This i7 model is the high-end choice with powerful vacuuming capabilities, advanced navigation and comprehensive smart connectivity.
The Roomba is controlled with the intuitive iRobot app as well as home assistants like Alexa and Google Home. From the app, you can tell the Roomba to start and set up cleaning schedules that start automatically while you’re away or asleep
Power and navigation are where the i7 really shines. The robot learns your home’s layout, including different rooms, furniture and no-go zones, so that it can clean precisely and efficiently clean without getting in the way. Powerful suction also means it’ll pick up whatever you (or your pets) leave on the carpet and hardwood floor.
The only real downside with the i7 is battery life. It’ll only run for 75 minutes, but the Roomba accounts for that with a clever “recharge and resume” feature. If the i7 runs out of juice midway through a vacuum job, it’ll return to the dock, charge and get back to work.
PROS: Smart controls, powerful suction, great for pet hair.
CONS: Small battery.
2. Roborock S4 Robot Vacuum
Roborock is a new player in the robot vacuum game, but they’ve made a splash with this capable (and well-priced) S4 vacuum.
Most robot vacuums require a separate device for creating a virtual barrier (especially at this price-point). So if you want your vacuum to clean the living room and not the always-busy kitchen, you’ll need to buy an extra gadget. The Roborock solves this with programmable virtual no-go zones in the app. You can even set the Roborock to avoid certain areas of a room (for example, that corner your cat likes).
The Roborock S4 also scores high on battery life with an impressive 150 minutes of run time. And even if it runs out of battery, it will automatically charge and return to finish the job. Overall, this is a powerful vacuum for a very reasonable price.
The Roborock does have it’s setbacks. For one, it’s not great on thick carpets. It’ll clean low-pile carpets, but even then it’s really built for hardwood or tile floors. And although the brand’s young age offers some fresh, innovative features, it also means we don’t know how well these vacuums hold up with age.
PROS: Sleek design, virtual barriers, good battery life.
CONS: Not great on thick carpets, new brand.
3. Neato Robotics D7
The D-shape of this Neato Robotics D7 vacuum isn’t just a design quirk – it gives the vacuum an advantage for cleaning corners, edges and tight spaces. This is a major upgrade, as pet hair and dirt tends to get pushed to the edges of the room. Plus, the D-shape also provides space for an extra-large spiral comb brush. This unique design makes it a Roomba alternative worth considering.
The D7 connects to an app, as well as smart home assistants for easy control. The easy-to-use app gives you a range of features including schedules and virtual no-go zones to avoid specific spots in a room.
In terms of navigation, the D7 is also very advanced. It uses laser mapping to learn the entire space of your home and clean in the most effective pattern possible. The D7 can also learn multiple floors of one home, so you can move it around for vacuuming everywhere without a problem.
Other noteworthy features include a large 700-milliliter dust bin and two-hour battery life. The only pitfalls we could find were a few reviewers who say they’ve had occasional WiFi connectivity issues.
PROS: Smart controls, laser mapping, corner cleaning.
CONS: Pricey, possible WiFi problems.
4. Eufy BoostIQ
Here’s a good bare-bones robot vacuum and affordable Roomba alternative. The Eufy BoostIQ is a third of the price of the Roomba i7, and still has some impressive features that make it worth considering.
The Eufy’s main draws are a slim design and a quiet motor. It stands at just 2.85 inches tall, making it ideal for slipping under couches and picking up all that gunk you normally wouldn’t vacuum for months. And with a 55dB noise level, the BoostIQ is also one of the quietest vacuums on the market.
Sadly, the Eufy can’t be controlled from your phone or connect to home assistants. Instead, it has a fairly easy-to-use remote for starting, stopping and setting cleaning schedules or timers. Although most of us have good WiFi, the remote functionality could be a plus because the Eufy doesn’t rely on a WiFi connection to work.
We recommend the Eufy to anyone with a smaller space or no need for app control. It’s also a good choice as an additional robot vacuum for, say, an upstairs bedroom.
PROS: Small, affordable.
CONS: No smart connectivity, less powerful.
5. iRobot Roomba i7+
This Roomba i7+ is the best-of-the-best. The name might not make it obvious, but that extra + over the regular i7 is, well, a huge plus.
The i7+ charging dock includes a dust bin disposal. It’ll collect debris from the Roomba after each use, so you don’t have to worry about anything for up to 60 days. That’s two months of letting the Roomba do its thing all by itself.
As with all Roombas, this one utilizes their fantastic app as well as home assistant voice control. But the best way to use the i7+ is to set a schedule for when you’re out of the house or asleep, let it run, and set a reminder two months later to empty the dust bin.
PROS: Separate dust bin, powerful.
CONS: Most expensive option on our list.