With the handful of responsibilities at work and other tasks that need to be addressed at home, we tend to overlook the need to vacuum our floors regularly. This can lead to uncomfortable floors and carpets with sand and other debris sticking on your feet and pollen that can trigger allergies. Thankfully, the advancement of technology brought us the best solution for this without you moving a muscle: robot vacuums.
Robot vacuums have the same principle as the other regular vacuums. They have motors that suck in particles on the floor using high airflow and suction power. However, the main difference between the two is that robot vacs do the activity without aid from a man. Nowadays, most of the latest models of robot vacuums come with smart features, allowing them to work independently using sensors and algorithms that help them navigate from one room to another.
One of the best robot vacuums that have all the newest smart features by today’s standard is the iRobot Roomba S9+. Just like others, it can connect to third-party voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. However, what sets it apart is the ability of its app to instruct the robot to clean a particular spot in a specific room. Its app can also restrict it from accessing particular spots where there are wires and cables. This is all possible through its camera system that collects data to better improve its efficiency in creating the layout of your home map. It is also a true smart appliance as it provides recommendations based on its past activity and experience. It informs you of seasonal changes and areas that should be put on a zone cleaning. Most of all, it has a self-cleaning system with its dock sucking in the debris the robot has collected.
And while it is true that iRobot Roomba S9+ is by far the best robot vacuum we have ever tested, we couldn’t directly say that it is the best for your wallet. But this is expected as it offers literally all the features that can bring you extreme convenience. With this, you might want to have other affordable alternatives such as the Shark IQ RV101AE which also has a self-empty base and a self-cleaning, non-tangle brush. We also considered the most affordable robot vacuum model in the market which is the OKP Life K2.
To get more information about them, join us as we discuss the performances of the best robot vacuums we put into a series of tests. By testing them in a house with multiple rooms and using the same kinds of debris on hard floors and carpets, we tested how reliable their suction power and airflow are. We noted how they performed in particular setups and assessed each one of their features and navigational algorithms. With the guidance of the SolidSmack Household Appliance and Tool Research Team, we rated and analyzed their qualities to decide whether they can offer good value to you or not. That being said, let’s have a look at our findings:
1. iRobot Roomba S9+
No (requires a Braava Jet M6)
Zoning & Mapping
Roomba S9+ is probably the extreme robot vacuum you would ever see on the market right now. There is no way to say it better but it showcases all the latest features and the best solutions for the challenges commonly being faced by its older siblings.
Just like others, Roomba S9+ is a smart robot vacuum. Nonetheless, it has the most flawless cleaning system that we couldn’t find any disadvantage in purchasing it (besides the fact that it costs quite a lot).
Roomba S9+ employs a smart algorithm that makes it possible to navigate in neat and consistent rows. When we tested it together with other units with random algorithms, it finished almost just at the same timeframe as others. However, its algorithm isn’t built for speed; it is meant to boost the efficiency of the robot. In our test, we noticed that it didn’t stop until it had finished vacuuming the four rooms we prepared for it. It took hours to finish everything and during the moments when it ran out of juice, it simply recharged itself and got back to the SAME spot where it had stopped. It literally cleaned every nook and cranny and didn’t miss. We also noticed that it has an unconventional shape but this gives it an additional advantage in the game. With its edge, it was able to sweep sands in the corners of the room much better than other rounded models.
The Roomba S9+ also has a camera system that helps it to “learn” and create a map of your house. The beauty about it is that it optimizes its smart capability. We discovered it when we studied its iRobot application and that was the moment we really fell in love with it. Besides setting up the schedules and speed of the Roomba S9+, the app offers a feature called iRobot Genius. This lets users indicate what specific room the robot needs to clean (even at a specific time and date) according to the map produced by its system. Even better, you can select a specific spot in that certain room, making the cleaning process more precise. We also love its opposite feature called the “Keep-out Zones” which can give you the power to instruct it on what areas to avoid. We found it very helpful in preventing it from getting in the corners where there were cables and long curtains.
Further, as its extreme smart attribute, Roomba S9+ gives recommendations of the areas that should be cleaned more often based on its past activities. It also notifies you of seasonal changes where pets often shed more.
In terms of its suction power, it is also the best. Besides the fact that its suction power comes at 2500 Pa, it also now sports two rubber brushes. Also, its brushes are 25 to 30 percent longer than what other models have which means it has wider coverage in each pass. Most of all, the rubber material and the overall build of the brushes now prevent the unit from the old issues of robot vacuums with tangling hair strands.
Lastly, the Roomba S9+ has an automatic dirt disposal system. The base sucks in the wastes collected by the unit and it will direct them into a bag that can last up to 60 days! With this, we can say that it is a full cleaning floor appliance. It takes care of the entire floor and the only thing left for you to do is to throw a bag full of dirt every 2 months!
2. Shark IQ RV101AE
Zoning & Mapping
Yes (no Keep-out Zone feature)
The iRobot Roomba S9+ is not the cheapest of all the items we reviewed but its performance is worth every penny. If you are one of those folks who covet the iRobot Roomba S9+ but don’t want to break the bank, Shark IQ RV101AE can be a good alternative.
Its price is just a fraction of the price of its other high-end rivals, but it comes with all the practical features you need in a robot vacuum. It can be compared to other expensive options out there by giving you almost the same set of features; nonetheless, everything about it is very efficient. Everything works and all of its features are no gimmick.
One thing that we really adore about it is the self-cleaning brush roll. In our tests, we discovered that rubber brushes can prevent the tangling of hair strands but they can affect the performance of the robot on hard floors. On the other hand, while bristle brushes can be very effective in pulling particles in carpets, they tend to collect too much hair. The new design of Shark IQ’s brush resolves all those things. In our test, its self-cleaning brush roll worked exactly as intended in our test. It picked up the strands of hair we scattered and after the process, every single one ended up in the bin itself instead of accumulating in the brush.
Further, it has a powerful airflow that measures up to 20 CFM. With this, it performed effectively when we used it for cereals and sand. Even on carpets, it left no residue! On the other hand, though its navigation isn’t as perfect as the algorithm of the iRobot Roomba S9+ that creates smooth rows, it is aware of the spots it has missed and will come back for them. When we observed it, we also noticed that its turns didn’t leave spaces between rows.
It uses a camera to create the layout of the house which will give you the power to just select the area you want it to clean. And while its SharkClean smart app has only limited controls and still lacks the ability to draw invisible walls for boundaries within a room, Shark IQ compensates in other sections. In this case, you have a bagless self-empty base that can hold dirt for up to 30 days! Indeed, there is no fuss at all. Besides the fact that the machine will empty the robot bin for you, there is no need for a bag like in Roomba S9+ as its bin opens easily! Sweet!
3. ILIFE A10 Mop
4 modes (Auto, Edge, Spot, and Max)
Zoning & Mapping
The ILIFE A10 Mop is also a smart robot vacuum with smart LiDAR navigation and mapping capabilities. Unlike other models at the same price point, it doesn’t vacuum the floor randomly. It follows a specific algorithm that directs it to move in rows. This also means that it can get back to where it has stopped after recharging itself on its base.
Just like Roomba S9+, it also uses sensors to study its environment and create a layout of your house. The map will then be saved on the ILIFEHOME App. Using this, you can access the useful features of the app which are somehow the same as what Roomba S9+ offers. You can select specific zones that you want the robot to clean and also create “invisible walls” to prevent it from entering certain areas. There is also the option for the Carpet Area which will adjust the suction and brush speed of the robot vacuum. Nonetheless, you can manually do those things in any mode using the application. It also allows the scheduling of cleanups, making the app extremely versatile. However, we just noticed that using the map provided by the ILIFE A10 Mop is not as intuitive as the map on the iRobot application. The latter provides a complete layout of rooms that come in the forms of neat geometric lines and boxes, while the former only shows uneven areas the robot has explored. Further, it uploads the layouts of the rooms individually which means you have to manually label them one by one.
Also, it is important to note that during our test, its turns were significantly wide. This left obvious gaps between the rows it made, resulting in some missed debris. On a positive note, it managed to get on medium-pile carpets easily and it picked up everything within the coverage of its brushes, thanks to its 2000 Pa suction power and 15 CFM airflow. We also love the unique ability of the robot to adjust the height of the brush so it could reach ridges of uneven surfaces.
Lastly, it comes with a mopping ability. Unlike iRobot Roomba S9+ that needs a separate device to do this, ILIFE A10 Mop has a built-in 300 ml water tank. With this, you have a dual-purpose unit that can take care of the entire state of your floor 24/7!
4. Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 15C Max
Zoning & Mapping
Eufy offers a lot of robot vacuum models that deciding which one to have was a challenge for us. We would love to opt for the latest model with the highest specs, but we also considered the cost which is obviously important for anyone. With this, we came up with 15C Max and we have no regrets!
Just like most of its siblings, 15C Max boasts a super-slim design which gives you a total height of 2.85”. It allows it to sweep and vacuum under seats and various pieces of furniture with ease. And although it can’t handle thick carpets (just like in other models at such a price range), it is an absolute superstar on hard floors and medium-pile carpets.
Besides the highest suction power among other Eufy robot vacuum models, our test confirmed that it produced sufficient airflow to get the work done. It delivers a total of 15 CFM at the high setting and 10 CFM under the low setting. While it is just at the same level as what 11S has, the higher suction power at 2000 Pa allows 15C Max to be more efficient in picking up things on the hard floor. We proved it to be true when it easily picked up the strands of dog hair (where it works the best!) and some sand on the floor. However, there is one tiny caveat that should be mentioned during our pickup test: it can miss bigger debris like cereals. The reason? The extra-low profile of the unit. This, however, seems to be only applicable on hard floors since 15C Max managed to fully clean the thin carpet on our test when we threw a handful of cereals on it.
Further, we love the BoostIQ Technology that uses sensors to adjust the suction power of the robot vacuum. Basically, it runs at a standard setting (though you can adjust it) but once it has sensed the need for more suction power, it will elevate it. It can run for a total of 100 minutes, as indicated by the manufacturer, though this still depends on the activity. During our test where the unit navigated to a place with lots of debris to pick, it only lasted 87 minutes. Thankfully, this shouldn’t bother you since it was able to get 100% coverage of our small room test floor within 24 minutes (through a random algorithm).
On the other hand, the major thing that separates 15C Max from its older siblings is its WiFi connectivity. While the remote control we receive is intuitive and truly helpful, we love the additional things the app can do. Not only will it allow you to know the status of the vacuum, but it will also allow you to set up its cleaning schedule and give it command even when you’re away. Another plus is the fact that it can connect to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. With the right third-party voice assistant, you can give it orders with just your voice!
5. OKP Life K2
4 modes (Manual, Spiral, Wall Follow, and Right Bow-shaped Path)
Zoning & Mapping
It is no secret that robot vacuums can be extremely expensive. A high-end one can go over a thousand dollars and most of the time, they deliver superb performance. On the other hand, most of the cheapest robot vacuums can be extremely frustrating due to poor performance. This is where the challenge starts: finding an inexpensive option that can still do a decent job. With this, we give you OKP Life K2.
There are tradeoffs made to give K2 a very affordable price tag, but what surprised us is that it comes with features you wouldn’t expect it to have. For instance, under its 4 modes, it has an option for row cleaning that mimics the smart algorithm of more advanced models. It is not as good as the said system but the rows it makes do not leave gaps.
On the other hand, it employs a brushless port instead of the conventional rubber or bristles brush roll you see in most models. It is supported by a guide that directs debris into the suction port and into the 500 ml dust bin. It has a total of 1800 Pa suction power and 18 CFM airflow. This is where the caveat starts. We were expecting a more powerful suction and airflow power to compensate for the absence of the brush, but it instead comes with a rate that is low by today’s standard. With this, we wouldn’t really suggest it for homes with rooms full of covered in carpets. When we tested it, it did manage to pick medium-sized debris on carpets but in terms of sand and hair, it had to do multiple passes to completely get rid of everything. Further, while it can suck in short hair effectively, we found it to struggle in managing long strands and end up with hair stuck on the opening of its port.
With all of this, it is undeniable that it has a lot of areas that need improvements. However, keep in mind that it is hard to expect too much for an extremely economical unit like this. Its price is just 10% of what you would pay for in high-end choices, so we think it is still a winning deal.
Best Robot Vacuums - Buyer's Guide
Having a robot vacuum with its own waste disposal system is the best to have. With such a feature, you are only required to check the dock and remove the waste once every month or two. On the other hand, if you are planning to have a unit without this system, expect that there is a need to clean the robot’s bin regularly. Also, it is best to have a robot with a huge dust bin capacity.
Controlling the robot vacuum using voice assistants is common and the commands you can execute using that option is very limited. The main thing that defines the system of robot vacuums is the applications they are using. Check the controls available in the application such as mapping, zoning, status reports, and more.
A robot with a camera is better as they provide a more precise analysis of information that can be stored on the application. The app uses these details to create a map or floor plan that is more exact instead of just providing you the routes it has traveled.
Suction power that is measured in Pascals isn’t the only factor that will determine the performance of the robot. The amount of air volume of the airflow also has a direct impact on how well it will collect debris. The two should be at considerable levels to assure maximum efficiency of the robot vacuum.
The old designs of robot vacuums commonly come with bristle brush rolls. They can be very effective in removing sediments from carpets, but they tend to collect long strands of hair that clog the unit. On the other hand, rubber brushes typically do not have these problems which is why they are getting more and more attention these days. If you want the best vacuum for a space that suffers from a bunch of long hair strands, we suggest the new design of Shark IQ RV101AE which allows the brush to “self-clean” itself and send the hair directly into the bin.
Best Robot Vacuums - FAQs
A single charge can allow an average robot to vacuum up to 100 minutes, but it still depends on its activity. Under high suction power, the battery won’t last that long. However, it is not an issue in models employing smart algorithms as the robot will just return to its base to recharge and will get back to the same spot it left to continue its work.
The sound level of the robot vacuum depends on the suction power it is using. Under a low setting, it can only produce 50 to 60 dB. On the other hand, at the max setting, it can go over 70 dB.
You can clean the robot vacuum once a week. However, if your home often experiences a large amount of debris from sand to dust and hair, it is better to empty it more often.
No, robot vacuums are only intended for dry debris. Their suction power and airflow are also insufficient for collecting liquids.