Most homes feature a variety of floor types on the different levels of the home and that’s why it’s important to be careful when purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner – some models are simply not designed to work on carpets. I would say homes can be divided into five different floor types: hardwood, tile, linoleum, low pile carpet, and shag or thick carpet. The type of flooring that predominates in your home should give you a good idea of what type of vacuum cleaner you should be looking for.
In my family’s home there’s a good mixture of all four different types, so purchasing the right vacuum cleaner becomes an even tougher proposition. One thing I’d like to suggest is that you may want to consider having two separate vacuums – a conventional vacuum for thick or shag carpet and a robot vacuum for low pile carpets and hard floor surfaces.
Linoleum and Tile
For the most part all robot vacuum cleaners will work pretty well on linoleum and tile floors. These types of surfaces have relatively small gaps with the only interruption in the smooth surface being the separation between tiles or linoleum pieces. Even the least expensive model of robot vacuum cleaner will do a pretty good job on this type of surface, but you may want to be careful on expensive tile floors with intricate patterns, as robot vacuum cleaners have been known to scratch this type of surface.
Low Pile Carpet
The cheapest robot vacuum cleaners are very limited in the applications in which they can be used; most of them won’t work on any type of carpet at all, not even low pile carpet. More expensive models, though, will work just fine on low pile carpets and the throw rugs you might have in your living room. Like anything else, it’s always best to do some research on the model you’re considering buying, regardless of the floor type in your home. But as a general rule, most robot vacuum models in excess of a couple hundred dollars will work just fine on low pile carpets.
Thick or Shag Carpet
When you get into thicker or shag carpet you’re a lot more limited in the robot vacuum cleaners that are available to you. Expect to spend at least a few hundred dollars on the models with the type of power needed to move independently over this type of flooring, as they are invariably quite expensive. Roomba and Neato are a couple of manufacturers that do make higher-end models that will work just fine on thicker carpet, as they have more powerful engines and greater suction power.
Another thing you should consider when purchasing a robot vacuum cleaner are the types of room transitions that separate each of the rooms in your home. If you have large lips in between your rooms that are used to hide the seams between changes in flooring types, these can cause a problem for robot vacuum cleaners. If a model doesn’t have enough juice it can easily get stuck on these types of room transitions; you’ll be constantly chasing after it to give it a little push to keep it going. This might not be a huge issue, but it is a bit of a pain as a robot vacuum cleaner is supposed to do all of the work for you.
One for Them All
So what’s the best choice for a robot vacuum cleaner? Well, if you can afford it I strongly suggest choosing a model that will work on all of these floor types. The Neato Botvac or iRobot Roomba 980 are highly versatile all-purpose units that will work quite well on just about any surface, although they will cost you a little bit more. The great thing about these models is that they also feature excellent remote control options as well, so if your vacuum has become stuck unexpectedly, chances are you can work it loose without having to get up and physically move the machine. Of course, if your home is covered in nothing but hardwood floors there may be no need to spend a lot of money on an expensive robot vacuum cleaner; just about any model will do the job. It really all depends upon your own unique situation.