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What to look for in a robot vacuum cleaner
Robot vacuums can have many features that set them apart from the competition, but here are the most important things to keep in mind.
- Suction power: This is generally measured in pascals (or “Pa”) and indicates exactly how much the vacuum can draw up. There are benefits to different suction power levels; For example, less powerful vacuum cleaners are usually quieter and can have a longer battery life. There is also a question of what type of home the vacuum cleaner is cleaned in. Hard floors or thin carpets are not much of a challenge and can be collected by less powerful vacuum cleaners, while thicker carpets require a lot more suction. power to be properly cleaned.
- Smart functions: From collision detection to automatic emptying, there are plenty of things a robotic vacuum cleaner can include to make operation a little easier. These are, of course, most commonly found in higher-end models, but budget-friendly vacuum cleaners may surprise you.
- Apps vs Remotes: Coupled with smart features, some robotic vacuums let you manage and control them via an app on your phone (or even voice commands), while others rely on a dedicated remote. Generally speaking, the remote will be the more limited of the two and as such will be more commonly found on cheap vacuum cleaners. However, it is by no means an instant shutdown. For a basic robotic vacuum cleaner, a remote control does a useful job when it comes to management.
- Battery: This is a simple one, but it is clear that the longer a vacuum cleaner can run without dying, the better. However, some vacuum cleaners can come with charging docks, which allow the machine to pause mid-cleaning, replenish energy, and then pick up where it left off.
Best Overall: iRobot Roomba i7
The Roomba i7 is a smart and effective vacuum cleaner that should serve the needs of most people well. The Smart Mapping technology builds a floor plan of your home not only to navigate the Roomba, but also so that you can designate specific rooms to clean via the app (iOS / Android) or your voice assistant. You can set schedules for Roomba through the app, and it can even learn your personal schedule and preferences to automate some parts of the process.
The rubber bristles are great for treating pet hair and the powerful suction handles crumbs and other messes very well. The i7 runs for about an hour on a full charge and automatically returns to the charging base to recharge when the battery is low. It is compatible with the iRobot Clean Base (sold separately), allowing Roomba to automatically empty itself up to 30 times.
Overall, the i7 is a great choice for new robot vacuum cleaner owners who don’t need the very best option on the market, but still want something with premium touches.
The premium choice: iRobot Roomba s9 +
A step up from the i7, the Roomba s9 + packs a few more features to make it the ultimate high-end choice. This vacuum cleaner features the most advanced cleaning and guiding technology from iRobot, a battery life of one hour and automatic charging. The specially designed corner brush is great for getting into those hard to reach places and also has a powerful suction.
The included base can both charge the s9 + when it is running low and also automatically empty the vacuum up to 60 times. You can control the vacuum through the app (iOS / Android) or your voice assistant, and it can learn your schedule and preferences and adjust accordingly. You can even get the s9 + bundled with the iRobot Braava M6 Robot Mop, and the two can work together to vacuum and mop rooms for a better overall clean.
A Roomba alternative: Roborock S6 MaxV
While Roomba is certainly the best-known brand when it comes to robotic vacuums, it’s not the only option out there, and Roborock’s S6 MaxV does a good job of tackling the giant as a premium choice. The powerful 2500 Pa suction power is excellent at dealing with debris, and there’s even a mop built into the vacuum for bare floors. Roborock’s LiDAR navigation system maps your home for up to four different floors – and you can also set up to ten zones where the vacuum cannot enter, and ten other zones where it specifically won’t mop.
You control the S6 MaxV completely via the app (Android / iOS) or via your voice assistant. The battery lasts a whopping 180 minutes, with the vacuum returning to the base to refill when it is low.
But the S6 MaxV isn’t the only vacuum Roborock makes; the S6 Pure still offers an internal mop at a lower price, with the main sacrifice being less suction power – 2000 Pa to be precise. There’s also the budget-friendly Roborock E4, which drops the internal mop (but there’s a mopping accessory sold separately), but still retains great smart features and app management.
A mid-range option: Shark ION R85
The ION R85 may be missing some of the premium features found in more expensive vacuum cleaners, but it has enough smart features to fit nicely into the mid-range range. It has a powerful suction for crumbs and dust, with the included brushes and filters that treat hair and allergens and hard to reach corners.
The ION R85 is Wi-Fi ready, so you can easily manage it via the Shark app (Android / iOS) or via voice assistants. In the Shark app you can schedule cleaning times for your ION R85 and receive notifications about what your vacuum cleaner is doing. The battery lasts about an hour, with the vacuum automatically returning to the included charging base when it is low.
For the price, the ION R85 delivers a solid feature set and user experience, sure to please those looking for a robotic vacuum cleaner this holiday season.
Best Budget Option: ILIFE A4s
This is the cheapest vacuum cleaner on this list, and while it has a weakness when it comes to dealing with thicker carpets, it still offers a good clean for the money. The A4s is equipped with a suction power of 1,500 Pa, but can concentrate that power on a specific spot to reach 2,000 Pa for particularly stubborn mess. The included electric wall keeps the vacuum from getting into certain areas, the battery lasts about 100 minutes and the machine is quite thin at just 2.95 inches.
The main thing you’ll miss with the A4s is that it comes with a remote instead of an app. This admittedly limits how automatic the vacuum can be, but it still has collision avoidance sensors, so leaving it alone in a room isn’t a problem.
Low profile: eufy RoboVac 11s
The eufy 11s is yet another low-cost model, but we selected it for this list because of its ultra-low height of 2.85 inches (ideal for crawling under furniture) and its quiet operation, which means that this vacuum cleaner doesn’t bother around the house . This comes at the expense of only 1,300 Pa suction power, but it still performs well for hardwood floors and thinner carpets.
The included remote controls the 11s, with some automatic cleaning modes and collision avoidance to make it easier. The battery lasts for 100 minutes when fully charged and comes with a charging dock that the vacuum returns to when it is low.