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