Best Roombas of 2019

A Roomba allows you to come home to clean floors without spending your free time dusting and vacuuming. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best Roomba for your specific needs.

Hands-Off Vacuuming: Have We Got a Roomba for You

Why spend your free time cleaning your floors when you can program a robot to do it for you? That's what the folks at iRobot asked themselves as they pondered the concept of the first domestic robotic vacuum cleaner back in the early 2000s.

Today, consumers can choose from a number of robotic vacuum products, or Roombas, from iRobot's successful line.

Set your Roomba in the morning, and it'll spend the day sucking up pet hair, dust, crumbs, and other grime off your floors. You'll arrive home that evening to a clean, nearly dust-free house.

If you're considering a Roomba, you've come to the right place. At BestReviews, we studied the company and its various offerings, from the high-tech 900 Roomba series down to the slightly less high-tech (but still amazing) 600 Roomba series.

In order to bring you product recommendations and reviews that are unbiased, we never accept free products from manufacturers. We base our shopping guides on our own research findings, which include feedback from actual owners.

So, if you're thinking about buying a Roomba, read on. We'll tell you how these robotic vacuums clean up in terms of features, price, and overall value.

iRobot doesn't just design Roomba vacuums. The company's PackBot robots assist the military and other organizations in identifying and disposing bombs and other explosives, as well as assessing unstable or dangerous areas. PackBot robots were used to search the debris of the World Trade Center after the 9/11 attacks. They also assessed the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

What Is a Roomba?

While numerous videos on YouTube might have you thinking otherwise, Roombas aren't just for driving cats around the kitchen.

These nifty devices handle everyday vacuuming so you don't have to. First introduced in 2002, there are several models of the Roomba Vacuuming Robot available today, but they all share some basic similarities.

● Roombas are shaped like an oversized hockey puck; all models are roughly 14 inches across and 3.5 inches high.
● They traverse your hard or carpeted flooring using spinning brushes or brushless debris extractors along with vacuum power to pick up grime.
● They have a side brush to gather dirt from wall edges and the bottoms of large furniture pieces.
● They collect dirt in a small bin rather than a bag.
● They have two wheels that work independently, allowing the Roomba to navigate sharp turns.
● They use infrared to determine the size of your room, obstacles in their path, and the presence of walls and large furniture.
● They have "cliff detection" sensors to prevent the device from falling down stairs.
● They have sensors that detect especially dirty areas, and they will spend more time cleaning those areas.
● They can be set to spot-clean a specific section of your carpet or hard flooring.
● They rely on a combination of preset programming, your input, and A.I. to determine their course around the room.
● They all include some type of electronic barrier, allowing you to establish off-limits rooms or other areas if you so desire.
● They are able to dodge obstacles in a room with the help of numerous sensors.
● They return to a docking station when it's time to recharge. All Roombas come with a rechargeable battery pack.

For an elderly or mobility-impaired person, a Roomba is one way to greatly simplify routine housework.

Why Choose the Roomba Brand?

Once the only robotic vacuum cleaner available, Roomba now faces competition from several other brands, including Neato, Samsung, Dyson, and Bissell. Each brand offers its strengths, but on the whole, we find iRobot's Roomba to be a compelling product line.

● iRobot offers different models to handle various needs, so you can match the right Roomba to your floor type.
● Roomba's low profile allows it to slip underneath furniture more easily than many of its competitors.
● High-end Roombas have more battery power than most of the competition, and they excel at finding their way back to the docking station when it's time to recharge.

Plus, iRobot continually improves their technology, leaving competitors rushing to keep up. Perhaps that's why iRobot commands more than 60 percent of the global market for robotic vacuums.

Colin Angle, one of the co-founders of iRobot, calls the Roomba "the world's first practical home robot."

What to Consider When Choosing a Robotic Vacuum

When faced with a purchasing decision, it helps to ask yourself a few questions about your home and situation. Your answers can help you narrow down which robotic vacuum cleaner would best suit your needs.

How big are your rooms?
Some robotic vacuum cleaners can handle larger spaces than others.

What type of flooring do you have?
Some robotic vacuum cleaners are specifically designed to tackle carpet. Others are geared toward hard flooring, and others can handle both.

Do you have pets?
Pet hair is one of the more common reasons why people choose to buy a robotic vacuum cleaner in the first place. But be aware that excessive hair could actually clog your vacuum or get tangled in its brushes.

Do you or your housemates suffer from allergies?
Most robotic vacuums today have HEPA filters that trap even the tiniest of allergens, but some older and lower-end models might not have this feature.

What's your budget?
Regardless of brand, robotic vacuums cost a handsome penny. If money is an issue, consider an older or lower-end model, or wait for a sale.

While Roombas are excellent at cleaning hard flooring and low- and medium-pile carpet, they are not suitable for shag and deep-pile carpeting. Likewise, area rugs with tassels or fringe are unsuitable for Roomba cleaning.

Product to Consider: iRobot Roomba 980

900-series Roombas have just about every bell, whistle, and extra you could desire in a robotic vacuum cleaner. Along with all the standard Roomba features, the 980 boasts the newest version of iRobot technology, iAdapt 2.0, which takes the place of the first-generation iAdapt technology found in all older Roomba series. If you're a Roomba 980 owner, you still get the same great cleaning results you'd expect from a Roomba with some seriously awesome new features as well.

The Roomba 980 easily navigates an entire level of your home, keeping track of where it's been and where it's going. And because 900-series Roombas add visual localization cameras to the existing optical and acoustical sensors, the Roomba 980 actually "sees" where it needs to go and where the floor is dirtiest. The device includes two "Virtual Wall" barriers which keep your Roomba from traveling to areas you'd rather it not venture.

The Roomba 980's Carpet Boost mode switches on whenever the vacuum senses that it's on carpet rather than hard flooring. Carpet Boost provides up to 10 times the vacuum power of older Roombas, so dirt, pet hair, crumbs, and other carpet nasties don't stand a chance of remaining on your floor. The Roomba 980's edge-cleaning technology is also improved, so the vacuum won't miss dust along wall or furniture edges.

One of the niftiest new features of the Roomba 980 is its ability to remember where it left off if it needs to cut a cleaning session short due to drained batteries. It will return to its docking base, recharge, and then head back to its previous location to finish vacuuming. And if you want to schedule a cleaning session but aren't home, no problem. Just use the handy iRobot app on your smartphone to program your Roomba 980 remotely.

Some other cool Roomba 980 features include:

● A "full bin" indicator so you'll know when it needs to be emptied
● HEPA filter
● AeroForce vacuuming technology
● Remote control via the iRobot app
● Wi-Fi connectivity
● Lithium-ion battery
● Brushless "debris extractors" that won't clog or tangle with hair
● Easy scheduling ability
● Compatibility with Amazon Alexa, including Amazon Echo and Echo Dot
● Up to 120 minutes of runtime per charge (the longest of any Roomba)

Product to Consider: iRobot Roomba 650

If you're looking for a lower-priced Roomba, this is the one to consider. Although the Roomba 650 is an older model with correspondingly older technology, it's great for basic vacuuming tasks and may be all you need for a small apartment.

Unlike newer Roombas, the Roomba 650 does not have a HEPA filter, which means it's less effective at containing allergens and other small particles. It also has less suction power than the 980 and 960 models, and it lacks the Carpet Boost feature—although it still does a good job on carpet and an excellent job on hard floors.

The Roomba 650 has spinning brushes, which could become a problem if you have a pet that sheds heavily. The brushes can become entangled with hair, meaning you'd have to spend time picking mats from your vacuum.

Still, the 650 includes all of the basic Roomba features, and it's certainly a lot more fun than doing the daily vacuuming yourself. You can program up to seven scheduled runs per week, and the Roomba 650 comes with one Virtual Wall to keep it away from a room where you'd rather it not go.

You can expect around 60 minutes of runtime before your Roomba 650 needs a battery recharge.

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The 900 Roomba Series Is the Most Advanced on the Market

Older Roombas, including the Roomba 650, follow a random approach to vacuuming that includes turning spirals and bouncing off walls. The 900 Roomba series takes a far more methodical approach to vacuuming, including the use of cameras to establish a straight-line cleaning pattern.

All Roomba models have a three-stage cleaning system that agitates carpet to loosen dirt, extracts grime from the floor, and then sucks it into the vacuum's dirt bin.

Product to Consider: iRobot Roomba 960

iRobot introduced the Roomba 960 after the Roomba 980, wanting to offer a 900-series robotic vacuum with the latest technology at a lower price. The Roomba 960 has all of the basic Roomba features, along with the latest-and-greatest technology that makes the Roomba 980 so impressive:

● iAdapt 2.0 technology
● AeroForce vacuuming technology
● Multi-room navigation
● Visual localization camera
● HEPA filter
● Auto-resume if the vacuum needs to recharge during a scheduled cleaning
● Wi-Fi compatibility
● Remote control via the iRobot app
● Lithium-ion battery
● Brushless debris extractors instead of rotating brushes
● "Full bin" indicator
● Compatibility with Amazon Alexa, including Amazon Echo and Echo Dot

Several differences other than price separate the Roomba 960 from the Roomba 980:

● The Roomba 960 does not have the Carpet Boost feature.
● The Roomba 960 runs for up to 75 minutes per battery charge, whereas the Roomba 980 runs for up to 120 minutes.
● The Roomba 960 comes with one Virtual Wall instead of two.

If you have mostly hard flooring, the Roomba 960 is an excellent choice. You save quite a bit of money while benefiting from the same superior technology offered by the Roomba 980.

Although smaller than a traditional vacuum cleaner, Roombas are not much quieter. So, don't schedule your Roomba to work when you want to sleep, watch TV, or simply enjoy silence.

Tips for Using Your Roomba

Whichever robotic vacuum you choose, you'll get the best vacuuming results by following these tips.

● Clear toys, clothing, pet belongings, and similar items out of the area being cleaned. Although Roombas have sensors that guide them around obstacles, you'll get better results if you take this manual step.
● Empty your Roomba's bin as needed. If you have pets or live in a dusty area, you may need to empty it after every cleaning. If your home requires only light vacuuming, you may be able to wait several sessions before emptying the bin.
● Clean your Roomba at least weekly. Remove any tangled hair or dust balls from the side brush, make sure the debris extractors are clean (if you have a Roomba 650, clean the spinning brushes), and check the wheels and their axles for tangled hair or accumulated dust.
● Change your Roomba's filter as needed. This could be a monthly task if you have heavy vacuuming needs or every few months if not.
● Protect your wires and cables from an unwanted Roomba encounter. Bundle them, secure them to the floor, or hide them behind furniture as necessary.
● Bear in mind that eventually your Roomba's battery will need to be replaced. You'll notice that runtime becomes shorter as the battery nears the end of its life.
● Don't schedule a vacuuming session in the dark. The sensors on your Roomba require some light to function.
● Leave your Roomba on its charging base when not in use.

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Vacuum Substitute

While a Roomba provides a great way to keep your floors clean, it cannot entirely replace your traditional vacuum cleaner. You'll still need to use your regular vacuum to clean furniture, access spots beyond the Roomba's reach, and vacuum stairs.

Roomba FAQ

Q. Will Roombas work on black or otherwise dark flooring?
A. One problem common to all Roomba models is difficulty cleaning dark flooring. This is because such flooring absorbs all the infrared light the vacuum uses to detect stairs, tricking the Roomba into "thinking" it is going to fall if it proceeds onto the dark floor.

If an area rug is causing the confusion, you can solve the problem by moving the rug. If it's your entire carpet, however, you may have to cover the cliff sensors with aluminum foil to disable them. If you try this and you have stairs, use your Virtual Walls to keep the vacuum safely distant from them.

Q. Is it okay to use my Roomba to clean up spilled water or other liquids?
A. No. Your Roomba should be kept dry. It is not designed to mop up fluids.

Q. What do I do if my Roomba keeps getting stuck under furniture?
A. Roombas are low enough to glide beneath most raised furniture without a problem, and they generally avoid going underneath furniture that doesn't have enough clearance. But occasionally, your Roomba might get stuck. If this happens often, consider using furniture risers to give your couch or other furniture a slight lift. Or, consider using your Virtual Walls to steer the vacuum clear of the problem furnishings.

Q. Is it safe to use a Roomba around children or pets?
A. While you should discourage your pets and children from chasing or playing with the vacuum, your Roomba will automatically shut itself off if lifted off the ground during a cleaning session.

As long as your bed, couch, or other furniture is at least four inches off the ground, your Roomba will happily clean underneath without getting stuck.

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