Robot Vacuum vs Regular Vacuum

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Vacuum cleaners used to be bulky devices that made a lot of noise and have advanced a lot since then. With advancements in technology, their design and efficiency have improved.

You can now relax with a book on your couch while your robot vacuum cleans your floors, or you can use a cordless vacuum to clean areas where there are no electrical outlets. But all these options can also bring confusion: What type of vacuum cleaner should you use? A regular vacuum or a robot vacuum?

Robot vacuum cleaners are getting more efficient, but can they really replace regular vacuum cleaners? Read on as we discuss the differences between robot and regular vacuums and which vacuum cleaner is may be most suitable for you.

Robot Vacuum vs. Regular Vacuum

Regular Vacuum Cleaners

We have all seen regular vacuum cleaners. They use suction power to lift dust and dirt from the floor, carpet, and other surfaces. The dirt sucked by the device gets collected in a dirt bag that can be either disposable or permanent, depending upon the model. 

There are two types of regular vacuum cleaners based on their power source:

Corded and cordless. You need to plug a corded vacuum cleaner into a power source to use it, while a cordless vacuum cleaner operates on rechargeable batteries. 

Due to this reason, corded vacuums are more powerful and typically meant for heavy-duty work, whereas cordless ones are more for the occasional quick clean. Although the latest Dyson and Shark cordless vacuums could easily replace your corded vacuum.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

The first-ever robotic vacuum cleaner was launched by Electrolux as far back as 1996. It was buggy and often used to crash into objects, which meant that the robot cleaner craze did not catch on until iRobot launched their first Roomba in 2002. Roomba became hugely successful and led the revolution that has brought us here today.

Robot vacuums cleaners work autonomously with minimal need for your intervention. They are equipped with sensors that help them sense direction and avoid bumping into furniture or walls. They work similarly to a regular vacuum cleaner by sucking up dirt and debris from the ground. 

Robot vacuum cleaners have built-in rechargeable batteries, and some even come with a charging dock to return back to when the battery gets low. 

Let’s have a look at the differences between a robot vacuum and a regular vacuum. 


The fundamental difference between a robot vacuum and a regular vacuum is how we use them. The former operates on its own once you have set the program, while the latter requires your control and operation with your hands. 

Robot vacuum cleaners are easy to operate with minimal human interference, while regular vacuum cleaners generally offer better cleaning with human guidance. 

regular vacuum


The efficiency of a vacuum cleaner is defined by how easily it can suck dirt and debris from a surface. The efficacy of a regular vacuum is currently much higher when compared to a robot vacuum cleaner. 

Since the size of a robot vacuum cleaner is small and it runs on battery power, it has lower suction power than a regular vacuum. Even a low-end regular vacuum cleaner can have better efficiency than a high-end robot vacuum cleaner.

The efficiency of a regular corded vacuum will generally be higher when compared to a cordless one since the corded runs on an electric power supply while the cordless uses battery power. 

If you have a big house with pets and kids, using a corded regular vacuum cleaner would be the best suitable option. However, it can be challenging to get into areas where a cordless vacuum cleaner can reach easily. Plus you have the hassle of the cord to deal with.

Another way to monitor the efficiency of a vacuum cleaner would be the speed with which it cleans an area. A robot vacuum cleaner will take twice or even more time than it takes to clean a room using a regular vacuum cleaner. If you need to clean a space quickly, a robot vacuum is not the right solution.


When it comes to pricing, robot vacuum cleaners are generally pricier than either corded or cordless regular vacuums. Even the basic model of a robot vacuum cleaner can cost you $250, while at the same price, you can get some great performing regular vacuum cleaners. 

For example, if you compare a Dyson stick vacuum to a Roomba, Dyson top-end models like the V10 would cost you about half of the Roomba s9 and s9+

If you increase the price range to $300-$500, you can get some of the best regular vacuum cleaners, either corded or cordless. The price for a high-end robot vacuum cleaner can go up to $1000 or more. 

And even though the price difference between a robot vacuum on the lower end and a regular vacuum is not that big, most people believe that even if you own a robot vacuum cleaner, you would still need a regular vacuum cleaner for cleaning your house

Human Intervention

This factor is the main advantage of robot vacuums. Since robot vacuums work autonomously, they require very little human intervention. All you need to do is set the cleaning schedule, and you can sit and relax while your robot vacuum cleans your house for you. 

With most newer models having WiFi connectivity and application integration, you can now operate the robot vacuum cleaner from your smartphone without even needing to go near it. You can also set your vacuum cleaner to clean any particular spot or room with mapping technology. 

You can also set virtual boundaries to avoid areas like your kid’s bedroom if it is full of clutter. However, you may still need to take care of some manual tasks like emptying the vacuum’s bin or repositioning the robot if it gets stuck in furniture.

On the other hand, a regular vacuum requires the entire job to be done manually with your hands.

Bin Size

When comparing the bin size of a robot vs stick vacuum, you will find that a robot vacuum has a much smaller bin size when compared to a regular vacuum. Since robot vacuums are compact, their bin size is tiny, ranging from 0.25 liter to 1 liter. However, the latest premium iRobot vacuums Roomba i7 and S9 are self-emptying meaning they can clean for weeks without your help.

At the same time, the bin size on a regular vacuum cleaner can vary anywhere from 1 liter to 10 liters depending on the model of the vacuum cleaner. Upright vacuums generally have a larger bin than stick vacuums.

Regular Vacuum Cleaners 


  • They are high in efficiency and offer better cleaning with higher suction power.
  • You can use a regular vacuum cleaner to clean curtains, upholstery, and other high surfaces.
  • These are easy to clean and maintain.
  • Most of the regular vacuum cleaners have large bin sizes.
  • Regular vacuum cleaners are versatile and operate smoothly on regular floors, carpets, curtains, and other surfaces.
  • These are cheaper when compared to robot vacuum cleaners.


  • You would need to operate a regular vacuum cleaner with your hand.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners


  • Robot vacuum cleaners can work with little human intervention.
  • You can set a schedule for cleaning on specific days at specific hours to clean your house without any human interference. 
  • Since these are compact, they can go under furniture that a regular vacuum cleaner cannot.
  • In case you spilled something in a specific area, robot vacuum cleaners are great for spot cleaning.
  • They work great for cleaning your space as a backup to your regular cleaning routine.
turning on the robot vacuum


  • Smaller things littered on the floor can get stuck to a robot vacuum cleaner if you don’t pick them up before.
  • Even with all the sensors and mapping, robot vacuum cleaners sometimes get stuck on furniture or other things.
  • Robot vacuum cleaners can sometimes forget their way to the docking station when the battery gets low.
  • They are priced higher
  • Harder to maintain due to several moving parts. They require regular brush changes that cost you extra money
  • Smaller bin size (though many new robot vacuums are using a smart cleaning bin where the dirt is deposited after every pass).

Things to Consider When Buying Either a Robot Vacuum or Regular Vacuum

Whether you are looking to buy a robot vacuum or a regular vacuum, there are a few things that you should consider. 


One of the main features of a vacuum cleaner, whether it is a robot or regular, is its efficiency. Its efficiency depends on its suction power. While many people consider the motor wattage and input current as determinators of efficiency, they are not necessarily associated.

A motor with higher wattage can have lower efficiency because there are other components in the vacuum that also use that motor. The best way to find the efficiency of a vacuum cleaner would be to check its suction power measurement in airflow and air watts. Having higher air watts and airflow means excellent efficiency. 

Robot vacuums are more efficient because of their scheduled cleaning. With this, you can set up specific days and times for your vacuum cleaner, and the vacuum cleaner will start its cleaning process automatically, even if you have to step out of the house for some work. 

Of course, with a regular vacuum, you would be using it depending on your availability. If you don’t want to have to vacuum manually, you should look for this feature in a robot vacuum.

Cord Length, Battery Life

There are two types of vacuum cleaners based on their power source: corded and cordless. 

If you opt for a corded vacuum cleaner, it is essential to check the cord length. Having a long cord allows you to clean a large area without plugging and unplugging the vacuum. Hot tip – Miele canister vacuums all have very long cords.

If you choose a cordless or a robot vacuum cleaner, then the battery life is one of the features to look out for. Cordless or robot vacuum cleaners run on batteries and thus need to recharge, running for an hour or so depending on their battery life. 

You would need to charge the cordless regular vacuum cleaners, while most robot vacuum cleaners go to their charging dock on their own when the battery gets low. 

If you live in a big house and want the vacuuming to get done without a recharge, it’s better to opt for large battery life.

For a robot cleaner, neither of these is a challenge because they are not corded, and they can go and dock themselves to charge whenever they run out of batteries, without any intervention.

Bagged or Bagless

There are two types of vacuum cleaners based on their bin type: bagged and bagless. 

A bagged vacuum cleaner contains disposable bags to collect all the dust and debris sucked by it. Once the bag fills, you can remove it and replace it with a new one. 

In a bagless vacuum cleaner, there is a permanent dirt cup or container that stores all the dust collected by the vacuum, and once it is complete, you need to empty it into a trash can. 

Emptying a bagged vacuum cleaner is easy, while a bagless vacuum cleaner can be messy and can cause allergic reactions in allergy sufferers and people with certain breathing issues. However, a bagless vacuum cleaner is environmentally friendly compared to a bagged one.

Robotic vacuum cleaners are not bagged ones, and they can’t carry the weight of dust and dirt around with them. Instead, you will have to keep cleaning these cleaners at regular intervals because they run out of space for more dirt.

Some new robotic cleaners come with dustbin-style dockets where the cleaner can go and deposit the collected dirt automatically.

Bin Capacity 

The bin size of a vacuum cleaner defines the quantity of dust it can hold before needing to empty its bin. Bin capacity can range anywhere from 0.25 liter to 10 liters depending upon the type and model of the vacuum cleaner. 

However, if you don’t wish to spend your time emptying the bin multiple times during a single vacuuming session, then you should go for a higher bin capacity. There are some robot vacuums with automatic bin cleaning features.


The mapping feature in a robot vacuum uses the sensors in the vacuum to help create a virtual map of your house within the vacuum app. It helps your vacuum to avoid hitting furniture or walls. Mapping also allows you to set boundaries and areas to avoid while vacuuming.

There are three types of mappings that are currently prevalent:

  • Using Sensors: This results in the random sort of zig-zag path that you might have seen most budget robovacs taking. This is the least efficient way since it covers lesser floor area in the house
  • VSLAM: This is visual navigation using cameras and motion sensors that detects objects based on AI models. VSLAM has much better coverage and is the most popular technology being used in high-end robovacs.
  • LiDAR: Laser detection is used in the most high-end robovacs. It is an extremely accurate way of mapping the floor and delivers very high coverage in the home.


The noise made by a vacuum cleaner can be problematic for people sensitive to noise. Whether you choose a regular or a robot vacuum cleaner, make sure to check the vacuum cleaner’s noise level by running it on the highest setting if the noise level matters to you.

Anything above 60dB is not a pleasant sound if you want to sleep or work in the house while vacuuming is going on. There aren’t many quiet vacuum cleaners that have noise output as low as this but some get close.

If you are away from home during the scheduled cleaning of a robot vacuum, then noise won’t be an issue, but high noise can become a problem if you have to stay in the house during the cleaning. 

Also, since robot vacuums are not very efficient, they need to operate for a longer duration when compared to a regular vacuum, which means you will have to listen to the sound for a longer time.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning your house is a routine and continuous chore. Vacuums can save you a lot of time in getting this chore done as long as you select a suitable one for your home.

While robot vacuums are getting better and gaining popularity, they are still not close to the efficiency of a regular vacuum and can not replace them entirely. In addition, robot vacuums still cost a price premium as they are still relatively novel.

However, if you don’t have a very large space to clean, are not particular about having everything cleaned immediately, and prefer not doing the chore of vacuuming yourself, robovacs may be a great choice for you.

Otherwise, you always have the option of the affordability and flexibility of a regular vacuum. Whether corded or cordless, you would be able to manually control a regular vacuum and maintain the cleanliness of your home the way you dictate.

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