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Are robot vacuum cleaners worth it?

Are robot vacuum cleaners worth it header blue vacuum on a beige carpet

You’ve heard the hype about robot vacuums, but how good are they really? Here’s what you should know before buying

Most people would love to hand over vacuuming duties to someone (or something) else. But given their high prices, are the best robot vacuum cleaners worth it? Sure, they might save you a few minutes here and there – but do they clean well enough to justify the expense? Will a robot vacuum actually save you time – or will it quickly become another gadget looming in a dark corner gathering dust rather than collecting it?

The good news is that robot vacuum cleaners have advanced tremendously over the initial designs that were often found bumping into skirting boards and vacuuming the same strip of carpet multiple times. These handy cleaning gadgets now arrive with all sorts of clever tech to boost efficiency. Some models include built-in digital mapping software to ensure they take the most logical route around your house. Others feature cameras primarily for location and mapping, but can also be used via an accompanying app to keep an eye on a pet while you’re out.

If you’re on the fence about buying a robot vacuum cleaner for your own home, this guide will help you come to a decision either way. Below, we answer some of the most frequently asked questions around these futuristic cleaning gizmos, finishing off with some top product picks from our team of expert testers.

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Do robot cleaners work on carpet?

In a word: yes. There’s a persistent myth that robot vacuums struggle to travel over carpet, which probably stems from their primitive early forms.  But these days, robot vacuum cleaners often come equipped with sensors to help navigate different surface types. This allows them to move smoothly from hardwood to a rug, for example, cleaning seamlessly along the way.

That said, they might not be as effective as a conventional vacuum cleaner.

“Robot vacuum cleaners aren’t as good as a conventional plug-in vacuum cleaner due to the power of the suction motor,” explains Darren Emmott, founder of Vacuum Doctor. “However, they do a very good maintenance clean, and they’re especially good and hard floors rather than carpets. Personally, I would also have a machine for doing deep cleaning on a sporadic basis.”

Do robot vacuum cleaners fall down the stairs?

Perhaps in their early days, stairs may have posed a danger to robot cleaners, but this isn’t the case now. The majority of robot vacuum cleaners feature downward-facing sensors that help them identify and avoid stairs. That said, robot vacuum cleaners are definitely best suited to properties with fewer levels, since they haven’t quite evolved to the point of being able to go up and down them… yet. So, if you’re a lighthouse keeper, you may be better off with something hand operated.

How do robot vacuum cleaners clean corners?

A common misconception is that robot vacuum cleaners will struggle with corners. People believe that because of their typically circular design, they might not be able to get into tight spaces. However, most robot vacuum cleaners come with side brushes that extend, sweeping hard-to-reach dirt into the machine’s path.

“It is a myth that robot vacuum cleaners are inefficient at cleaning corners,” explains Emmott. “Most robot vacuums have side brushes, which extend for reaching from the robot to get into the nooks and crannies that can’t be cleaned.”

Of course, there will be those models that do struggle with corners, mainly if the length of the side brushes is insufficient. For those worried about corners, a square or D-shaped cleaner might be a better option.

How do robot vacuum cleaners charge?

This varies from machine to machine. Some robot vacuum cleaners need to be picked up and plugged in, while the smarter ones will quietly take themselves off to their charging dock and sit there until they’re fully powered and ready to go again. The latter are generally more expensive.

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