by Garrick Dee
Updated December 3rd, 2018
We’ll be looking at 5 of the best Roomba alternatives that aren’t as expensive but will hold its own in terms of performance.
The cheapest Roomba available right now is the 690 and if you’ll buy that online, it’ll cost around $300.
All of these options will cost less than that.
When it comes to robotic vacuums there’s one brand that a lot of people trust – iRobot.
They’re one of the few pioneers in this niche and have been in the business for decades.
There’s no doubt that their products perform well thanks a combination of a well thought out design, decently motor, acoustic sensors that detect dirt and WiFi connectivity.
The downside to an iRobot is the price.
But here’s the good news, you don’t have to pay such amount to buy a decent vacuum cleaner. In fact you can buy one for a fifth of the price thanks to these new manufacturers that came to the scene just a year ago.
We’ll talk about the 5 different Roomba alternatives that’ll perform almost as well but without you having to pay a premium.
Don’t forget to check my guide on WiFi robot vacuums if you want something with an app that you can access remotely.
Don’t let the label “Made in China” discourage you from buying these because quality has improved!
Xiaomi Robot Vacuum
ILIFE V5S Pro
EuFy RobotVac 11
Bobsweep Bobi Pet
|Charging time||N/A||N/A||280 mins.||6 hrs.||350 mins.|
|Run time||160 mins.||2.5 hours||120 - 150 mins.||100 mins.||100 mins.|
|Full bin indicator|
|Cleaning sessions per week||7||Unlimited||7||7||7|
|Weight||5.62 pounds||8.4 pounds||4.52 pounds||6.7 pounds||5.95248 pounds|
|Warranty||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year||1 year|
Before buying the first Chinese made product that you find online, there are some guidelines that you need to take into account.
Not all Chinese brands are bad. In fact there are a few that really standout based on my tests. Two of these brands are Xiaomi and ILIFE.
Call me crazy but I say that these products are really close to iRobot in terms of quality and cleaning.
And not only did Xiaomi performed better than the PowerBot in terms of pick up, it was much efficient.
This is the most important factor to consider before even shopping for one. Setting a budget will eliminate options that are out of your price range.
For the purpose of this article, you don’t need to spend over $350 to buy something decent. I’ve already talked about Xiaomi a while ago. And this is a good sample of why you don’t need to spend gobbles of money for a robot cleaner.
You can get a decent robot vacuum for less than $90. But it won’t have a charging base and remote. Performance should not be an issue. I’m talking about the ILIFE V1 robot that performs almost as well as a Roomba 650.
Navigation can be the difference between a good robot and a bad one. A robot with a lousy navigation system will take forever to clean and may not return to the dock.
Part of having a good navigation is the ability to avoid obstacles and not bump them. This will prevent scuff marks on furniture and make the robot more efficient in cleaning a room.
Now most of the products I’ll feature here won’t be able to clean more than 2 rooms at a time because it utilizes IR navigation.
But even a Roomba 650 can’t clean multiple rooms so this isn’t a deal breaker.
Higher-end robots utilize advanced software and navigation sensors capable of tracking their position and cleaning multiple rooms. But these will cost upwards of $500.
If this is a huge concern for you then expect to pay a little bit more.
In this era of smartphones having WiFi connectivity is a must have. That’s the speed of which technology is advancing and robot vacuums aren’t far behind.
The big three already has added this to their feature list. I’m talking about Dyson, Neato and Roomba and expect more to follow suite.
Having WiFi connectivity will allow you to have access to the robot even if you’re not physically present. All you need is a router and internet connectivity to access this.
It’s more of a convenience play in which you have the ability to schedule or turn on the robot even when your busy at the office.
The app also shows you important information about the robot such as battery life. In some brands you’ll even see a log of the previous cleaning cycles and the lifespan of consumables such as the filter, battery and side brush.
A good robot must have a good enough suction and agitation to clean up surface dirt even on carpet.
Don’t expect deep cleaning from a robot because that is simply impossible. These machines use small motors that have limited suction but power is enough for day to day cleaning tasks.
And I’ve tested several of those – Jisiwei, Alfawise, Xiaomi, Minsu and ILIFE. And out of the 5, the ILIFE and Xiaomi standout because of its performance and quality that can match more expensive brands such as Neato, Samsung and iRobot.
This in fact it’s quieter than the V5S Pro and A4S with the ear test.
One of the biggest upgrades it made was moving away from the bristled brush and replacing it with this…
This new design uses rubber that has long squeegee like contraptions that push dirt towards the suction chamber.
The layout underneath remain the same. It has 2 side brushes that make A6’s edge and corner cleaning above average.
It still uses the same IR-based navigation as the older A-series robots A4 and A4S. But ILIFE has improved the collision detection to a point where the robot will avoid bumping into the object.
As long as robot “sees” the obstacle through the sensors on the bumper it will not bump into it hard.
In terms of how it moves around, it still goes in a random direction. But efficiency has improved compared to the A4S based on initial tests.
To see the features of this robot, please watch this video…
Other improvements include a better run time and motor. This robot comes with a larger lithium ion battery that will run for close to 3 hours.
It also uses the second generation brushless motor that should last longer than the gen 1 motor.
One thing that the A6 has over the Roomba 650 and other robots priced at that range is the addition of a virtual wall.
This device basically blocks the robot from going into areas that are off limits. These include the garage, bathroom, laundry room and the likes. It provides an added feature that isn’t present in the more expensive iRobot.
Improved bumper sensor
Another big improvement would be how this robot avoids colliding with furniture. The sensors located inside the bumper do a much better job in detecting obstacles.
In the older A4, it still had a tendency to bump into furniture hard. But this is no longer an issue in the A6. The upgraded sensors will tell the robot to slow down and not bump into solid objects.
May still bump into objects
Take note that there are instances where the robot will still bump into objects. But these are cases where the sensor “does not see” the obstacle because it’s tool low or narrow.
For larger furniture, you don’t have to worry about scuff marks.
Note: You’ll get a better deal if you use the coupon code “GB9%” in GearBest.
The bottom line:
We picked the A6 because it’s like getting a Roomba 800 but for a fraction of the price. The new motorized brush does away with bristles so it won’t be a pain to clean. And performance isn’t far off thanks to the powerful motor and twin side brushes.
Xiaomi is another tech startup who’s challenging iRobot and Neato.
In fact it has copied most of the features of the Neato BotVac and then some.
Both of these robots use the same laser guided navigation system and the S.L.A.M. algorithm to help tract its location.
Another similarity would be the smartphone application and WiFi connectivity.
This allows consumers remote access as long as they have a router and WiFi connectivity at home and a smartphone.
But in my opinion Xiaomi has the better app with more features that include better scheduling, real time updates during the cleaning cycle, log of the previous cleaning cycles and much more.
The Neato BotVac has a much simpler app with fewer features.
Biggest downer for me would be you can only schedule it once a day. Being simpler though makes it a lot more stable and faster. But I’d take the feature richness of the Xiaomi app any day.
It uses a brushless DC motor that has more power than the Roomba 980 and BotVac D8500. So this robot packs a punch and will clean as well as a Neato in the least.
One negative I see though is the narrow beater bar that may make it less efficient than the BotVac. But when you consider the price difference, this can be a deal maker for some of you leaning towards Xiaomi.
One of reasons why I like this product is its efficient navigation that cleans a room in a fraction of a time compared to a robot equipped with an IR sensor.
It will go around the perimeter of the room first. It then work its way towards the middle in a predictable back and forth pattern the same way a Neato BotVac does its cleaning.
The bottom line:
If want a robot that’s efficient, having all the bells and whistles but can’t afford or don’t want to spend over $600 for such then the Xiaomi robot vacuum is a great option. It has basically the same features as the Neato BotVac Connected but with a more advanced app. But it’ll cost less than $320.
And based on the cleaning tests I’ve done, having a motorized brush doesn’t necessarily mean better performance on bare floor.
Great for hard floors
The ILIFE V5S Pro is a great option for homes that has mostly hard floors because it does not have any motorized brush.
And if you’re looking for something to mop up your tiled flooring, it also comes with a mop and water tank for that purpose.
In essence, you’ll be getting two products in one – a vacuum cleaner and mop. Considering that the cost of an iRobot Braava, you’ll easily save a few hundred dollars.
It does not have the advanced mopping motion of a Braava but it will do a decent job for maintenance cleaning tasks like wet mopping.
Watch this video to see what this product is all about. Make sure to watch it till the end because I’ve included a cleaning test…
If you’ve watched the cleaning test, it was pretty efficient and did a very good job picking up 48 grams out of the 50 grams of dirt I scattered on the floor.
It did a slightly better job than the A6 which I did a few days earlier.
Improved water tank
This variant is an upgraded version of the V5S. And one of the biggest improvements made by ILIFE would be the water tank.
The new design now has a built-in valve that stops it from leaking when the robot is off. So there’s less risk of it creating a puddle of water.
This helps a lot in terms of usability and preventing from accidental drips that could potentially damage the robot if water seeps inside the electric parts.
Long run time
Another improvement with the V5S Pro is the battery. This new variant is equipped with 4 lithium ion batteries that improved the run time to up to 150 minutes or around 2.5 hours.
It has a longer run time compared to the Botvac Connected and Roomba 980 that runs for 120 mins max.
Twin side brushes
Like the ILIFE A6 and A4S, this variant also comes with twin side brushes that really show its worth when cleaning edges and corners.
These two brushes funnel dirt towards the suction chamber and increase cleaning efficiency.
The bottom line:
The ILIFE V5S Pro is a great option for homes with only bare floors. It does not have any motorized brush which means one less item to maintain. Power is more than enough for cleaning any hard floor surface such as hardwood or tile plus you get a mopping functionality for your mopping needs on tile. However, it lacks the complex back and forth mopping motion found in the Braava.
Eufy is a spinoff of Anker that is a popular electronics company that specializes in power banks and USB charging ports.
The Eufy RoboVac 11 is the upgraded version of the Anker RoboVac 10 and called the “best affordable vacuum for 2016” by Reviewed.com.
What improvements does this version have over the old RoboVac 10?
While cleaning performance remains the same.
The main upgrades include a larger battery (longer run time), larger dust bin and an upgraded motorized brush that now has the “double-V” design which means it has a squeegee and bristle as opposed to the bristle only design.
Speaking of cleaning performance and navigation, watch this video to see how it goes around and how it cleans…
The amount of dirt scattered is a lot but it shows you that this robot is capable of cleaning such messes at least on bare floor.
It does bump into objects and there is a risk of scuffing. Take note of this if you have easily scratched furniture.
Similar design to the ILIFE A4S
When I first saw this product, I noticed it look very similar to another Chinese branded product – the ILIFE A4S.
Both have similar bin placement which is at the back and a similar layout. The biggest difference would be the motorized brush design where the Eufy has a slight advantage by having the combo design whereas the A4S only has the bristled design.
Could scuff furniture
One potential issue that hampers Eufy would be its propensity to bump into furniture and potentially damage it.
This is one area ILIFE (especially the newer variants) has an advantage with its upgraded sensors that prevents the robot from bumping hard into furniture.
The bottom line:
Eufy is another budget option that performs almost as well as a Roomba 650 but it will not cost as much. Unfortunately like the 650, Eufy does not slow down and may cause some scuff marks on your furniture. And it does not have any virtual wall to stop it from going into areas you don’t want it to. If you don’t mind these limitations this variant is a good alternative.
The V8S Pro is ILIFE’s newest robot vacuum in their produce line right now and possibly the best.
This variant has the biggest dirt bin, strongest motor and the best navigation of all ILIFE’s robots.
I’m quite surprised this isn’t popular in the United States but it should be.
Perhaps it lacks some important features that brands like Eufy have such as Alexa compatibility and a smartphone app.
But when it comes to cleaning performance, this robot has got to be up there as a good alternative to the
What makes the ILIFE V8S Pro a good option?
Better navigation: When ILIFE first came to the scene, all of their robot vacuums used a random navigation pattern that’s similar to iRobot.
While the earlier ILIFE robots performed well, it was very inefficient. The new V8S Pro changes that because of the upgraded navigation.
Nope, don’t expect it to be as smart as the Xiaomi or Neato BotVac because it does not have the S.L.A.M. algorithm. It’ll also run until battery hits 20% and recharge.
But if you compare this with other vacuums at the same price range, it has better navigation.
Large bin: This variant also has the largest bin when you compare it to the other IILIFE robots at 0.75 liters. It’s even bigger that Roomba’s bin. Having a bigger bin means you’ll have to empty it less often. The bin design is now different from the V7S Pro, instead of a being top loading, it now pulls out from the back.
Cleaning performance: Another reason to buy this would be the how this robot cleans. It will hold its own even against more expensive vacuums the Roomba or Neato – products that are a few hundred dollars more expensive. If you don’t mind not having the Alexa or WiFi connectivity, this is a great alternative.
What are the potential issues?
No Alexa or WiFi: This robot does not have any Alexa connectivity and you’ll need to be physically present at home to turn it on. It does have a scheduling system but that’s only once a day for seven days a week.
You won’t get any of the premium features found in robot vacuums at the $500 and up range.
Not as smart: Don’t expect this robot to go back out there and resume cleaning after it recharges. It does not have the S.L.A.M. technology that pricier robots like the Roomba, Xiaomi and Neato has.
The bottom line:
The ILIFE V8S Pro is no doubt a good performer when it comes to cleaning floors. It has a smart and efficient navigation that will cover more ground versus a robot with a random patter.
Biggest issue in my opinion why this isn’t as popular as other robots in the same price range is the lack of WiFi and Alexa compatibility.
A lot of homes now in the United States have Alexa and being having compatibility with this is a big factor on whether or not consumers buy this.
There you have it, 5 different robot cleaners that are good alternatives to a Roomba just in case you cannot afford one.
Each of these products offers something different at a price point that won’t break the bank.
Why the ILIFE A6?
The A6 is the latest ILIFE that uses the latest Gen 2 motor that has more power and produces less noise.
ILIFE also has upgraded the lithium ion batteries so this robot will run for close to 3 hours!
Something not a lot of brands can boast about. It also has a virtual wall that blocks the robot from going into areas it shouldn’t go into. Scuffing is also something you shouldn’t worry about with the A6 because it’ll slow down and avoid hitting objects that the sensors can detect.
Xiaomi is hands-down is the most high-tech robot in this list. It has laser guided navigation and the S.L.A.M. algorithm.
At its current price in GearBest, this could be the best bargain in this industry.
The app alone wallops Neato’s app in sheer features. It has more options like the ability to schedule multiple times a day, real time updates, cleaning log and much more.
And while it does not have any acoustic sensors that detect dirt, it’s way more efficient and in my opinion these sensors have a potential to get in the way in terms of how the robot cleans.
If you have hard floors
For homes that only has bare floor, the ILIFE V5S Pro is a great option because it doesn’t have any motorized brush.
It has enough power to clean any hard floor surface. And it can cover more ground because it’ll run for close to 3 hours.
Don’t sleep on Eufy
Eufy is another good option that will work well on carpet and bare floor. However it lacks polish when it comes to collision avoidance. Unlike the latest ILIFE robots that will slow down and avoid hard bumps, Eufy does not slow down and may scuff your furniture.
Lastly, the ILIFE V8S Pro is another good Roomba alternative because of it’s more efficient cleaning pattern and good performance overall. It has the largest dirt bin of the 5. However it lacks WiFi connectivity and Alexa compatibility which is why I put it below the Eufy. At its current price point I was expecting it to have the same features.