Whether you’re replacing an early generation robot vacuum or looking to purchase your first, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the abundance of options and prices, ranging from fairly cheap to fairly steep. Though you can find robovacs for $200 and less, we don’t recommend buying them. In addition to weak suction and ineffective brushes, the scatter-shot navigation of cheap bots will leave whole swaths of your floor completely untouched.
We found that well-functioning robovacs start around $300. And while deluxe models can climb all the way up to $1,000, a superbly powerful bot can be yours for $700. Our favorites represent the best functioning, most reliable bots at both ends of that price range. And they both happen to be Roomba — after all our testing, the competition just didn’t stack up.
For the average home, looking for help picking up everyday messes but willing to still run a manual vacuum once in awhile, we recommend the iRobot Roomba 690. You get a fully equipped Roomba — with iRobot HOME app control, Amazon Alexa compatibility, intelligent navigation, and accelerated cleaning power — for a little less than $400. It easily outperformed other, more expensive options thanks to its cleaning power and learning abilities — gathering more debris than most high-end robovacs and managing to wiggle its way out of trouble whenever it got stuck.
If you want the best money can buy, the iRobot Roomba 960 is a truly superior bot andcosts several hundred dollars less than other comparable models. Second-generation learning and navigation skills enable it to intelligently clean an entire level of your home, pausing to recharge as needed and then picking up where it left off. The Roomba 960 collected more debris than any robot vacuum we tested, and its refined sensors allowed it to tackle concentrated messes. Both the 690 and 960 boast tangle-free rubber brushes that help cut down on human maintenance time.
Because we were so impressed with the technology powering Roombas in this review, we decided to dedicate a whole review just to them. For a full run-down on the high-tech and tech-lite models made by the reigning champ of robovacs, check out our review of The Best Roomba Vacuum.
How We Found the Best Robot Vacuums
We started by compiling a list of 55 robot vacuums from top manufacturers: Bissell, bObsweep, Dyson, Ecovacs, Eufy, iClebo, iLife, iRobot, LG, Neato, and Samsung. While the bots produced by these companies claim many similar features, product data and customer feedback reveals wide differences in quality. Some bots can only be described as dinky, plastic discs, relying on suction alone for their unimpressive cleaning power. Other models are truly state-of-the-art, with improved brush design, battery power, and navigation algorithms.
We decided to look only at robot vacuums that use the combined strength of brushes and suction to clean floors — our research told us not to settle for anything less — as well as bots that run on high-energy lithium-ion batteries and can be programmed to start at specific times. We also looked for cliff-avoidance technology that would prevent our robovacs from tumbling down stairs.
With those features in mind, we sifted through countless online reports of the best and worst bots in the industry, and leveraged the findings of robot vacuum tests run by Consumer Reports, The Sweethome, and CNET. In the end, we arrived at a list of nine total robot vacuums to test ourselves.