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Robot Vacuum vs Regular Vacuum: 7 Biggest Differences

Robot Vacuum Vs Regular Vacuum

Some say robovacs are a must for every homeowner. 

But others argue that nothing beats regular vacuums when keeping your house clean. 

This leaves you wondering how the 2 machines are different.

And which one’s really the best for you. 

Let’s end your guessing game with practical answers. 

Continue reading to find out:

  • 7 biggest differences between robot and regular vacuums.
  • Which of them is the best for you (depending on your priorities). 
  • Why some people still use regular vacuums when they have a robovac. 
  • And this is just the beginning…

Robot vacuum vs regular vacuum: 7 biggest differences

#1: Convenience 

Regular vacuums won’t be able to do anything without your direct assistance. 

On the other hand… 

Robovacs are independent cleaning machines. 

So, the main difference between these 2 devices is their convenience. 

And if you want to dive into the specifics, here are the… 

3 features that make robovacs more convenient than regular vacuums: 

Hands-free vacuuming

With traditional models…

You can only vacuum the floor when you physically do the chore. 

But with robot vacuums… 

You can make your device clean anytime you want. With a tap of a button or through pre-set schedules. 

Area-specific vacuuming routines

Some people still think robovacs clean aimlessly. 

And while this was indeed the case for the first editions of robot vacuums…

Recent robovac models now have a smart mapping feature. 

Hence, they can exclusively clean (or avoid) any area you want.

Compatibility with voice commands 

If you don’t want to use an app to control your vacuum…

You can simply get a robovac that’s compatible with voice commands.

Like this s9 Roomba model from the brand iRobot. 

This way, whenever you want your vacuum to clean…

You can just say something like:

“Alexa, tell my robovac to start vacuuming.” 

Or other voice commands used in this video: 

#2: Price

Unfortunately, to enjoy the robovac features I mentioned above… 

You’d also need to pay a hefty price. 

Specifically, more than $300.

Because most entry-level robovacs aren’t as convenient as you’d think. 

See, similar to this model from the brand Eufy

Robot vacuums that cost less than $300 usually have:

  • Small dust bins.
  • Short battery life. 
  • Weak suction power. 

So, you’ll still need to assist them regularly when they’re cleaning. 

See, this is very different from the quality you’d get from regular vacuums for the same price. 

Let’s use this NV360 model from Shark as an example. 

This vacuum only costs $220, but it’s already equipped with the following: 

  • Swivel steering for easy maneuvering around furniture.
  • Several vacuum heads to clean different surfaces efficiently. 
  • A brush roll shut-off button that lets you switch from deep to gentle cleaning. 

And these are pretty much all the features you’d expect from any high-end traditional vacuum. 

Evidently, there’s a huge price gap between the 2 machine types. 

Because the high-end regular vacuums cost as much as the budget-friendly robovacs do. 

#3: Cleaning speed 

Last-minute cleanups aren’t a problem with regular vacuums. 

To give you an example… 

I can finish vacuuming my 100 ft² (9.3 m²) living room with a handheld model in 30 minutes. 

Unfortunately, though… 

My robovac (s7 Roomba) would take twice that duration to clean my living room’s floor. 

Simply because these machines are designed to always take their time when vacuuming. 

“Can I make robovacs clean faster?”


Some models have various cleaning modes. But they don’t alter the speed of your robovac.

Instead, they just adust your device’s cleaning pattern or schedule. 

#4: Suction power 

For many, their robovacs are replacements for their regular vacuums. 

But if you’re someone who likes keeping the floor spotless like me…

You’d still want to keep a traditional vacuum around. Even if you already have a robovac.


Because a smart model has a much weaker suction power than a regular one. 

See, this measures your vacuum’s ability to remove dirt from surfaces.

So, the higher this value is, the more efficient your machine will be when cleaning. 

But here’s the downside: 

Most robovacs only have a suction power between 1000 to 3000 Pa.

And that’s not even half of the regular vacuums’ efficiency at cleaning. 

Because even the cheapest handheld models have at least 8000 Pa of suction power. 

Recommended reading: How Often Should You Run Your Robot Vacuum? 5 Facts

#5: Noise level 

I often vacuum the house manually. 

But I’d never do this chore without wearing my headphones. 

Because the noise the regular vacuums create is just too much for me. 

See, these machines have a sound level of 80 dB. Which is equivalent to the noise of a loud alarm clock or even some welding equipment. 

Luckily though…

Robot vacuums are much quieter than their regular counterparts. 

Specifically, the average audible noise of robovacs is only 65 dB. 

And some models, like the Klinsmann K196 vacuum, are even recorded at 55 dB. Which is quieter than air conditioners and refrigerators. 

#6: Usability 

When it comes to usability…

Robovacs can’t compare to regular vacuums.

Because you can use the handheld models to clean almost anything in your house.

As you probably know already… 

Regular vacuums often come with different head attachments. Which you can switch around when cleaning various surface types. 

For example, the Dyson V7 handheld model has 5 types of vacuum heads. 

So, you can use a different one when cleaning between these areas: 

  • Carpets. 
  • Hard floors. 
  • Stairs/furniture. 
  • Counters/tables. 
  • Hard-to-reach corners. 

See, robovacs can’t compete with this level of usability. 

Because these devices are exclusively designed to clean your floor. 

They avoid stairs due to their cliff sensors. 

And they can’t clean on top of your furniture either. 

However, here’s 1 good thing about robot vacuums’ usability: 

They can easily clean areas regular models would hardly reach.

Specifically, the floor spaces under your furniture. And that’s all thanks to their… 

#7: Size 

Robot vacuums are smaller than their regular counterparts. 

See, these machines are:

  • Shorter than 3 in (7.6 cm) in height. 
  • Less than 13 in (33 cm) in diameter. 

And their home bases are also pretty small, with less than 20 inches (51 cm) in height. 

Because of this…

Robot vacuums are very easy to hide in plain sight. Which makes them perfect for small apartments that don’t have designated stockrooms. 

Now, the opposite is true for regular vacuums. 

These devices are usually 40 inches (1 m) tall. Double the height of a robovac’s home base. 

So, it definitely sticks out in an open area. 

Robot vacuum vs regular vacuum: Which one is best for you?

Both robot and regular vacuums have their pros and cons. 

Hence, the best model for you depends on your priorities and needs. 

Now, I know comparing both cleaning devices on your own can be quite stressful. 

Especially if you need to make a purchasing decision soon.

So, let me help you figure out which one to get by…

Examining when it’s best to get a specific type of vacuum. 

To start… 

A robot vacuum is best for you if you want to: 

#1: Save time

As you know, robovacs can clean without your help. 

Even when you’re not home. 

Hence, this machine is perfect for you if… 

You’re too busy to do the chore yourself. 

Or just want to spend your time doing something else. 

#2: Easily clean under your furniture 

I know the struggle of manually vacuuming under the bed or sofa. 

Especially if that particular piece of furniture barely has any floor space.

So, if you want to skip this exhausting activity entirely…

A robot vacuum will be a great choice. 

Because these machines are short enough to fit under most furniture. 

#3: Want to avoid loud noises

As mentioned earlier…

Robot vacuums are way quieter than regular models.

So, if you’re sensitive to sound…

Or you want to peacefully vacuum your house even in the middle of the night…

A robot vacuum will be your best friend.

After all, these machines aren’t noisier than most appliances in your house. 

A regular vacuum is best for you if you want to: 

#1: Save money 

By now, you already know that…

Robovacs are twice as expensive as their regular counterparts. 

So, if you’re on a budget…

It’s best to stick to the traditional handheld vacuums.

As a general rule…

If you’re only willing to spend up to $300, buy the regular models.

Because you can already get high-end manual vacuums at this price.

While robovacs that cost this much barely make cleaning more convenient for you. 

#2: Vacuum thoroughly

As I said earlier…

Robovacs have weaker suction power.

So, they won’t be able to clean your floor thoroughly. 

Unless you make them do 2-3 rounds of vacuuming every time. 

Plus, they also aren’t designed to clean your stairs or furniture. 

That said, if you like keeping your space as clean as possible…

Stick to a regular vacuum. 

Because not only do these machines remove dust more efficiently, but they also let you… 

#3: Clean quickly 

With a handheld vacuum…

You can control how much time you spend cleaning an area.

So, it’s easy to finish vacuuming in minutes instead of hours.

However, you won’t have this choice if you have a robot vacuum.

Because these machines are programmed to travel using a uniform speed. And to adjust the cleaning time based on the room’s size. Not your schedule.

So, if you often need to do a last-minute cleanup…

Regular vacuums would be the better choice.