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Robot Vacuums

How long will a robot vacuum cleaner last before you have to replace it?

Read this before buying your own.

Cropped view of man pointing with finger at robotic vacuum cleaner in living room. Credit: Getty Images / LightFieldStudios

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Here at Reviewed, we have plenty of experience lab-testing the best robot vacuums. One question readers frequently ask us is, “How long does a robot vacuum last?” The short answer is that it varies by usage. The more detailed response is that the lifespan of your robot vacuum hinges on a number of factors like battery type, model, and kinds of flooring it cleans.

We're peeling back the layers and taking a deep dive into the inner workings of these automated floor cleaners to help you understand how long your robot vacuum will last.

Batteries

Lineup of four batteries.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Rechargeable batteries like these have a limited lifespan based on the number of discharge cycles.

Robot vacuum batteries come in two varieties: lithium-ion and nickel-metal hydride. Lithium batteries are what you find in cell phones and laptops and the current technology. You might find a nickel battery in a very low-end model or if you decide to buy a used robot vacuum. Typically, lithium has a much longer lifespan than nickel batteries.

Both types of batteries have a limited number of cycles—the total number of times they can fully recharge and discharge all their power. The number of cycles depends on factors like how often you use your robot vacuum and the climate. However, our research shows you can expect a nickel battery to last around 400 cycles or up to two years, and a lithium battery can withstand around 1,500-2,000 cycles or up to five years.

Brushes

Close-up shot of the iRobot automated vacuum cleaner.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

According to iRobot, brushes should be replaced every 6-12 months.

Robot vacuums like the iRobot Roomba j7+ have multiple brushes that allow it to clean. What and where it’s cleaning is going to affect how long these brushes last. Coarse sand over rough wooden floors is going to wear out the brushes faster than light dust over smooth tile. However, iRobot suggests replacing the brushes every 6 to 12 months.

Filters

Shot of an open robot vacuum, revealing the filter.
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

A robot vacuum’s filter needs to be replaced or it will lose suction.

Filters are what keep dust from spewing out of a robot vacuum’s exhaust. Over time they can become clogged and your robot vacuum will lose suction. They should be replaced about once every two months (or whenever they become clogged).

How long should a robot vacuum last, really?

If you did zero maintenance on your robot vacuum, save for emptying it, you’re probably going to get around a year of use before the cleaning power falls off a cliff.

However, you can greatly extend the life of a robot vacuum if you wipe down the sensors once a month, and replace the filters and brushes as needed. If you get a more affordable model, like Roomba 675 you can expect a lifespan of up to two years. Go to the higher-end, like the iRobot j7+, and our research and testing suggest you can get five years plus of cleaning with proper maintenance.

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