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2018 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide (What 527 Robot Vacuum Cleaner Reviews Tell Us)

We now lead hectic lives and look to technology to help save time and do the chores we would rather not do. Robot vacuum cleaners have recently emerged as an easy way to keep one's house clean. At ProductReview.com.au, we have 527 reviews covering 37 different models of robot vacuum cleaners. From these reviews, we've learned a lot about what drives satisfaction with these vacuums.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Our goal with this buying guide is to help you "know better, choose better" as you shop for a robot vacuum cleaner. Using these 527 consumer reviews, we'll help you understand what questions to ask, what features to look for, and what are the best robot vacuums.

Contents

  1. Why would I buy a robot vacuum cleaner?
  2. Can a robot vacuum cleaner replace my normal vacuum cleaner?
  3. Do robot vacuum cleaners work?
  4. What features should I look for in robot vacuum cleaner?
  5. What are the best robot vacuum cleaners in Australia?
  6. What are the best places to buy a robot vacuum in Australia?

Why would I buy a robot vacuum cleaner?

The #1 reason why we saw Australians buying robot vacuum cleaners was convenience. By making it simple to clean daily and keep a living area well vacuumed, it helped make life easier.

This convenience showed in the reviews, especially with pet owners, who mentioned they saved a considerable amount of time. What was almost a daily chore was gone, and there was one less thing to do after a busy day.

A good rule of thumb is that if you live in a house that is a good fit for a robot vacuum cleaner, it could save you 80% of the time you would spend vacuuming. It's good to think about how much your time is worth and would it make sense to get a robot vacuum cleaner.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Consider a robot vacuum cleaner if you:

  • Obsess with having clean floors, and you want help to vacuum your floors and carpets more often.
  • Work throughout the week and don't want to have the chore of vacuuming when you get home at night.
  • Have pets and have to vacuum more often to pick up animal hair.
  • Your house or apartment has even floors, and a robot vacuum can cover the entire home without you having to constantly keep your eye on it.
  • You family brings dirt and dust into the house, and you want an easy way to clean up after them.

Can a robot vacuum cleaner replace my normal vacuum cleaner?

Unfortunately, you will not be able to throw away your existing vacuum after buying a robot vacuum cleaner. Robot vacuum cleaners are handy, but some tasks are better left to a traditional vacuum cleaner.

Best uses for a robot vacuum cleaner:

  • Vacuuming wide-open rooms that have a lot of floor space.
  • Rooms that have heavy traffic and accumulate dirt, dust, or crumbs.
  • Carpets that you want to clean often due to traffic or pets.
  • Cleaning while you are away at work or out of the house.

Best uses for a traditional vacuum cleaner (stick, barrel, or handheld):

  • Cluttered areas that need more precision vacuuming, especially if you have a lot of cables or cords lying around. Robot vacuum cleaners like to eat cords, and they can easily damage them.
  • Thin, narrow areas, and corners where a robot vacuum cannot fit.
  • Any vacuuming that is off the floor (couches, stairs, skirting, ledges, etc).
  • Dark carpets that robot vacuums often mistake as stairs or drop-offs and won't vacuum.
  • Areas that need a lot of visual inspection and aggressive vacuuming to ensure they are clean.
  • Recreation vehicles, campers, boats, etc. that don't have enough flat space to use a robot vacuum cleaner.
  • From the reviews, the best vacuuming strategy we saw was using a robot vacuum to handle daily vacuuming across a wide area. Users would then touch up weekly with a stick or barrel * vacuum in the areas the robot vacuum could not reach.

Do robot vacuum cleaners work?

On hardwood and tile floors, as well as regular carpet, a robot vacuum will work as well as a standard stick or barrel vacuum. They have powerful suction and can clean open areas very well, with the added benefit of vacuuming by itself.

So they do work, but it is essential to understand where they will not work and where you need to augment with manual vacuuming. When you are buying a robot vacuum cleaner, think of it as a "glass half full"- how much time it will save you and how much more you can vacuum your floors. Know that you will still need to vacuum, just less than currently do (up to 80% less).

What features should I look for in robot vacuum cleaner?

When evaluating a new robot vacuum cleaner, you need to look at many features to determine which are the right choice for you. Your needs will drive which features are most important. We've also helped by going through the 527 reviews of the 37 robot vacuum cleaners on ProductReview.com.au to identify six key features to evaluate.

Feature #1: Mapping Your House For Your Robot Vacuum Cleaner

The best way to get the most out of your robot vacuum cleaner is to ensure it maps your house correctly. The technology in these vacuums has come a long way between the software in the vacuum to the apps on your phone that control it. It's important that you understand how your vacuum will map your home so that it can vacuum as much floor space as possible. Customers that got this right off the bat really saw the benefits of their vacuum, but if you get it wrong, its a lot of work to fix everything to get it working correctly. In addition to the mapping features, also check that you can program the times you want your vacuum to operate.

Pro Tip: Before buying, research how the model will map your floor and how this will work, including the apps that might be linked to your vacuum. Understand how these work, will they work with your phone (some had iPhone or Android incompatibility), and what features you can use. There are some nifty features available through the apps, but you need to put in the time to get them working and understand everything your vacuum can do.

Feature #2: The Battery Power And Running Time Of A Robot Vacuum Cleaner

The amount of battery used to do a full cleaning of a home came up a lot in the reviews. The most common complaint was the vacuum not being able to finish the entire house on one battery charge. Customers also commented that their vacuums reset after returning to the docking station. When it resumed cleaning, it started at the beginning instead of picking up where it left off, leaving part of the home uncleaned.

Pro Tip: Investigate how long on average the robot vacuum can operate and if this will be enough for your home. Also, understand what the vacuum does when it returns to the docking station. Will it continue vacuuming where it left off or will it restart and go back to the beginning? Tied together with Feature #1 is understanding how the vacuum and the apps work to ensure the vacuum will cover the entire house.

Feature #3: How Obstacles, Rugs, And Pet Hair Can Trip Up A Robot Vacuum Cleaner

We saw high satisfaction from consumers that had wide open rooms without a lot of rugs or clutter. For families with more items on the floor, we did see more management needed to use a robot vacuum cleaner. These items could be cables, children's or pet's toys, throw rugs, as well as stools and tables it had to work around. Robot vacuums are often effective at avoiding these obstacles. However, this means it cleaned less of the floor, and more manual vacuuming was needed. More obstacles would also cause the vacuum to bump into more things (including furniture as it navigated around these items).

Robot vacuums are also effective in vacuuming up pet hair, but excessive or long pet hair can clog them up and jam up the wheels. If you have a lot of pet hair, you could be rescuing your robot vacuum often.

Pro Tip: Think about how your home currently looks and will a robot vacuum be able to navigate around. Pay special attention to what you have on the floor as well as tables (especially coffee tables and end tables) and stools. For some families simply picking up will solve the problem and help their robot vacuum to be successful. For others, the amount of clutter on the floor will mean they need to think hard about whether a robot vacuum cleaner can save them time.

Feature #4: Cleaning And The Size Of The Dustbin

Robot vacuum cleaners are smaller than regular vacuums, and this impacts the size of the dustbin. The dustbin can fill up quickly and the amount of dirt they suck up surprised many reviewers. Once the dustbin is full, the vacuum is going to stop, and you could find yourself with only part of your house vacuumed when you come home.

Pro Tip: When you first start using your robot vacuum cleaner, measure how much dirt it picks up and how fast the dustbin fills. Use this to set the frequency of vacuuming so that it can handle the entire house in one dustbin. Additionally, if you foresee your vacuum filling up quickly, look for models that have bigger dustbins.

Feature #5: The Suction of Your Robot Vacuum Cleaner

Robot vacuum cleaners are much smaller than barrel or stick vacuums. However, from the reviews, we saw customers happy with the suction they provided. Suction is still a vital feature to check out. Make sure you think about your floors (hardwood or carpet?), what it will be vacuuming (dust or heavy pet hair?), as well as how much dirt it will need to pick up.

Pro Tip: While most consumers are happy with the suction of their robot vacuums, suction does vary between models. Think about your specific needs; pet hair, excessive dirt, and more significant items like food will need more power to vacuum up. Check out the power of each vacuum and ensure yours will have enough suction to get the job done.

Feature #6: Where Do You Place The Robot Vacuum Cleaner Dock?

Where you place the dock is essential; you want it to in a central location but also not in a place where you will trip over it. It needs to be near a plug, but you don't want it to be in a high traffic area.

Pro Tip: Visualise how your robot vacuum cleaner will to clean your house (either by using the mapping software or even closing your eyes). Using this map, think about what the most central location will be. Then look for where you can store the vacuum that will give it easy access, but not where you will step on it. A little planning around the dock will go a long way in making your robot vacuum easy to use.

​​The above features are the ones where we saw the most complaints and issues on ProductReview.com.au.

One interesting trend we saw was that many of the reviews referenced the "name" of their robot vacuum cleaners. "Sammy" was often the name of the Samsung models and other vacuum brands had unique names. Naming the vacuum made it seem more than an appliance and personalised it. This is something we have not seen with other types of appliances.

What are the best robot vacuum cleaners in Australia?

As of February 2018, out of 37 robot vacuum cleaners with reviews, the top five rated by consumers on ProductReview.com.au were:

#1: Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum

Overall

  • 98% of reviews were positive (4 or 5 Stars)
  • 2% of reviews were negative (3 Stars or less)

The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum was a 2017 ProductReview.com.au Award Winner.

Positive comments from the reviews:

  • High value for money with great performance for a lower investment.
  • Good mapping functions for your house and intelligent sensors.
  • Great app that allows you to run it remotely.
  • Powerful suction as well as a long running time.

Negative comments from the reviews:

  • The firmware and instructions are often in Chinese and the firmware needs upgrading to switch to English.
  • Configuring the app can be complicated as portions are in Chinese by default.
  • No local Australian presence for support and servicing.
  • The left wheel will often stick after extended use.

#2: iRobot Roomba 980

Overall:

  • 85% of reviews were positive (4 or 5 Stars)
  • 15% of reviews were negative (3 Stars or less)

Positive comments from the reviews:

  • It's easy to install and get set up.
  • It has powerful suction, yet is very quiet.
  • Long battery life and is efficient with how it vacuums.
  • Good overall mapping features.

Negative comments from the reviews:

  • It's on the pricier side.
  • It can have problems moving from tile or hardwood floors to thicker carpet.
  • Needs light to navigate, so it can't vacuum at night or under furniture.
  • The bin is on the smaller side.

#3: iRobot Roomba 600 Series

Overall

  • 80% of reviews were positive (4 or 5 Stars)
  • 20% of reviews were negative (3 Stars or less)

Positive comments from the reviews:

  • It's very good at getting into corners and hard to reach places.
  • It's strong suction helps it pick up pet hair.
  • Works well on carpets.

Negative comments from the reviews:

  • It's had quality and service issues, with consumers having warranties voided for the motherboard becoming wet.
  • Complaints about the power and suction.
  • It can struggle with larger rooms.
  • The iRobot Roomba 600 Series was a 2017 ProductReview.com.au Award Winner.

#4: Samsung Powerbot 9000 Series

Overall

  • 70% of reviews were positive (4 or 5 Stars)
  • 30% of reviews were negative (3 Stars or less)

Positive comments from the reviews:

  • Many of the reviews commented on the suction power.
  • It's very good at picking up lots of dust and pet fur.
  • It's very simple set up.
  • It has a stylish design and is lightweight.

Negative comments from the reviews:

  • Some advanced features, the app, and the mapping don't work well.
  • It has reduced battery life.
  • Difficult to clean dark coloured carpets.
  • It's expensive.

#5: Neato Botvac D Series

Overall

  • 81% of reviews were positive (4 or 5 Stars)
  • 19% of reviews were negative (3 Stars or less)

Positive comments from the reviews:

  • It works well around walls and got high marks for its navigation.
  • It's got a larger bin than most robot vacuum cleaners.
  • Vacuums animal hair well.

Negative comments from the reviews:

  • It can struggle with darker colour floors.
  • Sensor quality issues.

Rounding out the Top Ten Robot Vacuum Cleaners in Australia are:

#6: Vorwerk Kobold VR200

#7: iRobot Roomba 800 Series

#8: Stirling (Aldi) Robot Vacuum

#9: My Genie ZX1000

#10: LG Roboking Square

What are the best places to buy a robot vacuum in Australia?

Robot vacuum cleaners are available online and through Australia's larger retail stores. As robot vacuums are not a need-based purchase, consumers are increasingly buying them online. From analysing the reviews, we did not see any issues faced by consumers when purchasing online.

You can buy robot vacuum cleaners from the following stores in Australia:

If buying in-store, our tip is first to research online what stores carry which brands. From experience, many of the bigger retailers carry robot vacuum cleaners, but only stock a few brands or models.

Also, when buying be sure to check out the coverage of the warranty. Some negative reviews commented that parts wore out quickly but were not covered under warranty.

And there you have it - everything you need to make a better buying decision on your new robot vacuum cleaner. For more in-depth research, go to ProductReview.com.au's Robot Vacuum Cleaners category to read all the ratings and reviews for 37 models of robot vacuum cleaners available in Australia.