Best Robot Vacuum Cleaners for 2021

2 Materials

By Hometalk Writer Corrie Pelc


Despite how busy our lives can get, dirt doesn't seem to care. And whether it be commonplace dust bunnies, kids leaving trails of food crumbs, or pets and their never-ending hair, sometimes it would be nice if the dirt would just go ahead and clean itself!


With robot vacuum cleaners, that wish can be pretty much granted. And there’s even better news — with robot vacuum cleaners having now been around for quite a few years, the technology has gotten better and smarter, meaning they last longer, clean better, and no longer get stuck under furniture or banging endlessly into walls. Some robot vacuums on our list can even learn the layout of your home, allowing you to tell them exactly what room you want cleaned and where to stay away from (if only kids were that simple to program!).


And splurging on a robot vacuum cleaner doesn't have to mean spending big bucks as well — efficient robot vacuums can be purchased for as little as $200 if not less during great sales. Just remember you pay for what you get — more expensive robot vacuum cleaners will come with less fancy bells and whistles such as smart home connectivity, self-cleaning bases, and the ability to tell the vacuum exactly where in your house you want it to clean, and even when. So when budgeting for your robot vacuum, keep in mind what’s most important to you.


How Does a Robot Vacuum Work?

In general, all of today's robot vacuum cleaners will offer these elements:


  • They are cordless and will need to be recharged between cleanings.
  • Just like a normal stand-up vacuum, they will have some type of agitator -- such as a brush roller -- to loosen dirt, dust and hair from the flooring it is cleaning, and use suction to move the dirt from the floor into the vacuum.
  • There's an internal dustbin to collect and hold the dirt that's sucked up, and either will need to be emptied manually or will be automatically emptied into the vacuum's base.
  • They will have a navigation system that allows them to get around your home without bumping into furniture, people, pets, and other objects. The sophistication of this system will vary based on the model you're looking at.


As part of its navigation system, all of today's robot vacuum cleaners are equipped with a variety of sensors to help them get their job done:


  • Flooring Sensors can help the vacuum figure out if it will be cleaning rug or hardwood flooring so it can act appropriately.
  • Object or Bump Sensors located on the sides of the vacuum come into play when it bumps into a piece of furniture -- the sensor helps the vacuum figure out if it should turn around, go in another direction or back up.
  • Wall Sensors can actually tell the difference between a wall or just a random object, letting the robot vacuum know it should skim the surface of the wall to make sure it cleans the edges.
  • Cliff or Drop Sensors help keep the robot vacuum from falling down the stairs.


What to Look for in a Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Robot vacuums have come a long way and nowadays there are tons of options on the market. Each product on our list has been evaluated and ranked for these main factors:


  • Flooring Type: How thick of a carpeting can the robot vacuum handle — low, medium and/or high pile — and what other types of flooring is it good for.
  • Suction Power: The more power a robot vacuum has for sucking out dirt and grime from deep within carpeting, the better!
  • Vacuum Height: The lower the robot vacuum’s profile, the better it will be at getting under low furniture.
  • Navigation Capability: What types of sensors and programming does the robot vacuum use to get around your home.
  • Battery Life Between Charges: How much cleaning time can you expect on one charge of the robot vacuum’s battery.
  • WiFi Connectivity: With WiFi connectivity, the robot vacuum can be programmed and run through a smartphone app and smart home devices like Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
  • Operation: If the robot vacuum is not WiFi connected, it will normally come with a remote.
  • Dust Bin Size: Knowing how much dirt your robot vacuum can hold is a good thing!
  • Self-Emptying Base: Some robot vacuums actually empty out their dust bin when they return to their home base to recharge, helping you keep your hands clean for longer.


With all that said, here's a look at the best robot vacuum cleaners for 2021 -- glass slippers and wishing on stars completely optional.


Best Bang for Your Buck: eufy RoboVac 11S

~ $199 on Amazon

Slim, quiet, powerful, and super affordable -- what's not to like? 

With close to 46,000 ratings and 4.5 stars on Amazon, the eufy RoboVac 11S is truly a great entry point to the world of robot vacuum cleaners. Priced at just about $200, surprisingly the eufy RoboVac 11S offers quite a few of the bells and whistles seen on pricier robovacs, making it a great value overall. A unique feature of this robot vacuum is its extremely sleek, slim profile -- measuring only 2.85 inches tall, the eufy RoboVac 11S can easily slip underneath the lowest of furniture to get dirt and grime hiding underneath, and its tempered glass top protects the device when it's under tight spots. The robot vacuum uses infrared sensors to navigate around furniture and other objects in its way, and also has a drop-sensor so it can steer clear of potentially falling down stairs. The RoboVac 11S is also equipped with eufy's BoostIQ™ Technology, which allows it to turn up the suction power when it detects an extra-large cleaning job. Able to clean for up to 100 minutes on a single charge, the eufy RoboVac 11S will return to its charging base when its power is running low. All this, and Amazon reviewers say it is noticeably quieter compared to other brands on the market.


Ideal for: Smaller spaces with low-pile carpeting and bare flooring, with lots of low furniture that needs cleaning underneath. 


  • Flooring Type: Low- to medium-pile carpets, tile, laminated, and hardwood floors
  • Suction Power: 1300Pa
  • Vacuum Height: 2.85" 
  • Navigation Capability: Infrared-sensor for avoiding obstacles; drop-sensor to avoid falling down stairs
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 100 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: No
  • Operation: Remote
  • Dust Bin Size: 0.6L
  • Self-Emptying Base: No


Pros:


  • Very affordable
  • Quiet when running
  • Slim design makes it easy to get under furniture


Cons:


  • Not great for high-pile carpeting
  • No WiFi or smart home connectivity
  • Doesn't auto-empty its bin


Best for Large, Multi-Level Houses: Roborock S4 Max 

~ $430 on Amazon 

Able to navigate and remember up to four different floor plans, and clean for up to 180 minutes on one charge, this brilliant navigator will keep your large home ship-shape. 


If you want the Magellan of robot vacuum cleaners, the Roborock S4 Max is for you! The vacuum's laser navigation system can learn your home's layout in just one cleaning session, and then you can just tell it which rooms you want cleaned. You can even program areas you don't want it to go into, such as by delicate furniture. All of this is made possible through a smartphone app and interactive map. For its price, it offers some of the same features normally only seen on top-of-the-line models, such as home mapping capabilities, spot detection and the ability to set up "virtual walls" to create no-go zones in the home. Running for about 180 minutes on one charge, the Roborock S4 Max features 2000Pa suction and a floating main brush that will drop lower when it's cleaning hardwood flooring and will rise up to get to carpeting. With over 1,600 ratings and 4.5 stars on Amazon, the Roborock S4 Max with reviewers saying it "dominates carpets (carefully pulling dog hair out of the carpets with zero damage to the carpet)" and its "surprisingly quiet especially on the lowest power setting." 


Ideal for: Large, multi-level homes as the Roborock S4 Max can memorize up to four maps and scheduling cleanings in exact locations is a breeze. 


  • Flooring Type: Carpeting and bare flooring
  • Suction Power: 2000Pa
  • Vacuum Height: 3.8 inches
  • Navigation Capability: Precision laser navigation
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 180 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Operation: Roborock app (Android and iOS), 
  • Dust Bin Size: 460ml
  • Self-Emptying Base: No


Pros:


  • Can memorize up to four floor maps
  • Powerful suction
  • Up to 180 minutes of continuous cleaning


Cons:


  • No self-emptying base
  • Dust bin not as large as some other models


Best for Cleaning Corners: Neato Robotics Botvac D7 Robot Vacuum

~ $400 on Amazon 

Are dirty corners the bane of your existence? Get them clean with a uniquely designed robot vacuum that offers lots of perks. 


If you need a robot vacuum that won't ... ahem ... cut any corner, then you'll want to check out the Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum. This robovac has a unique D-shaped design, giving it one entirely flat edge that allows it to get right into the corner round robots can't always reach efficiently. Featuring the company's LaserSmartTM technology, the D7 can intelligently navigate your entire home, mapping it as it goes so it can learn each room and floor to clean it effectively. Plus you can designate "no-go" zones to keep the vacuum exactly where you want it. As it can clean for up to 120 minutes per charge and cleans carpeting, tiles, and hardwood, it's a great pick for larger homes. The robot vacuum's Turbo Mode ensures tough debris like pet hair gets removed, and even offers "zone cleaning" to allow you to target specific messy areas you want it to focus on. The Neato Botvac D7 Connected Robot Vacuum is also WiFi-enabled so you can operate it via a smartphone app, or connect it to Amazon Alexa or Google Home. And its high-performing filter can capture allergens as small as 0.3 microns.


Ideal for: Larger homes with a mix of different flooring types where you want to focus on cleaning all corners and want the ease of operating it from your smartphone or smart home device. 


  • Flooring Type: Carpets, tiles, and hardwood
  • Suction Power: 2000Pa
  • Vacuum Height: 3.9 inches
  • Navigation Capability: Laser-guided mapping
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 120 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Operation: Smartphone app, Amazon Alexa, Google Home
  • Dust Bin Size: 0.7L
  • Self-Emptying Base: No


Pros:


  • Unique design really gets into and cleans corners
  • Can map your entire home and be directed exactly where you want it
  • Long battery time is great for larger homes and spaces


Cons:


  • No self-emptying base
  • Built taller build may not get under low furniture


Best for Picking Up Pet Hair: iRobot Roomba i7+

~ $800 on Amazon

The perfect pick for homes with pets who shed. A lot.


While we all love our pets, we don't like the hair they leave everywhere, and not every robot vacuum cleaner is equipped to deal with it. Pet hair can get stuck in bristles, causing clogs and just be an overall nuisance. Thankfully the iRobot Roomba i7+ is built with 10 times the suction power of previous Roomba models and double multi-surface rubber brushes that pet hair will not get tangled on, making it a top pick for pet hair removal. Additionally, the robot vacuum comes with a high-efficiency filter to trap up to 99% of cat and dog dander allergens. Working efficiently on both carpeting and bare flooring thanks to its three-stage cleaning system, the iRobot Roomba i7+ uses vSLAM® navigation and Smart Mapping technology to get around your home and map it, allowing it to clean exactly where you want it to when you want it to. When it's time to empty the dust bin, the iRobot Roomba i7+ automatically docks itself into its self-charging station and empties the dirt into an allergen-free disposable bag that can hold up to 60 days worth of dirt. The iRobot Roomba i7+ is WiFi-enabled and can be controlled and programmed through the iRobot app, Amazon Alexa and Google Home. 


Ideal for: Pet lovers who want to keep their homes free of pet hair and dander, and who don't want to have to worry about emptying the vacuum's dustbin on the regular. 


  • Flooring Type: Carpeting and hard floors
  • Suction Power: 1800Psa
  • Vacuum Height: 3.63 inches
  • Navigation Capability: vSLAM navigation
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 75 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Operation: iRobot app, Amazon Alexa, Google Home
  • Dust Bin Size: 500 ml
  • Self-Emptying Base: Yes


Pros:


  • Great option for cleaning up homes with pets
  • Automatic dirt disposing base doesn't have to be emptied for up to 60 days


Cons:


  • Bit pricey
  • Not as long a cleaning per battery charge as some other models


Best Vacuum/Mop Hybrid: Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI

~ $750 on Amazon 

A robot that will not only vacuum carpets but also mop floors? Sold!


If the idea of mopping laminate and tile flooring excites you just as much as vacuuming carpeting does, then the robot vacuum/mop hybrid like the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI may be exactly the tool you're looking for. Capable of cleaning for up to three hours on just one charge, the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI is equipped with a slew of sensors including the AIVI (artificial intelligence and visual interpretation) technology sensor in front and anti-collision sensors on the sides, to keep it moving easily around your home and any objects in its way. The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI also has drop-sensors so it won't fall down the stairs, and a built-in camera to "see” small objects, which can also double as a security camera when you're not home. Thanks to the company's OZMO™ Mopping System, the robot is capable of vacuuming and mopping at the same time. The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI comes with a 240ml water tank that can cover up to 2,000 square feet of mopping, and carpet detection sensors ensure only water is applied to bare flooring. 


Ideal for: Those with both carpeting and hard floors who want a device that will take care of both vacuuming and mopping for them.


  • Flooring Type: Carpeting and hard floors
  • Suction Power: 1500Psa
  • Vacuum Height: 3.6 inches
  • Navigation Capability: AIVI, anti-collision and drop sensors
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 180 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Operation: Ecovacs Home app (Android and iOS), Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant
  • Dust Bin Size: 420mL
  • Self-Emptying Base: No


Pros:


  • Can simultaneously vacuum and mop your home
  • Offers up to 180 minutes of continuous cleaning one one battery charge
  • On-board camera doubles as a security camera for inside your home


Cons:


  • A bit on the expensive side
  • Taller profile make not allow it to move easily under low furniture


The Best When Money is No Object: iRobot Roomba S9+

~ $1,100 on Amazon 

Ready to go all-in on a robot vacuum cleaner and you want the best money can buy? Then we’ve found your splurge!


If you want the best robot vacuum cleaner that money can buy, then get ready to meet the iRobot Roomba S9+. The Rolls Royce of robot vacuums, this sleek and modern machine is claimed to be the "most powerful robot vacuum yet," featuring 40x more suction than previous Roomba models, PerfectEdge Technology and a special corner brush to make sure all corners and edges get excellent cleaning, and 30% wider dual rubber brushes to make sure dirt is lifted up and sucked away. Through the company's vSLAM navigation, the iRobot Roomba S9+ can learn how to navigate your home, building Smart Maps along the way and allowing you to set up no-go zones to keep the vacuum out of areas you don't want it. The vacuum's anti-allergen system captures 99% of mold and pollen, and its self-charging system doubles as a dirt disposal system with a bag-lined collection system that completely seals so when you have to dispose of it, nothing comes flying out. And if the battery starts running low, it's smart enough to quickly go recharge and then pick up where it left off. 


Ideal for: Those who want to invest in a top-of-the-line, do-it-all robot vacuum cleaner.


  • Flooring Type: Carpeting and hard floors
  • Suction Power: 2500Psa
  • Vacuum Height: 3.5 inches
  • Navigation Capability: vSLAM navigation
  • Battery Life Between Charges: Up to 120 minutes of continuous cleaning
  • WiFi Connectivity: Yes
  • Operation: iRobot app, Amazon Alexa, Google Home
  • Dust Bin Size: Self-emptying base bags can hold up to 30 full dust bins
  • Self-Emptying Base: Yes


Pros:


  • 40x more suction than previous Roomba models
  • Special features help it get to troublesome corners
  • Self-charging base doubles as a self-disposal system


Cons:


  • High price tag
  • Bit louder when running, which can be distracting


How to Get the Most Out of Your Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Hopefully, our guide has helped you figure out the best robot vacuum for you and your home. Once you make your purchase, here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your new toy: 



  • Read All the Directions -- This may seem like a no-brainer, but you may be so excited to see what this lil' puppy can do that you just take it out of the box and send it out into your home without actually reading the directions it comes with first. Trust us -- the extra wait time to thoroughly read the directions will be worth it. 
  • Have Patience During Set-Up -- As each robot vacuum is a bit different, there will be a learning curve for both the device to learn and map your rooms and home, as well as a learning curve for you in figuring out the device's remote and/or app. Take the time to read the directions, and don't be afraid to turn to Google for help from other users. 
  • Remove Clutter -- If there are lots of items on your floor, the robot vacuum is not going to do a great job of cleaning your floors, so make sure everything that can be picked up is. 
  • Follow the Robot -- Don't just set it and forget it -- during the first few times it cleans, follow your robot vacuum to see where it goes and how it moves, making sure it goes where you want it to and stays out of the places you don't want it to go. 
  • Run it Regularly -- Running it every day or every few days will keep it on a regular schedule and will help keep the battery strong. 
  • Clean the Robot -- Make sure you're giving your hard-working robot vacuum some much-earned TLC by making sure it stays clean, cleaning any brushes, removing dust from the wheels, etc. 
  • Know the Return Policy -- Just in case your first robot vacuum cleaner doesn't end up being the right one for you, make sure you know the retailer's return policy so you can return or exchange if necessary.


Robot Vacuum Cleaners: A Brief History

The very first robot vacuum cleaner was introduced in 1996 by a Swedish company called Electrolux. The Trilobite worked fairly well for the first of its kind, however, it was lacking in the robust navigation systems and sensors that grace today's robot vacuums, causing it to collide with walls and furniture on the regular, and never really cleaning a floor as well as it needed to.


Next came the Dyson DC06 in 2001, which, due to its reportedly very high price point, was never released to market. Then a year later in 2002, iRobot entered the robot vacuum cleaner market with the Roomba, which has become so popular the term "Roomba" has become a synonym for "robot vacuum cleaner." The iRobot Roomba really opened up the market, helping to make them more accessible to the masses and throughout the years encouraging other companies such as Neato, Eufy, Dyson, Roborock, Shark, Samsung, and others to start entering the market, resulting in the wide variety of robot vacuum cleaners available today.


We want to hear about which robot vacuum cleaner you love the most and your tips for getting the most out of it -- let us know by commenting below!

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