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Contents

Robot vacuum cleaner buying guide

By Midori Kusano 2020-05-18 20450 2

1. What’s a robot vacuum?

A robot vacuum, also briefly called a robovac, is an autonomous robotic vacuum cleaner that has intelligent programming and a vacuum cleaning system to clean the houses automatically. As most robotic vacuums supposed to do, they can work autonomously without human operation, or we can schedule it to clean every day via APP / Wi-Fi / Bluetooth remote control when we’re working away from home.

2. Why should we buy a robot vacuum?

  • Save labour! No more bending for hand-held vacuum cleaning

As smart as a robot, the robot vac can help us to clean all the dirt, dust, debris, hairs produced in daily urban life. We no longer have our backbone bent to clean with a vacuum cleaner. It is easy to be used by even kids and elders, just press a push button and the robot goes to work on its own.

  • Save time! Free our hands from household chores

With ultimate built-in motor, the robot can do the job efficiently, we do not have to control itself manually. It means that, we can leave the robot cleaning alone while we are out of home and do what we need to do.

  • Clean thoroughly! Easy get into hard-to-reach areas

It’s very troublesome for us to clean the hard-to-reach ares under the furniture with common sweepers and vacuum cleaners, and a robot vac designed in a slim body can easily go to clean the areas beneath the beds, cabinets, sofas, etc..

3. How does it work?

When it comes to the robovac cleaning, we have to have a glance at its structure. Let’s take Xiao Mi Robot Vacuum as an example:

There are three stages of cleaning for most robot vacuums and four stages for specific mopping vacuums. The robot vacuum works in following stages at the same time ( except for the wet mop ).

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Stage 1: the dual sweeping side brushes work together to catch dirt, dust, hair, and debris from corners and edges to the center main brush.

Stage 2: the main roller brush grab pet’s hair and debris with its bristles, and remove the dirt, dust, stains with its rubber roller from your floors.

Stage 3: the powerful motor suctions dirt into the filtered dustbin through the air inlet while the HEPA filter removes the tiny dust particles, mites, and allergens from the air.

Stage 4: the water tank dispenses liquid to the microfiber cloth continually, and the robovac uses a damp cloth to mop your floor back-and-forth, easily removing the stubborn dirt, smudges and grime from the floors.

4. What features matter most for robot vacuums?

(1) Navigation algorithms

Compared with traditional semi-random robotic vacuum, the automatic robot vacuums use the advanced navigation technology to map the room into specific cleaning zones, improving the cleaning efficiency.

Guided by the intelligent navigation algorithm, the robot navigates and moves easily around obstacles, changing its route to clean the rooms more thoroughly. You can leave the robot alone to do the job, no need waiting to change into specific modes as the robot has an GPS memory about where have been cleaned or not.

Therefore, even the robot vacuums pause in their mapped cleaning path when they need to recharge, the robot vac will return to the place it left off to continue cleaning after fully recharging from the docking station.

(2) Scheduling cleaning

That the robot vacuums can clean automatically get us out from the household chores, but when and where would the robot vacuum clean? If we still have to get it work with remote controller or a manual push button, it may not be such an intelligent assistant that helps us a lot.

With a preset scheduling function, We can set when the robot starts a cleaning job before we leave for office, so that we can make sure it’s the most convenient cleaning time for our family and pets, it also means the robot can clean autonomously without WiFi connection while we are out of the house.

(3) WiFi App control

A WiFi-enabled robot vacuum can bring more convenience to us. Just install a specific app on our compatible mobile device, we can easily use our smart phone or tablet as a remote control to command the robot. Basically, we can schedule, start, pause, stop, capture photos (with built-in camera) and even receive notifications from the robot vacuum when we are far away from home. Whatever, we can direct the robot to clean the rooms or any exact spot we want it to clean.

(4) Obstacles avoidance

It’s inconvenient for us to empty our house before robot vac starts its job. So it is necessary for the robot to sense and avoid obstacles like edges, stairs, door sills, or other tricky areas with large furniture( such as desks, chairs, sofas ).

Most robot vacuums usually adopt multiple intelligent sensors such as edge sensor, cliff sensor, collision sensor, obstacles sensors, ultrasonic Radar sensor, laser distance sensor, Gyro sensor and so on, so that the robots can move freely around the home and adapts automatically to the surroundings to clean the floors thoroughly.

We do not have to worry about the delicate furniture would be damaged and the robot would also protect itself from bumping and stuck. If your home have many obstacles that will need avoiding, this feature will matter most.

(5) HEPA filter

HEPA filter is fully named of High Efficiency Particulate Air Filter, it is perfect for dealing with pet hairs which produces allergens to the air. With a HEPA filter, the robot vacuum can remove tiny dust particles and allergens from the air.

(6) Self recharging

Compared with the vacuum cleaner, the robot vacuum coming with recharging docks is an outstanding feature. It can go to charge themselves automatically. Select a robot-accessible spot for the charge dock first, and the robot vac will return on its own before it runs out of power.

Not until it has enough energy to return to the place where it left off and continue cleaning dust, will it stay on the dock for juices (power). No longer worrying about the battery and no enough power at remote-control robotic vacuuming.

(7) Visual wall

A visual wall sometimes calls the “invisible wall”. It’s a special feature in the intelligent system for robot vac. We can use this to delimit the cleaning areas to sensitive areas ( such as toilet, kitchen, pet house and kids toy room ), preventing potential threats when we are away from home. Because the robot will work in the safety areas we demand and never get over the visual wall, we can leave our house to the robotic cleaning with an ease.

5. How to identify if a robot vacuum cleans well?

Not all robot vacuums work well at cleaning up, we found that many robot vacuums can not clean up as advertised, they always leave the dirt and dusts on the floor after cleaning up, running here and there like a stupid mobile toy. So before purchasing a new robot vacuum, we had better identify that the robot vacuum is not a stupid robotic toy but a good household cleaning assistant. We can check them out from three points:

(1)High power suction–the higher suction power, the better cleaning performance

Whether a robot vacuum cleans well or not, it depends on the suction power. Generally speaking, the higher suction power it has, the better cleaning performance it does. When it comes to good suction, we should care about its built-in motors. A reliable and powerful motor can drive the main rolling brush to spin at high speed, which can grab the pet’s hair and sweep all the dirt into the dustbin like a powerful hurricane.

If the robot is equipped with a rolling brush, 400-600 Pa is enough because the rolling brush can do half of the suction jobs by grabbing the dirt and delivering it to the air inlet. So when it comes to a robot without rolling brush, the robot may needs to be more powerful at 700-1000 Pa. Nowadays many manufacturers tend to produce powerful robot vacuums like Xiaomi Robot Vacuum at 1800 – 2000 Pa, aiming to provide more powerful suction.

Different from large vacuum cleaner’s power between 1200-1400W or portable vac cleaner between 200-600W, most of robot vacs only feature a power rate below 50W for its wireless design. However, the robot vacuum is mostly designed as a portable and automatic vacuum cleaner for daily urban-house cleaning, such as dirt, dust, small particles, debris or pet’s fur.

(2)Complete cleaning system– zoning mapped cleaning navigation is the key

Navigation plays a vital role in intelligent cleaning, it optimizes the complete cleaning system. There are three common cleaning path modes for robot vacuums: automatic cleaning, edge cleaning, spot cleaning. And the default cleaning mode is auto cleaning, a robot without navigation, in this mode, will go around on irregular path just like a headless chicken and leave unnecessary repetition or omission cleaning.

But if the robot has a navigation, it can automatically follow the well-planned path based on the intelligent path planning algorithm SLAM. All our rooms are zoned and mapped for cleaning. After mapping out the territories with updated location, ( in auto mode ) it will clean in a zigzag path to ensure no omission, it may start edge cleaning first, and then go zigzag cleaning( top pick ). We can have the floor cleaned thoroughly and worry-freely without unnecessary repetition or omission according to the navigation system.

Automatic Cleaning: the robot moves around your home randomly until it runs out of battery, without planned route it may leave some spaces uncleaned.

Spot Cleaning: the robot spins around the center in spiral or in circular patterns, you can get it to focus on cleaning a particular area with spilled milks or other smudges.

Edge Cleaning: the robot cleans along the wall, it’s perfect for a period of edge cleaning.

Zigzag Cleaning: also called S-shaped cleaning, the most efficient cleaning route, the robot cleans the room more thoroughly in maximum areas.

(3) Slim body

When it comes to a good cleaning effect, we still have to care about the slim robot body. A slim body makes the robot easily get flexibly into the bottom of furniture. If our home have too much furniture, we’d better measure the leg height of the furniture before buying a new a robot. Generally, the height of most robots is ranged from 7 – 12cm.

6. How to choose the right Robot Vacuum for your family?

As it often goes, we tend to buy a robot vacuum with complete functions of the best tech spec. However, sometimes a moderate spec is enough to clean your home perfectly because of your household environments. Hence, you can save money from choosing a reasonable robovac with necessary cleaning features. Here are some questions to consider as you choose which robovac is best for you.

(1) If you have a big house with many rooms:

First of all, you have to consider how big your house is before buying a robotic vacuum cleaner. Some robot vacuums like Xiaomi Mi robotic vacuums are perfect for spaces of up to 250 square meters, while other vacuums work better in small environments like single apartments. Therefore, what robotic vacuums to buy is up to the size of your house to some degree.

And that’s not enough. You still need to confirm how many rooms you have under the furniture for the robot vacuum to pass through. If the robot vacuum have to clean a big house with multiple rooms under the furniture, a vacuum with room-by-room navigation feature, large-capacity battery and slim body is a must-have for you.

(2) If you adopt a cat or dog as your family:

Nowadays most people keeps a pet as their family member, and as we know the pet’s hair is hard to clean up. At this case, a robot vacuum, like iLife V3S designed to collect dog furs, cat hair and eliminate the allergens with HEPA filter, would be the best choice for you.

Keep this in mind: if you have pets or have anyone in your family suffered from allergies, it would better for you to get a robot vacuum with HEPA filter.

(3) If your have carpets in the house:

There are most robot vacuums that can be used to clean multiple types of floor such as carpets, hardwoods and tiles, while some can only work better at cleaning carpet or the hardwood.

When it comes to carpet cleaning, it requires more than the hardwood because the delicate carpets may be ruined by a lower-end vacuum. Obviously, you have to pay more for a higher-end robot vacuum. For this reason, if your floors are hardwoods or tiles, you can save big on buying a robotic vacuum without carpet detection and feel freely for mopping the floor.

If you have carpets, you have to make sure that the robot vacuum is suitable for the carpet floor, and do not use the robot under the mopping mode.

(4) If you are a busier worker:

For a busier worker, the scheduling mode and remote control such as APP control, Bluetooth connection, Wi-Fi control or camera monitor helps a lot in robotic vacuum cleaning. With the scheduling mode, you can set a timer for the robot vacuum to do its daily cleaning job before you go to work. Moreover, you can command the robot working at home even when you are at work thanks to the APP controlling.

Scheduling clean and app control make it convenient for cleaning our home, and a robot vacuum with a built-in camera like XShuai HXS-C3 will help you keep an eye on your house or have a video call with your family at home. What’s more, automatic self-recharging sensor drives your robot go back to the charging dock when in low power. If there is an invisible wall for your robot, you can limit the access to sensitive areas, preventing potential threats when you are away from home.

7. How to maintain a robot vacuum?

There are many accessories for a robot vacuum, such as a rolling brush, side brushes, filter, cleaning pad, and mopping cloth. We have to concern about if they are easy to clean and how long should we replace them with a new one.

Take the Xiaomi robot vacuum as example, we have to replace its rolling brush, side brushes every 6 – 12 month and filter every 3 – 6 months for a healthy cleaning performance. Generally, the HEPA filter is disposable, when it is dirty, we need to use a new one.

Some of the common filter is washable, we can save money on buying the replacement frequently. Speaking of the removable dustbin, we can empty and wash it conveniently by taking it out and rinse under the water.

7 Best Robot Vacuums, According to Cleaning Experts

These robot vacs can tackle pet hair, hard floors, and carpeting alike.

Best Overall Robot Vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums – iRobot Roomba S9+

Best Robot Vacuums – iRobot Roomba S9+

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It’s a household name for a reason — it doesn’t disappoint, not even in our rigorous tests.

  • Automatic dirt disposal reduces airborne allergens
  • Easily picked up dirt on carpet and bare floors
  • Runs for up to 120 minutes, recharges quickly
  • The automatic dirt disposal has a large footprint
  • Noisier than most
  • Pricey

Best Value Robot Vacuum

Best Robot Vacuum – Eufy 15c Max

Best Robot Vacuum – Eufy 15c Max

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RoboVac 15C MAX

This affordable robot quietly cleans even the most difficult-to-reach areas.

  • Slim design gets under low furniture
  • Multiple power options for deep or regular cleaning
  • Removes pet hair from carpet with ease
  • Random cleaning pattern
  • Filters are not washable

Best Wet/Dry Robot Vacuum

best robot vacuum – ecovavs Deebot Ozmo 950

best robot vacuum – ecovavs Deebot Ozmo 950

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Deebot Ozmo 950

This is the only winner that can vacuum and mop your floors – simultaneously

  • Automatic carpet detection ensures rugs aren’t wet-cleaned
  • Multi-floor mapping through its app
  • 3 suction levels for touch-up or deeper cleaning
  • Vacuums for over 3 hours – ideal for larger home
  • Not the best at spot cleaning
  • At 3.7 inches high, it may not fit under some lower furniture

Best Robot Vacuum for Large Houses

Best Robot Vacuum – Miele RX2 Home Vision

Best Robot Vacuum – Miele RX2 Home Vision

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Scout RX2 Home Vision

The optional live unrecorded encrypted image feed helps you check that everything is okay at home when you’re on the go.

  • Great maneuverability, without bumping into obstacles
  • Quick, efficient and thorough cleaning
  • Wi-Fi optional with separate remote control
  • A 2-year warranty (double the standard duration)
  • The initial app setup requires using the remote as well
  • Pet hair can be difficult to remove from the brush roller

Quietest Robot Vacuum

Best Robot Vacuum – Bissell EV675

Best Robot Vacuum – Bissell EV675

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Quiet but powerful, it’s a good choice for those who prefer a more basic model.

  • Even without Wi-Fi, you can schedule cleanings for when you’re on the go
  • Sucks up dust bunnies even under low furniture
  • Sensors detect and keep it from falling down stairs

  • Small dust bin capacity means more frequent emptying
  • No Wi-Fi connectivity

Close your eyes and picture it for a moment: An unassuming appliance going from room to room doing your least favorite chore for you while you put your feet up or maybe even while you’re at work or running errands. Robot vacuums can make this dream a reality and you don’t need to break the bank to afford one.

There are more robot vacuums than ever on the market today and they have come a long way from the very first one we tested in our Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab way back in 2002. We regularly test robot vacuums by setting them loose in a special two “room” obstacle course to observe on how well they transition from a hard floors to carpet (i.e. if they get stuck or not), how well they nab debris along walls and in corners, and whether or not they can go under and around furniture and from room to room. We measure the particles and pet hair they pick up from carpet and hard floors.

Our analysts also look at how intuitive the controls are, how easy they are to program, how loud each vacuum is, and how simple the dust bin is to remove and empty. Whether you want a robot vacuum you can activate to clean before you get home, or one that does double duty and can wet-mop your bathroom too, these are the best robot vacuums you can buy:

Best Overall Robot Vacuum: iRobot Roomba s9+
Best Value Robot Vacuum
: eufy RoboVac 15C Max
Best 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum and Mop
: Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO 950
Best Robot Vacuum for Large Houses : Miele Scout RX2 Home Vision
Quietest Robot Vacuum: Bissell EV675
Best Robot Vacuum for Pet Hair: Amarey A900
Best Robot Vacuum for Carpet: Samsung POWERbot R7070

How do robot vacuums work?

Using navigation tools like sensors, lasers, and cameras, a robot vacuum works its way around your home, suctioning up pet hair, crumbs, and dirt into its dustbin from hard floors like wood, tile, and laminate, and low pile carpets and area rugs. High-end robots often have the capability to map and learn your space, so you can set the robot to clean only one room or a specific area, while cheaper models include boundary strips that you place on the floor to keep the robot where you want it. Even inexpensive models have fall-detection sensors that keep them from tumbling down stairs.

Many vacuums work with apps to help you schedule cleaning sessions and some sync with Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and other digital voice aids for a truly hands-free experience. All robot vacuums automatically return to their charging docks to recharge, and some can even pause a cleaning session, recharge, and continue cleaning from where it left off.

Before your robot starts cleaning, pick up small items you don’t want vacuumed (check under the bed!), and ensure that power cords, clothing, rug fringe, and window blind cords are tucked away. Unless you’re using a wet-mop vacuum, clean up all wet spills. After cleaning, empty the dust bin and wipe down the sensors and charging contacts with a soft cloth so the robot can navigate more accurately and make a better connection with the charger.

Are robot vacuums worth it?

While no robot can manage stairs, or tackle ground-in dirt and debris as well as a stick or upright vacuum (yet!), the top performers in our tests do have impressive pick-up scores on hard floors and low pile carpets. They sweep up fine particles, like sand and baking soda, heavier debris, like oatmeal, orzo pasta, metal screws and nuts and even fluffy stuff, like pet hair.

Consider investing in a robot vacuum (or putting one on your wish list!) if you absolutely hate this chore or want your home cleaned more often than you have the time or energy for. Robot vacuums are great maintenance cleaners. Send them out several times a week and they’ll nab all the dust and pet hair, lint, and surface dirt on your floors before it has a chance to build up or get ground in.

Another benefit is that robot vacuums clean under the bed, behind furniture, along the walls and in the corners that you might often skip or your regular vacuum can’t reach. (All of the vacuums we tested have brush rollers to lift away pet hair, were slim enough to clean under furniture at least four inches high, and most featured side brushes to help scoop dirt from deep corners and edges.) They’ll clean just the kitchen floor after dinner while you catch your favorite show or an entire floor of your home while you’re out of the house. Can you get it done faster with your regular vacuum? Sure. But the real question is, do you want to?

The Best Robot Vacuums for 2020

Want to keep your floors clean without lifting a finger? Let a robot do the work for you. The options are more capable and affordable than ever, and we’ve rounded up the best robot vacuums to help you pick one that’s just right for your home.

Our 10 Top Picks

Best for Most Features for the Price

Ecovacs Deebot N79S

Best for Deep Cleaning

iRobot Roomba 960

Best for Hands-Free Cleaning

iRobot Roomba i7+

Best for Deep Hands-Off Cleaning

iRobot Roomba s9+

Best for Most Affordable Mapping

Neato Botvac D4 Connected

Best for Smart Home Integration

Neato Botvac D7 Connected

Best for Low-Clearance Furniture

Eufy RoboVac 11s

Best for Quiet Operation

Eufy RoboVac 30C

Best for Budget-Friendly Vacuuming

iLife A4s Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Best for Hard floors and low-pile carpet

iLife A9 Robot Vacuum Cleaner

How to Choose the Right Robot Vacuum

What’s the Best Automatic Vacuum?

Vacuums have come a long way. You no longer have to suffer the indignity of dragging around an unwieldy plastic hose connected to a clumsy, wheeled canister the size of a Galapagos tortoise. In fact, you don’t even need to get off of the couch. Though it still feels like a relatively new product category, there are several good robot vacuums available to help you dispose of dust, pet hair, and other debris in your home—without needing to lift a finger. Which is the right one for you? We’ve rounded up our highest-rated robot vacuums, and provided a few pointers to help you find just the bot you’re looking for.

Robot Vacuums vs. Canister and Upright Vacuums

Unlike more traditional canister or stick models, robot vacuums are autonomous and (for the most part) intelligent. The vacuums we’ve tested are equipped with lasers, motherboards, sensors, and even Wi-Fi to navigate around your home without the need for assistance. With a few exceptions, you barely have to interact with them at all.

Most robot vacuums come with charging docks and can even charge themselves. Just pick a robot-accessible spot for the dock, and the bot will return on its own before it runs out of juice. When it does, it will sit there until it has enough energy to go back out and continue to bust dust from where it left off. You can also set schedules for most bots to wake up and start a cleaning job, so it can take place while you’re out of the house. That means you can potentially avoid all physical interaction until the vacuum needs to be emptied.

Also unlike many traditional vacuums, all of the robots included here don’t use bags to hold the dust, hair, and other debris they suck up. Instead, they use an easy-to-remove dustbin you can simply eject and empty into the nearest garbage can. And many come equipped with HEPA filters that prevent allergens from spreading through the air.

Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?

A robot vacuum is usually higher in price than a traditional vacuum (though not always). The models listed here range from less than $200 to more than $1,000. That’s a pretty sizable investment, even on the lower end. Let’s consider just what you get for the price.

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  • Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo 610 Robot Vacuum and Mop — $219.99(List Price $399.99; Save $180)
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  • iRobot Roomba 890 Robot Vacuum — $279.99(List Price $500; Save $220.01)
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Unless you really love to vacuum, the task itself is pretty mundane. Depending on the size of your house, a robot vacuum can save you anywhere from minutes to hours of your time every week by taking care of a pretty thankless chore. That alone is reason enough for some people to consider one.

In addition, robot vacuums have reached the point where they’re basically just as effective and powerful as regular vacuums. The robots rounded up here use filters, side brushes, and spinning brushes that will do an equally good job of cleaning your home as their upright equivalents. They’re also fairly compact, so they won’t take up much space. And they’re able to travel underneath most couches and tables, so you don’t have to rearrange furniture. Even if you do, the more advanced robots on this list use memory banks to note where furniture is placed, so as not to bump into anything on a future pass.

Also worth mentioning: Smart robot vacuums are much more affordable now. What are the benefits of connectivity? Most Wi-Fi vacuums can be programmed and controlled remotely using your smartphone. Some can even be activated with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands.

Premium connected bots can generate statistics and maps of the areas they’ve cleaned. Some of even create personalized floor plans that eliminate the need for you to use physical “virtual walls” to cordon off sections of your home.

Which Vacuum Is Best for Pet Hair? Hardwood?

Generally speaking, all the vacuums we’ve tested can handle hardwood floors and pet hair without issue. Floor-cleaning robots like the iRobot Braava Jet specialize in mopping and sweeping. They aren’t eligible for this list because they don’t suck up dirt and debris, but they will get your hardwood floors nice and shiny. Some vacuums, like the Bobsweep PetHair Plus, come with mop attachments, but they’re not as effective overall.

For more, see our list of The Best Robot Mops.

How We Test Robot Vacuums

We test robot vacuums in PC Labs and in our actual homes, with the following categories in mind: battery life, navigation, setup, suction, and if it supports Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, the app experience.

Chances are you don’t want to babysit your vacuum. That means you’re looking for a robot that can traverse different floor types or maneuver around furniture without needing help. This is especially true if you have dark flooring, as infrared sensors might confuse a black carpet with a ledge, and refuse to pass over it. We test vacuums on hardwood, tile, and dark rugs to see how well they manage the transitions across various surfaces.

Battery life is also an important factor to consider based on the size of your home. In general, most robot vacuums can run for at least 60 to 70 minutes, which should be enough to tackle smaller homes and apartments. If you have a bigger living area, you’ll want to look for a robot vacuum that can get at least 90 minutes of battery life so it can hit every room before requiring a recharge. To test this, we charge the battery to full, start a cleaning cycle, and time how long the robot runs before it needs to be docked. And if a robot says it can automatically dock, we check to see if it can easily find its way home.

Another note on battery life: The number you see listed in the chart above is our tested result in normal mode. High-power or other modes often bring that number down a bit.

Most robot vacuums are reliable when it comes to getting rid of standard household detritus, so you don’t really have to worry about whether or not they’ll be able to suck up lint, dirt, or hair. Since we test all the robot vacuums in the same home environment, we check how full dustbins get and whether obvious debris like food particles and visible dust bunnies are picked up. We also note whether the robot uses a random or methodical cleaning pattern. Random cleaners often run across the same space multiple times but take a longer time to get everything. Methodical cleaners don’t take as long, but may only pass through a room once unless programmed otherwise.

Finally, we test how easy it is to set up, program, and control the robot. Some only require an initial battery charge, while others ask you to install side brushes and batteries. For connected bots, app design and reliable Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are major factors that impact your experience.

We provide a detailed analysis of each of these vacuums in our reviews, and you can see our Vacuum Product Guide for the latest models. When you find the right one for you, be sure to read up on our 7 essential robot vacuum tips.

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