If you are wildly busy with work and family obligations, or if you just plain hate housework, there is good news. Robotic vacuum cleaners can make your life easier by giving you an automated hand with the boring task of cleaning floors. Today's robot vacuum cleaners offer a host of features, such as automated recharging, wall sensors and cliff sensors to avoid tumbling down the stairs – all of which make them excellent helpers for keeping your floors clean.
These handy devices cannot give you the deep-cleaning thoroughness you get when you are vigorously working that upright or canister vacuum over your floors. However, a robot vacuum can work wonders in keeping the floors in your home at a basic level of cleanliness. That means you will not be pulling out your regular vacuum that often, there will be much less pet hair to struggle with when you do embark on regular cleaning, and your house generally will look appealing on a daily basis.
Here's news that is extra encouraging: The best robotic vacuum cleaners can toil away while you are gone, and you can even program some to start at a specific time. After a busy day at work, picking up kids or running errands, it certainly is great to walk into your house and see clean floors. Our top three picks for the best robot vacuum cleaners are the Neato XV Signature Pro, the iRobot Roomba 650 and the Neato XV-21 Pet & Allergy vacuum. Learn more about these convenient cleaners in our articles on robot vacuums.
When choosing a robot vacuum, keep in mind what kind of flooring you have. Most robotic cleaners do not work well on shag carpeting. In rating the best robot vacuum cleaners, we looked at performance, features, dimensions, and help and support.
Many of the robot cleaners we reviewed offer different cleaning patterns. Some robot vacuums offer either back-and-forth or random cleaning patterns in which they simply move throughout the room, often bouncing off furniture and walls. Random might sound disorganized, but it often is a worthwhile cleaning pattern, depending on your flooring. Some robot vacuums provide other types of cleaning patterns, including a spiral effect and a swirling S-shaped pattern.
The best robot vacuums offer smart vacuuming patterns, a variety of movements to ensure that all floor areas are cleaned. Some begin by working the perimeter of a room and then moving back and forth, sensing areas that need extra cleaning. Others have a laser system to map out a room and then proceed in a methodical way to do all necessary cleaning.
The top robots use sensors to map out a room and remember where they have gone, ensuring that they do not miss a spot. The ability to program your robot vacuum for scheduled cleaning is also an asset. You just set the times and days you want your floors cleaned ahead of time and let the vacuum do the cleaning, whether you are at home or away.
A number of additional features can make your vacuum robot even handier around the home. For example, certain robots offer automatic docking and recharging features. When their batteries run low, the machines return to their home base to get more energy – which means your robot can both clean and recharge itself when you are gone. You set it up to clean and the vacuum will also recharge and be ready to go the next time you need it.
Many cleaners come with features to keep them from going places they should not, like virtual walls that emit a signal that the cleaners will not cross. Boundary markers, which are simple strips of rubber-like material or plastic, accomplish the same goal when you place them on the floor. Once the cleaner’s sensors detect the markers, the robot should change direction. Another feature, called a cliff sensor, prevents robot vacuums from falling over drop-offs such as stairs.
It is important to find a robotic vacuum that provides good air filtration, since there is no point in having a machine vacuum up dust only to spray it all over the place as the machine moves. Some of the best robot vacuums have two levels of air filtration, and it is especially good to have one equipped with a HEPA filter. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters meet the U.S. Department of Energy efficiency standards and are great for removing allergens.
Robot vacuum cleaners offer the advantage of mobility. Designed to be small and compact, they can get into tight spaces that upright vacuums are not able to clean unless you use a vacuum hose and attachment.
Most robot vacuums stand only 4 inches tall or shorter, meaning they can easily slide under beds and couches to get to those hard-to-reach spaces. To prevent your robot from causing any counterproductive scuff marks as it vacuums, good-quality models feature soft rubber bumpers that will protect floorboards and furniture.
Warranty & Support
All of the robot vacuum cleaners we reviewed come with a one-year warranty. Keep in mind that robotic vacuum cleaners are not as durable as standard vacuum cleaners. So, if you buy an expensive machine, you might want to purchase an extended warranty.
Customer support makes a difference in your experience with your vacuum. The best manufacturers offer support via toll-free phone numbers, as well as help from user manuals, email support and FAQs.
While robot vacuum cleaners cannot substitute the type of cleaning you get with traditional vacuum cleaners, these little helpers are great for maintenance cleaning. Thanks to your robot, your cleaning load will be lightened considerably and your house will look good even on the most hectic days.