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Best Robot Vacuums

By: Kelly Burgess on March 28, 2018

Editor's note:
For this update, the very affordable iLife A4S is our pick for a basic robot vac; two Roomba's, the 690 and 960, are Wi-Fi connected and better for larger homes. Whatever your vacuuming needs or budget, though, we found a great robot vac that will save you time and effort and leave you with very clean floors.

iLife A4S Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Height - 3" Run time - 1.5 hrs

Basic robot vacuum

If you want to see if a robot vacuum is a good fit for you (or your home) we recommend starting with the iLife A4S. In testing, it's as good at cleaning as much pricier robot vacs, on both carpet and hard floors. Although it is not Wi-Fi enabled, it does include a remote that allows you to schedule seven days' worth of cleaning. The iLife A4S is also only 3 inches tall, making it less likely to get hung up on, or under, furniture.

Buy for $199.99
iRobot Roomba 690 Review
No Badge
Specs that Matter Height - 3.6" Run time - 1 hr

Best Wi-Fi enabled robot vacuum

iRobot's Roomba 690 is a favorite of expert testers for its excellent cleaning performance on both carpet and hard floors -- and for its great value compared to similarly-featured robot vacuums. Dirt sensors and navigation sensors help the 690 clean more thoroughly and efficiently, and Wi-Fi connectivity means you can control it from your phone using the iRobot HOME app, from your Google Assistant, or with Alexa. This robot vac is very durable and replacement parts are readily available. It includes one dual-mode virtual wall.

Buy for $318.74
iRobot Roomba 960 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Height - 3.6" Run time - 75 mins

Multi-room robot vacuum

iRobot's Roomba 960 is a fully-featured, top-performing robotic vacuum, that's a great choice for larger homes or more challenging layouts. Its mapping technology means it's very efficient and it will keep cleaning until the entire job is done, recharging itself along the way if necessary. And your floors will be very clean when it's done. This robot vac earns top scores in expert testing for its performance on carpet and hardwood. The smartphone app is well-reviewed and it's also compatible with Google Home and Alexa.

Buy for $698.40

Robot vacuums are more affordable than ever before

Robot vacuum cleaners are hands-free, battery-powered gadgets that seek out and suck up dirt, debris and dust from carpeting and hard floors. (And a mopping robot can put the finish on your floor care.) Robot vacs make daily vacuuming very convenient; even the cheapest robot vacuums have scheduling capabilities, while higher-end models allow you to control the vacuum from your smart phone or other connected device.

But we'll get to those Wi-Fi connected wonders in a bit. We'd like to start this report with a recommendation for a solid, basic, very affordable robot vac, the iLife A4S (Est. $200). It's a good choice for anyone who just wants to see if a robot vacuum will work for them before forking over too much cash -- or who just want a basic hands-free vacuum to save them some time and effort. The iLife is the highest-rated basic robot vac we saw, both in testing and in owners' opinions. It's a top budget pick at both Reviewed and PCMag, coming in second in testing at both places, just behind the Eufy RoboVac 11, which we discuss below.

Usually found for less than $200, you can't go wrong with the iLife A4S. Jonathan Chan at Reviewed gives it an overall score of 8.9 with both Editors' Choice and Best of Year awards. It excelled in their robot vacuum obstacle course, picking up an impressive 12.9 grams of dirt. At PCMag it earns four circles and an overall score of Excellent. There, testers praise its compact size that make it "ideal for low-clearance furniture." In fact, they say its small size means it's more gentle on furniture than other robot vacs that clean randomly and can ding walls and furniture.

Testers did run into a couple of glitches, though. The iLife A4S sometimes struggled to get back to its dock, especially when it was in a room with a lot of obstacles. This is not unusual with robot vacuums that lack more sophisticated mapping abilities, but it does mean that you may come home to a vacuum that died in some random area of your home, such as under a bed. In addition, like all robot vacuums that use infrared sensors, it can struggle with dark-colored rugs, mistakenly identifying them as drop-offs. It also takes a long time to complete its cleaning chores, but, fortunately, has a long, 90-minute run time, too.

Some owners note that they've also experienced those glitches, although it doesn't seem to bother them very much, with thousands of reviewers making the iLife A4S one of the highest rated robot vacuums on Amazon. Pet owners and allergy sufferers are particularly pleased, saying the iLife A4S really helps keep their floors clear of pet hair, and they love the HEPA filter. We did spot a few complaints that the cleaning action is a bit too random, and that the iLife misses spots, but not very many. There are also a few durability complaints, but iLife's customer service is reported as responsive and helpful. The A4S is covered by a one-year warranty.

We have two runners up in this category, but they require a bit of explanation. The Eufy RoboVac 11 (Est. $250) is by far the most-recommended basic robot vacuum by experts, but there's a caveat -- we think it's going to be discontinued and replaced by the Eufy RoboVac 11+ (Est. $230). We say we "think" because it's not really clear what's going on with these two vacuums. Some sites are reporting that the 11+ is "replacing" the 11, but when we called Eufy to verify they waffled a bit, leaving it unclear as to whether or not they are, indeed, going to continue manufacturing both robot vacs. Our impression is that they probably are not.

In addition, while the RoboVac 11 gets high praise from every expert site that tests it (including Reviewed, Consumer Reports, PCMag, Life Hacker and Tom's Guide), only the first generation of the RoboVac 11+ has been tested, and only by one site, Wired, which said it simply did not do a good job at cleaning. Since then, the second generation of the RoboVac 11+ has been released with upgraded suction that customer service assured us makes it as good of a cleaner as the original RoboVac 11, but there's no testing as yet to back that up.

Whichever you buy, you should be happy. In testing, the Eufy RoboVac 11 (and, presumably, the second generation RoboVac 11+ as well) does a good job with helping to keep the floor clean between deeper vacuuming sessions -- however, it's not as good of a cleaner as pricier robot vacs, so it probably can't replace your full-sized vacuum the way many of those can. Testers find that it does a good job picking up dirt and grime, and find that it's easy to use as well. The remote comes in for a lot of praise, and the vacuum's low profile means it doesn't get stuck as often as taller robot vacuums.

Perhaps because it doesn't have a lot of high-tech features to drain battery life, the Eufy RoboVac 11 has a generous runtime considering its price -- 1.5 hours. However, both experts and owners (and Eufy itself) agree that this vacuum is best for low-pile carpet and hardwood floors -- if you have high-pile carpet, you need to look elsewhere.

These Wi-Fi connected robot vacs are good values

There are a ton of super pricey, super fancy robot vacuums out there now, and if you can afford one we think you should get one. However, as much as we love technology (and vacuums!), we find that shelling out $500 or more for a vacuum is just a hard sell. The good news is that the iRobot Roomba 690 (Est. $375) offers the technology upgrades that make a robot vacuum very convenient, without the stratospheric price point. Most important, it does a good job at cleaning, as expert testing at Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, Wired and PCMag all discover.

The Roomba 690 is the runner up pick at Wirecutter, which notes its durability and the fact that you can replace almost any part -- making it a robot vac for the long haul. At Consumer Reports the Roomba 690 is both Recommended and a Best Buy, with Excellent scores for cleaning both carpet and hard floors, as well as for navigation and noise. Ease of use earns only a Good score, with editors noting that it has no remote and you have to manually clean the cat hair from the brush (which they also note as an issue with every robotic vacuum they review, so don't specifically hold that against the 690).

PCMag gives the iRobot Roomba 690 four circles and a score of Excellent after their testing, calling out its "powerful suction." They also give an approving nod to iRobot's high-end robot vacs, but say the Roomba 690 "offers a lot of value for about half the price." Wired agrees, giving the Roomba 690 an 8 out of 10. Tester Adrienne So is very impressed with the amount of dirt the Roomba picked up, especially the Dirt Detect feature that gives an extra deep clean to areas where it detects more debris.

Like the iLife, the Roomba 690 occasionally struggles to find its dock when it's done cleaning, especially if it finishes in a remote room far from its dock -- a not unusual occurrence with non-mapping robot vacuums. It also can become confused by dark-colored rugs, perceiving them as drop-offs and avoiding them.

Still, this is a popular, entry level, Wi-Fi enabled robot vacuum, and owners are pretty happy, giving the iRobot Roomba 690 above-average ratings in thousands of reviews. Almost all say that it cleans very well and is easy to set up and use. Pet owners say it wrangles pet hair very well, and even puts a shine on their wood floors. A few do note that it's noisy, but, as we see with all products that make any noise at all, that's highly subjective.

The Roomba 690 comes with a dual-mode virtual wall; you can use it to emit a long, 10 foot barrier to keep the robot vac out of specific areas or rooms, or to create a circular barrier to protect, for example, pet bowls. In addition to being able to control the Roomba 690 via the well-reviewed iRobot Home app, you can control it with your Google or Alexa virtual assistants. The Roomba 690 is covered by a one-year warranty and iRobot's customer service gets very good reviews.

While the list price of the Roomba 690 is $375, it's often found on sale for around $300. If your budget is a bit tighter you might want to consider the Ecovacs Deebot N79 (Est. $230). It's the top pick at Wirecutter, where testers praise its nimble, persistent style, saying it rarely gets stuck, thanks, in part, to its ability to try to disentangle itself from things like rug fringe. They also found it very easy to use and say the app is simple to set up. You can sync it with your smart phone and control it remotely. The Deebot N79 is not perfect, of course, and Wirecutter does note that it's best for smaller homes with low-pile carpet and without long-haired pets.

Reviewed is also a fan of the Ecovacs Deebot N79, giving it a score of 7.7 and an Editors' Choice award. Tester Jonathan Chan finds pretty much the same positives and negatives as Wirecutter does -- it's a good cleaner and doesn't get stuck easily, but takes a long time to clean, which shouldn't be a problem since it has a 100 minute run time. It does not include any virtual walls, so you can't contain its movements as you can with the Roomba 690.

TechGearLab is not as impressed with the Ecovacs Deebot N79. They give it 3 stars out of 5, saying, "It does a barely acceptable job at cleaning hard floors and definitely falls flat when it comes to cleaning carpet or picking up pet hair, but it can be an alright choice in certain circumstances." Those circumstances are a small house with mostly hard floors, something both Reviewed and Wirecutter also conclude.

Owners are more in tune with Wirecutter and Reviewed's opinions, making the Ecovacs Deebot N79 one of the highest-rated robot vacuums on Amazon. And plenty who have multiple pets say they use it daily and it works great. Some even run it twice a day. We did see the odd complaint about durability issues, and there is no option to buy individual replacement parts like there is with the Roomba 690 (you have to buy all the brushes as a kit), but most don't care. There are also quite a few comments about how quiet the Deebot is compared to Roombas that users have owned in the past.

Robot vacuums for larger homes

Most of the robot vacuums we've recommended so far, while very affordable, are also best for smaller homes, fewer pets, and less challenging terrain. If you have a larger home, lots of obstacles, many rooms, or lots of pets and foot traffic, you're gonna need a bigger bot.

The best in this category, expert testers say, is the iRobot Roomba 960 (Est. $700). This robot vacuum is Wi-Fi enabled, of course, which means you can control it from your smart phone. This updated version is also compatible with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The 960 has mapping technology, which gives it the ability to clean multiple rooms without missing anything or getting lost or confused. Best of all, if the job's not done, the 960 returns to its docking station, recharges, and then finishes vacuuming. Then it returns to the docking station to recharge until it's needed again.

Experts are impressed with the performance of the Roomba 960 At Consumer Reports it earns a Recommended nod and scores of Very Good for carpets, Excellent for bare floors, navigation and noise; although just a Good score for ease of use. The 960 is the upgrade pick at Wirecutter, where testers say, "The Roomba 960 has the best of what bots can offer: better carpet cleaning, smarter navigation for larger spaces, and smartphone control." They particularly note its ability to dig pet hair out of carpets.

Owners like this Roomba a lot too. They praise its great navigational abilities, superior cleaning performance and, although some say there is a learning curve, it's mostly intuitive controls. We did see a few complaints, of course; some say they had trouble syncing it, others say it seems to just move around randomly, but all of these quibbles are the minority opinion. The only consistent complaint we did note was that it's loud, but most people seem to run it when they're not home, so that wouldn't be a problem in those cases.

Out of the box the Roomba 960 includes the vacuum with charging station, an extra filter and side brush, and a dual mode virtual wall (for blocking off areas you don't want the vacuum to go or for more specifically guiding its route). It takes about two hours for a full charge and will run for about 75 minutes. It's 3.6-inches tall.

The only other robot vac we spotted in this category that's liked by both experts and owners is the iRobot Roomba 980 (Est. $900). It's an upgrade over the 960 with longer battery life, added sensors, and two included virtual walls that give you more control over the navigational process. At Reviewed, tester Jonathan Chan found that it picked up slightly less debris than more aggressive models, however, that makes it a better choice for those who want their robot vac to be a bit gentler on their furniture and walls. Overall, he makes it the top-rated robot vacuum in their roundup, with a perfect 10 score and both Editors' Choice and Best of Year awards.

At Consumer Reports, while the Roomba 980 is not a recommended model, it does earn scores of Excellent for bare floors and Very Good for carpet. It also earns an Excellent for navigation, the area where this robot really shines. Top Ten Reviews makes the Roomba 980 their number three pick, dubbing it the one with the Best Agility. Wired, however, makes the 980 their top pick, calling it out for its superior ability to dig pet hair out of carpet. Both Life Hacker and TechGearLab also make the Roomba 980 runners up, again, with both praising it's navigational abilities in more challenging -- or larger -- homes.

Like its less expensive sibling, the Roomba 960, the Roomba 980 has an app that earns unanimous praise from experts for its simple interface and convenience. Owners agree, saying it's very easy to sync; although there are a few outliers who couldn't get it to work, as there always are. Most also say it does an amazing job of cleaning, and people with larger homes who upgraded to this Roomba from an earlier model say the difference in performance is amazing.

As with all of the robots in this report, you can schedule it to clean whenever you want it to. In addition to the virtual lighthouse walls, it includes an extra filter and side brush. It's 3.6 inches tall with a run time of about two hours on a two-hour charge.

Another robot vacuum that gets great feedback from experts, but slightly less love from owners is the Neato Botvac Connected (Est. $600). While expert testing at most of these sites is a couple of years old (the Neato Botvac Connected was released in late 2015 and most of the expert testing was done in 2016), it's still valid. However, since most these reviews were done the Botvac Connected has added compatibility with Amazon Alexa and Google Home as well as with the Apple Watch and some Android Wear Smartwatches. Unlike the virtual walls most robot vacs use, the Neato Botvac has boundary strips that you lay on the ground. It includes one, but others can be purchased separately.

Ry Crist at CNET gives the Neato Botvac Connected 4.5 stars, saying it's "better at cleaning floors than any other robot vacuum on the market," and comparing it favorably for both performance and connectibility to the more expensive Roomba 980. At Reviewed.com it earns an overall score of 9.4 and Editors' Choice and Best of Year honors, with Chan saying it's currently the "best connected robot vacuum you can get." In testing there it was a thorough cleaner but gentle on furniture, although, as with the 900 series Roombas that means it can miss a few spots, too. Still, the Neato has some other useful features, including an exhaust that helps blow dust out of corners and off of things like chair legs and risers, so the robot can better access that debris, most robots just rely on spinning brushes for those nooks and crannies.

The Neato's large, rugged wheels enabled it to do better in testing than the 980 in transitioning from flooring to high pile carpet -- something many robot vacs struggle with. That resulted in it picking up more debris overall that the iRobots did in testing. However, those big wheels also add height to the Neato, it's 3.9 inches to the 980's 3.6 inches, which makes it more apt to get stuck under furniture. And, indeed, that's what keeps the Neato from earning a recommendation at Wirecutter – it got stuck more frequently than the other robots they tested. That's what testers at PCMag found as well, although they end up giving the Neato four circles out of five and an overall rating of Excellent for its good cleaning performance.

The one more recent test we found of the Neato Botvac Connected, from late 2017, was at Tom's Guide, where it earns at 8 out of 10. Again, tester Florence Ion notes an annoying tendency to get stuck under furniture (which means it also can't clean under furniture, something many people specifically buy a robot vacuum for). In general, though she says it does a great job not only of cleaning -- especially kitty litter, which is a challenge for all vacuums -- but also of mapping to clean the entire home more efficiently. She, like most reviewers, also praises its "D" shape which most agree is more efficient than the more traditional round robot vacuums.

As we noted, though, owners are a bit less enamored of the Neato Botvac Connected and most of those complaints can be traced directly to the same downside that the experts found: it's simply too tall to get underneath a lot of furniture. Many owners, expecting a "set-and-forget" vacuuming experience, got fed up with coming home to the Neato stuck under a piece of low-hanging furniture. And many others are disappointed that they still have to haul out their full-sized vacuum to clean under their beds. We also saw complaints of difficulty setting up the app, although we see that with all robot vacs. Still, plenty of others who don't have those issues love the Neato Botvac and say it does a great job.

Other vacuums you might need for your home

We love our robot vacuum (we have an old, basic Roomba that's still doing a great job), but we find that we still need some occasional assistance with other vacuuming tasks. If you do too, be sure to check out our separate reports on upright vacuums and canister vacuums that can deep clean carpets and also have useful attachments for cleaning above your head. Our stick vacuums report not only names a few stick vacs that can replace your upright, there are also a few good, inexpensive choices for quick touch ups -- and many convert to a handheld as well. However, if you just need a handheld vacuum for dust busting spot messes, we cover those too.

Last, but not least, we're madly in love with our iRobot Braava 380t (Est. $300) mopping robot. It's a hard-working lady who has saved us many hours of slaving away over a wet mop. Check out how the whole story of how we chose it in this blog post.

Expert & User Review Sources

As the robot vacuum market has grown, so has the sheer number of robot vacs that are available, as well as sites that review them. This includes the usual roundup of vacuum reviewers, like Consumer Reports (which requires a subscription), Reviewed, Wirecutter and Top Ten Reviews. These high-tech machines have also attracted the attention of those sites that don't usually review floor care products, such as PCMag, CNET, Wired, TechGearLab, Tom's Guide and Life Hacker. We used those expert insights, as well as hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of owner reviews from retail sites such as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com and Target.com to help us find the best robot vacuums for any home or budget.

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