It has been claimed that robot vacuum cleaners (or Hoovers as I like to call them) are one of the best additions to everyday life in recent times. While they won’t replace your big and powerful vacuum cleaner anytime soon they are great at picking up crumbs and dust around the modern smart home.
While I, unfortunately, don’t personally own one (yet) I did write this article based on reviews by the popular and very thorough YouTube channel Vacuum Wars and posts made in the many Home Assistant communities. I’ve picked three of the most popular robot vacuum cleaners among the members and compared their level of integration with Home Assistant.
How this list of robot vacuum cleaners was written
I’ve selected the top picks for three different categories of robot vacuum cleaners: one for all the tinkerers (of which there are many in the Home Assistant community), one for those that want a solid but easy to set up integration, and the most luxurious and powerful robot vacuum cleaner you can buy right now.
Integrating a robot vacuum cleaner with Home Assistant makes perfect sense. Using a simple automation you can set it to clean your house when nobody is home. Or you could tell it to clean up after you in the kitchen. As with everything Home Assistant does, the possibilities are near endless. No robot vacuum cleaner would be complete without a proper brain behind its operation. And Home Assistant is, most likely, the best brain you can gift to any robot butler.
For nerds and tinkerers: Roborock S5 series (S50/S51/S55)
For the nerds and tinkerers, the absolute top choice has to be the very popular Roborock S5 (S50/S51/S55) series of robot vacuum cleaners. As far as I can tell, the different numbers refer to the different available colours. The Roborock S50 is the white version, the S51 the white version with a red trim, and the S55 is the black version.
The Roborock S5 Max isn’t included in this selection, only the S5X models without any suffix. The reason these are the top picks in this category are twofold: They are excellent at what they do for a decent price, and they can be rooted. Also, the fact that the positioning sensors are located in a little pod on top of the vacuum cleaner makes it look like a product from a sci-fi film. Unlike the other two options mentioned in this article, the Roborock S5 supports mopping as an added bonus.
Update February 1, 2021
As the Roborock S5 series (non-Max) has been succeeded by the Roborock S6 series, stock is slowly but surely running out. Your best bet of purchasing a Roborock S5 is by checking the second-hand market.
Why you might want a rooted Roborock S5
Having a rooted robot vacuum cleaner has one main benefit: it isn’t reliant on any cloud services whatsoever. Valetudo, which is the software you can install on a rooted Roborock S5, provides almost the same amount of control as the Xiaomi Vacuum app as a mobile-friendly web interface.
It can easily be integrated with Home Assistant using the MQTT autodiscovery. I’m assuming that part of the reason why you are using Home Assistant is that you like your privacy and the good news is that a rooted Roborock S5 robot vacuum will never call home.
Roborock integration with Home Assistant witout rooting
Even without being rooted the Roborock vacuum cleaners are fantastically integrated with Home Assistant. It does take some work getting the access token but once you’ve set it up you gain access to a bunch of services. Here are just a few of the things you can do:
- You can start, stop, and pause vacuuming.
- The robot vacuum cleaner can be located and sent back to its base.
- Perhaps most importantly, you can set it to clean a specific zone.
Is Roborock a Xiaomi brand?
As with many Chinese smart home brands, Roborock has close ties with Xiaomi. In fact, you will often find their robot vacuum cleaners titled as Xiaomi Roborock. While Roborock is its own entity they did receive an investment from Xiaomi just a few months after they were founded. Roborock has since then been a “member enterprise of Xiaomi ecological chain“. Just like many other Chinese products with links to Xiaomi, the Roborock robot vacuum cleaners are incredibly good value.
Roborock S5: Verdict
At a glance
Suction Power: 2000 Pa
Mapping sensor: Laser Distance Sensor (LDS)
Noise level: 68 dB
While not the easiest to set up, the Roborock S5 series of robot vacuum cleaners are the best option for nerds, tinkerers, and those that don’t want their appliances calling home.
The Roborock S5 can easily be rooted, allowing you to replace the firmware with Valetudo.
Alternatives to the Roborock S5
As the Roborock S5 is sadly no longer being manufactured and finding a functioning model can be quite a task, I have put together a list of possible alternatives to this legendary robot vacuum cleaner. If you are looking for a new Roborock S5, AliExpress might be your best bet.
Viomi V7 or Mijia STYJ02YM (Shenzhen 3irobotix Co.,Ltd.)
Shenzhen 3irobotix Co., Ltd. produces white-label robot vacuum cleaners. They are sold under various brands such as Cecotec, Conga and Viomi. Currently, there is only experimental support for the Viomi-branded ones which run a customized firmware. The Viomi model has multple names such as the Mijia STYJ02YM. Instructions on how to install Valetudo can be found here.
The easiest: Neato Botvac D7 Connected
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is another popular choice among Home Assistant enthusiasts. It can be integrated with Home Assistant using the web UI, and it supports many features similar to the Roborock line of robot vacuum cleaners.
Neato is a company based in San Jose, California and is an independent subsidiary of German corporate group Vorwerk.
The Neato Botvac D7 Connected is the model of choice because it, unlike the cheaper variants, supports zones. Zones can be set up in the Neato app (Android and iOS), and they can, in turn, be used by Home Assistant. Using the zones you could, for example, have the robot vacuum cleaner clean the living room while you are in the office and the door is closed. You could also tell a voice assistant to clean the kitchen area after you’re done eating.
If you don’t need the ability to clean zones and want to save a bit of money, other connected Neato robot vacuum cleaners such as the D6 and D5 can also be integrated with Home Assistant. The Neato robot vacuum cleaners mentioned in this article do not support mopping. But according to reviews, the Neato Botvac D7 Connected has impressively long battery life.
Neato Botvac D7: Verdict
At a glance
Neato Botvac D7
Battery: Up to two hours
Suction Power: 2000 Pa
Mapping sensor: Lidar
Noise level: 66.3
The Neato Botvac D7 wins the prize for being the easiest robot vacuum cleaner to integrate with Home Assistant. You don’t have to fiddle around with apps and look for an access token and don’t have to edit any YAML to get it working. You will, however, have to set up zones using the app and there is a possibility that this robot vacuum cleaner will call home and is reliant on cloud services.
The luxury option: iRobot Roomba s9+
The iRobot Roomba s9+ is possibly the most feature-rich robot vacuum cleaner you can buy right now but is, unexpectedly, also the priciest of them all. However, if a deep integration with Home Assistant is your top priority you might better be looking at Neato’s or Roborock’s offering. A bit of tinkering is required to get this robot vacuum cleaner talking nicely with Home Assistant.
To my knowledge, the iRobot Roomba s9+ is the first robot vacuum cleaner which will empty its own bin. That could make it a favourite among those who want complete automation. It is also directly compatible with both the Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa.
Reviewers have praised this robot vacuum cleaner for its ultra-powerful suction but that does have the downside of making it louder. The iRobot Roomba s9+ does not support mopping. iRobot Roomba vacuum cleaners are connected using an MQTT server which runs on the vacuum itself. Theoretically, this allows you to use it without having it connected to a cloud service.
iRobot is headquartered in Bedford, Massachusetts, U.S. and is mainly known for their robot vacuum cleaners (Roomba) and floor moppers (Braava).
IROBOT ROOMBA S9+: Verdict
At a glance
iRobot Roomba s9+
Battery: 3300 mAh (up to two hours of cleaning)
Suction Power: 2200 Pa
Mapping sensor: Camera
Noise level: 65- 75
Filter: High-Efficiency Filters
In terms of performance and autonomy, the iRobot Roomba s9+ is the best of the best. It empties its bin and is incredibly powerful. If that is what you are after, this robot vacuum cleaner is for you.