How to Decide If a Robot Vacuum Is Right for Your Home

Robot vacuums make cleaning more time-efficient than ever, but there are differences between the models. Here’s what you need to know before buying one.

As smart home technology becomes more commonplace, robot vacuums have become an increasingly popular choice. Robot vacuums are small devices designed to navigate and clean floors without human intervention. Gone are the days of knee and back pain from bending over for hours or having the loud grumble of the machine interrupt TV programs. Robots make cleaning a breeze. However, not all homes are ideal for a robot vacuum. Home layout, type of flooring, and your household composition can impact a robot vacuum’s performance. Here are important factors to consider when deciding if a robot vacuum is the right choice for your family. 

How Do Robot Vacuums Work?

A robotic vacuum, also known as a robo-vac, is a self-propelling cleaning device designed to clean floors without any human intervention. The small, circular device uses a rotating brush or air-driven turbine to vacuum dirt and debris from carpets, tile, or wood flooring. Robot vacuum cleaners use sensors and software to navigate around a room and avoid obstacles, while simultaneously cleaning the floor

The device typically operates on rechargeable batteries, though some models come with cords. Different models also come with various brush types for specific surfaces. Most modern models can map home layouts to allow for faster cleaning that avoids getting stuck under dressers or bulky furniture. Many new models automatically return to a dumping station to discard collected contents after the filter bag becomes full. The same goes for returning to a charging station when the batteries are running low. Robo-vacs can be programmed to clean on a particular schedule or controlled through a mobile app.

robot vacuum in living room


What Factors Should You Consider Before Purchasing a Robot Vacuum?

Before purchasing a robo-vac, there are several factors to consider. Home layout matters, as does your wish list of technology features. Robo-vacs are not one size fits all.

  • Home size and layout. Determine how big the cleaning space is to find the right robo-vac. Rooms with odd corners, raised doorways, and staircases can affect a robot vacuum’s efficiency. Although many robotic vacuum cleaners have obstacle sensors, not all have safety mechanisms to prevent dropping off an edge. Consider using baby gates to block stairways or entrances to rooms when the robo-vac might hit something fragile or fall from a dangerous height. A manual handheld vacuum may be helpful to reach corners and stairwells that a robot can’t safely maneuver around. 
  • Flooring type. Consider the type of flooring that makes up the majority of your home. Some default models are designed primarily for hard floors and don’t glide as easily on carpets. Others are wet and dry vacs, so they can deep clean high-traffic areas. Look for a robot vacuum that is best suited for the primary flooring type in your home, otherwise, you may need to buy multiple robo-vacs for each flooring zone. 
  • Pets or small kids. Robot vacuums have sensors to detect and avoid obstacles. Still, they may not always recognize small objects like toys or clumps of pet hair. These items could be sucked up, potentially damaging the device. Also, curious pets can chase or pounce on the moving machine, so it’s essential to supervise the vac on its first few spins. Ensure your children and pets have the temperament to let the robot do its work. If not, consider running it when they’re out of the house.
  • Battery life and charging time. Know your cleaning schedule and compare the robot’s run time. A longer battery life means the robot vacuum can clean a more extensive area before recharging. In comparison, a shorter battery life means more frequent recharging. Battery life usually varies from one model to another, so make sure the robo-vac you choose can loop around your whole home without recharging.
  • Cleaning capabilities and features. Suction power, filter efficiency, automatic dirt disposal, mapping functionality, and programmed schedules are all factors to consider for the ideal robotic vacuum cleaner. These different features can add real value for busy people. Figure out which features are most important for your home and hone in on the robo-vac that can get the job done with the most ease. 
  • Cost. As technology is constantly updated, new robot vacuum cleaner models are coming onto the market with greater features and higher prices. It is easy to spend a pretty penny on one model only to find that a newer one has come out around the same price point. Remember that even older, less expensive models have some of the key features your home needs, especially if your layout and flooring are standard. Also, consider the cost and frequency of replacing filters–these items are essential to the robo-vacs’ success.

Pros of Robot Vacuums

Robot vacuums are designed to improve cleaning efficiency and save time. Here are some other hidden pros of robo-vacs.

  • They save cleaning time. Robo-vacs are a convenient option for busy people who don’t have time to clean their floors regularly and thoroughly. Because the device can be programmed on a regular schedule, this frees up time for other tasks.
  • They are efficient. Robo-vacs are designed to clean under furniture and other hard-to-reach areas that a traditional vacuum cleaner may not be able to reach. The maneuverability of these small devices is particularly helpful.
  • They tend to be more energy efficient. Because of their small size, robo-vacs use less power than traditional vacuum cleaners. 
  • They don’t hurt your back. Frequent bending and kneeling to vacuum around furniture and under couches can put a strain on your back and knees. Robo-vacs do a lot of this heavy lifting for you. 

Cons of Robot Vacuums

  • They can be quite noisy. Though low-noise motor technologies are improving, robotic vacuum cleaners can still make a lot of noise. When they bump into furniture or become clogged, they can be just as loud as a traditional vacuum. If your is particularly disruptive, try running it during the day when no one is home.
  • They are expensive. The technology involved in operating these autonomous cleaners means they are much more costly than regular vacuum cleaners. A robotic vacuum cleaner can range from $200-$1000, and replacement filters can range from $25-$100 each.
  • Sometimes they require supervision. While technology has come a long way, robo-vacs still require some human assistance. They occasionally get stuck under couches, dressers, and curios. They can also snag on cloth objects or hair clumps. They also might miss tight corners and leave dust behind on textured tile floors. Robo-vacs are a huge help, but they’re not a cure-all. After all, they'll never reach your curtains or ceiling fan blades, like a traditional vacuum can. So, adult supervision and a periodic, manual deep clean are still needed. 
Was this page helpful?
Related Articles