Which is the best robot vacuum cleaner to buy in 2021?
Short answer: the one that fits your lifestyle, budget, or cleaning requirements/situations…not the most advanced. Or expensive. Or feature-rich.
While making sure you get the most value for your money by listing items under highlights you might be interested in–such as the most recommended, best mapping, best hybrid, etc.–today’s update, although long, also avoids wasting time by adding a Table of Content while prioritizing only relevant and accurate information. Also, in today’s publication, you’ll find answers to some top questions you may have about robot vacuums. Let’s dive right in.
Robot vacuum reviews
With thousands of robot vacuums available at Costco, Best Buy, Amazon, etc. it can be difficult to know which one to choose. To keep things simple, however, ONLY ten of those will be reviewed under this section. They’re the Deebot T8 Plus, Proscenic M7 Pro, Roborock S7, Braava Jet M6, Goovi D380, iRobot Roomba 960, Neato D7, iRobot Roomba S9, iRobot Roomba i7, and Eufy 11S. Selected based on their value for money, usability, and vacuuming abilities, the featured items have been reviewed in line with their suitability to specific user types and cleaning needs.
Without further delay, here are the top ten robot vacuums worth the money.
10 of the highest-rated robot vacuums
Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8/AIVI Plus: most recommended robot vacuum cleaner
Have you read a couple of robot vacuum reviews and find the Deebot T8 Plus appearing repeatedly? There are quite some good reasons for that.
First, Plus in the name informs you this is a self-emptying model. In other words, the Deebot T8 Plus will automatically return to its docking station to evacuate its dust tray while returning to pick up where it left off.
Second, there’s a Deebot T8 with a 3D sensor for object recognition and avoidance. Ideal if you have security concerns. There’s also the Deebot T8 AIVI variant that does the same thing as the T8 except with a software-powered front-loaded camera (instead of a 3D sensor ) that doubles as a home surveillance system.
A few other highlights of the Deebot Ozmo T8 Plus self-emptying vacuuming robot include;
- A LIDAR-based straight line cleaning path
- Multi-level map support (up to three maps)
- Mopping (with an option to add the vibrating mopping module for $99)
- Smart Home integration (supports Alexa and Google)
Continue reading: Full review (include pros & cons) of the Deebot T8/AIVI self-emptying robot vacuum
Too long; didn’t read: the Ecovacs T8 Plus is well recommended because of its advanced features, excellent navigation, vacuuming abilities, and competitive pricing (typically $799 from most retailers but you could be lucky to get one for $650 with a weekend deal at Best Buy).
Proscenic M7 Pro: best mapping robot vacuum
If you’re experiencing a delay in map creation or your robot keeps deleting your maps or forcing a reset. Or maybe you are looking for the cheapest mapping robot?
Selling around $300 on Amazon, besides floor maps are stable and usable, map creation on the Proscenic M7 Pro is also quick and accurate. Not to mention, the M7 Pro stores up to ten-floor plans.
Too long; didn’t read: If you live in a story house and are looking for a floor robot with superior mapping capability, the M7 Pro is probably what you’re looking for.
Roborock S7: best robot vacuum cleaner and mop
Do your needs especially involve mopping dog wet prints and keeping up with hair in a large area and on hardwood floors or dark carpets?
Talking about dark carpets, the Roborock S7 uses LIDAR technology therefore it can see in the dark and can vacuum colored rugs without issues.
For cleaning pet hair on hardwood floors in a large house, the 5200mAh battery capacity of the S7 allows non-stop vacuuming for up to three hours on a single charge.
By far the most recommended and reliable 2-in-1 floor robot, with the Roborock S7 you can vacuum and mop asynchronously or simultaneously.
From within the Roborock app, you can select areas or program individual rooms for vacuuming, mopping, or both. You can adjust the water level in the app or send the S7 to a spot in the house (say your kids spilled juice around the dining area).
A water tank size of 300 ml is ideal for large areas. Not to mention its mop attachment vibrates to give some kind of a scrubbing effect while automatically raising itself up to 5mm when going through carpets or rugs.
Continue reading: Full review (include pros & cons) of the Roborock S7 self-emptying vacuuming and mopping robot
Braava Jet M6: best mopping robot
Not interested in a hybrid floor robot like the Roborock S7? Available robot mop options include the Braava 240 and 380t and the iLife W400. No doubt, those mapping robots do a decent job wet-dusting hard floors EXCEPT they’re limited in critical areas like mobility and path planning.
Enter: the Braava Jet M6. Needless to say, the M6 is everything the other self-driving mopping robots are not: intelligent, efficient, and convenient.
For a bit of context, the Braava Jet M6 takes a systematic approach. Optimized coverage, in other words, plus water flow is adjustable via the iRobot Home App. The Braava also supports multiple floor plans plus the option to mop select rooms or zones.
Similarly, the M6, when it needs juice, will automatically return to its base, recharge, and then resume exactly where it left off.
And thanks to the Interlinking function, if you already own the Roomba i7 or S9, you can get the M6 to mimic a typical hybrid floor robot.
Continue reading: Full review (include pros & cons) of the Braava Jet M6 floor mopping robot
Goovi D380: best robot vacuum for bare floors
You’re in luck if you have concrete, woods, tiles, or vinyl floors. The Goovi D380 is not only ideal for bare floors, but it’s also great for low pile carpets. That, plus the Goovi is the most affordable robot vacuum featured in this list.
On the upside, and because the D380 operates with a remote (there’s its variant, the D382, with an App feature), there are no privacy risks.
Roomba 960: best robot vacuum for carpets, pet hair, and hardwood floors
Do you have a mix of carpet and hardwood, or rugs, tiles, and pets? Or maybe you like seeing those crisp lines on your carpet? Whichever, the Roomba 960 robot vacuum is up to the task.
1720 Pa of suction. Intelligent navigation. Carpet Boost. The result is a vacuum robot that cleans systematically and intensively.
Its brushless rollers, too, besides ensuring improved pick-up performance, also minimizes the risk of scratches to wood floors; even so, the 960 works just as well picking pet hair and other debris on tile, stone, concrete, laminate floors, and carpets.
Does your other robot vacuum leave globs of hair along wall edges and in corners?
The Naeto D7 smart vacuum, thankfully, has a D-shaped design similar to the Roomba S9 which it makes the best use of when vacuuming along walls. The side brush in particular spins faster when vacuuming along corners to pick up more debris.
Continue reading: Full review (include pros & cons) of the Neato D7 floor vacuuming robot
iRobot Roomba S9: most powerful robot vacuum
The Roomba S9 at number #8 in this list of the best robot vacuums suffice if you have a dense carpet that usually overwhelms your other robots.
With the strongest airflow of any robot in this list (cfm of 22), the deep cleaning ability (including high-pile carpets and rugs) of the iRobot S9 is in a class of its own.
A smart vacuum, the Roomba S9 will automatically recharge and resume cleaning, map and save floor plans, moves in straight, efficient lines while transitioning brilliantly between surfaces and avoiding obstacles.
Mopping function – no. Another thing worth mentioning is that some units of the Roomba S9 have functionality problems.
If you’re lucky with one that works though it’s really a game-changer for pick-up of heavier debris like sand in tall carpets and rugs.
Continue reading: Full review (include pros & cons) of the Roomba S9 floor vacuuming robot
Looking for the most affordable self-emptying robot vacuum? The Roomba i7+ isn’t what you are looking for, unfortunately. In fact, just the self-emptying base alone is $199 on Amazon vs. $99 for the base of the Shark IQ and Proscenic M7 Pro. However, its auto-dirt emptying system works reliably well. With a full bin indicator (to prevent bin overflow and reduced suction), the emptying tower of the i7 Plus has strong suction that supports complete evacuation. Also a bagged system, plus it comes equipped with a high-grade filter (HEPA) that makes it a win-win for people with allergies.
Eufy 11S/Roborock S6: quietest robot vacuum
To conclude this list of the best robot vacuums are the duo of the Eufy 11S and Roborock S6 at around 55 decibels. At this noise level, they’re about the quietest robot vacuums you can find. Either model suffices if you’re looking for a capable cleaning bot that doesn’t disrupt sleep or conversations.
Eufy 11S is an entry-level machine hence its affordability and limited functionality.
Roborock S6 on the other hand isn’t cheap (typically selling around the $500 price mark) but offers increased functionality, as such intense, efficient, and convenient cleaning.
Robot vacuum types
Robot vacuums may look similar in appearance but not very much in functionality. Some models are cheap and clean without rhyme or rhythm. There’s another set of floor robots for a few dollars more that are systematic in their approach but lacking personalization features like keep-out zones and room cleaning. Yet, there’s the last category that spots full automation but is significantly pricier.
Continue reading if you want to know what your money can get you as far as a robot vacuum is concerned, or if you want to know whether what you’re paying is commensurate with the value you’re getting.
3 robot vacuum types to consider
In this section, robot vacuums will be considered under three levels of Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. The degree of automation, level of intelligence, usability, vacuuming strength, and cost of ownership are few highlights to receive a mention. There’ll also be a mention of relevant products when and where necessary.
The following are three categories of robot vacuums.
Beginner robot vacuums
The Beginner robovacs are the first robot vacuum type to be considered. They have the basics covered (automatic recharging, decent cleaning power, app, and voice control) without all the bells and whistles of the Mid and Advanced options. Unsurprisingly, they’re cheaper (typically between $150 – $249).
Of note, however, is their starter features. No room divider, area cleaning, room cleaning, mapping, auto-resume, or auto-empty. Multi-scheduling and room-level scheduling are also not available.
Consequently, they require too much babysitting: whether that be for constantly rescuing them from under furniture, keeping an eye on the bin or charge level, or trying to keep them away from pet spaces, kids playroom, or other unwanted areas…in the process of which a lot of time and energy is used up.
The Beginner robot vacuums might be worth it, though, depending on the user (don’t mind getting involved), their availability (have time to spare), and the intended use (small home of about 800 sq ft). Consider Roomba 675, Eufy 11S, or Goovi D380 if you’re interested in items from this category.
Intermediate robot vacuums
Robot vacuums at the Intermediate level are the second robot vacuum type to be considered. Think the iRobot Roomba i3 Plus (ships with the auto-clean dock), Roborock E4, or the Proscenic M6 Pro.
These ones if it helps to mention are pricier (typically in the $249 – $349 range). They also don’t support multi-level or personalized cleaning (room cleaning, no-go lines, area cleaning or room-level scheduling).
On the upside, they have larger batteries (at least 75 minutes on low power settings plus an Auto-resume feature), stronger suction and airflow, and intelligent navigation.
As a result of their impressive capabilities, the Intermediate robot vacuums:
- Support multi-floor cleaning (hard floors + thin and medium-pile carpets and rugs)
- Can give coverage in spaces up to 1500 sq ft
- Are better at handling rooms with problematic layouts
- Are less hands-on. They require less babysitting, which helps to save time while minimizing maintenance work.
Robot vacuums in the Intermediate cadre, although not cheap, are a better spend of your money given upgrades to mobility and their self-resuming ability.
Advanced robot vacuums
Robot vacuums at the Advanced level are the third and final robot vacuum type to be considered.
Robot vacuums in the Advanced category have premium price tags (think $500+). On the upside, they have multipurpose applications coupled with smart (path planning and obstacle recognition and avoidance), useful (mapping, auto-resume & auto-empty), and usable features (App & voice control) functions. Cleaning, therefore, is faster, efficient, and convenient. Consider the Roomba i7 Plus, Roborock S7, or Deebot T8 Plus if you’re interested in items from the Advanced category.
Robot Vacuum Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
This section is where you’ll find answers to questions you may have about the potentials and limitations of a robot vacuum. Below are ten frequently asked questions about robot vacuums.
10 frequently asked questions about robot vacuums
What are robotic vacuum cleaners?
Robot vacuum cleaners, also known as robovacs, are automatic cleaning machines with
- Wheels (one apiece on the sides with another smaller one in front) for mobility;
- Lasers/cameras/sensors for enhanced navigation, object detection and avoidance, dirt & carpet detection, and fall prevention;
- Suction, airflow, and brushes (side & center) for removing debris from deep in the carpet, on hard floors, under furniture, and along walls and in corners;
- Mapping (available in select models) for path planning
- App/remote for control and settings
- Docking station for automatic recharging, resuming, and/or empty.
How do robot vacuums work?
A robot vacuum moves around on its wheels. To aid navigation and avoid injury to the machine, there are attached sensors on different parts of the machine to include for detecting walls, obstacles, cliffs, dirt, and carpets.
As the bot is exploring the space, there are side brushes sweeping the mess toward the path of the center brush (aka roller or extractor) or suction inlet where they ultimately pulled in. The sucked cruds then get transferred to the detachable dustbin.
For models with the auto-evacuate function, there’s a timer (or in some models, a full bin indicator) that forces the bot back to its Home base for automatic emptying and, subsequently, resuming. The same is true for when the bot runs low on battery power.
After a session must have been completed (initiated/managed through buttons on the device, remote, App, or Alexa/Google), the cleaning bot if it doesn’t get stuck or runs out of charge mid-session will return to its docking station ready for the next round of tasks.
Are robotic cleaners any good? Do they really work? Are they effective? Are they worth it?
Robot vacuums don’t experience fatigue like humans so your back is safe. They clean on their own too. They may not have quite the cleaning power of an Upright but they clean well nonetheless. That, plus they fit under most furniture and hard-to-reach areas. They run multiple times, any time, and from anywhere.
As a maintenance cleaning tool, a robot vacuum is very much ideal. Also, their time-saving potential could help get your weekend back.
Who needs/what are the advantages of buying a robot vacuum?
- Households that attract a lot of foot traffic.
- Households whose family members may have back pain, lung diseases amongst other health-related conditions.
- Households or individuals who want to keep up with the long hair of their partners or mates.
- Pet owners whose cats, dogs shed hairs like crazy.
- People with allergies.
- People who need quick fixes.
- People who are living in an area where dust traffic in much higher volume.
- People who want to cut down on arguments over who’s doing what in the house.
- People who can’t or are unable to push or pull a manual vacuum (could be that they’re elderly, disabled, or even able-bodied persons who simply don’t feel like doing full vacuum).
- New parents with small kids.
- Busy professionals who travel a lot/don’t have extra time for vacuuming.
- Homeowners selling their houses who need to keep things as spotless as possible.
- Homeowners who are remodeling with new floorings
- Also, a robot vacuum is an excellent solution for households or anyone at all who wants their floors cleaned regularly.
Who shouldn’t buy or what are the disadvantages of buying a robot vacuum?
Robot vacuums may not be suitable for anyone who:
- Is unwilling to spend a bit more. Items less than $250 in my experience are expensive toys at best, seeing as they’re very demanding.
- Has dark patterned rugs or carpets. This will be treated as an edge so the device will avoid cleaning. You could tape the cliff sensor though but this is at the potential risk of a fall.
- Can’t keep things off the floor.
- Prioritizes their privacy. For people in this category, a robot vacuum with remote control or one with laser eyes should suffice. Keep in mind though that the remote-controlled floor robots lack the functionalities of the App.
- Prioritizes deep cleaning.
- Want to clean the stairs.
Robot vacuums for what type of home?
- Robot vacuums in the Beginner category often work best in small spaces (~800 sq ft), open floor plan, with mostly hard floors (tiles, laminates, woods), and maybe low-pile carpets.
- Robot vacuums in the Intermediate category can handle a medium space (~1500 sq ft) with multiple floorings (hard floors, low- to medium-pile carpets), and long/short human and dog hair.
- Robot vacuums in the Advanced category, thanks to increased suction, excellent navigation, larger battery capacity, specially designed rollers, auto recharge, resume, and self empty functions are better able to handle large spaces (~3500 sq ft), hard floors, medium- and high-pile carpets, and pets fur.
What should I consider when choosing a robot vacuum?
- Consider the price of the available robot vacuums in the market and their offerings
- Consider floor plan and layout
- Consider floor type (tile, carpet, hardwood, etc)
- Consider home size
- Consider lifestyle (pets, activity level)
- Consider your tech capabilities.
You can follow this link to read more about the importance of these variables in the purchase decision.
Which smart robot vacuum cleaner is best for me? Which should I buy?
Choosing the ideal self vacuum robot depends on what you need or think is IMPORTANT to you.
You can get by with items in the Beginner and Intermediate categories if you have, say, an open floor plan with over 90% hardwood floor in a home 1200 sq ft or less. But maybe not if you have a large house (more than 2500 sq ft) with mixed floors, obstacles, and lots of transitions. Instead, the talking point will be the high-end models, including but not limited to the Roborock S6 MaxV, Roomba i7 Plus, and Deebot T8 Plus.
Can a robot vacuum replace a normal vacuum?
For hard floor vacuuming maybe yes. Definitely as a maintenance tool. But capital NO for carpet and corner cleaning. Although recent models boast 2500+ Pa suction they’re still at least a few steps behind in cleaning power.
Mopping too, while the Sonic tech and the forward and backward movement of a certain Braava Jet M6 take things a little beyond a wet cloth being dragged across, this still is nothing compared to a human with a mop and bucket.
How long do robot vacuums last?
Depending on the maintenance regime and the user in terms of their ability to commit to routine cleaning and changing of the center brushes and filters as recommended–and buying of authentic parts–a robot vacuum from experience should last 2 – 5 years.
Robot vacuum buying guide
A Roomba in a house with a complicated floor plan…
A Roborock for a home with mostly carpets…
An unbranded robot purchased from an unauthorized seller…
You’re in the right place if you have limited money and time to spend on a robot vacuum yet want the best cleaning experience.
Today’s post hints at some common mistakes (including their attendant consequences, usually in lost time and money) that you might be making during the research, purchase, or use of a floor robot.
3 tips to help you save time and money on a robot vacuum
Tip #1: Buy robot vacuums in the Beginner and Mid-level categories if you’re on a budget. Buy the high-end models if you want to save time.
Typically selling $250 or less, items in the Beginner levels are reasonably priced, allowing you to stay within your budget while keeping your risk on the low because, well, all robot vacuums are susceptible to failure.
And while they have the advantage of price, the Beginner robots are very basic in functionality, which explains why they’re more hands-on.
The Intermediate bots (Roborock E4, Roomba i3, Proscenic 850T, etc.) on the other hand are better in this regard given they path-plan (as such can clean in straight lines while doing enough to avoid constantly getting trapped, stuck, or confused); automatically recharge and resume cleaning jobs; plus, there’s a certain Roomba i3 Plus that self empties. Some time-saving potential there which is a big plus.
Avg. run time on the Intermediate bots, though, is 75 minutes which is enough for a house ~1200 sq ft. Not forgetting they auto top-up, too, as earlier mentioned, but recharging can be anywhere between two to four hours.
Similarly, with floor bots in the Intermediate category, you’ll be doing whole-house cleaning even if you only want to clean a few key areas or rooms, considering they don’t have the room/area cleaning or keep-out zone functions.
Thankfully, and for all the inadequacies of the Mid-level robot vacuums, there are the likes of the Deebot T8+ which don’t come cheap (although you can get one from Best Buy with a deal at around $650) but can save you a few dollars here and there. Not to mention their time-saving potential.
Specifically, the high-end bots clean in straight lines, auto top-up, auto-evacuate, and regularly receive software updates for bug fixes and usability improvements. Expectedly, they’re less hands-on, efficient in operation, and more convenient to use.
But unlike in the case of the Mid-level bots where only house-wide cleaning is possible, with the flagship models you can actually engage them to only clean the dining area or kitchen.
Talking about run time, the Deebot T8 Plus, in particular, can run up to three hours. Besides this is enough battery life (of course depending on power settings) to cover a house ~2500 sq ft without interruption to the cleaning run. This is also an indication that you’ll be saving money on batteries because it would take much longer for a three-hour capacity battery to degrade badly enough to force a replacement.
Tip #2: Keep an eye on brands strong and weak points
Ecovacs sells feature-rich bots for a fraction of the Roomba but from experience, these aren’t as durable or reliable.
And if there’s one thing consistent with the Roborock brand, it’s the fact that their bots have some of the best navigation and App experience. For example, if you have a complicated layout, any one of the E4, S4 Max, S5 Max, S6, or even S6 MaxV are perfect choices. Conversely, if you have carpets, the Roborock S4, for one, doesn’t work on anything but a thin rug. As for the S6 MaxV, there were reports (like this one) of the center brush stalling on carpets. Roborock claims this is a feature, one aimed at preventing overheating, and not a bug.
As for iRobot, models like the 980 and S9, while their no-bristle roller design and powerful suction give them leverage on thick carpets and with fur and long human hair, their navigation is less than impressive. They don’t come cheap, either; however, they have good product support and helpful and responsive customer service. Good on return/warranty claims, too, plus parts are readily available.
Tip #3: Buy a known brand and from the manufacturer or through their store on Amazon
The third and final tip to people who don’t want to waste their money is to buy established brands (iRobot, Roborock, Ecovacs, Neato) and directly from the manufacturer or via their company’s store on Amazon.
Recognized brands have a name to protect. Quality doesn’t often get skimped on. And if or when something goes wrong, there’s someone on the other side who can be reached (preferably through phone), knows their stuff, and can proffer a way forward or offer clarity into some maybe confusing aspects of the device. Besides customer and product support, parts availability and affordability is another thing you want to consider. iRobot and Roborock, if it helps to mention, check all these boxes.
As for buying from the manufacturer or an authorized seller, this is necessary for warranty claims. Search the company’s website using Google (usually the first three results) and buy directly from there. Alternatively, on Amazon–and it doesn’t really matter how you land on the product page–look for a label with “visit [company name] store”…indicating the product is from the company’s store on Amazon. Companies usually have an inexhaustive list of resellers which is why I recommend buying through their store on Amazon to be on the safe side. Although you may buy from other places, do your due diligence to ensure the seller is authorized.
The whole idea of a robot vacuum is to set it and forget it. The truth however is that some robot vacuums get you close enough than the others.
With the Eufy 11S, Goovi D380, Roomba 675, and Deebot N79S in the Starter category, for example, while budget-friendly, most of your time will be spent hunting for their whereabouts, rescuing them from chair legs, following up with an upright vac in rooms or areas they missed or emptying their tiny trash cans multiple times mid cleaning.
Bots in the Intermediate level are much more hands-off and less demanding as per their upgraded mobility. The Roomba i3 Plus even has an auto-clean docking station. They’re by far the most reliable too giving their low tech. As promising as robots in this category, full cleaning–which wastes battery and time–is the only available option. You could improvise by using boundary strips or virtual walls, but these aren’t as convenient or sightly.
This is where robots in the Advanced category shines.
Clearly not cheap (typically $500 or more), the increased battery life, auto-dirt emptying, obstacle recognition, and avoidance, room divider, room/zone cleaning functions of the flagship models allow for them to be run almost unattended.
Still on time commitment, highlights such as software, customer support, product design, degree of automation play a huge part. With most bots, baby-proofing the house and babysitting the robot is common. While with Roborock bots, like others, you’ll still be required to tape rugs or pick up cords and socks. They’re much less demanding, however, given in particular their superior navigation and better App. Fewer incidences of machine failures that turn out to be, which also means you’ll be spending time on things you enjoy, rather than on troubleshooting or bickering with customer care.
Beyond the impact of a bot’s capabilities on time commitment, how much you’ll be spending/saving will also depend on the maker of the robot vacuum, the quality of the hardware, and the seller/retailer. My iRobot 960 will be five in November 2021. Similarly, a Roomba S9 I bought through Amazon that failed to impress was quickly replaced. When the replacement went the way of its predecessor, I got fully refunded. Also, and while you don’t want to cheap on batteries or rollers–being a popular product, there are cheap knock-off dirtbags and wiping pads on Amazon and other places online.
- Robot vacuums with what capabilities are ideal for which vacuuming needs?
- Are Roborock bots better than the Roomba?
There you have it: reviews of ten of the best robot vacuums to keep floors perpetually clean.
To make the right choice and obtain optimum value from your purchase, first identify your cleaning needs/situations: carpet, pet hair, hard floors, multi-level, mopping, etc. Next, go over and read the featured items again. This time slowly, paying attention to their potentials, limitations, and associated use cases. Further, use this section to educate yourself on what your money can get you and what to expect from your purchase.
If you’re stuck or need clarity on certain things, then maybe check the FAQs section for likely answers to general questions about robot vacuums. Ask brand-related or other specific questions in the comment section.
Lastly, visit the deals page on Amazon to see if your preferred item is selling with a discount.