Updates and Edits (October, 2017) – We’ve replaced the previous robot vacuum cleaner winner with a newer model and made some tweaks.
Last update on 2018-06-20 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
20 years ago we would consider Robot Vacuum Cleaners a “thing of the future” – something that only exists in movies. But thanks to the rapid evolution of technology in the last two decades the future is already here. Having your living room cleaned up while you are sitting in a cinema to enjoy a film is not pure fiction anymore. But don’t worry, these handy devices were not created by Skynet itself but rather by a couple of different robotics companies – an area that is growing significantly due to the advancements in the development of capable hardware as well as the general readiness of the Internet generation for “smart” tech gadgets. Most people don’t know that the first automatic vacuum cleaner called Trilobite was already presented in 1997 by the Swedish company Electrolux. And even Dyson, the market leader for vacuums, released their own robot in 2001. But in either cases the price or the time wasn’t right yet.
It wasn’t until 2002 when iRobot shook up the technology world with the Roomba, a robotic vacuum that finally raised public awareness for this particular niche.
The latter model also made it in our list of the best of the best…
The Best Robot Vacuum Cleaner
We have decided to recommend 3 different types of vacuums since there also different types of people with different requirements for a product. Our winner product is the device that we consider as the best overall package which certainly has its strengths and weaknesses but if the price is taken into account it is unbeatable in our opinion. Our entry product is aimed at people who don’t want to spend too much money on this still evolving technology yet and want to test the water if this kind of gadget is really suited for their home. The Pro Tip is the model with the most sophisticated technical specs and the biggest amount of features. Of course, these devices come with a higher price and are aimed at people who only want cutting edge products. We also decided to include the Newcomer, which is the model that is most innovative and different than others and that also separates from the rest.
Winner: Neato Botvac D80 Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Robot technology has come on in leaps and bounds in recent years, with smart vacuum cleaners bumping into furniture and stairs now a thing of the past. This revolutionary gadget comes mapping with laser vision to accurately detect its surroundings and decide where it needs to clean. What’s more, this process is automatically updated, so if a new object is added to a room during cleaning, it will still be mapped and marked by the robot.
The Neato Botvac D80 has an advanced SpinFlow power clean system that manages to pick up all of the pet hair, dirt, crumbs and more. But what makes it better than other vacuum cleaners on the market is its relatively powerful suction and the ease of cleaning that it provides you with.
The Neato Botvac D80 is easy to use and is ideal for homes with pets. The blade brush can be used on a combination of floor types, such as carpet, vinyl, tile, and wood, and is quiet when vacuuming cleaning hard floor surfaces.
- Intelligent path finding
- Good suction and cleaning
- Reasonable price
- Small dust bin
- A bit noisy
Best Affordable Option: ECOVACS DEEBOT N79 WiFi Enabled Vacuum Cleaning Robot
A relatively new company, compared to others on this list, Ecovacs manages to raise the bar of what affordable robot vacuum cleaners should be. With a powerful suction motor and the ability to traverse around your home, even on carpets, the Ecovacs Deebot N79 is one of the best entry level options for everyone who’d like to get their hands on a smart vacuum cleaner.
What’s more, its software manages to rival the one of the Roomba. While you’d have to manually select one of its tree cleaning modes, the vacuum is powerful enough not to run in circles or get stuck on small obstacles, such as cables or other small items on your floor. Plus, the Ecovacs Deebot N79 sensors allow it to easily detect any edges, thus reducing the risk of your robot vacuum cleaner falling down the stairs. Pet-friendly, this item is the perfect purchase for those who are interested in having a robot vacuum, but are not necessarily the biggest smart home enthusiasts around.
- Smart edge-detecting technology
- Three cleaning modes
- Relatively Affordable
- Customer Service is a Hassle
- Might Bug-out after a few weeks, requiring a replacement unit
Pro Tip: iRobot Roomba 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot
The iRobot Roomba 980 is an advanced, feature-rich and user-friendly vacuum cleaning robot that is specifically designed for pet owners who constantly develop allergies. The robot stands out through its features and functions: the AeroForce Performance Cleaning System being the most notable one, as its high efficiency vacuum and airflow accelerations guarantees a thorough and speedy cleaning of your carpets and floors. Small, lightweight, compact and low-maintenance at the same time, the iRobot Roomba 980 features an advanced navigation system that allows it to avoid furniture and other objects, while still cleaning every inch of your floor.
The robot weighs little over eight pounds, it stands at 3.6 inches in height and it has an elegant, smooth and modern finish. Its futuristic and minimalist design coupled with the wealth of features make the iRobot one of the most sought-after vacuum cleaners of its kind, not to mention that you can easily schedule and pre-set the robot to clean your home whenever you want it to! Besides, the robot is specially designed to return to the Home Base upon finishing the cleaning session in order to recharge itself, which definitely saves you some time and hassles as you do not need to manually recharge its battery (which is a Xlife extended life battery).
Other notable features that users seem particularly thrilled about when it comes to this robot vacuum cleaner include the removable dust bin that features a fast-access release button, the removable caster wheels for added functionality, the spinning side brush that aims to remove even the most stubborn stains and dust particles along with the debris extractors and the extra HEPA filter that comes with the package.
The iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization enables Roomba to navigate and clean an entire level of your home. With the iRobot HOME App, you can clean, schedule & set custom cleaning preferences from your smartphone!
The only downside that many users have complained about is the size of the bin, which although may be slightly larger than that of the previous Roomba iRobots, still is not quite large enough for extracting and storing all the pet hair, dust mites, and other debris, especially if you live in a large mansion.
Overall, the iRobot Roomba 980 is an all-round, easy-to-use robot vacuum cleaner and although the price tag is quite a hefty one, it undoubtedly is a significant long-term investment.
- Product from the very experienced market leader
- Strong suction
- HEPA air filter
- Random path finding until everything is cleaned
- Higher price
Newcomer: The Dyson’s 360 Eye Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
The new kid on the block, the Dyson 360 Eye is one of the most powerful robotic vacuum cleaners on the market. In development for over 18 years, the 360 Eye has a number of innovative features that truly separate the smart home robot from the rest. Equipped with a 360-degree vision camera, Dyson’s robot vacuum uses a unique path-finding system and software that allows the device to maneuver through its surroundings wihout repeating the same place twice. Furthermore, the robot is able to suck as much as seven to eight liters of air per second, making it a true robotic smart home cleaner.
However all of these features come at a cost. Compared to the Dyson’s 360 Eye other robotic vacuums appear to be just sweepers. However, the 360 Eye is a long way from conquering the robotic vacuum market. To start off, while it does look cool, the 360 Eye is too big to maneuver under furniture. Furthermore, the software seems to need improvement, as it is unreliable and the robot may go in circles. Nonetheless, that might be Dyson’s smallest worries. The biggest problem of the 360 Eye is its extremely small battery life and movement and vacumming speed. The robot needs recharging almost constantly and cleans a room far more slowely, compared to other robots.
Nevertheless, the Dyson’s 360 Eye is worthy of its own category. While it is slow and has a poor battery life, on top of other software issues, it is currently the only robot vacuum cleaner that can truly be called a vacuum, because of its amazing power and suction.
- Innovative 360-degree vision technology and software
- Amazing Suction Power at seven and eight liters of air per second
- Smart Dock and Paused Cleaning Technology and Software
- High Price
- Small Battery Life
- Slow Movement and Vacuuming Speed
- Small Dirt Bin
- Unreliable Smartphone App
iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner
If cost is one of your top concerns as you shop for a robotic vacuum that can offer good value for your money, iLife A4s robot vacuum is a good place to start. Despite its low-budget nature, this vacuum can work well on tile, linoleum, hardwood surfaces, and even on low-profile carpets. Those who have already tried out this vacuum have praised its abilities to pick even small pieces of dirt as it glides quietly on the floor, for instance, pet hair and dust.
As a low-priced gadget, buying this robotic vacuum will also mean you will have to compromise on some of the features you can get by getting a premium robot vacuum cleaner. For example, unlike some pricier robotic vacuum cleaners, iLife A4s will not do its magic on high-profile carpets or very dark colored floors. It also doesn’t come with a dedicated smartphone app.
Nevertheless, there are a lot of features that make the iLife A4s Robot Vacuum cleaner a valuable purchase. It comes with its own dokcking station, for example. Plus, its automation features, while rather basic, do allow it to proprerly traverse around your home without much repetiton of a single place, going around in circles or other similar issues that other affordable robot vacuums have. Just make sure that there aren’t a lot of cables lying around your floor, as the iLife A4s does get stuck sometimes.
- Reasonable suction and cleaning
- Very inexpensive
- Comes with its Own Docking Station
- Automated Cleaning
- Doesn’t Have a Dedicated App
- Moderate build quality
Secret Tip: Eufy RoboVac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner
Searching for the best bang for the buck? The Eufy RoboVac 11 Robot Vacuum Cleaner should be your first choice! Extremely affordable, the robot vacuum cleaner might not come with some of the more premium features of its competitors, but above all it manages to get the job done. Coming with its own charging dock and all the automatic cleaning features you’d need in an entry level robot vacuum, the Eufy RoboVac 11 is small enough to traverse all throughout your home. Plus, with its 3 dedicated cleaning modes, you’d be able to adjust for the perfect clean. To top it all off, especially when comapred with other entry level vacuum cleaning robots, the RoboVac 11 looks amazing. With a robust build quality and a premium-feel design, this vacuum is definitely one you should consider, if you are on a budget.
- Extremely Affordable
- Premium Design
- Comes with its Own Docking Station
- 3 Automated Cleaning Options
- Doesn’t Have a Dedicated App
- Can’t Clean High Carpets
Important Companies & Brands
The Bedford (Massachusetts) based company iRobot was founded in 1990 by a group of three robotics experts (Rodney Brooks, Colin Angle and Helen Greiner) from the Artificial Intelligence Lab of the MIT – the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Their initial goal was it to bring robots into the everyday life and make them more accessible to the masses. But iRobot is not only specialized in Domestic Robots but also Military Robots with the PackBot being a very sophisticated model used in dangerous war conditions like to detect bombs and snipers. Prior to the development of the Packbot , which by the way was also an essential tool to gather data at the Fukushima nuclear disaster site, the company received a DARPA research contract in 1998.
In 2002 iRobot released the first model of its most popular home robot product line called Roomba, a fully autonomous vacuum cleaner. A nice add-on for tech-savvy users is the fact that the API of the Roomba vacuums is completely open which allows anyone with a bit of programming knowledge to interact with the robot and write own routines for even the trickiest of cleaning scenarios.
Apart from robotic vacuums the company has also developed a couple of one-of-a-kind devices like a floor-washing robot (Scooba), a swimming-pool cleaning robot (Verro) and a gutter cleaning robot (Looj) to name just a few. In the last two decades, the company has grown significantly and is nowadays employing approximately 530 people and generating about 500 million dollars per year.
Fun Fact: Did you know that the founders Helen Greiner and Colin Angle were inspired by the movie Star Wars, especially from Episode IV: New Hope. What started in their childhood has led to building one of the biggest robotic companies and changing the world. Never stop dreaming 🙂
The Newark, California-based Robotics company is focusing solely on the development of robotic vacuum cleaners. Since the release of the Neato XV in 2010 it is aiming at dethroning iRobot and make that no secret in their promotional videos where they are referring to the competing Roomba series as “those round vacs” while not explicitly stating the name, of course. In 2014 they released a new product line called BotVac which incorporates a special side brush that was previously only available in certain vacuums manufactured by the German company “Vorwerk”. With only 65 employees Neato is still much smaller compared to iRobot but it does a phenomenal job at the development of their robotic vacuums. We are looking forward to the future of this company.
Formerly known as Lucky Goldstar, the LG Corporation has become a technology giant that manufactures all kinds of devices. It is, therefore, no wonder that LG has also invested into the robot vacuum niche. The first line of vacuums was called HomBot and was recently succeeded by a new model called Roboking.
Dyson is a British technology company that mainly designs and manufactures vacuum cleaners among other products. According to sources, the idea behind the innovative technology implemented in Dyson’s vacuums comes from the inspiration of a sawmill using a cyclone to spin dust out of the air by centrifugal force. Dyson’s vacuums also use cyclonic action to spin dust, separating it out of the airstream, eliminating the need for both a bag and a filter. Currently Dyson made their first appearance on the robotic vacuum cleaners market with the robot vacuum that has been 18 years in development, the Dyson’s 360 Eye.
Infinuvo is a robotic vacuum manufacturer currently based in Saragota, California. The company is famed for making some of the best products under this category, their machines deliver excellent cleaning power and are also affordable compared to those of competitors. They are also versatile and can be used to vacuum all types of surfaces without encountering any problems, these appliances can clean normal household floors as well as beneath the furniture sets.
Their most popular model is known as Hovo 510. It’s a powerful multi-purpose gear that comes equipped with a user-friendly interface which can perform various functions at the touch of a button. Just press onto the surface button for AUTO cleaning, mopping or SPOT cleaning. The machine also comes equipped with a remote control console with LCD display for easy operation, users can set up pre-programmed schedules with remote controls to perform basic cleaning at any time of their choice.
When battery power begins to tick low, Hovo 510 will automatically return back to the charging station and refill itself once more. Moreover, dual movement speeds and conspicuous error code identifiers found on the remote can be used to show when conditions are abnormal so that quick action can be taken. It’s also good to note that this brand has been fitted with non-collision detection systems, which help in preventing direct collisions with furniture and other items found within the house.
Another popular brand from Infinuvo is the CleanMate series. One model from this product line made it into our top list, and you will find a more detailed review at the bottom of this article.
How does a Robot Vacuum Cleaner work?
The most important feature of these robots and the characteristic that differentiates it from a normal vacuum is the so called path-finding or also known as self navigation system, which refers to the exact directions the bot will take to completely traverse the room it is supposed to clean. A robot needs to be careful in order not to destroy anything like cutting the cables of the television or drive over the precious cat. All kidding aside, you are not going to get yourself a self-driving chaff cutter. In fact, all companies are fully aware of all different kinds of possible scenarios and circumstances in a typical home and turned their autonomous vacuums into very sensitive and careful devices that would rather get stuck like a ladybug upside down than destroying anything. Especially in the last two years the algorithms for determining the optimal route have improved tremendously. There are different approaches depending on the manufacturer. At the time of this writing (as you know technical facts can change pretty quickly) the iRobot Roomba uses multiple infrared sensors to measure the dimensions of the room and calculate the distances. The Neato XV model on the other hand uses a laser range finder that is constantly scanning the environment in 360 degrees. The XV travels in straight lines unlike its competitor which sometimes follows unpredictable ways until it covered every possible area of the room.
What is HEPA?
Indoor pollutants are a major concern. Research shows that some indoor air quality is 2 to 5 times more polluted than the outdoor air. The air we breathe is polluted with minute particles such as dust, pet dander, cigarette smoke, pollen and other allergens. These air contaminants have a greater effect on people with allergies and asthmatic conditions.
Vacuum cleaners, however, are machines made to dust and bust germs particles from your home and leave a clean environment to breathe on and live in. There are several vacuum cleaners on the market today, but the Roomba series from iRobot stands out in terms of hygienic cleaning. This range of robot vacuums is especially designed with a unique mesh known as the HEPA (high-efficiency particulate absorption) filter to house impurities and keep them inside the machine until disposal time.
HEPA Filters in vacuums
The reason of using these filters in vacuums is to enhance the functionality of the vacuum cleaner. Some important characteristics of the filter include:
- Trap Microscopic Particles: The HEPA filter is typically designed from fiberglasses of about 0.5-0.2 micrometers. The structure is useful in helping the vacuum seize all small pollutants and prevent them from entering the room.
- Enhance vacuum cleaner performance: the more the dirt that’s captured, the better performance of a vacuum cleaner. On this ground, Roomba vacuums deliver unflinchingly as they extract allergens and reduce respiratory problems such as Asthma.
Pros of HEPA
- The ultra-high, glass fiber medium captures tiny particles that can pass through other filters by a combination of interception, diffusion, and inertial impaction.
- The HEPA filter is a cloth based filter that captures and holds particles permanently, efficiently cleaning the circulating air.
- HEPA filters are able to remove up 99.97% of all molecules bigger than 0.3 microns.
- It will keep away debris and dust from reaching your lungs
Cons of HEPA
- They cannot trap other pollutants such as fumes, gasses and chemicals.
- They are very costly units, especially when replacing filters. Replacing the filters can be expensive depending on the number of times you change them.
- The compactness and shape of the purifier depend on the type you have. There filters that are washable while some are not.
- The washable filters are not very effective.