While we do not yet have Rosie the Robot Maid from the Jetsons cartoon to clean our homes, robotic vacuum cleaners have come a long way in the past few years. What are the best robot vacuums? Here are short reviews of the top performing robot vacuum cleaners this year, for you to do the necessary comparison as per your own requirements.
iRobot Roomba Model 980 Vacuum Cleaning Robot
This robotic vacuum costs around nine hundred dollars at full price, and it rarely goes on sale. You can get replacement brushes and air filters for several dollars apiece. The lighthouse beacons that tell it where it can and cannot go are expensive if you need many of them.
This Roomba model has excellent navigation; unlike its cheaper rivals, it won’t bounce around at random and leave sections of the floor untouched. It can remember where it left off when it had to return to the charger and memorize the layout of the house. One of its few weaknesses is having to charge for an hour and a half to operate for an hour.
This robot vacuum has an app that lets you set the schedule remotely, perfect for situations like telling it to clean the guest room and living room right now before friends you saw at dinner drop by when you get home.
This Roomba’s design doesn’t tangle on pet hair and gunk the way its cheaper siblings do. It doesn’t do as well with light debris. Its powerful suction for picking up large crumbs will ruin delicate carpets, but it makes it about as powerful as a full sized vacuum cleaner. This does make it loud, too.
It doesn’t get stuck on carpet to tile transitions as often as earlier versions. And the app allows the Roomba to tell you what the Roomba thinks is wrong when it errors out, instead of simply beeping to indicate there is a problem of some sort.
Neato Botvac Connected Wi-Fi Enabled Robot Vacuum
This robot vacuum cleaner costs around $800 at full price, but you can find it on sale for around seven hundred dollars. Its filters and side brushes cost several dollars apiece. The boundary markers for the Neato have the advantage of never needing batteries, but some people don’t like having to apply the markers to the floor. Its navigation isn’t quite as good as the more expensive options, but it rarely gets stuck compared to its predecessors.
This robot vacuum can map a room and navigate in real time, so it can find its way around furniture as people use it.
It has an app to let you control it real time or report problems with the unit.
In eco mode, this robot vacuum is much quieter than the Roomba. In turbo mode, it has the suction of a full vacuum cleaner. Eco mode allows it to run almost two hours on a single charge, while it runs up to an hour and a half on turbo mode.
This vacuum does a better job of cleaning in corners than the round Roomba. It also has a larger dust cup than the Roomba, so it will be able to clean longer if battery life is not the constraining factor. Its wider brushes means it cleans most floors faster. The downside is that it doesn’t pick up fine powder or dust out of carpets, only the larger debris, and it doesn’t get much out of thick carpets at all.
Ecovacs Deebot D45 Bare Floor Cleaning Robot
This is the best cheap robot vacuum for 2016 for someone on a budget. It costs a little over $200 at full price, and you can find it for less than $200 on sale. It is more difficult to find replacement consumable parts like filters and brushes for this vacuum than the others on this list without going to the manufacturer.
It is a little lighter than the other robot vacuum cleaners on this list. Its rounded corner design is better at getting into corners than the Roomba but not as good as the Neato Botvac connected version. It has basic navigation but doesn’t get every single inch of the floor.
It gets stuck more often than the rivals, despite an equally low profile. Its suction is moderately strong, enough to pick up light dust but not heavier debris. This robot vacuum is not a good choice for chasing down and sucking up dust bunnies. It is intended for hard floors like tile and linoleum. It can do very basic mopping with a little extra set up. It doesn’t do as good on carpets, but it isn’t designed for that. It can navigate carpet and tile transitions, sometimes gets confused by dark colored grout between tiles as a drop off. Otherwise, it can navigate obstacles. It uses the same Neato barrier markers as other Neato vacuum cleaners.
This robot vacuum cleaner is the best choice for the budget shopper who wants a robot to reduce how often they have to vacuum or sweep, not replace the human cleaning task entirely.
Neato Botvac Robot Vacuum for Pets and Allergies, Model D80
This Neato robot vacuum cleaner is intended for pet owners, so it does a great job picking up pet fur without clogging up the intake or locking up the rotating brushes. If it chokes on wads of long pet fur, you do have to untangle it from the brushes, but it can handle the occasional strands of pet fur without any problems.
This unit costs around five hundred dollars at full price, and it can be found for around ten percent off on sale. It is easy to find replacement filters online, but finding service for this Neato vacuum is a challenge short of shipping it to a repair center.
This Neato robot vacuum is better at mapping out rooms to avoid obstacles and get every inch of the floor than its cheaper sibling. It can return to where it left off when it had to return to the base station to charge. However, carrying it from one floor to another in the house confuses it to the point of starting over with the mapping process if not giving off an error message. And the mapping function seems to fail if you have very dark floors, such as black carpets or very dark concrete floors.
The brushes on this vacuum cleaner has a combination of brushes for picking up fine dust and larger debris, so it can handle more substantial messes than its cheaper cousin.
iRobot Roomba 880 Vacuum
The Roomba 880 costs around $700. With the higher price, you get two virtual wall lighthouses to mark off barriers the robot cannot cross and an extra air filter. Filters cost $8 to $10 each. A virtual lighthouse purchased separately is around $40. This means the Roomba 880 package comes with almost $100 worth of items, making the robot itself around $600, comparable in price to other manufacturers.
This model is advertised for pet owners and allergy sufferers. For example, it has a HEPA filter. Roomba’s pet and allergy vacuum does better than the comparable Neato at avoiding hair tangles with the pet hair it picks up.
This 2014 Roomba model has much better navigation than models that came out in 2012 and 2013. And Roombas are now capable of updating their software, so that it can navigate even better in the future. Obstacle avoidance has improved, but Roombas still tend to bounce around in a random fashion. But they are less likely to get caught in a corner, trapped under a table or run laps on the throw rug because the edges look like a drop-off. Roomba vacuums often miss dirt in the corners because of their cleaning pattern, unless it gets stuck in the corner, though that doesn’t happen as much with the 800 series.
This model is programmable with cleaning times, so you can set it to clean during the day when you are at work and late in the evening on weekends.
The Roomba 880 has a battery with twice as much life per cleaning cycle as earlier versions. And the vacuum is better at returning to its docking station to recharge. You won’t have to hunt for the Roomba each day to put it on the charger to recharge overnight.
Neato XV Signature Pro Pet & Allergy Robot Vacuum
One of the greatest points in favor of the Neato XV is its price. Its list price is $450, and you can regularly find it for less than $400. One of the points in favor of the XV over other Neato vacuums is the sleek black coloring instead of the awful white and neon colors of some of the other Neato models.
This model has equally good suction as more expensive vacuums, including other Neato models.
It has two high performance air filters and picks up all the pet hair it encounters. The brush does get tangled by long pet hair, though.
This vacuum like other Neato models maps the room before it starts cleaning. This cheap little robot vacuum will get everywhere in the room it can reach before it has to return to the charging station, and the square front means it will get corners far better than the round Roomba.
Of the above robotic vacuums, this one like the Ecovacs Deebot, is ideal for the budget conscious.