by Garrick Dee
Updated December 3rd, 2018
One of the best tools for cleaning hardwood surfaces is a robot vacuum.
These autonomous machines will do the job for you while you’re at work.
One of the toughest areas to clean would be under beds where dust accumulates fast.
Hardwood is not difficult to maintain but the process can be very tedious.
Just a few generations ago people would use a broom but it is highly inefficient and scatters dust all over the place.
If you live in a 3rd world country chances are folks still use brooms.
A better option would be using a vacuum cleaner which will be more efficient. But you’d still have to physically move it around.
For busy people who don’t have the time to vacuum everyday, a robot vacuum would be a good option.
These machines can do 80 to 90 percent of dusting chores without you lifting a finger.
You just have to do your due diligence and make your home robot friendly and follow a maintenance routine.
Here are five of the best robotic vacuums for hardwood floors that will help keep dust bunnies at bay, especially tough to reach areas under furniture.
Xiaomi Robot Vacuum
iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte
|Battery type||Lithium ion||Nickel Metal Hydride||Lithium Ion||Lithium ion||Lithium ion|
|Charging time||N/A||3 hours||N/A||100 minutes||5 hours|
|Run time||75 mins||4 hours||2.5 hours||160 minutes|
(on hard floors)
|Full bin indicator|
|Cleaning sessions per week||7||7||Unlimited||7||7|
|Weight||8.5||8.4||8.4||6.17 pounds||6.5 pounds|
|Warranty||1-year on robot|
6 months on battery
|1-year on robot|
6 months on battery
|1 year More info||1-year on the whole robot (that includes the battery)||1 year More info|
Cleaning dirt from hardwood is not hard as opposed to carpet so suction isn’t as important. This means that you could the cheaper variant that has less power. You’ll get the same results and still save some $$$ in the process.
Most important feature of a robot would be suction. Unfortunately most brands don’t have a universal spec to let you know how much power their robots have. So in this regard, we’ll rely heavily on consumer reviews to check if the robot does well or not.
In my tests, even a lower end Roomba 650 that has less power than the higher end Roomba 960 will do decently on carpet.
But there are trashy brands that don’t pick up well like the Alfawise.
A beater bar isn’t a requirement for cleaning bare floor surfaces like linoleum and hardwood.
2. How it navigates matters
Robot vacuums use different types of sensors as navigation aids. Entry level variant mostly use infrared sensors to detect obstacles and avoid them. However it won’t be as efficient as higher end robots and will just go in a random direction until the battery reaches 20% and then goes back to the dock to recharge.
Higher end robots either use a camera or a laser sensor as navigational tools. These robots are smarter and more efficient.
These will go in a predictable pattern and will complete the task faster.
Even the smartest robot vacuums still not match a human in terms of decision making and obstacle avoidance. However the machines will work in autonomy and will clean your floors.
If you’re an average Joe like me and don’t want to spend that much then these are your best options.
3. Look at your floors
There are different types of hardwood. Some are expensive and scratching it would mean costly repairs. Others sturdy but have lots of creases.
If your house has the former, buying something with a motorized brush may not be the best option because it can potentially scratch it. So a product like the ILIFE V5S Pro would be a good option.
On hardwood with grooves, you may need something with more power.
4. How much are you willing to spend?
Prices of these machines will greatly vary. Entry level variants go between $100 and $240. Middle of the road options go between $250 and $400. The higher end variant can go as much as $1,000.
However, price is not indicative of the performance. There are instances where cheap robot vacuums outperform more expensive variants which is the case when I tested the Samsung PowerBot and the first generation Xiaomi.
Set the cap of how much you are willing to spend and choose the best option in the price range.
A Cheaper 980: iRobot Roomba 960
The Roomba 960 is the “lite” version of the 980. This means it has less power and a smaller battery which makes it a great option on hardwood because you don’t need as much power anyways. It still comes with the more efficient navigation pattern plus WiFi and Alexa compatibility and you don’t have to pay as much.
What makes this a good option?
- Efficient cleaning pattern that will not get lost even if you clean multiple rooms
- Decent suction
- Has WiFi connectivity which means you have access to this robot even if you’re not physically present in your home
- Alexa compatibility
- Cheaper than the Roomba 980
- Despite being cheaper than the 980, this robot is expensive
- Camera based navigation may not work in dim conditions
When iRobot launched their latest robotic vacuum the Roomba 980 in 2015 it represented a shift in product design and functionality.
Gone was the random navigation pattern that all of their robot vacuums had used when they first launched their business in the early 2002.
Better navigation than the previous generation Roomba
With the new 900 series iRobot engineers now uses a camera based navigation system.
It uses the SLAM or the Simultaneous Localization and Mapping Algorithm that helps it “remember” where it’s at and allow it to navigate more efficiently.
And for regular folk like me who want value for my dollar, it is out of my league.
Cheaper than the Roomba 980
The great news is iRobot also recognizes this and has developed a cheaper version that is equipped with a smaller Li-Ion battery and a smaller motor (the same one found inside the 800 series).
Let me introduce to you the Roomba 960, a “detuned” version of the 980 with less power and a shorter run time.
Even with the less powerful motor, the 960 is still a hardwood floor cleaner thanks to the side brush and counter rotating extractors that help pick up dust, hair, dander and all sorts of muck on bare floor.
The efficient cleaning pattern combined with the dirt detect acoustic sensors is a great combo on this surface.
It results to an efficient cleaning pattern with a certain level of thoroughness on dirtier spots lacking in robots with predictable cleaning patterns like the MI robot vacuum.
Along with the high-end navigation system, the Roomba 960 also has a smartphone app found in the 980. This means you can schedule or turn this robot even outside the home.
The Roomba 960 represents the next generation of robotic vacuums that has WiFi connectivity. It comes with a smart and efficient navigation smart enough to clean multiple rooms.
Bristle-Less: Roomba 860
The Roomba 860 solves one of the biggest issues consumers have with their robots – hair tangled on the brush. Instead of using bristles, this robot has rubber extractors with an uneven surfaces for agitation. This feature was first seen in the 880 but that variant has been discontinued. The Roomba 860 is a better option because it comes with the same features as the 880 but it has a lithium ion battery that will run longer.
What makes this a good option?
- Thorough cleaning performance
- Bristle-less extractors require less maintenance
- Simple and easy to use
- Decent cleaning performance even on carpet
- Inefficient cleaning pattern may not work well if you’re cleaning more than one room
- No WiFi or Alexa
One of the biggest problems consumers have with bristled motorized brushes is the amount of dust bunnies and hair that gets stuck on it.
To ensure that cleaning performance does not suffer, you will need to remove the brush and clean it.
This really isn’t a big deal because removing the brushes is easy. But it takes time and that adds up.
Have a look at this…
iRobot says that their new beater bar system found in the Roomba 890 called the AeroForce won’t have this problem because it does not have any bristles at all.
Long hair will still be an issue
They’ve replaced it with two counter rotating extractors and the great news for consumers, dust bunnies won’t stick as much. But if you’re living with someone who has long hair, it could still be a problem…
This combined with the price is a big reason why it didn’t rank higher than number 4.
But there are positives with this vacuum, run time has improved. This robot will run about 4 hours on a full charge.
It will pick up dust bunnies on hardwood flooring. And can climb up obstacles up to 1.5 centimeters.
New battery but same old navigation
iRobot also says that this variant comes with a new battery that’ll have a longer service life. This is good news because you won’t have to replace batteries as often.
It uses the same navigation as older Roombas so it won’t be as efficient. And it will miss spots here and there. Despite this con, this robot still remains a popular option in Amazon.
The Roomba 880 is still ranks up there in terms of performance and value for money now that the 900 series has come out. You won’t have the WiFi connectivity or the predictable cleaning pattern but the good news it will be more thorough cleaning your home and a few hundred dollars less.
A Cheaper Neato: Xiaomi Robot Vacuum
The first generation Xiaomi robot vacuum is the closest thing to the Neato BotVac without having to spend $500 for it. This Chinese-made robot has the same features albeit with a more powerful more and a larger lithium ion battery that helps it run longer. If you don’t mind not having the Alexa compatibility that the BotVac has this is a good alternative.
What makes this a good option?
- Comparable performance with the Neato BotVac at a lower price point
- Feature rich app that gives you lots of options
- 5,200 mAh battery will run for up to 2 hours
- Efficient and thorough cleaning performance
- Small dirt bin
- No Alexa compatibility
- Narrow cleaning path
- Struggles cleaning corners
Chinese brands have grown leaps and bounds over the last 5 years and the MI Ecosystem is proof of that rapid growth.
MI’s headquarters is in Beijing and they are known more for their smartphones than vacuums. However their robotic vacuums are also pretty good.
Neato like features for less
This variant has the same laser sensor and SLAM algorithm as the Neato BotVac. And it also comes with the same SLAM algorithm.
Difference between Neato and Xiaomi
Biggest difference between these two products would be the shape. The BotVac uses the classic D-shape that all Neato products use. And it has perhaps the widest brush roll of any robotic vacuum in the market right now.
Surprisingly (at least for me), the MI robot uses a round shape with a single side brush which hurts its performance when cleaning the edges based on my tests.
Watch this video so that you’ll have an idea how this robot performs on bare floor…
Take note that in the first cleaning test, the MI robot vacuum didn’t perform as well as I had hoped mainly because of the cleaning pattern that I labelled “too efficient” because it only went around the room once.
Before this cleaning test I’ve updated the robot’s firmware and it has improved the thoroughness. This simply means that it will go around the room twice.
This improves cleaning performance two-fold. And if you watch the whole review, it was able to clean most of the debris.
The biggest one would be the app. Make no mistake for their first try, Xiaomi did a very good job in adding a lot of features that make this unique.
My favorite would be the scheduling, you can actually schedule this robot to clean multiple times in a day. This is the type of flexibility that is not found in other robots.
Unfortunately though, its core functionality is only available in Chinese. So you will have to do some fiddling to know what menu item does what.
Another issue would be the lack of responsiveness.
This is just me nitpicking the app. When you press the clean button there is a second or two second delay before the robot responds. But in terms of stability, the app is pretty stable and rarely crashes.
Improvements should include a full English version and real time map updates as the robot cleans your home.
If the Neato BotVac or Roomba 980 or 880 is out of your price range then strongly consider the Xiaomi robot vacuum because it will give you a majority of the features, cleaning performance and efficiency for a fraction of the price and use the promo code “XIAOMIVAC” to get even more savings!
Mop and Vacuum: iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte
The IClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte is different from the first three options above in that it combines vacuum and mop functionality that makes this a good option on hardwood. It relies on a camera and a gyro sensor for its navigation which is pretty efficient. However it does not have the true mopping motion that you’ll see in the iRobot Braava.
What makes this a good option?
- Has a mopping feature that works great at cleaning dust on hardwood
- Long run time of up to 120 minutes
- Predictable cleaning pattern makes it efficient
- HEPA filtration
- Low profile design helps it clean under most furniture
- May not work as well when cleaning bigger piles of dirt
- Camera based navigation will not work when the lights are off
To maintain hardwood, you will need to mop it regularly to remove stains and keep it looking new for years to come.
The next robot vacuum I’ll show you combines the functionality of a vacuum and a mop in one machine.
Let me present you the iClebo YCR-M05-10.
Like the four other models on top, this machine has a vacuum cleaner equipped with a beater bar. It isn’t as expensive as the iRobot or Neato and closer to the price of the Xiaomi R50 RoboRock.
Robotic vacuum and mop
What’s unique about it is the microfiber mop at the back of the vacuum inlet that will mop hardwood after it pick up dirt.
This is a great option for people looking for a robot mop – it beats buying a separate one.
But the bigger question is how effective a wet mop in covering a large area without streaking and staining it.
Good performance on bare floor
Overall, consumers are pretty satisfied with its performance on hardwood and tiled surface (because of the mop).
But you’ll have to clean the beater bar because it will attract a lot of dust bunnies and hair (especially long hair).
It comes with a tool that will you clean it so it won’t be a problem.
Another option if you’re specifically looking for a mop and vacuum combo is the Moneual RoboVacMop.
It has a vacuum and a mop, a bigger mop that has a water tank over it that gives users the option to mop a larger area. It will cost $20 more than the iClebo.
The iClebo YCR-M05-10 Arte dry mops and vacuums at the same time using a predictable back and forth or random cleaning pattern depending on what mode you select. On hardwood the additional mop helps in picking up static-charge dust that make hardwood tedious to maintain.
Wet Mop & Vacuum: ILIFE V7S Pro
The ILIFE V7S Pro is another great option if you’re looking for a vacuum and mop combo with a big dirt capacity. Like the Roomba 860, this robot has a predictable pattern that is thorough but may not work as well when cleaning more than one room at a time. But the IR sensors does not require light to function so have this clean your home even with the lights off.
What makes this a good option?
- Has the dual functionality of a robot vacuum and mop
- Large dirt capacity of up to 300ml
- Will clean rooms thoroughly thanks to the random cleaning pattern
- Long run time
- Inefficient cleaning will not work well when cleaning more than one room
- Does not replace a mop
And they offer a relatively affordable option for folks who aren’t willing to spend at least $300 for something that will help them clean their home.
The ILIFE V7S is a hybrid robot that combines wet mopping, dry mopping and vacuuming all in one affordable package.
How affordable you may ask?
This product does not demand $300++ that the other brands here asking for but it costs less than half of that at around $176 USD.
And despite being manufactured in China, it provides a lot of value for your money.
Like the iClebo, this robot can wet mop and vacuum but the difference is the V7S has a much larger mop and water tank (around 450ml).
With the mop bracket and microfiber attached, it covers nearly 75% of the robot underneath this will give it better coverage when you wet mop or even dry mop.
As for suction, this should be the weakest of the bunch producing just 400Pa but on surfaces like hardwood this should not matter because it does have a motorized brush.
Here’s a video I’ve recorded to show you the features and how it navigates…
In terms of navigation, this product is as simple as it gets. It uses a series of sensors primarily infrared sensors to detect obstacles and alternate from a random cleaning pattern and edge cleaning.
And it simply runs until it detects that the battery is low and then docks. ILIFE did not provide any containment system. It will be capable of cleaning multiple rooms but in my opinion the best way to utilize this is to let it clean one room at a time.
What are the pluses of this budget vacuum and mop?
The biggest would be the price, like what I’ve said buying this will cost a fraction what it would cost if you’d buy a Roomba, Neato or even an iClebo and it would still give you very decent performance.
It isn’t the most powerful vacuum around but on bare floor, you don’t really that much suction and since this comes with a mop, you can damp or dry mop your floors to pick up statically charged dust.
Also it is the simplicity that it is built that make it very easy to use. Toggling between vacuum and mop mode is as simple as pulling out the dry dirt bin and attaching the water mop in its place.
Lastly not a lot of robot vacuums in the price range offer a lithium ion battery and this one does and it runs for about 140 mins or a little over 2 hours with very minimal power fade.
Sophistication isn’t the strongest suite of the V7S and it shows when it navigates. This robot will simply run until the battery runs low but even with this seemingly low tech feature the randomness somehow allows it to miss just a few spots.
On mop mode, it slows down a bit and may not cover a large an area as it would on vacuum mode. There are also quirks in terms of attaching the water tank – water will drip down so you have to clog it with your fingers.
Overall despite the lack of features, this robot comes with all the features you need in a robot vacuum on hardwood. It has a remote, scheduling and mopping all in an affordable package that will not burn your wallet. If you don’t mind the inefficient cleaning pattern and the lack of premium features, this is a very good option for you.
There you have it, 5 of the best robot vacuums for hardwood floors that will help folks like me who live in dust prone areas keep their floors free from dust.
All these machines will be able to clean dust off hardwood but they will differ in the features, navigation and price. My suggestion would be to set your budget first to narrow down your choices then go with the one with the best features.
If you think I missed a product just let me know in the comments section below.