Robot Vacuum vs Normal Vacuum

So you’re faced with a crucial home cleaning decision; do you go for a normal conventional vacuum or do you opt for a new robot vacuum? Robot vacuum vs normal vacuum; that is the question. With so many options now not only within vacuums types but also between them, it’s easy to get muddled with the various options.

Robot vacuum vs normal vacuum is not a straight forward question but we’ll try make it as clutter free as possible below as we consider each case based on a range of factors:

  • Overall Effectiveness
  • Suction Power
  • Versatility
  • Time Saved
  • Power Source
  • Capacity
  • Price
Our ViewNormal VacuumRobot Vacuum
Overall Effectiveness?
Suction Power?
Time Saved?
Power Source?
Robot Vacuum vs Normal Vacuum: Our Comparison

Robot Vacuum Vs Normal Vacuum

Robot Vacuum vs Normal Vacuum: Ilustrative picture
Robot Vacuum Vs Normal Vacuum

Let’s walk through the various areas we believe are key when considering the match up between robot vacuum vs normal vacuum.

When we talk about a “normal vacuum” we refer to classic cylinder or upright vacuum cleaners as opposed to cordless and handheld cordless vacuum cleaners.

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Overall Effectiveness

What Does It Mean: When we talk about overall effectiveness we mean how well can the type of vacuum cleaner do its job in terms of cleaning across multiple surfaces, being able to handle different settings,

In terms of overall effectiveness we really have to start with normal vacuum cleaners. They’ve been around for over 100 years in one form or another and are well established in terms of their effectiveness. Depending on the model you get these can effectively clean flat surfaces whether carpet, hard floor, wooden floor or tiles. In addition, they typically allow you to get deep into corners as well as being able to handle the stairs and depending on the attachments and hose & tube they come with also let you get up high to take care of things like the curtains and dust in high areas.

Robot vacuum cleaners on the other hand are a relatively new technology on the other hand but improving in their overall effectiveness rapidly. When it comes to overall effectiveness given their designs they are not on a par with normal vacuum cleaners as they simply cannot do all of the same things. Typically you find many users have a robot vacuum to supplement their normal vacuum cleaner as there are some jobs that the robot vacuum cleaner may not be able to do or perhaps not quite as well.

Ultimately when it comes to overall effectiveness the key question is could you survive with just that one type of vacuum cleaner. When it comes to normal vacuum cleaners the answer is definitely yes whereas you might struggle with a robot vacuum only depending on the type of home you have.

Winner: Normal Vacuum

Suction Power

What Does It Mean: Suction Power – This refers to simply the amount of power that a vacuum cleaner will generate in sucking up items. Suction power can be measured in a few different ways perhaps most effectively using Air Watts (AW) which describes the ability of the vacuum cleaner to carry a given unit of air through an opening, typically the nozzle. Whilst useful this is seldom stated on the product detail for most vacuum cleaners.

As this is the case the other easiest way to compare like for like is to use the Wattage rating for the vacuum cleaner motor. This is typically because the more powerful the motor, the stronger the suction is likely to be. Though it doesn’t take into account efficiency and other factors that could influence the suction it at least provides a data point that you will likely find on most units when looking.

When it comes to suction power normal vacuum cleaners have a distinct advantage over robot vacuums as they are powered directly from the mains. This gives normal vacuums complete range in terms of motor size and suction power. Normal vacuum cleaners will have the highest levels of suction available on the market as you would expect.

To give an idea of how robot vacuums compare in terms of Wattage rating which provides some indication of suction power our favourite robot vacuum, the Roborock S6 is rated at 58 Watts whilst our favoured cylinder (canister) vacuum cleaner the Henry HVR160-11 is rated at 620 Watts.

Winner: Normal Vacuum


What Does It Mean: Versatility – When it comes to vacuum cleaning you typically want to be able to clean flat surfaces/floors which will be the bulk of the work but also get into corners, under furniture, on the stairs, up high to curtain rails, cobwebs etc. You may also want to be able to clean the car and other areas with the same machine rather than having to buy another one.

In terms of versatility robot vacuums are somewhat limited by the fact they need a flat surface with space in which to operate in with ideally smooth floors or low pile carpet. This is not so much of a problem if you live in a one level apartment for example.

With plenty of space to roam and crucially no stairs to deal with a robot vacuum may well be able to fulfill the bulk of your vacuum cleaning needs. You won’t be able to pick it up and get at dusty areas in high places but those could always be done manually.

If however, you are in a home with multiple floors then the major limitation with robot vacuums in terms of versatility will be handling the stairs.

The other area that many users make note of with robot vacuums can sometimes be getting effectively into corners with some handling this better than others.

Crucially though given their height a lot of robot vacuums can get under furniture quite effectively. This quite helpfully would allow you to clean dusty areas without you having to actually get close to the dust yourself.

When it comes to versatility normal vacuums typically come out quite well. They can usually handle a range of floor types and get into corners effectively. They also typically come equipped with attachments that mean you can really get into different areas like skirting boards with things like a crevice tool attached to the end of tube/hose.

In addition, using a tube and hose allows you to also get under furtniture as well as reaching up high.

When it comes to stairs normal vacuum cleaners can handle these with relative ease. The tube and hose arrangement alongside different fittings allow them to handle the stairs and similar areas effectively. Usually the main limitation on the stairs is where to plug the unit in and how to position it as you are moving up and down the stairs but this still clearly compares favourably to robot vacuums which can’t really do the stairs.

Normal vacuum cleaners can also help when it comes to vacuuming the car as you can typically make use of an extension cord if necessary to reach your car outside. Once there the various tools normal vacuum cleaners can be fitted with will help you get your car clean.

Winner: Normal Vacuum

Time Saved

What Does It Mean: Time Saved – When referring to the time saved we mean how much time does that vacuum type save you when compared to (a) manually cleaning with a dust pan and brush and (b) the other type of vacuum cleaner under consideration.

Ultimately when most people buy a vacuum cleaner it is because they want to do the job of cleaning their floors more effectively than they would by hand and save themselves time.

Normal vacuum cleaners certainly will save you time when compared to doing it manually and will do a better job overall. Where they score poorly when it comes to time is when you compare them to robot vacuums.

Robot vacuums are designed on the premise that they’ll do the cleaning so you do not have to. You can use that time to do something else. Normal vacuum cleaners on the other hand require you to be an active participant. Therefore when it comes to time saved there can only be one winner here; robot vacuums.

Winner: Robot Vacuum

Power Source

What Does It Mean: Power Source – A vacuum cleaner is great but if you can’t reliably power it then it can be frustrating. When we refer to power source we mean how is the vacuum cleaner type powered and how effective is it.

Normal vacuum cleaners benefit from being powered directly from the mains therefore you never need to worry about running out of juice half way through the job. In addition as we’ve seen it also typically means that their wattage rating can be a lot higher as well as they’re not limited by a battery.

On the downside the fact they have to be plugged in to operate means you can be limited by where your plug sockets are located around your home. To get around this a lot of normal vacuum cleaners come with long cables (up to 10 meters in some cases) and a hoses and tubes. This does however, mean you have a lot of it to store away but at least it provides extra reach.

Robot vacuums on the other hand are not limited by where your plug points are as they are battery operated. This provides them with a great range as they can go around your home without worrying about where the nearest plug socket is.

However, on the downside it does mean that they can only be operated when they are sufficiently charged. You can however, get robot vacuum cleaners that are designed to automatically head to their charging base when they need to and them resume from where they left things thereafter.

Typically robot vacuum batteries can last up to around 100 minutes depending on the mode before they need to be recharged. If you run them on an automated cleaning schedule and they have the ability to return to their base automatically for charging, this is not really too much of a concern.

Winner: Normal Vacuum


What Does It Mean: Capacity – This is simply how much the vacuum cleaner type dust bin can typically take. This is usually stated in litres.

In terms of dust bin capacity there is no contest between normal vacuums vs robot vacuums. Typically you’ll find capacities are as follows:

  • Robot Vacuums typically – 0.4 to 0.7 Litres
  • Normal Vacuums typically – 2/3 to 6 Litres

Clearly normal vacuum cleaners can hold far more dust in a single filling than robot vacuums can. What it means is that you’d have to empty out the robot vacuum much more regularly than you would have to with a normal vacuum cleaner.

Thus when it comes to deciding on a robot vacuum you’d want to make sure it’s not too fiddly to empty out.

Alternatively you could go right to the top end of the market and get yourself a robot vacuum cleaner that will also empty itself!

Winner: Normal Vacuum


What Does It Mean: Price – This simply relates to how much it will cost you to obtain each time of vacuum cleaner.

When comparing prices for a robot vacuum vs normal vacuum you’ll quickly see that there’s a significant difference in average prices.

Around £100 will get you a very good normal vacuum cleaner whilst it would get you a very basic robot vacuum cleaner if you are lucky. In reality you probably need to spend £200 to get a decent robot vacuum cleaner and over twice that much to get a very good one.

As mentioned earlier normal vacuum cleaners have been around in one form or another for over 100 years and the technology is well established. Robot vacuum cleaners on the other hand are relatively new and are still quite expensive. It is clear that there are more and more options however, coming to the market and pricing should hopefully shift accordingly but for the time being normal vacuums are certainly cheaper on average.

Winner: Normal Vacuum

Conclusion: Robot Vacuum vs Normal Vacuum

So, where doe we stand on the robot vacuum vs normal vacuum match-up? Looking at all the various factors we’ve reviewed it would be easy to conclude that normal vacuums take the day. However, this really does depend on what you expect to use them for. If you already have a normal vacuum and are comparing it to a potential robot vacuum you want to get as a replacement then that may be a difficult ask.

As we’ve seen depending on the type of home you live in, a robot vacuum may not be able to do all of the same tasks (e.g. stairs). In this case you may want a robot vacuum to supplement your normal vacuum and save time.

If on the other hand you’re looking for another type of vacuum cleaner in addition to your normal vacuum cleaner to save you time and effort then a robot vacuum cleaner may be the way to go.

Normal Vacuum vs. Robot Vacuum: Tell Us What You Think