Robot vacuums have come a long way over the last 20 years. Modern robotic vacs generate stronger suction, have larger dust capacities, and use advanced algorithms to map out a room for cleaning.
There’s still a significant difference in quality between the top robot vacuums and the rest though.
To help you choose the right model, here are five features you should consider when buying a robot vacuum.
1. Look for advanced navigation technology with virtual walls
There’s nothing more frustrating than watching an expensive robot vacuum repeatedly bump into furniture or fail to navigate simple obstacles.
Many low-quality models also miss large areas of floor when cleaning. This is a common issue with robot vacuums that rely on basic infrared sensors, as these models clean randomly and only change direction when they hit a wall or other obstacle.
In contrast, the best models have advanced navigation systems that map out a room. These vacs are often equipped with laser sensors, visual cameras, and the ability to memorise your home. The Dyson 360 Heurist, for example, has 360-degree mapping technology that learns your home’s layout over time.
You should also check that the vacuum comes with virtual walls. These allow you to confine the robot vacuum to a specific area of the house, which is often essential if you have pets or just want the vacuum to focus on a specific area.
2. Don’t overlook dust capacity
The main advantage of a robot vacuum is automation. Unfortunately, many robot vacuums have tiny dust capacities, which means you need to manually empty the canister on a daily basis.
To avoid this issue, look for a model with a large dust capacity that won’t need to be emptied so frequently. Some modern robot vacuums can even deposit dust and dirt in a larger canister at their charging station, which greatly increases the maximum capacity.
3. Full width brush bars clean better
Cheaper robot vacuums tend to have small brush bars that don’t span the full width of the vacuum. This can make edge or corner cleaning impossible, as the round shape of the vacuum can’t access these locations.
For this reason, look for a model that has a full-width brush bar. This feature is typically only available from high end brands, such as iRobot or Samsung, but makes a big difference to how effective the vacuum is at cleaning.
The most advanced robot vacuums also include dirt sensors. This allows the vacuum to detect areas of the home that need extra cleaning.
4. Check if the vacuum has automatic charging
Robot vacuums have short battery run-times. It’s essential to choose a model that automatically returns for charging when necessary, then restarts cleaning in the appropriate place once charged.
The most basic models just stop cleaning wherever they run out of battery and wait for you to charge them – which ruins most of the benefits of an automated cleaner!
Along with automated recharging, you should also check how long it takes for the vacuum to recharge. This may not be an issue if you just want to let the vac do its job on “auto” mode, but charging time becomes an important consideration if you plan to use the “spot clean” function.
5. Have realistic expectations of a robot vacuum
Regardless of which robot vacuum you buy, it’s important to understand what robotic models can and can’t do.
As SpotlessVacuum.co.uk mentions in their robot vacuum guide, robot vacuums can’t (yet) match regular vacuums when it comes to raw cleaning power. This is particularly noticeable on carpets, where the lower suction and reduced brush bar power means robot vacs can’t clean as deeply.
They also can’t clean stairs, upholstery, car interiors, or other awkward locations – and many struggle with getting into corners. Robot vacuums are great for keeping your carpets clean from noticeable dirt and hair, but they certainly won’t replace a regular vacuum.
When buying a robot vacuum, it’s important to have realistic expectations. Robot vacuums can’t beat a standard vacuum for cleaning performance, but the best models are a handy tool for keeping your floors clean between regular vacuuming.
There are also a number of considerations when choosing. Make sure you look for a model with advanced navigation that “memorises” your home’s layout, otherwise the vacuum is likely to miss large patches of floor. You should also check the dust capacity, width of the brush bar, and charging system before buying a robot vac.