Robot Vacuum VS Traditional Upright Vacuum - Which is Better?

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We purchased our first robot vacuum during the Black Friday sales in 2020, and it was one of the best purchases we have made, but is it better than an upright vacuum? 

In this post, we will be specifically comparing the iRobot Roomba 675 Wi-Fi Connected Robot Vacuum to our Shark® Rotator® NV341 Slim-Light Lift-Away® Vacuum, which is no longer available (we purchased it in 2014 and it's still going strong!), but the NV501 appears to be the newer version of the one we have.

Robot Vacuum

  • You don't have to vacuum.
  • You don't have to be home to vacuum.
  • Connects to Google Home, so all we have to say is: "Hey Google, start vacuuming."
  • It's cordless.
  • It can easily clean under to the bed and sofa.

  • Fills up quickly, but this can be solved by getting a robot vacuum that's self-dumping.
  • Not as powerful. We noticed it doesn't clean the carpets as thoroughly as our upright can.
  • It can't do stairs.
  • It randomly cleans, but there are other robots that will follow a set pattern.
  • Can't clean the sofa.

Upright Vacuum


  • It can clean carpets thoroughly.
  • It can clean stairs.
  • It has a large canister, so we don't have to empty it as often.
  • It can be used to suck up spiders.
  • Has attachments to clean sofa.

  • You have to vacuum.
  • You have to be home to vacuum.
  • It's corded.
  • It can't easily fit under the bed or sofa without moving furniture around.

The Verdict

Even though I love our robot vacuum and use it almost daily, I still believe in having an upright vacuum if you have carpets and carpeted stairs. If your house is completely hardwood floors or maybe if you don't have pets, and the stairs aren't carpeted, then maybe a robot vacuum is all you need.

Our house is mostly hardwood so we use the robot vacuum almost daily, but we have a few big rugs and carpeted stairs, so we use our upright to deep clean those once a month or so. We also have two cats and two dogs, so we have more of a need to vacuum more often.

If you have sofas, you will still want at least a handheld vacuum of some sort to clean in between and underneath the cushions as a robot vacuum will not be able to clean those areas.

I did not list the following in the pros and cons lists above as they applied to both vacuums:
  • Noise - They are both loud.
  • Brush Rolls - They need to be cleaned. Hair gets wrapped around those things like crazy! 
  • Bagless - Both are bagless and have reusable canisters.
  • Small Messes - The Roomba has a "spot clean" function so it can do a specific mess just like an upright.