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Robot vacuum cleaners have been around for over two decades but they are yet to make their way into every home. That’s not so much a comment on their quality, however, as much as it’s a testament of their innovative characteristics. Also called robotic vacuum cleaners or RoboVacs, the best robot vacuum cleaners are able to quickly, silently, and efficiently vacuum any floor all by themselves.
But what characterizes the best robot vacuum cleaners, exactly? Below, we’ll go over the several main types of RoboVacs and their main characteristics, as well as what you should be looking for.
The different types of robot vacuum cleaners
As a fairly new product, robot vacuum cleaners don’t have as many different types and sub-types as other appliances. In fact, if you’re extra liberal with your criteria, you can pretty much toss all RoboVacs in the same category as they all work in the same principle.
Where robot vacuum cleaners differ from one another is in the various features and technical characteristics they have. So, the easiest way to categorize them is based on that and on their overall price.
Because they can come with so many different features and capabilities, robot vacuum cleaners can range in price from anywhere around $100-200 to over $1,000. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll separate them into “budget-friendly”, “medium-range”, and “high-end” categories here as we discuss their features. However, keep in mind that there are plenty of exceptions between these 3 price ranges of lower-priced RoboVacs with many extra features and more highly-priced ones with some missing features.
If you’re on a budget or you just want the basic package, for ~$200 you can get a straight-forward RoboVac to help you keep your home clean. These models usually won’t have any app support or AI assistants, they won’t be able to empty or recharge themselves, and their battery will rarely last more than an hour.
Even so, if you make sure to pick a good model of a high enough quality, even such a budget-friendly robot vacuum cleaner will offer you plenty of help. It won’t negate the need for vacuuming and mopping every once in a while but it will minimize the amount of work you’ll need to do.
In the medium price range of $400 to $800, you’ll often be able to find the best value for your money. The robot vacuum cleaners here will typically have a longer battery life of around 2 hours, superior navigation systems, and more quality of life functions. Things such as app support and remote controls, as well as self battery monitoring and recharge become even more common in this range.
The RoboVacs that fall in the $800+ price range can usually be categorized with a battery life of at least 120 minutes and often more. They’ll almost always have app support, as well as Alexa and/or Google Assistant. They’ll also often come with extra air filters such as HEPA filters, they’ll have larger dust bins and sometimes even have the ability to empty said bins by themselves.
Such high-end robot vacuum cleaners will also be able to self-monitor their own battery life and return to their recharge station when they need to. Many such models will come with the “North Star navigation” technology, allowing them even better navigation around your home.
What should I look for when buying a robot vacuum cleaner?
Judging a robot vacuum cleaner by its price range and brand is one thing but you’ll also need to know what these devices do. RoboVacs can have lots of different functions, some crucial, others – supplementary.
Ever since the first Scooba iRobot model in 2005 and even the first Electrolux “Robotic Vacuum Cleaner” in 1996, RoboVacs were designed as self-regulating mops. Some come with additional specialized mop attachments but those are usually unnecessary and impractical. Instead, most RoboVacs simply use the dense rubber brushes below and on the side to effectively mop your floors.
Another key feature, sweeping is something you’ll find on every robot vacuum cleaner. It’s not really something you’d look for specifically, however, as it’s not as effective as vacuuming.
You’d think from their name that all robot vacuum cleaners can vacuum. Many of the earlier models and some of the current low-cost ones, however, can only sweep and mop. Vacuuming is much better, of course, and most RoboVacs are quite efficient – all you’ll need to do is empty their dustbin every once in a while.
The average lifespan of a RoboVac’s battery is 1-2 hours, however, some can last up to 4 hours with no recharge. Some of the better models can even monitor their battery life and connect themselves to their power stations when necessary.
Extra features that might be useful
With those key functions in mind, here are some extra features to also keep an eye for:
- Wi-Fi and App support. If you want your robot vacuum cleaner to have an easy time navigating your home as well as reporting back to you, make sure it has app support and Wi-Fi.
- Google Assistant, Alexa, Echo, or other AI assistants are also a great boon. They will help you track everything that’s happening and keep you up to date with the robot’s activities.
- Dirt detect sensors help many RoboVacs to more easily detect areas with concentrated dirt and paying extra attention to them.
- Extra navigation tools. All RoboVacs work by recording their route and mapping their environment, however, some are better than others. If you want your RoboVac to be as effective as possible, look for one with a “North Star navigation” system.
Hopefully, we’ve given you at least a bit of insight into how robot vacuum cleaners work. They are bound to keep evolving and developing new features and abilities which should make them even better at their job. As for which are the best robot vacuum cleaners at any given time – that depends on your needs, budget, and personal preferences.