Robotic vacuum cleaner

Robotic Vacuum Cleaners: The Features That Matter Most

NOTE: This page contains affiliate links that may compensate the owner of this site when you buy a recommended product - but they do not impact the price you pay.  Learn More.

Roomba 980 Features

If you are thinking about purchasing a robotic vacuum cleaner, it is important that you understand the features that matter most to you.

As you can see from reading reviews about these products, robotic cleaners can do a lot when it comes to cleaning up dirt and debris around the home.

However, every robotic vacuum performs a bit differently, and some are highly specialized.

Some are good at spot cleaning, others can mop and sweep, and only a few can clean high-pile shag.

To put it simply, some robotic vacuums just perform better than others.

Here are some of the features that you need to look for when you are searching for the best robotic vacuum.

Cleaning Performance

When it comes down to it, the cleaning performance of robotic vacuum is the number one thing to consider.

The most advanced robotic vacuum cleaners today like the Roomba 980/990 can clean many types of flooring such as hard surfaces, hardwood, carpets, area rugs, etc.

The best robotic vacuums can also pick up pet fur, dust, crumbs and dirt.

Several robotic vacuum cleaners can do all of these things, but the difference comes with how powerful, thorough and efficient the cleaning is.

Robotic Vacuum Power

A vacuum cleaner’s performance is determined by three complimentary factors:

  • the vacuum motors, which determine the suction power
  • the type of brushes used, which include side brushes and rubber extractors or rotating brushes, and
  • the navigation method used to guide the cleaner across your floors.

The type of brushes used determines how effective a robot cleaner is at capturing dust, long hairs and fibers. Side brushes are important for finding all of those dust bunnies along wall edges and in corners.

Cleaning performance also a function of how intelligently a robotic cleaner can navigate around your home and within one room.

Only a few robotic cleaners such as the latest Roomba series use a visual sensor-based mapping system that can map your rooms and see potential obstacles such as power cords, rugs, furniture, walls, and stairs.

When you run an intelligent robotic vacuum for the first time you should expect it to bump into some of the furniture until it learns to avoid items, but after a few days it’s amazing how well these new cleaners get around.

Battery Life

Another important feature to consider is the battery life.

The best robotic cleaners have about a 2 hour battery life when they are fully charged, while others will only run for about an hour.

However, the actual amount of time a robotic cleaner will run depends on the cleaning mode. Power boost modes can easily sap a robot cleaner in 30 minutes.

Many robotic cleaners will sense when their battery is running low and will return to their charging dock to recharge.

Some do not have a charging dock, at all. For a unit like this, make sure it has a light or other indicator that will show when the power is low.

Irobots Battery Life


The main purpose of a robotic cleaner is convenience.

You should be able to simply hit the clean button and sit back and let it do all of the work.

Additionally, many robotic cleaners can be programmed to clean on a regular basis, such as a certain time of day or on a weekly basis.

Look for one that offers flexible in-day and day-of-week scheduling, as it really makes the cleaning more convenient.

The latest models like the Roomba 980 come with a smartphone app that allows you to set and adjust your cleaning schedule when you’re away from home. This is great for people who travel and like to come home for a dinner party, for example.


Another feature to consider is the level of maintenance and cleaning required for your robotic cleaner.

All cleaners need the filter cleaned and the dust bin emptied on a regular basis.

Others also require removing and cleaning wheels and extractors, which often requires disassembling the unit. Some Roombas require this.

bobsweep in action

Other Features

Some of the other extras you may find useful include:

  • Warranty: take time to read the warranty so that you know what is covered. A basic warranty will cover defective components. Some products have longer warranties than others. Most begin at 90 days, and the longest is 2 years. Luckily, extended warranties are pretty cheap for robot cleaners.
  • User Manual: detailed user manuals are important as they can help you learn more about how to best use your new vacuum. Check the website of the manufacturer to see if there are additional troubleshooting guides or videos to help you.
  • Optional Accessories: some models offer an optional remote that can be used to change the settings on the machine. Or, you might want an extra battery, a few more virtual lighthouses or another virtual wall.

Do You Really Need a Robotic Floor Cleaner?

Of course not. A robotic vacuum is a luxury purchase, purely done to make your life a bit easier.

Robot vacuum do not completely replace upright vacuums or mops.  However, they do save time and help you keep your floors consistently clean. Which means you’ll spend a lot less time using your other cleaning tools.

Also, when you consider the time you’ll save, most people would agree the latest models are well worth the money.

So if you are tired of vacuuming and looking for a way to keep your floors clean consistently, then a robotic vacuum can be a great purchase.


To wrap this all up, make sure you consider the following features and factors, when purchasing a robotic vacuum cleaner:

  • Cleaning performance: motors, brushes and navigation method
  • Batteries: life of one charge, and automatic recharging
  • Scheduling: can you adjust the schedule? using an app?
  • Maintenance: how much work will it take to keep it going?

Learn More

If you’d like to learn more about the best robot vacuums selling today, check out the following buying guides on this site:

Best of luck on your purchase!


About the author

Vicky Nicholls is the Sr. Researcher and Writer for

Vicky is a full-time professional writer who spends most of her time covering the real-world impact of the latest technologies on consumers' lives around the world. She writes full-time for a number of leading review and editorial publications on the web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.