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 have become our mini housekeepers. As our reliance on them grows, robot vacuums keep up with demand through smart features that let us schedule cleanings while we’re out, control them via voice commands, or set which spaces should or shouldn’t be cleaned.
But if your home is mostly carpeted or if you have a lot of rugs laying around, the convenience of a robot vacuum gets tricky. Plenty of robot vacs are known for getting stuck in weird places, confused by dark flooring, or refusing to transition from hardwood floors to carpet. Will a robot vacuum actually make life easier, or will it become more of a hassle every time it eats a tassel or gets stuck trying to transition from bare floors to high pile?
Are robot vacuums good on carpet?
Not all robot vacuums are equipped to handle cleaning your floor coverings. Some simply have too little suction or too little clearance to properly handle thick, high-pile carpet. When choosing a vacuum, you’ll want to look on each robot vacuum’s product page to find out what carpet height it can handle. While most suggest only low-pile carpet or flat-weave rugs, some vacs can ramp it up to medium pile or even fluffy, high pile.
Good maneuvering only gets a vacuum so far. Carpets and rugs are where pet hair, crumbs, and dust go to die, so beefy (yet methodical) suction is key for homes with a lot of stubborn floor coverings.
As a general rule of thumb, upright vacuum cleaners have more suction power than compact robot vacs. But if you’d still prefer to outsource the job, look for a robot vacuum with suction levels between 1800 and 2500Pa to ensure that the carpet fibers are being efficiently combed of the debris they’ve been hoarding. Most modern vacuums have a boost mode that automatically kicks in when the vacuum senses carpet. The same sensors should be smart enough to facilitate a smooth transition to dark hardwood floors and *not* mistake them for a cliff.
Dual brushes and automatic cleaning brushes are a fantastic added bonus for carpeting, too. If you have a dog (or roommate) that sheds like it’s their job, hair is likely to get deeply embedded into your carpet. Normal vacuums tend to get the hair tangled up in the brushroll, but robot vacuums with dual brushes or self-cleaning brushes will help you avoid the weekly step of yanking a spool of hair out of the bottom of your vacuum.
Will a Roomba ruin your carpet?
Any robot vacuum is unlikely to ruin your carpet. However, loose carpet strings and rugs with fringed ends are something to look out for. Bumbling bots with less accurate object sensors may gobble these right up and get stuck on them, potentially damaging your floor coverings. Folks who love a good frilly rug should consider a robot vacuum that follows virtual boundaries through smart mapping (rather than physical magnetic no-go strips that don’t always work).
Which is better: Shark or Roomba?
Both are good, which is why you’ll see both brands on this list. Roombas tend to feel sturdier on the outside, with some seriously strong suction power — but the downside is that they’re expensive, loud, and are prone to technology bugs. Shark robot vacuums, on the other hand, might feel a little bit less durable on the outside but are fantastic for quieter cleaning, and still offer smart features at a lower price point. Shark vacuums do sometimes get lost though, as documented in this hilarious TikTok video.
Overall, both robot vacuum brands offer smart features, solid navigation, and strong suction, so making the choice between a Shark and a Roomba will depend on your desired price point and noise tolerance.
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).
Here is more detail of each of our top picks: