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Best Robot Vacuum Review – Top 11 Cleanest List for Dec. 2019
One of the funniest scenes in Woody Allen’s classic 1973 movie Sleeper depicted just about everything that could go wrong when a robot was used to clean a house. Many people also laughed at the idea of robotic cleaning in 2002 when iRobot launched its first robot vacuum, the Roomba.
No one’s laughing anymore. Today, robot vacuums are an accepted home appliance, many other manufacturers have jumped into the market, and iRobot now sells modified versions of the Roomba that can clean your gutters, scrub your floors and even jet mop your home.
A robot vacuum may have caused one of Jesse Pinkman’s most anxious moments on Breaking Bad, but the appliance is a true convenience for millions of homeowners.
Types of Robot Vacuums
A robot vacuum is far from a necessity; it’s more of a luxury for those who hate regular cleaning or simply don’t have the time for it. But if you’re among the many who would prefer a machine to do the work for you, you can choose between standard robot vacuums and the latest generation of robot cleaners which are faster, more powerful, controllable with smartphone apps – and a lot more expensive.
The latter doesn’t do a far superior job of cleaning and are likely to cost hundreds of dollars extra, but they’re certainly much cooler. For those who will only settle for a top-of-the-line model, we’ll check out one of these “super” models in our listing of the top 11 best robot vacuums.
Most Important Attributes of the Best Robot Vacuum: Navigation and Persistence
It doesn’t need to be said (but we’ll say it anyway) that robot vacs don’t have eyes. They rely on sensors to detect objects, walls and “cliffs,” internal memory (good models gradually learn the layout of your home) and navigation algorithms built into their software. They’re also ideally able to escape a trap like a mess of cables or a maze of furniture legs.
The best robot vacuums on the market are unlikely to repeatedly get stuck in corners and beep for help like the original Roomba did, but there’s a big difference in various models’ ability to navigate a home and clean rugs, hardwood and tile.
The other key to a robot’s performance is persistence. Some units will run into or detect a tricky area where it might get stuck, and avoid it. The best robot vacuums will go back to the problem area again and again, often from different angles, until the cleaning work is done. That may make the machines look like they’ve gone crazy – but it’s actually a sign of a vacuum that will do the best job for you.
Other Factors to Consider When Buying a Robot Vacuum
Naturally, vacuuming quality also matters. The Groom+Style review team has found that most top-level robot vacuums do a good job at cleaning, so you really won’t go wrong with any of the models on our list. However, some are better at cleaning pet hair, and only a few will be able to effectively handle shag carpets.
As with any vacuum, you’ll want to consider a robot’s filtration system; those with allergies or other health problems would benefit from a model with a HEPA filter. Particularly helpful is a robot vacuum’s ability to return to a charging base when the cleaning is done, and the advanced scheduling capability of some models is great if you’re away from home a lot. Finally, there are the criteria you’d look at for any vacuum, including run and battery charge time, the size of the dustbin (robot vacs can’t empty themselves, at least not yet) and how easy it is to clean the unit.
Here is the Groom+Style best robot vacuum top 11 rundown.
1. iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum
The company that originates a product category doesn’t necessarily remain the market leader forever. iRobot, however, is still standing tall, and the Roomba 650 is vastly improved from the original Roomba that debuted more than 15 years ago.
iRobot makes more advanced (and more expensive) models than the 650, but the review team believes that when you balance price and performance, this is the best robot vacuum you can choose.
This unit will make it into spaces the majority of robot vacs can’t or won’t clean. That’s partly due to its thin profile, which allows it to fit under couches, beds and other furniture.
More importantly, the Roomba has the best navigation system of any robot vacuum. It’s touch-based so it isn’t easily scared off or confused by the configuration of your furniture, it can deftly get out of any tricky corners or traps, and it learns extremely quickly. In other words, you’re unlikely to come home from the store to find a dirty floor with the 650 stuck somewhere.
Another benefit of this model is its speed. The Groom+Style team found that the Roomba was faster at cleaning a room than its competitors, and its 90 minutes of run time per charge is close to the top of the field. It’s quiet, it returns to the charging base when done, and can be programmed to clean up to seven times per week (although not via an app).
It’s important to know that the 650 is not the best choice for everyone. It’s best for cleaning a single room (you can set a “virtual wall” to keep it in your chosen room or upgrade to a more expensive model for multi-room cleaning), it’s not great on shag or thick pile carpet, it won’t work well on very dark floors with a flat rather than glossy finish (the ledge sensors get confused), there are better vacuums for thick pet hair, and it has been known to scratch delicate furniture because it can bang into pieces at high speed.
Those exceptions aside, the Roomba 650 is one terrific self-charging robot vac, and its three-stage cleaning system will pick up more dirt from tighter spaces than its competitors. Unless you have a huge home, or you need bells and whistles like smartphone control, this is the best robot vacuum you can find.
Facts and figures on the iRobot Roomba 650 Robotic Vacuum:
2. Neato Botvac D80 Robot Vacuum
Some will find the Botvac infinitely preferable to the Roomba, simply because it doesn’t dart all around the room like a cat in heat. Instead, it uses radar to map out a room and then methodically clean it rather than relying primarily on touch-based sensors.
You’ll pay more for the OCD-friendly nature of this Neato, and you’ll end up with a unit that can more easily clean large spaces, returning to base for a recharge before setting out again to continue the task. Price isn’t the reason it misses out on the #1 spot on our Groom+Style top 11 best robot vacuum rankings, though.
Our issue is that the D80 (and its twin model, the D85 which comes with replacement filters at a higher cost) doesn’t come close to the Roomba in daring to tackle (or being able to escape) tight or cluttered areas. That means you’ll end up with lots of spots that end up untouched after the Botvac is done. This unit also has issues with chrome finishes and short-legged furniture that fool the machine’s radar, and doesn’t get as close to walls as the Roomba.
As you’ve certainly realized by now, shopping for a robot vacuum is definitely a case of pros and cons. Despite the negatives we’ve just mentioned, the Neato is much better at cleaning thick carpet and collecting pet hair without clogging, because it uses a special “combo brush” designed for that purpose. There’s also an extra-large dirt bin, it charges faster and is easier to program.
If your living space is cluttered with lots of furniture, cords and cables, the Botvac D80 probably isn’t your best choice. For a big, mostly open area, however, this Neato is a terrific robot vacuum if you don’t mind shelling out a little more for it.
More detail on the Neato Botvac D80 Robot Vacuum:
3. ILIFE A8 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
ILIFE has historically produced lower-priced robot vacuums which performed pretty well and were good value. Over the last few years, though, the company has stepped up its game, and is getting closer and closer to challenging companies like Roomba and Neato with competitively-priced vacuums. The A6 replaced traditional bristles with a double-V brush made from rubber, which improved dust collection. The latest ILIFE model, the A8, goes further.
This robot vacuum is the company’s first offering which doesn’t just clean the room in a pre-selected, predictable pattern. The brand-new A8 navigation system relies on a live-vision panoramic camera and an advanced graphics algorithm to scan and map the room, and then compute an optimal cleaning pattern. This prevents the A8 from vacuuming and re-vacuuming the same area multiple times, and its continuous scanning pretty much ends the annoying crashes which can scratch or dent furniture and walls. It won’t accidentally fall down steps, either.
There’s good news and bad news when it comes to performance. This is a very quiet unit which will clean a room very well, and much faster than the majority of its competitors. However, A8 does sometimes miss small amounts of dirt in an area because it uses a combination of bristles and a double-V brush to do its work. And the “mapped” cleaning pattern means the vacuum never gets a second chance to pick up what it missed. As you can schedule the vacuum to clean at the same time every day this is not a huge problem. Overall judgment: very good performance for the price.
This ILIFE has a very low profile so it fits underneath furniture which would block most robots, its memory function lets it pick up where it left off after a recharge, and it’s easy to clean. There are negatives, though: it doesn’t have much in the way of programmability, the maximum suction function is hidden on the remote control where it’s hard to find, and there’s a slightly annoying voice that insists on regularly telling you what the A8 is doing.
(If you’re looking for a robot model which will mop as well as vacuum, the ILIFE V8s is worth checking out. It’s almost as good at vacuuming as the A8, has much more flexible programming capacity and is less expensive – although without the panoramic camera and internal mapping systems it doesn’t have the same ability to vacuum or map with a single pass.)
As ILIFE moves into the higher-end robot vacuum market, the A8 is “almost there.” It’s a very good machine at an affordable price, and it’s quiet and fast. But for a home that’s a challenge to vacuum (lots of pets or foot traffic), we might wait for the company’s next model to come out.
More detail on the ILIFE A8 Robotic Vacuum Cleaner:
4. Infinuvo CleanMate QQ2 Basic Robotic Vacuum
Hundreds of dollars for a robot vacuum? If you’re not quite ready to clear that hurdle, you’d do well to take the CleanMate QQ2 for a spin first. It is reasonably priced compared to the Roomba we’ve reviewed, has a few features that most premium models don’t, and will give you a good idea whether you want to make a robot vacuum a permanent resident of your home.
This Infinuvo unit is about the same size as the Roomba, and just like that top-ranked model it’s best suited to use on hardwood floors and most rugs, not shags or ones with high piles.
There are five pre-programmed cleaning patterns so the QQ2 can bounce around like the Roomba, vacuum in an orderly way like the Botvac, or follow spiral, S-shaped or polygonal patterns; you simply choose the option that’s best for your space. There’s no virtual wall capability.
The extra features the Groom+Style team was surprised to see on this model were a deodorizing ultraviolet light underneath the robot vac which kills bacteria, a fragrance dispenser you can use to make things smell clean, and a remote control for programming which is not only handier than the on-unit control for the Roomba but offers more options.
Don’t expect the Infinuvo to be perfect at getting into tight spots, extracting itself from dangerous tangles or picking up pet hair. Do expect it to do a very good job at picking up standard dirt, crumbs and bugs from your floor at an easy-to-take price.
In-depth on the Infinuvo CleanMate QQ2 Basic Robotic Vacuum:
5. bObi Classic Robotic Vacuum Cleaner
In the same price range as the Roomba and just a bit smaller, this bObi model doesn’t clean quite as effectively, but it’s close. And there are a lot of arguments in favor of its purchase.
The bObi Classic’s dirt sensor detects where cleaning attention is needed, it has a mop attachment, and best of all, it has a HEPA filter plus a UV sterilizer to remove allergens and then disinfect the floor that’s just been cleaned. Add in an advanced LED touchscreen on the unit and a remote control, and you’ve got a lot of robot vac for the money.
We don’t rate the bObi classic as high as the models above it on the Groom+Style list of the top 11 best robot vacuums because it gets stuck more easily, doesn’t have virtual wall capabilities and isn’t the best pure vacuum in our rankings. It’s close, though.
More info on the bObi Classic Robotic Vacuum Cleaner:
6. Neato Botvac Connected Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum
We close our list with the best of the newfangled Wi-Fi models that you can control with a smartphone app. Expect to pay at least a couple of hundred dollars extra for the privilege of programming and running your remote vacuum from the comfort of your couch or your desk at work – or getting a phone notification that your floor has been vacuumed – but at least there are a few reasons that the Botvac Connected is better than the D80 reviewed earlier.
This model has two operating modes, turbo for tougher jobs and eco for lighter ones; as you’d expect, the turbo uses up battery power more quickly, but the unit can run for a full two hours in eco mode. It will also go directly home to charge and head out again if the area is not complete.
The shape also allows for a much longer roller and the square end allows it to get into corners, and the round “bum” means it does not bump its rear as it navigates around chair legs etc. You pay for it, but this is a pretty great robot vacuum.
There’s a spot cleaning function you can activate from the app. And it can get closer to walls and obstacles than the D80.
We’re not sure anyone needs a “connected” robot vacuum, but this Neato unit is much less expensive than iRobot’s offering and it’s the best of the high-end bunch and a very good robot vac.
Specs for the Neato Botvac Connected Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum:
That is it for our updated best robot vacuum list for Dec. 2019 – if you are curious about our choices from previous years then continue reading.
Advantages of Using a Robot Vacuum
- It’s faster. Let’s be honest: people are living incredibly busy lives these days, and whatever free time they may have, they don’t want to spend cleaning up around the house. Doing a full cleaning with a traditional, upright vacuum can take up a lot of time, especially if you have a big home and a lot of ground to cover. Robot vacuums work a lot faster simply because they don’t require any time on the user’s end, except for pushing the start button.
- It’s easier. Seriously: who actually enjoys the chore of vacuuming a home? With a robot vacuum, you simply pick it up, flick on the on switch, place it on the ground and you’re basically done. It’s the perfect vacuum for someone who hates to vacuum.
- It’s lighter. While a upright or canister vacuum can weigh up to 20 pounds – making them painful to lug around with you while you clean – the best robot vacuums weighs only about 8 or 9 pounds, making it much more user-friendly and easier on your back. They’re not great car vacuums, but still.
- It’s easier to store. Not only is a robot vacuum lighter, but they’re also a lot easier to store in the home. A bulky upright vacuum requires lots of closet space, whereas a top-rated robot vacuum can be placed in nearly any area of the home for easy storage.
7. iRobot Roomba 630 Robot Vacuum Review
The Roomba 630 weighs in at eight pounds, running on a powerful motor of 1.4 amps that allows it to have effective suction for clearing all kinds of dirt and debris. The vacuum uses an AeroVac three-stage cleaning system – brushing the wall to loosen dirt, counter-rotating brushes that dust the debris inside, and then transporting it into a large-chamber bin.
The product contains an acoustic sensor to detect dirt, so the three-stage cleaning system is possible. In order to work effectively, the vacuum includes a single virtual wall, so that the 630 knows how much floor to cover. Once finished, the vacuum’s bin is easily opened, so the collected dirt and debris can be discarded. When completed with its task, the 630 can be placed on a self-charging home base for later use.
The Roomba 630 is the best robot vacuum on the market, and is one of the cheapest models that we reviewed. It should be noted that the 630 is marketed by iRobot as being a “pet vacuum”, and based on customer reviews, it stood out as one of the best pet hair vacuums available as well. The only drawback with the 630 is that it can be a bit noisy when it’s in use.
What Others Are Saying: “Try the 630 out for at least a year and experience the change it brings with full automation before you go out and purchase a more advanced, superior and expensive robot for your domestic cleaning needs.” — VacMag.com
8. iRobot Roomba 760/761 Rob0t Vacuum Review
In order for the product to run smoothly without future clogs, it boasts a dual HEPA air filter that helps traps dust, allergens, and tiny particles. Unlike the Roomba 630, this product has two virtual walls, so the product can clean more floor area than other vacuums. In order for this eyeless wonder to suction dirt and debris, it contains the Series II Acoustic & Optical dirt detection. Are you not in the mood to vacuum every day? No problem, as the product can be set to clean up to seven days week, so there’s no supervision required and floors are constantly cleaned.
One drawback of the 760/761 is that it cleans floors well, but doesn’t seem to know how to mount rugs. Instead of rolling over the rug, the vacuum will stop. The second con is that this product’s dirt cup is small and the sensors have to constantly be cleaned.
What Others Are Saying: “If you already keep a moderately clean house, then a Roomba may be a good choice. Even with its hefty price tag, having the Roomba 760 around is ultimately more convenient.” — Make Use Of
9. iRobot Roomba 770 Robot Vacuum Review
The iRobot Roomba 770 cleans dirt and debris from your home either manually or you can schedule it to do it on its own. The product uses an AeroVac (Series II) cleaning system that is broken down in three stages: first, by using a side brush to clean wall edges, then it brushes dirt and debris in the manner of a broom and a dustpan, and the final step is dirt and debris is transported to a large bin. The Roomba 770 is a ten pound vacuum that uses Dual HEPA air filters so users have no concern of escaped dust, allergens, and tiny particles released in the air.
Unlike the Roomba 760, the Roomba 770 has a trash bin indicator that alerts when to be emptied. The product has two virtual walls so that it does not cross the barrier, avoiding excess operating time that runs down battery and preventing damage in case of hazard. As is the case with all of iRobot’s products, in order to ensure the product’s safety and intelligence, the Roomba 770 has iAdapt technology. The iAdapt technology is the system’s software that senses the environment of the operated room, so the product knows both how much and what to clean.
One drawback is that its energy output tends to decline quickly, taking many trips from its self-charging base to complete the work it was commanded to complete. Another con is that while the Roomba 770 can clean any floor, it fails when it comes to cleaning throw rugs, unable to decipher between rugs and floors, causing it to shut off.
What Others Are Saying: “If you’re going to go the automated cleaning route, you might as well get something that truly knows its way around dirt and your home. A standard vacuum will save you money, but not your precious time, and isn’t time money?” — PC Mag
10. iRobot Roomba 780 Robot Vacuum Review
The iRobot Roomba 780 features an AeroVac (Series II) cleaning system that operates in three stages that effectively cleans your home unsupervised. The three stages are that dirt and debris are loosened by an advanced brush, the loosened dirt and debris is then brushed into its dustbin, only to finally be collected and stored in a bin to be easily disposed of. The thirteen-pound product is powered by a motor that provides a mighty suction. The suction keeps its power by a HEPA filter that traps allergens, dust, and particles leaving behind fresher air. The Roomba 780 uses iAdapt system software to engage with the environment, so it can effectively clean rooms and apply deeper clean if needed.
The Roomba notifies its user that its trash bin is full, so that it may be disposed of for further use. Unlike the other iRobot Roombas of the 700 series, this robotic vacuum contains an extra set of brushes that can be used on the machine to clean specific areas of the home that other vacuums cannot clean. Another feature that sets the Roomba 780 apart from previous models is that it has two virtual wall lighthouses. Virtual wall lighthouses differ from regular virtual walls in that the lighthouses open their ‘doors’ for the vacuum to return when either its battery is running out, or after all rooms have been completed (up to twenty-five rooms).
While the twelve pound saucer delivers when it comes to cleaning, there are cons with this product. Like the vacuums before it, it encounters problems with throw rugs – stopping when it arrives as it’s not sure what to do. The second con is that it’s incredibly expensive! The third con is that the suction can be so powerful that it can pull out many carpet fibers.
What Others Are Saying: “The reason is not that it eliminates vacuuming altogether, but it does the hardest parts of the work. There is something inordinately satisfying about coming home to a clean house.” — The Telegraph
11. Neato XV-21 Robot Vacuum Review
The Neato XV-21 is a high-performance vacuum that removes any dirt and debris from all surfaces from hardwood, stone, to carpets. The product — reviewed nearly 1,000 times on Amazon — features a bristled brush that picks up tough pet hair, dander, and fibers that other robotic vacuums find difficult to do. Unlike other vacuums that nearly rupture the eardrums of its users, the XV-21 runs quietly, despite having super-high airflow and suction power. The XV-21 has RPS technology that uses lasers to map out the area it is designated to clean like furniture, stairs, and doorways – new items added to the room are immediately recognized by the vacuum to go around.
The RPS technology prevents the XV-21 from falling down stairs by creating boundary markers. All dirt and debris is suctioned off walls and corners, underneath furniture and off floors, so it can be contained in large bag-less dirt bin that is both easy to empty and clean. After the job is completed, the vacuum returns to its base to recharge. Unlike many vacuums, this product doesn’t encounter problems with throw rugs – an intelligent ability to decipher between carpet and rugs, so there is neither mess nor shutdown.
In the battle of Neato vs Roomba, it’s Roomba that comes out on top. Another downside to this sixteen pound machine is that it does not run any longer than an hour before it requires recharging. Still, if you are looking for an alternative to the Roomba brand, this automatic vacuum remains a great option.
What Others Are Saying: “The Neato XV-21 does an excellent job of picking up pet hair—but it’s no replacement for a traditional vacuum.” — PC Mag