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The best robot vacuums of 2020: iRobot Roomba, Neato, to Eufy and many more vacuum models

by Demi Conn (2020-03-05)


id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body"> Now playing: Watch this: Battling bot vacs: iRobot Roomba S9+ vs Neato Botvac... 8:07 I've fantasized about homes that clean themselves for a long time. Today's robot vacuums , that fantasy sounds less and less far fetched. Current robotic vacuums are packed with loads of sensors, electronic eyes -- even lasers -- and they have enhanced computing power to match. 

Their prices have ballooned, too. Some robotic vacuum models will even set you back a staggering four figures. Spending that much is extravagant, but it does net you next-level vacuum cleaning features. Those cleaning features include multiple room and floor plan mapping, dustbins that empty themselves, turbo mode, plus elegantly designed hardware.

To zero in on the best robot vacuum cleaner, I spent over 120 hours torture testing a group of 10 robotic vacuums. Among them are brand-new models that have recently launched, flagship models, as well as compelling options offered across numerous online retailers. I excluded older models that likely won't be sold for long.

Read more: Your Roomba takes a weird path to clean the floors in your home | The best cordless vacuums for 2020

The best if you're loaded
iRobot Roomba S9 Plus
Tyler Lizenby/CNET If someone were to give you a blank check and told you to buy a robotic vacuum, this is the bot to get. The iRobot Roomba S9 Plus costs a whopping $1,399. For that staggeringly steep sticker price though, this bot delivers superb dirt removal cleaning power. 

On hardwood flooring it picked up an average of 93% of our test sand, the highest amount in our test group. The Roomba struggled a bit cleaning sand from low-pile carpeting and area rugs, earning a low average dust and sand pickup of 28%. 

That said, the vacuum removed an average 71% of sand from our midpile carpet. Again, this is the best result that we saw on this specific test. It also cleaned up more pet hair and allergens than any vacuum in this test group, and the bot navigates and maps multiple rooms and floors. iRobot has also updated its app to let you designate "keep out zones" to designate areas you want the S9 Plus to avoid.

The robot zipped through our test room in a short average time of 25 minutes, too. You can link the S9 Plus to the Roomba app and your home WiFi as well. Best of all is the Roomba S9 Plus' CleanBase docking station. It both charges the robot's battery and empties its dustbin automatically. Now that's convenient. Read our first impressions of the Roomba S9 Plus.

$1,399 at Amazon Read more: iRobot Roomba 980: $550 for a high-end robot vacuum

The best midrange robot vacuum
Neato Botvac D7 Connected
Tyler Lizenby/CNET For half the price of the Roomba S9 Plus, the $647 Neato's Botvac D7 Connected vacuums up dirt, dust and messes almost as well. On average this robotic cleaner picked up a greater amount of sand (36%) across low-pile carpet and rugs than the Roomba did. 

It narrowly beat the S9 Plus for cleaning power on hardwood floors, too, collecting an average of 95% of the sand we put your makeup on fix your hair up pretty lyrics down. The vac cleaned dirt, dust and sand from midpile rugs less effectively though, notching a pickup average of 47 percent. 

While it can't match the Roomba's prowess at removing pet hair or empty its own dust bin, this cleaning robot navigates more efficiently, yet covers more ground, thanks to built-in lidar laser navigation mapping. You can also control the cleaning robot using the Neato app as a remote control, as well as link it to Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. The app allows you to designate areas of your home as off-limits, too. Read our Neato Botvac D7 Connected preview.

$680 at Amazon Read more: How to prep your house so your robot vacuum won't get stuck

The best value
Eufy Robovac 11S Max
Tyler Lizenby/CNET Here's a machine that proves you don't need to blow your budget to purchase a solid robot vacuum cleaner. Even though the Robovac 11S Max costs just $219, it cleans floors effectively. That's especially the case when cleaning hardwood bare floors. 

It managed to remove an average of 71% of our test sand from this type of surface. The bot didn't work as well handling carpets, earning sand pickup averages of 21 and 27% on low pile and midpile, respectively. 

And due to this vacuum's basic navigation system, it took well over an hour to negotiate our test room. Still, the Eufy used its runtime wisely. The vacuum covered the space well, cleaning up while leaving almost no spots untouched. The Eufy is also self-charging.   

$180 at Amazon How we test robot vacuums

Our method for evaluating robot vacuums is straightforward, yet grueling. There are two types of tests we run. The first trial is to figure out how well a robot covers the floor. We built an industry-standard testing room, as specified by the International Electrotechnical Commission, just for this purpose. The IEC is an international standards body responsible for managing robot vacuum testing procedures, among other things, for vacuum manufacturers. 

Read more: The 10 best vacuums to use for kitchen cleanup

Enlarge ImageObstacles in out test room mimic what robot vacuums run into in the real world.

Tyler Lizenby/CNET Inside this room are objects designed to simulate typical obstacles a robot encounters for navigation as it cleans. These include wall edges, table and chair legs, couches and so on, plus floorings of tile, hardwood and carpet. 

Enlarge ImageHere's a coverage photo of the iRobot Roomba S9 Plus as it moved through our test room. You can see it covered the floor well, except for one slight section in the center (left, bottom).

Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET We mount LED lights to the top of each vacuum cleaner. The dimensions of the lights correspond to the measured nozzle width of each particular robot vacuum we test. 

Now playing: Watch this: Lasers, sensors and robots, oh my: Some robot vacuums... 3:43 As robots move through the room, a camera overhead captures a long-exposure image of the entire room in low light. That photo will then have a light trail, created by the LEDs, that shows the exact areas where the robot traveled (and its nozzle position) during its runtime. We can also see areas of the floor the vacuum may have missed or gotten stuck.

Read more: iRobot Roomba S9 Plus vs. Neato Botvac D7 Connected

This is the coverage pattern created by the Neato Botvac D7 Connected. Its movement through our test room was very orderly, logical and effective.

Gianmarco Chumbe/CNET You can see the navigation results of all the robot vacuums in our test group in the gallery below.