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Cordless vs. robot vacuums: which one should you buy?

When it comes to keeping your floors clean, robot vacuums and cordless vacuums are among the best products you can buy. Robot vacuums have become increasingly popular over the past few years — thanks to their ability to clean your home autonomously — but cordless vacuums offer plenty of advantages over their robotic counterparts.

Deciding between the two isn’t easy, and thankfully, it’s hard to make a wrong decision. Both are well-equipped to clean your floors, but there are some big trade-offs you’ll have to make for each class. So, which is better? Robot vacuums or cordless vacuums?

Here’s a closer look to help you decide which is best for your smart home.

Cordless vacuums offer a better cleaning

The Dyson V15 cordless vacuum being used in many different ways in a white living room.

Robot vacuums have made massive strides, but there’s no denying that cordless vacuums typically provide you with a better cleaning experience. Their larger size allows them to produce impressive suction and airflow numbers, enabling them to pull up all sorts of debris from your carpets. They also tend to come with additional attachments, so you can clean furniture or nooks and crannies throughout your home.

Many robot vacuums advertise impressive suction numbers, but they simply can’t match the cleaning prowess of cordless vacuums. Of course, this can vary widely based on specific models, but in general, cordless vacuums provide you with a more robust cleaning experience than robot vacuums.

Robot vacuums are more convenient

The Ecovacs Deebot T10 Omni docked.

There’s something to be said for coming home to a house that’s already been vacuumed. The big appeal of robot vacuums is that they’re essentially an extra pair of hands — once you’ve gone through the mapping process and set up a schedule, they’ll clean your home without any additional input. If you’re constantly finding yourself forgetting to vacuum or tied up with other chores, adding a robot vacuum to your house is a great decision.

Cordless vacuums are more affordable

The Shark Rocket Cordless Stick Vacuum.

All the fancy tech packed into robot vacuums makes them shockingly expensive. Premium models often carry price tags well above $1,000, whereas you can snag a great cordless vacuum for less than $500. That’s a pretty massive price difference, so if budget is a big concern, cordless vacuums are a better pick. You can certainly find robot vacuums for less than $500, but they may not be as automated as you’d like (meaning you’ll still need to interact with them after each cleaning cycle).

Robot vacuums can also mop

ECOVACS DEEBOT T10 OMNI cleaning floors

If you’re looking at the best robot vacuums, you’ll notice many of them double as mops. Not only will they automatically mop your hardwood floors, but they’ll retract their mops when traveling on carpet, allowing them to vacuum and mop in a single run. For homes with multiple types of flooring, this can save a huge amount of time.

Of course, it’s possible to find cordless vacuum/mops, but most of them are hard to recommend due to their less-than-stellar performance. Robot vacuum and mop combos, meanwhile, tend to perform both tasks reasonably well without sacrificing one for the other.

Is a robot vacuum better than a cordless vacuum?

The X2 Omni clenaing under a bed.

Robot vacuums and cordless vacuums are both excellent products, but neither is better than the other. While they’re both designed to keep your floors clean, that’s where the similarities end.

Cordless vacuums are ideal for homes that need a superior clean and for folks who don’t mind tackling the task manually. Robot vacuums are for homeowners content with an automated clean — even if it isn’t the best clean possible. Consider picking up a robot vacuum if you’re looking to free up time in your schedule and a cordless vacuum if you need a superior cleaning experience.

Oddly enough, many homes bundle the two products together to keep their floors as pristine as possible. For example, you can run your robot vacuum three times a week, then perform a manual cleaning with a cordless vacuum on the weekends. This makes it easy to eliminate pet fur and allergens lurking in your carpets, and is especially ideal for households with several children (or pets) roaming around the halls.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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