Best Affordable Robot VacuumsBy Jonathan Chan
Though high-end robotic cleaners like the Dyson 360 Eye use cameras and apps to get your house clean, those fancy robot vacuums can cost close to $1,000. That's a lot of cash to keep dust bunnies and pet hair at bay.
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. No robot vacuum will clean as well as a traditional canister or upright, but they can keep floors looking fresh between cleanings.
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 can stand sensor-to-sensor with their high-end cousins.
Updated February 08, 2017
Eufy Robovac 11Best Overall
Our overall favorite affordable robot vacuum is the Eufy RoboVac 11. This model has an MSRP of $399, but retails for as low as $219. It gets positive user reviews, and it did exceptionally well in our tests. In fact, it outperformed the popular iRobot Roomba 770 and 880, and was only barely beat by models from Dyson and Samsung that cost up to twice as much.
We estimate that, in a week of cleaning, it will clean about as much as a traditional vacuum. A full clean of our test track took two hours, but you can schedule the vacuum to clean when you're not home. In every test run, the Eufy automatically returned to its dock after cleaning.
The only complaint we have about the RoboVac 11 is its lack of virtual barriers. Other vacuums have magnetic strips or tiny beacons that keep a robot from entering a room or knocking over a dog's dish, but the Eufy goes wherever it pleases—even if it ends up getting lost. For under $400, though, the RoboVac 11 is the most affordable and effective way to add a robot to your cleaning routine.
Bissell SmartClean 1605
Bissell has been making floor care products for over 140 years, but the SmartClean 1605 is its first robot vacuum. This unassuming appliance won us over with its low price and ease of use.
At around $220 on sale, the Bissell doesn't get as good user reviews as the Eufy, but it comes with a virtual wall—a convenience that the vast majority of robot vacuums under $300 do not have. Although the SmartClean picked up less dirt than the Eufy, it cleaned more quickly—which makes it a better choice for tidying up between full cleanings. If you have a large home, the Bissell may be a better fit than the RoboVac 11.
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.
iRobot Roomba 650
The Roomba 650 is the entry-level offering from iRobot, one of the best-known names in the world of home robotics. On sale for as low as $325, it's one of the most affordable robot vacs from an established manufacturer. In our tests, it picked up five percent more dirt than the Eufy—the most of any vacuum we evaluated. The 650 also comes with a virtual wall and the ability to schedule cleanings.
So why isn't this superb cleaner our favorite? Impact tests. We measure how hard a robot vacuum strikes objects and found that, in its zeal to clean our test room, the 650 rammed furniture with 3.3 pounds of force. That's hard enough to knock an item off the edge of a table.
The XV-21 is an older model from Neato—the other big name in robot vacuums. It may be slow to clean, but it is the only robot on this list that can traverse high-pile carpet. Unfortunately, like the Bobsweep, we found the XV-21 got stuck on doormats and the edges of area rugs. Its five-inch height prevents it from going under shelves and cabinet toe kicks, too.
Infinuvo CleanMate QQ-2 BasicAvoid
The Infinuvo QQ-2 Basic is the most affordable robot vacuum on our list. It may have an alluring price tag of $120, but we found this robot utterly lacking. Most notably, it has no dock for automatic charging—you have to plug it in after it finishes cleaning. It has no virtual walls, and it lacks any way to program a daily schedule. Our tests showed that the QQ-2's dirt pickup is the lowest of any vacuum we tested. Yes, $120 is cheap for a robot vacuum—but it's expensive for what amounts to a toy.
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