Eufy RoboVac 11S
Quiet, nimble, and affordable
This affordable robot vacuum is quieter and fits under more furniture than most models we’ve tested. While it works best in small spaces, it rarely gets stuck, and it does a good job on bare floors and short-pile rugs. It’s not as durable as our other budget pick, though.
$230 from Amazon
$249 from Walmart
The Eufy RoboVac 11S and other Eufy bots whose model names begin with a number instead of a letter stand out as some of the quietest robot vacuums we’ve tested. They’re also some of the shortest, so they can fit beneath more pieces of furniture. Like the Roomba 694, the Eufy 11S is semi-random in its navigation, so it’s best for cleaning just a few rooms at a time. It’s not great at getting pet hair out of plush rugs, but it works fine for keeping bare floors and short rugs pretty tidy. However, the basic Eufy series isn’t as durable as Roomba models, nor is it built to be repaired.
The 11S is quiet enough that you could easily forget that it’s running if you’re home at the time. We measured the volume on the bot’s maximum suction setting and found that it was just 57 dBc, a full 5 decibels quieter than the Roomba 694—that’s a major difference. On its normal suction setting, the 11S operates at just 53 dBc, sounding more like a fan than a vacuum cleaner (traditional vacuums are often 70 dBc or louder because of their much stronger suction). And since the 11S stops short of most obstacles, it avoids creating many of the bonking impact noises that the rougher Roomba 694 makes. Other basic Eufy models have slightly stronger suction and can be a couple of decibels louder, but they are still quieter than most competitors.
Another surprisingly useful upside to the basic Eufy bots is their short body. At 2.85 inches, the 11S is almost a full inch shorter than the Roomba 694, enough for it to glide under even lower-clearance furniture, where dust and hair build up but never see the light of day. We were surprised the first time the 11S disappeared under a bed—and then more surprised when it reemerged with an unholy amount of cat hair stuffed into its bin and wrapped about the brush roll.
As for cleaning, we’ve found over and over again that basic Eufy bots are capable of picking up all the most common types of debris off bare floors and low-pile rugs. It’s actually kind of surprising how effective they are, since the advertised suction is so modest, and the single brush roll is small. If you have plush carpets and a lot of hair to deal with, though, you’re likely to prefer a robot with better brush action and possibly stronger suction.
In one test, the basic Eufy RoboVac 11S spent an hour picking up enough debris to fill the palm of our hand. It was mostly hair, some crumbs, some dust—a typical load. Next we ran the Neato Botvac D7 (usually $700 when it was a current model), and it picked up only enough hair to coat the filter and a bit of dust. Then we ran the iRobot Roomba s9+ (usually $1,100), and it came back with barely anything in the bin. We repeated the experiment a few days later and got the same results.
The 11S and similar Eufy models have a manual steering mode (Roomba models don’t). In that mode it’s useful for quick spot cleanings, sort of like a cheap stick vacuum.
Eufy makes several RoboVac models built on the same base as the 11S but with extra features. Those can include extra suction, which marginally improves cleaning performance; Wi-Fi connectivity and smart-home integration, which lets you turn the bot on or off via app or voice and set detailed schedules; and compatibility with barrier tape, which is a cumbersome eyesore (if you really need barriers, buy a bot with smart mapping, such as either of our main picks).
We’ve tried several Eufy models, including the RoboVac G30 Edge, the RoboVac G30, and the RoboVac G20. The last is the newest model, but it’s our least favorite of the trio, and none are better than our top picks. We like the G30 models best since they include very basic mapping, a 110-minute run time (versus 90 minutes on the G20), a Cleaning History in the app, and more push buttons on top. The G30 Edge package adds boundary strips to avoid certain areas, which work but are a little ugly.
The following table is a cheat sheet outlining the most popular Eufy bump bots (not a full list of all Eufy models) as of November 2022.
|Works with barrier tape
|Max suction (pascal)
|Wi-Fi, Alexa, Google Assistant
|Wi-Fi, Alexa, Google Assistant
|Wi-Fi, Alexa, Google Assistant
|Wi-Fi, Alexa, Google Assistant
|Wi-Fi, Alexa, Google Assistant
A tip on pricing: A representative from Eufy told us that the company puts its robots on sale so often that you really don’t need to pay full price for any of its robots if you can afford to wait.
without breaking parts of the robot.
The biggest problem with the RoboVac series is that these bots don’t last as long as Roomba models do. About a year after the 11S was released, we started to hear from owners whose bots had already died. On the other hand, one staffer has had the 11S for four years, and it’s still going strong. The bigger problem is that RoboVac models can’t be fixed when they break. We dismantled an older Eufy RoboVac 30 and found that doing major repairs was impossible without breaking parts of the robot. The Roomba 694, on the other hand, was easy for us to strip down and then reassemble with just a screwdriver.
Eufy is good about honoring its warranty if a bot breaks down within the one-year window, and the company often extends a discount on purchase of a new one to customers whose bots break outside the warranty period. The company does sell some replacement parts, too, including filters, brush rollers, side brushes, brush guards, and batteries through Amazon—but no replacement wheels or brush transmissions, as iRobot does for Roomba models. Many people are likely to get years of reliable service from their Eufy bots, but the picture is starting to become clear: They won’t last like Roomba models will.
We’ve also discovered that, as of late 2021, several other brands are selling near-copies of the Eufy bots. More on these clones later.
We’ve tested a handful of other affordable-ish bots with quick, accurate laser-based navigation and smart-map features—a few among dozens of similar models that we don’t have time to test, some of them from brands that appear to exist only in Amazon listings. From what we’ve seen in our own testing and what we’ve learned about the workings of the vacuum industry, these bots and their apps are pretty likely to have a lot of overlap in their hardware and software.
All of these bots have worked well, but they lack some of the polish of our top picks. The downside of some of these other bots is that you might end up having a hard time getting customer support; it won’t always be clear where you can obtain spare filters, brushes, or other consumable parts, let alone major components like battery packs, wheels, or lidar assemblies. We’ve also noticed that the lesser-known brands have not updated their robots’ software with bug fixes or new features as consistently as Roborock has.
The most noteworthy Roborock alternative is the Wyze Robot Vacuum. Wyze is known for selling good-enough and implausibly affordable smart-home gear such as security cameras, locks, and thermostats, in addition to the laser-nav Wyze Robot Vacuum. It has consistently been one of the lowest-priced models of its ilk (around $100 cheaper than the Roborock Q5). We tested one, and it worked a lot like all the other laser-nav models. The robot itself felt relatively flimsy, but we have no clue what to expect in terms of durability, and our analysis of owner reviews didn’t turn up any unusual complaints. The main reason we don’t recommend the Wyze bot is that the app can’t currently remember maps for multiple floors of a home—it learns one level, whereas Roborock bots can remember up to four levels. According to the Wyze customer support forums, a beta version of the Wyze app supports multiple maps, and it’s supposed to be released widely at some point. If that doesn’t matter to you, or if you’re willing to believe that Wyze will actually release that multi-level update soon, the Wyze robot seems like a decent-enough option.
Ecovacs is another notable brand. We’ve tested a handful of its laser-nav bots over the past few years, including the Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI (a higher-end but otherwise similar version of the N8 and N8 Pro). All of the Ecovacs models we’ve tested worked fine when they were new, but you can usually find a better bot for a lower price. Their major flaw lies in the Ecovacs app, which is glitchier than others. Also, these bots may not be as durable as those from other brands. In our analysis of owner reviews for the Deebot Ozmo 920, one of Ecovacs’s most popular laser-nav bots from the past few years, we spotted a relatively high percentage of complaints about the bots breaking down within a year, due to either lidar-unit failures or batteries that no longer held a charge. Many of those reviewers also noted difficulty getting replacement parts. We can’t be sure whether other models will have similar rates of problems, though the typical owner ratings for Ecovacs laser-nav bots tend to be a few tenths of a point lower than the ratings for other brands’ models. To Ecovacs’s credit, we’ve found that its bots are a little better at traversing tall rugs and large thresholds than other brands’ bots.
We also tested the Kyvol Cybovac S31, along with its auto-emptying dock, and it was perfectly decent (at least when new). The navigation (as of late 2020, at least) was a little clumsier, and some of the details—including the translation in the app, manual, marketing materials, and even the voiceovers from the bot itself—lacked polish. It also came with a clip-on mop (fine). In owner reviews, the main complaints about the bot included glitchiness, an unstable app, and poor customer service.
Based on our testing, the Eufy RoboVac X8 seemed to be a fine laser-nav robot vacuum, but it’s relatively expensive and doesn’t offer meaningful improvements over the company’s cheaper models. Its defining feature is supposed to be its strong suction, with two turbines pulling 2,000 pascals each (whereas most laser-nav bots have a single turbine and less than 2,500 pascals of suction total). That’s fine, but it’s slightly less than what you get from the slightly more affordable Roborock Q5. The older Eufy RoboVac L70 is still available, as well, but its app is not capable of permanently remembering specific rooms in a home, which makes it substantially less convenient than most current laser-nav bots.
Even Shark and Samsung joined the laser-nav bonanza (after previously releasing robots that used camera-based smart navigation), with the Shark AI Robot Vacuum RV2000 series and the Samsung Jet Bot and Jet Bot AI+, respectively. Of the three, we’ve tested only the AI+, and we wouldn’t recommend it based on its cleaning abilities. We’re confident that the Shark model and the lower-end Samsung bot will work similarly to all the other laser-nav robots described in the previous few paragraphs. Their “everyday” prices are a bit high, but we’ve seen some pretty good deals on the version of the Shark that comes with a self-emptying dock. Since we know that laser-nav bots are all fairly similar to one another, this Shark model could be a good choice if you see it on sale.
You can find tons more laser-nav robots with largely similar specs and appearance, including bots from barely-there brands such as Tesvor, Dreametech, Viomi, and Honiture. Again, our educated guess is that they all probably work okay and are just more prone to app glitches and less likely to get useful software updates over time than models from the best brands in this category.
The only brand in this category we would be sure to steer clear of is 360. The 360 S9 worked just fine in our tests—we imagine that the cheaper S5 and S7 would, as well. But the brand’s parent company, Qihoo 360, is on the US Bureau of Industry and Security’s Entity List, which means it has “been determined by the U.S. Government to be acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”
Shark’s non-laser robots are reasonably priced and look great on paper but are just okay in the real world. We’ve tested a couple of iterations of the Shark IQ RV1000 series since 2019 (with self-emptying docks), as well as the Shark AI Robot VacMop hybrid, and we’ve found that they’re much more prone to app glitches and stupid navigation than bots from the best brands. They’re also pretty loud on bare floors, sounding sort of like a two-stroke lawn mower puttering in the distance. To their credit, they seem to be strong cleaners, particularly on bare floors.
Neato was a pioneering robot vacuum brand, and iRobot’s only credible competitor from about 2010 through 2015, but since then, it has continuously produced models that are mediocre at best. Vorwerk, the company that acquired Neato in 2017, announced in spring 2023 that Neato would shut down.
The Trifo Max worked fine in our tests, nothing impressive or obviously bad. Owner reviews suggest it gets lost pretty easily, isn’t built to last, and has poor customer service. We haven’t tested Trifo’s other models, but we would expect similar results.
Miele designs and manufactures many wonderful appliances, but the glitchy, easily confused Miele Scout RX2 isn’t one of them.
The Electrolux Pure i9 is an oddity that we want to love but can’t recommend. In our tests, the unique 3D mapping system was fantastic at helping the bot avoid obstacles, but the bot’s short battery life and tendency to waste time spinning in place meant it couldn’t reliably clean even a smallish apartment in a reasonable amount of time.
We wouldn’t recommend the Coral One robot-handheld hybrid at any price. In our tests it was uncomfortably loud—by far the noisiest vac we’d ever tested—and the nav system was not effective. It has no Wi-Fi support or barrier system. It sort of converts into a handheld vacuum, but it’s heavy, and you need to remember where you put the awkwardly shaped nozzle.
Dozens of cheap bump-and-run bots are now available. We keep finding deals on bots from no-name brands like Amarey, Coredy, Goovi, and Onson, all of which present product dimensions that are barely distinguishable from those of the Eufy RoboVac 11S and similar Eufy models we recommend.
We bought one of the Goovi models, and lo and behold, we found that it was functionally identical to the 11S, with many of the same components and even the same beep and boop sounds. (We haven’t linked to any specific Goovi bot because the listings seem to come and go all the time.) After doing a little research on the robot-vacuum supply chain, we’re pretty confident that all of these brands are basically selling variations of the same robot.
The point is, if you see a robot vacuum that has the same specs as the Eufy RoboVac 11S or another Eufy model, particularly the height (give or take a few hundredths of an inch), it’ll probably work exactly the same way. Go ahead and get one if you see it at a deep discount. One caveat: Eufy has an okay reputation for customer service, whereas several of those other obscure brands barely have a believable web presence, so they may not be as quick to help if you have a problem that’s covered by the warranty.
We’ve also tested some cheap bump bots that are slightly different from the standard-issue Eufy, including the Eureka Groove. That bot was basically fine, but it couldn’t match the agility of the Eufy model (and its endless clones) or the durability of the Roomba bots we’ve tested.
Some high-end robot vacuums now include advanced obstacle recognition in their navigation systems. In theory, these systems should help the robots drive around any floor clutter they find, and even assist them in avoiding hazards like dog turds. (It’s rare, but accidents happen and smears follow.) The utopian vision is that, with this kind of so-called artificial intelligence, you’re freed from the burden of pre-tidying your home before you run the robot, and the bot will never get stuck on socks, cords, or any number of common traps.
Most robot vacs with object-recognition rely on an onboard camera, which not only identifies obstacles (such as cords and stray socks), but takes an image of the purported clutter so you can see what was avoided. It’s important that anyone using a camera-equipped robot vacuum understand that the bot may inadvertently record images that many would consider private, such as photos of people, including children, in the home. Those images may be sent to the cloud and shared with third-party companies (such as those that analyze photos), in order to improve the vacuum’s capabilities and features.
In December 2022, an MIT Technology Review article revealed that images captured by cameras on development models of iRobot Roomba vacuums were leaked publicly by a third-party company, Scale AI, with whom iRobot had shared the data. Some of the images showed people, including children, in private settings. When reached for comment, an iRobot spokesperson clarified that the breach took place in 2020 and that the images came from research development robots that were used by paid data collectors and iRobot employees—they weren’t consumer models. Further, the spokesperson says “[iRobot] took immediate steps to alert those individuals in the leaked images, immediately stopped all work with Scale AI, and has provided notice of termination to Scale AI.” We have sent a few follow-up questions to iRobot about its data practices, and will update this guide, as needed.
We will also continue to monitor reports and how and why robot vacs are using your data, but when it comes to object-recognition robots, we just don’t think they are worth your time, money, and possible privacy tradeoffs—yet. Certain models are pretty good at avoiding certain obstacles, but none of them reliably avoid every kind of common floor clutter, and some models don’t deliver on their promises at all.
The iRobot Roomba j7 (or j7+) is a higher-end version of our top picks and costs a little extra. It doesn’t clean any better than our top pick, and can’t avoid all obstacles yet. (It was launched in fall 2021, and representatives from iRobot suggested to us that it will get smarter over time through software updates.) However, the one obstacle that the company does promise it will avoid—with a replacement guarantee—is poop. “You’d be surprised at how many types of poop there are,” said Hooman Shahidi, then iRobot’s vice president of product development, in a conversation with Wirecutter. He noted that the company has curated a large learning library of different “shapes and configurations” of pet waste.
We tested the claim out with a fake turd made from Nutella and oatmeal, and the j7 worked great. The j7 spotted the faux feces from a few feet away (the LED ring on the bot flashes blue for a second when it perceives an obstacle) and then methodically worked around the mess, never getting closer than about a foot. It also did a good job of staying away from a power strip, a power cord, and a USB cable. But it didn’t recognize (or at least didn’t try to avoid) our other obstacles, including toys, a sock, a shoe, and a water bowl. We like this bot for a lot of other important reasons (expected durability, cleaning power, smart navigation), and the obstacle recognition is almost like a toss-in feature, so it isn’t a bad buy. Will it actually learn to avoid more stuff, as iRobot says it should? The company has a good history of following through on those kinds of promises, but you should expect the improvements to trickle out over several years, not months.
The Samsung Jet Bot AI+ worked its way around a lot of objects but still managed to knock over a few hockey sticks and a bucket of golf balls. When it avoided obstacles, it often misidentified them in the app—and all of that would be fine, if it cleaned effectively. But it doesn’t work very well on even low-pile carpet and is an absolute no for pet owners.
We also tested the Ecovacs Deebot T8 AIVI, which failed to avoid any objects. It just informed us in the app, after the session was over and the Nutella was smeared everywhere, that there were many objects on our floor and that we should pick them up.
Overall, we’re not convinced that obstacle avoidance is really the holy grail of robot-vacuum technology. Yeah, avoiding the occasional accidental pet waste is valuable. But the other stuff maybe isn’t as valuable. One of the reasons robot vacuums help your home feel so tidy is that they force you to pick stuff up off the floor. Even if advanced obstacle recognition worked well enough to let you skip the pre-tidying, your home would still feel messy.
Many robot vacuums can double as mops—well, more like weak Swiffers. You just clip on a water reservoir (no cleaning solution allowed with most models) and a microfiber pad behind the vacuum intake, and the bot wipes the floors while it vacuums.
We’ve tested a bunch of combo bots across a few different designs for our guide to the best robot mops. Here’s the gist: They work okay if your floors don’t get especially dirty. You can’t count on them to wipe away stuck-on grime or sticky spills, just light stains, spatters, and dust that the vacuum might miss. We don’t think “mop upgrades,” such as vibrating pads or app-enabled control over how much water the bot uses in a specific room, are worth paying extra for. None of those extras are bad things, but they don’t meaningfully improve the cleaning performance. Dedicated robot mops, such as our pick, the iRobot Braava Jet 240, work better, but if you think a vacuum-mop combo will work for you, we plan to test a few newer models in the near future.
Many of today’s robot vacuums are great at thoroughly cleaning every room in a home without getting lost or stuck. But the industry took a while to get to this point.
Bruno Hexsel, a software engineer who worked for Neato in the early 2010s, told us that he spent a huge chunk of his time at the company developing algorithms to help robots get unstuck from common hazards. (Hexsel and other former robot-vacuum engineers have gone on to work on the navigation systems for self-driving cars, because the challenges are pretty similar to those of robot vacuums.)
So the first order of business for any successful robot vacuum is to avoid or at least escape from potential bot traps and hazards. This is important because if you set your bot to clean while you’re out of the house, but it gets stuck, say, under the dining room table within the first 10 minutes, you’ll still have dirty floors when you get home. Even if you’re home to babysit your robot and rescue it from trouble, that kind of defeats the purpose of having an automatic vacuum.
The list of potential hazards and bot traps is extensive, though the most common ones include power cords, charging cables, stray laundry (especially socks), curtains, bedsheets, floor-to-rug transitions, rug fringe and tassels, floor vents, tall thresholds, black rugs (they fool the bots’ anti-staircase sensors), and furniture with curvy legs (such as baby jumpers or rocking chairs). Some homes have more of these traps than others; most homes have at least a few.
Tons of engineering choices affect the way robot vacuums handle obstacles. Among them are the number and placement of bump sensors, the type of other obstacle-detection sensors (infrared or lidar or even cameras), how the anti-staircase sensors are calibrated, how the bot senses the tangles and jams, the brush motion, the size of the wheels, the spring tension and pivot placement in the suspension, and the software that translates the sensory information into robot actions.
We can’t pinpoint one spec or feature that helps a robot navigate well—we just have to test the bots and see how they do. Some cheap, dead-simple bots are especially nimble, while certain high-end models struggle constantly. But for the most part, modern robots are pretty good at navigation, and many models now give you the option to draw invisible boundaries around problematic areas using a smartphone app.
The next important task for a robot vacuum is to cover as much ground as possible, as efficiently as possible. Plenty of models (including our picks) can reliably clean homes, both small and large, by moving in an orderly path throughout the home and making a map of where they have or haven’t been. A typical pace is about 1,000 square feet in about an hour. Bots rarely miss patches or waste time recleaning areas that they’ve already visited. If their batteries run low before they can finish cleaning an entire level of a home, they’re smart enough to drive back to their dock, recharge for a few hours, and then pick up where they left off.
These bots can use a handful of different technologies to make their maps. The laser rangefinder (lidar) method has become the dominant tech (the Roborock Q5 Max uses it) and is excellent at quickly learning a home’s layout. But some great robots rely instead on a camera (like the Roomba j7) or gyroscopes (the Roomba i4 EVO, for one), and they also get the job done—just a little slower, while bonking into more stuff, and with a slightly higher chance of missing areas.
Many of these robot vacuums can also pair with a smartphone app, which lets you command the bot to clean specific rooms or sections of a room while ignoring other areas. This “smart mapping” tech is particularly convenient, and it’s one of the most compelling reasons to spend a little extra on a robot. For example, you could send the robot to vacuum your kitchen and dining room after dinner while skipping the bedrooms and den so that the bot doesn’t disturb you while you’re relaxing or studying or whatever. And then you could tell the bot to clean those rooms at a time of day when nobody is around. Another option is to set up do-not-cross lines or no-go zones, which is a great way to keep bots out of areas where they tend to get stuck or make a mess (like around pet food bowls).
The main downside to smart mapping is that, like anything that increases the complexity of a system, it adds more opportunities for something to go wrong and disappoint you. Browse the owner reviews for any robot vacuum with smart maps, and you’ll find stories about problems with setting up the map, the map being inaccurate, the bot ignoring the zones on the map, or weird changes happening to the map over time. It’s a huge annoyance and letdown when the smart maps don’t work. With the best models, mapping glitches don’t happen often, but problems will eventually crop up for everyone who owns one of these bots. At some point, you might have to erase your old maps and retrain the robot.
On that note, there is still a place in the world for cheaper robots that rely on semi-random navigation. (We like to call it bump-and-run navigation.) If you need to clean only a few rooms at a time (800 square feet is a comfortable upper limit), one of these models can get the job done. This simple system relies on luck and persistence—basically the bot bumps into something, spins in place to a semi-random angle, drives off, and repeats the process until its battery runs out (it’s actually a little more sophisticated, but you get the idea).
This system looks silly, and some people simply can’t stand to watch it. The bots might even (semi-randomly) miss a patch of floor or even an entire room in any given session. But if you run the bot at least a few days per week, your floors should stay pretty tidy. And again, we’ve found over and over again that such bots work well in smaller spaces. iRobot CEO Colin Angle told us that as late as mid-2020, the bump-and-run Roomba 600-series models were still more likely to successfully complete an entire cleaning session than any of the pricier Roomba models with supposedly superior mapping systems.
source : nytimes
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