When you first think about getting a robotic vacuum the largest name in the game is Roomba. You may be tempted to look up the latest and the greatest Roomba model (which as of this writing is the Roomba i7+) and click that purchase button.
That is until you see the price tag, or notice that it is only a vacuum and you want it to mop as well. Your budget may not include the purchase of a Roomba, and you aren’t one to settle for a model from six years ago. What can you do? You can read through this article and discover some Roomba alternatives that will fit the bill and make you happy about your purchase.
In this article, we will be looking at the Neato D5 Connected, bObSweep PetHair Plus, ILIFE A6 and the Eufy 11S.
- 1 Specifications Chart
- 2 How to Choose the Best Alternative to Roomba
- 3 Comparisons
- 4 Conclusion
Here is a quick look at the four robots side by side so you can see at a glance what each model offers or doesn’t offer.
|Neato D5 Connected
|BObSweep PetHair Plus
|Up to 120 minutes
|Up to 75 minutes
|Up to 160 minutes
|Up to 100 minutes
|Dust Bin Capacity
|Combo Brush Roll
|Stiff bristle brush bar
|Generation 2 CyclonePower
|Stiff Bristle Brush Bar
|Yes (separate purchase)
|Laser Smart Technology
|Sensor based mini-room
|Dual Mode ElectroWall
|All hard flooring Low to medium pile carpeting
|All hard flooring Low pile carpeting
|All hard flooring Low pile carpet
|All hard flooring Low to medium pile carpeting
|Check on Amazon
|Check on Amazon
|Check on Amazon
|Check on Amazon
How to Choose the Best Alternative to Roomba
I am sure that iRobot would love everyone on the planet to own a Roomba 980. Unfortunately, it isn’t in the cards for a lot of people. There are various reasons why you may not be able to (or want to) get a Roomba.
Most of those reasons are because of the price tag. Others may be looking for a second vacuum that doesn’t need anything fancy with a lot of lights and bells and whistles. Still, others may not want to have to use a mobile app of voice commands for control.
Whatever your reason, there are alternatives and here is what you should look for when making your decision.
Your Budget Will Play A Large Part In The Process
One of the largest factors when choosing a model other than a Roomba will be the cost. Your budget should be something that you stick to as much as possible. Going over budget will lead to buyers remorse, regret and possibly even frustration.
You will also need to account for future costs. These robots all have moving parts and filters and batteries that will need to be replaced at some point in the future. Filters and side brushes will be the first and most often occurring expense. You need to plan for it.
Warranties Play A Role Too
Most of the robotic cleaners will offer a one or two year warranty. When making your final selection, it is important to read through the warranty to see what is covered in that time and what is not.
In general, the moving parts such as brush rolls and side brushes will not be covered. Nor will normal use wear and tear items like filters. The batteries may or may not be covered, and if they aren’t you may need to consider a different model.
If you are happy with what the warranty covers and the duration of the warranty justifies the cost, then you can feel better about your purchase.
To Mop Or Not To Mop
Some of the alternative robots will offer a mopping function to go along with the vacuum and sweeping functions. Roombas do not offer mopping functions at all. This can be a selling point for another model over a Roomba for you if the price isn’t a concern.
When selecting a mopping robot, you should decide what type of mopping functionality you need. Most will be a dry or damp mop only where you have a microfiber cleaning pad that attaches to the bottom of the machine and it will run along the floor as the robot cleans.
Others will offer a true wet mop. Though you should be cautious as to what type of flooring you have when looking at the mopping abilities. Grained wood and some self-stick style laminates or vinyl don’t do well with direct water injection and a dry or damp mop is what you should be looking for.
The Filtration Can Make Or Break Your Choice
Filtration may or may not matter a lot to you. While that statement may surprise you a little bit if you don’t have any allergy sufferers the type of filtration may not matter as much. All filtration will protect the motor and inner parts from collecting too much dust and debris.
This is the main function of a filter and as long as debris is prevented from collecting on the motor, the robot will work fine.
The secondary function is to prevent particles from returning to the air and carpet after being sucked through the vacuum. Allergy sufferers have grown used to looking for the HEPA certified seal. What you may or may not know is that a lot of robotic companies (iRobot included) have stopped having their filters certified.
While the filters are still HEPA quality, the seal is no longer on the packaging. If this is a concern for you, you should learn to look for other keywords that indicate HEPA quality filters. These include:
If you see these words when describing the filters, you will know that they are still HEPA quality, which means they collect particles down to 3 microns in size. This size collects up to 99 percent of in-home allergens such as pet dander, dust mites and pollen.
If the filters are labeled as anything else such as standard, normal, or just [brand name] filter, then they don’t collect down to 3 microns in size. What size they do collect may need to be researched. Some will be 5 microns; others may only be 10 microns.
Controls Matter; More Options are Not Always Better
Some people like to have complete control over the robots, while others are content with manually pushing a button and letting the vacuums do their thing.
You will need to decide which type of person you are. If you want more control, you will need to look for a model with wireless connectivity. When you connect your robot to your home wireless network, you will be able to use a mobile app or even voice commands.
When it comes to voice commands, you will still be pretty limited. You won’t be able to (as of this writing at least) create or edit schedules or program the robots in any way. What you will be able to do is start, stop, pause and resume a cleaning cycle or send the robot back to the charging dock.
Mobile apps will have more controls, including the ability to create and edit schedules, see status reports and battery charge levels as well as full control over the robot’s cleaning cycles. Some robots will create 2D maps that you can view on the mobile device and several other options.
It should be noted, that (arguably) iRobot and Roomba have one of the most robust, user-friendly and convenient mobile apps on the market. There are very few others that can keep up with the Roomba app.
Since you are here looking for a Roomba alternative, if this is a concern for you, you should investigate the mobile capabilities in depth to get the best possible option.
Now it is time to get down to the nitty-gritty and talk about these alternative options. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are more than 200 various models, types and manufacturers of robotic vacuums to choose from.
This list only includes four. These four, though, for various reasons, offer you a good shot at having a reliable machine with features at or below the Roomba’s cost or that a Roomba just doesn’t offer. Let’s take a look.
1. Neato BotVac D5 Connected: Strong Suction in a Reliable Robot
The Neato line has included several different models and it wasn’t until the D series came out that they began to offer wireless connectivity. The first model to do so was called the Neato BotVac Connected.
It was a mid-range model with added features that put it above others in the D series. At the point of its release, Neato had already released the D3, D5 and D7. The connectivity and use of the Neato mobile app made sales skyrocket and receive rave reviews.
So, to keep the momentum going, they re-released their D line with the mobile connectivity and added the name “Connected” to the end.
Of the Connected D series robots, none is more popular than the D5. It offers a superior suction power. What you should take from this, is the level of suction power available. This type of power is measured in pascals, or pa for short.
A Pascal By Any Other Name
A pascal is a measure of airflow in cubic feet per second. The higher the number, the more power the vacuum has. However, this is also misleading a bit. There are about eight different measurements of suction power for a vacuum including air flow, water lift, watts, amps, amp draw, and others.
The industry average for pascals, though, (which is the general standard measurement) is between 600pa and 800pa. The D5 Connected has a rating of over 2200pa. Which, needless to say, is a lot of power. Some upright vacuums don’t even have 2000pa of suction power.
Does it mean that the robot cleans better than a vacuum with an 800pa rating? Not always. A lot more goes into play. But, you can rest assured, with the D5 Connected, you will get down to the carpet pad, through all the fibers and dust and debris on hard flooring will be no match.
Reliability Knows No Bounds.
The Neato D5 Connected is also one of the most reliable machines on the market. Believe it or not, the D5 has more positive reviews for longevity, durability and reliability than any other robot vacuum currently on the market. Yes, that includes the Roomba 980.
When you purchase the D5 Connected, you will only get a 1-year warranty. However, customer service is top notch, willing and able to help with any questions or concerns at any time, even five years later.
Replacement parts are also easy to come by, run lower than the industry average in price and are shipped right to you.
Other Items to Note.
The robot is also robust. It comes with a HEPA quality filter (Neato calls this “Ultra”). For those that have allergies, this is the filter you are looking for.
You should also notice that the robot has a large collection bin, which translates to less maintenance and longer cleaning cycles. It can also tackle any hard flooring surface as well as low pile and medium pile carpeting.
The combination brush roll has a mixture of rubberized blades for sweeping and stiff bristle brushes for agitating carpet fibers.
What is most impressive is the laser-guided navigation that maps your home with pinpoint accuracy to prevent damage, missed areas and falls or collisions.
- Strong Suction power to lift, loosen and separate debris for collection.
- Long battery life for completion of a cleaning cycle on a single charge.
- Laser guided navigation gives a more accurate and complete clean.
Areas of Concern
- Won’t work on all carpet pile heights like most Roombas.
- The mobile app works but isn’t as robust as it should be.
Bottom Line: If you want a highly rated, dependable clean on all hard surfaces, low and medium pile carpeting and want complete control with mobile apps and voice commands, the Neato BotVac D5 Connected should be at the top of your list.
2. bObSweep PetHair Plus: Offering What Roomba Can’t (or Won’t)
The bObSweep PetHair Plus gives you an economical all-in-one autonomous cleaner. Not only do you get sweeping and vacuuming for hard floorings such as tile, vinyl and laminate, but you also get a decent clean on low pile carpeting.
What the big catch is, though, is offering something Roomba can’t touch: mopping.
Dry or Damp Mop, Your Choice.
The PetHair Plus comes with a microfiber pad that can dry mop your floors as the robot runs around vacuuming up the bigger stuff. If you leave the pad dry, it will work a lot like a Swiffer stick mop, picking up and collecting dirt, dust and debris missed by the vacuum.
You can also spray the pad in a cleaning solution of your choice that will clean your floors with the cleaning solution as it scurries about. If you want more of a wet mop, you can soak the microfiber pad in the cleaning solution and let it go.
Maybe You Want A Wet Mop?
If you are so inclined, you can head to the bObSweep website and purchase an add-on that allows you to have a wet mop experience.
The water reservoir holds approximately 0.2 L of water and will keep the mopping pad wet while the robot runs along your hard flooring surfaces. If you do opt for this add-on, you should make sure you are home when using it.
If the battery gets too low, the robot will return to the charging dock on its own, and recharging with the water tank attached is a big hazard. You will need to remove the water tank prior to allowing the robot to dock to prevent damage, injury or even fire (though rare, if ever, why take the chance?)
It Sterilizes The Floor, Too
One of the most often overlooked features (even by me and this is my job) is the fact that the PetHair Plus has UV light sterilization.
When cleaning the hard floor surfaces of your home, you can enable the UV light to come on. When it does, the robot will slow down a bit (draining the battery a little faster) and the UV light will kill any bacteria on the floor.
What the HEPA filter doesn’t collect will be neutralized by the UV sterilization.
- Largest collection bin on the market at one full liter.
- HEPA filtration keeps allergens at bay in the home.
- Infrared containment from the bObi blOck keeps the robot where you want it.
Areas of Concern
- The battery is a little small and can run out when using all the features (like UV sterilization).
- No wireless communications for mobile app or voice control.
If you want an affordable, reliable all inclusive cleaner, the bObSweep PetHair Plus could be your ticket. It has a few downsides, but it delivers where it matters.
3. ILIFE A6: Smaller Budgets Will Love This
ILIFE has the A series line that gives you everything you need and nothing you don’t. The affordable price tag is offered to those that don’t require every bell and whistle available and just want a decent clean between regular chore days.
It Is More About What You Don’t Get
The ILIFE A6 doesn’t come with a lot of those features you will find on other vacuums. There isn’t a wireless connectivity, the use of mobile apps or voice commands. There isn’t an integral mapping system that plots every object in your home and displays to you a digital rendition of your home.
What you will get is a robot that has five modes of cleaning and three power modes which you can select through the remote control. The good news for you here, though, is that unlike almost every other multi-mode vacuum, you don’t have to use the highest setting to achieve a clean floor.
The A6 does a decent job in any mode and even the lowest setting produces over 600pa of suction power.
Filtration and Navigation: The Good and the Bad
You will also benefit from the HEPA certified filter system that prevents 99 percent of allergens collected by the suction from reentering the air and flooring of your home.
It is true that you can only get a decent clean on hard flooring and low pile carpet. If you have medium or high pile carpet (or are still stuck in the 1970s and have ling fiber shag) the robot will struggle, get tangled and shut down.
The sensor-based navigation system works well despite not having lasers or cameras to assist. The mini-room technology splits your home into manageable sections that the robot can easily handle. This helps prolong the already impressive battery life.
The problem is that the navigation isn’t the best, and certainly not on par with iRobot’s iAdapt 2.0 navigation system. There will be collisions with furniture, obstacles and the occasional wall. However, there are very few (out of many thousands) that have actually reported damage to either the robot or the home.
If you want to save money and still get a Roomba quality clean on most flooring, the sub $500 ILIFE A6 should be on your list.
- Drive the robot manually and create schedules with the remote control.
- HEPA certified filtration helps those with allergies breathe easier. (pun intended)
- Great robot for those on a budget.
Areas of Concern
- You don’t have Roomba caliber navigation; collisions will happen.
- Medium and high pile carpeting won’t be cleaned well, if at all.
If you want a high-performance machine that provides you with enough options to manage your entire home and lacks the features that raise the price tag, the ILIFE A6 is an option worth investigating.
4. Eufy 11S: Tight Budget Optimal Robot
Another one on the list of those with a smaller budget is the Eufy 11S. One of the (seemingly endless) 11 Series robots from Eufy. The “S” stands for slim, as the 11S is the thinnest model they have made for the 11 series at just 2.78 inches tall.
That’s not all they have cut, though, and with some features missing, the price keeps getting smaller.
You Don’t Need Everything, Or Do You?
One of the things people look at (or for) when searching for their perfect robotic floor companion is the number of features the unit has. What they fail to realize, though, is that of every possible feature available on the market, you are only going to use a few of them.
In most instances, you will set a schedule, make sure the filter and collection bin are cleaned out and head off to work, or the store, or the tennis courts. The robot will undock at the scheduled time, go about its cleaning business and by the time you get home, your floors are clean.
Rarely will you stand there selecting different cleaning modes, playing with the mobile app (except of course for the first few days, cause it’s new and exciting). After a few cleaning cycles, the robot will be just another tool in your arsenal of home cleaning and you will find the settings you like the best and it will stay that way until you are forced to change them.
So do you really need 14 different rotating brush modes and a mobile app that can steer the robot around your home even if you are vacationing in India? No. Probably not.
So why pay for them? That is the basic idea behind the Eufy 11 line. The 11S gives you the basic features most homeowners will need. You get the three cleaning modes, including spot cleaning, and a super slim design that allows even low profile furniture to be cleared and cleaned under.
You won’t have a mobile app, voice commands or the super sensitive laser guided navigation. The robot will run around the house, bump lightly into things it approaches and cleaning your floors the whole time.
What else do you need?
For Less Than $250, You Still Get A Lot
While you won’t have superior navigation or high-quality filtration, you do get a reliable clean in a machine that can go virtually anywhere. What’s more is you get what Eufy calls BoostIQ.
What the hell is that? Well, it is a feature introduced by iRobot and Roomba that they call carpet boost. It means when the Eufy 11S detects that it is on carpet the motor speed and suction power increase to help loosen, lift and separate debris for easier and more efficient collection.
With the larger than average collection bin (0.6 L) you can generally go three full cleaning cycles without having to empty it. You can also use the included remote control to create a schedule for cleaning and as long as you have hard flooring or low pile carpet, you won’t have much at all to worry about.
- Super slim design gets under virtually all furniture.
- Huge collection bin means fewer maintenance cycles for you.
- Low cost and efficient clean make for happy customers.
Areas of Concern
- The filtration is standard (10 microns) and is ineffective for most allergy sufferers.
- The remote control can be cumbersome and confusing for a while.
Bottom Line: While the clean on carpeting isn’t on par with a Roomba, you will save over 75 percent in initial costs with the Eufy 11S, which means the clean you do get can be more satisfying.
It doesn’t matter which name is on the robot that scurries around the floors of your home. What matters is that it is a robot that does what you expect it to do and you won’t have to watch constantly, rescue or worry about it.
Roomba robots have been at the top of the food chain for over a decade now with no signs of slowing down. Their price tags and feature lists are also sky high. If you find that you don’t need all the fancy and want to save money, you can opt for a different robot that will keep your floors presentable between manual chore days.
You can save money with economy robots, you can get similar features and results with more notable and expensive robots, and you can have mopping options that aren’t available on a Roomba.
The choice is yours and with so many to choose from, the options are almost limitless. If you follow the advice I presented in this guide, you will know what to look for and how it equates into a satisfying purchase and a cleaner home without having to have the iRobot name.