Best Robot Vacuums of 2018

Angela Parkinson ·
Home & Appliance Editor
Updated
We maintain strict editorial integrity when we evaluate products and services; however, Top Ten Reviews may earn money when you click on links.

The Neato Botvac Connected is your best bet if you are ready to invest in a robot vacuum. How do we know? We crafted a custom vacuum track in our lab that allowed us to test robot vacuum cleaners on carpeting, vinyl and wood flooring, spreading debris like kitty litter, breakfast cereal, flour and sawdust in their path to see how they would perform. We then took them into a real home to see which ones could navigate around chair legs, under couches and over flooring transitions on their own. We also considered how easy they were to set up and use. Hundreds of hours of testing later, we had a winner. The Botvac combines excellent suction with great agility – an efficient cleaning partner for your home.

Editor's Note: The iLife V3Pro is now available. Clicking the Buy button will take you to this version for purchase. We will evaluate, rank and review the V3Pro when we next update the robot vacuum cleaner reviews.
 

Best Overall

Neato Botvac Connected

This is the robot vacuum with the best combination of features overall. It strikes a healthy balance between good suction and agility for vacuuming around obstacles like chair legs and flooring thresholds.
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Best Value

Ecovacs Deebot M82

While it struggled to remove pet hair from most surfaces, the Ecovacs Deebot M82 did a good job of cleaning everything else in our testing, and it costs less than $300.
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Best Agility

iRobot Roomba 980

This unit was unbeatable for agility. One of the reasons you buy a robot vacuum is to get out of a few cleaning tasks, so having one that can move throughout your house unattended is helpful.
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Product
Neato Botvac 945-0205
Best Overall
Price
$591.95Amazon
$529.00-
$889.00Amazon
$340.00Amazon
$299.94Amazon
$299.99Amazon
$374.99-
$549.00Amazon
$243.00Amazon
$159.99Amazon
$179.99Amazon
$269.99Amazon
Overall Rating
9.9
9.7
9.6
9.4
8.9
8.8
8.3
8.2
7.9
7.8
7.7
7.4
Performance
10
9.8
9.5
9.3
8
8.8
8.8
9
9
7.8
6.8
7.8
Convenience
10
9.5
9.5
9.5
9.3
9.8
10
7.8
8.8
9.8
9.3
9
Design Extras
10
10
10
10
10
6.8
3.3
6.8
3.3
3.3
6.8
3.3
Warranty & Support
9
9
10
9
10
9
9
8
7
9
9
7
Cleaning Performance-Hard
100%
95%
90%
80%
85%
85%
90%
95%
90%
70%
100%
90%
Cleaning Performance-Carpet
95%
100%
95%
95%
80%
95%
85%
90%
80%
90%
50%
90%
Movement
95%
90%
100%
100%
35%
85%
95%
85%
85%
75%
50%
85%
Run Time (hours: minutes)
2
1:30
2
1
1:30
1:20
1
2
2:30
2
1:40
1:40
Charge Time (hours: minutes)
3
2:40
2:40
:40
4
2:30
2:40
2
5
4:40
4
6
Climbing Height (inches)
1
1
0.625
1
1
0.5
0.55
0.75
0.6
0.59
0.5
0.59
Multi-Room Navigation
Scheduled Cleanings
Dirt Sensor
-
-
-
-
Multiple Passes
-
-
Returns to Dock
Hybrid
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Ease of Use
100%
80%
95%
100%
80%
80%
90%
90%
90%
75%
95%
75%
Maintenance (minutes)
1:03
2:37
4:07
2:03
2:01
3:15
1:45
7
3:09
3:27
4:21
3:25
Weight (pounds)
9
9.5
12.9
7.5
7.5
6
7.9
12.2
6.61
4.5
7.7
5.8
Diameter (inches)
13.2
13.7
13.9
13
12
14
13.39
13.8
12
12
13.4
12.5
Height (inches)
3.9
3.8
3.6
3.9
3.5
3.5
3.62
3.5
3
3
3.5
3
Noise (dB)
72
71
70
70
67
72
73
56
63
71
67
64
Side Spinning Brush
-
-
Bristle Brush
-
-
-
Flexible Brush
-
-
Full Bin Indicator
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Soft Bumper
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Smartphone App
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Remote Control
-
-
-
-
Boundary Markers
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Virtual Wall
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Carrying Handle
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Warranty
1 Year
1 Year
2 Years
1 Year
2 Years
1 Year
1 Year
2 Years
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
1 Year
Manufacturer Support
-
Online User Manual
Online Tutorials
-
-
Best Overall
The Neato Botvac represents the ideal combination of features for sturdy and steady performance. It collected more debris from hard flooring than any other vacuum we tested and was second to only one in carpeting suction tests.
It was almost unstoppable, too. We were amazed at some of the obstacles it would climb over in order to keep cleaning. It rolled right over a dramatic transition from one type of flooring to another in the test house that stopped most competitors. Many avoided it the same way they avoided walls, and some that attempted to go over got stuck and required human intervention to get going again. The Botvac Connected got over the top of that threshold, and in and out of other obstacles with equal ease to keep cleaning an entire floor of our test house. This robotic vacuum also plays well with humans. The interface is the easiest by far to understand. It features menus that you can scroll through and error messages that you don't have to look up – something that got annoying fast with other units. And you can control it from anywhere using its phone app, so you can run it from your desk at work if you want to return to a cleaner home. It was also the fastest and easiest for basic maintenance tasks.
Pros
  • Cleaning power on hard floors was unsurpassed
  • You can run it remotely using an app on your phone
  • It is the fastest and easiest for basic maintenance
Cons
  • It tied for the second loudest in our reviews at 72 dB
  • There is no mopping function
  • Lacks an actual remote control
$591.95Amazon
Read the full review
Best Value

Ecovacs Deebot M82

The Ecovacs Deebot M82 removed more debris than almost half of the competitors, and it costs well below the average price of the robot vacuums we tested.
The M82 also has a low profile that helped it get under furniture (where some competitors could not go), and it was better at getting debris out of corners than most. This unit struggled to remove pet hair in almost every setting, though, so it will do best in a pet-free home. It also seemed to avoid rugs and other obstacles at times, even when competitors rolled onto the same rugs and cleaned them. But it had good suction generally – recovering respectable amounts of kitty litter, sawdust and cereal. The M82 does not have the most sophisticated display – there is just one light on the top. More elaborate displays have codes and graphics that make it easier to know the status of a machine. But this machine costs so little, it might be worth the extra effort to figure out when it needs to be charged or restarted. You will have to figure it out on your own because Ecovacs did not have very responsive customer service, in our experience.
Pros
  • For sale online for well under $300
  • Side brushes help recover debris in the corners
  • Low profile slides under a range of furniture types
Cons
  • Not good on pet hair
  • Display is confusing at times
  • Ecovacs customer service is hard to access
$259.99Amazon
Best Agility

iRobot Roomba 980

The point of a robot vacuum is to take some of the pressure off you for maintaining your home, and the iRobot Roomba 980 is amazing for that. It never stopped cleaning during our at-home tests. It could conquer a dramatic drop-off between rooms or flooring types, the uncomfortably-close-together table and chair legs, and a couch with a heavy dust ruffle. It cleaned in and around all of them, so it is one of the most self-sufficient options. You can start it up and then forget about it while you do something else. Many of the other units needed much more help and supervision to keep vacuuming.
The Roomba 980 was not as impressive for suction as some others at the very top of our lineup, but it was still competitive. It was in the top tier for suction power on carpeting and hard floors overall but struggled to clean certain messes on some surfaces, including pet hair. This is a fairly large unit but at least it has a carry handle for transporting it up and down stairs, and to other areas of your home. It is competitive when you consider ease of use issues too. While it does not have a screen it does have pre-recorded voice messages that let you know what is going on. It will play a message like "please charge Roomba" so you know what it needs to keep cleaning.
Pros
  • It easily transitions between different types of flooring
  • The warranty is twice as long as many others
  • Audible error codes tell you the Roomba’s status
Cons
  • The suction is only average strength
  • It’s the heaviest and largest in diameter
  • This is a significant investment
$799.00Amazon

Why Trust Us?   

We spent over 300 hours testing robotic vacuum cleaners in our laboratory and an actual home to see which ones could extract the most messes from the most surfaces. We sprinkled debris like kitty litter, breakfast cereal, flour and sawdust on our laboratory test flooring and weighed what each unit was able to collect. We then changed the surface and repeated the tests to see how each one would perform on carpeting and different types of hard flooring.

We then took each vacuum home and had it tackle a real cleaning project. We took note of how self-sufficient each robot vacuum is and whether it could maneuver around obstacles like table and chair legs. We rated them on how well they could go from room to room, even when there was a shift in the type of flooring.

We also compared the specifications on each, including their run times and charge times. We considered what kind of brushes they use and also how easy their display and other features make it to understand what might be going on inside the vacuum at any given moment.

Customer service also is a factor for an investment like this. We noticed whether or not vacuum manufacturers responded to our inquiries and what type of coverage they offer under their warranty. 

How We Tested 

For this round of testing, laboratory staff built a vacuum track that was elevated from the ground, making it easier to observe vacuum behavior and access the test units, when needed. The track had wooden sides on three sides that worked to represent walls in our testing. There was no wall on the fourth side so we could leave a drop-off that would test how well the vacuums sense stairwells to avoid a damaging fall. We put down different types of flooring in the track to test all competitors on vinyl, wood and carpeting.

Our home testing was conducted on living, dining, kitchen and bedroom areas of a 1400-square-foot house. The robotic vacuums had to clean around two couches, several chairs and a dining room table. We observed whether they could weave through the chair and table legs to keep cleaning. We also considered whether they could effectively clean on many different types of surfaces in the home – two types of area rugs, wood flooring and tile, and the transitions between those flooring types. 

This is a product category where you get what you pay for, generally speaking. While there are a couple competitive lower-priced models, most of the ones below the $400 range had a hard time with basic tasks – they picked up less debris in our suction tests and were less able to maneuver around obstacles and keep vacuuming on their own. They were also less able to find their way back to the base for recharging. If you don't mind being home while they are cleaning, that might be just fine. You can get them unstuck and then do something else in another room for a while until they get stuck again. If you are dreaming of coming home from work to clean floors, be prepared to pay a little more for the ones that can keep themselves going without your help.

You also pay more for the ones you can control from your desk at work, or anywhere, using a Wi-Fi phone app. Happily, those are the same ones that have the right set of physical features to keep cleaning, even if they have to go through some table legs or over the edge of an area rug. Controlling the ones that get stuck all the time from your phone would be an exercise in frustration. They would start cleaning when you send the command from your phone, get stuck and then stay stuck for hours until you return.

You pay more for the products that clean your floors for you, unsupervised, but that is one of the reasons to buy a robot vacuum in the first place. The added investment is worth it in this case. 

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