Robot Vacuum Buying Guide: 7 Things You Need to Know

Instead of holding a traditional vacuum and walking it around your hardwood floors, carpet, or other surface, you can set a robot vacuum to clean your house. Then, off it will go while you watch some TV. Still, robot vacuums come with all kinds of features and prices, so you'll need to figure out how it'll be used and how much you want to spend before you choose one. If you live in a carpeted house, for instance, don't even think about getting a vacuum that specializes in hardwood floors. Simply put, buying a robot vacuum isn't as easy as you think.

To help you out with your robot vacuum purchase, we've compiled the following buying guide.

Quick Tips

  1. Determining the kind of surfaces you're hoping to clean.
  2. Size up your abode. Make sure you know how big your home is before choosing a model.
  3. More expensive isn't always better. Make your decision based on your needs, not by price.
  4. Check that battery life. 1.5 hours is typical so don't settle for less.
  5. Go for Wi-Fi control. It makes your life much easier.
  6. Auto-scheduling is a great feature. This will allow the robot vaccum to clean while you're not home.
  7. If you care about cleaning time, consider speed controls. Some robots will clean more quickly than others.

Why Do You Even Need A Robot Vacuum?

Not everyone needs a robot vacuum. Truth is, traditional vacuums generally work better than robot vacuums, which can get caught up on certain items in your house, don't have as large a canister for holding dirt, and might not have the same suction power as traditional models.

MORE: The Best Robot Vacuums

However, higher-end robot vacuums can, in some circumstances, deliver even better suction performance than traditional models. What's more, they deliver the kind of convenience you simply won't find in traditional devices. You don't need to follow your robot vacuum around. Instead, you can be productive while it's cleaning your house. That alone makes robot vacuums worth the price.

How Large is Your Home?

When you're ready to buy a robot vacuum, you'll need to first consider how big your house is. Some vacuums are designed for apartments and therefore don't have the ability on a single charge to roam around your big house and clean it up. Others, such as the iRobot Roomba 980, can cruise around 2,000 square feet with ease and you won't need to worry about their battery lives. Your robot vacuum choice, then, will depend in large part on the size of your home. So be sure to have your square footage ready.

You'll also want to consider the size of the robot vacuum itself if you want it to clean up underneath your furniture. Robot vacuums taller than 4-5 inches, such as the Dyson 360Eye, for example, won't be able to get those dust bunnies gathering under your dresser or bed.

Do You Have Carpeting?

Not all robot vacuums are designed for carpets. And not all robot vacuums are designed for hard floors. So, before you pick up your device, be sure to have a sense of what you want to clean. If you're hoping to get a good clean on both hardwood floors and carpets, consider an all-surface robot vacuum. If you only have carpets, go with a robot vacuum that specializes in that floor type. For example, the iRobot Braava Jet is only intended to scrub hardwood and tile floors. Either way, figure out where you'll be using your robot vacuum and pick the right device for it.

What's the Goal?

It's also critical that you determine what your goal might be with your robot vacuum. If you simply want to get a device that helps you clean but you're going to do the heavy lifting, you can probably get away with a cheaper robot vacuum that will get the easy stuff. If you're hoping to leave all of the vacuuming to your robot, expect to spend several hundred dollars to get the right device.

Robot vacuums also come with a slew of features and accessories that do require some upkeep. If you don't like the idea of fixing accessories or spending too much hands-on time with your vacuum, you'll probably want a cheaper model that doesn't come with all the extras you'll find in higher-end versions.

Do You Have Pets?

Credit: Frank11/ShutterstockCredit: Frank11/Shutterstock

One of the nicer features in a robot vacuum is its ability to pick up pet hair. While you'll need to make sure the option you pick can pick up pet hair, many models, like the midrange Roomba 650, can pick it up with ease. In addition, if you suffer from allergies, many of the better robot vacuums today come with a HEPA filter to limit the amount of allergens getting into the air.

However, be aware that pet hair can sometimes cause some clogging troubles with robot vacuums and HEPA filters will lose their efficacy as time goes on. So keep a close eye on both after your vacuum's been roaming around your place for awhile.

Programming Could Be Your Best Friend

One of the most convenient features of a robot vacuum is the ability to program it to clean on a specific schedule; that way, you don't have to manually start it. Scheduling enables you to run the vacuum when you're not at home, so you don't have to be distracted by it running around your floor.

Another nice-to-have feature is a remote control, which lets you manually direct the robot to a particular spot on the floor it may have missed; it's also a great way to terrorize your pets by having the robot vacuum chase after them.

Some of the newer and admittedly more expensive robot vacuums come with programming features that let you control their movement and schedules over Wi-Fi via a smartphone app. As of this writing, the iRobot Roomba 960 and Samsung PowerBot support app control and programming. The Neato BotVac Connected is another higher-end robot vacuum that connects to your Wi-Fi network, and works with Amazon Alexa, too.

Battery Life Is Critical

When it comes time to find a robot vacuum, pay attention to battery life.

In general, you get what you pay for when it comes to battery life. Some of the lower end models from companies like Neato and others will deliver about an hour on a single charge. On average, a robot vacuum can last up to an hour-and-a-half before it needs some more juice, and those on the higher end of the spectrum can run for around two hours.

There's another thing to consider when it comes to battery life: vacuum behavior. Don't get a robot vacuum that doesn't automatically return to its base station when its battery runs low, or when it's finished cleaning. However, if something goes awry or they can't find their way back to the base station, you might find yourself searching for your vacuum whenever the juice runs out. It's no fun.

What Do You Get for the Price?

As you might suspect from our description on robot vacuums, your mileage will vary and in most cases, the more you pay the more features you'll get.

In general, for a basic robot vacuum, expect to pay at least $200. A current popular model on Amazon is the iLife A4, which has scheduling, lasts up to 150 minutes (according to the company), and returns to its base automatically to recharge.

As you reach the $500 mark, you'll start to find some solid, but not high-end performers like the Roomba 880 or the Neato Botvac D80. They generally don't come with Wi-Fi or app support, but deliver better performance than budget models and can work on many different surfaces.

At the top of the spectrum are devices like the Neato Botvac Connected, the Roomba 980, and the Samsung Powerbot. They come with all of the fixings you'd want in a robot vacuum, as well as long battery lives and superior performance. However, be ready to spend: some of the top devices on the market cost $1,000.

Create a new thread in the Drones & Robots forum about this subject
This thread is closed for comments
No comments yet
    Your comment