Whether you love having the latest tech, hate cleaning or you’re not as mobile as you once were, robot vacuum cleaners are a fun way to get a rather boring household chore done. And they certainly look impressive but with the most expensive one we tested costing eight hundred quid, it’s worth knowing exactly what you’re getting for your money before you invest. They don’t claim to be as good as your standard household vacuum cleaner when it comes to suction and dust capacity, so if that’s all you care about it may be better to buy a good upright vacuum cleaner. But they are a convenient way of keeping your floors looking spick and span with minimal effort. Most come with apps too, so you can control them outside the home.
Different robot vacs have different approaches to cleaning; some take a methodical approach while others may look like they’re moving randomly around your home but are still mapping out the room with in-built cameras or other smart sensor technology – although it can be a little frustrating to watch. Some come with remote controls, so you can direct them to the exact spot you want them to clean from the comfort of the sofa, and generally the more expensive they are, the more cleaning modes they have. The priciest robots have up to six modes, including auto, where you can programme it to move around a space until it runs out of battery; turbo, which is the most powerful mode and picks up the most dirt and dust; and spot cleaning, where you can get it to focus on a particular area.
Each robot vacuum cleaner will also come with an array of accessories. A virtual wall is a small device that you can place around the home and use to block off areas you don’t want to be cleaned, while they also come with different types of cleaning brushes. Sweeper brushes stick out from the side and sweep in dust and dirt to be sucked up, whereas brush bars live underneath and work to suck up dirt from floor surfaces. So before you buy, think about what your priorities are – do you want good suction, have lots of tight spots around your home that need cleaning, or obstacles that will need avoiding? Then you can pick the best one for you and have fun watching it clean your home, or have it work its magic while you’re at work.
We tried and tested a range of robot vacs in our test room, with obstacles like chairs, tables and rugs to content with. We also covered the carpet with dust, fluff and dirt to find out just how much mess each one could vacuum, while also testing different cleaning modes and accessories. Here are the ones we think are worth investing in.
1. Dyson 360 Eye: £800, Currys
You know with Dyson you’re going to get something impressive, and this small robot vac didn’t disappoint. Although this one has the largest price tag, it’s the smallest and most compact (roughly the size of a Quality Street tin), taking up minimal space in the cupboard or at its charging dock. It’s simple to use – you leave it to charge and then press the (only) button to get it going. It works its way methodically around your home and if it gets stuck on rugs or shoes, it turns off, navigates its way back to safety and starts again. It maintains Dyson’s high suction power, although still not as good as a standard vacuum cleaner, and certainly sucked up the most dirt out of all the robots tested. There’s an app too, so you can schedule when you want your robot to start cleaning and the instruction manual is clear to follow (unlike others we read).
2. Samsung VR9300K Connected Robot Vacuum, 42.9W: £800, Very
This robo vac is the largest of the bunch and looks like something you’ve probably seen avoiding Sir Killalot on Robot Wars. But it does a good job of sucking up dust and fluff from carpet, and so it should for the price. It’s robust, so will bounce off walls with no damage done to itself (or the wall) and is good at navigating around furniture. There are an impressive six cleaning modes to pick from – auto, manual, spot, point cleaning, turbo and dust sensor – and a remote so you can steer it to a particularly dirty spot. There’s an app too, so you can control it even when you’re not in your home. This robot is worth considering, although it doesn’t quite match the Dyson 360 Eye on suction.
3. AirCraft Vacuums Pilot Max Robotic Vacuum Cleaner: £329, Amazon
We think this one wins when it comes to looks. The sleek and compact white design would fit perfectly in modern homes and shouldn’t take up a lot of space either. It comes with sweeping brushes that stick out the side to sweep in and suck up dirt in corners, which is fairly effective. And it’s very quiet, so won’t disturb you if you’re watching TV. It also comes with a virtual wall, so you can block off areas you don’t want cleaning and a remote control. Our only annoyance was having to charge and put the battery pack in ourselves, which we found a little bit fiddly. For the price though, it does a decent job of vacuuming and is worth considering.
4. Neato Botvac Connected: £575, Amazon
This is the most advanced machine from the robot vacuum specialist, utilising the same navigation technology Google puts into its self-driving cars. It uses lasers to scan the room it’s cleaning, noting any obstacles and then returning to the same spot from which it started, which can be useful for storage. It has good suction, the power of which can be increased by switching on the turbo mode (this increases the machine’s speed and noise, too). It didn’t get stuck on the large rug in the middle of our testing room, which was a problem for some. The app, available for iOS and Android devices, means you control the vacuum’s actions from wherever you are, whether that be the office or the supermarket.
5. iRobot Roomba 980: £800, John Lewis
iRobot’s Roomba is probably the best known name in the robot vacuum cleaner market, and this is the best model in the range (with a price to reflect it, £500 more expensive than the entry level Roomba). It methodically navigates multiple rooms, increasing or decreasing suction power depending on which surface it’s cleaning – we found it picked up large pieces of fluff as easily as it did embedded dust. If the machine runs out of battery mid-clean, it will return to the docking station and then complete the cycle. And if you want to avoid a certain room or area, the two virtual walls form an effective barrier. Download the app to set up cleaning schedules on your phone, and keep an eye on the progress of the Roomba when you’re not around.
6. Vileda Cleaning Robot: £80, Amazon
This is the cheapest machine we tested by some way, which naturally means it isn’t as jam-packed with features as its pricier counterparts. But that simplicity does sometimes often work in its favour. Three buttons on the top of the machine – S, M and L – correspond to whether you want it to clean a small, medium or large room, so you don’t have to worry about too much programming. It will do well on hard floors and short-pile carpet, but we found it struggled to manoeuvre over a large rug, left behind some embedded dust and was among the noisiest. For the price, however, this is a good entry-level machine.
7. Hoover Robo.com³: £250, Hoover
Hoover knows a thing or two about vacuum cleaners, and it has transferred that knowledge into the robotic world. This machine is small and quiet, but still manages to provide a great clean thanks to its effective sweeper brushes and powerful suction, picking up embedded dust as well as larger items. The cleaning pattern is comprehensive, but you can steer the machine to a particular area using arrow buttons on the accompanying remote. The app, available for iOS on Android, also allows you to control the machine, as well as set up cleaning schedules. An effective, well-priced option.
The Verdict: Robot vacuum cleaners
For the best suction power, ease of use and compact size, the Dyson 360 Eye is unbeatable. If that’s a little out of your price range though, the Hoover Robo.com³ is a safe option, cleaning up dust and dirt while also effectively tackling tricky corners.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing
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