UPDATE: Jan. 18, 2023, 12:00 p.m. EST This story has been updated to include the best deals on robot vacuums from iRobot, eufy, and more. Here are the ones to grab as of Jan. 18:
Only three things are certain in life: Death, taxes, and a few days each month when you need to vacuum but just don’t have time. Whether you detest the chore or hope to make your home upkeep a bit breezier, a robot vacuum is a lifesaver. Shop models on sale below.
Robot vacuums under $200
Why we like it
A $96 robot vacuum? With actually-good reviews? We’re sold. This compact Eufy vac is an easy choice for small spaces and low-profile furniture. You won’t get smart mapping at this price point, of course, but current 25C owners are impressed with its navigation when it comes to furniture and walls.
More robot vacuums under $200
Robot vacuums under $500
Why we like it
Less than $250 is a stellar price for a self-emptying robot vacuum, especially from a brand as recognizable as Shark. The EZ vacuum doesn’t map your home but still maintains wall-to-wall coverage by cleaning in methodical rows. It’ll return to dirty areas that need extra work, then head back to its compact dock to empty its own dust bin.
Multi-stage filtration system
70-minute battery life in Max mode and 140-minute battery life in Eco mode
Self-emptying dock holds 30 days’ worth of debris
More robot vacuums under $500
Robot vacuums under $800
Why we like it
Snag the smartest Roomba for less than $600 — that’s only around $60 more than its lowest price ever, which it has only hit once. It’s the only Roomba that uses PrecisionVision Navigation to detect and avoid obstacles that were previously problem-causers, like phone chargers and pet waste. The j7+ also self-empties.
Room mapping, zone cleaning, and small obstacle avoidance
85-minute battery life
Self-emptying dock holds up to two months’ worth of debris
More robot vacuums under $800
Robot vacuum and mop hybrids and dedicated robot mops
Why we like it
Don’t sleep on this rare discount on one of our favorite robot vacuum and mop hybrids. The Roborock S7 has reliable suction that performs well on both hardwood and carpet. Attaching the mopping pad gives your floor a scrub, too, but won’t soak your rugs. The S7+ also self-empties and can be sent to specific rooms on your command.
More hybrids and robot mops on sale
Are robot vacuums worth it?
The control of an upright vacuum comes with its own type of satisfaction. But if you’re not one to classify cleaning as cathartic, a robot vacuum could erase that huge, agonizing task from your chore list. (And did we mention the joy of having “first day clean” floors all the time?)
But whether robot vacuums are worth it or not comes with a caveat: It can’t be just any robot vacuum. A cheap robot vac that doesn’t do the job right — scattering dust, bumping into walls, getting stuck on area rugs — might actually create more work for you.
What to consider when buying a robot vacuum
Suction power is key
A vacuum is the one purchase that you hope sucks a lot. Suction power is typically measured in Pascals (Pa), with most current vacs ranging between 1,500 Pa and 3,000 Pa. Stronger sucking will be needed to pick up heavier pieces of debris (be sure to set a no-go zone around Legos) and to pull matted-down pet hair from rugs.
Know your floor type
Carpeting and high pile rugs will probably require stronger suction than hard floors, as well as special features like an extra-wide or self-cleaning brush roll to prevent hair from wrapping and clogging. Folks in homes with multiple floor types might consider a bigger, sturdier robot vacuum that can hurl itself and its wheels over mats, rugs, and transitions from carpet to hard floors.
Consider automatic emptying
Because robot vacuums are typically under four inches tall, their onboard dust bins are also small — which means they frequently require emptying. (Dustbins fill up particularly quickly in homes with pets.) A self-emptying vacuum takes that job out of your hands, emptying itself into a larger dustbin in its charging dock. These larger bins can typically hold weeks of dirt without needing to be cleaned or dumped out.
Think about your home’s layout
Every robot vacuum is equipped with sensors and drop detection. But if your home has lots of rooms, lots of turns, or lots of close-together furniture, you’ll have fewer navigation issues with an advanced model that uses intelligent mapping to remember exactly how your home is laid out, including labeling of specific rooms, mental notes of staircases, and ability to deploy zone cleaning.
Pay attention to low-profile furniture
No one should have to be scared about what’s accumulated under their couch over the past year. A robot vacuum measuring three inches or less in height should be able to scoot under most low-hanging couches and beds.
Assess battery life and square footage
One of the main complaints people have about their robot vacuum is that it craps out in the middle of the floor. Larger spaces require more time to clean, and it all depends on how annoyed you’ll be if it only finishes a few rooms at a time. Average run times for the list below range between 90 and 200 minutes, which translates to about 500 and 2,800 square feet covered on one charge.
Look for app control
WiFi-enabled robot vacuums can be synced with a smartphone app to control scheduling, manual start, and cleaning settings, as well as telling your vac to make its rounds when you’re not home. Low-end models that don’t connect to WiFi will usually come with a separate remote. If you’re used to asking Alexa or Google to turn off the lights or tell you the weather, a model with voice integration will blend in nicely.