Are Robot Vacuums Really Worth It? The Best Reasons You Should Buy One—Or Skip It

Robovacs offer a lot of convenience and cleaning power in a small package, but are they really that great?

<p>Hector Roqueta Rivero/Getty Images</p>

Hector Roqueta Rivero/Getty Images

If you’re tired of pushing a vacuum around your home and constantly trying to keep your floors clear of dust or pet hair, a robot vacuum may be calling your name. Robot vacuums can cut cleaning time by collecting and vacuuming dust and debris from your floors and providing automatic cleaning operations to make your workload lighter. They offer a lot of convenience and cleaning power in a small package!

But robovacs, as they’re often called, can cost more than regular vacuums, and they operate very differently. If you’re wondering whether or not a robot vacuum is worth the investment, this guide offers a rundown of the pros and cons, plus insights from cleaning professionals.

Related: The 6 Best Self-Emptying Robot Vacuums of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

What is a Robot Vacuum?

A robot vacuum is a hands-free robotic vacuum cleaner with automatic functions for picking up dirt and cleaning floors. Robovacs usually have one or two spinning brushes and a rolling brush. They work by collecting dust and debris and sucking it into the vacuum to store in a removable dust container. The dustbin of a robot vacuum is usually no larger than a milk carton, making it a compact cleaning machine. 

Benefits of Robot Vacuums

Automated Cleanings

Robot vacuums offer convenience by saving you time and cleaning efforts. You can schedule your vacuum to clean even when you’re not home, making keeping your floors dirt-free a breeze.

Thorough Coverage

Robovacs often have different setting options for a range of cleaning capabilities. Your robot vacuum may be able to do spot cleanings, edge trimmings, and more. "Many robot vacuums are equipped with advanced sensors and mapping technology, ensuring they cover every inch of your floors, including under furniture and in tight corners,” says Angela Rubin of the cleaning company Hellamaid.

Less Bending Over

Speaking of tight spaces, their compact size also makes robovacs adept at getting under furniture and in tight spaces that regular vacuums can’t reach.

Potential Allergy Relief

If you have allergies, a robovac can offer hands-free cleaning of your floors. “High-end models often have HEPA filters, improving indoor air quality,” says Janille Mangat, a cleaning specialist at VMAP Cleaning Services.

Smart Home Compatibility

Another benefit of robot vacuum cleaners is easily integrating them with smart home systems like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, Rubin says. Easy app and smart home integration make operating most robot vacuums simple.

Drawbacks of Robot Vacuums

Possibly Cost-Prohibitive

Robot vacuums do have some negatives. These cleaning machines can command a high initial investment, especially for ones with advanced features. The cost of the best robot vacuums is higher than that of traditional vacuum cleaners.

Small Dust Bin Capacity

Another limitation of robot vacuums is their capacity. Since they’re smaller than regular vacuums, robot vacuums can’t hold as much dust and debris and must be emptied regularly. “Due to their compact size, robot vacuums typically have smaller dustbins, meaning they may need more frequent emptying, especially in homes with pets or high traffic,” Rubin says.

Unsuitable for Some Floors

One more con of robot vacuums is the surface limitations. If you have uneven flooring or high-pile carpeting, it can hinder a robot vacuum. If you are in the market for a robot vacuum, get a model that is suited to your flooring and space requirements. If you have a tiny floor area, an irregularly shaped room, or lots of clutter, robot vacuums may not work as well and could get stuck.

Not Deep Cleaners

Lastly, robot vacuums excel at routine maintenance cleanings but are often not equipped to handle deep cleanings. “While they’re great for daily maintenance, they may not replace the need for occasional deep cleaning with a traditional vacuum,” Mangat says.

Robot Vacuums Versus Traditional Vacuums

So, who wins in the battle of robot vacuums versus traditional vacuums? It really depends on your home and cleaning needs. If you have a busy schedule and want your floors cleaned automatically, robot vacuums are ideal. If you want to save cleaning time, having your robovac do a daily floor cleaning can help prevent the build-up of dust and debris and cut down on your regular vacuuming.

Robot vacuums excel at cleaning uncluttered rooms with hard floors or low-pile carpeting. In contrast, traditional vacuums have more power for longer rugs and high-pile carpets. Since they have more power and bigger collection bags, traditional vacuums are best for deeper cleaning and cluttered spaces with areas that need to be manually vacuumed.

On the other hand, robovacs can clean under beds and furniture in places that traditional vacuums often can’t reach due to their larger size.

Cost-effectiveness of Robot Vacuums

Cost is a major concern for many buyers when shopping for vacuum cleaners. A high-quality, advanced robovac costs more than a popular regular vacuum cleaner. For instance, at the time of publication, the iRobot Roomba i7+ was $686.

On the other hand, most popular upright vacuum cleaners cost in the $50 to $200 range. For instance, the BISSELL 2252 CleanView Swivel Upright Bagless Vacuum with Swivel Steering was $134 at the time of publication.

Although robovacs cost more upfront, they can prolong the life of your regular vacuum cleaner and reduce your costs for maintenance of your regular vacuum. If you want convenience and floors that are always clean without spending a lot of time, a robovac may be well worth your investment.

So, Are Robot Vacuums Really Worth It?

Robovacs offer a convenient way to clear your floors of dust, debris, and pet hair. Although you’ll still need a traditional vacuum for high-powered, deeper cleans, robot vacuums can help your floors stay sparkling between regular vacuum sessions while reducing the time you need to spend cleaning.

Ultimately, deciding if a robotic vacuum is worth the investment is up to you and your cleaning preferences. If you choose to go the robovac route, pick a model that suits your floor types and space requirements. Also, expect to pay more for models with advanced features like self-emptying and excellent navigation. 

Related: How to Vacuum the House—the Right Way!

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