Housework takes an immediate hit with children and adults home for an extended time. Robotic vacuum cleaners proved their sometimes life-changing value during the last several years. Robot vacs keep floors clean and give family members time to spend with each other or on favorite activities. We found several Roomba deals as well as deals for Ecovacs, Eufy, and Shark, robot vacuums. You can spend more than $1,000 on a robot vacuum with the latest features, but we found a slew of attractive discounts for cheap robot vacuums under $500, including several for less than $200.
Today’s best robot vacuum deals
How to choose a Robot Vacuum
With robot vacuum deals as low as $140, the decision of whether to buy a robotic vac isn’t as had as when they cost closer to $1,000, but there are still decisions based on brands and features.
All robot vacuums share a core set of features. The differences between models in the same brand usually relate to different sizes, battery life, navigation modes, and more.
Standard features for all robot vacuums:
- Motor suction power: Vacuum motors create suction to pull dust, dirt, and debris into an internal dust bin. The stronger the suction power, the more efficiently the robot vacuum can clean your floors. Many robot vacuums aren’t strong enough to work with thick pile carpeting, but most work adequately with low to medium pile carpets. Most robot vacuums today automatically detect the surface on which they are working and can adjust the suction power, turning it all the way up on carpeting.
- Center roller and edge brushes: Various forms of flexible center roller brushes loosen dirt and debris. Some robot vacuums have two roller brushes. Most also have two side or edge brushes to move dirt next to walls and in corners toward the center of the robot vacuum movement so it can be sucked up.
- Battery operation with return-to-charge: Robot vacuums don’t use cables. The running time per charge varies, but most robot vacs can run at least 60 minutes before needing a charge. Most also automatically return to their charging station for recharging, which can take two to four hours. If your floors require maximum suction power most or all of the time, battery operation time will be lower.
- Internal dust bin with filter(s): Robot vacuums pack the dirt and debris tightly into an internal dustbin. A few high-end models self-empty the dustbin into a larger bin at the charging station, but in most cases, you’ll need to empty it yourself — typically a fast and easy process.
- Obstacle detection: A robot vacuum that doesn’t have sensors to detect obstacles will continue to bash itself. Virtually all robot vacuums today either sense obstacles ahead of time and shift course or have articulated bumpers and will change direction when they tap a wall, cabinet, or furniture. Many robot vacs also detect drops, so they don’t fall down stairs or off landings.
- App control: Most robot vacuum manufacturers provide a mobile app or a Wi-Fi app you can use to start, stop, pause, or send the robot vacuum to the base station. Smartphone apps typically can manage the robot vacuum remotely.
- Scheduling: You can set up a calendar for your robot vacuum, ranging from days and start time to separate schedules for different rooms or areas.
Differentiating factors and features for robot vacuums:
- Battery life per charge: If 60 minutes of vacuuming is the minimum acceptable running time per charge, 90 to 110 minutes is more common. The robot vacuum doesn’t stop for breaks or phone calls, so even 30 minutes of vacuuming can accomplish a lot.
- Cleaning modes: In addition to just starting and stopping, many robot vacuums add one room cleaning, spot cleaning, and more.
- Pet friendliness: Pets are generally okay with robot vacuums, but a lot of dog or cat hair can tangle the on the rollers quickly. If you have long-haired pets, be sure to look for one of the many models with pet-friendly features.
- Boundary management: Pets also feature in boundary management, but robot vacuums that knock over or spill pets food and water dishes are aggravating. Midrange to high-end robot vacuums often come with boundary strips you can put on the floor. With a boundary strip blocking a dog dish or any other object or area you do not want the robot vacuum to touch or enter, your pets will still be able to drink during the days when the vacuum runs.
- Alexa or Google Assistant voice command support: In addition to mobile apps, an increasing number of robot vacuums support Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or both, so when you’re home, you can manage the vacuum with voice commands.
- Navigation and mapping: Robot vacuum navigation is more varied than any other feature. Advanced models create maps of individual rooms and sometimes entire floors. Sophisticated mapping and navigation help the robot waste less time by cleaning more efficiently and not going over locations multiple times. Mapping also allows appropriate vacuum scheduling for different rooms base on use and debris.
- Charge and resume: Most robot vacuums go back to their docking station to charge when they need it. More advanced models resume cleaning once they recharge. The fanciest models return and pick up where they left off according to stored room maps.
- Wet mopping: A minority of robot vacuums also have a wet mop feature.
- Self-emptying dustbins: Emptying the dustbin from a robot vac isn’t that big a deal, but just like throwing water off the side of a boat, don’t empty the container into the wind. A very few models have self-emptying features that use a suction motor in the docking station to pull the debris from the vacuum’s internal bin and store the dirt, dust, and debris in a much larger bin in the docking station. Eventually, a human has to empty the larger bin, but this feature allows people to let the vacuum clean unattended for extended periods.
Do robot vacuums work on carpet?
Carpets are the most demanding floors for any vacuum. Most robot vacuums detect changes in floor surfaces and boost the power to the motor’s maximum strength on carpeting. Robot vacuums are typically rated for thin to medium pile carpeting. The automated cleaners use various types of flexible rollers to loosen dirt and debris, and then the suction pulls the dirt into the internal dust bin.
Do robot vacuums work on tile floors?
Robot vacuums work well on tile floors because they detect floor surfaces and apply extra suction as needed.
Do robot vacuums scratch wood floors?
Robot vacuums don’t scratch wood floors because they use brushes or flexible rubber rulers that adjust to the floor surface, applying extra suction where needed.
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