Are robot vacuums worth it? Having been around for a few years now, they've come a long way from the early models, which often had poor battery life, limited functionality, and didn't do a great job of picking up dust and debris.
But as with most technology, innovations pile on one another and improvements are rapid. But have we reached a tipping point for robot vacuums? Are they ready to replace the traditional manual vacuum, or are they more appropriate as a supplementary tool? Or, are we still at a stage where they are an expensive and ineffective indulgence?
We've listed the benefits and drawbacks, as well as some of the key considerations for you to consider. Then we'll tell you what we think.
Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?
As a quick summary, robot vacuums probably aren't quite right ready to replace your traditional vacuum at this stage. They don't have as powerful suction, can't cope as well with thick pile rugs, and they certainly aren't equipped to deal with stairs.
But they have improved substantially since the early days. They have more features and functions than ever, their batteries are better, and they are better at picking up dirt than before. So as a time-saving device, and an addition to your usual routine, they can be a fantastic tool.
Here are the key considerations.
Robot Vacuum Pros
First, we'll start with the benefits of a robot vacuum.
Most obviously, they do the work for you. And it's difficult to overstate just what a boon this is. Many of the best modern robot vacuums can map your space, and travel along a pre-programmed route to make sure they clean every inch they can reach. Some can empty their own bins, and some can even mop the floor afterwards. You can effectively vacuum your house every day, without the time and energy that you spend if you're using a manual vacuum. What price do you put on that?
Another benefit is that they tend to have a low profile, which means they can get under some beds and sofas, which can be really hard to reach with a traditional vacuum.
As we mentioned earlier, you can program when it does its routine. You can track its progress. You can set virtual walls so that it avoids certain spaces if you want it to.
Overall then, robot vacuums offer convenience, ease-of-use, and save you time. Lots of time. But they aren't perfect...
Robot Vacuum Cons
We'll start with one of the most obvious drawbacks: cost. While there is a huge benefit to having a robot do the job for you, it does come with a price premium. Robot vacuums are typically more expensive than a manual vacuum.
Secondly, while it sounds great to leave your vacuum to go off and do its thing, the reality is that they can get stuck. A lot. Any uneven surface can lead to your vacuum getting stuck, and flailing like an upside-down turtle until you come and rescue it. Which rather defeats the purpose of it being hands-off. And you'll still need to do your stairs. Robot vacuums only work on level surfaces.
Another really important point to consider is that given how much you might pay for one of these, they aren't as good as some of the best standard vacuums for picking up dirt and dust.
You might find that even though the robot vacuum has cleaned the house, it might still need a second go with your manual device. Of course, the robot vacuum can do a sweep every day, which will significantly reduce what you'd need to do yourself.
There's also the fact that because they have so many components, there is the possibility that they will go wrong. And repairing them can be more difficult, and more expensive.
Last, but by no means least, is what can happen if you have pets. While they can be great at cleaning up pet hair and dander, they aren't so good if your beloved animal has an accident. Let's say your dog has left a present in the middle of the room, then your robot vacuum may well fail to appreciate what this is, and end up smearing it around your house. And nobody wants to come home to that.
Things To Consider
So bearing in mind the many benefits as well as the potential pitfalls, there are a few other factors that are worth thinking about, before deciding whether a robot vacuum is worth it for you.
How Much Time Do You Have?
For many of us, time is a precious resource that we seem to have increasingly little of. And few, if any of us, wants to spend what little time we have doing lots of vacuuming. A robot vacuum will therefore save you a lot of time, doing the majority of the work.
You may need to do some tidying before letting it loose, lest it start hoovering up socks, toys, and dog poop. And you may need to run a manual vacuum over some spots and the stairs. But overall, you may find that you save a lot of time.
What Sort of Floors Do You Have?
As we mentioned before, a robot vacuum isn't great on thick pile carpets and rugs. They can also get stuck on shag pile, which can block their sensors. But they do tend to do a decent job on regular carpets and hard flooring.
Who Do You Live With?
If you live in a busy household with lots of kids, pets, or both, then it's likely that a lot of dust and dirt is going to be generated.
A robot vacuum will do a great job of cutting down the amount of vacuuming you need to do yourself. It can vacuum every day, to dramatically reduce the amount of dirt you need to pick up.
So, Are Robot Vacuums Worth It?
There's a lot to digest there. As we said at the start, robot vacuums are much more effective than they were back in the day. They still don't necessarily match the power and flexibility of a traditional vacuum. But they are a great way to save time and effort.
And even if they are more expensive initially, what you save in time and effort may well be worth it. While they might not entirely replace your traditional vacuum, they'll certainly reduce the work you need to do. And for most of us, that can only be a good thing.