Best Robot Vacuum Under $300: Deebot vs. Roomba vs. Eufy vs. iLife
After months of testing different models, I determined Ecovacs Deebot N79S is the best budget robot vacuum (under $300). It has WiFi control and strong suction, doesn’t get stuck often, and is $100 less than Roomba. With that being said, you may prefer Roomba 690 if you favor well-known brand names and are willing to spend more.
I’ll explain how I reached my conclusion by comparing four robot vacuums (Roomba 690 vs. iLife A4s vs. Eufy Boost IQ 11S vs. Ecovacs Deebot N79S) while evaluating five categories: function, suction, software, noise, and longevity.
Ecovacs Deebot N79S
- Function: It has four modes, doesn’t get stuck and lasts over two hours on one charge.
- Suction: The suction is strong on all surfaces, but it’s especially remarkable on hardwood.
- Software: You can create and edit schedules with the phone app.
- Noise: It’s quiet, even when operating at maximum power.
- Longevity: Ecovacs isn’t well-known in the US, which is a concern.
Best for you if...
Your house consists of mostly hardwood or thin carpeting. It has the best hardwood suction, great battery life, gets stuck the least, and has WiFi scheduling. Ecovacs doesn't have the same reputation as Roomba, but it's by far the best option under $300.
- Function: The battery is weak and the bin is small. It’s bulky but doesn’t get stuck often.
- Suction: The suction works well on any surface but it’s best on hardwood.
- Software: It has Alexa and Google capabilities and easy scheduling with the app.
- Noise: It’s the loudest of those tested.
- Longevity: Roomba has been making robot vacuums for 15 years and has a great reputation.
Best for you if...
You want the most tried and trusted name in the business. Roomba 690 is a solid machine, even with its flaws. However, it’s not the best value because Deebot is more effective and affordable. If you want a Roomba, go with one of the high-end models (960 or 980).
Eufy Boost IQ 11S
- Function: It has a huge dust tray with solid battery life, but the wheels frequently get stuck on things.
- Suction: The suction power is fantastic. It does well on thick carpets.
- Software: There’s no app or WiFi scheduling.
- Noise: It’s not just the suction noise that’s loud; the wheels are creaky too.
- Longevity: Their customer service is fantastic, but they outsource their manufacturing.
Best for you if...
You have extra thick carpets in your house or find a great sale. You’ll get great suction power on all surfaces, but it's louder and tends to get stuck more frequently than Deebot N79S. You won’t have WiFi scheduling either.
- Function: It’s the dumbest robot tested. It bumps into things hard and takes terrible routes.
- Suction: It doesn’t work well on wood floors or thin carpets, but it’s fantastic on thick.
- Software: There’s no app or WiFi scheduling.
- Noise: It’s quieter than Roomba, but not as quiet as Deebot.
- Longevity: iLife is a Chinese company with questionable customer service.
Best for you if...
Your house has thick carpeting. iLife doesn’t perform well on wood or thin carpets, but it does better on thick carpets. You’ll need the max suction mode while on carpets, and the battery doesn’t last long with it active. When iLife is on sale for $100, it's worth considering.
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Why listen to me?
- I’ve been obsessed with gadgets since I was eight years old.
- I bought each device with MY money.
- I’ll update this post frequently because my opinions change.
- I don’t have insider access. I’m just like you, the everyman.
Things To Know
- They can handle hardwood floors and carpets while also able to detect and maneuver around stairs.
- You need to plan and take a couple of minutes to prep before letting them run. This includes picking up pet toys and anything else loose on the floor. Depending on your home’s layout, it might be smart to put your dining room or kitchen chairs on the table to make sure the vacuum can clean everything underneath. Loose shoelaces can be an issue too. The more prep you do, the better the experience.
- They require occasional maintenance. The dust bin needs to be emptied, the filters blown out, and the brush cleaned.
- If you have black floors or carpets, there’s a good chance the vacuum won’t work in that area. Some of the more expensive models can handle black floors, but not the ones I’m looking at.
- What about dog poop? This is a real thing. If your dog leaves a fresh poop on the floor, robot vacuums are not smart enough to know what it is. The poop will get smeared everywhere. It’s gross. Make sure your dog is potty trained before you purchase one of these.
- The vacuums pick up pet hair surprisingly well. Within a half hour of letting all four run (in a house with four pets and an appearance of cleanliness), it filled up all four bins completely with pet hair. Robot vacuums are a must if you like a clean house and have pets. You’ll be surprised by how much extra hair is around.
- They can’t be instructed to clean specific rooms or learn your home layout, but you can keep them out of places by closing the doors or creating a barrier.
iRobot debuted the first robot vacuum, Roomba, in 2002. Since then, many companies have tried their hand at designing robotic vacuums.
Online consumers reached a consensus that the Roomba 900 series or Neato D Series are the best robot vacuums on the market. They uses innovative technology to create visual landmarks and trace its path, so it knows when it’s covered a spot. The only caveat is they cost over $700.
I want a clean house, but it’s not that important.
You can buy a cheap robot vacuum for as little as $100, but that low price point comes with equally low quality.
I’m skipping over the cheap models in this post.
Last year, my mission was to find the best robot vacuum under $300. I declared Eufy RoboVac 11 the winner because it was the best and most affordable.
Things have changed:
- Ecovacs released Deebot N79S.
- Eufy released a new design called RoboVac 11+ while discontinuing the original RoboVac 11.
- iRobot discontinued their beloved Roomba 650, in favor of Roomba 690. All of the Roomba 600 models have the same body with a couple of internal spec changes. The only significant difference from the 614, 650, 652, and 690 is that the 690 has WiFi capabilities.
The changes in the robot vacuum market left me with no choice: I had to review and compare the new models.
Last year, I didn’t have clear criteria for evaluating these vacuums.
As I’ve learned, the most important thing you need in a robot vacuum is that it keeps going without stopping (function). If it gets stuck easily, it doesn’t matter how much suction power it has. The other things that I’m assessing are suction, software, noise, longevity, and bonus features.
I wasn’t sure if robot vacuums were something people bought just to say “hey, look at my cool robot toy!” or if they were actually useful.
As it turns out, robot vacuums nowadays are fantastic. I’m keeping Deebot N79S!
- It has four cleaning modes. It’s best to set it to automatic and let it detect what needs to be done on its own, but sometimes you’ll want to switch modes. For example, you can make it clean the middle portions, you can turn on the edging feature, or you can have it spot clean. I love the edging function, which makes it clean along the edges of the room.
- It does a great job of navigating and doesn’t bump into things as hard as the other three. It also tends to get stuck far less often than the others.
- The remote is excellent. You can handle all of the scheduling with it. While controlling Deebot N79S by hand defeats the purpose of a robot vacuum, the up, down, and side-to-side controls give you extreme handling precision.
- The dust tray is big, easy to empty, and gives you easy access to the filters.
- Ecovacs claims a two-hour battery life, but in my tests, I saw even longer than that. It has by far the best battery.
- It’s slimmer and lighter than Roomba. It’s also the sleekest of the four.
- You have the option of charging with the base or plugging in the vacuum, but most only allow for charging through the base.
- The suction is amazing on all surfaces, but it shines on hardwood. I did a test with all four vacuums in which I crunched up tortilla chips and poured ¼ cup on the floor in an enclosed space. Deebot N79S picked up the most chips the fastest. Based on this test, and other anecdotal evidence, I’m confident Deebot N79S has the best suction on wood floors and thin carpeting.
- It’s not the best with fine material (small dust particles, flour, little pieces of dirt, or tiny crumbs) while on thick rugs.
- With iLife and Eufy, the remote must be in sight of the vacuum to change the schedule. Plus, you can only create a routine that’s the same for each day. With the N79S, there’s a phone app to create custom schedules for each day of the week. It’s easier to read a phone screen than the tiny remote screen, too.
- Syncing the app and vacuum is a bit clunky, but you only have to deal with it once.
- You can control it with Google and Alexa on the new “S” models.
- This machine is quiet; even in “max” mode, it’s softer than any of the others tested.
- Ecovacs doesn’t have a reputation in the United States because they’ve mostly sold in China until now. It’s the most affordable robot vacuum that I bought and the best one, making it an incredible value even if it doesn’t last forever.
- The dust bin is small, and it’s hard to empty the debris when full.
- There’s no remote. You shouldn’t have to schedule a cleaning often; but when you do, you have to do it directly on the Roomba or via the app.
- It’s bulky, heavy, and the thickest so it gets stuck more often.
- There aren’t customizable modes. You turn it on and let the algorithm run, or you can have it “spot clean.”
- Roomba 690’s battery life is nothing to get excited about. I got around 60 minutes of consecutive cleaning time before it needed to be recharged.
- Roomba has iAdapt Responsive Navigation. Its algorithm takes smarter routes than the rest.
- There’s a green light that turns on when it detects dirt and Roomba will continue to go over that spot until the area’s clean.
- Roomba comes equipped with a piece that lets you set up a “virtual wall” via IR signals for areas you don’t want to be touched.
- Roomba sucks up more on hardwood and thin carpet than iLife, and does an adequate job on thick carpet.
- Roomba 690 has Alexa and Google Home capabilities. You can say, “Alexa, ask Roomba to start cleaning.” While the skill is a bit wordy to say, it can be useful in some situations.
- Roomba 690 has WiFi capabilities (Roomba 650 did NOT). You can control Roomba, and set an individual schedule for each day inside the app.
- The app is great. You get logs of previous cleanings, the robot’s health, filter/brush warnings, battery life, and great scheduling features.
- Of the four vacuums I tested, Roomba was the loudest. It’s not a big deal if you schedule it to run while you’re not home, but it’s not something you want to listen to while you’re trying to relax. Even with a door shut, you can still hear it in the other room. If you’re in an upper floor apartment, this could cause an issue with your downstairs neighbors.
- Roomba has the best longevity by far. iRobot has been making robot vacuums for 15 years, and they know what they’re doing. That’s good news if you ever need replacement parts or customer support.
Eufy Boost IQ 11S
- It’s thicker than the previous version and the wheels are bigger too, so it’s more likely to get caught on things around the house. But overall, it does a solid job.
- The battery lasts a couple of hours, which is better than Roomba and iLife.
- The dust tray is huge, easy to empty, and provides easy access to the filters.
- The remote is well-designed, with precise controls and extra options for edge or spot cleaning. You also use the remote to set up scheduling.
- The suction power is fantastic, similar to Deebot N79S.
- It does better on thick carpet than the previous Eufy (now it performs similarly to iLife on carpeting).
- Some people have noted issues with the scheduling feature. Eufy representatives recommend resetting the clock by taking out the batteries and starting over. The remote needs to be in sight of the vacuum to send the IR signal to the vacuum. It’s not a WiFi signal or RF signal, so it needs to be in direct view. To make sure the schedule is set, listen for a beep.
- Deebot N79S and Roomba 690 have a huge advantage with their WiFi scheduling.
- It’s louder than the previous version. It’s not just the suction noise that’s loud; the wheels are creaky too. It’s not something you can run while watching TV.
- The customer support is the best in the business. Not only do you get quick responses, they’re also helpful and effective. I lost my remote, and they sent me a free replacement. But it’s shady when a company isn’t designing their own products, and instead outsources to a different manufacturer.
- Their marketing tactics should be questioned. I loved Eufy RoboVac 11, but its replacements weren’t an upgrade. Eufy should’ve been more transparent about their manufacturing contract expiring on the former design. Most people mistakenly think they’re getting an upgraded version from the 11. And why wouldn’t they? Eufy puts the new vacuum on the same product page, and the new version has the same product name with a plus symbol next to it!
- It’s not smart. It bumps into things hard and takes the worst routes. If you have white baseboard trim, the vacuum may leave black marks. You can fix that by putting pads on the robot to reduce the impact. But, in my opinion, the vacuums should come with pads included.
- Because it’s so small, sometimes it’d get too ambitious and try to fit under things it shouldn’t. It repeatedly got stuck under my desk.
- It sits lower to the ground, so it’s not great when it has to transition from a wood floor to a carpet.
- The battery does not last very long on “max” suction mode.
- My whole house is bamboo wood floors and the suction doesn’t work well on hardwood or thin carpets.
- The suction isn’t good overall. But of those I tested, it sucked up the most debris on thick carpeting. It knows when it travels onto a thick rug and increases the suction power to compensate. Keep this in mind if your house contains a lot of thick carpeting.
- There are no WiFi controls, you have to set the schedule with the remote, and it has to be the same daily schedule.
- It’s quieter than Roomba, but not as quiet as Deebot.
- iLife is a Chinese company with questionable customer service. Some customers have complained about being harassed after leaving a negative review.
- The parts are similar to Deebot N79S and Eufy, but everything feels cheaply made, including the remote.