Robot Vacuum vs Stick Vacuum – Which Is Best for You?

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Are you looking to upgrade your vacuum cleaner and trying to decide between a robot vacuum vs stick vacuum? Both types of vacuums have their advantages and drawbacks depending on your needs and preferences. In this article, we will compare robot vacuums and stick vacuums, examining their cleaning abilities, maintenance requirements, and more to help you make an informed decision on which one to choose.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

Robot vacuum on grey tiled floor

Robot vacuum cleaners are a convenient and efficient way to keep your home clean. They offer several advantages over traditional stick vacuums, including hands-free operation, automated navigation, and powerful suction.


Robot vacuums are designed for convenience; they require minimal effort from the user as they can be set up with schedules or even controlled remotely via a smartphone app. In addition, their automated navigation allows them to cover more ground than manual vacuums while also avoiding obstacles such as furniture and stairs. Finally, the best robot vacuums have strong suction power that is comparable to some stick vacuums on the market today.


Robot vacuum cleaners come with some drawbacks, despite their many advantages. Robot vacuums tend to cost more than other vacuum types because of their sophisticated tech and capabilities. Furthermore, they may struggle to get into tight corners or reach areas under furniture because of size constraints. 

Additionally, since these machines rely heavily on sensors for navigation purposes, it is possible for them to become confused in cluttered environments or when exposed to bright lights. This can result in a disruption in the route mapping process if not pre-programmed accordingly. 

Moreover, robot vacuums can only clean floors. They can't yet clean stairs or anything else that you might clean with a traditional vacuum such as soft furnishings and blinds.

Types and Features

There’s a huge range of robot vacuums on the market to choose from. Entry models have limited features but still can do a good job of cleaning floors. Generally, the more you pay the more additional features you can get to provide greater convenience, control or performance. Some of the common features that you can opt for are:

  • Mapping and navigation: Advanced robot vacuums can map out your home and use sensors and cameras to navigate around obstacles and clean more efficiently.
  • Smart home compatibility: Some robot vacuums can be controlled using virtual assistants like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
  • Recharge & Resume: automatically returns to its charging dock when its battery runs low, recharges, then resumes cleaning where it left off.
  • Self-emptying: High-end robot vacuums have self-emptying capabilities, where they automatically empty their dustbin into a docking station.
  • Multiple floor type cleaning: Some robot vacuums can adjust their suction power and brush types depending on the floor type, such as hardwood or carpet.
  • Spot cleaning: Some robot vacuums can be programmed to clean specific spots or areas of your home.
  • App control: Many robot vacuums come with a companion app that allows you to control and customize cleaning settings from your smartphone.
  • Pet hair: Some robot vacuums are specifically designed to pick up pet hair with specialized brushes and suction power.

Robot vacuum cleaners are a great way to keep your home clean with minimal effort, but stick vacuums offer more flexibility and control when it comes to cleaning. Let's take a look and compare robot vacuums versus what stick vacuums have to offer.

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

Woman holding cordless stick vacuum on laminate

Stick vacuums provide a range of benefits compared to regular uprights, such as portability, convenience in terms of usage and storage capacity, and cost-effectiveness. As with robot vacs, stick vacuums come with a range of optional features to choose from depending on your particular needs.


Stick vacuums have several advantages over traditional upright models. They are lightweight and easy to maneuver around furniture or tight spaces with their slim design. Their compact size also makes them ideal for living spaces with limited storage, such as apartments. 

In addition, most stick vacuums are cordless, although there are some great corded stick models too (which are less expensive). Finally, some models feature detachable hand tools which allow you to clean hard-to-reach areas such as stairs or car interiors with ease.

The main advantages of stick vs robot vacuums are:

  • They can convert to handheld vacuums for cleaning above floors with the use of accessories but robot vacuums can only clean floors.
  • They provide a deeper clean than robot vacuums due to superior suction and agitation (particularly on carpets).
  • Better options for pet owners with advanced pet hair pickup and anti-tangle brush rolls (on premium models).


Of course, the main disadvantage of stick vs robot vacuums is that they are not automated and require human effort to use! In addition stick vacuums do not mop floors but some robot vacuums can both vacuum and mop.

Furthermore, battery run times are a key consideration for stick vacuums, with many models falling short. This is the main drawback of choosing a cordless stick if you have a larger home as you may need several charges to vacuum your entire house.

Run times vary from as little as 10 minutes to up to an hour depending on the model of vacuum, suction mode used and type of flooring you have. However, many models have the option of a replaceable battery so that you can purchase a spare to double your runtime.

Types and Features

There are two main types of stick vacuum cleaners: 

  • corded electric sticks (which need a power outlet), 
  • battery powered cordless sticks (which run off rechargeable batteries) and 

Corded stick vacs tend to provide more powerful suction but require access to an electrical outlet. By contrast, battery powered cordless options give users greater freedom but will need recharging between uses. 

In terms of other features, these are some key considerations: 

  • Suction power: This is a measure of how powerful the vacuum's motor is, and how well it can pick up dirt, dust, and debris. Some stick vacuums have multiple suction modes for different surfaces.
  • Battery life: For cordless stick vacuums, this is how long the vacuum can run on a single charge. Some stick vacuums have longer battery life than others.
  • Brush types: Different stick vacuums have different types of brushes, such as bristle brushes for deep cleaning carpets, or soft brushes for hardwood floors.
  • Filtration: Some stick vacuums have advanced filtration systems that can capture smaller particles like allergens and dust mites.
  • Accessories: Many stick vacuums come with additional accessories, such as crevice tools, dusting brushes, and pet hair tools.
  • Convertibility: Some stick vacuums can be converted into handheld vacuums, making them more versatile for cleaning upholstery or stairs.
  • Dustbin size: The size of the dustbin determines how much debris the vacuum can hold before needing to be emptied.

These are just a few of the features you may find on different types of stick vacuums. As with robot vacuums, it's important to consider which features are most important to you when choosing a stick vacuum.

For those seeking a convenient and cost-effective cleaning solution, stick vacuums are an ideal choice. To make a wise choice between robot and stick vacuums, it is essential to assess their price points and capabilities.

Comparison of Robot and Stick Vacuums

Robot and stick vacuums both have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to price point, performance, and maintenance.

Price Point Comparison:

Robot vacuums tend to be more expensive than stick vacuums due to their advanced technology. However, this cost is often offset by the fact that they clean autonomously and can save time in cleaning tasks. Furthermore, there are plenty of budget options available from as little as $200. 

Stick vacuums are typically cheaper but premium models with long battery runtimes are similarly priced to high end robot vacuums.

Performance Comparison:

When it comes to performance, both types of vacuums can do a good job at picking up dirt and debris from floors or carpets depending on your needs. However, for more thorough cleaning we think Stick vacuums are a better option as they give more control and generally have greater suction and agitation capabilities. 

It is tricky to compare suction power of robot vs stick vacuums because the units of measurement differ. Manufacturer’s generally specify a robot vacuum’s suction power in Pascals (Pa) but stick vacuums are usually specified in either air watts or watts. Our article on vacuum cleaner suction power discusses the usefulness of these units and the difficulties in comparing them.

From our research of available vacuums on the market including these independent CFM tests, we’ve found:

  • Robot vacuums suction power is in the range of 1000Pa to 5000Pa, or 7 to 25 CFM 
  • Stick vacuums suction power is in the range of 80 to 230 AW, or 30 CFM to 70 CFM

Therefore, stick vacuums generally have stronger suction power compared to robot vacuums.

For homes with carpets, stick vacuums would be preferable versus robot vacuums on this basis. However on hard floors, stronger suction power is less important in our opinion and a robot vacuum’s suction performance should be sufficient for most cleaning tasks. As a result, the convenience of the robot vacuum may be preferred for households with hard flooring throughout. 

Maintenance Comparison:

The maintenance requirements of a robot vacuum and stick vacuum can be different due to their distinct designs and cleaning methods. Here are some of the vacuum maintenance requirements for each type:

Maintenance Task

Robot Vacuums

Stick Vacuums

Emptying the dustbin

Needs to be done after each cleaning cycle

Needs to be done after each use

Cleaning the brushroll

Brushes or rollers need to be cleaned periodically to prevent tangles

Brushroll needs to be cleaned periodically to maintain suction power

Replacing filters

Filters need to be replaced periodically, depending on usage and model

Filters need to be replaced periodically, depending on usage and model

Checking for obstructions

Sensors and pathways need to be checked regularly

Air pathways and attachments need to be checked regularly

In general, both robot vacuums and stick vacuums require some maintenance to ensure that they continue to operate efficiently. However, the specific maintenance requirements can vary depending on the model and brand, so it's important to consult the manufacturer's instructions or user manual for specific guidance.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Between a Robot and Stick Vacuum

When picking between a robot or stick vacuum, there are numerous factors to mull over. 

Size of Home

Size of the home/area to be cleaned is an important factor when deciding which type of vacuum is best for your needs. Robot vacuums are ideal for larger homes with multiple rooms and open floor plans, as they can easily navigate around obstacles and furniture. Stick vacuums, conversely, may not be as suitable for larger homes due to battery runtime limits.

Type of flooring

Hard Floors

When it comes to hard floors, both stick vacuums and robot vacuums can be effective depending on their design and features. Stick vacuums typically have a motorized brush roll and strong suction power, making them good at picking up debris from hard floors. On the other hand, robot vacuums can also perform well on hard floors due to their ability to navigate tight spaces and clean around objects.

One advantage that robot vacuums have over stick vacuums for hard floors is their ability to sweep and mop simultaneously with the help of additional attachments. Some robot vacuums also have advanced sensors that detect different floor types and adjust their cleaning power accordingly.


Generally, stick vacuums tend to have more powerful suction and larger brush rolls, making them more effective at cleaning carpets compared to robot vacuums. However, some newer robot vacuum models have improved brush rolls and strong suction, making them better at cleaning carpets than older models.

Additionally, some robot vacuums have carpet detection technology that increases suction power when on carpets, improving their cleaning ability. Overall, while stick vacuums are generally better suited for cleaning carpets, newer robot vacuum models can still provide decent cleaning results on low-pile carpets.


Budget considerations also play a role in determining which type of vacuum cleaner is right for you.

Robot vacuums tend to cost more than stick vacuums due to their advanced features such as mapping technology and app control options; however, they can save time by automatically cleaning while you’re away from home or asleep. 

Stick vacuums are generally less expensive but require more manual effort since they don’t have many automated features like robots do.


If convenience is of the utmost importance, then robot vacuums are the way to go; most models come loaded with smart technology that allows them to map out your home and create personalized cleaning plans based on room size and layout. Plus, they can be controlled through voice commands from any part of your house. 

On the other hand, if you want a versatile vacuum that is fit for a variety of cleaning tasks then a stick vacuum might be a battery option. Stick vacs will provide greater flexibility when it comes to navigating tight spaces such as under furniture or around corners due to their slim design profile. Furthermore, many models include detachable handheld units ideal for spot-cleaning stairs or upholstery items.

Conclusion and Recommendation

When deciding between a robot vacuum and a stick vacuum, consider the size of the space, flooring type and your budget. Robot vacuums are suitable for large spaces due to their speed and efficiency, while stick vacuums may be more convenient for smaller areas.

Both types offer excellent suction power, but stick vacuums have the added versatility of above floor cleaning. Robot vacuums use advanced sensors and mapping technology, while stick vacuums rely on manual control. Maintenance requirements are similar for each. Ultimately, choose the option that best fits your requirements.

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