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Do you need the best robot vacuum for carpet?
You’ve come to the right place.
Most robot vacuum cleaners can easily clean a tile, hardwood, or vinyl floor.
But when it comes to vacuuming carpet, many struggle. It takes a LOT of suction power to pull dust, pet hair, food crumbs, and other debris out of thick shag and even low-pile carpet.
Fortunately, some robot vacuums are up to the task. Several of today’s best robotic vacuums can even clean pet hair from your carpet.
In this buying guide, we review and compare the 4 best robot vacuums for cleaning carpet.
Our top picks are based on suction power, brush setup and customer reviews.
Best Robot Vacuums for Cleaning Carpets 2020
1. Deepest-Cleaning Robot Vacuum for Carpets: Roomba 980
Until the recent release of the Roomba i7 and i7+, the Roomba 980 was iRobot’s premier robotic vacuum cleaner.
While the i7 has more advanced features, the 980 is still a solid choice for homes with carpets.
- Powerful suction – can clean most types of carpets with ease
- Dual roller brushes have no trouble picking pet hair
- High-efficiency filter
- Smart mapping & navigation
- Auto recharge & resume
- Doesn’t create an interactive map that you can use to designate cleaning areas or set boundaries.
- Refuses to clean dark carpets
What Makes it Great for Carpets
Powerful suction power: According to iRobot, the AeroForce® Cleaning System in the 980 is ten times more powerful than the AeroVac™ system used in the Roomba 600 series. This allows the robot to quickly pick up debris and pet hair even on thicker carpets.
Dual rubber rollers: As the two roller brushes spin, they pick up pet hair and push debris inside the suction port. The rollers also agitate dirt hiding deep inside the carpet fibers.
Auto-adjusting cleaning head: The brushes can raise or lower depending on the floor surface the robot is on. This ensures they remain in close contact with the floor for a more thorough clean.
Carpet boost mode: When the robot senses that it is on a carpet (or when you turn on the performance mode), it produces more suction power to improve cleaning performance.
High-efficiency filter: This allows the robot to capture all the debris that accumulates deep in the carpet including dust mites, dust, and other allergens. This improves overall air quality in your home.
The Roomba 980 is equipped with smart mapping and navigation. Using a camera and mapping algorithms, it can tell where it has been and where it has yet to clean.
This increases cleaning efficiency, allows it to clean quicker, and ensures it doesn’t miss a spot.
It also gives the robot a multi-room cleaning ability. You don’t have to move it manually from room to room – it can navigate around the whole house well enough on its own.
The robot has the usual array of sensors to detect furniture in its path and stay away from the stairs.
But the cliff sensors can be problematic if you have a dark carpet. They seem to think it is a drop-off and the robot won’t clean it.
The only option is to mask the cliff sensors with tape, but that would put the robot at risk of falling down the stairs.
If you have a black carpet, I recommend the newer Roomba i7 or i7+. It can differentiate between a dark floor and the edge of the stairs.
The Roomba 980 has a run time of 120 minutes, plenty of time to clean an entire level. Battery life will be slightly lower when it’s cleaning a large carpeted area because of the extra suction power required.
If it cannot finish leaning the entire level, it has a convenient auto recharge and resume feature.
It will go back to the dock to recharge and when full, go back to where it left off and finish cleaning.
The Roomba 980 is a smart robot meaning you can link it up to your home network and control it remotely from the iRobot HOME app or a smart assistant like Alexa.
You can also set a weekly schedule on the app.
2. Best Multi-Room & Multilevel Robot Vacuum: Roomba i7+
This is the latest robot launched by iRobot and is one of the best robot vacuum cleaners you can buy right now.
The biggest feature of the Roomba i7+ is the self-emptying bin.
iRobot has significantly improved navigation, allowing the robot to navigate from room to room easily. It can also generate unique cleaning maps for different house levels, making it ideal for multilevel homes.
If you are looking for the very best robot vacuum for carpet in terms of cleaning performance and features and you don’t mind the price tag, I highly recommend the Roomba i7+.
- Powerful suction and dual rollers for improved cleaning performance on the carpet
- Automatic dirt disposal
- Multi-room navigation
- Multilevel mapping
- Flexible scheduling
- Pricey – even the base model isn’t cheap
- No virtual boundaries or no-go zones. You still have to use iRobot’s Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier.
What Makes it Great for Carpets
Powerful suction power: Similar to the Roomba 980, the Roomba i7+ has ten times the air power of models in the 600 series. It can pick up all kinds of debris on most carpets.
Carpet boost mode: The robot automatically increases suction power when it detects it is on a carpet. The carpet boost mode doesn’t appear to be as powerful as the one in the 980, so the Roomba i7 needs a couple of passes to pick up all the pet hair and cat fur. On the upside, it is much quieter.
Dual rubber rollers: A signature feature of high-end Roombas, these dual rollers are great for picking up pet hair and agitating deep-down dirt on the carpet.
Auto-adjusting brushes: The brushes are not fixed at the same height above the floor. They can flex up or down as they move from the hard floor to the carpet, staying in close contact with the floor at all times. This allows a thorough clean.
High-efficiency filter: The Roomba i7+ can pick up allergens as small as 10 microns. This is not only good for your carpet, but it also improves your home air quality.
Automatic dirt disposal is easily our most favorite new feature of the Roomba i7+.
After it finishes vacuuming, it goes back to the dock and automatically empties all the dirt into the Clean Base™, a tall tower that connects to the charging dock.
The robot comes with two dirt disposal bags for the Clean Base.
Depending on how dirty your home gets, you’ll not need to empty the Clean Base for 1 to 2 months.
This convenience comes at a price. The initial price is high, and you also have to buy additional bags for $15 a pack (consisting of 3 bags).
If you are not ready to spend that much on a robot vacuum, there is the base Roomba i7 model that costs $250 less but doesn’t come with Clean Base.
It cleans just as well. You’ll have to empty the bin yourself.
Another feature we like is the Imprint™ Smart Mapping technology.
The Roomba i7+ has iRobot’s signature iAdapt navigation system that maps your home as it cleans. It generates a map that you can view on the app. But unlike earlier models, the map is not static.
You can label different rooms and then send the robot to clean a specific room using the app or via Alexa/Google Assistant. You can even schedule which rooms the robot should clean on specific days.
Unfortunately, you cannot set no-go zones on the map like in other smart mapping robots.
Other standard features include cliff sensors, Dirt Detect technology, and auto recharge & resume.
3. Best For Thin Carpets: ILIFE V3s Pro
The Roomba 980 and i7+ are pricey. But they are some of the best robot vacuums for carpets, even the thick and shaggy ones that most robots struggle with.
But if you have a thin carpet, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on a powerful robot.
A less powerful and cheaper robot vacuum will do. I recommend the ILIFE V3s Pro. It is five times cheaper than Roomba i7+.
- One of the cheapest robot vacuums
- Good cleaning performance on thin carpets
- Large bin and HEPA filter
- No smart features
- Not ideal for medium and high pile carpets
- Struggles with dark flooring
What Makes it Great for Thin Carpets
Adequate suction: Suction is not as powerful as in the Roomba 980 or i7, but it’s enough for low-pile carpets and hard floors. The robot has no problem picking up dust, food crumbs, pet hair, and other debris and allergens.
Tangle-free design: The side brushes don’t get all tangled up in pet hair, no matter how long it is. This is something many robot vacuums, even expensive ones, struggle with.
HEPA filter: Thus allows the robot to capture even the tiniest allergens that are usually to blame for poor home air quality.
Sizable bin: At 300ml, the bin can hold plenty of dirt and pet hair. This is great for homes with pets.
There isn’t much to say about this robot. It’s a simple budget robot vacuum with just the necessary basics to clean your floors.
It lacks the advanced features of most other robots including remote app control, auto-resume, and smart navigation.
The two features worth mentioning are auto resume (goes back to base when it finishes or the battery gets low) and 7-day scheduling.
4. Best Value: eufy Boost IQ RoboVac 11+
This is another great option if you are looking for a capable robot vacuum for the carpet.
But unlike the ILIFE V3s Pro, this one can vacuum both thin and medium pile carpets thanks to the Boost IQ feature that increases the suction power for a deeper clean.
It also has a bigger bin, a better filtration system, and a roller brush.
In terms of value for your money, the eufy RoboVac 11+ wins.
- BoostIQ feature for improved cleaning performance on carpets and rugs
- Includes roller brush for better pet hair pickup
- Comes with remote control
- No smart features
- Not ideal for high-pile carpets
- Struggles with dark flooring
What Makes it Great for Thin and Medium-Pile Carpets
Powerful suction power: The robot can increase suction power to 1300pa using BoostIQ™ Technology. This performance mode is great for deep-cleaning low and medium pile carpets.
Roller brush: One of the most important features for carpet-cleaning robot vacuums is a roller brush. It agitates dirt, making it easier for it to be suctioned, and easily picks up pet hair.
Though Eufy’s single roller brush is not as effective as Roomba’s dual roller system, it’s better than nothing. The company recently upgraded it to improve cleaning performance. It’s now wider and tangles less.
Triple filter system: Ensures all debris, including tiny allergens that degrade air quality, are captured.
Large bin: The 600ml bin holds a lot of dirt and pet hair. It’s handy if your pets shed a lot. You don’t have to empty the bin midway through the vacuuming.
Large wheels: The robot has no trouble climbing over area rugs and carpets.
Other than the cleaning basics above, the eufy Boost IQ RoboVac 11+ doesn’t have much else in terms of features.
There’s no smart navigation, interactive maps, smart assistant control, or auto resume.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Most of these features are not essential for cleaning performance anyway.
For the price, we love that the robot includes multiple cleaning modes (spot, edge, spot, and auto), auto recharge, and a weekly auto-cleaning schedule.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Robotic Vacuum for Carpet
Suction Power is Important
Cheaper robotic vacuums have exploded in popularity in the last couple of years. More people are realizing that they don’t need a Roomba to keep their floors clean.
But that only applies to homes with hard floors.
While most customers praise their cleaning performance on hard floors like tile and hardwood, they also admit that these cheaper robots are not so good on carpets.
The major difference between an ILIFE robot vacuum and a Roomba 980 is suction power.
The latter is much more powerful, giving it better ability to pick dust, debris and pet hair off the carpet.
A premium Roomba or Neato model can clean thicker carpets while budget models are ideal only for thin carpets and rugs.
If you have a low-pile carpet, a budget robot vacuum is good enough. But if your carpet is a medium or high-pile one, it’s worth it to spend a bit more on a capable robot vacuum.
You’ll Still Need Your Old Vacuum
Even if you are planning to buy a Roomba 980 or i7+, do not throw out your old manual vacuum. You’ll still need it.
Robot vacuums have come a long way in the last few years. They have gotten smarter and more powerful.
But watt for watt, traditional vacuum cleaners are still much more powerful. It makes sense.
Robotic vacuum cleaners don’t have the luxury of space to fit bigger motors, and they run on batteries.
Manual corded vacuums, on the other hand, can be made more powerful without worrying about battery life.
Roomba 980, one of the most powerful robot vacuums, has a suction power of 1700 Pa. In comparison, the average corded vacuum cleaner has a suction power of 20,000 Pa.
So even though a robot vacuum cleaner will get rid of most of the dirt and pet hair on a carpet, it cannot do a thorough deep cleaning.
You’ll still have to use your old vacuum to get rid of deep-down dirt and stuck debris. But at least, you don’t have to do it as often.
The Type of Carpet Matters
There are generally three types of carpet piles: low, medium and high pile.
A low pile carpet is thin and flat. The fibers are very low, and tightly woven, giving pet hair and debris no space to embed themselves in the carpet.
This type of carpet is easy to maintain, and you may not even need to keep your old vacuum around. A decent robot vacuum cleaner will have no trouble picking up dirt and dust from the carpet.
A medium pile carpet has higher and thicker fibers. It’s not a big maintenance headache like high-pile carpets, but it still attracts more dirt than thin office-type carpets.
You’ll need a robot vacuum with enough suction power to pick up dirt. It also must have a roller brush to pick up pet hair and agitate stubborn debris.
I recommend keeping your old vacuum cleaner at hand for occasional deep cleaning.
A high pile carpet is a dirt magnet. Pet hair and debris burrow deep into the thick and high fibers, making cleaning a challenge.
Only premium robot vacuums like Roomba i7 and Neato Botvac D7 can handle these carpets. And even then, you’ll still need to vacuum now and then manually.
Look for a Vacuum with Carpet Boost
The extra suction power needed to vacuum carpets drains the battery faster.
So what most manufacturers do is limit the suction power during normal hard floor cleaning and then set the vacuum to automatically increase power when it gets on a carpet.
In some models, you have to turn on the high-performance mode manually.
This adds to the battery life, allowing the robot vacuum to cover a larger area, while also ensuring that your carpet is clean.
Most robot vacuums for carpets, even the budget ones like ILIFE V3s Pro, have a power/carpet boost feature.
Can the Robot Vacuum Handle Pet Hair?
A carpet can be a real headache to maintain when you have pets.
The fibers attract and trap hairs and fur. The thicker the carpet is, the more difficult maintenance is.
When you are buying a robot vacuum for carpet, make sure it can help you manage the pet hair problem.
Here suction power is really important. You need a robot vacuum that can easily pick up hair and pet dander.
There’s also one feature the robot vacuum should have – a brush roll (or roller brush).
It is a rotating brush underneath the robot that picks up pet hair and pushes it inside the vacuum.
The roller brush system in Roomba is the best for pet hair. It consists of two rubber brushes or treads that rotate in opposite directions.
They do a much better job of picking up pet hair and other debris and lifting it inside the vacuum.
The best part is that they do not get tangled, a big problem for many other robot vacuums.
Beware the Battery Life
The average battery life for budget or mid-range robot vacuum is 100 minutes. For high-end models, it’s 120 minutes.
But these numbers don’t always translate to real life.
If you have a large carpeted area, the battery life is going to be significantly shorter because the robot deploys more suction power.
I recommend buying a robot vacuum with long battery life (at least 120 minutes). This ensures the vacuum has enough time to clean before the battery gets too low.
For smaller carpets, a basic 100-minute robot vacuum is enough.
Smart Navigation is Sometimes Necessary
There are two ways robot vacuum cleaners find theirs around the floor.
Budget models move either randomly, using sensors to detect stairs and furniture, or clean in a particular fixed pattern.
Premium models have smart navigation and mapping systems.
Robots like the Roomba i7+ and Neato Botvac D7 can draw a map of your floor layout and differentiate among different rooms. These models can automatically navigate from room to room without getting lost.
The best option depends on your home situation.
If you live in a small apartment or house, a ‘dumb’ robot vacuum will do. But if you have a large home, get a smart robot with multi-room navigation.
If you have a storied house, get a robot that provides the multilevel mapping. Two good examples are Roomba i7 (up to 10-floor plans) and Neato Botvac D7 (up to 3-floor plans).
Beware the ‘Dark Floor’ Problem
If you have a black carpet, you need to be more selective about the robot vacuum you buy. Most robot vacuums do not work on dark flooring.
The issue is the set of infrared cliff sensors underneath the robot. They constantly emit signals to detect when the robot is approaching a steep drop off, such as the edge of the stairway.
The robot will immediately stop and turn to another direction.
The problem is, they work too well. When the robot encounters a dark floor, the sensors think it is a drop-off, and the robot refuses to go further.
This is such a common problem that users resorted to hacks like covering the sensors with aluminum foil.
Luckily, many manufacturers have figured out how to solve the problem.
Newer models like the Roomba i7 don’t have that problem. Other robots come with a button that lets you temporarily turn off the cliff sensors.
Remote App Control is a Big Convenience
Remote app control has become a standard feature in many robot vacuums.
Even cheaper models now have WiFi connectivity, allowing you to control the robot and set a cleaning schedule when you are away from home.
Another benefit of these types of robot vacuums is that they are almost always compatible with smart assistants; specifically, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
This lets you control the robot using voice commands.
Note that not all app-controlled robot vacuums offer the same in-app features.
In the cheaper models, you can only do basic stuff like start and stop cleaning, check robot status, and set a schedule.
If you have a high-end model, you might get extra features like cleaning reports, notifications when the bin is full, or the robot is stuck, virtual boundaries and no-go zones, and multiple cleaning modes.
Unique Vacuum Requirements for Carpet
A robot vacuum for carpet has to have certain features that are not always necessary for hard floor vacuums.
Powerful suction with carpet boost: This ensures the robot can pick up dirt, dust, food crumbs, and pet hair from the carpet. The thicker your carpet, the more powerful the robot vacuum should be. If you can get one with carpet boost, go for it. It provides extra power when it’s most needed.
Roller brush: This allows the robot to pick up pet hair from the carpet fibers. A robot vacuum without a roller brush is only good for thin carpets.
Large wheels: The robot needs to be able to climb over the carpet edge and move through the carpet fibers without getting stuck.
Anti-tangle brushes: It’s easy for a robot vacuum to get all tangled up on the carpet, especially when cleaning pet hair. Some models have special anti-tangle brushes to prevent this.
Adequate battery life: It should be at least 100 minutes (120 minutes for large homes). This allows the robot to clean the carpet without depleting the battery too quickly.
Carpet Cleaning Tips
- Clear the carpet. Make sure there are no toys, cables, clothing items, coins, or anything else on the carpet. These could easily trip up the vacuum.
- Watch the robot the first time it cleans the carpet to make sure it can clean well without getting stuck.
- Do not let messes stay on the carpet for too long. Clean up messes immediately using the spot cleaning mode on your robot, if it has one. If you have pets, set a daily cleaning schedule to make sure the hair doesn’t build up and become difficult to clean later.
- Now and then, use a manual vacuum to deep clean the carpet.