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 iRobot Roomba 690 is your best bet if you are ready to invest in a robot vacuum. How do we know? We converted part of our lab into a robot vacuum testing facility, laying down hardwood flooring and putting up temporary walls, so we could test in a controlled environment. We spread the same exact amount of kitty litter, breakfast cereal and pet hair in the exact same space and let each robot vacuum clean with the same settings to see which ones cleaned up the most. We then took them into a real home to see which machines could best navigate around chair legs, under couches and over flooring transitions to keep cleaning. We also considered how easy they were to set up and use. Hundreds of hours of testing later, we had a winner. The Roomba 690 combines strong suction with great agility. It’s an efficient and user-friendly cleaning partner for your home.   

Best Overall
iRobot Roomba 690
The iRobot Roomba 690 is a self-sufficient and user-friendly robot with impressive cleaning power, all offered at a reasonable price.
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Best Value
iLife V3s Pro
The iLife V3s Pro struggled some to navigate the obstacles in my house, but it had the best score for cleaning on hardwood floors and it costs less than $200.
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Best Agility
Eufy 11S
The Eufy 11S was the most self-sufficient of the robot vacuums we tested, able to get over the highest flooring transitions and under the lowest furniture to keep cleaning.
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Product
Price
OVERALL RATING
Convenience
Performance
Design Extras
Cleaning Performance-Hard
Movement
Run Time (hours: minutes)
Charge Time (hours: minutes)
Climbing Height (inches)
Multi-Room Navigation
Scheduled Cleanings
Dirt Sensor
Multiple Passes
Returns to Dock
Hybrid
Ease of Use
Weight (pounds)
Diameter (inches)
Height (inches)
Noise (dB)
Side Spinning Brush
Bristle Brush
Flexible Brush
Full Bin Indicator
Soft Bumper
Warranty
Smartphone App
Remote Control
Boundary Markers
Virtual Wall
Carrying Handle
$249 Amazon Warehouse
3.5 4.5 5
80
95
1:30
3:00
0.625
100
7.8
13
3.7
0
1 Year
$219.99 Amazon
4.5 4.5 1.5
85
100
1:40
5:00
0.65
85
5.8
12.5
2.5
0
1 Year
$179 Amazon Marketplace
4.5 3.5 2.5
90
90
1:05
4:00
0.5
90
7.05
12.5
3
0
1 Year
$128 Amazon Marketplace
3 4 1.5
100
80
2:20
4:40
0.47
90
4.51
12
3
0
1 Year
$499.99 Amazon
5 5 3
94
100
1:15
03:00
1
85
7.37
13.21
3.92
0
1 Year
$479.99 Amazon Marketplace
3 5 5
94
100
1:15
1:40
1
85
7.37
13.21
3.92
0
1 Year
$341.99 Amazon Marketplace
3 5 5
95
85
1:05
4:00
1
95
7.72
13.5
4
0
2 Years
$229.99 Amazon
5 3 2.5
54
90
2:30
5:00
0.6
95
5.5
12.9
2.9
0
2 Years
$498 Amazon Warehouse
2 5 4
96
90
1:30
2:40
1
80
9.5
13.7
3.8
0
1 Year
Best Overall
The iRobot Roomba 690 harnesses the power of three different types of cleaning brushes to get your floors clean. It was able to turn in a practically perfect performance on our cleaning tests with breakfast cereal and kitty litter.
It struggled somewhat on pet hair, though, like most of the vacuums we tested. Much of the hair was wrapped around the brushes instead of in the dustbin, but at least it was cleared from the flooring. The 690 was noticeably easy to use for lots of reasons. You can control it with your voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. You can also just push one button on the top of the machine or use a smartphone app. The app was easier to use than some of the other robot vacuum apps. The robot also has its own voice and it will play recorded messages to let you know about any errors it is experiencing so you don't have to guess. The Roomba 690 had a great run at my house. It moved in and around table legs and cleaned on several different types of rugs and flooring. It needed very little human help to keep cleaning, unlike some machines that would get stuck on flooring transitions and other obstacles. It is a bit taller than some, so it could not clean under a very low-slung wooden chest, but it got under the couches and most other things just fine. The 690 runs for about an hour and thirty minutes, which is about average, but its three hour charge time is faster than most. That way it can get back to cleaning fast.
Pros
  • Strong suction left our test floors very clean.
  • You can control this vacuum with its own button, Amazon Alexa or a phone app.
  • Roomba 690 plays recordings of error messages in a human voice when it needs help.
Cons
  • There were vacuums that did a better job on dog hair.
  • It was too tall to clean under a wooden chest in my house.
  • There were vacuums with longer run times.
$287Amazon
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Best Value
The iLife V3s Pro was downright amazing on hardwood flooring. It scooped up more Cheerios, kitty litter and even dog hair than any other machine. This one was a true standout on pet hair collection.
While others were tangling dog hair tightly around their brushes or leaving it on the floor, the V3's brushless design allowed it to scoop all debris quickly into its dustbin. The V3 was pretty good at navigating its way through my house as well. It was able to get under some of the stuff that is lower to the ground, including couches with heavy dust ruffles, and keep cleaning. The V3s did struggle on some of the flooring transitions. When it tried to go from hardwood flooring onto different kinds of rugs it would get stuck and even shut down in some cases. It also stopped on the tall transitions such as a transistion from hardwood floor to tile in my house. That means it is a little less self-sufficient than others. The V3s was pretty user friendly. The best robot vacuum cleaners have lots of different controllers and this one has options. You do not get the option of a smartphone app. The lack of a display screen and the fact that there are no pre-recorded voices make it a little less user-friendly so we really didn't know what was wrong with this one at times. It also has a bit of a long recharge time when compared to the others so when it is done you have to wait a while to get cleaning again.
Pros
  • This one was excellent at cleaning up dog hair.
  • The low price is nice for the budget-conscious.
  • One-button operation makes it pretty user-friendly.
Cons
  • This one was unable to climb over some flooring transitions on its own.
  • The relatively long charging time cuts down on cleaning time somewhat.
  • The lack of a smartphone app option will be a drawback for some users.
$159Amazon
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Best Agility
One of the reasons to get a robot vacuum is that it takes one chore off your list but many of them get stuck so often that you could end up spending the same amount of time babysitting them as you would just vacuuming the flooring with your trusty upright or canister. The Eufy 11S is blissfully self-sufficient so you should be able to really leave it alone and expect it to keep on vacuuming.
This unit went up and over some of the most dramatic flooring transitions in the test home – from hardwood to tile, from hardwood to carpets and back again – without missing a minute. There were a handful that also did that but most of those could not go under as many things as the 11S. It was able to go over anything and under anything, even the couches that were close to the ground. The taller machines treated the low furniture like walls and turned away. The 11S also had very respectable numbers on the suction tests, clearing our test floor in our lab of Cheerios, kitty litter and dog hair. It did have quite a bit of dog hair stuck in its brushes after testing, so you end up cleaning the machine after it cleans the floors. One other drawback is a relatively long recharge time of five hours. Once it is out of juice it will be a while before it can clean again. This machine is pretty easy to control – you just use the button on top or the included remote. Some people might miss the option of smartphone control, though, which most of the best robot vacuums provide.
Pros
  • This machine sailed over even the tallest transitions.
  • The 11S is short so it can also go under low-slung furniture.
  • This one scored high on suction tests.
Cons
  • A lot of dog hair ended up stuck to the brushes instead of in the dustbin.
  • A relatively long recharge time will mean a bit of a wait between cleanings.
  • It lacks a smartphone app.
$219Amazon
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Fastest Recharge Time
Neato Botvac Connected D4 is great for larger homes because it requires very little downtime for recharging.
It can clean for over an hour before it needs more power. When it does, it recharges smartly. It can do a sort of mini-recharge that will help it finish a specific cleaning project before it needs a good long charge. Even the long charge is relatively short at less than two hours. That means it can get back to cleaning in less than half the time of many competing vacuums. This is also one of the highest-scoring for suction, so it also does a thorough job. One drawback with the D4 is a large initial investment but the fast recharge times will be worth it, especially if you need it to cover a lot of ground.
Pros
  • Recharges in less than half the time of most competing units.
Cons
  • A relatively large initial investment will not fit every budget.
US$499Amazon
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Best for Quiet Operation
None of the vacuums in our review were whisper quiet but the Ecovacs Deebot N79S was close. It generated just 63 decibels of sound, which is amazing compared to the loudest ones, which generated more than 75 dB.
Normal conversation generates about 60 decibels, which means you likely won't have to yell over the Deebot. This one would occasionally get stuck on some flooring transitions during testing but it was mostly self-sufficient. There were units as quiet as this one but Deebot has the distinction of being quiet and scoring over 90% on suction tests. That's a great combination.
Pros
  • Strong suction and quiet.
Cons
  • This vacuum got stuck on flooring transitions during some of our tests.
US$229-
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Why Trust Us?

We spoke to industry professionals about the latest trends with this type of product and about its evolution in an effort to narrow down our testing to only the most relevant products. Vice President of Marketing for Neato Robotics, Stephane Maes, said the early adopters of robotic vacuums may have given up on them too early due to relatively poor suction, reliability and other problems. Navigation and suction have improved so much that those people should come back and see what's new and how many problems have been resolved.

"Back when they first started they just really didn't clean that well," Maes said.

Things are much better now. Robotic vacuums are basically as strong an any vacuum on hardwood flooring, though they are generally weaker on carpeting still. Hard flooring is more popular in modern homes anyway, said Maes, so that makes robotic vacuums a better fit than ever.

There are so many choices in robotic vacuums and more are being introduced all the time. It can be overwhelming. That's why we put many of the most popular ones to the test.



We collected some of the best-selling robotic vacuums on the market and spent over 300 hours with them – in our laboratory and an actual home to see which ones could clean the best.

How We Tested 

For this round of testing, our laboratory staff built an elevated surface covered with hardwood flooring in a small room in order to observe vacuum behavior. Vacuuming patterns were filmed from above and staffers laid down three types of messes in order to gauge performance – the same amount of kitty litter, cereal and dog hair. They then weighed how much each vacuum cleaner was able to extract of each. The more they removed from the floors, the better the score.  

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.We also made note of which ones could go under couches with a heavy dust ruffle and under a low-slung wooden chest as well.

We also compared the specifications on each, including their run 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.

How Much Does a Robot Vacuum Cost?

You can expect to pay about $450 for a good robot vacuum cleaner, judging by the average price of the five bestselling units on Amazon, Best Buy and Home Depot. We tested products ranging from $150 to $500. You generally get what you pay for in this category, though our top pick was only the fourth most expensive. The most expensive ones were noticeably better in a few ways, though, in terms of suction and self-sufficiency. Generally speaking, you end up having to babysit the cheaper ones, and they don't pick up quite as much.

Charging Base Upgrades: Are They Worth It?

The robot vacuum marketplace is crowded with new products joining the selection regularly. Some of the latest models offer upgrades not only to the unit itself but to its charging station. The Shark ION robot vacuum, for instance, offers a separate handheld vacuum cleaner that stores and charges on the back of the vacuum cleaner base. You can use it for spots that the robotic vacuum cannot reach, including furniture and stairs. The version with the handheld vacuum costs about $500, and we are not convinced it's worth it for most people. The handheld vacuum was not too strong in our tests. The ION scored pretty high, though. Since that is the real reason you buy one of these units, we recommend the version without the handheld vacuum.

The latest Roomba from iRobot has a vacuum to empty the robot vacuum. That solves one of the annoying limitations of all robot vacuum cleaners – their tiny dustbins. The typical robot vacuum dustbin needs to be emptied constantly, and there is no graceful way to do it. The dirt and hair go everywhere, every time. The i7 essentially vacuums out its own dustbin, and you only have to worry about getting rid of the bag inside the base periodically. This Roomba costs about $1,000 so it is off the radar of a lot of shoppers, and out of our price range for this comparison, but it represents the type of upgrade it now takes to stand out in the crowded robot vacuum field.


What's the Best Robot Vacuum for Hardwood Floors?


Almost all robot vacuums do well on hardwood floors, including our best overall pick, the iRobot Roomba 690. However, in our testing the iLife V3s Pro was even a little better at cleaning hardwood flooring. Carpeting is where robot vacuums sometimes struggle, at least on higher-pile carpeting. They will do fine on low-pile carpeting – the kind you find in offices.

"The hard floor performance is usually going to be as good as an upright. The carpet performance usually is not quite as good as you see in an upright," said vice president of marketing for Neato Robotics, Stephane Maes.

That was definitely our experience in testing. The wood floors looked great post-test. A few of the vacuums got stuck on carpeting and were not able to clean it at all. Others took a few swipes at the carpeting but didn't get all the messes, or they just seemed to collect carpet fuzz more than anything else.

Keeping Robot Vacuums Out of Problem Areas

Robotic vacuum cleaners are meant to take one chore off of your list, but your home may not be prepared for a robot vacuum to operate smoothly. These machines can be tripped up by cords, clothing, flooring transitions and much more. Designers have tackled these problems in a number of different ways. Here are some options for keeping robot vacuums away from danger zones:

Virtual Wall
Some units come with a small device that shoots an infrared beam across a threshold to keep the robot vacuum away. Usually, they offer blockage from 4 to 7 feet.

Boundary Markers
These are magnetic strips that a robot vacuum's sensors read and know to avoid. These keep the robot vac from running into objects in your home.

Smart Mapping
Many modern models offer smartphone apps with mapping capabilities. You can use the app to tell the robot which rooms to clean and which to avoid.

No-Go Lines
Some Neato models take it one step further and let you section off not just rooms, but portions of rooms. It's like having a virtual boundary marker that sections off problem areas – a Christmas tree skirt or pet bowl areas. You just swipe off-limits areas in the virtual floor plan of your home on your phone's screen. Then the Botvac (the versions that integrate with that software) won't go there.


Care & Maintenance for Robot Vacuums

The best robot vacuum cleaners have a lot of moving parts, so they require some maintenance for optimal performance. Here are some tips on getting the most out of yours:

  • Do Not Overfill: This can be easy to do with tiny bins that are typical of these machines. Many of them do not have full-bin indicator lights, either. It is up to you to remember.
  • Clean the Brushes: Take time to pick the hair out of brushes and wash them washed thoroughly on a regular basis. They will struggle to spin and pick up more hair and debris if you skip cleaning them.
  • Clean the Wheels: Wheels also need regular cleanings. They won't turn or grip as well if they are coated in dirt.
  • Update Often: The best robot vacuum cleaners come with a phone app that will update itself on a regular basis, but it is still worth checking for updates from time to time to ensure optimal performance.