The Best Robot Vacuums

If you have thicker rugs, or you just feel like owning a stronger bot, then it’s worth spending a little more on a bot with better brushes or stronger suction. However, we don’t think it’s worth chasing the absolute best suction. The robots with the strongest suction and the most-aggressive brushes can cost hundreds extra, yet they’re only marginally better cleaners than the most affordable bots.

An example: I let half of my apartment get dirty for a few days, building up cat hair and toddler crumbs and other miscellany. First, I ran the basic Eufy 11S[1] (usually $200). After an hour, it had picked up enough debris to fill the palm of my hand—mostly hair, some crumbs, some dust, a typical load. Then I ran the Roborock S4[2] (usually $400) on its strongest suction setting. It came back with some hair, but only about 25% of what the Eufy had found, though it did find a good amount of dust that the Eufy hadn’t. Then I ran the Neato D7[3] (usually $700), and it picked up just enough hair to coat the filter, and a bit of dust, but far less debris than the Roborock S4. Then I ran the Roomba s9+ (usually $1,100), and it came back with barely anything in the bin. I repeated the experiment a few days later and got the same results. Even those high-end models aren’t nearly as effective as most plug-in or cordless vacuums.

Specs and power measurements aren’t a reliable way to gauge overall cleaning performance, so we don’t think it’s useful to get caught up comparing kilopascals, cubic feet per minute, or brush widths.

Other important stuff

Durability and repairability: Some models can last for years, even if you barely maintain them, while others are likely to end up in a landfill within a couple of years, even if you want to repair them.

We’ve decided to make this a bigger part of our recommendations than we used to. We scouted reviews (and our comments section) for hints about longevity. We also favored bots with easy-to-find replacement parts. Filters and brushes are almost always available, but it can be harder to find spare batteries, wheels, and, in particular, transmissions. We also fully disassembled some popular bots to get a sense for the build quality and how straightforward they might be to repair.

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