Can A Robot Vacuum Work In The Dark?

Ever wondered if your robot vacuum can operate in the dark? Well, here’s the scoop: it’s a bit of a mixed bag.

Most robot vacuums are like nocturnal cleaning ninjas and can work just fine in total darkness. But hold on, there’s a twist! Some models rely on cameras for navigation, and they crave a bit of light to do their job effectively. So, if you’ve got one of those, you might need to keep a nightlight on.

Conversely, for the camera-less bots, too much sunlight can be a headache. It can throw their sensors for a loop and make them a tad disoriented.

Let’s go into more details below!

What Robot Vacuums Need Light?

Roomba 900 Series like the 960


Trifo Ironpie m6


Dyson 360 Eye

Dyson 360 Heurist – Does have built-in light to navigate dark rooms but it doesn’t hurt to give it more light.

Effective Cleaning

From what I’ve seen, the effectiveness of robot vacuums does hinge on the lighting in your home. If you own any of the robot vacuums mentioned earlier and find them not cleaning great, the culprit might just be your home’s lighting.

The issue is twofold: insufficient lighting can hinder these vacuums, particularly those that employ cameras for navigation. Imagine trying to clean a room in pitch darkness – it’s pretty much the same for them. Thus, leaving a light on, like a lamp, can be a simple yet effective solution.

On the other hand, excessive natural light presents another challenge. The sun emits infrared light, which can interfere with the robot’s sensors, especially since they rely on infrared signals from beacons – those battery-operated towers that instruct the vacuum where not to go. The home base also emits infrared light, which can make it hard to get home if the sunlight is too much. It’s a delicate balance, but understanding these nuances can significantly improve your robot vacuum’s performance.

Amount Of Light Needed

A few auto-on LED night lights like these (Amazon Link Ad) will fit most everyone’s needs. Night lights come on when it gets dark and stay on through the night. It’s a constant source of light that matters the most for robot vacuums and not the brightness.

Too Much Sunlight

If you have the windows open to let in natural light you could be making your robot vacuum work harder than it needs to.

Not only does this affect the robot vacuums with a camera but also the ones that use infrared. Most of the robot vacuums you get use invisible walls to tell the robot to not go into a room, and those beacons use infrared. The Sun gives off a lot of infrared light, and this could confuse the robot vacuum. You may even find your robot vacuum not wanting to clean around the sun rays on your floor because of this.

The best thing to do is to allow the robot vacuum to clean in a room with no windows open or when the Sun is not out.

A sudden change in the light like the Sun setting or turning on an overhead light could freak a robot vacuum out, especially if it uses a camera. Allow the little guy to work constantly in the same amount of light, and you’ll be fine.

Remember – Your robot vacuum is looking at the walls and not the floor when it cleans. If the walls are not lit enough, they can’t determine where they are or where they’ve been.

What Models Work In The Dark

Yes, many of the more affordable robot vacuums don’t have these cameras and don’t need any light at all.

The downside is that the robot vacuums with a camera do a more thorough job of cleaning.

For me personally, I use a Roomba 690, and it works just fine without any light. Here is my review on the Roomba 690. I do keep the windows and blinds closed when it runs, so that sunlight doesn’t affect its IR sensors.

Clean Dark Floors

Another question I get but decided to group in this because it often gets asked at the same time… can a robot vacuum clean dark floors?

The answer is yes; robot vacuums can clean dark floors. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dark hardwood floor or dark carpet.

The robot vacuum doesn’t look at the floors when they clean. If they do look, it’s only at the walls to see where they have been. The other way it looks around is with either a laser or using the bumper to let it know it’s about to hit something.

Your floors could be dark or super bright; it doesn’t matter because a robot vacuum will clean them.



Hello, I'm Lee from ""! Launched in 2016, my site addresses the online information gap about "robot vacuums" and "vacuum cleaners," areas where I have hands-on experience. Got questions about a post or topic? Feel free to comment or contact me (contact)!

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