What is a robot vacuum cleaner?

A robot vacuum cleaner is a vacuum cleaner that you program to clean, instead of physically operating a machine cleaner yourself. It can be programmed to clean specific areas at certain times, or it can go from room to room. They are usually round, but some are square or D-shaped. Some will empty their own waste bins, some will not. Some will even mop your non-carpeted floor, some will not.

Let’s take a look at the PROs of robot vacuums:

Hard to reach areas – Robot vacuums can get in those hard-to-reach areas such as under beds, chairs or other furniture like tables or bookcases.

Scheduled cleaning – Since they are programable, they can be set to clean at specific times, days or in specific locations. Set it and forget it.

Location cleaning – Most, not all, but most models come with a location cleaning feature that will allow you to have it clean a certain spot or area. I.e., if someone tracks dirt or sand in or you spill something in the kitchen, you can call the cleaner to that specific location to clean it up instead of hauling out a dustpan and broom.

Time saving – Since you are not physically doing the vacuuming chore yourself, you can be doing other things while it does the cleaning.

Pet hair – if you have pets, a robot vac is a good way to keep pet hair under control in between your regular vacuuming.

Now, let’s take a look at the CONs of robot vacuums:

Cost – Even though they have been decreasing in cost lately, as more brands come onto the market, they are still pricey. A basic model can run over $200 while a top of the line, all the bells and whistles model, can easily run upward of $1,000.

Power – The motor on these vacuums is much smaller than regular vacuums, meaning they don’t have the suction power that regular upright or canister vacuums have. They won’t pick up the amount of dirt a regular vacuum can. Plus, they aren’t very good at cleaning corners. Experts recommend that even if you have a robot vac, you still need to clean with a regular vacuum from time to time.

You still must pick up – You would pick things up off the floor to use a regular vacuum. You wouldn’t vacuum over socks or coins or other objects. You still need to do this for robot vacs. Meaning, you have to remember when it is going to vacuum and where, so you can pick up anything in its path. Failing to do so could result in the vacuum getting stuck, damaged or creating a bigger mess than what you started with.

Small collection cup – these machines are small, so their debris collection cups are small as well. They need to be emptied frequently, unless of course you get a high end one that empties itself.

Noise – It’s not that they are particularly noisy. It’s that they take much longer to clean than doing the job yourself with a regular vacuum. If you are away when it cleans, then no big deal. However, if you work from home or are retired and spend a lot of time at home, you may have to listen to it for quite awhile, while you are trying to work, watch TV, read or just relax.

Robot vacuums are becoming more attainable with more brands on the market than ever before. They come with all sorts of features and attributes that make them more reliable and desirable than years past. Figure out the features you really want. Do you want self-emptying? Do you want one that mops? Do you want location cleaning? Do you want it to clean under furniture? If yes, then make sure you measure the gap under your furniture and also measure the height of the model you are considering, to make sure it will fit.

Just be sure to do the research so you can get the model that is right for you. And remember, even with a robot vacuum, you still need to use your upright or canister vac from time to time.


By Sharon Koehler. This article is one of a series of articles written and published on behalf of Surface Care PROS Partners.