How to Choose and Buy a Robot Vacuum

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A robot vacuum can make your life a little easier and your home a little cleaner. (Photo: @vedrana2701 via Twenty20)
Robot vacuums are handy helpers that work to keep your floor clean without your interference. Replacing carpet is expensive and regular vacuuming can help keep dirt and stains at bay, remove allergens such as dust and pet dander, and maintain the look of your home. Read on to learn how to choose and buy a robot vacuum.

All About Robot Vacuums

Robot vacuums are far from new. The first “robovac” was made by Electrolux in 1996 and named Trilobite. Next on the scene was Dyson in 2001, which never mass produced its robot vacuum. And in 2002, iRobot hit the market with the Roomba. Today, Dyson has reentered the market along several other competitors, which can make selecting the right robot vacuum a difficult proposition.
While the price point of a robot vacuum can range from about $150 to over $500, the benefits cannot be ignored. Their ability to constantly be on the move, removing dust and dirt from your carpet without any effort on your part, saves time while keeping your home feeling and looking clean.
It’s estimated that over 14 million households have robotic vacuum cleaners in the U.S., and that number is expected to grow.
If you find yourself falling behind on the vacuuming and could use a little help, a robot vacuum could be just the new cleaning tool you are looking for.

Questions to Help You Choose a Robot Vacuum

Once you decide to buy a robot vacuum, you may be overwhelmed by all the options on the market. Not all cleaning robots offer the same capabilities.
Some are called “robot dusters,” which do not have a suctioning capability and are just meant to dust hard surfaces, such as kitchen floors. There are also “robot mops,” which are also intended only for hard floors made of materials such as wood, vinyl, or tile. But the most versatile robot vacuums are built to suction up dirt and debris and work on a variety of surfaces, including carpet.
When selecting a robot vacuum, ask yourself the following questions to narrow down your options:
1. What is my budget? Some of the higher-end models that have better functionality are also more costly and may not fit into your budget. The more expensive models have scanning and tracking capabilities that allow them to know where they have already cleaned, and they can return to their charging station and resume cleaning when recharged. You can even use an app on some models to set a cleaning schedule. Finally, with some of the advanced models, you can mark an area as off-limits to the vacuum.
2. What type of floor do I have? If you only have carpeted areas that need to be cleaned, then you can only use a robot vacuum, as robot dusters and robot mops will not work on carpets. In addition, robot vacuums can have a hard time with incredibly thick carpets, such as shag carpets.
3. How dirty are my carpets? If you have light to moderate traffic, a robot vacuum is a perfect addition and can help maintain a desired level of cleanliness for your home. However, if you have small children who make a big mess or pets that shed an abundance of hair, a robot vacuum may not be able to keep up with the dirt and mess.
4. How clean do I need my carpets? You need to decide what level of cleanliness you are hoping for. Robot vacuums are meant for minor upkeep and light cleaning. If you require a speck-free carpet, you will need to supplement robot cleaning with regular vacuuming using an upright vacuum.
5. How much clutter do I have? The technology running robot vacuums is improving, but they still have a hard time with a lot of clutter on the floor. These robotic cleaners require more open space with fewer obstructions to accomplish their jobs to the best of their capabilities.
6. How big is the space? Larger spaces can be cleaned with a robot vacuum, but you’ll need a higher-end model that can keep track of where it has cleaned to avoid missing some areas and cleaning others several times.
Once you have answered these questions, you’ll be able to select the right robot vacuum with the features and price point you need.

How to Buy a Robot Vacuum

Purchasing a robot vacuum is easy once you know more about what you are looking for. Use your budget and the answers to the questions above to choose a model.
Some of the more popular models for each budget range include:

4 Tips for Using a Robot Vacuum

While using a robot vacuum is basically “plug-and-play” — you charge it, set it on the floor, and let it clean — there are some tips that can help you get the most out of your robot cleaner:
1. Keep your regular vacuum. One important tip is to keep your old vacuum or have an upright vacuum on hand. A robot vacuum is great, but an upright vacuum is still faster and can be maneuvered into specific places should there be the need.
2. Remove clutter. The less clutter you have on your floor, the easier it will be for your robot vacuum to navigate and clean.
3. Keep the charger clear. Make sure that you place the charging station in a clear, open location to allow the robot vacuum, if so equipped, to easily return to base for charging.
4. Maintain the robot vacuum. Depending on the model, some robot vacuums need to be maintained. You will need to clean out the dirt, dust, and debris from the vacuum and make sure it is in working order. Read the instructions carefully and follow all maintenance directions. You may need to clean or replace the vacuum brushes, or clean or replace the filters, depending on the model.
Once you have selected the right robot vacuum for your home and set it loose, you won’t have to think about it much. Spending a little more for increased functionality can go a long way toward making a robot vacuum a great investment for your home.