The point of a robot vacuum is to take some of the pressure off you for maintaining your home, and the iRobot Roomba is amazing, you can read the articles in this site, it will be useful for you. The Roomba 980 never stopped cleaning during our at-home tests. It could conquer a dramatic drop-off between rooms or flooring types, the uncomfortably-close-together table and chair legs, and a couch with a heavy dust ruffle. It cleaned in and around all of them, so it is one of the most self-sufficient options. You can start it up and then forget about it while you do something else. Many of the other units needed much more help and supervision to keep vacuuming.
The Roomba 980 was not as impressive for suction as some others at the very top of our lineup, but it was still competitive. It was in the top tier for suction power on carpeting and hard floors overall but struggled to clean certain messes on some surfaces, including pet hair. This is a fairly large unit, but at least it has a carry handle for transporting it up and down stairs and to other areas of your home. It is competitive when you consider ease of use issues too. While it does not have a screen, it does have pre-recorded voice messages that let you know what is going on. It will play a message like “please charge Roomba” so you know what it needs to keep cleaning.
- It easily transitions between different types of flooring
- The warranty is twice as long as many others
- Audible error codes tell you the Roomba’s status
- The suction is only average strength
- It’s the heaviest and largest in diameter
- This is a significant investment
Why Trust Us?
We spent over 300 hours testing robotic vacuum cleaners in our laboratory and an actual home to see which ones could extract the most messes from the most surfaces. We sprinkled debris like kitty litter, breakfast cereal, flour, and sawdust on our laboratory test flooring and weighed what each unit was able to collect. We then changed the surface and repeated the tests to see how each one would perform on carpeting and different types of hard flooring.
We then took each vacuum home and had it tackle a real cleaning project. We took note of how self-sufficient each robot vacuum is and whether it could maneuver around obstacles like table and chair legs. We rated them on how well they could go from room to room, even when there was a shift in the type of flooring.
We also compared the specifications on each, including their run times and charge times. We considered what kind of brushes they use and also how easy their display and other features make it understand what might be going on inside the vacuum at any given moment.
Customer service is also a factor for an investment like this. We noticed whether or not vacuum manufacturers responded to our inquiries and what type of coverage they offer under their warranty.
How We Tested?
For this round of testing, laboratory staff built a vacuum track that was elevated from the ground, making it easier to observe vacuum behavior and access the test units, when needed. The track had wooden sides on three sides that worked to represent walls in our testing. There was no wall on the fourth side so we could leave a drop-off that would test how well the vacuums sense stairwells to avoid a damaging fall. We put down different types of flooring in the track to test all competitors on vinyl, wood, and carpeting.
Our home testing was conducted on living, dining, kitchen, and bedroom areas of a 1400-square-foot house. The robotic vacuums had to clean around two couches, several chairs, and a dining room table. We observed whether they could weave through the chair and table legs to keep cleaning. We also considered whether they could effectively clean on many different types of surfaces in the home – two types of area rugs, wood flooring and tile, and the transitions between those flooring types.
This is a product category where you get what you pay for, generally speaking. While there are a couple of competitive lower-priced models, most of the ones below the $400 range had a hard time with basic tasks – they picked up less debris in our suction tests and were less able to maneuver around obstacles and keep vacuuming on their own. They were also less able to find their way back to the base for recharging. If you don’t mind being home while they are cleaning, that might be just fine. You can get them unstuck and then do something else in another room for a while until they get stuck again. If you are dreaming of coming home from work to clean floors, be prepared to pay a little more for the ones that can keep themselves going without your help.
You also pay more for the ones you can control from your desk at work, or anywhere, using a Wi-Fi phone app. Happily, those are the same ones that have the right set of physical features to keep cleaning, even if they have to go through some table legs or over the edge of an area rug. Controlling the ones that get stuck all the time from your phone would be an exercise in frustration. They would start cleaning when you send the command from your phone, get stuck, and then stay stuck for hours until you return.
You pay more for the products that clean your floors for you, unsupervised, but that is one of the reasons to buy a robot vacuum in the first place. The added investment is worth it in this case.