When robotic vacuums first came out, they were all the rage and almost everyone got a robotic vacuum for Christmas. It was a gift that quickly ended up collecting dust rather than sucking it up. In the end, they just couldn’t beat a regular vacuum for keeping floors clean. But with the latest advances in robotics, this gadget also made great leaps in innovation and gradually became a competent household appliance to have. We still don’t think these little robots can take the place of a hand-held or full-sized vacuum cleaner, but for dusting and getting rid of surface debris, it’s a time-saver. Because, let’s face it, who doesn’t want their appliance to take over this odious chore?
We know you’re probably itching to get your hands on a robotic vacuum, but don’t open your wallet just yet. If you want to make a smart buying decision, there are a couple of things you need to consider. Maybe you just need a simple floor duster, or a heavy-duty piece of machinery. Factors like that greatly affect the product’s cost. Whatever your cleaning needs may be, we here at Appliance Authority will help you choose the cleaner that’s right for you.
Take a few minutes to read over our guide below for choosing your ideal unit, then check out our hand-picked selection of the very best robotic vacuums in 2017. They are among the top-selling products today, and a lot of them may even come close to beating the performance of upright vacuum cleaners.
Considerations When Choosing a Robotic Vacuum
Robotic vacuum cleaners all run on rechargeable batteries and they differ in their lifespans. If you’re not planning to use the cleaner to dust a large area, 80 minutes of operating time is plenty. Higher-end models can last up to six hours on a full charge, while low-end cleaners can run for about 30 minutes. The great thing about these gadgets is that most of them are programmed to return to the charging base as soon as the battery life hits a certain level. Charging time is, however, really long. Expect to wait anywhere between 2 to 12 hours depending on how powerful the cleaner is.
Robotic vacuums can come with different sweeping styles. Some clean by following the walls, while others work in random patterns. High-end units can store the layout of a room so it knows where to start and end its cleaning. Some units rely on magnetic strips or laser beacons to set their course.
For some robotic vacuums, it’s as easy as pushing the start button and letting the machine do its work. However, many newer models now offer a generous assortment of features. One of these features is the Auto-Scheduling. You can set the robot vacuum to clean daily, weekly, or every other day, and even decide the time it starts. This is very useful for people who are frequently away from their home.
This is obviously the most important aspect to consider. You really can’t tell just how well a product works unless you test it out for yourself or read the reviews about it. If you want a machine that matches the cleaning power of a traditional vacuum cleaner, you’ll have to shell out a lot of money. Low-end robotic vacuums are only great for light maintenance cleaning, but we suggest you purchase them only if you already have a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner in your home, whether traditional or robotic. From middle-ranged cleaners, you can expect decent cleaning performance, but products within this price point tend to struggle with corners and certain types of surfaces.
Dust Bin Size
Unfortunately, manufacturers haven’t found a cost-effective way to build self-emptying robotic vacuum cleaners. As such, it’s a good idea to check the size of a unit’s dust container before buying it. For smaller apartments and houses, or residences with minimal dust, you don’t have to empty the bin after every cycle. Also, if a container fills up faster than you expect, that may just mean that the product is more efficient at dirt-busting that its peers.
Robotic vacuums are generally expensive gadgets. Expect to pay more than $80, even for the lowest quality one. But despite their steep price tags, a lot of people agree that they’re a smart investment. Robotic vacuum cleaners for less than $300 are powerful enough for light maintenance cleaning, while models that fetch for more than $500 are great for deep cleans. If you’re looking for an industrial-quality machine, however, expect to pay more than $1,000. These devices guarantee a great cleaning performance and a truckload of features.
The 5 Best Robotic Vacuums in 2017
Our Top Pick:
- iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization enables Roomba to navigate and clean an entire level of your home
- Runs for up to 120 minutes, then automatically recharges and resumes cleaning to complete the entire job
- iRobot HOME App lets you clean, schedule & set custom cleaning preferences from your smartphone
- AeroForce Cleaning System with Carpet Boost automatically provides up to 10x the air power on carpets and rugs
- Tangle-free extractors prevent hair and debris jams
The iRobot Roomba 980 doesn’t need an introduction. You’ve probably heard this gadget being mentioned once or twice by family and friends as being one of the best gadgets they own. Yes, this little cleaning disc is every housewife’s best friend. One of the best things about this gadget is that it’s as user-friendly as a robot vacuum can get. That doesn’t mean that it’s lacking in great features. On the contrary, this heavy-duty cleaning tool is packed with lots of robotic wizardry and technological advancements to make any gadget enthusiast happy. It makes for an utterly magnificent gift, if you can get past its exorbitant price. In terms of performance, it effectively cleans both carpeted and hard surfaces and gives you enough cleaning time to cover a lot of space. Can you schedule cleanings? Yes, you definitely can. And not just that. You can even track where the iRobot Roomba 980 is cleaning at any given moment and get data on previous cleaning cycles. There’s also a tablet and smartphone app that lets you control the bot – not that it needs monitoring. It’s a very clever cleaning bot that automatically guides itself back to its charging station. It will do this if its bin is full or if it’s running low on battery. Overall, we consider this the best robotic vacuum in our lineup. The iRobot Roomba 980 has everything you could want from a cleaning bot, and it does its job superbly.
- LaserSmart mapping and navigation system scans and maps the room, plans, and methodically cleans—instead of bumping around.
- D-Shape design with CornerClever technology gets close to walls and into corners. Maximum hair pickup. Picks up more pet hair than other bots.
- SpinFlow Power Clean combines potent suction and precision brushes to leave floors immaculately clean. Includes both combo brush, spiral blade brush, and side brush.
- Auto-Charge & Resume lets your robot clean room to room; when it needs more power, it automatically returns to charge, then returns to where it left off & finishes the job.
- Kindly refer the user manual given below for product information.
The Neato Botvac D80 is another quality product with great cleaning performance. Its battery life is among the best in its price point, it can get the dust out of almost every type of surface, and has great suction power. The Neato Botvac D80 comes with a cleaning brush that’s much wider than what you can find with most robot vacuum cleaners. At 14mm, these brushes go right to the edge. Combine this design feature with the square shape of the product, and you have a cleaner that can easily suck up dirt in corners and wall edges. With all that power, you can’t expect the Neato Botvac D80 to be quiet. It’s also louder than other vacuum cleaners, so your kids probably won’t get a wink of sleep if you have this bot cleaning nearby. One of the best aspects about the Neato Botvac D80 is the availability of accessories you can buy for the device. This includes brush upgrades, battery packs, and additional boundary strips. We don’t really find the overall design of this cleaner to be attractive, but it does look like it’s ready to get down and dirty. But while Neato Botvac D80 looks less interesting compared to its competitors, you’ll be impressed at its effectiveness due to its clever navigation method and structure.
- Robotic vacuum cleaner for wood, tiled, and carpeted floors
- 3 preprogrammed modes: Random, Spiral, and Along the Wall
- Rotating brush for bare floors; stair-detection sensor; internal dustbin
- Quiet operation; includes long-life rechargeable batteries and an AC adapter
- Measures 14 by 13-1/2 by 3-3/4 inches; 6-month limited warranty
You didn’t think we’d leave out an affordable option for budget-conscious shoppers, did you? Let’s just say we love great products at reasonable prices, that’s why we try our best to include products in our list to suit everyone’s budget. The P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner offers the same navigations patterns as high-end bot cleaners, but you’ll have to make do with 45 minutes of cleaning time. And because this is a budget model, it doesn’t come with a charging base on purchase. You’ll have to but that separately. You may also need to clean up any small objects lying around on your floor before you let this monster loose. Some users report a slight problem whenever the bot detects a well-placed box or book lying around. For hard floor surfaces, it does a good job of getting rid of small debris. The sweeping and brushing action of the P3 P4960 V-Bot Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is among the best we’ve seen on budget models, which is why it’s on our list of top robotic vacuums this year.
- Fully automatic and smart cleaner for all floor surfaces
- Goes under beds and furniture
- Safety features build-in for unattended operation
- Remote control for manual operation
- New PRO model with “Flat” Design
The iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO features three navigation patterns: random, swivel, and “hug the walls”. Among the three, the pattern most recommended by users of this product is the spiral pattern. It’s particularly effective at cleaning under sofas, beds, and other furniture. The downside is that, like most robot vacuums, it can’t do its job properly if you leave a lot of junk lying on the floor. If it gets tangled in things like wire, clothes, or string, the unit shuts down automatically. The iTouchless Robotic Intelligent Vacuum Cleaner PRO also has trouble with dark areas, so if it’s cleaning under a large bed, you may notice it getting lost. Take note that this product does not have a charging base and will only provide up to 6 hours of cleaning time – long enough to do a complete sweep of your entire home. In terms of cleaning performance, it does well on flat surfaces but just can’t cut it with carpets. Our verdict is that it’s a fantastic choice if you’re someone who already keeps a tidy room and just need a bot to take care of the dust.
- Vacuuming sweeping dry mopping all in one, for entirely thoroughly cleaning.
- With pet hair care technology, focus on picking up hairs, dirt, debris.
- Low profile design to clean under beds, sofa where dirt hides
- Self-charging, programmable schedule, smart sensors for anti-bump, avoid dropping
- Easy operation with remote control, or auto clean all at one touch.
The ILIFE V3s Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is another fantastic product that doesn’t come with a shocking price tag. Not only does it clean carpets and get rid of pet hair, but it mops as well. It has a very low profile, allowing it to easily get under most household furniture. And that’s not all. The ILIFE V3s Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is one the quietest robot cleaners we’ve seen so far. That doesn’t mean it’s whisper-quiet – just quiet enough that you can have a conversation with the cleaner working nearby. The setup is easy enough that you won’t need to look at the manual to get it to work. It also comes with a remote that lets you schedule cleanings, command the cleaner to go back to its charging station, and change the cleaning mode. For less than $200, you’re getting a unique product that not only vacuums and sweeps, but mops as well! The ILIFE V3s Robotic Vacuum Cleaner is a rare gem of a gadget, and will keep your floors clean and sparkling.