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Can A Robot Vacuum Replace A Normal Vacuum?

Robot vacuums, like the iRobot Roomba (on Amazon), are great little devices that keep your floors clean with minimal effort. Set the little robotic vac on the floor and sit back while it does all of the work. One of the greatest perks of using a robot vacuum is that there aren’t any power cords to deal with or heavy canisters to lug around. But as convenient as robot vacs are, can they replace your normal vacuum?

A robot vacuum can replace a normal vacuum if your home has mostly hardwood floors and/or low-pile carpeting. Thick carpeting will require an upright vacuum for deep cleaning, and stairs can also be a hassle for robot vacuums that require pre-sweeping or, if carpeted, upright vacuum cleaning.

There are advantages to using a robotic vacuum, but these devices also have their limitations. Sometimes, you may need to drag your normal vacuum out to thoroughly clean your floors. However, with all that said, what a robot vacuum can do is legitimately impressive and it can handle a majority of the work that your normal vacuum would typically do.

Robot Vacuums and Normal Vacuums Both Have Their Strengths

As we’ve argued before, there’s no denying robot vacuums are efficient and convenient. Best of all, a robot vac cleans without any help from you. Unfortunately, there’s a problem with a smart vac’s ability to deep clean your floors, and stairs are also a problem with a robot vacuum. Instead of trying to replace your standard vacuum with a smart one, it might be a better option to keep your old vacuum as well, that way you get the best of both worlds.

A good way to approach this is to have a robot vacuum running in your home on a regular basis, but when you start to notice a lot of build-up of dust where the robot vacuum struggles to clean, then it’s time to grab the regular vacuum out of the closet and start doing it yourself. This combination is especially effective if you have a big home, a circumstance that we’ll explore down below.

Robot Vacuums are Great for Big Houses and When You Own More Than One Vacuum

A large house often means stairs, therefore, you’ll need your traditional vacuum for the steps because the smart vac’s sensors won’t let it go down the stairs. In fact, we have a full tutorial on how to get around this problem with robot vacuums.

It goes without saying that every large home has rooms that no one uses. But those floors still get dusty and collect debris. A robot vac will keep these areas nice and clean, and, assuming there aren’t many obstructions, you won’t have to move things around at all. The floors will look great even when you haven’t vacuumed in days.

You can’t replace your normal vacuum for deep cleanings, but you can supplement it. Multiple robot vacs can do most of the work of your vacuum. Place one on each floor, or in any lightly trafficked area. The small bits of dirt is swept up, and you don’t have to use your normal vacuum.

How to Optimize and Get the Most Out of Your Robot Vacuum

Robot vacuum cleaner on laminate wood floor, Home Smart robotic

Robot vacuums aren’t cheap and the price goes up with additional features. Some are even programmable. For instance, you can map out the room to avoid the vacuum getting trapped or stuck; others have multiple sensors that detect obstacles and edges that way it doesn’t tumble down the stairs which we’ve touched on before.

It goes without saying that you probably want to get the most out of your robot vacuum. After all, you paid good money for it! There are a few ways of really getting your robot vacuum to function optimally.

Buy Multiple Smart Vacuums If Your Home Is Big

One robot vacuum will work great in a small single-story home or apartment because there are only a few rooms to clean. Larger homes, on the other hand, (as we already explored above), can’t depend on one robot vac because it’s too much for it on its own.

You’re better off getting several smart vacs. Technically you can carry the robot vacuum to other areas or floors of your house, but it will be easier and require less time and attention from you to simply have more than one robot vacuum.

Save Money Through Buying A Smart Vacuum with Less Features

It’s tempting to buy a robot vacuum with a lot of features. However, when it comes to devices like smart vacuums, you might be better off spending less money on a device that does one thing exceptionally well, rather than 5-6 things functionally or even terribly. Mapping your room is one feature that’s common on higher-end models.

It’s great when you want the smart vac to avoid power cords and other obstacles. Without this feature, a cheap alternative is to pick the cables up before running the robot vac. Another feature to forego when you’re trying to save money is self-emptying. Keeping your hands out of the dirt bin is great, but you’ll pay a real premium for this functionality.

Downsides of Using Robot Vacuums

Robot Vacuums Don’t Clean Difficult Places Easily

Robot vacuum cleaner runs under bed

There are a few downsides to only using robot vacuums, but there are also many, many benefits. One big one is that your floors always appear clean on the surface. However, when it comes to corners, crevices, and other tight areas, it’s a different story.

You also don’t have the convenient attachments that come with normal vacuums that allow one to dust surfaces and furniture. As you probably already know, regular vacuums come with attachments for ceilings, corners, fans, and window cleaning.

What are the Advantages of Robot Vacuums?

Robot Vacuums Are Lighter and You Don’t Have to Put Robot Vacuums Away

Normal vacuums aren’t exactly light like feathers, as most users can probably attest to. Even battery-powered ones aren’t always a breeze to lift. There’s no question that canister models are the heaviest, followed by uprights. These vacuums are a pain to use for daily clean-ups. This is where robot vacuums come in handy.

You don’t have a weight problem with a robot vacuum. More importantly, when it’s finished, it returns to the docking station so you don’t even have to put it back on your own. Other than when opening it to empty the dirt bin, you never have to pick a robot vacuum up.

Robot Vacuums Make Thorough Cleaning Jobs Way Easier

You can’t compare a robot vacuum to a normal one unless you know what the device excels at. Floors get dirty between regular vacuuming, and this is one area where robot vacuums really fill in the void. It’s great at picking up stray debris that accumulates on your floors. Along with saving time sweeping up small messes like random dirt, leaves, and pet fur, crumbs from breakfast are quickly swept up, in addition to any bits of dropped food from dinner.

Small bits of pet food isn’t a problem either with a robot vacuum. Anyone that hates having something stuck to their foot at home will love having a robot vac around. It also saves you a lot of time you would be spending manually vacuuming, especially considering many robot vacuums come with infrared and other modern technology which help it vacuum during the night (more on that in our other article).

How Does a Robotic Vacuum Work?

There’s a little more to using a robot vacuum than just sitting it on a charging station. You do have to give it a little guidance. With that said, they function similarly to normal models. There’s suction power and brushes to sweep up dirt and debris. Where the robot vacuum differs is it’s automatic. You set it to clean at a specific time, otherwise, it sits on the charging station.

As the vacuum is rolling over the floor, the spinning brushes pick up any small debris. Now that we’ve explored some of the ways that robot vacuums are better, let’s dive into why normal vacuums are better than robot vacs sometimes.

What are Normal Vacuums Better At?

You’ve probably been amazed at what your normal vacuum picks up, whether it’s an upright or a canister model. A normal vacuum is designed to pick up larger pieces of debris, and most also come with carpet settings. Furthermore, you can adjust the vacuum’s height to tackle low or high-pile carpet; you have the attachments to clean everything from deep corners, drapes, furniture, and even stairs assuming you use the proper attachments.

It’s very clear that normal vacuums are better when you want to give your home a very serious, thorough, cleaning. However, using a traditional vacuum does take some physical work, but the result is typically a much cleaner home assuming you actually put some energy into it. Additionally, some users report that their robot vacuum can actually scratch their hardwood floors, a subject we’ve explored before.

Most likely, this happens when the pivot wheel gets stuck and then drags along the floor. To avoid this, make sure you clean your device on a semi-regular basis. To understand why this almost never happens to regular vacuums, I think it’s worth our time to explore how a normal vacuum actually works.

How Does a Normal Vacuum Work?

A traditional vacuum comes with a small electrical motor. When you plug the vacuum in and turn it on, the brushes spin. The brushes move against the floor while collecting dirt and debris that is sucked up into the vacuum. Regarding how they’re powered, you do need to plug the vacuum into a power source unless it’s battery-operated.

Some upright vacuums run on rechargeable batteries, but canister models usually rely on being plugged in. Electric vacuums that use a wired connection can be stored almost anywhere, but battery-powered ones need to stay on their charging station, which can be a nuisance if you’re not used to it.

Comparing Robot Vacuums to Normal Vacuums

There are definitely differences between smart and normal vacuums, some more obvious than others. For one, the robot vacuum is smaller, quieter, and doesn’t require any physical labor either. It does seem like the automatic vacuum is the clear winner, but there are some things to keep in mind.

Robot Vacuums are Better for Light Cleanings

When you want a light cleaning, nothing beats the convenience of a robot vacuum, and for a couple reasons. One is that you can program the device to clean during the day. In this case, you’ll come home to a clean house, and you won’t have to worry about this chore on your to-do list. It can also vacuum whenever you see a small mess. Press the start button and the vacuum will do the rest.

With that said, robot vacuums are great to own because they keep your floors clean between more thorough jobs done by regular vacuums. In fact, this is where normal vacuums really excel. There’s no arguing against the idea that Robotic vacuums simply do not have the suction power as a standard model.

As a result of its power from the larger motor, your normal vacuum will suck up more dirt. It’s what you need for weekly vacuuming. Explained more simply, a robot vacuum can handle all of the small stuff during the week, effectively making the final job on the weekend a whole lot easier and less time-consuming as well.

Normal Vacuums are Better for Two-Story Homes And Houses with Many Stairs

Normal vacuums are a way better option if you have a home with more stairs than average, especially if they’re the winding kind. Robot vacuums are designed to avoid ledges, stairs, and anything that could potentially damage it or obstruct its path. It’s also not balanced to land upright and continue sweeping.

However, you can get multiple robot vacuums for different floors. In fact, many users report that they’re great for this. You won’t have to worry that one level is cleaner than the other. With all that said, when it comes to the stairs, you’ll want to use your normal vacuum because robot technology just isn’t quite there yet.

Robot Vacuums are More Convenient

It’s impossible for a regular vacuum to beat a robot vacuum when it comes to convenience. As you may know if you own one, you just have to press a button, and the device gets to work. With a normal vacuum, you’re either pulling or pushing it. Some smart vacuums like the Shark IQ Robot Vacuum (also on Amazon) even empty themselves which means you don’t have to get your hands dirty while emptying the vacuum.  

So Which One Is Better? A Robot or Normal Vacuum?

It’s impossible to compare the two vacuums for a couple of reasons, notably because they serve different purposes. A smart vac can’t clean as well as a traditional one, but there are reasons why it makes sense to have at least one including that no one likes a dirty floor. You also don’t want to vacuum every day. A smart vac solves this problem. It picks up the small stuff during the week.