Best Auto Self Emptying Robot Vacuum

Best Auto Empty Robot Vacuum

Before iRobot launched the Roomba I7+, part of robot vacuum ownership was emptying the dust container.

It’s a tedious but necessary task that can be messy. But all that changed when the I7+ came out, and it was a hit – being one of the most popular auto empty robots ever manufactured.

Ever since it came out, other brands have followed suit, and we’ll look at the best self emptying robot vacuums (at least the ones I’ve tested).

An overview of the best auto-empty robot vacuums

Despite the article title, it’s impossible to name one particular model, the best auto empty robot, since many variables are involved.

My Top Three Picks

So I’ve come up with three main categories for this list. I was planning on adding a “best for carpet,” but since the Roomba S9+ also, I decided to skip since the information displayed will be redundant.

You’ll also see all the other robot vacuums I’ve tested for your reference. Please scroll down to see all the information, plus my commentary on each.

Best in Cleaning Performance: Roomba S9+

  • Airflow: 25 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 93%
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: Camera & SLAM
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 500ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 3300 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 mins
  • Noise: 74.1 dB

Best Value-for-Money Alternative: Yeedi Vac Station

  • Airflow: 23 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 80%
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5 liters
  • Navigation: Smart Navigation
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 1
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 420ml
  • Water tank: 240 ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 200 minutes
  • Noise: 66.1 dB

Best Robot Vacuum & Mop Hybrid: Roborock S7+

Roborock S7+
  • Airflow: 13.91 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 78.85%
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 3-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR & SLAM
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 4
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 420ml
  • Water tank: 300ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 180 mins
  • Noise: 69.8 dB

Cheaper alternatives to the Roomba S9+ for carpet

The S9+ may be the best option for carpet, but it’s also the most costly. Below are excellent, less expensive options for those who don’t want to spend a premium.

Please note that the Roomba I3+ doesn’t have VSLAM, so it lacks advanced features like keep-out zones; that’s why it’s cheaper than the I6+.

Roborock I6+

  • Airflow: 8.2 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 82.5%
  • Mopping: No
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5 liters (approx.)
  • Navigation: Neat Rows
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 10
  • Keep out zones: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 minutes
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Roomba I3+

Roomba I3
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep Cleaning: 84.7%
  • Mopping: No
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Navigation: Smart Navigation
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Containment: No
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Rubber extractors: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 75 minutes
  • Noise: 64.9 dB

Best Obstacle Avoiding Robots

Ecovacs and Dreame are two options with 3D front-laser sensors adept at avoiding objects.

Based on tests, the Dreame Z10 Pro is better overall with the range of obstacles it can avoid, while the Ecovacs N8 Pro+ brushed against the shoe and tried climbing over a weight scale.

Ecovacs N8 Pro+

Ecovacs N8 Pro+
  • Airflow: 22.29 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 66.16%
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 2.5-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR & SLAM
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 2
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 420ml
  • Water tank: 230ml
  • Side brush: Two
  • Battery: 3200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 110 mins
  • Noise: 64.4 dB

Dreame Z10 Pro

Dreame Z10 Pro
  • Airflow: 19.33 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 79.95%
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 4-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR & SLAM
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 3
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 400ml
  • Water tank: 150 ml
  • Side brush: Two
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 150 mins
  • Noise: 75.5 dB

Other “budget” alternatives

These models are the other cheap auto empty alternatives for budget-conscious shoppers.

The Shark IQ was a pioneer of it and still remains one of the more popular options.

Ultenic is a new brand and its main selling point is the large 4.3-liter bag that can hold up to 60 days’ worth of debris.

Shark IQ XL Auto Empty

  • Airflow: 18.87 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 80%
  • Mopping: No
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Auto empty dustbin capacity: 1.8 liters
  • Bag capacity: No bag (bagless)
  • Navigation: Smart Navigation
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 1
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: approx. 400ml
  • Water tank: N/A
  • Side brush: Two
  • Battery: 2990 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 60 minutes
  • Noise: 64.8 dB

Ultenic T10

Ultenic T10
  • Airflow: 14.52 CFM
  • Deep cleaning: 49.55%
  • Mopping: Yes
  • Auto empty: Yes
  • Bag capacity: 4.3-liters
  • Navigation: LIDAR & SLAM
  • Map saving: Yes
  • Number of maps: 1
  • Containment: Yes
  • Selective room cleaning: Yes
  • Recharge & Resume: Yes
  • Dustbin capacity: 580 ml
  • Water tank: Not specified
  • Side brush: Two
  • Battery: 5200 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 280 mins
  • Noise: 69.5 dB

Introduction to the Best Auto Empty Robot Vacuum

Self emptying robot vacuums are gaining popularity as more brands have implemented this feature (at least) into their top-spec options.

Its primary selling point is automatically emptying the robot’s dustbin after every run, ridding consumers of this messy task.

I’ve tested a bunch, and there are two main design types: a ramp-style dock and a vertical port.

Ramp-style offers better stability

Ramp style dock

The most common design you’ll see in shopping sites is the ramp-style dock, where the robot sits on a ramp.

Several notable brands utilize this design, like iRobot, Dreame, Roborock, Ecovacs, and Yeedi.

I like this design because it offers the best stability since the port is directly under the robot, eliminating any alignment issues.

Port size will vary depending on the design.

Most will have one functioning port like the Shark IQ, Roomba I3+, I6+, S9+, Ultenic T10, and Dreame Z10 Pro.

Others brands like Yeedi and Ecovacs have two ports, helping it empty large debris quantities better.

Vertical ports are less bulky

Vertical ports

One issue with ramp-style docks is the bulk with the ramp sticking out.

Vertical ports don’t have this issue since it doesn’t have a ramp.

My favorite design is the Shark IQ auto empty station with the handle, making it easy to move around.

However, the biggest issue with this design is the potential alignment issue since the port is vertically aligned.

Some brands like Ultenic recommend against using the dock on carpet because of it.

In comparison, others like Shark have an accessory to aid in stability (SharkMat).

Best in cleaning performance overall: Roomba S9+

I’ve tested many robot vacuums, and one model sticks out as the best cleaning option is the Roomba S9+.

It was consistent on both surfaces, picking up a nearly perfect score on surface debris and the highest so far in deep cleaning tests.

Pros

  • Best-in-class vacuuming performance
  • The wide 9″ extractors offer a broader cleaning path than most other brands
  • Excellent at cleaning embedded sand on mid-pile carpet (93%)
  • Superb at picking up five and seven-inch hair strands
  • The square front makes it efficient at cleaning edges

Cons

  • Ultra-expensive
  • Short run time (between 45 and 75 minutes)
  • iRobot app lacks some features

The Roomba S9+ was a radical change for iRobot. Not only was it a refresh, but a complete upgrade from the previous I-series robots.

All enhancements aim to improve cleaning performance.

First is the round, puck shape design to a square-front, similar to a Neato Botvac.

The second enhancement is moving the brush roll towards the front end and increasing width to 9″ (or 30% wider than the I-series).

Roomba I3 vs I6 vs S9 extractors comp

These changes and the increase in power improved the S9+ performance and efficiency over the previous I-Series robots.

As I’ve said, it’s the best performance robot across the board.

The wide extractors, high-end agitation, and airflow enable it to pick up more debris than any robot vacuum.

Not only was this based on measured tests, but also the eye test.

It picked up 100% of sand on hard floors and 93% in deep cleaning tests – the best of the bunch here.

Best Value-for-Money Option: Yeedi Vac Station

Yeedi Vac Station with Auto-Empty Dock

One of the surprises crunching the results for this article is the results of the Yeedi Vac Station.

It was third overall in the cleaning tests behind the Roomba S9+ and Roborock S7+, buoyed by the solid 80% result in deep cleaning tests – the best of the non-Roomba options here.

Here’s the clincher – it’s one of the least expensive alternatives on this list.

So I had little choice but to hail this as the best value-for-money option.

Pros

  • One of the least expensive options on this list
  • Excellent cleaning performance for the price
  • Low profile design will fit under furniture with a 3.1″ clearance
  • Mopping is almost as good as a Roborock S5 Max
  • Only VSLAM robot with a live map
  • It runs for up to 180-minutes

Cons

  • Bristled side brush will wear out faster
  • VSLAM algorithm is reliant on light (may not function optimally in a dark space)

The Yeedi Vac Station’s performance isn’t a surprise since it shares many components as Ecovacs.

Yeedi Vac Station and Ecovacs N8 Pro+

Some comments in my video review mention that Yeedi is under the Ecovacs umbrella, so parts availability shouldn’t be an issue since the filter, bags, and side brushes are interchangeable.

But since it isn’t as popular as iRobot, harder-to-find components like the side brush motor could be an issue down the road.

One critical aspect of robot vacuum ownership is maintenance, which I’ll cover in a separate article.

The use of VSLAM also makes this robot reliant on light.

Using it in a dark environment may cause some issues with navigation.

Don’t expect it to perform like a Roomba S9+ (none of the robots in this list will), but it brings a lot to the table for the cost savings.

Lastly, the mopping feature makes it a highly versatile option on hard floors.

It doesn’t have the vibrating mopping pad as the Roborock S7+, but the results were almost as good as the Roborock S5 Max.

I like the simplicity of the design since the lack of moving parts bodes well for longevity.

I wouldn’t recommend it for heavy-duty mopping. None of the robot vacuum hybrids I’ve tested will fare well on heavily soiled floors.

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07/21/2021 11:38 am GMT

Best Robot Vacuum and Mop Hybrid: Roborock S7+

Roborock S7 auto empty dock

Outside the Roomba S9+, the Roborock S7+ sticks out as the best performing option, at least for surface debris, thanks to the redesigned brush roll.

But one feature it has over the other alternatives here is its sonic mopping system, giving it an agitation element absent in other brands.

Pros

  • Outstanding cleaning performance (#2 behind the Roomba S9+ overall)
  • Sonic mopping adds an agitation element lacking in other brands
  • Upgraded brush roll improves agitation to another level
  • Decent deep cleaning results
  • Slightly larger auto empty bag than the Roomba options
  • Auto empty dock picks up debris sticking on the filter
  • Long 180-minute run time

Cons

  • Technological complexity does have some worried about its long term viability
  • The Massive mopping bracket adds a lot of weight to the robot
  • Sub-par edge cleaning
  • Very expensive

What’s impressive for me is how Roborock was able to achieve excellent cleaning with lower airflow.

I’m not sure why the S7 has lower airflow scores. It could be the chunky roller covering most of the opening, but the results speak for themselves.

Roborock S7 bottom design

For homes without or minimal carpet, I’d go with the Roborock S7+ over the Roomba S9+ because of its added mopping functionality and superior app.

The S7 is the more versatile robot that does both tasks well.

One concern raised by some is the complexity of the mopping system. How long it will last.

Only time will tell how it holds up, but one way to ensure longevity is to use a fresh pad for each mopping cycle.

Doing so will reduce unnecessary wear and tear, which bodes well for its longevity.

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09/13/2021 02:08 am GMT

Cheaper Alternative to the Roomba S9+: Roomba I6+

Roomba I6

For budget-conscious shoppers who can’t or don’t want to spend a premium on the S9+, a good, less expensive alternative is the Roomba I6+.

It retains many of the same features as S9+ but with less power and slightly inferior performance.

The most significant of these variances is its shape, as the I6 retains the round frame in older Roomba models.

So it utilizes narrower extractors and fast-spinning side brush that tend to scatter debris.

Outside the Roomba S9+ and I3+, this model is the third-best deep cleaning robot of the bunch (82.5%).

Pros

  • Less expensive option to the Roomba S9+
  • One of the better options for deep cleaning carpet
  • Abundant parts availability makes it viable for long term ownership
  • iRobot app can save up to 10 map levels

Cons

  • Fast-spinning side brush will scatter large debris quantities
  • VSLAM is reliant on light

Important note: The Roomba I6+ is similar to the I7+ with variations with color scheme and accessory inclusions out of the box.

Roomba products are excellent for carpets, thanks to iRobot’s patented counter-rotating extractors and dirt-detect.

These rollers have grooves all over that agitate carpet better than any robot vacuum I’ve seen.

Roomba I6+ underneath

Dirt-detect does extra passes when it senses more debris, so it’s also the most thorough option available.

Again, if cost is a higher priority, the Roomba I6+ will be a more attractive option than the S9+.

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05/12/2021 09:56 am GMT

Budget Auto Empty iRobot Option: Roomba I3+

Roomba I3 front view

The last of the iRobot triumvirate is the Roomba I3+. It’s one of the later releases after the S9, I7, and I6, offering consumers a more cost-friendly alternative.

One reason iRobot could bring the price down is that it doesn’t have the camera-based VSLAM algorithm.

In its place are gyroscopes and an optical floor tracking sensor for navigation.

Pros

  • Cheapest Roomba auto empty option
  • Crisscross pattern is more efficient than the Roomba I6 and S9
  • Slightly better than the I6+ at deep cleaning carpet
  • Despite not having VSLAM, it still has recharge and resume

Cons

  • No map saving and access to features like keep out zones and selective room cleaning

Not having VSLAM means the I3 can’t save maps; therefore, it won’t have advanced features like keep-out zones.

Surprisingly, its fixed cleaning crisscross cleaning pattern seems to be more efficient – at least for the small room test.

The I3+’s textured matte finish exterior is more resistant to fingerprints than the glossy finish of the other two Roombas.

There is nothing fancy with this variant, but it’s a good solid option for those who don’t mind not having the advanced navigational specs.

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05/12/2021 09:55 am GMT

3D Obstacle Avoidance: Ecovacs N8 Pro+

Ecovacs N8 Pro auto empty dock

Next, we’ll look at perhaps the second-best obstacle-avoiding robot of the bunch – the Ecovacs N8 Pro+.

This variant is a recent release from Ecovacs as their “budget” alternative to the T8 AIVI series.

But the thing is, the N8 Pro’s 3D sensors are better than the T8 AIVI’s single-lens camera at avoiding obstacles.

Ecovacs N8 Pro front 3D sensors

This version is cheaper because it uses a smaller 3300 mAh li-ion battery, cutting down the run time from 180 to 110 minutes.

Not a big deal for small to medium-sized homes due to its efficiency, but it might be for larger homes.

Pros

  • Best obstacle avoiding robot in this list
  • Less expensive option to the T8 AIVI
  • 2-in-1 mopping and vacuuming functionality
  • Decent at cleaning surface debris
  • Decent mopping results on red wine stains
  • Efficient navigation

Cons

  • Sub-part deep cleaning performance
  • Shorter run time than the T8 AIVI

Aside from its obstacle avoidance capabilities, the N8 Pro is above average at cleaning surface dirt.

As with most twin side brush robots, one issue with it is it tends to scatter debris.

But it shouldn’t be an issue with daily cleaning tasks on dust.

However, it’s an observation from these tests and something to consider for consumers how may have stuff like, let’s say, pet litter to clean up.

The N8 Pro’s biggest Achilles heel would be deep cleaning, where it picked up an average of 66.16%.

Not a bad score, but below average versus the other options above it.

Regardless, this variant is a decent option, especially for folks who prioritize obstacle avoidance or want the extra mopping functionality.

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09/06/2021 12:14 am GMT

Dreame Z10 Pro

Dreame Z10 Pro with auto-empty dock

Another option with obstacle avoidance is the Dreame Z10 Pro. It’s similar to Ecovacs in that it has front 3D sensors.

I’m not sure how these manufacturers calibrate these sensors, but it seems like Dreame’s version is better at avoiding a wider range of objects.

It’s also deep cleans (carpet) better than Ecovacs, and you could say it’s a better value option if you don’t mind its newness.

Pros

  • Fourth best behind the Yeedi Vac Station, Roborock S7, and Roomba S9+ in cleaning tests
  • It has an excellent obstacle avoidance system
  • Above-average deep cleaning results
  • The sizeable 4-liter bag will hold up to 65 days worth of debris
  • Very efficient navigation

Cons

  • The auto empty system tends to blow debris to the inlet port
  • Being a new player means limited parts availability

One issue with new brands or models is its uncertainty with parts availability.

The question is, will Dreame still be there after the next five to ten years?

I’ve seen new brands come and go the past few months with cordless stick vacuums, namely the Jimmy JV51 and Moosoo K17.

So I’d pause and not fully recommend new brands until they prove their longevity in this industry.

Dreame is a relative newcomer but is quite active with product development and release.

Being under the Xiaomi company does mitigate the risk, but it’s not a big-name company like iRobot, Shark, or Ecovacs with a more established following.

Do consider the Dreame Z10 Pro if you value cleaning performance and obstacle avoidance.

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09/17/2021 06:40 am GMT

Shark IQ Auto Empty

Shark IQ self-empty base

Before the Shark IQ robot vacuum was introduced, Roomba dominated this space with its innovative but expensive products.

Shark broke the price barrier with the IQ Auto Empty and gave consumers a cheaper alternative.

The initial release had its flaws, and the most glaring is the lack of a floor tracking sensor, leading to map creation issues.

Fortunately, this issue has been rectified by adding a floor tracking sensor.

During my tests, it only took one run to create the map, and it was quick.

The IQ Auto Empty is the only bagless option here, with the smallest capacity at just 1.8 liters.

One positive with the low volume is the compact frame, and it comes with a handle, making it the easiest to move around.

Pros

  • The compact auto empty dock is easy to move around
  • Excellent at resisting strands from shorter 5-inch strands
  • Decent at cleaning embedded sand on mid pile carpet (75%)
  • Bagless dock means $$$ savings of not having to purchase bags continually
  • The slow spinning side brush will not scatter debris

Cons

  • SharkClean app lacks features
  • It can only do a single-pass run – lacks thoroughness
  • Emptying the auto empty dustbin can be messy if you’re not careful

Using a bagless design means less running cost since there’s no need to buy and replace bags regularly.

But you’ll still have to replace the HEPA filter, but that will be less frequent.

Performance-wise, the Shark IQ is decent with surface debris but not great.

What hampers it is the lack of thoroughness as it only goes around once.

The SharkClean app does have an extended run option, but I don’t see any improvement with this feature turned on.

Its high airflow does mitigate this shortcoming, but you’ll have to do multiple runs per day for it to be more meticulous.

Shark advertises the IQ to have an anti-tangle system, but it works up to a certain length – only five inches.

Shark IQ five-inch hair wrap test

Anything higher will halt the robot and prevent the brush from spinning, thus triggering an error code.

You can see in the photo below; longer hair is wrapped on the brush.

Shark IQ seven-inch test

Another issue is the app since it lacks certain features. Aside from the single-pass run, it can only save one map, which defeats the purpose of the light base station.

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05/12/2021 11:45 am GMT

Ultenic T10

Ultenic T10 auto empty base station

The last robot on this list is the Ultenic T10. It’s a new brand, and they did send me this robot vacuum to test as part of their marketing campaign.

One feature going for it is the generous 4.3-liter bag size – the largest of all the options here.

Ultenic says it can hold up to two months’ worth of debris.

However, one issue with the T10 auto empty station is its incompatibility on carpet due to alignment concerns.

It’s one of the points of emphasis I explained earlier in this article.

Depending on how your floors are laid out, it could be an issue. Another issue is the poor deep cleaning performance (49.55%), the worst score of the nine robots here.

Pros

  • The spacious 4.3-liter bag can hold up to two months of debris
  • It has a full bag sensor to notify users
  • Innovative containment feature, combining invisible wall and no-go zones
  • Above-average at cleaning surface debris
  • Extra-long run time at 280 minutes

Cons

  • It had the worst results at deep cleaning carpet
  • Auto empty dock not usable on carpet

On hard floors, though, this robot is decent, especially with sand, as it picked up 99.1% – better than the Roomba I3 and I6!

It also doubles as a robot mop, but I did notice it stalling a few times during the mopping run with red wine stains.

I wouldn’t recommend it for cleaning such, but only for light-duty mopping.

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09/17/2021 06:44 am GMT

Auto Empty Dock Comparison

These variants will have varying auto empty station designs, split into two different types I mentioned earlier.

My preference is a ramp-style dock since it provides stability, so it’s usable on different surfaces.

Base station size will vary, with the Dreame Z10 Pro having the biggest footprint.

Most of the brands I’ve tested use a bagged system.

Only the Shark IQ has a bagless auto empty dustbin, and here are the capacities.

  1. Ultenic T10 (bagged): 4.3 liters
  2. Dreame Z10 Pro (bagged): 4 liters
  3. Roborock S7 (bagged): 3 liters
  4. Ecovacs N8 Pro (bagged): 2.5 liters
  5. Yeedi Vac Station (bagged): 2.5 liters
  6. Roomba S9+ (bagged): 2.5 liters *
  7. Roomba I6+ (bagged): 2.5 liters *
  8. Roomba I3+ (bagged): 2.5 liters *
  9. Shark IQ Auto Empty (bagless): 1.8 liters

* The bag volume for the Roomba S9, I6, and I3 are just my estimates based on my visual observations.

Navigation comparison

These robots mainly use two different navigational algorithms – SLAM and VSLAM.

Model
Algorithm
Containment
Smart Navigation
Obstacle Avoidance
Map Saving
Roomba S9+
VSLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Roborock S7+
SLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yeedi Vac Station
VSLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Roomba I3+
VSLAM
No
Yes
No
No
Roomba I6+
VSLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
SLAM
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Dreame Z10 Pro
SLAM
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Shark IQ Auto Empty
VSLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Ultenic T10
SLAM
Yes
Yes
No
Yes

SLAM robots rely on a top-mounted laser for map creation and obstacle avoidance.

One advantage it has is the laser sensor’s ability to rapid-fire IR signals in a 360-pattern.

This aspect helps immensely with map creation and accuracy.

Roborock S7 vs Ecovacs N8 Pro live map

These robots also avoid obstacles better, at least with objects within the laser’s line of sight.

However, one issue with LIDAR-based robots is the extra vertical real estate from the laser cover, adding an eighth of an inch.

VSLAM robots have a lower profile, but it won’t be as accurate.

Yeedi app containment

It relies on a combination of a top-mounted camera and optical sensor that acts as a GPS sensor to draw maps.

Since it utilizes a camera, it relies heavily on light, and a camera lens won’t be as precise as a laser.

Plus, the optical sensor is the primary sensor that determines the perimeter lines.

So, if items are blocking the wall, like a shoe or bag, it will interpret it as a wall.

You can see the difference between the two in the map output.

The bottom line is LIDAR robots are more accurate than camera robots in this area.

Another advantage of SLAM robots is nearly all variants have live maps, where users can monitor the status in real-time.

Most VSLAM robots don’t have this feature. Only the Yeedi Vac Station has it, and it doesn’t have the grid lines you’ll see with SLAM robots.

Again, this is LIDAR’s precision at work.

Out of the nine robots here, only the Roomba I3+ doesn’t have SLAM, meaning it can’t save maps, so it can’t access features like keep out zones.

But it still is technically a smart navigating robot since it can track location and has recharge and resume.

Efficiency Comparison

Another aspect I tested with these robots is efficiency, which I do in conjunction with the coverage test.

I scatter quaker oats all over the room to see how much these robots will pick up. I then check the footage to see how long it takes the robot to do a two-pass run.

The coverage test isn’t measured but an eye test, but it’s a good gauge of what to expect.

Here are the results for all nine robots.

  1. Yeedi Vac Station: 13:25 mins
  2. Dreame Z10 Pro: 16:00 mins
  3. Ultenic T10: 16:28 mins
  4. Ecovacs N8 Pro+: 17:00 mins
  5. Shark IQ Auto Empty: 18:00 mins
  6. Roborock S7: 20:45 mins
  7. Roomba I3+: 22:43 mins
  8. Roomba I6+: 28:00 mins
  9. Roomba S9: 32:33 mins

The Yeedi Vac Station is the most efficient based on the timed experiments, while the Roomba S9+ is the worst.

But factoring in how much debris it vacuums per pass, the Roomba S9+ is the clear winner since it picked up nearly everything after the first pass. So it got most of it by the 11 to 12-minute mark.

The Roborock S7 had the second-best, picking up more than every other brand outside the S9+.

Airflow Comparison

I use an anemometer to measure airflow at the brush roll, and here are the results at the max setting.

  1. Roomba S9+: 25 CFM
  2. Yeedi Vac Station: 23 CFM
  3. Ecovacs N8 Pro+: 22.29 CFM
  4. Dreame Z10 Pro: 19.33 CFM
  5. Shark IQ Auto Empty: 18.87 CFM
  6. Ultenic T10: 14.52 CFM
  7. Roborock S7+: 13.91 CFM
  8. Roomba I6+: 8.2 CFM
  9. Roomba I3+: 7.27 CFM

Hands down, the Roomba S9+ has the highest airflow results at 25 CFM – a big reason why it did so well in cleaning tests.

One surprise on the list is the Yeedi Vac Station at 23 CFM, the second-highest, despite being one of the cheapest options.

Since it uses the same motor as Ecovacs, it shouldn’t be a surprise since both brands have.

Cleaning Results Comparison

Model
Overall
Hard Floor
Sand on Hard Floor
Carpet
Deep Cleaning
Roomba S9+
97.93%
99.5%
100%
99.25%
93%
Roborock S7+
94.31%
99.7%
99.8%
98.9%
78.85%
Yeedi Vac Station
93.8%
98.85%
99.5%
96.87%
80%
Dreame Z10 Pro
93.45%
98.45%
97%
98.42%
79.95%
Roomba I6+
93.97%
97.57
98.26%
97.55%
82.5%
Roomba I3+
92.39%
95.3%
95.5%
96.22%
84.7%
Shark IQ
91.84%
98.25%
97.3%
96.82%
75%
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
90.11%
98.8%
99.5%
97.75%
66.16%
Ultenic T10
85.38%
98.7%
99.1%
94.15%
49.55%

Since the Roomba S9+ had the highest airflow scores, it isn’t surprising that it also had the best cleaning scores.

But the number two robot is since it had the third-worst airflow results.

Despite having only 13 CFM, the Roborock S7+ had the second-best cleaning results.

And that’s a testament to the new bristle-less roller and the floating brush assembly.

Yeedi at number three shouldn’t be a shock since it has the second-highest airflow. It’s also the best non-Roomba at deep cleaning carpet – a big reason why I picked it as the best value-for-money option.

The Roomba I3 and I6 didn’t do as well as the S9+, but still good enough to finish two and three, respectively, at deep cleaning carpet.

Which option is best on hard floors?

The Roomba S9+’s combination of high airflow and agitation enables it to clean hard floors better than any robot vacuum in this list.

One barometer I use is sand, and the S9+ picked up a tidy 100%.

Roomba S9 sand on hard floor

But factoring in versatility, I’d make a case for the Roborock S7+ with its vibrating mopping pad.

Despite the low airflow, it picked up an average of 99.8% of sand (2nd best score).

Roborock S7 sand on hard floor

It’s the best robot vacuum hybrid I’ve tested and does both tasks excellently.

Edge Cleaning Comparison

The S9+ square front and wide extractors make it the best and most efficient at cleaning edges.

Roomba S9 edge cleaning

Honorable mentions are the Ecovacs N8 Pro and Yeedi Vac Station, thanks to the twin side brush design.

Hair Wrap Comparison

Next, we’ll look at how much hair these robot vacuums picked up with five and seven-inch strands.

Model
5-inch strands
7-inch strands
Average
Roomba S9+
81%
82%
81.5%
Roomba I6+
100%
54%
77%
Shark IQ
99%
36%
68%
Yeedi Vac Station
87%
35%
61%
Roborock S7+
75%
44%
60%
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
70%
45%
58%
Dreame Z10 Pro
83%
28.5%
56%
Roomba I3+
58%
40%
49%
Ultenic T10
42%
12%
27%

Factoring in the averages for both lengths, the Roomba S9+ is the best overall. And it’s the best with seven-inch strands due to the wide extractors and high airflow.

The Roomba I6+ and Shark IQ are the best, with shorter five-inch strands at 100% and 99%, respectively.

Unfortunately, the Shark IQ’s anti-tangle system didn’t hold up well with longer seven-inch strands.

Which self emptying robot vacuum is the best for carpets?

Again, it’s the Roomba S9+ as it picked up the highest averages on surface and embedded dirt.

Its rare combination of high airflow, wide extractors, and excellent agitation makes it a compelling option if carpet cleaning performance is a high priority.

Cheaper options to consider are the Yeedi Vac Station, Roomba I3+, and I6+.

Yeedi is the cheaper alternative, but it won’t deep clean as well as the two Roomba options I mentioned.

Mopping comparison

Not all options here have this functionality. Only Roborock, Yeedi, Ecovacs, Dreame, and Ultenic have this option.

Unfortunately, iRobot and Shark don’t have a mopping feature.

You’ll need to purchase the iRobot Braava or the Shark AI VacMop, so it’s an extra expense for these brands.

The clear winner here is the Roborock S7+ since it’s the only option with a vibrating mopping pad, enhancing agitation.

Roborock S7 intelligent mop lift

Because of this, it’s easily the most efficient at stain removal. It only needed one pass to clean red wine stains, while the others needed a second two-pass run to achieve the same results.

Roborock S7 results on red wine stains

Run Time Comparison

Ultenic wins this category with its long 280 minutes thanks to its large capacity, 5200 mAh li-ion battery.

I’m not sure how Ultenic achieved this range, it could be the weaker motor, but regardless, it’s an impressive number.

Yeedi has the second-best results with 200 minutes, while the Shark IQ had the worst run time at only 60-minutes.

All these options have recharge and resume, so this mitigates those with a shorter range.

But it could be an issue inside large homes above 4000 square feet, as it may need multiple recharges to complete the task.

Noise Comparison

I use a sound meter to check loudness levels from a few feet away for the noise test. Please note that the results you see are from the highest setting.

  1. Ecovacs N8 Pro+: 64.4 dB
  2. Roomba I6+: 64.5 dB
  3. Shark IQ: 64.8 dB
  4. Yeedi Vac Station: 64.9 dB
  5. Roomba I3+: 64.9 dB
  6. Ultenic T10: 69.5 dB
  7. Roborock S7: 69.8 dB
  8. Roomba S9+: 74.1 dB
  9. Dreame Z10 Pro: 75.5 dB

Check the individual reviews for the complete results.

The Dreame Z10 Pro and Roomba S9+ are the noisiest options, both breaching the 74-decibel mark.

In comparison, the Ecovacs N8 Pro+ and Roomba I6+ are the quietest at 64.4 and 64.5 decibels, respectively.

App Comparison

All options have a smartphone app, unlocking all their features, but the feature-set will vary, depending on the brand.

I’ll summarize notable features below to give you an overview of what to expect.

1. Live map

Live Map

 

All LIDAR robots come with a live map, perhaps my favorite feature for smart robot vacuums.

It shows the robot’s location on the map in real-time and takes full advantage of LIDAR’s 360-degree scanning ability.

Only the Yeedi Vac Station is the VSLAM with this functionality. But it lacks the lines you see in laser-based robots that differentiate it.

Yeedi app live map

2. Map Saving

Except for the Roomba I3+, all models have a map saving feature, but the number of maps will vary.

  1. Roomba S9+: 10 maps
  2. Roomba I6+: 10 maps
  3. Roborock S7: 4 maps
  4. Ecovacs N8 Pro+: 2 maps
  5. Dreame Z10 Pro: 2 maps
  6. Ultenic T10: 1 map
  7. Yeedi Vac Station: 1 map
  8. Shark IQ Auto Empty: 1 map

The Roomba S9 and I6 app versions can save up to 10 map levels, followed by the Roborock S7 with up to four.

While the other options can save between one and two map levels, but this could change with a future firmware update.

3. Map Edit

Once the map is created, the firmware tries to add partitions.

I noticed for LIDAR robots, this process is more straightforward for areas with doorways since it’s an easy point for reference.

However, you’ll have to add partitions manually for camera-equipped robots, which is an extra step.

Room naming is also available. Some apps have custom room naming, while others don’t.

  1. Roomba S9+: Yes
  2. Roomba I6+: Yes
  3. Roomba I3+: No (No map saving)
  4. Roborock S7: Yes
  5. Ecovacs N8 Pro+: No
  6. Dreame Z10 Pro: No
  7. Ultenic T10: Yes (only in the area tab, but there’s no room naming option)
  8. Yeedi Vac Station: No
  9. Shark IQ Auto Empty: No

4. Containment

Model
No-Go Zones
Invisible wall
Roomba S9+
Yes
No
Roborock S7+
Yes
Yes
Yeedi Vac Station
Yes
No
Roomba I3+
No
No
Roomba I6+
Yes
No
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
Yes
Yes
Dreame Z10 Pro
Yes
Yes
Shark IQ Auto Empty
Yes
No
Ultenic T10
Yes (Hybrid of no-go zone & invisible wall)
Yes

Except for the Roomba I3+, all products here have containment features, with each brand using its own terminology.

Basically, there are two primary types of containment: a boxed area that’s an off-limit area to robots and lines (or invisible walls) that can be drawn straight or diagonal, preventing the robot from going past it.

The iRobot app calls the boxed area keep-out zones, but it doesn’t have access to the invisible wall.

Roomba S9 keep out zones

Roborock calls them no-go zones and has access to no-mop zones, which has the same function, but it only blocks the robot from mopping.

Roborock S7 containment

However, I don’t feel that no-mop zones are helpful for the S7 since it has the LIFT feature, so the pad goes up if it detects carpet.

Yeedi calls the boxed area virtual boundaries, but it doesn’t have an invisible wall feature.

Yeedi app containment

Ecovacs and Dreame also have an invisible wall and no-go zones feature as well.

Ultenic has a hybrid feature, combining invisible wall and no-go zones, with up to 10 corners.

Yeedi containment

 

5. Selective room cleaning

Another benefit of SLAM (laser and camera-based) is selective room cleaning, wherein users can choose a specific room they want cleaning.

But different apps have different ways of going about it.

For apps with a live map (Roborock, Xiaomi Home, Ecovacs, Yeedi), users can tap on the room(s).

Selective room cleaning LIDAR

Consumers can tap multiple areas if they need to clean more than one and set the order in which these rooms are cleaned.

For apps without a live map (iRobot, SharkClean), users will have to “check” the rooms on a drop-down list.

Selective room cleaning VSLAM

6. Zoned cleaning

Auto empty zoned cleaning

One variation to selective room cleaning is zoned cleaning, where folks can pinpoint a smaller area to clean.

It’s a similar feature spot cleaning in older random navigating robots, but SLAM-equipped robots have a more exact version.

Instead of bringing the robot to the area, users can simply draw a box, and the robot goes to that area, vacuum then recharge afterward.

This is a more hands-free approach, and each variant here has its version.

However, only the iRobot app enables folks to save these zones for quick access in future runs.

Roomba S9 clean zones

Other brands don’t have the zoned saving feature, but hopefully, they’ll consider adding it in future updates.

Availability of Parts

One underrated facet of the robot vacuum selection process is the availability of parts.

A robot vacuum has a lot of moving parts, and these will wear over time.

Roomba is the clear winner here since it’s the most popular. A wide range of parts is available, not just from iRobot, but also from third-party manufacturers.

What’s great with Roomba products is even harder-to-find components are sold by iRobot on their website.

Ecovacs and Roborock are also gaining popularity, and more third-party brands are starting to sell parts like filters and brushes.

However, it isn’t at iRobot levels yet, so it’s a wait-and-see thing.

Ecovacs and Yeedi share many components, mainly the brush, water tank, auto empty bags, and filters. So you can purchase an Ecovacs part, and it’ll fit in the Yeedi Vac Station.

Product Specification

Realize that the specs you see below are taken from the time of writing the review. Software features like the number of maps may change, depending on future updates.

SLAM refers to LIDAR-based robots that use a laser sensor.

VLSM refers to camera-equipped robots relying on a top-mounted camera and an optical floor tracking sensor underneath to create the map.

Run time numbers are based on manufacturer claims.

Airflow numbers are taken from the max setting results. Please check individual reviews for the complete results in different suction levels.

Model
Roomba S9+
Roborock S7
Yeedi Vac Station
Roomba I3+
Roomba I6+
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
Dreame Z10 Pro
Shark IQ
Ultenic T10
Roomba S9+
Roborock S7
Yeedi Vac Station
Roomba I3+
Roomba I6+
Ecovacs N8 Pro+
Dreame Z10 Pro
shark IQ
Ultenic T10
Width
12.25"
13.8"
13.77"
13.34"
13.34"
13.7"
13.8"
12.8"
13.78"
Height
3.5"
3.8"
3.03"
3.63"
3.63"
3.51"
3..8"
3..5"
3.86"
Filter
High Efficiency
Washable E11 Rated Air Filter
High-Efficiency
High-Efficiency
High-Efficiency
High Efficiency
High Efficiency
High Efficiency
High Efficiency
Navigation
VSLAM
SLAM
VSLAM
Gyroscope + Optical Sensor
VSLAM
SLAM
SLAM
VSLAM
SLAM
Battery capacity
3200 mAh Li-Ion
5200 mAh Li-Ion
5200 mAh Li-Ion
1800 mAh Li-Ion
1800 mAh Li-Ion
3200 mAh Li-Ion
5200 mAh Li-Ion
Li-ion
5200 mAh Li-Ion
Run time
75 mins.
180 mins.
200 mins.
75 mins.
75 mins.
110 mins.
150 mins.
60 mins.
280 mins.
Recharge and Resume
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Map Saving
Yes
Yes
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Number of Maps
10
4
1
N/A
10
2
3
1
1
Dustbin capacity
500 ml
420 ml
420 ml
400 ml
400 ml
420 ml
400 ml
400 ml
580 ml
Auto-empty capacity
2.5-liters
3-liters
2.5-liters
2.5-liters
2.5-liters
2.5-liters
4.0-liters
1.8-liters
2.5-liters
Water tank capacity
N/A
300 ml
230 ml
N/A
N/A
230 ml
150 ml
N/A
Not Specified
Airflow
25 CFM
13.91 CFM
23 CFM
7.27 CFM
8.2 CFM
22.29 CFM
19.33 CFM
18.87 CFM
14.52 CFM
Warranty
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
1-year limited
Price

Where can I buy these robots?

These robots are available in online stores like Amazon. Check the links below for the latest pricing information.

Disclaimer: I will earn a commission if you purchase through any of the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!

The Verdict: What is the Best Robot Vacuum that Empties Itself?

Declaring one winner would be selling you short since such a product doesn’t exist.

Like everything else in life, there will be compromises to be made with auto empty robot vacuum selection.

The best vacuuming option is hands-down, the Roomba S9+. If cleaning performance on carpet is of top priority, then this top-spec iRobot product is an excellent option to consider.

But remember its flaws, such as the short run time and the lack of certain app features.

It’s also one of the more expensive auto-empty options available. I’d suggest waiting for sale season like Black Friday to get this at a good deal.

The Roborock S7 would be the better option for homes without much carpet since it has sonic mopping technology, making it the best robot mop hybrid available right now.

For shoppers looking for value, consider the Yeedi Vac Station. It’s one of the cheapest alternatives without sacrificing much with performance.

Cheaper options to consider for cleaning carpet include the Roomba I3+ and I6+, while the Dreame Z10 Pro and Ecovacs T8 offer the best obstacle avoidance performance.

If you’ve read this far, thank you for going all the way. I don’t have comments active on this blog, but leave them on my YouTube channel or contact me.

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