5 of the Best Budget Robotic Vacuums (or Sweepers): Bang-For-The-Buck Robots That Will Clean Your Home For You

If you’d buy a decent quality robotic vacuum even five years ago you’d have to spend at least $400 for a brand new autonomous cleaner and what you will usually get is Chinese branded product with decent navigation armed with a Nickel Cadmium (or NiCad) that didn’t last very long.

Most of these budget robot vacuums use an IR-based navigation that has a random navigation pattern. To get something with a more efficient navigation that requires less babysitting, you’d have to spend at least $700 but you’ll find a cheaper alternative in this list.

Thanks to brands such as the ILIFE and Xiaomi both of which are based in China but these are some of the best that Chinese manufacturers have produced, especially the latter which I will expound on later on in this article.

First, let’s go to the list of the best budget robotic vacuums where you can only spend less than $400 and get your money’s worth!

Rank
1
2
3
4
5
Model
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Run time
2.5 hrs.
140 mins.
120 mins.
120 - 150 mins.
140 mins.
Power
1,800Pa
400Pa
N/A
700Pa - 1,000Pa
550Pa - 850Pa
Diameter (inches)
13.58
13.39
13.39
12.2
11.81
Height (inches)
3.15
3.15
3.62
2.99
2.76
Number of
side brushes
1
1
1
2
2
Cleaning radius
250 sq.m.
150 - 200 sq.m.
N/A
180 - 200 sq.m.
90 - 150 sq.m.
Noise
N/A
55 - 60db
N/A
≤ 65dB
≤ 54db
Cleaning modes
(1) Auto

(2) Scheduled
(1) Auto clean
(2) Spot clean
(3) Edge clean
(4) Work Schedule
(5) Mopping
(1) Auto clean
(2) Spot clean
(3) Edge clean
(4) Schedule
(1) Auto clean
(2) Spot clean
(3) Edge clean
(4) Work Schedule
(1) Auto clean
(2) Spot clean
(3) Edge clean
(4) Work Schedule
(5) Mopping
HEPA filter
Yes
No
No
Yes
Yes
Motorized brush
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Smartphone app
Yes
No
No
No
No
Virtual wall
Yes
No
Yes
No
No
Dust Box Capacity
0.45L
0.5L
N/A
0.45L
0.3L
Wet mopping
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
Water Tank Capacity
None
0.3L
None
None
0.3L
Dry mopping
No
Yes
No
No
Yes
Battery
5,200 mAh Li-Ion battery
2,600 mAh Li-Ion battery
NiCad
2,600 mAh Li-Ion battery
2,600 mAh Li-Ion battery
Charge time
appox. 300 mins
appox. 300 mins
appox. 3 hrs.
appox. 300 mins
appox. 300 mins
Warranty
12-months / 45 day moneyback guarantee (read warranty details here)
12-months / 45 day moneyback guarantee (read warranty details here)
1 year (robot)

6 months (battery)
12-months / 45 day moneyback guarantee (read warranty details here)
12-months / 45 day moneyback guarantee (read warranty details here)
Price

How to choose the right budget robot cleaner?

Nearly all budget robotic vacuums are sourced from China, heck even the iRobot and Neato products are made in China.

But take note that not all of these products are created equal some products are made better than others when I was privileged to be sent a bunch of these autonomous cleaners from GearBest in the span of a few months.

As I did my tests I found that two brands really stand out are the ILIFE and Xiaomi robotic vacuums in terms of build quality, navigation and performance.

There are other brands such as the Jisiwei, Alfawise and Ainol but in my tests these brands did not have as refined a product as those two I mentioned.

Re-badged

You will also notice different brands that look the same, case in point the ILIFE A4 and the Anker RoboVac 10 have exactly the same features and dimensions. The only difference is the color. This tells me that these two products come from the same factory.

Another example would be the Cleanmate QQ6 and the Ainol A6, with the exception of the outer shell both of these robots have the same features, same charging base, navigation pattern and even remote.

Take a close look at the robots I mentioned above and you be the judge.

Re-branding or re-badging is a common theme not only with robots vacuums but also in other industries like the automobile industry so it really isn’t a bad thing. I just want to educate you guys on the nuances to help you pick the best deal possible.

The final choice however will be up to you, you can buy direct from the source or if you prefer the fast shipping times of Amazon and pay more will be all up to you the consumer. This is the beauty of free market, you get to choose what you feel is best for you.

Navigation

In my few years of experience covering robotic vacuums there are 3 main types of navigation commonly used by manufacturers.

The most common would be the IR-based navigation system that uses a number of infrared sensors around the bumper and underneath the robot (these are called drop sensors) to help guide the robot in avoiding collision with obstacles such as furniture and whatnot.

Higher-end robots will use a laser-guided navigation or camera plus an algorithm (major brands use the S.L.A.M.) that acts as the brain to control and map out the most efficient cleaning pattern.

Robots using this feature are much more efficient and more often the not capable of cleaning a larger home because it remembers the areas it has cleaned and not just aimlessly wander around.

Some may argue that robots with a random pattern are more thorough which is true but at the cost of efficiency and won’t be able to do multiple rooms as effectively.

The downside to SLAM-equipped robots like the Neato, iRobot and Dyson is the price. The cheapest available of the three would be the iRobot 960 that sells for $700 in Amazon.

Again, I’ll offer you a cheaper SLAM-based robot around half that price if you stick around and read the rest of the article.

A Neato For Less: Xiaomi Robot Vacuum

Buying a brand new Neato Botvac Connected will set you back around $650, even scaled down version called the BotVac D5 costs around $670. That’s a lot of Benjamins if you ask me and if you don’t mind, I’d like to recommend the Xiaomi or the MI robot vacuum.

This product is a brain child of the MI ecosystem, a Beijing based start-up that manufacturers a host of products like mobile devices (such as laptops, smart phones and tables), television, power banks, rice cookers, cameras, robot vacuums and much more.

For a Chinese brand, this robot vacuum is high-quality, from the fit and finish to performance, it is the closest to the Neato than any other China-based manufacturer around (so far).

Pros

  • A cheaper alternative to the iRobot and Neato robotic vacuums
  • SLAM-based navigation system is efficient and yet thorough (make sure to update the firmware!)
  • App based control allows you to control this robot anywhere as long as you have internet connectivity
  • Decent cleaning performance
  • Long run time – combine this with its efficiency and you will have a robot capable of cleaning medium to large sized homes

Cons

  • Not as good as a Neato when it comes to edge cleaning because of its shape
  • Smallish dirt bin is smaller than the ILIFE V7S
  • App does not have an English version (at least the core functions)

Under the hood, it has the same type of navigation as the Neato Botvac which is a laser-guided system (called the LDS or Laser Distance Sensor mounted on top) that scans the room at an astounding 1,800 times per second.

To help with how this navigates, it uses the same SLAM or Simultaneous Localization and Mapping algorithm found in the Neato, iRobot and Dyson robots. Take note that this is the same algorithm that is found inside Google’s self-driving car with some nuances of course.

Here’s a video on the cleaning performance and navigation pattern I recorded…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zy96UDGe4dM

When I recorded this I’ve already upgrade the firmware that now uses provides more thorough cleaning as it will go through its cleaning pattern twice!

The result is a very efficient cleaning robot that can clean an area of around 22 square meters in just 23 minutes. Take note that this area has 2 rooms and one hallway and it did not get lost going back to the charging station.

Bottom line: This robot is a great cheap alternative to either the Neato BotVac Connecte or Roomba 980 (it’s also cheaper than the 960!). If you don’t mind that it is a Chinese brand, go ahead and save yourself at least 50% and get close to the same performance. The new firmware update adds thoroughness to the already efficient cleaning pattern so this product works well in medium to large homes.

Vacuum and Mop: ILIFE V7S

If spending over $330 for a laser-guided robot isn’t your cup of tea, don’t worry I have something here that will cost around a third of the price of the MI robot vacuum but at the cost of efficiency and app-based control.

The V7S is one of ILIFE’s 7 robot vacuums and one of the most decent performing thanks to the double-V motorized brush, a similar design to the Xiaomi and Neato robotic vacuums.

This motorized brush allows this robot to pick up well at least on bare floor and it has held its own even a more powerful robot like the MI robot vacuum and I’ve recorded a video comparing the two in action…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlO_XsQIdgY

To put it in perspective the Xiaomi robot cleaner has around 1,800Pa of suction and the V7S “only” has 400Pa which translates to less than a third of the power and despite that discrepancy, the amount of rolled oats and powder picked up isn’t too far off.

Pros

  • Decent cleaning performance despite lacking in power
  • “Double-V” brush design can pick up a lot of hair, powder and oats
  • Good sized dirt bin
  • Comes with an app that you can use to control and schedule the robot

Cons

  • App only comes in Chinese and isn’t WiFi enabled
  • Can be squeaky (maybe because of the tires)
  • No HEPA filtration

The weaker motor means that this robot will not be as noisy as the A4 or even the V5, both of which has more suction than this but what makes this effective as I’ve mentioned earlier is the double-V brush. However there is that annoying squeaking sound when this robot runs, it could be friction from the tires against the flooring.

If you don’t need the wet mopping functionality of the V7S then save a few dollars and go with the navy blue ILIFE V7.

Bottom line: Perhaps the most quiet of the 7 ILIFE robot vacuums, the V7S combines vacuuming and wet mopping functionality in one package giving you maximum versatility cleaning bare floor surfaces and the double-V brush design also make this very usable on carpet.

Cheap Roomba: iRobot Roomba 650

I never expected to feature a Roomba in a “cheap” robot article because their latest products are ridiculously expensive. For instance the Roomba 980 costs a little under $900, the 960 costs just under $700. Even the 880 that uses the old random cleaning pattern still costs an astronomical $480.

If you want a Roomba and cannot afford the three variants I mentioned above, I suggest you have a look at the bestselling robot vacuum in Amazon – the Roomba 650.

This robot uses basically the same navigation as the more expensive 700 series and even 800 series product line. iRobot says that it uses the iAdapt 1.0 navigation that is a little bit rough on the edges according to Reviewed.com. That means it will have a tendency to bump into furniture or push stuff out of the way if it is light enough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0cV18nUxok

But at just under $290 this is the cheapest available still in production iRobot Roomba in the market right now and you cannot argue with the over 3,000 consumers who gave a positive review in Amazon.

Pros

  • Cheapest Roomba available right now in the market
  • Larger dirt bin than the Roomba 630
  • Great for cleaning pet hair on bare floor and even carpet thanks to the counter rotating bristle brushes
  • Low profile means that it will go under most furniture

Cons

  • iAdapt 1.0 is a little bit rough on the edges which means it does have a tendency to bump into obstacles
  • NiCad battery is prone to power fade during the cleaning cycle
  • Bristle brushes is a little bit high maintenance especially if you have pets

Despite the downsides, this robot has everything you need from a robot vacuum – decent cleaning performance, scheduling, decent sized bin and affordable price. It isn’t as cheap as an ILIFE robot vacuum but you cannot argue with its bestseller status in Amazon.

Bottom line: The Roomba 650 is a great option for people looking to buy a robot vacuum for the first time and not having to worry about spending $700 for a trusted name. This robot has all the functionality you need from a robot cleaner as it cleans well, has a scheduling feature as well as a containment feature to block areas that are off limits but don’t expect efficiency from this product as it uses the an old infrared technology that has a random cleaning pattern.

Twin Side Brush: ILIFE A4

The first ILIFE robot vacuum I featured here has only one side brush but this next one comes with two and has twice the power. Let me introduce to you the ILIFE A4 robot vacuum.

From the outside this robot has similar features to the Roomba from the placement of the bin and the side brush design but the ILIFE has two side brushes and only one motorized brush while the 650 has two motorized brushes and one side brush.

Editor’s note: This robot is exactly the same as the Anker robotic vacuum or the Ecovacs M82, the latter two being rebadged versions. If you’re considering the Anker or the Ecovacs do yourself a favor and get the A4 instead because it is much cheaper and you can get the best deal at GearBest.

This robot is ILIFE’s answer to the iRobot’s 600 series but it has a few noticeable upgrades over the old Roomba series. Biggest of which would be the battery, this product is equipped with a lithium ion battery (not a NiCad).

Here’s how it did against the more powerful Xiaomi robot vacuum…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61bFC5yncKw

Despite the huge discrepancy in terms of power (1,800Pa vs 1,000Pa), the A4 managed to pick up almost as much as the Xiaomi robot but predictively it was much less efficient.

Pros

  • Cheaper than an iRobot robot that gives roughly the same performance
  • Decent cleaning performance (has two suction modes)
  • Has HEPA filtration
  • Two side brushes increases reach especially on the edges

Cons

  • Noisy on max mode
  • Hair gets caught up in the bristles
  • Inefficient cleaning pattern

Like the Roomba 650, this robot uses an IR-based navigation system that Roomba uses which means this robot will go in a random cleaning pattern. If you’ve watched the whole video above, you will notice that it did a pretty good job avoiding obstacles instead of bumping into them hard.

Bottom line: If you need a bare floor and carpet cleaning robot vacuum for less than $140 then the A4 is a very good option. It has the power and agitation to pick up dirt on low pile carpet and bare floor but do not expect this to deep clean as no robot vacuum in the market is capable of such just yet. It won’t be as efficient as the Xiaomi or Neato but remember that this robot costs a fraction of the other two brands I mentioned.

Bare Floor Cleaner: ILIFE V5 Pro

I’ve seen an uptick in homes (at least in warmer states like California) that have removed carpet and replaced it with hardwood. If you’ve made the switch, having a robot with a motorized brush isn’t a necessity hence this recommendation.

The V5 Pro does not have any motorized brush and in its place are rubber flaps that make sure dirt is funneled through the inlet and inside the bin. To aid it in picking up dust, it also comes with a wet and dry mopping functionality thanks to the microfiber towel that you can use simultaneously when vacuuming.

In terms of suction, this robot has two modes – a normal and max mode just in case you need the extra power. In normal mode, the motor isn’t as loud but when you crank it up to the max, it does become noisier.

Here’s how the V5 Pro compares against the V7

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EnpTz4Viq8

Despite having more power than the V7 the V5 Pro picked up less than the V7 thanks to its brush design that was able to get more oats and powder into the bin though the V5 Pro was more efficient at least in this test.

But since these robots both use the same random cleaning pattern, efficiency will also depend on the area these robots are cleaning.

Pros

  • One of the cheaper ILIFE robots available right now
  • You can vacuum and dry mop at the same time – great for picking up dust
  • Has HEPA filtration
  • Wet mopping functionality is available
  • Easy to empty bin

Cons

  • No motorized brush
  • Can be noisy
  • Small bin

Again, this robot would be a great fit for homes with only bare floor, especially if it is tile and hardwood because it has enough suction to pick up most types of dirt from bits of Lego, dried clay down to fine powder.

Bottom line: If you’re home has only bare floor then strongly consider this robot because not having a motorized brush means there is one less thing to take apart and clean up. It delivers relatively the same performance as the ILIFE V7 but it includes a wet mop that will allow you to mop floors like tile or granite.

Conclusion

As you’ve seen with the products and videos I shared above, you really don’t need to spend a whole lot of money just to purchase a decent robotic vacuum. These 5 vacuums I featured here will offer the best value for money proposition in the market compared to other robots that are more expensive like the Neato BotVac, Roomba 980, Dyson 360 Eye or the Samsung VR2AJ9020UG POWERbot.

If you need more sophisticated features like the SLAM-based navigation I won’t stop you from purchasing those 4 brands but you have to consider the MI robot vacuum because it offers similar functionality at a cheaper price.

I’d love to hear what you think, if you have any suggestions, I’d like to hear from you in the comments section below.

Garrick Dee
 

Garrick is the founder of the Cordless Vacuum Guide that originally focused on cordless vacuums but he has now expanded to reviewing corded vacuums and carpet cleaners to be able to provide a more complete guide in terms of choosing the right cleaner.

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