Robot Cleaners vs Floor Sweepers

Robotic Vacuum Cleaners Vs. Floor Sweepers – What’s The Difference?

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Robot Cleaners vs Floor Sweepers

If you have been thinking about purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner, keep in mind that there are two main types of these robotic cleaners: a robotic vacuum cleaners and robotic sweepers.

Each type of vacuum is designed for a different job.

Here is a closer look at what separates robot vacuums from robot sweepers – and what each can and cannot do.


Almost every robotic cleaner sold today has some type of sensor that helps it know where it needs to go.

The type of sensor will vary based on the brand and version that you purchase.

Some robotic vacuums require you to define off-limits boundaries using what are called light houses.

Others have built in infrared sensors that will automatically sense obstacles and avoid them.

Roomba 960
Roomba 960 Light House

If you are planning to use these devices on rooms located upstairs, it is important to make sure that you choose one that offers a ledge sensor so that your brand new robot does not end up tumbling down the stairs.


The most important function of any type of vacuum is how well it cleans your floors.

When it comes to performance the difference between a robotic vacuum and a robotic sweeper is significant.

Most robotic sweepers are best used for hardwood floors. especially ones that have less suction power or have a more difficult time on longer thread carpet.

Some robotic sweepers like the iRobot Braava 240 have a mopping feature, which makes them ideal for hardwood floors.

For those who own homes that have a mix of carpet and hardwood, a robotic vacuum like our top-pick, the Roomba 980, is a better choice. These devices work well on both carpet and hardwood. They also offer a stronger suction, so they can pick up larger debris.

bobsweep in action


Another feature to consider is the navigation system of the robotic vacuum.

The majority of robotic vacuums and robotic sweepers offer navigation systems that help them move around the home, from room to room.

Some nav systems return the cleaner to its docking station once it has completed a cleaning task or the battery runs low.

Battery Life

Almost all robotic vacuums and sweepers on the market will run for at least an hour using a single charge.

Some of the best robotic vacuums can run for almost 4 hours on a single charge.

Another thing to consider is charging time. Vacuums that require less time to recharge can be used more often and complete more tasks for you at once.

You’ll need a low battery indicator if your unit does not automatically return and recharge itself, but less expensive robot cleaners don’t have one.

In addition, lower cost vacuums do not have charging stations or will not automatically return to their charging station when the battery dies.

Self Charger


Both robotic vacuum cleaners and robotic sweepers offer a level of convenience for those who purchase them. These devices will clean your floors for you so that you can get on with other tasks.

However, a robotic sweeper is only going to get a small amount of dust and debris off of the floor. In addition, the sweeper has a smaller compartment to hold the debris, which means that it will need to be cleaned out more often.

As mentioned, these robotic cleaners are meant to supplement deep cleaning efforts. While they cannot provide you with the deep cleaning that a regular vacuum can, they can offer you a way to keep your floor clear of dust, dirt, and other particles so that you do not have to deep clean as often.


Both robotic vacuums and robotic sweepers require a bit of maintenance in order to continue to run properly.

You will need to clean wheels and empty bins fairly regularly, usually daily if you set yours to clean every day.

You will also need to clean the brushes to remove tangles of hair and other items that can become stuck.

Most maintenance for robotic vacuums can be completed in a short amount of time.

If you take the time to make sure to clean the device regularly, you will find that it will last for a much longer time.

Maintenance of iRobot


There are several accessories that come with these robotic vacuums. Some of them offer applications that can be used with your tablet or smartphone. You can set up a cleaning schedule and even control your vacuum using these apps.

There are also some vacuums that have remote controls. This means that you do not have to chase it down during one of the scheduled cleanings if you want to make a change.

Other accessories include magnetic strips that stop the vacuum from entering areas that you do not want it to go into. Others have virtual walls that can be set up.

Roomba scheduling


The other big difference is price. Robotic sweepers tend to come with a lower price tag than full-blown robotic floor cleaners. The reason for this is because sweepers tend to not offer as many features and accessories as the robotic vacuums.


Overall, there are many differences between robotic vacuums and robotic sweepers.

The main differences are prices and cleaning power.

A robotic sweeper like the iRobot Braava series is a good choice for smaller homes with hardwood floors that do not gather a lot of debris and dirt.

Larger homes that have a mix of carpeting and hardwood would do better with a larger and more durable robotic vacuum, like a Roomba 650 or 980.

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.

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