Cleaning is a necessary evil, so anything that can make the everyday chores a touch easier is fine by us! Top of this list are robot vacuum cleaners - small automated hoovers that quickly ‘learn’ a route around your house, cleaning as they go. The idea is that you can set them running and they will work out the most efficient route to clean the floor, which will save a lot of time in the long run! So today we’re looking at 4 of the best robot vacuums you can buy in 2020:
Let’s start with a name that is synonymous with robot vacuum cleaners - the iRobot Roomba. The Roombas were some of the first models of robot vacuums on the market, and they are still the brand to beat.
Their reputation is not unearned - the 980 is a well-built and extremely reliable robot vacuum cleaner. It has an enormous 2-hour battery life, which should be long enough to clean your entire house between charges. It’s efficient too - the navigation system inside the 980 is top-notch, ‘learning’ your home quickly and thoroughly to clean as efficiently as possible.
As with most robovacs, the Roomba 980 is app-controlled - this allows you to schedule cleans and tweak the route of the vacuum, even when you aren’t at home. iRobot have been tweaking this app over multiple iterations of the Roomba, and it shows - it’s a powerful and well-designed system.
There are few faults with the 980 - the biggest trouble is that it is quite loud when running. This means it’s less suited to running at night, since it might wake you up. There are also scattered reports of the 980 having trouble docking back into it’s charging station, meaning you may have to place it there by hand. Finally, it’s a fairly expensive bit of gear - especially given this model is several years old now - but for that money you’re getting a high quality product from one of the most trusted brands on the market.
Another big-name brand, Dyson have been making vacuum cleaners since 1978. The strangely-named ‘360 Heurist’ is their second attempt at a robovac, and there is a lot to recommend it.
The first thing you’ll notice is the design - unlike the black/grey colour scheme usually favoured by vacuum makers, the 360 Heurist is a vivid blue, designed to be supremely eye-catching. It helps to sell the premium nature of the machine, but what’s under the hood really counts.
The 360 Heurist starts strong - the suction power is extremely good, and excels at deep cleaning, especially on carpets. There is a filter system built in, meaning it won’t kick up any dust into the atmosphere.
On the software side, the 360 Heurist boasts exceptionally powerful navigation capabilities, to make sure it covers every part of your floor, and a large onboard memory for storing/updating the ‘maps’ it creates. The app rivals that of the Roomba, allowing you to split rooms into custom ‘zones’ and set a specific cleaning order, and whether to use a high-power mode on certain sections of the house. Helpful stuff - and the ability to schedule cleans overnight means you’ll wake up to find the robovac has worked hard to get everything clean and spotless.
However this thoroughness also creates problems - the 360 Heurist is not a fast machine, and can take a long time to clean properly. Combine this with a medium-length battery life of 70 mins, and you may find the vacuum running out of juice and having to recharge mid-way through a cleaning cycle. It’s design also brings problems - the chassis is significantly taller than most of other robovacs on the market. This means that it will struggle to fit under furniture with short legs, and will more easily get stuck as it patrols around. Finally, this is not a cheap machine - it’s nearly double the price of other robovacs on the market.
These negatives will give some prospective owners reason to pause - if you have a particularly big and cluttered house, or if you favour low-sitting furniture, you may want to look elsewhere. For people with lots of carpet - or lots of spillages and dust to clean up - the 360 Heurist will serve you well. And it’ll look damn good while it does so!
If you want something to help around the house, but don’t want to break the bank doing so, then take a look at the Robovac 11S Max. Eufy have been quietly pushing out excellent appliances at budget prices for several years now, and the Robovac 11S Max is yet another win for them.
First off - the price. The 11S is significantly cheaper than the other 3 robot vacuum cleaners we’re looking at today, making it far more tempting for those looking to dabble in automated cleaning help. Design-wise, it is very similar to the Roomba, with a familiar round black chassis that is extra slim, so as to easily scoot under most furniture.
The 11S Max comes with a decent selection of technology under the hood, including drop-sensors to keep it away from stairs, and a self-charging routine that returns it back to the charging base when it’s low on juice. It’s also relatively quiet, so you can leave it to work without disrupting the household.
However, because of the budget price the machine is lacking in several key areas. The most egregious of these is the lack of a control app - the only way to control the 11S Max is with a dedicated remote. This more manual approach means it’s lacking many extras, such as setting custom zones or activating/monitoring when not at home. It also means you can’t schedule the robovac to clean on a schedule - which will be a dealbreaker for many people.
Unsurprisingly, it’s also powered by a weaker motor than the Dyson or iRobot vacuums - therefore it’s not as fast or effective as other models, especially on carpet. However a lot of these negatives are excused by virtue of the price - this is a budget robovac, and so certain compromises are inevitable.
In the end, your buying decision for the Robovac 11S Max will largely depend on how much you will use the more high-tech features available. People who just want a simple fire-and-forget vacuum to help around the house will find a lot to love here. However, anyone looking for a smarter appliance to help out 24/7 will find themselves wanting.
Finally, let’s take a look at a robot vacuum cleaner that does things a little differently. Robovacs traditionally have a simple round shape, allowing them to easily maneuver and clean from any angle. While this design is well-suited to open floor, it limits how well the vacuum handles edges and corners - often the brushes simply can’t reach far enough.
Some designers have tried to fix this by adding extending brushes or secondary arms, but the Neato D7 takes a different approach - it changes the shape of the vacuum entirely, swapping the circle for a capital ‘D’ shape. This immediately gives the D7 the ability to slot neatly into corners and edges for maximum cleaning!
Outside of the shape, the D7 has an excellent set of specs - a powerful motor makes sure that your floor is cleaned efficiently, and the companion app is cleanly designed, and loaded with helpful features. This includes the ability to mark ‘no-go’ areas that the bot shouldn’t clean - extremely useful for places the robovac might get stuck, or for the messy cable-strewn areas under your workdesk.
There are a few negatives worth mentioning - primarily the fairly small dust capacity, that will occasionally cause overflowing if not emptied. That would be fine, except that the D7 lacks a ‘bin full’ indicator, so you may need to monitor the machine more than you’d think. It’s also not a quietest machine around - running it overnight may find you waking up as it hits a particularly thorny bit of carpet. Finally it is a fairly expensive machine - on par with the Roomba 980, which may cause buyers to look for cheaper options.
For those who don’t mind the cost, the D7 is an excellent robot vacuum cleaner that will take the weight off your everyday chores. Either this or the 980 will serve you well - the 980 has a slightly higher power and a larger capacity, but the D7 counters with more efficient cleaning capabilities. You win either way!