Thinking About Buying a Robot Vacuum?

Walton EMC shares what you need to know

Remember Rosie the Robot on TV’s “The Jetsons?” How about good ol’ R2D2 from “Star Wars?” Believe it or not, these fictional robots helped to inspire three MIT-educated roboticists to design the first U.S.-manufactured robot vacuum introduced in 2002.

Today, millions of robot vacuums are in use worldwide. They come in all shapes, sizes and capabilities — and at varying prices. Technological advancements are making newer models smarter and more useful than ever before.

If you’re thinking of investing in a robot vacuum, it’s important to know that not all of these devices are created equal. Selecting what’s right for you and your cleaning needs can be a challenge.

To help you shop wisely, Walton EMC put together this helpful list of 10 things to consider when choosing a robot vacuum.

1. What do you want to clean?

Are your floors hardwood or carpeted? Most robot vacuum models can easily handle cleaning both carpets and hardwood, but some are better at cleaning one or the other. Higher-end robot vacuums can accommodate rapid surface changes by ramping up power whenever carpet is detected, and then throttling back down when it senses hardwood. Note that rugs, especially thick pile and shag styles, can be a challenge for many models. Also, lower-end models tend to get caught up in tassels.

2. How big is your house?

Vacuums with bigger batteries (and also a higher price tag) operate longer, meaning they can cover more square footage in a single cleaning session. The average mid-range robot vacuum can clean for up to an hour and a half. Some high-end models last a full 2 hours.

3. What’s on the floor?

A robot vacuum won’t replace a deep housecleaning, but it does help pick up “daily dirt” — food crumbs, cat litter, human and pet hair, dust bunnies and other dense particles.

4. Do you have lots of furniture?

If you need a vacuum that can navigate around furniture and into tight spaces, you'll need a “smarter” high-end device with mapping capabilities. Cheaper robot vacuums clean in a set pattern.

5. Do you want to vacuum under furniture?

You’ll need to determine the maximum clearance under your furniture and find a model that can navigate through that space. Some models are around 4 inches high, meaning they can’t travel under some sofas, beds or dressers.


Consumer reviewers list these robot vacuum features as most important:

  • -Battery running and recharge times – Lithium ion batteries are the latest technology.
  • -HEPA filtration – Ensures the majority of dust particles are fully captured and not released back into the air.
  • -Replacement parts are easy to find – Filters as well as brushes, batteries and wheels should be easy to order or purchase locally. Third-party vacuum filters are usually acceptable and more affordable than buying from the manufacturer. Note: Internal electronics should be bought direct from the manufacturer, so that you don’t risk voiding your warranty or damaging your robot.
  • -Virtual walls – Keeps your robot out of particular locations designated by you.
  • -Advanced scheduling features – Flexible in-day and day-of-week scheduling makes cleaning more convenient. Some models come with a smartphone app that allows you to set and adjust your cleaning schedule when you’re away from home.
  • -Intelligent navigation systems – Robot learns the layout of your home so that its efficiency improves.

6. Do you have allergies?

Many models now feature built-in HEPA filters to help eliminate allergens that are hanging in the air.

7. Do you want an app with that?

Many robot vacuum models use companion apps that make it easier to control and schedule the robot vacuum. Some models even map out where they've cleaned.

8. Are you expecting the robot vacuum to replace a traditional vacuum?

The bottom line: There is no doubt that there are good quality robot vacuums in the market that do an effective job of cleaning your floors. However, they can’t reach areas like curtains, upholstery or tight spots, so a traditional vacuum cleaner with hose attachment is still a must-have.

9. How much can you spend?

Current models retail for as little as $200 or as much as $1,000. If you choose a low-end model, be prepared to do without some popular features such as well-tractioned brush rollers and Wi-Fi connectivity. On the other hand, the top-tier prices may offer far more extras than you need.

10. How do you want to spend your time?

While there is much to consider before investing in a robot vacuum, don’t forget to factor in an important intangible: It can provide you with more time to do the things you enjoy. Even saving an hour or two per week makes the cost of these devices stack up for many who struggle to find the time.


Robot vacuums are a great addition to your home cleaning arsenal. They’re not quite advanced enough to replace your trusty upright or canister vacuum yet, but it won’t be long. With continued advancements, it’s not beyond imagination that one day robot vacuum cleaners — just like Rosie the Robot — will be capable of cleaning a home top to bottom.


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