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Robot vacuums have taken the world by storm. Those little, round and robotic creatures roam your home like an adorable pet while cleaning up at the same time.
The rechargeable and programmable nature of these smart appliances mean that they clean up your home totally independently while you can dedicate your time to… pretty much anything else.
There is no denying that robot vacuums save you time and mean less time spent on housework. But without having to compromise on cleanliness either. And let’s face it, they are fun to play with, and who can resist a new gadget?
So if you are on the market for a robot vacuum, you have probably heard of both Roomba and Shark. Both successful manufacturers of these contraptions, each with a variety of vacuums to offer. But which one is the superior choice?
What are the differences between them? And which one offers superior value for the money? There are a lot of things to consider like how well they work, how long they last, how often they need emptying, and let’s be honest, how much they cost.
So, if you want to discover which is better, Shark or Roomba, read on. We have put them both to the test and compared their features against each other. We have even suggested the highest performing models throughout to help you choose your ideal vacuum!
Shark vs Roomba at a Glance
- Good performance and strong suction
- Lightweight and less likely to get stuck
- They have some self-emptying models
- Shark offer a wide range of vacuums, including non-robot vacuums
- Fewer self-emptying models
- Can run out of charge time more quickly
- Lower overall performance
- Long run time
- They offer some self-emptying models
- High number of features
- Advanced navigation
- Leaders in the field
- Excellent performance
- Lower suction
And the winner is… Roomba! Overall Roomba were and are the pioneering brand for robot vacuums for a reason. They create more robust, advanced models with longer run times and slightly higher performance.
They also have models with more advanced technology and innovative features. However for those on a budget, Shark still offers high-quality and good value options, especially for smaller houses and apartments.
What’s the Difference Between Them?
Time to dig into the nitty gritty and see where the differences really lie. We have outlined and compared the most important features and selling points between the two brands below. This should make it easier for you to discover which is better.
Shark robot vacuums generally offer impressive features and powerful cleaning. Shark robots generally use a single, long brush roll and have a wider cleaning path than a Roomba which can be more effective when picking up dirt.
They clean your floors and carpets effectively and suck up large debris and pet hair with ease. Many of Shark’s bots also have a self-cleaning brush roll feature that stops pet hair and long hairs from getting caught up around the brush roll.
This can be perfect for people with pets or long hair themselves. Shark bots also have two side brushes, while Roombas just have one. These are mainly for cleaning hidden dirt from corners but can also be useful at channeling dirt towards the main suction path.
Why not try the Shark IQ Robot R100 and R101 with self-cleaning brushes that use a comb-like feature to loosen pet hair hair and debris from the bristles?
Roomba robots tend to use two rollers that counter-rotate. This feature may pip Shark to the post for effectively removing dirt as they can sweep in dirt from two angles.
However this is most effective when used in conjunction with a high suction power, which is found in higher end (and higher priced) models. Roomba models also usually choose side brushes made from rubber to avoid tangles and clogging which are more hard wearing but still super effective.
Overall the two brands have different designs but are high-performing in their own way. For an effective, high-suction Roomba with rubber, counter-rotating brushes, check out the iRobot Roomba i7 or Roomba S9.
And the winner is… Roomba! Although both models use effective brush designs and techniques, we love Roomba’s counter-rotating side brushes and anti-tangle techniques.
When talking about run time, Shark models on the market tend to average out at about 60 minutes. This is worth taking into consideration when choosing your robot vacuum. If you have a smaller house or apartment, this may be plenty to clean the whole thing in one sitting.
But for some bigger homes, you may run the risk of your robot running out of battery life half way through. However, the shorter run time is partly because it offers such powerful suction, so for many this trade-off is more than worth it. When the robot vacuum runs low on charge, it will return to its station.
At the premium end of vacuums, there are a couple of models from Shark that offer an auto-resume function, where they can carry on cleaning where they left off after charging. Shark robots charge in their own charging station but may take a little longer to fully charge than a Roomba.
Check out the Shark IQ for a model with an auto-resume cleaning feature.
Roomba robot vacuum cleaners generally have a longer run time than Shark. The models at the lower end may run for around 90 minutes while the premium models tend to run for about 75 minutes. The longer run time may make this a better choice for those with bigger houses as they can cover more ground with one charge.
If the robot vacuum starts running out of charge, Roomba models also return to their station, and there are also a few models from Roomba that can auto-resume the cleaning from the point they left off, however, most models can’t.
One possible downside of the claimed run time by Roomba, is that depending on how much dirt there is to tackle, the vacuum can use up more or less battery life, affecting the run time. Aka if there is a lot of dirt, the robot vacuum may use a power boost, effectively lowering the predicted run time.
Try the iRobot Roomba e5 for a long 90 minute run time, and the Roomba S9+ and Roomba i7+ for auto-resume cleaning after recharging.
And the winner is… Roomba. Roomba models generally last longer and have more advanced technology to detect the power needed for the dirt levels.
Also Read: Roomba i7 vs i7+: Differences Explained
When talking about cleaning performance, one important thing to consider is suction power as this is what is going to give your home that deep clean. And it’s here that Shark comes out on top.
Shark robots tend to have significantly higher suction power than Roombas, usually consistently performing at 20 CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute). They perform effective cleaning for the money, picking up dirt, debris and even stubborn pet hair with their power. They are a great choice for your new smart robot cleaner.
All Shark models stick to the same 20 CFM suction power, except the Shark IQ R101 that goes a little higher. Low-end Roombas tend to have quite weak suction power, starting at around 7 CFM, and reaching 17 or 20 CFM at their highest.
Despite often having comparatively lower suction power to Shark models, Roombas have more sophisticated technology that adjusts the power necessary based on dirt levels. Some high-end models also reach higher suction levels.
All their features combined also means that the performance of Roombas has still been claimed to outperform that of Shark during testing. For flawless cleaning performance check out the Roomba S9+, Roomba i7+, and Roomba e5 which were all reported to remove 99% of debris during tests.
And the winner is… Shark. Shark does seem to offer a significantly higher suction power across the board and therefore offer excellent cleaning performance.
Shark robots have good navigation skills but are outperformed by Roomba in most cases. At the budget end of the market, Shark robots clean randomly, using sensors to avoid obstacles and find their way around. Higher-end Shark robots however can use cameras to map your home and then clean in straight lines.
The mapping software can be quite slow, taking various runs to complete the map, although this can depend on the model. Shark also can provide physical magnetic boundary strips which you can set up to stop your robot going somewhere you don’t want it to which can involve a little more work than a virtual mapper.
Roomba robots typically have better navigation than Shark as well as more sophisticated smart mapping technology. They use wireless infrared virtual wall barriers which are easier to set up and usually more effective when you want to control where your robot can and can’t go.
For example when setting up walls for things that are not straight lines— like a dog bowl! Although the lower-end Roombas also clean randomly, the higher-end ones have seriously impressive mapping performance in comparison to Sharks.
The Roomba S9+ has the most advanced state-of-the-art navigation techniques with built in camera technology.
And the winner is… Roomba. Roomba generally has a more sophisticated and higher level of navigation and mapping as well as wireless virtual wall mapping.
In terms of price, Shark wins in offering lower-priced models. They offer more affordable options at all levels while still offering impressive features and cleaning. They also have a one year warranty for all their models meaning you don’t need to worry about it breaking. Currently Shark robot vacuums tend to range from $200 to $600.
The different Shark ION (RV 720 or 750) models are good budget options, with Shark IQ coming in as a good midrange option for a robot vacuum. Roomba, on the other hand, is more pricey. Particularly their most recent and premium models which out-price almost all robots on the market.
However this is because of the exceptional quality of Roombas, their advanced technology and their superb performance. Therefore you are paying for quality. Roomba also offers a one year warranty on their products to help you breathe easier when shelling out for one of their models.
You can expect to find their different vacuums and iRobots from anywhere between $250 to $999. For lower-end budget Roombas you might consider the Roomba 614, a mid range option might be the Roomba e5 and for a high end vacuum consider the Roomba S9+.
And the winner is… Shark. Shark offers more affordable options while still providing a good quality performance.
The size of the dust bin and emptying features are important when choosing a vacuum. And unfortunately, due to the size of robotic vacuums, none of them hold large amounts of dirt. Shark, similar to Roomba, has models that can store from around 17 oz to 27 oz (that’s 0.5 to 0.8 liters).
And let’s face it, this small amount of space can fill up in a matter of minutes. That’s where robots with an auto-empty feature are totally game-changing! Shark offers some premium models with this feature. A great thing about Shark bots is that they only make bagless models which means fewer on-going maintenance costs over the life of your vacuum.
Check out the Shark IQ for a self-emptying model.
Roomba fares similarly in terms of dust bin capacity. The manual emptying versions stick to the similar Shark range of around 17 oz to 27 oz. These may need emptying once or twice during one cleaning run, so they are not quite as low maintenance as you might first hope when buying a robot vacuum.
However, Roomba also offers some excellent self-emptying models which make things a whole lot more convenient. In fact, Roomba has the most advanced bot options in this area, some bots being able to empty the dust bin into a larger tower at the charging base that can hold many times the dust bin capacity.
Roomba often uses bagged designs meaning you will need to keep replacing these as they fill up. Check out the Roomba S9+ and Roomba i7+ for the latest, state-of-the-art, self-emptying dust bins.
And the winner is… Roomba. Both brands offer a range of dust bin sizes as well as some self-emptying models, but overall Roomba has more options and more advanced self-emptying technology available. We do however like that Shark uses canister models which means you save money and time on replacing the vacuum bags over time.
Sharks do make a bit of noise when they are in use, making noise a little over 70 decibels. It is still not too loud though, and not a problem if you prefer to schedule cleaning for when you are out of the house.
Roombas however don’t tend to creep over the 68 to 70-decibel mark, meaning that they are a slightly quieter choice than a Shark. If you don’t want to disturb your pets or like to have the Roomba cleaning while you are in the house or watching TV, you might prefer a quieter model.
And the winner is… Roomba. Roomba machines tend to be slightly quieter which is a definite plus for your new automated vacuum.
Style and design
Style and design can also play a part in your decision when picking a new bot vacuum. Shark’s designs are round and sleek and usually come in black, white, or silver (although some models can be found in rose gold, blue, bronze or ultraviolet.
A great thing about Shark’s robot design is that they are also slighter and more compact. They tend to measure 12.8 inches wide and 3.5 inches high. As well as being slightly lighter to carry, and smaller and easier to store, they are likely to be low enough to get under furniture and less likely to get stuck.
The Shark ION S86 comes in a range of fun colors.
Roombas are also usually circular with a sleek design. The main colors available also tend to be black, white and silver, although you can also find some other colors like champagne. Roombas tend to be a little bit bigger than Shark bots, usually measuring 13 inches wide by 3.5 inches high. They can also be a little bit heavier.
The iRobot Roomba 891 comes in a champagne color for a more playful design.
The winner is… Shark. Although there is not much in it, sizewise Shark robots are just a little smaller and lighter making them more likely to fit underneath furniture and less likely to get stuck. Both brands have attractive, sleek designs and color options.
Range of vacuums
Roomba offers a wide range of iRobot vacuums that range from low range upto mid range and high end models. They are leaders in the field and specialize in cleaning your home. This means they have the latest technology to offer and they are always working on, and improving, features.
Shark offers mostly budget-friendly and mid-range vacuum options that come in at lower price points. Shark however also offers a huge range of non-robot vacuums such as upright vacuums, stick vacuums and many more. They are clearly specialists in the field of vacuums but with less of a specialization on robot vacuums.
And the winner is… Roomba. Although Shark offers a huge range of other vacuum types in addition to robot vacuums, Roomba has a wider range within their robot vacuum selection (see our 960 vs 980 comparison here).
Recommended models from Shark
We absolutely love the Shark IQ Robot Vacuum as it provides the self-emptying feature for people on a budget. It can effectively pick up large amounts of debris and pet hair from floors and carpets, with an impressive cleaning performance. It methodically cleans row by row so it never misses a spot in your home.
It then self empties the dirt and debris into a bagless base that holds up to 30 days worth of dirt. You can cut down to emptying just once a month! We also love the self-cleaning brush roll feature stopping the side brush from getting tangled up with hair.
It has total home mapping and allows you to choose which rooms to target too. In fact you can use their SharkClean app to digitally schedule whole-home, or room-specific cleanings or even activate it with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant voice control with your Shark IQ vacuum.
- Self-emptying feature
- Impressive home mapping
- Self-cleaning brush roll
- Can control SharkIQ vacuums through an app or with Google Assistant voice control
- Relies on physical boundary strips to set up no-go areas
- Can get clogged by large pieces of dirt or debris
Shark ION R87
Another great Shark vacuum is their ION R87 model. It offers effective cleaning at a reasonable price, combining three brushes to effectively pick up dirt and debris from any surfaces. With improved suction power from previous models the Shark ION will deep clean your home.
It is effective at moving around your home, using sensors to avoid obstacles. No need to worry about stairs, furniture and walls. You can even remote control the device from your phone. Download the SharkClean app to your phone which allows you to start and stop cleaning cycles and even schedule your robot to clean whenever you want.
The Shark ION has a long clean up duration lasting 90 minutes. This is better than most other models. And with the extra-large dust bin, you do not need to stop and empty it as often as with many other models.
- 90 minute run time
- Scheduled cleaning via app and voice control
- Good for people on a budget
- Tri-brush system
- More basic than some models
Recommended models from Roomba
Ok, so it’s the most expensive, but it also outperforms other bot vacuums by far. In fact, it claims itself as the king of robot vacuums. With 40x the suction of previous models as well as a 3-stage cleaning system the Roomba S9+ will definitely leave your home spotless.
The PerfectEdge technology corner brush technology of Roomba S9+ also deep cleans into corners. One of its key features is the special advanced clean base. The bot self-empties into this base meaning you only need to empty it every few months! This genuinely means you can forget about vacuuming.
It has superior intelligent mapping and navigation that can seamlessly avoid obstacles and remember multiple floor plans. It is simple to program keep-out zones and it even responds to commands using Amazon Alexa or Google Voice Assistant. If you have a limited budget, then you can go for the Roomba i7, it has similar features at an economical price and comes with a self-empty feature.
- Most advanced robot vacuum on the market
- Self empties into a clean base for infrequent emptying
- Impressive digital mapping
- High-end excellent navigation
- 75 minute run time
- Very high price tag
- Uses bags so you have to spend money on replacing them over its lifetime
For those looking for a Roomba vacuum, but can’t afford to splash out on the S9+, then Roomba e5 offers good value for the money. It still offers an amazing cleaning performance with a full suite of sensors to intelligently move around objects and rooms with ease.
It has smart navigation as well as using Dirt Detect Technology. It works a treat on both hard floors and carpets and effectively picks up and removes allergens and dust. It is wifi connected and runs upto 90 minutes.
The downside is that it does not come with the self-empty feature, nor does it have the recharge and resume feature. It can however be controlled using Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Say hello to your own personal cleaning friend without the huge price tag.
- 90 minute run time
- Great value for money
- Can schedule cleanings
- High cleaning performance
- No auto empty or self empty feature
- No onboard camera
- No recharge and resume feature
Also Read: Roomba E6 vs E5: Ultimate Comparison
Ok, so it’s crunch time. What’s the verdict on which is better— Shark or Roomba? Well, both brands certainly offer high-quality cleaning performance, a range of impressive features, and innovative technologies across the board. But overall we have to put Roomba at the top.
Although Shark has some great options, especially for those on more of a budget, the finesse of Roomba pips it to the post. The performance results, run time, mapping and navigation technology are generally at a higher level. The way it is made also means it is a little more robust and may last longer too.
We love that cleans can be scheduled as well as voice controlled. Overall Roombas have a wider range of features and technologies to choose from. Unfortunately these high-end Roombas also come with a high price tag.
So if you are looking for something a little more budget-friendly, a Shark robot can be a good option. Especially if you have a smaller house or apartment that doesn’t need the long run time, or if you are looking for a more affordable self-emptying design.
There you have it. Get ready to take the leap into a new world of automated vacuuming. Whether you choose a manual emptying version, a self-emptying model, a voice-controlled or app-controlled contraption, or any type of mapping technology, a robot vacuum will certainly transform your day-to-day cleaning. And Shark and Roomba are both great options to do it. That’s all for our Shark vs Roomba comparison guide.
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