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Fortunately for busy — and frugal — people, robot vacuums don’t cost as much as they used to. Now, you can indulge in coming home to a freshly cleaned carpet or hardwood floor, and don’t have to spend gobs of cash on this sort of modern-day convenience, either.
The Eufy Robovac 11 is one such model. Although it lacks the performance and amenities of more expensive devices, it's a solid vacuum cleaner that can help relieve you of some of the housework without breaking the bank.
Editor's Note (March 2019): Eufy has discontinued the Robovac 11; however, we recommend its successor, the Robovac 11s, as our favorite budget robot vacuum. For all of our picks, check out our best robot vacuums.
Design: The tried-and-true circle
The Eufy RoboVac 11 has the traditional circular vacuum shape, though it features a tempered glass top to give it a modern edge. At 13 inches in diameter and 3.1 inches tall, this device is one of the smallest and shortest robot vacuums we’ve reviewed, along with the Ecovacs Deebot M82 and the iLife V3s. It’s a good choice if you have tight spaces or a smaller apartment that needs tidying up, though its circular shape a hindrance when it comes to attacking corners.
On the bottom, the RoboVac 11 features 11 infrared sensors toward the front of the device, a drop sensor, a swivel wheel, two side brushes and a central rolling brush, which managed to pick up a tangle of rug thread and hair after only a few cleanings. You’ll have to go in with a pair of gloves to manually remove that buildup, but at least it’s easy.
MORE: Best Robot Vacuums
The RoboVac comes with a tool to clean the vacuum, as well as spare side brushes, an additional HEPA-style filter and an extra foam filter. Dumping the dirt from the dustbin is easy to do, too, and all it requires is that you press the button to slide out the receptacle and then push a release button to dispose of it. Just be sure to do so inside the trash bin to avoid breathing in dust particles.
Since the RoboVac 11 offers only a power button on its chassis, the bulk of your interaction with it will be with the included remote control. The remote lets you choose between one of six cleaning modes: Auto, Edge, Spot, Max, Single Room and Manual, which comes especially handy for very particular cleaning configurations. Auto mode will clean based on the layout of the room it’s in, while Edge cleaning will focus on following the edge of the room to capture what’s lying there.
Spot cleaning mode will look for spots of dirt or debris, and Max is best when working on carpet. Single Room mode will tell the RoboVac 11 to focus on only the room it's in before it returns to its charging station, where it will take at least 4 hours to charge before it reaches capacity. There’s also a button for scheduling cleanings. You’ll need two AAA batteries to power up the remote and perform all this, so don’t forget to add a pair to your cart.
Performance: Good at picking up (and getting stuck sometimes)
The RoboVac 11 is best used once a day for a long cleaning session since it takes a couple of hours to charge fully. But the upside is that it will clean until it can clean no more. Out of all the budget vacuums tested, including the Ecovacs Deebot M82 and the iLife V3s, the Eufy RoboVac 11 lasted the longest, at 1 hour and 40 minutes.
In our lab, the RoboVac was one of the better-performing budget models we tested.
The RoboVac relies solely on infrared sensors to clean, so Eufy doesn’t recommend you use this vacuum on dark floors or high carpets. It performs fine on other surfaces, however, including hardwood, linoleum, vinyl and gray carpet.
In our lab, the RoboVac was one of the better-performing budget models we tested, for the most part besting or tying the Deebot M82 and the iLife V3s. For example, it sucked up 100 percent of Cheerios on wood, compared with just 55 percent for the V3s. The Robovac also picked up 100 percent of sawdust on vinyl, whereas the V3s just managed 27 percent.
The one test the Robovac did poorly on was picking up pet hair on a vinyl surface; here, it only collected 11 percent, compared with 40 percent for the M82 and 100 percent for the iLife V3s. On carpet, the Robovac picked up 40 percent, and on wood, 60 percent, but on both those surfaces, the iLife was able to scoop up 100 and 81 percent, respectively, while the Deebot failed at both those tests.
The RoboVac 11 did fine keeping my upstairs carpet clean, so that every day I came home to a freshly groomed floor with nary a crystal of kitty litter in sight. However, the RoboVac became stuck a couple of times during its cleaning routine; one time I found it lodged underneath the bed and had to take a stick to it to free it, and on another occasion my husband found it in the bathroom. He left it there for me to check in on why, and there was no blockage or rug trip-up.
It's an issue that cropped up in our lab, too, and across various Amazon reviews. I watched the device work in my hallway and noticed that the wheel of the RoboVac would sometimes lose traction, causing it to shut down and sound an alert, which may be what's contributing to this sort of behavior.
Out of all the budget vacuums tested, the Eufy RoboVac 11 lasted the longest.
On the bright side, the RoboVac turns off when it's stuck to preserve battery. Once it’s freed and turned back on, it will resume the job until the battery's nearly exhausted. Overall, the RoboVac 11 does best on flat hardwood floors with low rugs and minimal obstruction. It's also best if you prep the house before you clean by clearing any stray charging cables, hair ties, stray shoes, and errant items of clothing that the RoboVac 11 could pick up.
The RoboVac 11 offers no Wi-Fi connectivity or app-interfacing features, so you have no way of determining its route, where it’s headed, or why it’s alerting for help. Without that visual feedback, I don't trust the vacuum to do a good job and find its way back to base while I'm out, especially since there's no way for it to notify me when it's finished, like the Samsung Powerbot 7070.
Despite having to prepare your quarters before it can clean, the Eufy RoboVac 11 is a good entry-level vacuum simply because it works. At $220, it's an affordable helper for the house, where it can help pick up things like litter crystals, stray hairs and food crumbs.
However, be prepared to adjust your expectations, as this isn't a high-end robot vacuum that can do intricate area mapping, like our top pick, the Samsung Powerbot 7070 ($599). And if you would rather schedule it to run while you're at work, expect that you may come home to find it never managed to make it back to its charging base. But if you can live with those limitations, you’ll find the RoboVac 11 to be a capable performer.
Credit: Florence Ion/Tom's Guide
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Florence Ion has worked for Ars Technica, PC World, and Android Central, before freelancing for several tech publications, including Tom's Guide. She's currently a staff writer at Gizmodo, and you can watch her as the host of All About Android on the This Week in Tech network.