Robotic vacuums are becoming increasingly advanced and powerful – and big brands such as Dyson and Samsung have recently entered the market. In this article, we review our picks for the best robot vacuum cleaners of 2017.
- Basic navigation system, short pile + hardfloors
- Dust Capacity: 0.25 litres
- Filter: Standard
- Price: ££
- Small capacity but keeps your floors presentable and great value.
- Advanced navigation, tank track design, outstanding suction, app integration
- Dust Capacity: 0.33 litres
- Filter: Root Cyclone
- Price: £££££
- Outstanding suction power and efficient navigation system. Our top recommendation.
- Dual brush, scheduler, advanced navigation
- Dust Capacity: -
- Filter: HEPA
- Price: £££
- Solid mid-range robot. 120 minute cleaning time and spot clean function.
- Laser navigation, D-shaped design, excels at hard floors, eco mode
- Dust Capacity: 0.7 litres
- Filter: Standard
- Price: £££££
- Sometimes struggles with carpets but one of the best robots for cleaning hard floors.
Contents of This Page
- Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners Really Any Good?
- Which are the Best Robotic Vacuums?
- Individual Robot Vacuum Reviews
- How to Choose an Automatic Vacuum Cleaner
- A-Z of In-Depth Robotic Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
The main benefit of a robot vacuum is obvious – the vacuum cleans on auto-pilot, saving you time and stress. If you live in a busy house, or just can’t face cleaning any more, then an automated vacuum could be an excellent choice. They are especially attractive for families with pets or children.
However, you might be sceptical about whether a robotic cleaner can really do an efficient job. Do they clean the entire floor? How much suction do they provide? Do they get stuck? We mentioned the advantages and disadvantages of these models on our homepage, but if you want more detail you’re in the right place.
Listed below are our top picks for the best robot vacuum cleaner of 2017. These machines span a range of budgets – from several hundred up to £800+ – yet all provide excellent value for money. But before we get to that, we need to answer a question you’re probably asking…
Are Robot Vacuum Cleaners Really Any Good?
The short answer is yes – and they are becoming increasingly powerful and advanced.
Let’s start with the positives. The best robotic vacuum cleaners, while nothing like robots in movies (which is probably a good thing), are great at taking care of repetitive, daily cleaning. They tend to have a low profile too, meaning they can easily get under tables and other furniture.
One of the great things about a robotic vacuum is you can often set them to clean at specific times of the day. You could, for example, program the vacuum to clean when your family is at work or school. There’s nothing quite like coming home to a recently cleaned floor! Most models also return to their charging station when complete, making them a truly automated cleaning solution.
Now the negatives. While the best robot vacuums are a great tool, they are not yet replacements for an upright or cylinder. The suction power and versatility just isn’t there – although the performance of robotic cleaners is improving all the time. In addition, robot cleaners don’t have the ability to go up and down stairs, so they are limited to one floor only.
The other downside is the cost. While you can get an excellent upright vacuum for £150-£250 (and sometimes even cheaper), some robot models cost £500+. Fortunately, there are some great robot cleaners available for prices that rival regular vacuums too.
At Spotless Vacuum, we think robotic vacuums have improved to the point where they can be seriously considered if you want to cut down your cleaning time. They aren’t gimmicks any more – with brands such as Samsung, iRobot, Dyson and AirCraft manufacturing some excellent models.
In this section, we’re going to take you through the benefits and disadvantages of a robotic vacuum in detail. You’ll learn about the best robotic cleaners on the market, the primary features you should look for and what to avoid. So, let’s get started!
Which are the Best Robotic Vacuums?
|Price Range||Image||Product Name||Navigation Type||Scheduling||Dust Capacity||Shape||Mobile App|
(Less than £300)
|Vileda Cleaning Robot||Basic||No||0.25 litres||Round||No|
|AirCraft PILOT MAX||Room Mapping||Yes||0.5 litres||Round||No|
|Neato BotVac75||Room Mapping||Yes||0.7 litres||Square Front||No|
|iRobot ROOMBA 880||Room Mapping||Yes||0.5 litres||Round||No|
|Samsung VR9300K||Room Mapping||Yes||0.7 litres||Square Front||Yes|
|iRobot Roomba 980||Room Mapping||Yes||Not Listed||Round||Yes|
|Neato BotVac Connected||Room Mapping||Yes||0.7 litres||Square Front||Yes|
|Dyson 360 Eye||Room Mapping||Yes||0.33 litres||Round||Yes|
Individual Robot Vacuum Reviews
AirCraft PILOT MAX
The AirCraft PILOT MAX is a robotic cleaner that is designed for performance. It comes equipped with two brush blades, meaning it can effectively clean any type of floor. It also has an extended side brush for corners and walls – common “blind spots” for most robotic vacuums.
Another interesting feature is the “Spot Cleaning” function. When the vacuum finds particularly stubborn dirt, it temporarily increases suction power. Additionally, the PILOT MAX has been designed to handle pet hair. This means it can collect even the trickiest hairs – and it can vacuum an average room in around 20 minutes.
Reviews of the AirCraft PILOT MAX vacuum cleaner have been positive. A reviewer writes that it’s “brilliant” at cleaning carpets, and that he loves the scheduling function. Another reviewer writes that the vacuum is great at getting to dirt in corners.
The PILOT MAX is an excellent model and certainly amongst the best robotic vacuum cleaners on the market. It’s not cheap, but it’s also not the most expensive either. Click here to read our full review of the AirCraft.
- Price Range: £££
- Weight: 5kg
- Cleaning Time: Up to 120 minutes
- Filter Type: HEPA
- “Spot Cleaning” function for extra suction when needed.
- Two brush blades.
- Side brush for getting to corners and along walls.
- Advanced navigation system.
Vileda Cleaning Robot
At the lower end of the spectrum, we have the Vileda Cleaning Robot. This is a much simpler model – with a low price to match. Features include the ability to clean short pile carpets and hard floors, several settings for different size rooms and stair sensors so it can be used on upstairs landings.
As you’d expect from a budget model, there are some tradeoffs when buying the Vileda. The main one is the navigation system. Instead of mapping the room, the Vileda simply keeps going until it gently hits an object, and then changes direction. This works but isn’t as efficient. It’s also not able to handle carpets as well as hard floors, due to the relatively low suction power.
Despite these drawbacks, reviews of the Vileda Cleaning Robot have been positive. A reviewer writes that he’s not been disappointed as the Vileda is capable of picking up pet hair and fluff. Another reviewer writes that the suction is acceptable, but that the small capacity (0.25 litres) and poor navigation system mean it’s not suitable as a vacuum replacement.
Overall, the Vileda Cleaning Robot is an excellent model if you want to try a robotic vacuum without spending a lot of money. While we wouldn’t go as far to say it’s a cheap robot vacuum, it’s considerably less expensive than the others on this list. It has a rudimentary navigation system and small capacity, but can keep your floors presentable and provides great value. Click here for our full review of the Vileda.
- Price Range: ££
- Weight: 3kg
- Battery Life: Up to 80 minutes
- Filter Type: Standard
- Budget robotic vacuum cleaner that still maintains decent performance.
- Simple navigation system.
- Ability to clean both short pile carpets and hard floors.
The Neato BotVac75 is one of the most popular automated vacuum cleaners in its price range – and for good reason. Before cleaning, the BotVac75 maps your room and decides on the most efficient path. It then begins cleaning without the continuous bumping seen on less advanced models. Neato claims the BotVac75 can complete a room up to four times quicker than competing models.
Other features include precision brushes for a closer clean, a square end to vacuum up to the wall and a scheduling system. The BotVac75 also returns to its charging station before resuming cleaning if required.
Reviewers seem to love the Neato BotVac75, with the model receiving a high average rating on shopping sites. A reviewer writes that it methodically cleans her house and even returns to spots it missed. Another reviewer writes that the vacuum is great at manoeuvring out of potential hazards, and that it cleans right up to the edge of the wall.
While no robotic vacuum can replace an upright or cylinder, the Neato BotVac75 is an excellent companion to your main vacuum. Its advanced pathfinding is more efficient than many other models, and it has the power to clean all but the most stubborn dirt and fluff. Here’s our full review of the Neato.
- Price Range: £££
- Weight: 8kg
- Filter Type: Standard
- Advanced pathfinding system that “maps” each room.
- Automatically returns to charge when needed.
- Scheduling system.
- Can handle carpet and hard floors.
iRobot ROOMBA 880
The iRobot Roomba was the original robotic vacuum cleaner, but the brand hasn’t been left behind newer vacuums. In fact, the most recent ROOMBA robotic vacuums are excellent, with the 880 amongst the best. The 880 cleans 50% better than previous versions of the ROOMBA, according to the manufacturer, and is also able to clean along the edge of walls and under beds.
Other features include a stair sensor, HEPA filter and home base for charging. The 880 is capable of cleaning almost any type of floor, including carpets, tile and hardwood.
The iRobot ROOMBA 880 has received strong reviews from buyers, and has a high average rating on shopping sites. A reviewer writes that the machine has powerful suction for a robot model. Another writer that the acoustic sensors tell the 880 when it needs to focus on a particularly dirty area.
There’s no doubt that the iRobot ROOMBA 880 robot cleaner is an excellent model. It has strong suction, a home base for charging and the ability to vacuum any floor. The main drawback is the price, which is over £500 at the time of writing (March 2016). Click for our full review of the ROOMBA 880.
- Price Range: ££££
- Weight: 3.8kg
- Filter Type: HEPA
- Strong suction power that’s up to 50% more powerful than previous ROOMBA versions.
- iAdapt responsive navigation that can navigate between rooms.
- Automatic recharging at the home base.
Dyson 360 Eye
Dyson is a true powerhouse of modern vacuums, so it’s surprising it took the company until 2016 to properly enter the robotic market. Fortunately, the result is worth the wait. With powerful suction and excellent navigation, the 360 Eye is one of the best robot vacuums – but it comes with a high price tag to match.
Firstly, why the name? Unlike other models, the Dyson is built with a full 360 degree “vision” system. This allows it to more precisely pinpoint its location. More importantly, the expanded visual field allows the 360 to know where it’s already cleaned and where it needs to go next.
Some robotic vacuums focus more on unnecessary gimmicks than actual cleaning – but this isn’t the case with the 360 Eye. It has more powerful suction than most competitors, so it can pickup more dirt and dust. This is largely due to the root cyclone technology found on regular Dyson vacs.
The tank track design, instead of wheels, allows it to move more freely around the home. These tracks also allow it to move over height differences of up to 2cm. This might not sound like much, but is higher than many other robot vacs and prevents the 360 from getting caught when moving between hard floors and carpets.
The navigation system is more calculated than the random system found on cheaper models. Using its 360 vision, the Dyson maps out the room before establishing a cleaning pattern. In practice, this means it cleans in a “widening square” pattern. However, while the wider visual field and systematic pattern cut down on collisions, the Dyson still hits furniture and other objects from time to time.
As you would expect from such an expensive machine, the 360 Eye has a number of advanced features. You can control scheduling via the mobile app, which is a useful (if not essential) feature. The app also shows you the route taken by the robot and how many times it needed to charge during a session. Like other Dyson vacuums, the 360 uses radial root cyclone technology for efficient filtration. It also has a large brushbar to clean the full-width of the body.
At this stage, you might be wondering if there are any downsides to the 360 Eye. The biggest issue we have is that there are no virtual walls. This means you can’t limit where the Dyson cleans without creating physical barriers. As the Dyson doesn’t have a side brush, it also doesn’t clean as effectively along walls and skirting boards. This issue, combined with being too tall to get under low furniture, means you still need to clean with your regular vacuum. The app, while useful, is also reported to have some reliability issues.
Despite these minor drawbacks, the Dyson 360 Eye is the best robot vacuum on the market at the moment – by a long way. It has outstanding suction for getting rid of much more dirt and dust. The navigation system also means it cleans much more effectively than competing models. It’s expensive, but truly lives up to the high expectations of a Dyson robotic vacuum.
- Price Range: £££££
- Weight: 2.44kg
- Cleaning Time: Up to 75 minutes
- Filter Type: Root Cyclone
- The most powerful robotic vacuum
- 360 degree vision
- Efficient navigation system
- App integration for scheduling and monitoring
Neato BotVac Connected
We’ve already included the BotVac75 on this list – but the BotVac Connected deserves its own place. This is the premium model from the robot vac specialists. It includes technology used to navigate Google’s self-driving cars, along with a turbo mode and an app.
One of the stand-out features of the Connected is the laser navigation system. This scans the room and maps potential obstructions before cleaning. It then creates a plan to cover the room efficiently, rather than just moving in random directions like cheaper models. The Connected can also return to its base when it needs recharging before continuing where it stopped.
As the name suggests, the Neato can be controlled via Wi-Fi on your smartphone. The app is able to change scheduling, start and stop the machine, and receive notifications.
But how does the BotVac Connected perform? It excels at hard floor cleaning but struggles with carpets. This is surprising, considering its a relatively expensive model. For cleaning multiple rooms with hard floors, however, the Connected is one of the most efficient and powerful options available.
Other features include an eco mode for saving power (and reducing noise), stronger suction power than the BotVac75 and brushbar that’s designed to pickup pet hair. It has a D-Shaped design to clean deeper into corners and a max mode that’s great for hair. The filter is also capable of removing particles as small as 0.3 microns.
While we think there are better robotic vacuums for cleaning carpets, the Neato BotVac Connected is a great choice if you have hard floors in most of your home. It also has an excellent navigation system that’s adept at avoiding cables and furniture.
- Price Range: £££££
- Weight: 3.7kg
- Cleaning Time: Up to 120 minutes
- Filter Type: Washable
- Laser navigation system
- D-Shaped design for cleaning into corners
- Excellent for hard floors
iRobot Roomba 980
The iRobot Roomba 980 is the company’s premium robot cleaner. It’s much more expensive than entry level Roombas, but has a range of features to justify the price difference.
One of the most impressive things about the 980 is its ability to navigate your home without bumping into objects. With its iAdapt 2.0 Navigation system, it memorises its location while creating an optimised cleaning pattern (click here for an overview of how an older navigation system from iRobot worked and here for how the new system works). It’s also able to navigate through multiple rooms while avoiding stairs.
Like other premium robotic vacs, the 980 comes with an app for scheduling and starting the machine. You can also check whether the vacuum is currently cleaning.
Interestingly, the 980 features a “brushless” design. Instead, it has extractors for removing dust, dirt and hair. This is useful if you have pets, as the lack of a brush means it can’t get tangled.
Other features include a “Carpet Boost” function for increasing suction automatically on carpets, a side brush for cleaning along skirting boards and a low-profile design to get under chairs and sofas (unlike the Dyson Eye). It also comes with a recharging dock.
With its relatively strong suction power, the 980 is one of the best robot vacuums for cleaning carpets. It doesn’t cope so well with hard floors though. The suction part of the vacuum also doesn’t extend the entire width of the machine, so it can’t clean right up to walls.
The iRobot Roomba 980 is an excellent machine that performs well on carpets. If your home has lots of hard floors, however, then there are better options considering the very high price tag.
- Price Range: £££££
- Weight: 3.95kg
- Cleaning Time: Up to 120 minutes
- Filter Type: AeroForce High-Efficiency
- Excellent navigation system
- Side brush for cleaning along skirting boards
- Great for cleaning carpets
The Samsung VR9300K Connected has the most futuristic appearance of any vacuum we’ve reviewed. With its sleek design, excellent suction power and large capacity, it’s also one of the best.
Let’s start with its performance. The VR9300K, which came from Samsung’s new robotics lab, provides excellent suction on both carpets and hard floors. It can even cope well with pet hair – which is unusual for a robotic vacuum. We think it’s probably the best robot vacuum for pure cleaning performance available right now.
Other features include Samsung’s “Visionary Mapping Plus System,” which it claims allows the robot to calculate the most efficient cleaning route, and a sensor for detecting obstacles. The mobile app also includes a spot cleaning function, allowing you to direct the VR9300K to a particularly dusty or dirty area.
Despite its fantastic cleaning performance, there are some drawbacks to the VR9300K. Its navigation doesn’t perform as well as competitors, which means it’s more likely to get stuck during a cleaning session (although this is still uncommon). The vacuum can also struggle to clean right up to skirting boards and walls.
Even so, the Samsung VR9300K Connected is one of the best robot vacuum cleaners available at the moment. It’s slightly let down by its navigation system, but makes up for it in terms of raw cleaning power. We think the Dyson 360 Eye is probably the better option in this price range, but both are excellent choices.
- Price Range: £££££
- Weight: 4.9kg
- Filter Type: Washable
- Outstanding cleaning on both carpets and hardfloors
- Futuristic design
- Handles pet hair better than other robot vacs
How to Choose an Automatic Vacuum Cleaner
Once you decide that the convenience of a robot vacuum cleaner is too tempting to pass up, the next step is to choose which model to buy. This isn’t easy – partly because there are an increasing number of options, but also because there are additional considerations with a robot cleaner that don’t apply to regular vacuums. In this section, we’re going to go through the main factors when choosing a robot cleaner, including the navigation system, battery life and much more.
Set The Right Expectations
The first thing is to have realistic expectations for your robot cleaner. While robot cleaners are improving rapidly, they haven’t reached a point where they are a true replacement for a regular vacuum. They are convenient, easy to use and can save a lot of time – but have limitations which don’t apply to uprights or cylinders.
In other words, try not to compare a robot to your main vacuum. Instead, see it as a time saving tool that reduces the need for regular cleaning.
To give you a better idea of what a robot model can and can’t do, here’s a short video of the iRobot 880 in action:
The cheapest robot vacuums can cost as little as £60 – although don’t expect much performance at that price – while the most expensive cost £600 or even more.
One thing to keep in mind is that robotic vacuum features are advancing faster than regular vacuums. This is because the technology is newer, so breakthroughs tend to come more regularly. That’s why we recommend buying the latest models, as the performance difference can be significant (which isn’t always the case with regular vacuums).
So how do you decide your budget? This really comes down to personal preference. As a general rule, higher priced vacuums are better at cleaning thick carpets, have more scheduling options and advanced navigation technology. They also tend to be better at moving between different types of floor (or even navigating between rooms).
Just like regular vacuums, the dust capacity is important. The larger the capacity, the less frequently you’ll need to empty it. Considering the primary advantage of a robot model is convenience, it makes sense to look for a machine with a large capacity.
Nearly all robot cleaners have a capacity of less than 1 litre, however, which means they are considerably smaller than regular vacs.
Also, look for a model that’s easy to empty. If a vacuum has a quick and hygienic emptying system, it won’t be so frustrating to need to empty it regularly.
Suction Power and Dirt Detection
Regardless of what type of vacuum you’re buying, suction power is always going to be one of the primary factors. It’s often difficult to judge suction power from a model’s specification, so it’s a good idea to read reviews to get an idea of how the vacuum performs on different surfaces.
There’s an additional variable with robot vacuums: battery life. The battery life sets how much of your home the vacuum can clean in one go – but remember more efficient navigation systems (see below) require less battery life for the same floor space. Also, while some vacuums return “home” when they need to charge, others don’t have this feature which means you have to manually charge them.
Some models come with a dirt detection feature. This identifies areas that need extra attention, and either spends more time cleaning them or activates a higher suction power.
Suction power isn’t the only variable affecting how efficiently a vacuum cleans though. You also need to consider the type of brush bar. This is the part that rotates and agitates carpet fibres to remove more dirt and dust.
While robotic vacuums all look similar when in cleaning mode, the underlying software processes for navigation can vary greatly.
The cheapest models, for example, use basic algorithms that do little more than bounce off objects until the cleaning session is complete. More advanced models have mapping systems that plan the most efficient route through a room.
While basic algorithms can work well, they often miss spots, especially corners. Advanced algorithms often “know” which areas the vacuum has cleaned and which need more attention. Make sure you know how the vacuum navigates, and whether it just cleans for a certain amount of time before deciding it’s “done.”
The Dyson 360 Eye is a good example of a model with advanced navigation planning. You can see a quick example of this in the video below:
Virtual walls are another consideration. These stop the robot entering certain rooms without requiring a physical block. Most vacuums have virtual walls in some form, but many only come with a single wall.
Floor Cleaning Abilities
The cheapest robot vacuums can sometimes struggle when transitioning between hard floors and carpets. While newer models can often handle switching floor types, this is something to keep in mind if you want the vacuum to clean multiple rooms.
Also, be aware that cheaper models may not have the power to effectively clean long pile carpets. The most basic robots are best used on hard floors.
- Shape. Many robot models are circular, so they struggle with corners. Some have a D shape for this reason.
- Side/Wall Brushes. More expensive options sometimes have side or wall brushes. These extend out from the main body and help remove dirt from skirting boards and other tricky areas.
- Scheduler. While schedulers are common, they aren’t a feature on every robot cleaner. So if you want the vacuum to clean when you’re at work, make sure you find one with a scheduler.
- Stair Detection. If you want to use the vacuum upstairs, it’s vital that the machine has built-in stair detection.
- Remote. Some robots come with a remote control for conveniently adjusting settings.
- Brand. There are a number of new companies producing robotic cleaners. While these vacuums are often excellent when it comes to performance, the customer support may not match up to established brands. This is something to consider when making a final decision on a robot model.
- Warranty. As with any appliance, longer warranties are often a sign that the manufacturer has confidence in the product.
Robot vacuums are growing in popularity and can save you lots of cleaning time. While they can’t replace a regular vacuum, they are convenient and can keep your floors respectable in between major cleaning sessions.
There are a number of considerations when choosing the best vacuum robot. These include the navigation system, dust capacity, suction power and whether the vacuum comes with a scheduling system.
It’s also important to consider your requirements. Do you just want a simple model that can do a basic job when you don’t have time for a full clean? Or are you looking for a scheduled option with advanced navigation and side brushes for a more complete clean? There’s no right or wrong answer – it just depends on your expectations and budget.
In our opinion, the best robot vacuum of 2017 is the Dyson 360 Eye. It’s pricey, but is powerful and effective on both hard floors and carpets. If your budget can’t stretch this far, the AirCraft Pilot Max is a good alternative.
We hope this article has helped you choose a robot vacuum cleaner. If you have any questions or comments, please let us know in the comments section below.