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

Buying a decent robotic vacuum even a few years ago would mean spending at least $400 for something brand new.

For that amount of money you’d be getting something with ancient battery technology and IR-based navigation.

Most of these budget robot vacuums use an IR-based navigation that has a random navigation pattern.

To get something with a more efficient that requires less babysitting, you’d have to spend at least $700 but there is a cheaper option in this list.

Thanks to brands such as ILIFE and Xiaomi both of which are based in China, consumers now have access to cheaper products that perform as well as established brands.

First, let’s go to the list of the best budget robotic vacuums. None of these products are over $400 but still you get close to comparable performance to more expensive brands.

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?

First let me state a fact just in case you don’t know. The majority of robot vacuums in the market right now are source from China. Yes that is correct. Even brands like Neato and iRobot source their products in the Far East.

The few brands that don’t are brands like Samsung and Dyson that do almost everything in-house. But don’t let this dissuade you from buying these products because some of these brands produce very good products.

And in the past couple of months I tested a number of these brands – ILIFE, Xiaomi, Jisiwei, Alfawise and MinSu to name a few.

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

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 dimension. 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, charging base, navigation and 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. Purchase a product directly from the source or if faster shipping times is a priority get it from Amazon. It’s 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

A majority of robot vacuums in the market right now use one of 3 main systems for navigation.

Companies like iRobot and ILIFE use a series of infrared sensors located on different parts of the robot. The primary role of these sensors is obstacle detection, meaning when it “sees” a wall or a sofa on the floor it tells the robot to slow down and move in a random direction.

The iRobot was the first to perfect this technology to a point that it does not damage furniture. Early generation Roombas had a nasty habit of bumping into obstacles like a it owes it some money. But they’ve obviously cleaned up this issue in the 700 series and 800 series.

Higher-end robots will use either a laser-guided navigation or top-mounted camera along with an algorithm that acts as the brains to decide on the most efficient route.

Major brands like Dyson, Neato and iRobot use the S.L.A.M. because it is an industry standard when it comes to robotic navigation.

Robots using this 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 have argued that robots that have a random cleaning pattern are more thorough which is true. But that comes at the cost of efficiency and more baby sitting.

These robots won’t be able to clean large areas without human intervention but these machines cost less.

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. But you have to 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 the 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 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
  • Efficiency and run time allows this to clean larger 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 navigation as a Neato BotVac. It has the same laser-guided system (or LDS) 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.

This is the same algorithm found inside the Google’s self-driving car with some nuances of course.

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

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.

Bottom line: This robot is a great cheap alternative to either the Neato BotVac Connecte or Roomba 980. 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 its best performing thanks to the double-V motorized brush. This is 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. It has held its own even against a more powerful robot like the MI robot vacuum.

Editor’s note: The V7S is no-longer in production. It has been replaced by the V7S Pro. Both of these products are the same feature wise except for the water tank.

I’ve recorded a video comparing the two in action…

To put it in perspective the Xiaomi robot cleaner has around 1,800Pa of suction. The V7S “only” has 400Pa which translates to less than a third of the power. 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 in Chinese
  • No WiFi
  • Can be squeaky (maybe because of the tires)
  • No HEPA filtration

It has a weaker motor so it won’t be as noisy as the A4 or X5. The latter two has more suction but what makes this an effective cleaner 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.

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. It cleans well, has a scheduling as well as a containment feature to block areas that are off limits. But don’t expect efficiency from this product as it uses 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. The biggest upgrade would be the battery – this comes with a lithium ion battery.

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

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 wraps on 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 doesn’t have any motorized brush. In its place are rubber flaps that funnel dirt to 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

Even if the V5 Pro had more power than the V7 it picked up less in large part due to the brush design of the latter. The silver lining is 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

The V5 Pro is great for homes with only bare floor, especially if it’s tile or hardwood. It has enough suction to pick up most types of dirt, I’ve even seen a few Lego pieces and dried bits of clay inside the bin.

So in terms of cleaning there is little doubt about its capability at least on bare floor.

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. 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 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.

For non-nonsense cleaning minus the high-tech gadgetry, you can’t go wrong with any of the ILIFE robotic vacuums. These products have proven to perform and clean as well as a pre-900 series Roomba at much less.

If you need something more sophisticated then my recommendation would be the Xiaomi robot vacuum. It has the same SLAM-based navigation found in the Neato, Dyson and Roomba but at a fraction of the cost.

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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