What to Know When Buying a Robot Vacuum: 3 Tips to Keep in Mind


Are you in the market for a robot vacuum, but can’t tell your suction power from your side brushes? Don’t worry! Taking the first uncertain steps into buying any sort of tech can lead to confusion at first. Especially when terms you’re not familiar with crop up in item descriptions.

Robot vacuums are becoming increasingly popular. They’re convenient to have at home, especially if you’d rather fill your life with more soul-nourishing pursuits than cleaning! If you’d like to learn more about robot vacuums, read on. We’ve put together this handy guide to buying (or upgrading) your robot servant and what to look out for.

1. It’s All About Suction Power

Woman relaxing on sofa drinking tea while robot vacuum cleans

The most important thing your robot vacuum can do is suck up dust and debris from your floor. That is, after all, the point of a vacuum. It is therefore crucial that you are aware of the suction power of the vac you’re looking at buying. This will determine whether or not it has done a good enough job once it has finished cleaning.

You are most likely to see suction measured in Pa. This refers to the suction pressure in the unit of measurement called Pascals. Not all manufacturers will tell you the suction power of their vacuum in this way, but it is good to look out for. For example, iRobot doesn’t readily give you this information for their Roomba series, but Bagotte mentions that the max suction power their BG600 model is 1,500 Pa. Great for hard floors!

Bagotte BG600 Robot Vacuum

Bagotte BG600 Robot Vacuum

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If you have pets, carpets, or both, then you’ll want to look at something with a higher max suction. The Roborock S4, for example, is a great vacuum if you’re thinking about something with more meat on its bones. It crams in a hefty 2,000 Pa suction power, alongside a wealth of other cool features. This means it will even lift dust and trapped hair from low-pile carpets.

Roborock S4 Robot Vacuum

Roborock S4 Robot Vacuum

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2. Loudness Is Also Important

Man Relaxing On Sofa With Robotic Vacuum Cleaner On Hardwood Floor

Let’s face it, robot vacuum cleaners should be convenient. They become less so if the noise they make is enough to disturb you. If you want to stay in bed on a Sunday morning, you don’t want the sound of a vacuum interrupting your snores! So, factor in the amount of noise your robot buddy is going to be making before you leap in and buy.

The noise level of the Neato Robotics D4 operates at a fairly loud 65 dB. To give you a comparison, a busy street (with traffic) will probably push around 80 dB in volume. If you feel this is too loud, then Eufy has just the ticket to endless sleepy Sundays: their RoboVac 11S makes only 55 dB of noise. Practically a whisper! The suction for this model isn’t the best they offer, though. The RoboVac 30C Max maintains the 55 dB noise limit while boasting a respectable 2,000 Pa suction.

eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C Max Robot Vacuum

eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 30C Max Robot Vacuum

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At some point, though, you’re probably going to have to make a compromise. Do you want a super-quiet vacuum with less powerful suction or a slightly louder one with great cleaning efficiency? Given that you’re unlikely to want to follow your robot vacuum around with a handheld, we’d recommend the latter.

3. Don’t Neglect Cleaning Modes

The cleaning pattern that your robot vacuum follows—referred to as cleaning mode—will have a major effect on its cleaning efficiency. It affects the time spent cleaning and the cleaning coverage. There are two modes that you will come across and we will explain a little about each, below.

Random Mode

Robot vacuum cleaner stuck between chair legs

Random mode, also known as “bounce mode” is, as the name suggests, completely random. The vacuum won’t follow a specific path and will, instead, clean in what may seem like an erratic fashion. While this isn’t specifically an issue, you may find that the random cleaning mode doesn’t cover your floor completely. It can also mean that your robo-vac may get stuck between chair and table legs.

The majority of vacs that use bounce mode, come with built-in “bumpers” that cover the front of the device. As you may have guessed, these inform the vacuum when it knocks into a footboard or a table leg, so it knows to change direction and keep cleaning elsewhere. As mentioned, this means it might miss a spot or two. You can quite easily work around this by using the remote control, directing your robo-servant to the spots it has missed.

Generally, the more basic, less costly models will run in bounce mode. The Ecovac Yeedi K600 Robot Vacuum Cleaner, for example, is a great budget model that covers all the basics. If you’re looking for a simple robot vacuum cleaner as an entry-level device, then you could do significantly worse. It uses a random cleaning pattern and you can then use the bundled remote to sweep up any bits it has missed.

Ecovac Yeedi K600 Robot Vacuum

Ecovac Yeedi K600 Robot Vacuum

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Linear Mode

robot vacuum cleaner in kitchen

Linear mode is equally easy to understand. Rather than bounce around in a vaguely haphazard fashion, the vac will clean in straight lines. This is an excellent way of cleaning as it provides the most floor coverage. If you think of the vac operating in the same pattern as a gardener mows a lawn, then this is how linear cleaning works.

If you want a vac that uses linear cleaning, you will likely have to pay a little more for it. The investment will mean that you get a robot vacuum with more autonomy, so you have even less to worry about in terms of cleaning efficiency. Some of the cheaper linear-mode models will still feature bumpers, but you are pretty much guaranteed a better clean in terms of how much dust and dirt the vacuum picks up.

One vacuum that comes with a super-low price-tag, when all of its features are taken into consideration, is the X6 VSLAM Camera Robot Vacuum Cleaner. It cleans in linear mode, and will only set you back $229. Honestly, with the other features available, this is a steal!

X6 VSLAM Camera Robot Vacuum

X6 VSLAM Camera Robot Vacuum

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Other Options to Know About

using a robot vacuum cleaner with a smartphone app

So we’ve covered cleaning modes, noise, and suction power. Robot vacs are becoming more and more advanced, though. Many of them work with an app so you can clean from the office (!!!). Some models actually map the floor of your home, scanning for obstacles, and allow you to draw virtual walls using the app. You can even get hybrid models that mop and vacuum. (Get one of these and your life will be complete!)

The X6 VSLAM mentioned above won’t break the bank but features: up to 2500 Pa suction, so a powerful vac; Wi-Fi-integrated remote control via the app; a built-in floor mapping mode with virtual walls; and much more. Definitely worth the cash!

Which Robot Vacuum Is Right for You?

Hopefully, this guide has made your decision a little easier. With a wealth of features to choose from, all you need to do is decide how much of in investment to make. If you want your life to be less about chores and more about actually living, it is definitely worth a punt.

Still not sure which robot vacuum model to plump for? Check out our review of the Roborock S6 robot vacuum

Roborock S6: Smartest, Most Powerful Robovac Yet

It’s not perfect, but the combination of power and smart features makes the Roborock S6 an easy recommendation. Just don’t count on it to mop up spills.
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to see why we think it’s easily one of the best-value robot vacuums on the market right now.

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