BEST DEALS ON ROBOT VACUUMS (updated Nov. 18, 2021):
iRobot Roomba 692 — $199.99
Shark IQ Robot Vacuum AV970 — $344.99
iRobot Roomba j7+ — $699.99
ionVac SmartClean V4–Self-Emptying Robot Vacuum — $199
Roborock E4 Robot Vacuum — $269.99
Robot vacuums can get pretty pricey, with some of the more advanced options running upwards of $1,000. If you don’t need all the bells and whistles — like smart home mapping, mobile app integration, and self-emptying canisters — then you don’t have to spend that much money. There are cheaper robot vacuums out there, and the best budget robot vacuums will get the job done well.
Inexpensive options typically don’t have smartphone app integration and all of the controls are done with a remote. You’re usually able to set a timed schedule with the remote or set it to go off in the moment, so you do have some sort of control aside from just pressing a button on the vacuum itself. Remotes often act as a steering device as well, allowing you to operate the robot vacuum like an RC car.
Most cheaper robot vacuums can handle sweeping up dirt and debris from hard flooring. But for carpet, you’ll want to get a robot vacuum with a roller brush. The spinning fan brushes that come standard and work well on hard floors can’t dig into the carpet to lift embedded hair and dirt.
Are robot vacuums worth it?
Robot vacuums are worth it if you are someone who doesn’t have time to vacuum regularly, someone who physically can’t vacuum, or someone who simply doesn’t like to vacuum. (All are very valid.) They take the work out of cleaning and can be really useful appliances to have in your home gadget lineup. But that’s only if the robot vacuum actually performs the way it’s supposed to.
That’s a problem you could run into when searching for a budget-friendly robot vacuum since the simple truth is that some forego quality in the name of a lower price tag. Before pulling the trigger on a cheap robot vacuum, make sure you consult reviews to see if anyone is experiencing problems or quality faults.
You get what you pay for
As we said, some cheaper robot vacuums are not equipped to handle cleaning carpet. They either don’t have enough suction power or don’t have the correct brushes to really dig into the carpet to pull up embedded dirt, dust, and hair.
Pretty much every cheap robot vacuum less than $200 is going to clean your house in a random pattern rather than in the straight lines you’d probably create with an upright vacuum. That means they won’t clean in the most efficient way and might miss a few spots — though most robot vacuums have sensors to detect dirt, so you shouldn’t be left with any glaringly messy areas.
In any case, a cheap robot vacuum is mostly going to act as a supplemental cleaning device that does your day-to-day cleaning while still requiring you to do a deep cleaning every so often. They typically don’t fully replace a standard upright vacuum. Though, they can if you have hard flooring or you don’t need your home to be 100 percent spotless.
What is the best robot vacuum for the money?
The best affordable robot vacuum for the money is the Ecovacs Deebot N79S. It’s one of the brand’s older models, and it has a list price of $249.99, but you can usually find it on sale between $139.99 and $199.99. It’s one of the few robot vacuums under $200 that has WiFi and mobile app integration, meaning you can run the vacuum from anywhere using your phone or a voice assistant like Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
If you happen to see any robot vacuums from iRobot, Shark, Eufy, or Ecovacs on sale for less than $200, snatch those up right away. It can be hard to find a good brand for that price, but those ones are definitely worth the money if you can find them for that cheap.
When to shop for a deal on robot vacuums
Robot vacuums receive more front-page attention in Black Friday ads each year, but even more deals are exclusively scattered across the internet. We’re tracking them from October all the way to Cyber Monday and beyond, including early Black Friday robot vacuum deals that are already live. Keeping your options open is the best way to guarantee a vac that has the features (automatic emptying, mopping, specific room targeting) at the budget you’re comfy with (whether that’s under $300 or over $1,000 if it’s really nice).
What is the cheapest robot vacuum?
You can find some pretty cheap off-brand robot vacuums, but don’t expect them to be top-tier in quality. Be wary of any robot vacuums that cost less than $100. They likely won’t be able to give you a great clean and probably won’t have a very long lifespan. Some of the cheaper models also can’t handle thick carpet or large areas.
There’s a robot vacuum on Amazon for less than $30, but there’s only one review at the time of publication, and we do not recommend buying it. Really cheap robot vacuums probably won’t work on rugs or have enough suction power to pick up hair and larger debris, making them basically worthless unless you are just cleaning hardwood floors that are already pretty clean. (Which really defeats the purpose of getting a robot vacuum at all, in our opinion.)
“Cheapest” does not mean “best inexpensive” robot vacuum
For the reasons already mentioned, you can gather that the cheapest option is not the best value. You want to find a good mix of functionality and price. Typically the vacuums that are $150 and up are going to be pretty decent and give you features that will actually leave your home looking and feeling clean.
Keep in mind that underside brush rolls are better for carpeted homes and if you have a big surface area to cover you’ll want to pay attention to the robot vacuums with longer run times to avoid having to recharge before the job is done.