Whether you’re into sci-fi, want to create the latest viral cat video or really, really hate vacuuming, robot vacuums are a 21st century way to bring technology into your home. The best robot vacuum cleaner is easy to set up and operate. It cleans a wide range of floor types well and zooms around your home without knocking into things or getting trapped. It also saves you time. Here are Australia’s top robot vacuums, informed by expert testing and real Aussie consumer insights.
How we picked
We thought we’d be spoilt for choice with robot vacuums. But it turns out they’re still quite a new and unproven technology. They fill a niche: you must genuinely hate vacuuming to see any real benefits of them. They won’t deliver the same cleaning power as a standard upright or stick vacuum, but they’re a lot easier to use – schedule their cleaning and off they go. They’re also a life changer for people with limited mobility. Plus, it’s undeniably awesome to have a micro robot in your home cleaning up after you.
As usual, we started with CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group. They’ve only reviewed 11 models. We can’t tell you how many they recommend, as that information is behind a paywall, but we will say it wasn’t many…
So, we turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia's first consumer opinion site, to understand which robot vacuums are used and loved in Australian homes, which we cross-referenced against CHOICE’s tested models.
This gave us just 4 robot vacuum cleaners, which we’ve reviewed below.
The 4 best robot vacuums in Australia
Important features to consider
Most robot vacuums offer the same features; here’s what to look for.
This helps the robot vacuum sense a ledge or step and pull back, rather than taking an expensive tumble down a drop.
This is a standard feature, with all 4 robot vacuums we reviewed offering it. When the battery is low, the vacuum finds its way back to its docking station and recharge. If the vacuum hasn’t finished its clean, it’ll usually pick up where it left off once it’s charged.
Only the Neato Botvac D Series didn’t have app connectivity. This feature allows you to control your vacuum wherever you are which means you can clean your home while you’re not in it. This seems to be replacing older technology, like a remote control – we didn’t find any with this feature.
The robot vacuum’s ability to map your home correctly influences how well it’ll clean it. Look for how many sensors it offers. If it has an app, it might need your help to accurately map your home. Investing time in setting up your vacuum correctly will pay off with good cleaning results.
Check out how long the robot vacuum reckons it runs for, before needing to recharge. You’ll need to consider if that’s enough time to effectively clean your home. Also bear in mind what it does when it’s recharged – will it pick up where it left off, or start from the beginning, leaving part of your home uncleaned. Pay attention to the charge time too. The Neato Botvac D Series takes a huge 12 hours to recharge.
As well as furniture, if you leave a lot of things on the floor (kids, we’re looking at you) a robot vacuum can struggle to sense and avoid them. Which means before it can clean, you need to spend time picking things up, missing the point of a robot vacuum’s time-saving nature. Or, you’ll have to follow it around, moving stuff out of its way. Again, this is when you need to pay attention to a robot vacuum’s sensors and how effectively it can sense and dodge obstacles.
Robot vacuums are a lot smaller than standard vacuums, which means their dustbins are too. If you don’t want to empty it frequently, look for a larger dustbin. We think the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM has the biggest one we reviewed, at 0.7L.
All robot vacuums we reviewed offered this feature in some way. The Neato Botvac D Series offers it via an in-built LED screen, while the other 3 offer this via an app. It’s convenient because it means your robot vacuum can clean your home while you’re not in it. It also means you can set the daily cleaning times and then simply sit back and let the vacuum do the dirty work for you.
What you get if you spend more
These features aren’t necessarily linked to price. The most expensive robot vacuum, the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM, doesn’t offer a virtual wall, for example. So, these are more non-standard features.
Want to stop your robot vacuum going in certain areas, like a walk-in shower? You can set up invisible virtual walls that create a barrier to entry. We only reviewed 1 robot vacuum with this feature (the iRobot Roomba 980).
Auto floor adjustment
To get the best clean regardless of the floor type, some robot vacuums automatically change their cleaning mode depending on what they encounter: hard floors or carpet.
Typically, robot vacuums are good at cleaning hard floors although they may struggle on corners and edges. They’re less good at thoroughly cleaning carpet because they don’t have the suction of a standard vacuum. Your carpet might look clean, but they could be leaving a lot of dirt below the surface which can damage the pile. A robot vacuum can handle a quick tidy-up but for ingrained dirt release, you’ll still need to use a standard vac.
Best Overall: Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM
If you’re really committed to getting a robot vacuum, be prepared to spend a lot. The Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM has a RRP of $1,699. But you’re getting the latest in robot vacuum technology. In this triangular-shaped robot vacuum, designed that way to tackle corners and walls most effectively, you’re getting the ability to vacuum your home, even if you’re not at home.
That’s because the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM has its own app. This allows you to set a cleaning schedule for maximum convenience plus control the vacuum, wherever you are. The app also gives you full visibility over where your vacuum is and where it’s cleaned, thanks to the coverage map.
Its smart technology also recognises different floor types (hard and carpeted) and adjusts its cleaning mode accordingly. It can tackle heights of up to 2.2cm, ideal if you don’t have level floors. The smart charging system senses when the vacuum is running low on charge and sends it back to base for a top up. Once charged, it’ll start cleaning from where it left off.
It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and has good, although limited, reviews on ProductReview.com.au. Customers rave about its cleaning ability, but there seems to be some issues with app connectivity.
Why buy the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM
App controlled – making this a very low-effort option and giving you control of the clean, even when you’re not at home.
Triangular shape – ensures it can effectively get into corners and along walls.
Adaptability – the vacuum can sense different floor types and adjust its cleaning mode accordingly for best results.
Washable filter – a handy feature which makes it easy to care for.
0.7L dust bin – which Electrolux touts as XXL and means you don’t have to empty it every few minutes.
21cm wide brush – which gives it decent floor coverage in 1 sweep.
Stair detection – the vacuum won’t bang into stairs and can tackle slight gradients (2.2cm) without simply giving up.
Automatic return – you don’t need to worry about charging the vacuum. It senses when it’s low and heads back to base for a pick-me-up.
2-year warranty – this gives you peace of mind, especially regarding the possible app connectivity issues.
Positive customer reviews – they might be limited on ProductReview.com.au but customers rave about how great its cleaning is.
The not-so-good bits
No virtual wall – a virtual wall stops the vacuum from entering places you don’t want it to clean, like a walk-in shower you may have in your bedroom. Without a virtual wall, you’ll need to go old school and build barriers to entry. Which is fine but seems lacking when you’re paying over $1,000 for it.
Price: with a RRP of $1,699, this is very expensive.
If you’re really sold on a robot vacuum, then the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM could be the way to go. It’s crammed full of technology to make your life easier, from app connectivity and auto sensing different floor types to knowing when its battery needs a charge. Customers rave about how good it is at cleaning, which is helped by its triangular shape to effectively clean corners and walls. Be prepared to spend a lot to enjoy the convenience of this robot vacuum.
Also Great: Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum
At the other end of the price scale is the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum, with a RRP of $400. It’s a popular choice too, with almost 200 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, awarding it 4.7 stars. It’s a ProductReview 2018 award winner.
It boasts similar features to the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM. This includes app connectivity for remote controlling it and setting cleaning schedules. It also auto returns to the charging dock when it’s running low on battery.
Unlike the Electrolux, it’s round, not triangular, which may impact on its effectiveness at cleaning walls and corners. It also offers a mopping mode, which the Electrolux doesn’t. Its main brush automatically adjusts height to clean all surfaces and Xiaomi reckons it lasts up to 2.5 hours without needing a charge. Plus, its 12 sensors allow it to successfully navigate obstacles (i.e. furniture) in your home.
Its dustbin is 0.42L, about half the size of our winner’s 0.7L, which means more frequent emptying. The downside? It’s not reviewed by CHOICE which makes some of its claims hard to justify.
Why the Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is worth considering
Excellent customer reviews – almost 200 of them attest to the cleaning ability of this vacuum.
Accurate sensors – the Xiaomi packs 12 sensors into this 1 vacuum. They seem to pay off, with many customers complimentary about its ability to dodge obstacles rather than run into them.
Long runtime – Xiaomi reckons 1 charge will last up to 2.5 hours – customer reviews seem to back this up. This is an excellent runtime that should get most of your home clean before it needs a recharge.
App connectivity – this allows you to set a cleaning schedule and set it off remotely.
Automatic brush height adjustment – which means it can adjust its cleaning brush for different floor types.
Auto recharging – it’ll head back to base when it needs to recharge.
Multi cleaning modes – as well as vacuuming, the Xiaomi can mop floors.
Price: at around $400, this is a very affordable robot vacuum.
The not-so-good bits
Not reviewed by CHOICE – having a CHOICE review means a product has been thoroughly tested and put through its paces, allowing you to cut through the marketing spiel and see if it delivers on its claims. The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum hasn’t been tested, so you’ll need to rely on customer reviews.
English isn’t its first language – with the firmware, instructions and part of the app not in English, it can be difficult to set up.
Lack of post-sales support – with no Australian base for servicing and support, if you encounter an issue it can be difficult, and expensive, to resolve.
Small dustbin – at 0.42L, you’ll need to do frequent emptying.
Undetermined warranty – we couldn’t find any warranty details.
Round design – not triangular, which means it’s less great at tackling corners and walls.
No virtual wall – like the Electrolux Pure i9 PI91-5SGM you’ll need to go old school in blocking the Xiaomi from certain areas.
The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum is an affordable robot vacuum. Offering app connectivity, auto recharge and impressive runtime, it’s delighting plenty of Aussies with its cleaning power. It can even mop as well as vacuum your floors. There do seem to be some issues with trickiness for only-English-speakers to set up the vacuum.
We could only find 2 other robot vacuums in Australia that are worth considering.
iRobot Roomba 980
The iRobot Roomba 980 is similarly priced to our winner, with a RRP of $1,499 (the Electrolux is $1,699). As you’d expect for this price, it has app connectivity for setting cleaning schedules and controlling it, wherever you are. It also has a smart cleaning system that boosts power when it’s on carpets, giving deeper, more effective cleans where it’s needed. It has a runtime of up to 2 hours. If the job’s not complete, it’ll automatically recharge and pick up cleaning where it left off.
Even though it’s round, it has a side brush to tackle walls and corners. Unlike our 2 top picks, it has a virtual wall. It comes with a 1-year warranty (we think this is short for the price) and has been tested by CHOICE. It’s loved by over 100 Aussies on ProductReview.com.au although there are concerns over the bin size (we can’t find this listed anywhere) and the fact that it needs light to navigate. This means it can’t be used at night or under furniture.
Choose this if – you want a robot vacuum from the leader in home cleaning robots who introduced them to the world. You’ll want to control your vacuum from your smartphone and get up to 2 hours of use. You’ll be happy to use it only when it’s light and to not have it clean under furniture, where it may struggle.
Neato Botvac D Series
Unlike our 3 other picks, the Neato Botvac D Series doesn’t offer app connectivity – but it does have a high RRP of $1,199. Instead, it offers a large in-built LCD screen which allows you to start, stop, pause, and schedule cleaning from there. D-shaped, it can handle walls and corners effectively and it automatically returns to base for charging. A full charge takes 12 hours. It also comes with a 1-year warranty and 2m of boundary markers, which is sort of like a virtual wall but not quite.
It has good, but limited, reviews on ProductReview.com.au with Aussies particularly impressed by its large dustbin capacity (we haven’t been able to find this capacity).
Choose this if – you’re not bothered by app connectivity and you’d like your vacuum to come with boundary markers to save you having to use whatever you have lying around to make a virtual wall.