Cordless or robot: which is the best vacuum cleaner for you?

Let us take you through the pros and cons

cordless, robot and upright vacuum cleaners
(Image credit: Future)

There may be a few different reasons why you've decided to read this article today. Your trusted Henry may have finally decided to hang up his hoovering hat, or you might be moving house and decided now is the time to invest in a good vacuum cleaner. Whatever the reason may be, it can be difficult knowing where to start. 

If you're ahead of the game, you may have already started researching your options. The list of the best cordless vacuum and the best robot vacuums is endless, so don't worry if you're feeling a little confused. As a shameless vacuum cleaner fanatic (oh, and reviewer of course), I'm going to walk you through your options. 

Before we begin, have you checked our Dyson's summer sale yet? We'd highly recommend that you do! 

Cordless vacuum cleaners 

There is simply no denying that there is a certain kind of ease that comes with a cordless vacuum cleaner. Having taken over corded vacuum cleaners years ago, their versatile and lightweight design means anyone can have a pop - even if you'd rather not! 

Many come with wall mounts so you can simply grab it and turn it on when you start seeing the dust pile up. This makes them ideal for quick clean up jobs, also taking away that dread of you having to lug your big vacuum out from under the stairs. Whilst most are designed solely for floor cleaning, a lot of newer models have accessories which allow you to tackle smaller cleaning jobs such as car seats or stairs. Most can also convert to a handheld vacuum which helps with those smaller jobs even more. 

One downside to cordless vacuum cleaners is unfortunately their battery life. A lot of newer models are focusing on improving this, aiming to increase battery life with each release. However, if you're a fan of a big deep clean, you may find yourself having to charge the vacuum cleaner up in between shifts. A lot of models also cut back on suction power when battery life is low, and sometimes without telling you! However, saying that, our best Shark cordless vacuum (the Shark Stratos Pro IZ420UKT) comes with 2 batteries, plus a charging station that accommodates both at the same time. This gives it a combined running time of 120 minutes, meaning battery life isn't a downside for every cordless vacuum cleaner out there! 

However, one thing to look out for is actually how long the batteries will take to charge. If they have a larger battery capacity, then it might mean they take hours to charge up. This is particularly annoying if your battery doesn't last the whole of your clean and you do need to switch. 

The dust capacity of cordless vacuum cleaners is usually a lot less than corded or upright models. A lot of models these days try to combat this by having self-emptying functions, but you will still have to empty the bin yourself at the end of the day. A small dust capacity means your vacuum can get clogged up easier, making cleaning harder by not sucking up the dust and debris as well as it should.

Pros of cordless vacuum cleaners

• Versatile and lightweight - perfect for quick jobs 

• Great for cleaning away from plug sockets, such as the car or stairs 

• Easy to store

• Can also be used as a handheld

Cons of cordless vacuum cleaners

• It is common for battery capacity to be poor 

• Lower dust capacity 

• Suction power reduces when battery is low

• There are vacuum cleaners out there with better suction

Samsung Bespoke Jet™ AI

The Samsung Bespoke Jet™ (RRP of £1,199)

(Image credit: Samsung Electronics)

Robot vacuum cleaners 

When robot vacuum cleaners started to become popular a few years ago, the thought of them blew everyone's mind. Vacuuming without even having to be in the room!? Yes please. However, it's important to know that despite robot vacuums being an extremely easy way to clean your home, they're simply not for everyone. How useful you'll find one depends on factors such as the size of your home, budget, your flooring, as well as your own preferences. 

As mentioned, there's no denying that robot vacuums are an easy way to clean. They will also save you time, leaving you to get on with other cleaning jobs whilst it sucks up the dust and debris around you. However, they still require a fair amount of care and attention, especially with those first few cleans. When it comes to their movability, a lot of models have optical sensors, app communication and the ability to map your home’s floor plan. Despite this, they will still get themselves in some uncompromising positions, so you must be prepared for a myriad of 'your robot is stuck' notifications coming through on your phone. After a while, you'll get a better feel for the sticky spots your robot vacuum has to contend with. This means you can block off any places they get stuck, allowing for a more seamless clean. 

There are also more and more robot vacuum cleaners that have a self-emptying function, just like a lot of cordless vacuum cleaners. Models such as the Ultenic T10 Elite and the Tapo RV30 Plus will automatically dump dust into a bin in their home base, which in turn needs to be emptied every once in awhile. Whilst a lot of the expensive models have this feature, more of the cheaper models are adopting it as well. 

It should however be noted that a lot of robot vacuum cleaners are particularly noisy, often resembling a small spaceship about to take off into the galaxies. If you're looking for something that will clean quietly around you, then it probably isn't the best option. However, if you don't mind the noise and will more likely use the robot vacuum cleaner when you're otherwise occupied or out of the house, then you're good to go!

Another slightly prohibiting thought is the location of your robot vacuum cleaners base. The base has to be accessible to the robot, meaning you can't keep them out of sight or tucked away in a cupboard. One reason why a lot of people prefer cordless vacuum cleaners is because you can easily put them away when you're finished using them. You can also do this with the robot, but if you plan on starting it up when you're out of the house, then it has to have access to the rest of your home. 

Pros of robot vacuum cleaners

• Extremely easy way of cleaning 

• Intelligent features such as optical sensors and mapping skills 

• They can clean hard-to-reach places

• A lot of models can self-empty 

Cons of robot vacuum cleaners

• Expensive 

• Noisy 

• They get stuck – a lot

• Base has to be accessible for them to work properly 

eufy Clean X9 Pro robot vacuum launch

The eufy RoboVac X9 Pro Robot Vacuum (RRP: £899)

(Image credit: eufy)

Cordless or Robot: Which One is For Me?

Whether you choose a corded or robot vacuum cleaner debate will come down to your personal preference. If you like the convenience of easily moving your vacuum around the house and prefer regular but quick clean-up jobs, a cordless vacuum cleaner may be your best bet. Alternatively, if you prefer the ease  of a robot vacuum cleaner and like the sound of its features, then go for one of those. At the end of the day, both types will get the job done eventually, it's just how you'd like them to do it. 

Still hungry for more vacuum cleaner knowledge? Check our our maintenance guides for more information: 

How to clean a vacuum cleaner: tips for cordless, handheld & robot vacuums

How to save money on vacuum cleaners

9 mistakes everyone makes with vacuum cleaners from Dyson, Shark and beyond

Lizzie Wilmot
Staff Writer, Home

Lizzie is T3's Home Staff Writer, also covering style, living and wellness. She works closely with Bethan Girdler-Maslen, T3's Home Editor, ensuring all the latest news, trends and recommendations are covered. Outside of T3, Lizzie can be found mooching around Bath, attempting (or at least trying to) a new DIY project or spending time with family and friends.