The Best Affordable Robot Vacuums That Will Save You Time
Robot vacuum cleaners feel like a gimmick, and a few years back, you’d be completely right with that assumption. Most models released back in the early 2000s were pretty bad, and online joke videos showing robot vacuums flipping over and falling down edges were sure-fire ways of scaring off potential customers.
So, after years of development, how do robot vacuum cleaners stack up?
The answer? Surprisingly well.
Robot vacuum cleaners are no substitute for full-fledged vacuum units, and nothing beats a good bit of deep cleaning. However, if you want something to clear out miniature waste like pet hair, dust and food crumbs, a robot vacuum should be just right for you.
Things to Consider
Before getting into our recommendations, be sure to consider a few factors. Different robot vacuums are geared towards different use-cases, and since we’re talking about budget robot vacuums, the differences and compromises will be further exasperated.
Certain robot vacuums here are more suited for larger living spaces, whereas others are more ideal at handling pet hair and crumbs. Even something as minute as whether you have hard floors or carpeting can sway our purchasing decision.
Let’s walk you through the main things to consider:
Size of Living Space
This really is key. Certain robot vacuums are only usable in small environments, mainly due to their smaller battery capacity and lack of mapping technology. On the other hand, more premium robot vacuums have larger battery sizes, and can find its way back to the charging dock before it runs dry.
There is also the problem with the internal dustpans or cups which store the waste gathered throughout their cleaning session. Generally, most robot vacuums can handle small rooms, but larger rooms might demand manual intervention to clear out the waste partway through each cleaning session.
Hardwood or Carpet
Most robot vacuums advertise comparability with any terrain-type, and they aren’t wrong per se. Most vacuums work, but only just.
Hardwood floors and tiled surfaces are easy, and even the most basic robot vacuums can handle it with no sweat. The problem comes with rugs and carpets. The suction power needs to be ramped up to handle carpeted floors, and certain low-end models might get stuck in tassels if set loose on rugs.
Not all robot vacuums deal with pet hair equally. The non-specialized robot vacuums might handle clean up well enough, but models like the Samsung Powerbot R7070 have specialized HEPA filters that remove microscopic allergens and particles from the air, ensuring people with allergies don’t need to worry. Just note that specialized variants do need routine maintenance.
Similarly, you’ll need to consider the internal dustbin. Pet hair can add up really quickly, and low-end models might fill up after a single cleaning session.
If you own dogs or cats, be sure to get a specialized robot vacuum.
How Cluttered is Your Home?
We aren’t judging your lack of organization here. Even simple things like chairs, tables and shelves can affect the effectiveness of robot vacuums, and early on, you’ll likely encounter situations where your robot vacuum gets stuck.
Depending on the cleaning algorithms used by the vacuum, this issue will either get solved with time (through mapping and learning algorithms) or remain a coin flip (using random cleaning as opposed to mapping).
Wi-Fi connectivity is pretty much a given, and nearly every Robot Vacuum out there has a companion app that gives you access to features like scheduling, alerts and voice commands.
Even low-end models come with remote controls that are easy to use, and features like point-to-clean feel really make these robots feel futuristic and smart.
This isn’t something standard, but higher-end models have a mapping function that uses IR cameras or lasers to make a virtual representation of your living space, and this allows you to specify no-go zones, which solves a ton of the issues I had with robot vacuums getting stuck.
While most of these features aren’t available on budget models, it’s worth considering if you’re willing to go a step further.
Which Robot Vacuums to Get?
So, what Robot Vacuums give you the best bang for your buck? Well, as we’ve covered previously, different robot vacuums suit different use-cases, so we’ve got 3 main recommendations.
Best Budget Robot Vacuum – Eufy 11s
Cheaper robot vacuums tend to suffer from low quality parts, but the Eufy 11s dodges these issues, having a brush that is less prone to tangles and a suction that works well even using a low-power setting. Even the navigation is done well despite using a random method, and manages to clean more efficiently in both empty and cluttered conditions when compared to its closest competitor, the Deebot N79s.
Eufy is well known for making excellent budget robot vacuums, and their latest entry is no slouch despite the low price. The Eufy 11s comes with a decent battery life of 100 minutes, and a good amount of power to deal with both carpeted and hardwood surfaces without much issues.
Check out the Eufy 11s and its 83% metascore here. Reviews are surprsingly positive, a rarity at the low-price range, and it shows how well Eufy manages to do things despite needing to make some compromises. Check out the reviews via the link to find out more.
Best Overall Robot Vacuum – Neato D3
With the added premium, we expect to get better cleaning efficiency, and Neato delivers improvements in spades. The main upgrade over our budget option is the inclusion of smart navigation, which utilizes cameras to learn the layout of your living space, allowing you to set up no-go zones. No random movement here. This is amazingly intuitive to do with the companion app.If we’re willing to ramp things up in terms of price (while still being reasonable), we recommend Neato’s D3.
Apart from that, the Neato D3 has a lot more power, the ability to return to its dock for charging before running the battery dry, and the largest dustbin currently on the market.
Check out the Neato D3 and it’s 80% metascore here. While the Neato D3 certainly costs a bit more, reviewers consistently praise it as being the best bang for your buck robot vacuum, and its an excellent cleaning assistant no matter what your needs are.
Best Pet Hair Cleaner – iRobot Roomba 960
The true bane of pet hair here is the Aeroforce cleaning system, which has brushes designed to handle pet hair, and it also comes with a high efficiency filter to clear up to 99% of common allergens and pollen.Pet hair is always slightly harder to clean, so we decided to include a dedicated category for this. The Roomba 960 has iRobot’s iAdapt 2.0 Navigation, which ensures that it’ll clean things up thoroughly without missing spots.
Reviewers have praised the Roomba 960 for its excellent usability. The only drawback to this is the price, nearly double that of the Neato D3. However, if you want to completely eliminate a pet hair problem, this really is the best choice for the money. Check out the Roomba 960 and it’s 88% metascore here.
Robot vacuums have really improved by leaps and bounds since their early iterations, and it’s a perfectly viable option for people looking to help out with their home cleaning. Just be sure to identify your needs before making a blind purchase.
We highly recommend the Neato D3, which is just an all-round excellent robot vacuum. The Eufy 11s is similarly excellent, though some compromises come included to hit the budget price point. Finally, if pet hair is something that drives you crazy, check out the Roomba 960.