It's the perfect time of year to invest in a robot vacuum, but figuring out which one to pick is often a problem. When it comes to Roombas, there are a lot of models to choose from, each with a different price tag and set of handy capabilities for your home. Some are perfect for picking up pet hair, some are better suited to carpeted homes, while some just take the hassle out of maintaining your floors to the very highest level with a longer battery life and self-emptying function.
Whatever your needs (and budget), you can find the best robot vacuum for you with this handy guide, where we asked the experts to compile all you need to know before welcoming one of these clever gadgets into your home.
What is the difference between the Roomba vacuums?
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With over ten different generations of Roomba in total, all with different models within them, it's not surprising that choosing one for your smart home can be a difficult task. So how do they differ?
'The Roomba models mainly differ in the power of the cleaning motor, efficiency of navigation technology, included accessories and the ability to recharge, resume and self dispose after cleaning,' explains Daniel Neale, founder of Gadget FAQs (opens in new tab).
Although there are different specs among them, such as those developed for hard floors compared to carpets, it's these factors that mainly inform a decision when it comes to choosing a Roomba. If you have a larger house for example you'll probably want a Roomba with a longer battery life whereas, if you have a small home that sees lots of traffic, you might prioritize the power of the motor over the battery.
Lilith is an expert at following news and trends across the world of interior design. She's committed to sharing articles that help readers make the best choices for their homes, including when it comes to smart technology. For this piece, she spoke with tech experts to learn which Roomba vacuum cleaner is the best choice for your home.
Then of course there's the question of cost. Newer versions of the Roomba are, understandably, more expensive. For example, the most recent J series includes the J7+ which can detect and avoid obstacles like pet waste and charging cords, as well as having the ability to automatically dispose dirt into sealed bags back at its port - but it will set you back by $799.99.
Older yet still modern models, like the Roombas 960 released in 2016, are better value for your money. They still offer the same great vacuuming power but without the fancy specifications.
Do all Roombas have mapping?
With the manufacturer of the 900 series in 2015, Roombas had a new type of home technology with an infrared floor tracking sensor that allowed them to track the layout of a house. This mapping system made it easier for them to navigate around corners, walls and doorways, a great advantage. However, not all Roombas have them.
'Roomba models 600 and 800 series do not have any mapping ability and do not "learn" your home layout,' explains Daniel. 'But this means it doesn’t matter if you move them from one floor to another. Roomba models 960 and 980 have mapping built-in but they cannot save floor plans while the newer Roomba models that start with I, S, or J have mapping built-in and can memorize up to 10 floorplans.'
Depending on the layout of your home and its architecture, you might want to consider a Roomba that can memorize the floorplan as this will help it map out the most efficient cleaning route. If you have a small space, a Roomba without mapping might work for you, but their randomized method of cleaning as they bump into walls often means larger open areas can be missed.
iRobot Roomba s9+ (9550) (opens in new tab)
This self-charging, self-emptying Roomba maps your home to navigate in neat rows for a more efficient clean. Compatible with your smart speaker, and with an estimated 2,500 Pa of suction power, this robot vacuum is perfect for carpeted or solid floors, even in the messiest households.
Which Roomba has the best battery life?
If you have kids or a household that sees a lot of traffic and gets messy quickly you might light to use your vacuum several times a day, in which case, battery life might be most important to you.
'If you're looking for a long-lasting battery, you might want to consider the iRobot Roomba 880,' says James Calderon, Editor In Chief at tech magazine, Alrigh (opens in new tab). 'It uses a lithium-ion battery which is even more durable than the NiMH battery used in the earlier 650.'
The 880 can run for up to three hours on a single charge, making it ideal for large homes or for people who have lots of carpets. More recent models are self-charging. They can take themselves back to a charging port when they're running low on battery life, shortcutting this task for you.
Which Roomba is best for carpeted flooring?
Not all floors are made the same, so you'll be pleased to hear iRobot has developed Roombas to reflect that.
Roombas are generally developed to be all-rounders to work across different terrain, but some are geared more towards carpets while others are better suited to hard floors.
The Roomba s9+ has been praised by many for its carpet cleaning capabilities. The 2019 model has a 2500Pa suction power which is stronger than any other Roomba, making it great for high-pile carpets. The D-shape of the vacuum also makes it really useful for getting into corners and close to walls.
'When it comes to solid floors, the Roomba 694 works very well for wood flooring,' says Daniel.
Which Roomba is best if I have pets?
As much as we all love our animals, pet hair can be the bane of a pet owner's life. If the constant battle of keeping on top of your dog's molting hair sounds familiar, a Roomba can help you out.
'The Roomba 690 and 890 are both great choices for homes with pets, as they come with special features like tangle-free extractors and high-efficiency filters,' explains James.
The newer s9 is also one of the best vacuums for pet hair as it can adjust to both low- and high-pile carpets, as well as solid surfaces, easily. What's more, it has a built-in HEPA filter to assist capture tiny allergens while it cleans.
Which one should you buy?
Although it might set you back by $799, we think the s9+ model is the best Roomba out there. This vacuum is a great all-rounder, but it's the high suction power that has us sold. Trodden in dirt, tangled hair and even microscopic dust particles buried into carpets are no match for this Roomba.
Its D-shape and corner brush gives it the one up over other models, and it can automatically empty itself for up to 60 days meaning you can go two months without having to deal with the dirt from your floors at all. What's more, models that are Wi-Fi compatible can be controlled by voice assist, so you can simply ask your Roomba to spot clean for you the moment a mess happens.