The Best Affordable Robot Vacuums of 2019By Jonathan Chan, December 14, 2018, Updated January 28, 2019
Though high-end robotic cleaners like the Dyson 360 Eye can cost close to $1,000, our tests show that a host of less-expensive—and sometimes lesser-known—models will clean your house nearly as well as pricier robot vacs.
To find the best, we rounded up the most popular robot vacuums that retail for less than $400 and spent a few weeks putting them through our robot vacuum obstacle course. While we did uncover a few robots to avoid at any cost, it turns out that the best low-cost vacuums—like the Eufy 11S (available at Amazon)—can stand sensor-to-sensor with their high-end cousins.
Here are the best affordable robot vacuums we tested ranked, in order.
- Eufy Robovac 11S
- Neato Botvac D3 Connected
- iRobot Roomba 690
- EcoVacs Deebot Ozmo 601
- Bobsweep Bobi Pet
Updated January 28, 2019
Eufy Robovac 11S
Eufy Robovac 11SBest Overall
The Eufy Robovac 11s is the heir to the much-loved Robovac 11. This robot vacuum does its predecessor proud, offering excellent suction and improved navigation. The slimmer design allows the S to get its brushes into more places.
When we tested, the 11s picked up around 11.6 grams of dirt per run, more than what most iRobot models manage. We also noted that during operation, the 11S was quiet, rarely making enough noise to interrupt a conversation. The combination of good dirt pickup and quiet operation make the 11s one of our favorite robot vacuums.
Neato Botvac D3 Connected
Neato Botvac D3 Connected
We're big fans of the Neato D3 Connected. It's an affordable robot vacuum that excels at dirt pickup, cleaning as well as robot vacuums that cost twice the price. It did especially well on pet hair.
While it's the most expensive vacuum on our list, it also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity. That means you can tell Alexa or Google Home to start vacuuming—or you can start your D3 from your smartphone, anywhere in the world.
How We Tested
Hey, I'm Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it—whether it’s laundry detergents or dishwashers—I oversee its testing. This expertise extends to vacuums: upright, canister, handheld, and robotic.
Over the years, I’ve gotten my hands on hundreds of vacuums and this article is about the best of every type I’ve tested. When it comes to the absolute pinnacle, it’s all about well each model can clean up a mess.
Most of the tests involve our robot obstacle course. The area contains analogs for furniture legs, shelves, and thresholds. Each robot vacuum has three chances to prove itself. The first two runs, we placed cork pellets under the shelves and between the furniture legs. When we let the robot vacuum loose, we look for how long a cleaning cycle takes, what obstacles it was able to clean thoroughly, and overall debris pickup. For the final test run, we replaced the cork with pet hair and run another test run.
What You Need to Know about Robot Vacuums
After testing dozens and dozens of robot vacuums, we think the name is a bit of a misnomer. A robot vacuum’s ability to pick up dirt pales in comparison to that of a full-sized vacuum and can only really compete over the course of a week. We found that consumers experience the most satisfaction with their robot vacuums when they view them as floor maintainers in between manual cleanings.
We should also point out that most robot vacuums are designed for bare floors and medium carpet. If you have throw rugs taller than ½ inch, your robot vacuum might not be able to climb atop it or may get stuck if it gets up there. This fact is vital for pet owners because it means pet beds are a point of contention.
Avoiding Robot Vacuum Pet Mishaps
Over the years, three technologies have developed to help keep robot vacuums from running amok: magnetic strips, virtual barriers, and app-based barriers. All three of these methods have their pros and cons.
Magnetic strips are the simplest. You lay them on the floor and they create a barrier that designated robot vacuums will not cross. While they don’t require batteries, magnetic strips are cumbersome. Most robot vacuums that included them only ship with one, so you have to cut them if you want to cover multiple entryways.
The next step up is virtual barriers. These battery-powered devices emit an infrared line that tells robot vacuums to turn back. Some specialized barriers, like iRobot’s lighthouse, can create a “halo” or a circle barrier to encompass a piece of furniture or a pet bowl.
The final method, aside from shutting doors, involves specialized apps. New mapping technologies allow robot vacuums to have a better understanding of their surroundings. They can then send that information to your phone. Companies like iRobot, Neato, and Ecovacs all produce robot vacuums were you can draw lines on virtual maps to denote where the robots can and cannot go.
Robot vs. Vacuum
Whenever you have a device that’s battery powered, you’re going to have to deal with a series of tradeoffs. With robot vacuums, it’s a balancing act between being a good robot and a good vacuum.
A good robot navigates well by not bumping into furniture and getting over thresholds. But a robot vacuum’s worst downfall is when it gets stuck and requires a helping hand, defeating the purpose of an automated floor cleaner. However, being a good robot means drawing power away from the brushes and to the wheels, sensors, and circuit board.
A robot vacuum that cleans well tends to ram itself into furniture. A robot vacuum can’t clean where its brushes haven’t been. They also tend to be noisier as more power is drawn to the suction motor.
The basic rule of thumb is that the more a robot vacuum costs, the better robot it is and the less dirt it will pick up. We’re talking about a 20 percent difference between the best navigators that never get close to a chair leg and a robot vacuum that scuffs everything in your house. The most exceptional robot vacuums do both and they tend to win our Editor’s Choice and Best of Year awards.
Different Types of Navigation
Robot vacuums tend to have two different types of navigation, infrared and optical, or a combination of both. Infrared sensors shoot out beams that give information about distance. Optical navigation involves cameras, usually mounted on the top of the unit. Typically, these cameras utilize contrast and landmarks to decipher where they are. Robot vacuums that rely on optical navigation cannot work in a pitch black room.
How long do robot vacuums last?
This is a very tricky question. However, we find that the battery is the shortest-lived part of a robot vacuum. Both nickel and lithium batteries have hard limits on the number of times they can recharge. Nickel batteries suffer from a limitation known as memory loss—basically, over time, they lose the ability to recharge fully. The cathodes of lithium batteries tend to wear after a few years. As a rule of thumb, you can expect to buy a new battery pack for your robot vacuum after two to four years of use, depending on how often you run your device.
Are robot vacuums worth the money?
If you’re a pet owner, a robot vacuum helps get at balls of fur that are everywhere. As a floor maintainer between manual cleanings, they can save a lot of time and energy. The way to get your money’s worth is to set a robot vacuum to automatically run every day. Getting one with an app is also a bonus for those times you need to give your floors a once-over before coming home to any last-minute surprise guests.
Other Robot Vacuums We Tested
iRobot Roomba 690
Where To Buy$299.00 Amazon Buy $297.49 Amazon Buy $299.99 Walmart Buy $299.00 Abt Buy $299.99 Best Buy Buy
iRobot Roomba 690
The Roomba 690 replaces the 650 as the entry-level offering from iRobot, one of the best-known names in the world of home robotics. On sale for as low as $299, it adds Wi-Fi connectivity and remote control with a smartphone app. That means it's the most affordable connected robot vac from a major manufacturer.
So why isn't this superb cleaner our favorite? Well, it still has a few flaws. For instance, it's based on the iRobot 650, which is rough on furniture, hitting the table and chair legs with 3.3 pounds of force in our tests. That's hard enough to knock an item off the edge of a table.
We'd also avoid the Roomba 614. It doesn't just lack connectivity—it can't be scheduled at all.
EcoVacs Deebot Ozmo 601
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy
EcoVacs Deebot Ozmo 601
Jacks of all trades may be a master of none, but do they tend to be cost effective. The Ecovacs Deebot 601 stands as a shining example. It’s a combination robot vacuum and mop that handles both in stride.
On average, the 601 picked up a respectable 10.6 grams of dirt per run. While that isn’t the highest we’ve seen, even in this price range, it’s the only model that can also act as an automated Swiffer.
Bobsweep Bobi Pet
Where To BuyClick for price Amazon Buy $219.99 Walmart Buy $299.99 Home Depot Buy $849.99 Best Buy Buy
Bobsweep Bobi Pet
The oddly named Bobsweep Bobi Pet (stylized as bObi Pet) comes with a ton of extras, including a virtual wall, a dry mop attachment, and a UV light on its underside that Bobsweep says can kill germs.
All these goodies will cost you: The Bobi Pet was the most expensive robot vacuum in our roundup, retailing for around $330. For that price, it gave a mixed performance in our tests. While it cleaned 75% of the pet hair we laid out for it, it also got stuck on the edges of a doormat multiple times and required human intervention to get it moving again. We think that defeats the purpose of an automated cleaner, which is why we're on the fence about recommending it.