Until fairly recently, robot vacuums were out of reach for the average consumer, especially compared to more affordable traditional models. However, the selection of budget-friendly options has grown substantially in the past few years, so there's no shortage of relatively affordable robot vacuums with differing feature sets and designs to better suit your cleaning needs. While many cheaper robot vacuums struggle with some cleaning tasks, especially when it comes to clearing bulky material or dealing with messes on carpets, some do at least a fair overall job.
We've tested over 15 robot vacuums, and below are our recommendations for what you can buy as the best robot vacuums on a budget. These picks are selected not only based on their price but also their performance and feature-set. For more buying recommendations, take a look at our list of the best robot vacuums for hardwood floors, the best robot vacuums, and the best cheap vacuum cleaners.
The best robot vacuum for bare floors in the budget category that we've tested is the Roborock E4. This affordable model does an outstanding job cleaning bare surfaces, where it easily picks up pet hair and debris like sand and cereal. It also has a good-sized dirt compartment for a robot vacuum, meaning you need to empty it a little less often.
Its battery performance is fantastic, as it will provide roughly two to three hours of continuous runtime. There's a companion app that allows you to see a map of the area that was cleaned, make cleaning schedules, and remote-pilot the vacuum. It has excellent maneuverability and cleans in a fairly efficient S-shaped pattern. Also, it can climb onto rugs and does an alright job cleaning low and high-pile carpets.
Unfortunately, like many robot vacuums, it incurs high recurring costs and has several parts that should be removed and serviced regularly. That said, considering its superb performance on bare floors and budget-friendly price, it's a great option if you're looking for a hands-free way of keeping your hardwood or linoleum floors clean.
If you want a robot vacuum that does a good job cleaning surfaces like hardwood or laminate, but you prefer to spend a little less, consider the bObsweep Bob Pro. It doesn't perform as well as the Roborock E4 on bare floors, but still does a very good job on that surface type and is less expensive. Also, it comes with a remote control, so you can use it without a Wi-Fi connection. Its battery provides more than three hours of continuous runtime, which is fantastic. Unfortunately, its maintenance needs are even more demanding, and it really struggles to clear pet hair, which tends to get caught in the brushroll.
Go for the Roborock if you want a vacuum that can clean pet hair or prefer something easier to maintain. If you don't mind sacrificing some performance for a cheaper option, the bObsweep is worth considering.
The best robot vacuum on a budget that we've tested for carpets is the iRobot Roomba E5. It does an outstanding job of picking up pet hair and large debris like sand on low-pile carpet, though it struggles a bit more with finer material like baking soda in this respect.
It's very well built, with a premium feeling plastic construction and solid rubber brushrolls meant to reduce hair wraps. It's also quite compact, which allows it to navigate under furniture like tables and couches without too much trouble. Battery performance is also quite good, as it provides just under 100 minutes of continuous runtime on less than 100 minutes of charging. It can be used without an internet connection thanks to the control buttons on top of the vacuum. On the opposite end of the spectrum, it can connect to your Google Home or Alexa device for voice commands.
Unfortunately, it doesn't come with a remote controller. It also struggles quite a bit with picking up bulky material, like cereal, as its dirt compartment fills up with debris. Many parts need to be serviced or replaced periodically, so recurring costs are quite high. Otherwise, if you're looking for an affordable vacuum that can easily tackle pet hair on carpets, this is a solid option.
The best cheap robot vacuum cleaner that we've tested is the eufy RoboVac 11S. This highly affordable robot vacuum is decently well-built and very compact, which allows it to clean under couches and tables with little difficulty. While it doesn't have a companion app, it does come with a remote controller that allows you to operate it without an internet connection.
It performs best on bare surfaces, like tile floors and hardwood, where it easily clears small material like rice as well as bulkier debris like cereal. It does a fair job of cleaning pet hair on carpeted surfaces and has a relatively spacious dirt compartment for a robot vacuum. Its battery performance is also fantastic, and you can expect roughly anywhere between 70 to 110 minutes of continuous runtime on a single charge depending on its power mode.
That said, it struggles quite a bit with fine material like baking soda on carpeted floors, and its suction performance can drop noticeably if its dirt compartment gets too full, especially in regards to bulky or coarse material like cereal or sand. It's also very demanding in terms of maintenance and has high recurring costs. Otherwise, if you're on a budget and don't want to sacrifice build quality or battery life, this is one of the best cheap robot vacuums that we've tested.
01/07/2021: Added the Shark ION Robot 2020 to Notable Mentions.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best budget-friendly robot vacuums for most people. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability.
If you'd like to do the work of choosing yourself, here's the list of all our robot vacuum reviews priced under $300. Be careful not to get too caught up in the details. While no vacuum is perfect for every use, most are good enough to please almost everyone, and the differences are often not noticeable unless you really look for them.