Three of the worst robot vacuum cleaners

Avoid these models if you want a robot vacuum cleaner that will actually suck.

Robot vacuums aren't the best vacuum cleaners on the market when compared to the barrel and upright vacuums we regularly test, but they still remove some of the dirt from a floor.

"A robot vacuum is generally an interim solution for those periods where you aren't able to get around to a full vacuum, unless you have a non-carpeted floor where they may be suitable," says CHOICE's home expert Chris Barnes. "Even then, you may want to supplement it with a stick vac clean-up."

So, they may not be an outright replacement for a good vacuum. But they obviously fill a consumer need, as they remain a perennially popular appliance. Perhaps it has something to do with the idea of getting the housework done without having to lift a finger?

If you're in the market for a robot vac, here are a few models you could rule out immediately.

Want to know if you should get an Miele, Electrolux or Samsung? Check out our latest robot vacs review.

Three robot vacuum cleaners to avoid

There aren't too many brands on the market, but they're all pretty expensive, so where do you begin? While some of the robot vacs in our latest test gave us a warm fuzzy feeling, there were some that left us feeling ripped off.

These are three of the worst performing models:

  1. Kogan Compact Robot Vacuum KACOMROBVCA
  2. Costs $199 and scored 30%
    • Very poor dirt removal from carpet and pet hair pick-up
    • No stair detection, virtual wall feature or programmable time
  3. Hoover Performer Plus 3240
  4. Costs $199 and scored 45%
    • Very poor dirt removal from carpet and pet hair pick-up
    • No programmable time
  5. Neato Botvac D series
  6. Costs $1199 and scored 52%
    • Poor dirt removal from carpet and pet hair pick-up
    • No virtual wall feature

What to look for in a robot vacuum

So now you know what not to buy, here are our tips for what to look for to make sure you get one of the better models.

  • Stair detection – now standard across almost all models, this helps the robot sense when it has reached a ledge or step so it can back off.
  • A virtual wall is an accessory used to create an invisible barrier, for blocking off open doorways or other areas you don't want the robot to enter.
  • Programmable times are a handy function that allows you to set times of the day or week to run the robot – for instance, you could set it to run only while you're away at work.
  • Charging – when the battery charge is low the robot vac finds its way back to the charger and docks automatically.

Our robot vacuum cleaner reviews score each model for hard floor dirt pick-up, dirt removal from carpet, cleaning corners and edges and pet hair pick-up, to help you decide what's hot and what sucks.

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