Best Robotic Vacuums of 2022

    Consumer Reports' tests reveal that today's top-performing robovacs can work well in most homes

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    robot vacuum on wood floors Photo: iStock

    Tired of constantly sweeping up or vacuuming dust, crumbs, and other debris from your floors? A robotic vacuum cleaner could be your new best friend.

    A robotic vacuum won’t replace your trusty upright or canister vacuum for deep-cleaning rugs. But it can be just the thing for low-hassle daily floor maintenance. These vacuums are especially handy for keeping up with pet hair.

    We’ve tested dozens of robotic vacuums in our labs to see which hardworking machines deserve a place in your home. CR’s vacuum test engineers evaluate how well each robotic vacuum removes surface debris on medium-pile carpet and bare floors, whether it can get into tight corners, and how well it navigates and cleans multiple types of rooms with common robotic vacuum pitfalls, including power cords and carpet fringe.

    And because many robotic vacuums connect to the internet, our experts evaluate the data privacy and security of each connected vacuum. (Data security assesses whether a robotic vacuum incorporates security measures such as encryption. Data privacy examines privacy setting options and publicly available documents, such as privacy policies and terms of service, to see how manufacturers collect and use your data.)

    Our ratings also factor in predicted reliability and owner satisfaction scores based on members’ experiences with more than 9,000 robotic vacuums from our recent surveys.

    In alphabetical order, here are five standouts from CR’s rigorous robotic vacuum tests, across a variety of price ranges and with diverse feature sets. For complete test results and even more options, CR members can see our robotic vacuum ratings. Also, check out our vacuum cleaner buying guide to find out how robotics compare with other types of vacuum cleaners.

    CR’s take: The basic Eufy RoboVac 11S isn’t the strongest robot vacuum you can buy, and it’ll struggle to thoroughly clean large areas. But this nimble, relatively affordable robot can be a great option for cleaning a few rooms at a time, or for patient owners. It’s one of the shortest and lightest robots that CR has tested, which helps it drive under furniture and wiggle away from hazards like power cords and carpet fringe better than most robots we’ve tested. It also earns an Excellent rating on our noise test, and sounds more like a small fan than a vacuum cleaner. The Eufy’s cleaning performance is respectable for its price, too. The main quirk is the semi-random navigation system. (This was the norm for robotic vacuums at one point but has become less common over the past five years.) The randomness might be aggravating; it drives until it bonks into a wall or piece of furniture, pivots, and then repeats the process until the battery runs out. In bigger spaces, it will often miss an area—or even an entire room—in a given session.

    Eufy sells at least a half-dozen variants of this robovac. The 11S is the most basic and one of the few still available that doesn’t connect to the internet. It does come with a remote control, though. Other RoboVac variants, including the 30C, 35C, and 15C Max, do have WiFi connectivity, which allows you to use a companion app to turn the appliance on or off, steer it manually, and set a cleaning schedule. They still navigate semi-randomly, though.

    CR’s take: The iRobot Roomba i3 EVO is a great option for homes of any size because it navigates in a grid pattern and keeps track of the spots it has or hasn’t cleaned. It can also learn the layout of one story of your home and save it as a two-dimensional Smart Map in a companion smartphone app. With this feature enabled, the bot won’t have to start navigating from scratch every time it runs, so it should finish the job faster and run into walls and furniture less often. You can also use the Smart Map to tell the Roomba i3 EVO to clean specific rooms and avoid others.

    The iRobot brand earned a Very Good rating for predicted reliability based on data from our member surveys. Maintenance and repairs are easy to perform at home, and iRobot has a track record for keeping spare parts available for every Roomba model it has sold. The Roomba i3 EVO’s cleaning performance is strong, too. The brushless, rubberized rollers are great for pet hair; it earns an Excellent rating on that test. It’s also great at avoiding bot-snarling hazards like power cords.

    The same robot is also available as part of the Roomba i3+ EVO package, which is what we tested in our labs and is listed in our ratings. It includes a dock that automatically empties debris out of the robot and into a vacuum bag at the end of a cycle, a handy convenience feature. The Roomba i3 EVO is also sold as the Roomba i4 (and Roomba i4+) or Roomba i2 from certain retailers.

    CR’s take: The iRobot Roomba j7 builds on the same core robot as the Roomba i3 EVO above and earns similar scores on most of our tests. But the Roomba j7’s navigation system is much more advanced. (We’ve reviewed the Roomba j7+ package, which is the regular Roomba j7 robot plus a charging dock that automatically empties dirt out of the robot.) For starters, it can learn Smart Maps for multiple levels of your home (instead of just one floor, as with the i3 EVO), so you can use a smartphone app to tell it to clean certain rooms and skip others. But the most major upgrade is the j7’s obstacle-avoidance system. It uses a camera on the front of the bot to recognize certain hazards including socks, clothes, towels, and—drumroll please—pet waste. Once it spots a hazard, the j7 adjusts its cleaning path to make sure it doesn’t snarl (or smear) the obstacle. CR has not tested this particular feature. Worth noting: iRobot promises that it’ll replace the robot if it fails to avoid pet waste in the first year after purchase. One downside of that front-facing camera: The Roomba j7 is the only iRobot model that falls short of our top rating for data security.

    Another option to consider is the Roomba i7 (or i7+), which has the same cleaning system and Smart Map capabilities as the j7 but doesn’t have the obstacle-avoidance feature. It’s an older model, but it’s still available from many retailers.

    CR’s take: The Roomba s9 is iRobot’s top-of-the-line robotic vacuum. It has most of the same navigation features as the Roomba j7, though the s9’s obstacle avoidance isn’t as sophisticated. The big upgrade here is the cleaning power. Thanks to stronger suction and wider brushes, it outperforms all the other Roomba models we’ve tested (and most robots from other brands, too) on our carpet and edge-cleaning tests. It still doesn’t clean rugs anywhere near as thoroughly as a traditional vacuum cleaner, but if strong cleaning is one of your priorities in a robotic vacuum, you could consider this pricey bot. It’s also available with an auto-emptying dock as the Roomba s9+.

    CR’s take: The Roborock S7+ is another great option for homes of any size. Its laser-assisted (Lidar) nav system allows it to quickly and thoroughly clean a room, bumping into fewer walls and furniture legs than the other robotic vacuums we’ve covered here. It has a Smart Mapping feature as well, and comes with a dock that can automatically empty the bin. Its cleaning performance is strong across the board, too—on carpets, bare floors, with pet hair, and even up against edges. The S7+ also has a clip-on mop that will wipe your bare floors and lift itself slightly when it senses rugs to avoid getting them wet. We haven’t lab tested it, but some of our experts have used it at home and say it’s decent, certainly more effective than not wiping your floors. On the downside, we haven’t collected enough information about Roborock bots to have a sense of how reliable they are or what the overall owner satisfaction tends to be (though user reviews are quite strong). A version without the auto-emptying dock is available, too; it’s simply called the S7. Roborock makes several similar models, including the flagship S7 MaxV Ultra (loaded with extra features that, eh, won’t really change your life), as well as a bunch of lower-end models that we haven’t yet tested, including the Q5 and Q7. But based on our experts’ experience with other Roborock models over the past few years, we expect them to work similarly to the S7.

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    Liam McCabe

    I've covered appliances and other major household fixtures for more than a decade, and I'm excited to help CR's readers find the right goods for their homes. If you ever get me talking, I'll probably have a story about some wacky side effects of appliance regulations, or the journey to fully electrify my 100-year-old house.