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In this guide
There are many reasons why a robot vacuum is appealing. There’s the way it feels like something out of a sci-fi movie. Or the fact you have the chance to go viral with another cat-riding-a-Roomba video. Or maybe it seems like a good idea because you really, really hate vacuuming. Whatever your reason, 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 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 put a decent number of them through their paces.
We then 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 5 robot vacuum cleaners, which we’ve reviewed below.
The best robot vacuum for most
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The Eufy RoboVac 11S is proof that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a decent robot vacuum cleaner. Loved internationally, it’s super slim and has 4 cleaning modes, auto return to charger, stair detection and up to 100 minutes runtime. All for around $400.
What we love
At 7.24cm tall, it should slide easily under your furniture.
Which help it move easily between different floor surfaces.
It won’t topple down your stairs.
At 0.6L, it holds a fair amount of dust.
Auto return to charger
It senses when it’s running low and takes itself off for a recharge.
Eufy reckons it can run for up to 100 minutes in 1 go.
4 cleaning modes
To help you get the best clean for your needs.
Pre-set times and days
Want to set it to clean on certain days and times? You can.
It can automatically add extra power when it needs it.
To help it avoid banging into things.
It’s recommended by the New York Times, USA Today and Consumer Reports, among others.
Did we mention it’s around $400?
The not so good bits
You do get a remote though.
No virtual walls
So it might make itself comfy in your walk-in shower unless you remember to close certain doors.
We think triangular shaped robot vacuums make more sense as they can fit into corners and edges easier. It does have a side brush though, to help clean edges.
The Eufy RoboVac 11S is proof that you don’t need to spend a fortune to get a robot vacuum. It comes in around $400. Which you might think means you compromise on features. Although it doesn’t have an app or virtual walls, it’s not lacking much else. In fact, it’s packing a lot in.
Let’s start with its powerful 1,300Pa of suction to help clean all your surfaces. It also has 3 filters to help remove all nasties. Thanks to its large wheels, it can move easily over different surfaces, from carpets to hard floors. But it won’t roll down your stairs - it’s got stair detection to avoid any costly falls.
It has a large dustbox (0.6L) so you won’t be constantly emptying it. It has auto return to charger so it won’t ever stop dead in the middle of its clean. It takes 5-6 hours to charge. This gives you up to 100 minutes runtime.
It offers 4 cleaning modes (auto, spot, edge and single room) and pre-set vacuuming times and days. So, you can set it to clean while you’re not home. Plus, it has smart BoostIQ Technology which automatically boosts suction power within 1.5 seconds when it needs to go a bit harder.
It boasts an infrared sensor to help it avoid banging into stuff and an anti-scratch toughened glass cover to keep it looking sharp.
We love its super slim design. It’s 7.24cm tall which means it can easily get under your furniture. We’re not alone in being fans. It’s recommended by the New York Times, USA Today and Consumer Reports (the US equivalent of CHOICE). The Eufy RoboVac 11 is on ProductReview.com.au where it gets a whopping 5 stars from a handful of reviews. The 11S isn’t but the models are very similar. It’s also been reviewed by CHOICE.
Related: The Best Vacuum Cleaner
The robot vacuum with the best features
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You can’t have a robot vacuum guide without mentioning a Roomba. Especially this premium one. The iRobot Roomba i7 is packing a lot of tech. This includes mapping your home, virtual walls, smart home compatibility and an app for smartphone control. The downside? It costs around $1,500.
What we love
It’s packing a lot of smart tech to help it clean your home better.
Keep it out of places you don’t want it.
Control it easily from wherever you are, thanks to the app.
Use the app to set when you want certain rooms cleaned.
Smart home compatible
It works with Alexa and Google Home so you can voice command it.
Works with a robot mop
For an all-in-1 cleaning solution, it can work with iRobot’s robot mop.
Clever auto return to charger
It senses how much time it needs to complete its clean. It then only charges for that amount of time, before picking up where it left off.
Short charge time
It takes just 90 minutes to charge.
It runs up to 90 minutes.
The not so good bits
At 0.4L, it’s not the biggest dustbin. It might need frequent empties.
It’s an eye watering $1,500.
Middling consumer reviews
It gets around 3 stars on ProductReview.com. Although this is from a limited number.
Again, it’s round not triangular so corners are a bit trickier to clean properly.
Can you have a guide to the best robot vacuum cleaners without mentioning a Roomba? We think not. And this Roomba has all the bells and whistles: meet the iRobot Roomba i7. It’s driven by a lot of smart tech. This includes Imprint Smart Mapping which helps the i7 learn your home and rooms. It then adapts its cleaning to suit each room, depending on the floor type.
The ridiculously named “iAdapt® 3.0 Navigation with vSLAM® technology” basically means the i7 maps its surroundings. This helps it understand where it’s been and where it still needs to clean. It has virtual walls (although iRobot calls these ‘keep out zones’) so it only cleans where you tell it to.
As you’d expect with this smart tech, it has an app. The app lets you choose which rooms to clean and when. You can also monitor cleaning activity and view cleaning history. It’s smart home compatible - it connects with Alexa and Google Home. Use your voice to start, stop or dock it. Plus, it can connect to the Braava jet m6 - iRobot’s robot mop. When the i7 is done, it’ll tell the mop to start.
It has auto return to charger. But, of course, it’s smarter than just returning. It works out how much time it needs to continue cleaning and only charges for that amount of time. So, it’s not doing a full charge when it only needs 5 minutes to finish the job. Clever.
It has a 3-stage cleaning system. iRobot reckons the filter captures 99% of cat and dog allergens but that’s not independently verified. It has a runtime of up to 90 minutes yet charges in only 1.5 hours. The dustbin is pretty small, at 0.4L.
It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and has a handful of mixed reviews on ProductReview.com.au, where it gets around 3 stars. Most reviewers think the price (around $1,500) is too high.
Related: The Best Stick Vacuum
The best robot vacuum and mop combo
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Get hands-off with your cleaning thanks to the Roborock S5 Max. It’s a robot vacuum and mop in one. We’re not the only ones impressed by its features and performance. It’s multi award-winning and has hundreds of positive Aussie reviews. It’ll set you back around $999 but at least its parts are replaceable.
What we love
All in 1 cleaning solution
It’s a vacuum and a mop. In one!
Customisable water flow
You can set different flows for different floors.
Stop the mop from going on your carpet by setting up no-mop zones. You can also set virtual barriers to stop the vacuum going somewhere you don’t want it to.
Crammed with tech
Complicated names aside, it shouldn’t get trapped, slam into stuff or fall down steps.
It should go for up to 3 hours, which should be plenty to clean most homes.
When it’s running low on charge, it returns to base, tops up and then continues where it left off.
Use the app to control, monitor and manage it, including setting cleaning schedules when you’re not home.
Compatible with smart home tech
Control it with your voice through Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
Designed with sustainability in mind, all parts can be replaced. Which means you don’t need to throw out the whole unit if something goes wrong.
It’s loved by the pros and Aussies alike.
The not so good bits
Lack of transparency
Trawling through the marketing speak, we can’t find important details, like the size of the dustbin and the charge time.
According to an Aussie reviewer, you need to remove the mop before it goes to a carpeted room. So, if you’re hoping for a vacuum and mop while you’re not home, it can do either / or, but not both.
A robot vacuum vacuums your floors sure, but when you’ve got sticky spills, a mop’s the way to go. Which is where the Roborock S5 Max comes in. This baby not only vacuums up mess, it mops your floors too. This makes it a complete cleaning solution.
Let’s start with the mop. It’s got a 280ml water tank which should be big enough to clean a 65m2 apartment more than 3 times or a 200m2 home all at once. Which is impressive, but not as impressive as the smart tech that allows you to choose the right water floor for any floor type. You can have low flow on stone and high flow for sticky kitchen floors.
Once it’s done, the water turns off so it doesn’t trail water through your home. Worried about it mopping your carpets? You can set virtual no-mop zones and barriers so it’ll only go where you tell it to.
It doesn’t compromise on vacuuming performance though. It’s packing a fan that spins at 1,500rpm to give strong suction which apparently is “strong enough to lift even AA batteries”. It’s got loads of environmental sensors too. These include an accelerometer, odometer, infra-red, compass, bumper and super accurate mapping of your rooms. In short: it shouldn’t get trapped, slam into stuff or fall down steps.
It’s got an up to 3 hour run-time. When it runs low on juice, it returns to base, tops up and then picks up where it left off. It’s got an app which you use to preset schedules, locations and power modes. It can also be voice controlled by Google Home or Amazon Alexa.
If that’s not enough to tempt you, it’s been reviewed by CHOICE and by hundreds of Aussies on ProductReview.com.au where it’s a 2021 award winner. It gets over 4.5 stars. Plus, we love that it has replaceable parts so if something goes wrong, you don’t have to ditch the entire unit. Oh, and it’s also an iF Design Award 2020 winner and a CES Innovation Awards 2020 Honoree.
RRP $999, it comes with a 1-year warranty and after-sales support from the Roborock Service Centre in Sydney.
Related: The Best Handheld Vacuum
Others worth considering
Like some of our 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 reviews on ProductReview.com.au with Aussies particularly impressed by its large dustbin capacity (we haven’t been able to find this capacity).
Another Roomba because of course. The iRobot Roomba e5 is less expensive than the i7. Like the i7, it has a 3-stage cleaning system and the filter that captures 99% of cat and dog allergens (not independently verified).
Although it doesn’t have all the smart tech of the i7 - the way it learns and maps your home and the navigation system - it does have a virtual wall, stair detection and auto recharge. You can use an app with it too, although you don’t have to. It’s compatible with Alexa and Google Home. It takes around 3 hours to charge and has a 90-minute runtime. Its dustbin is 0.4L.
It comes in around $1,000. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE but isn’t on ProductReview.com.au.
The Ecovacs Deebot 600 is another affordable robot vacuum, coming in around $400. For this, you’re getting 4 cleaning modes, including a dedicated hard floor mode. To clean your hard floors effectively, it follows a back-and-forth cleaning path to ensure no crumb goes un-vacuumed. It also has auto mode, spot clean and a max mode. The max mode boosts the suction up to 2 times on both hard floors and carpets. This gives it an extra power burst to deal with ingrained dirt.
It has stair and obstacle detection. You can also schedule when you want it to run. When it’s running out of juice, it takes itself back to base to recharge. Control it via the remote or an app. It’s smart home compatible and works with Alexa and Google Home.
It takes about 4 hours to charge, for a runtime of 60-120 minutes. It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and gets almost 5 stars on ProductReview.com.au.
The bottom line
If you truly detest cleaning or have limited mobility, a robot vacuum can be life changing. But it probably won’t replace your main vacuum cleaner. They excel at quick spot cleans that will pick up visible mess, but probably won’t deep clean your carpet or corners effectively and they’ll be hit and miss with pet hair. However, there’s no denying the novelty factor of having a robot race around your floor, cleaning up mess.
If you want a robot vacuum but aren’t prepared to pay over $1,000, meet the Eufy RoboVac 11S: it comes in around $400. It doesn’t have an app or virtual walls but it’s got everything else. This includes stair detection, large dustbox (0.6L), auto return to charger and up to 100 minutes runtime. It has a super slim design to fit under your furniture and it’s recommended by loads of places, including the New York Times, USA Today and Consumer Reports (the US equivalent of CHOICE).
After all the bells and whistles? Consider the iRobot Roomba i7 which has plenty of smart tech. This includes Imprint Smart Mapping, virtual walls, an app, smart home compatibility and auto return to charger. It has a runtime of up to 90 minutes yet charges in only 1.5 hours. The dustbin is pretty small, at 0.4L. All this will set you back around $1,500.
For total hands-off cleaning, the multi award-winning Roborock S5 Max could be the way to go. It’s a robot vacuum and mop in one. We love that you can set different water flows for different floors and virtual no-go zones so your carpet doesn’t get mopped. We also love that you can control everything, including cleaning schedules, through the app and that it has replaceable parts. RRP $999, it’s not the cheapest but it does have great Aussie consumer reviews and after-sales support based in Sydney.
What makes a good robot vacuum
Stair detection helps the robot vacuum sense a ledge or step and pull back, rather than taking an expensive tumble down a drop. A robot vacuum can struggle to sense and avoid obstacles, like furniture and stuff dropped on the floors (kids, we’re looking at you). This 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. This is when you need to pay attention to a robot vacuum’s sensors and how effectively it can sense and dodge obstacles.
This is a standard feature. When the battery is low, the vacuum finds its way back to its docking station and recharges. If the vacuum hasn’t finished its clean, it’ll usually pick up where it left off once it’s charged.
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.
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.
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