While the robotic vacuum cleaner is relatively new to the larger vacuum market, its reputation is also far less variable than its upright and canister cousins. Robotic vacuum cleaners are often portrayed as the “lazy man’s option,” or as something that entertains the house pets more than cleans. While this stereotype may be true for some cheaper models in the market, the modern higher quality robotic vacuum cleaner is anything but lethargic.
Promising effective cleaning settings, remote control activation, scheduling, and even proprietary, user-friendly applications, robotic vacuum cleaners in the market today are lauded for their ease of use and all in one design. You can count on an effective robotic vacuum cleaner to leave its post, perform its duties, and turn itself back in for recharging.
75 minutes | Corrugated filter | 8.6lbs | ✓Brush Roll | ✓Coverage Map | ✓Boundary Setting | ✓App
iRobot’s Roomba 960 carries one of the most recognizable names in the robotic vacuum market and more than lives up to it. Provided you’re comfortable with the steep asking price and less-than-perfect performance on high-pile carpet, the powerful programming features make the Roomba 960 perfect for the hands-off user.
- Powerful application
- Invisible wall capability
- Smart speaker capable
- Struggles on thick carpet
- Shorter runtime
- Voice-activated control
- AeroForce Cleaning System
- iAdapt 2.0 Navigation
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
The term “Roomba” is so synonymous with robotic vacuum cleaners, it would be permissible for some to initially think of them as one and the same.
iRobot’s Roomba 960 is at the higher end of the many variants of the Roomba model, alongside the entry-level Roomba 614 and popular Roomba 690. While many iterations of the Roomba over the years has both pleased and frustrated homeowners, the company seems to have struck gold with the lauded and powerful 960.
Adapting to the increasingly ubiquitous smartphone, the Roomba 960 utilizes iRobot’s HOME application to control the device. In fact, this method of operation is so streamlined that there are no other controls available, aside from a singular “Clean” button at the top of the device that will activate this product’s dual multi-surface brush rolls and edge sweeping brush. On the HOME app, you can see the rooms Roomba has cleaned and when, map rooms with the Roomba’s camera, check for any issues of clogged brush rolls or jammed wheels, and even tell your Roomba to make a second pass or do a better job cleaning the edges of a room. Out of all robotic vacuum cleaners and associated applications on our list, perhaps none are as comprehensive or detailed as iRobot’s HOME.
However, anyone hoping for a simpler setup will need to consult other options, as using the Roomba 960 without the application is next to impossible. Similarly, the streamlined nature of the design means that there are no alternative brush roll attachments, which can mean your Roomba will struggle to get over any shag carpets you may have in the home. The boundary setting is effective with iRobot’s invisible wall system, but these do need a periodic battery replacement, take up a significant amount of room, and can cost a fair amount of money on top of the already-premium cost of the 960.
We recommend the iRobot Roomba 960 for anyone who wants a vacuum that will work without much fuss, maintenance, or oversight. Pet owners and those with lots of carpeting will be less than pleased with this design, but with an application as powerful as iRobot’s HOME, it can be a tradeoff worth making to some. Also be sure to consider other Roomba models that may have a more favorable price while still offering similar features.
90 minutes | Corrugated filter | 6.66 lbs | ✓Brush Roll | X Coverage Map | X Boundary Setting | X App
eufy’s unassuming and affordable RoboVac 11 packs a lot of punch in a tiny package. Pet owners with primarily hardwood flooring will love the simple remote design, but anyone hoping for a smart application, boundary setting, and more powerful brush roll for carpets may be underwhelmed.
- Long runtime
- 2 side brushes
- No boundary setting
- No application
- Struggles on carpets
- Specialized cleaning modes
- Triple-filter system
- Attachments: N/A
- Warranty: 1-year
This thin robotic vacuum from eufy might be as unassuming as a robotic vacuum can be. For a more affordable robotic vacuum without a proprietary application, however, this product has no issues out-performing many models both at this price range and beyond.
The eufy RoboVac 11 seems to be the company’s current flagship model, alongside the longer-lasting RoboVac 11+ and carpet focused RoboVac 11S. This no-frills version of the RoboVac lineup promises a thorough clean and features a dedicated brush roll as well as two edge sweepers.
It’s worth noting that, compared to other products on our list, the eufy RoboVac has some of the highest reviews. Fans of the eufy are quick to compliment performance on edges and hardwood especially, alongside notes about the lower clearance. While robotic vacuums are on the shorter side in general, the eufy has no problems slipping under most furniture and pulling out dust and dirt that may have been resting dormant for years. Other features include a 3-point cleaning system, an infrared system for avoiding obstacles before running into them, drop protection to prevent running off of stairs, and remote control to control the entire system.
The eufy is light on certain key features, even when compared to other products at this price range. The lack of a boundary setting, attachments, coverage mapping, and supporting application are all noteworthy and surprising to see missing on this model. Much like the Roomba 960, the RoboVac 11 can also struggle on high pile carpeting. Luckily, the built-in tracking and room cleaning moves are more than capable when it comes to cleaning an entire room without an application. Provided you keep an eye on the eufy to make sure it doesn’t go venturing off into too many rooms, you’ll find that the dual edge brushes and powerful brush motor do an excellent job at pulling debris from your carpet. You may even find yourself emptying the bin more often than expected, thanks to its suction power. Between the RoboVac 11 and its associated variants, you can expect a clean home at a fair price.
120 mins | Corrugated filter | 7.5 lbs | ✓ Brush Roll | ✓Coverage Map | ✓ Boundary Setting | ✓Application
Neato’s beast of a robotic vacuum cleaner is large and powerful enough for even large pet hairs and major messes. However, lackluster autonomous functionality and a lack of attachments hold the Botvac D5 from truly shining.
- Great for carpeted floors
- D-shaped design
- Extra-large bin
- No manual steering
- Bulky design
- Needs periodic attention
- Neato application control
- CornerClever technology
- Laser smart navigation
- Attachments: N/A
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
Neato Robotics has quickly risen to the clout of the iRobot Roomba brand and produces quality robotic vacuums with unique technology to compete at all levels. With the Botvac D5, the focus now seems to be on pets and carpets. The Neato Botvac D5 is the only D-shaped robotic vacuum on our list, which can help to counteract the natural weakness of robotic vacuums to handle edges and corners. Two edge brushes sweep hair and debris into the spin flow power clean system, which features a heavy brush roll and extra-large bin.
The entire product is also controlled by Neato’s application, which allows you to schedule and start cleaning sessions, view history, map out your rooms, and more. There is no boundary setting within the application, but Neato robotics offers an unconventional solution that will require an extra purchase to set boundaries.
Magnetic strips called Neato Boundary Markers can be utilized to section off your home into "go" and "no-go" zones for your Neato device. This solution is better than nothing but, unlike the iRobot invisible wall system, will require a fair amount more work on your part to set up. When considering a robotic vacuum, this extra effort can be a detriment.
Likewise, there’s no way to steer the Botvac D5 without the application or direct it towards a specific area to clean. You’re entirely reliant on the device’s application, so without the right phone, others won’t be able to use the product. The Botvac D5 is also the largest and heaviest robotic vacuum cleaner on our list, and while the weight isn’t necessarily a problem, the size will prohibit the Botvac from getting underneath furniture.
Still, we feel as if there is no better robotic vacuum in the market to tackle pet hair. While the product isn’t HEPA certified right out of the box, the ultra performance filter does an excellent job keeping dust from circulating in the air. Pet owners, those who suffer from allergies, and those with lots of carpeted flooring will be hard-pressed to find a more comprehensive option.
110 minutes | Sponge filter | 7.9 lbs | ✓Brush Roll | X Coverage Map | X Boundary Setting | ✓Application
Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro boasts almost every feature expected from a professional-grade robotic vacuum at a very modest price point. Buggy design and programming can point the Deebot M80 Pro in the wrong direction, but if you aim it right, this product will clean as well as it can mop your floors.
- Mop capability
- Long runtime
- Weak application
- Needs supervision
- No boundary setting
- ECOVACS application
- Detachable mop pad
- Smart motion cleaning
- Attachments: mop attachment, brush-roll attachment
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
The Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro is something of an enigma both in price and features. Most robotic vacuums force the end-users to make a choice: either enjoy the autonomous luxury of applications and boundary setting, or the simplicity of a remote-controlled and more hands-on robotic vacuum. What Ecovac seems to have done with the Deebot M80 is take the best of both worlds with few of the drawbacks.
The Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro, as of the writing of this article, is significantly easier to operate than the eufy RoboVac 11. The Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro also promises a 5-stage cleaning system that includes mopping functionality, a max power suction mode, brush roll, and side brushes. Mopping seems to be somewhat of a novelty feature for the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro, but then again, how many robotic vacuums manage to mop your floors?
Other features include the Ecovacs application. While it is mostly an emulator of the included remote control, having the capability of turning the vacuum on and off from across the home is always a plus. The remote control functionality also extends to your smart devices, as the vacuum can be activated by most commercial smart speakers.
The functionality of a top-of-the-line robotic vacuum at a rock-bottom price, unfortunately, comes with a few noticeable cut corners. While the application is handy, it is quite limited in features, and many users that enjoy the device simply opt for the remote control. Likewise, the product doesn’t do well without supervision.
While the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro is programmed with anti-fall sensors and an infrared sensor to avoid collisions, many users report watching their Deebot stumble around the home and occasionally forget to dock itself.
If you can accept the quirks for what they are, however, there’s little else to worry about. The Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro handles hardwood and low-pile carpet without a fuss, and can even tackle high-pile carpet to a fair amount of success. Provided you’re ready to play babysitter for your smart device, the Ecovacs Deebot M80 Pro gives you everything a robotic vacuum has to offer without the price tag.
Almost everyone would much rather allow something else to clean their home than have to manage it themselves, so it is not surprising that robotic vacuums have exploded in popularity. While that may be a good thing, people unfamiliar with a robotic vacuum may purchase one without knowing the specific quirks and tips necessary for fully integrating one of these products into your routine.
Why Go Robotic?
Robotic vacuums are sought after for one reason: autonomy. People enjoy the idea that they can leave their home, head to work, and come back to a home cleaned by their very own programmable butler. And while a few of the robotic vacuums listed above can manage admirably without human oversight, approaching a robotic vacuum as a total replacement for floor maintenance is just asking for disappointment.
Let’s be clear—robotic vacuums are not as powerful nor as effective as their upright and canister cousins, nor were they designed to be. Robotic vacuums need to be programmed, have their bins emptied quite often, and still won’t pick up everything. The value in a robotic vacuum comes from convenience. While you maintain the stairs and above-floor surfaces, you can trust your purchase to keep your floors presentable before you go in for a deep clean on the weekends.
All of this is not to say a robotic vacuum isn’t worth the asking price. Provided you know the limitations and like the idea of vacuuming less often—but still occasionally—then we think a robotic vacuum is an excellent investment for smaller homes and homes without too confusing of a floor plan.
Applications and Programming
Each robotic vacuum uses a different method to clean floors. Some, like the eufy RoboVac 11 and the Ecovac Deebot M8, are reliant on built-in sensors to keep them away from obstacles and cleaning each aspect of a room.
Others, like the Roomba 960 and Neato Botvac D5, can map out your room for you and respond to programming that tells them where to head. Programming also allows robotic vacuums to spot clean, or turn on their brush rolls when heading over to carpets and problem areas.
Paying attention to the programming and applications involved with a robotic vacuum, as well as the consumer reviews of both, will save you time and money in the long-term. An excellent robotic vacuum without the programming to back it up is far less valuable than the alternative.
Like we mentioned a few times above, boundary setting is key. Robotic vacuums are reliant on the end-user to tell them where and where not to go. The Roomba 960 utilizes invisible walls, the Neato Botvac D5 uses boundary tape, and the eufy and Ecovac will be reliant on you.
For robotic vacuums that have boundary setting as an option, taking the time to program in the allowed and prohibited zones will not only save the vacuum time when attempting to cross a larger home but also your investment. Despite almost all of our options having drop-sensors, setting a boundary between the staircase can mean the difference between a regular cleaning session and a big mess.
Of course, there are several considerations to make when considering the addition of a robotic vacuum cleaner to your home. Not everyone would prefer a robotic option to a solid upright or canister model. That being said, we’ve chosen the best four robotic vacuums in the market today to explore just how helpful, efficient, and powerful these devices can be.
There are several considerations to make when choosing the right robotic vacuum cleaner provided you feel as if you need one in the first place. Those who live in apartments and small homes may appreciate a small device to pick up dirt and debris in those hard-to-reach areas, and if you live with no pets and little mess, vacuuming the recommended two times a week will no longer be necessary. The Roomba 960 and eufy RoboVac are excellent for these purposes.
Larger homes and pet owners may appreciate the long battery life of the Ecovacs Deebot M80, or the powerful brush roll of the Neato Botvac D5, but will need to consider the benefits of a robotic vacuum cleaner before pulling the trigger. Likewise, those with complicated home layouts need to consider keeping the mapping feature a high priority when searching for the right product.
Overall, we recommend robotic vacuum cleaners for those who want a little less maintenance around the home or apartment. Remember to keep your floors clear of anything extraneous, so that your robotic vacuum cleaner can get to work without having to maneuver around any unnecessary obstructions. Consider all options as well as our top picks, and if you feel it’s right for you, enjoy your day knowing that someone else is doing the vacuuming for you.