Vacuuming is a chore that no one likes.
That’s why the robotic vacuum cleaner industry is growing really fast.
Fact is, a modern robotic vacuum can do most of the floor cleaning in your home – and do a better job than you can – allowing you to spend your time doing more enjoyable things.
With over 98 robotic vacuums released so far, though, trying to choose a robot cleaner that is right for you can be difficult.
To find the right robot floor cleaner for your home requires researching and comparing leading models on verified customer reviews, cleaning ability, navigation options, multi- or single-room coverage, pros/cons, best features and reliability.
This article will help you learn more about the things to consider when looking for an automatic vacuum cleaner.
Robotic Vacuum, Mop or Sweeper?
It’s really important to understand that robotic cleaners are not as powerful as more traditional types of vacuums on the market.
That said, the robotic cleaners are designed to be used more often, so they don’t really need to be as powerful to keep your home clean. They make it up with cleaning frequency.
When considering a robotic vacuum you also want to make sure that you choose a real vacuum cleaner, and not a robotic mop or floor sweeper.
Some cheaper “robot vacuum” models are really automated room mops and sweepers – which work fine for tile and hardwood floors, but they have to be used in addition to an actual floor vacuum. Robot sweepers are not suitable for carpet and rugs, because are really just automated brooms.
There are several well-known automatic vacuum brands currently on the market.
The most well recognized is iRobot, the first and the largest maker of robotic cleaners and regarded by many to be the best in the business.
In addition to these top two brands, traditional vacuum brands like Dyson that have recently begun to produce robotic vacuums. We haven’t seen one yet that we think warrants our best of the best, however.
Self-charging may not seem like it is an important feature, but it is definitely something that you should consider when trying to find the best robotic vacuum for your home.
Self charging robotic vacuums detect when their batteries are low and/or they are completed with their work and automatically return to their dock to be charged.
This means that your vacuum will always be charged and ready to run when you need it, without any intervention from you.
Not every model offers this feature, so make sure that you look for it before making a purchase.
A robotic vacuum cleaner can use one of several different navigation methods to cover your room’s floor:
- it can slowly circle the perimeter of the area and move in one unit’s width at a time (simple, but will miss corners and other spots)
- it can use a random cleaning pattern (takes more time, but can be thorough), or
- it can use a preprogrammed path based upon a stored map of your floor (most efficient and most thorough).
Today, some robotic vacuums are more intelligent than others.
Some can learn the layout of a home as they work, and others cannot.
Using a scanned map of your floor is the best option, as it allows the cleaner to design the most efficient cleaning path for each room, which means the job will be completed at a faster pace and more thoroughly.
The idea behind a robotic vacuum is that you can leave it unsupervised and not have to worry about it going down the stairs or running into other hazards in your home.
The top robotic vacuums typically have hazard avoidance features to prevent them from falling down stairs, crashing into walls and damaging your furnishings.
Many robotic floor cleaners come with virtual walls. These are small radio or IR beacons that are placed near doorways or any area of a room to prevent the vacuum from entering. This is a way to keep the vacuum out of areas that you do not want it in.
Another navigation method is a virtual lighthouse. This is the inverse of a virtual wall. A virtual lighthouse is a beacon that tells your cleaner which room to focus on.
If you live in a 2-story home, then you probably also want a robotic vacuum that can detect and avoid falling down the stairs. This feature is often called cliff detection or stair detection.
The most advanced robotic cleaners like the Roomba 980 come with visual room-mapping technology that perform all of these and more. The way they work is they use video cameras to scan your room in 3D, then use the map and the cameras to stay on-course while avoiding objects and stairs.
Bagless or Bagged?
The majority of robotic cleaners that are available do not use bags. Instead, they use a cyclone technology in order to pick things up.
However, many of these vacuums require filters you have to replace from time to time.
Debris bin size is a consideration with robot cleaners. Because they are small, the storage bins can be really small.
You’ll need to empty smaller bins more often than you would a regular vacuum cleaner.
Also, look for a bin full indicator or a clear plastic bin top that tell you when the bin is close to its capacity.
If you have anyone in your home that suffers from allergies, make sure to select a vacuum that has HEPA filtration.
This type of filter will remove allergens from the air.
HEPA filters are also ideal for helping deal with pet hair.
When it comes to finding the best robotic vacuum, there are many different brands and models available, with more entering the market every day.
That being said, iRobot is typically considered to be the best choice when it comes to quality combined with customer satisfaction.
If you’d like to learn more about the best robot vacuums selling today, check out the following buying guides on this site:
- Best Robotic Vacuums for Any Type of Floor
- Best Roomba Vacuum Models Compared
- Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair and Allergies
Best of luck on your purchase!