A robot vacuum can help ease the worry over whether your floors are spic and span after a long day at work.

Cleaning the house is a chore, one that can often push you over the edge when there’s just too much other stuff going on. Fortunately, there are plenty of robot vacuums to choose from, a variety of which enable you to set them and forget them. Some can even be scheduled to clean while you’re at work.

Not all robot vacuums are priced equally, however, which can make shopping for one an overwhelming feat. But we can help, which is why we’ve put together this helpful list of what to consider if you’re shopping for a robot vacuum.

Do you need a robot vacuum in the first place?

Who needs a robot vacuum? Someone who doesn’t mind a clean floor in the midst of chaos.

First things first: You shouldn’t buy a robot vacuum if you don’t need one. Most traditional upright vacuums clean better than their automated counterparts, not to mention they offer appendages and extra nozzles for cleaning in tight spots where a robot vacuum won’t. They’re often better for cleaning up big messes, too.

But upright vacuums are heavy, and sometimes they’re too much to handle when pressed for time. A robot vacuum can be helpful if you run a busy household, for instance, or you’re at work more than you’re at home and you’d rather not spend the weekends tidying up. Robot vacuums can also help in households where there is lots of pet dander, or perhaps a cat with a penchant for tossing litter out of her box and onto the floor.

It’s also crucial that you determine what it is you need a robot vacuum to do for you. If you merely desire an automated gadget to aid in sweeping away crumbs and dust on the daily, you can probably get away with one of the cheaper models available. But if you’re hoping for a full-fledged robotic maid, one that can suck the dirt out of the carpets, you’ll need to spend quite a bit. If you have pets or allergies, the good news is that are plenty of robot vacuums that deal directly with pet hair, no matter the surface. And there are also devices with built-in HEPA filters to help eliminate allergens.

Like any appliance, the more you spend on a robot vacuum, the more maintenance it requires. Before you venture on your buying journey, ask yourself: Do I need a robot vacuum in the first place? And if you do, decide how much you’re willing to spend.

If you’re still on the fence on whether you even need a smart vacuum – or what is better known as a robotic vacuum — be sure to check out David’s post on the reasons why you should buy, and reasons you might want to pass.

How big is your house?

If you live in an apartment, you probably don’t need to spend as much money on a robot vacuum as someone who lives in a 2000-square foot home. Most robot vacuums can manage to clean for up to an hour and a half on a charge, which is enough to clean a 500-square foot area thoroughly. There are others that have more significant battery packs and bigger dustbins so that they can clean a Mansion all the way without petering out.

You’ll also want to consider the size of your furniture, like how high it sits off the ground and whether a little vacuum could fit underneath to clean where it matters. Robot vacuums taller than 3-inches sometimes won’t fit under a bed or dresser.

Do you have carpet?

Some robot vacuums work better on carpets, while some do best on hardwood floors. Which are you most concerned with keeping clean?

There are all-surface robot vacuums available, which are great for grabbing dust bunnies, clumps of hair, and dense little particles like crumbs. There are some that posit to clean by vacuuming and mopping,  and those tend to not be very great at one or the other. And there are others that merely mop, like the iRobot Braava Jet, which is intended only for hardwood and tile floors. Regardless, the one you choose should be one that’s advertised for the surface you’re attempting to get clean.

How would you like to control it?

Many robot vacuums come with companion remotes and connectable apps in tow.

Many of the latest robot vacuums come with a companion remote control that you can use to steer the device around crevices and corners, and schedule to run at a particular time daily.

If you don’t mind spending a little more, many device models also have companion apps for iOS and Android. These apps will often allow you to schedule the vacuum or control it manually to unlock its features within. Models like the Neato Botvac Connected and Samsung Powerbot R7090 will also map out what it’s worked on, so you know how it cleaned your quarters. Also, chances are if the robot vacuum has an app, it has Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa integration. That means you can shout things like “Clean the house!” to a smart speaker to command the robot vacuum to start. (Isn’t the future cool?)

What are the different price points?

Expect to start looking at $200 robot vacuums, though there are some budget options like the Monoprice Strata Home Cadet that can be found for even cheaper than that. Just remember that you get what you pay for. Most of the decent budget options are going to cost between $150 and $300.

The next tier is the $300-$500 price range, which typically lends itself to mid-range vacuums like the iRobot Roomba 690,  a favorite on Amazon. This model can thoroughly clean both carpets and hardwood floors, and it’s programmable through the iRobot Home app.

If you’re open to investing more in a vacuum, either for better cleaning prowess or to accommodate a larger space, you’ll be starting at $600. In this price tier, you’ll find devices that like the Botvac Connected, which offer app control, LIDAR-mapped cleaning receipts, and respond to virtual assistants. These vacuums also tend to come with better suction abilities than their mid-range counterparts. Higher-priced vacuums like the Roomba 980 and Samsung Powerbot R7070 typically utilize self-cleaning spinning brushes, which are better at tackling carpets.

Ready to buy?

If you think you’re ready to pull the trigger on buying your first robot vacuum, be sure to see our list of the best robot vacuums!

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