Today we will talk about robot vacuums. Personally, I have been a big fan of Roomba for all these years, and I used to think that Roomba was the only brand worth buying. However, now there are a lot more options and so many robot vacuum names. Some are really expensive and some are more affordable. So I’m going to tell you a little bit about what you’ll get for your money and what might be the best fit for your home.
Factor # 1- Navigation
The biggest difference between cheap models and expensive models is how they navigate around a room. The cheapest models use something that we call bump and run navigation, which means it’s pretty much a random pattern. It just goes until it hits something and then turns, and then goes until it hits something and turns again, and just repeats that until the battery dies. It’s not the most efficient approach to navigation and some people find it kind of annoying or stressful or disappointing to watch because it’s this high-tech gadget and it doesn’t really look like it knows what it’s doing. We actually found though that the bump-and-run method over years of use and testing is actually pretty effective, especially if you’re using it in a space that’s smaller than a thousand square feet. And if you think it’s annoying to watch a bump and run robot bounce around randomly- we have a great workaround- don’t watch it!
If you’re willing to spend more on a robot, you can get one that moves in an orderly path and actually maps your floors as it goes. This is useful especially if you live in a larger house. So it won’t miss any rooms or just miss a corner of the kitchen or anything like that. Even if they don’t finish cleaning your whole house before the battery runs out, they’ll drive back to the dock charge for a couple of hours and then go back and finish the job. So to be clear, some of these expensive mopping robots can still struggle with getting over carpet fringe or tall thresholds. They’ll still get snagged on charging cables or socks. You’re not getting a perfect navigator just because you’re paying more. In my next article, I will talk about best robot vacuum for thick carpet.
Factor #2- Brush size
The second big difference between cheap robots and expensive robots is cleaning ability oddly enough. This isn’t as clear-cut as you would think, a lot of different factors go into it. There’s suction power brush size, battery life, and navigation plays into it as well. So if you have more of one thing you can get away with less of another. For example, in my experience, I found that some of the most affordable bump-and-run robots actually pick up just as much debris as the expensive mapping robots, and that’s because they can make multiple passes in an area in a single session. Whereas the mapping robots try to do everything in one pass, cheaper robots have less suction and smaller brushes that are fine for picking up visible debris like crumbs and pet hair from bare floors and even short carpets. Expensive robots tend to have better suction and better brush rolls and that’s more effective on thicker carpets especially getting dust and pet hair out of the yarns. In general, more expensive robots will pick up more types of debris than cheaper ones. In my next article, I will talk about best robot vacuum for thick carpet.
Factor #3- Battery Life
As the prices get higher and higher the robots claim to have stronger and stronger suction but after a certain point, I haven’t found that to be very useful. It starts to eat into the battery life, so you might only get thirty minutes of cleaning before it has to go charge for two hours. Even the strongest robot vacuums don’t come close to the suction power of an $80 plug-in vacuum.
There are a bunch of other important factors in picking a robot vacuum like:
Factor # 4 Repairability
Factor # 5 App Experience
Factor # 6 Noise
We had to break it down to the simplest terms: cheap robots are better if you live in a smaller house mostly bare floors and a few rugs maybe some pets. Expensive robots are better if you live in a bigger house, have thicker rugs and more pets or the cheap ones just make you anxious.
|Good for:||Good for:|
|✤ Small spaces (under 1000 sq ft)||✤ Larger homes (over 1000 sq ft)|
|✤ Bare floors or short rugs||✤ Thicker rugs|
|✤1-2 pets||✤ Lots of pets|