We found that the Q5 could clean our downstairs living space in half the time the Roomba i3 EVO took—although the i3 EVO did a more thorough job. The bigger your home, the more valuable that speed may be, as long as you’re willing to trade some cleaning performance. Most premium robot vacuum brands now offer self-emptying charging bases. This differs from your regular charging base shark robotic vacuums in that your robot vacuum can empty the contents of its dustbin automatically, to be stored within a dust bag contained in the base. This gives your robot vacuum a new level of independence, because it no longer requires your assistance to continue cleaning. Should the on-board dustbin reach capacity, the robot vacuum can empty itself via its base and then continue on route.
If the dock is in a cluttered area or under a piece of furniture, there’s a good chance the bot will not re-dock. The Shark AI Robot VacMop is the only model on this list that doesn’t use a camera. That’s great, but it did not avoid any obstacles, nor did it even acknowledge in the app that it encountered any.
For the past several weeks, I’ve been testing out the Shark ION Robot Vacuum AV751. The Shark ION Robot Vacuum AV751 is an older model, making it a budget-friendly option with name-brand recognition. That said, while it gets the job done in terms of suction power and cleaning ability, there are some notable drawbacks that you may or may not be deal breakers for you. But like an upright vacuum, your robot will require cleaning and occasional maintenance to stay in fighting shape. Over time, the brushes can bend or break, hair can clog the brushroll and the filter will need changing. VSLAM navigation is what you’ll find in iRobot’s high-end models (the j and s series).
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. You also might want to consider a model that can empty its own dustbin. Models with this feature typically cost big bucks, but it means you never have to come into close contact with collected pet hair and dust. With most other robot vacuums, you have to empty the dustbin after every cleaning. This small, practically silent robot is an ideal inexpensive option for a cozy apartment or to use as a second bot for an upstairs space or home office.
But it doesn’t work very well on even low-pile carpet and is an absolute no for pet owners. Another surprisingly useful upside to the basic Eufy bots is their short body. At 2.85 inches, the 11S is almost a full inch shorter than the Roomba 694, enough for it to glide under even lower-clearance furniture, where dust and hair build up but never see the light of day. We were surprised the first time the 11S disappeared under a bed—and then more surprised when it reemerged with an unholy amount of cat hair stuffed into its bin and wrapped about the brush roll. This tried-and-true robot vacuum is much more durable and repairable than similar bots from other brands and is better at cleaning rugs, too. It’s a nimble navigator that rarely gets stuck, though it works best when it has to clean only a few rooms at a time.
Shark’s flagship robovac is the company’s first that uses lidar mapping. This brings the level of this bot way up, making it much more reliable than some of Shark’s previous models. It’s also designed exclusively as a self-emptying bot, and for the money, it’s a great deal. It’s loud and ugly, and its AI isn’t nearly as good, but it has most of the features of the Roomba j7 Plus for somewhere around half the price (depending on the day). A brash, loud auto-emptying robot vacuum that’s long on features and short on style but comes at a real bargain.
The LG CordZero R9 is a very expensive vacuum with powerful cleaning specs, but owner reviews from Australia, where it had been available for a while at the time of our research, were not favorable. In one test, the basic Eufy RoboVac 11S spent an hour picking up enough debris to fill the palm of our hand. Next we ran the Neato Botvac D7 (usually $700 when it was a current model), and it picked up only enough hair to coat the filter and a bit of dust. Then we ran the iRobot Roomba s9+ (usually $1,100), and it came back with barely anything in the bin. We’ve aimed to recommend a handful of robots that should work well in most homes and aren’t wildly expensive.
It’s also really, really loud when emptying and although the suction was pretty mega, our reviewer felt that the L10s Ultra is better suited to the hard floors since not all crumbs were lifted from deep-pile rugs. It works in rows to make sure every little inch is covered and features a self-cleaning brush roll, so you don’t have to stress about hair getting wrapped around it and shutting the whole thing down. The expensive machine has a longer setup process because its clean base comes in two pieces. You must attach the bottom of the base, where the robo-vac charges, to the garbage-bin upper portion using a few screws and a tool that attaches to the bottom of the base. Roborock provides everything you need to do this in the box, so while it takes a bit more time, it’s still an easy process.