Since 2002, Roombas have been rescuing homeowners from the tedious (and sometimes backbreaking) chore of vacuuming up dirt, dust, and pet hair. Manufactured by iRobot, the Roomba is the most established brand of robot vacuums on the market today. There are many models to choose from, from the more basic to sophisticated, “intelligent” cleaners. You’ll find a Roomba to suit any budget and specific cleaning needs.
In this article, we’ll be clearing up some common questions about the iRobot Roomba. By the end, you should have a better idea of which Roomba would make the brightest addition to your home. Let’s take a look!
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- Which Roomba is the best value?
- Can Roombas intelligently map and memorize multi-story homes?
- What happens when the Roomba’s battery becomes low mid-clean?
- Do Roombas live up to the hype?
- What kinds of brushes does the Roomba use?
- Do I have to have a home Wi-Fi network to use Wi-Fi-capable Roombas?
- Do I have to use the iRobot app with my Roomba?
- Can the older versions of Roomba be upgraded to use the self-emptying Clean Base?
- Which is the best Roomba for a home with a multi-room layout?
- Can Roombas move over transition moldings or other obstacles?
- Which Roomba is the most powerful?
- Do Roombas leave marks on walls and furniture?
- Do Roombas make a noise when they vacuum?
- Can Roombas clean corners?
- Can Roombas clean an entire level in one cycle?
- How effective is the Roomba 800 in cleaning a home with multiple rooms?
- Where should I buy a Roomba from?
- What is a Roomba Keep-Out-Zone?
- What is a Virtual Wall?
- Which Roomba is best for dealing with hair (pet or otherwise)?
- Which Roomba is best for which type of flooring?
- Which Roomba is best for studio or one-bedroom homes?
- Can any Roomba vacuum a home with multiple stories?
- iRobot Roomba Coming Clean
Which Roomba is the best value?
If you’re looking for a Roomba to get your home looking spick and span, but without cleaning out your bank balance, the Roomba 960 sweeps aside the competition. With its outstanding cleaning performance, combined with the unique features Roombas are famous for, this little robot vacuum is superb value for money. For a relatively low price, you’ll get excellent pickup performance, intelligent mapping, tracking sensors, dual multi-surface rubber brushes (ideal for pet hair), voice activation, mopping function, and automatic recharging and continuation of cleaning. It’s a genuinely bright choice for homeowners everywhere.
Can Roombas intelligently map and memorize multi-story homes?
All Roombas come with sensors and drop detection to prevent them from bumping into furniture, walls, or falling down flights of stairs. However, not all of them come with the intelligent mapping function called Imprint Smart Map. This feature allows the vacuum to map and memorize the exact layout of your home for better handling of complicated floor plans. The result? More efficient cleaning done in less time.
In terms of how they deal with the layout of your home, Roombas can be placed into three categories. All types will effectively vacuum your floors, but specific models have more advanced features to adapt to your particular needs and requirements.
The first category is Roombas that don’t have any kind of mapping ability. In other words, each cleaning pass they make is unique; they don’t map out and memorize the layout of your home. These robotic cleaners are suitable for homes containing fewer obstacles (such as furniture), turns, rooms, or staircases. The Roombas 6xx and 8xx don’t possess any mapping ability.
The next category is Roombas that have in-built mapping capabilities but no capacity to memorize this mapping. With each cleaning cycle, they navigate and adapt to the floor plan by making precise measurements. However, they don’t store or “learn” the “map” they’ve made. The Roombas 960 and 980 operate in this way.
The final category is the Roombas that have in-built mapping and memorization. These models can store up to 10 different floor plans. No matter which story or room they are put in to clean, their internal memory will recognize it and move around accordingly. The Roombas i7, i7+, s9, and s9+ all contain this convenient feature. These models are perfect in homes with multiple floor plans, flooring, obstacles, and complicated layouts.
What happens when the Roomba’s battery becomes low mid-clean?
When choosing a suitable model for you, it’s worth bearing in mind the size of space that you’ll be wanting to clean in one go. On average, Roombas run from 90 to 150 minutes (that’s 500 to 2,600 square feet) in one charge.
When the Roomba’s battery becomes low mid-clean, it’ll automatically return to the designated Home Base to recharge. If your model has the nifty feature Recharge and Resume, it will return to where it left off and resume its cleaning cycle until it’s finished. This is available in the series 9 Roombas, the i7, and the i7+.
Do Roombas live up to the hype?
Undoubtedly, Roombas are the most established brand of robot vacuums. Reviewers rave about their excellent suction power and the innovative “robot” features, such as smart mapping, enabling the cleaner to move in a more intentional and customized way. Roombas generally have good run times, and there is a range of models to choose from.
Ask yourself what you’re looking for from a vacuum cleaner. If you have little time (or energy!) for cleaning, then a robotic cleaner can be a perfect addition to your home. Many people who’ve bought a Roomba don’t know what they did without it. In contrast, others have stated that they used it only a handful of times, leaving it to collect dust in a cupboard once the novelty had worn off. Before you buy, ask yourself realistically how much you’re going to use it.
Some people would argue that robotic cleaners aren’t as powerful as traditional vacuum cleaners, but this depends on the model. Most Roombas boast strong suction power, working to effectively suck up heavier debris and even pet hair from rugs or carpets. In fact, Roombas are an excellent investment for homes struggling with pet hair, pollen, and dander. It’s not just their suction power; many come equipped with tangle-free rubber brush rolls and filtration systems.
Another advantage Roombas have over traditional vacuum cleaners is their control features. You can program and operate them with no elbow grease necessary; you just need to use an app or remote control. This is particularly useful for people who want to set up cleaning schedules when they’re not at home.
All in all, Roombas take the stress and hassle out of home cleaning. As long as you choose the suitable model for your home, you’ll never look back.
What kinds of brushes does the Roomba use?
Depending on the model of Roomba, the brushes it uses will vary. Some versions allow you to mix and match according to your specific needs. All Roombas have a cleaning head that contains a suction area and brushes. They also all have a side, rotating, multi-pronged brush that ensures debris is swept into the path of the cleaning head.
The entry-level Roomba 614 has multi-surface brushes that can be used on carpet or hardwood. Its dual brushes can dislodge dirt from rugs and carpets. The Roomba e5 is an excellent pick for pet owners; it uses treaded rubber rollers instead of brushes to grab pet hair. The more expensive Roomba s9 comes with 40-percent wider brushes and a five-armed corner brush to ensure even the dirtiest of corners are left squeaky clean.
When selecting a Roomba, identify the types of flooring your home contains and what sort of dirt and debris you want your vacuum cleaner to tackle. That way, you can pick the Roomba with the right kind of brushes for your cleaning needs.
Do I have to have a home Wi-Fi network to use Wi-Fi-capable Roombas?
It’s not necessary to have a Wi-Fi connection in your home for your Roomba to work. You simply press the Clean button on the appliance itself and let it get to work. Your Roomba will still vacuum and clean your home to the best of its ability. However, by not enabling Wi-Fi, you’ll be missing out on impressive features and functions that can make your cleaning a whole lot more convenient. These features include iRobot Home App compatibility, regular scheduling, cleaning preferences, and viewing the cleaning history.
More advanced models use a Wi-Fi connection for smart home integration. This allows you to set up voice activation (using Alexa or Google Assistant) and personalized triggers, actions, and interactions. Overall, this gives you a more thorough, customized approach to your vacuuming.
These advanced Wi-Fi connection features work to make your overall cleaning experience more effective. By generating Clean Map Reports, smart mapping of your home, and specific room cleaning, Wi-Fi-capable Roombas wipe the floor with the alternatives.
Do I have to use the iRobot app with my Roomba?
Again, you don’t have to download the app, but you’ll be limited in the number of functions and features you can use.
If you’re not looking to use Wi-Fi connectivity or the app with your Roomba, then it’s best to go for an entry-level version. There’s little point in forking out extra cash for functions that you’re not going to use. The more basic models still clean efficiently, albeit with a little more input from you.
Can the older versions of Roomba be upgraded to use the self-emptying Clean Base?
The Clean Base automatically empties the Roomba’s bin, allowing you to accumulate around 60 bins worth of dirt and debris before having to take out and dispose of the bin bag. This is fantastic if you want to save time having to empty your Roomba’s bin after every clean.
However, this is a new feature add-on that older versions of the Roomba can’t accommodate. Only the i7 can be upgraded (therefore becoming the i7+) to use this feature. The add-on requires the Roomba to have an underside port for suction (which other models simply don’t have). Plus, it requires in-robot coding, which only the i7 or i7+ contain.
Which is the best Roomba for a home with a multi-room layout?
This all depends on how much “assistance” you want to give your Roomba. Some models require you to manually pick them up and take them into the room you want to clean. This isn’t a problem, as the appliances are light and easy to carry. If you don’t mind using your robotic cleaner in this way and are reluctant to shell out the big bucks on a fancier model, then any of the 800 series will suit your needs.
However, if you’re looking for a more “hands-off” approach, it’s worth checking out the more advanced models, such as the 960. These can smartly map and navigate your complicated floor plan and return to their charging dock when finishing a cleaning cycle or running out of battery. Selecting a Roomba with these options will take a load off your mind. You won’t have to worry about it getting confused in different rooms and wasting time and battery. And you won’t have to carry it around your home.
Furthermore, if you’re willing to pay slightly more for the ultimate independent and automatic vacuuming experience, the Roomba i7+ and s9+ also come with a self-emptying option. Your home will be clean as a whistle, with you barely having to lift a finger.
Can Roombas move over transition moldings or other obstacles?
Most Roombas are designed to intelligently move over and dodge obstacles that would otherwise leave them in a jam. All current models have 3-inch wheels and can climb over obstacles unless there’s a significant height difference between two areas (over ¾ inches). You’ll rarely find yourself having to get your robot companion out of a tricky spot.
Which Roomba is the most powerful?
Gone are the days when the suction power of robot cleaners left a lot to be desired. Now, you’ll find that most modern Roombas have a powerful suction capacity, enough to extract large and stubborn debris, including pet hair. The Roomba s9+ and s9 lead the pack in terms of suction power, with the Roomba i7+ and i7 coming close behind. Basically, the more you pay for your Roomba, the more powerful it will be.
Tip: Choosing a Roomba with the highest suction power isn’t always necessary. Look at what type of flooring your rooms have. Hardwood, tile, and carpeted flooring can usually be cleaned effectively by some less expensive models (such as the Roomba 960). The Roombas s9+ or i7+ are best for floors that need more intense suction, such as those with very high pile carpets. Otherwise, more power isn’t always better.
Do Roombas leave marks on walls and furniture?
There’s a risk that, over time, repeated use of your robot vacuum is going to create some scuff marks on your walls, baseboards, furniture, or doors. Roombas are designed to slow down before reaching these boundaries. However, consumers have found that this doesn’t completely prevent scuffing or chipping.
A simple solution is to tape some felt to the front of the Roomba to cushion the impact and stop it from leaving any marks on items it bumps into or brushes past. This felt will need to be regularly replaced but is an easy way to reduce the chance of your walls or furniture getting messed up.
Do Roombas make a noise when they vacuum?
All Roomba models use similar motors and suction technology, so the amount of noise they make doesn’t vary significantly from model to model—from around 55 decibels (dB) to 70 dB. This means that although quieter than most upright vacuum cleaners (and other robotic brands), they still make some noise while in operation.
Another factor to consider is that the type of flooring the Roomba is cleaning will also impact the noise levels. As expected, they tend to make more noise on hard floors (65-70 dB). On carpets, they’re quieter (60 dB).
If you have a “normal” conversation, it typically measures around 58 dB. So, it’s likely that whatever Roomba model, you won’t be able to use it late at night when people are sleeping or when noise needs to be kept at a minimum.
Can Roombas clean corners?
All Roombas come equipped with a spinning, side sweeper brush to move dirt and debris into the path of their cleaning heads. This means that they can get into the corners of rooms to pick up dirt.
It might be a good idea to make sure these trickier areas are unobstructed to allow for your Roomba to have easy access.
Can Roombas clean an entire level in one cycle?
The newer models (the 900 series and the i7 and i7+) can clean an entire level of a home in one run of battery life. This is down to their sensors which scan your house and map the floor as they vacuum. While the older models would randomly clean in zig-zags, these versions clean in straight lines while avoiding obstructions and passing effortlessly between different floor types and floor moldings.
The newer models have a longer run time (up to two hours). They’re also capable of returning to where they left off once recharged, ensuring no repeat cleaning over flooring that they’ve already covered. iRobot states that these Roombas can cover up to 2,000 square feet in one go—not bad considering that the total square footage of the average US home is 2,687 square feet.
How effective is the Roomba 800 in cleaning a home with multiple rooms?
The run time for a Roomba 800 is around 60 minutes. Once it runs out of battery, it’ll return to its charging station to recharge. Unlike the 900 series and later versions, the Roomba 800 vacuum cleaners don’t automatically return to cleaning where they left off.
Suppose you have a 1,500 square foot home split into several different rooms with different flooring. In that case, it’s unlikely that this Roomba version will be able to clean every room before it runs out of battery. While newer models use more deliberate, “intelligent” cleaning patterns, the 800 series runs semi-randomly. This means that it can’t determine where to clean next or avoid obstacles as effectively.
This means that the Roomba 800 will clean as much floor space as possible but in a random fashion. It’ll perhaps waste time bumping into obstacles such as doorways until it has to return to renew its battery.
However, if you were to have the same square footage home, but with fewer rooms or with a single open-plan space, the Roomba 800 series would be adequate. It would be able to get the vacuuming done all in one go, even with its random navigation.
Therefore, if you’re looking to clean a home with multiple rooms, it might be worthwhile checking out newer models with features such as intelligent mapping and smart navigation.
Where should I buy a Roomba from?
Research online for stores with the best Roomba deals, but always make sure you purchase from an authorized iRobot retailer or reseller.
What is a Roomba Keep-Out-Zone?
The Roombas i7, i7+, s9, and s9+ have a handy feature that enables you to program what areas or rooms to avoid in your home. These are called Keep-Out-Zones and can include areas where the cleaner is likely to get stuck, cause a mess, or find difficulty navigating. This includes spaces that are cluttered, have a lot of furniture, or contain pet bowls.
Using the iRobot HOME App, you add rectangular zones to the Imprint Smart Map around areas where you don’t want your Roomba to clean. (The Imprint Smart Map is the plan of your home that Roombas with this function create and memorize.) Regardless of how you activate your Roomba to clean, it’ll never forget these zones until you delete or modify them on the app.
In other words, it’s a simple way to make your robotic cleaner a little bit smarter. By letting it know where it shouldn’t go, you’re reducing the likelihood of having to rescue it should it become stuck.
After your Roomba has done a few passes around your home, the iRobot app will alert you to specific areas where the cleaner tends to get stuck. You’ll then be able to add these Recommended Keep-Out-Zones to your Smart Map, making the cleaning even more efficient.
What is a Virtual Wall?
A Virtual Wall is an invisible barrier that your robotic cleaner can’t cross, stopping it from entering certain rooms or areas. You create this barrier using the Virtual Wall Lighthouse, a device that uses infrared signals to guide and block your Roomba while it cleans. You can use it to block openings of up to 10 feet. It was necessary to use Virtual Walls in older Roomba models (500 series, 780 and 790, 877 and 880) as they didn’t have the Keep-Out-Zone feature. Newer Roomba models, such as the i7 and s9, do, so it’s not entirely necessary to use Virtual Walls.
However, even with the s9 or i7 Roomba, you may find the Virtual Wall system a helpful way to temporarily block off an area. For example, one day, a particular room has boxes, toys, or other miscellaneous items that you don’t want to move. By quickly and simply setting up a Virtual Wall, you can get your Roomba to avoid that area. It means that you don’t have to go into your app and set up a Keep-Out-Zone and then delete it when this particular cleaning session is done.
Which Roomba is best for dealing with hair (pet or otherwise)?
All of the Roombas, except for the 600 series, are well-equipped to deal with long hair and pet hair. This is down to their special rollers, as well as their HEPA filters. The likelihood of hair getting tangled up in the mechanism is significantly less than with other robotic cleaners on the market. Plus, Roombas are relatively easy to clean; the dirt bin, filter, and brushes can be easily removed for this purpose.
Which Roomba is best for which type of flooring?
For hard floors—hardwood, tile, marble, etc.—any model of Roomba will do the job. Despite various models having different suction power, this doesn’t affect how successfully they pick up dirt and debris from hard surfaces.
However, if your home is carpeted or has many rugs, you’re best opting for the Roomba i7 or 980. These versions have the most substantial suction power and will therefore be able to hoover up embedded dirt.
The i7 has the edge over the 980 in terms of special features such as Imprint Smart Mapping. The extra features that come with this newer version are advantageous in households with varying surfaces. As there’s little price difference between the two, it’s perhaps worth purchasing the i7, especially if you have any high pile carpeting.
Which Roomba is best for studio or one-bedroom homes?
Studio or one-bedroom homes tend to have a simple layout—perfect for any type of Roomba. Even the oldest versions, such as the 6, 8, or e series, will be able to complete a thorough vacuum of these types of floor plans. They use a more random cleaning pattern to cover your home, zig-zagging across the floor until every inch is cleaned. The later versions (the 9, i7, and i7+ models) use sensors and cameras to map your home’s layout. They’re able to complete their cleaning more quickly and effectively, using straight-line motions.
All in all, any model of Roomba will efficiently work in a studio or one-bedroom home where there isn’t a complicated floor plan.
Which Roomba is best for homes with two or more bedrooms?
When it comes to homes with more bedrooms or rooms, the 960, i7, and i7+ Roombas are the better choice. There are two main reasons for this.
Firstly, the combination of their sensors and cameras allows them to intelligently map and subsequently navigate a household with multiple floors, rooms, and floor types. Unlike the random, zig-zagging operation of their older counterparts, these newer models know precisely where they are in your house and where they should clean next.
Secondly, these newer models have an automatic Recharge and Resume function. Homes with two or more bedrooms tend to have larger floor space. This means that it’s likely that the Roomba will need more than one run to complete a whole clean of the house. With Recharge and Resume, the Roomba will return to its docking station when low on battery. It will recharge and then return to where it left off cleaning. The older Roomba models don’t have this convenient feature. They simply return to their docking station to recharge, after which you have to take them back to where they need to continue vacuuming. This is particularly awkward if you haven’t kept track of where your Roomba has or hasn’t cleaned.
Can any Roomba vacuum a home with multiple stories?
As of yet, no Roomba can clean a home consisting of multiple levels. Although all Roombas have the technology that prevents them from falling down flights of stairs, none of them can climb stairs. This means that you’ll have to move your Roomba to each separate floor when cleaning the entire house. Purchasing one Roomba for each level is one solution (if your budget stretches that far).
Until iRobot can design and develop the technology that allows your Roomba to move up and down stairs safely and unaided, then you’re going to have to put in some manual work. However, carrying this small device up a flight of stairs, setting it down, turning it on, and leaving it clean is a breeze compared to lugging around an upright cleaner. Wherever you place your Roomba, it’ll work until all the area it’s put in is clean (until it runs out of battery, of course!).
iRobot Roomba Coming Clean
We’ve gone through most of the frequently asked questions about the iRobot Roomba and its various models. Without a doubt, Roombas are a fantastic way of keeping your home clean and dust-free without having to put in the elbow grease. Well-established and using the most up-to-date and innovative brush, design, and robotic features, they wipe the floor with the competition. Here we’ll summarize the best of these small yet mighty cleaners.
Best for: the budget-conscious; homes with simple layouts; homes without pets
The Roomba 675 is the cheap and cheerful vacuum cleaner that’ll help get your cleaning chores done with minimal fuss and effort. The most basic Roomba model available, it’ll leave its docking station and randomly move around your home, cleaning until it runs out of battery. It’ll then return to its “home” to recharge. However, unlike newer versions, you’ll have to manually take it back to where it left off.
Best for: the budget-conscious; homes with simple layouts; homes with pets
The Roomba 890 has all the same features as the 675, but with the addition of rubber brush rolls. These bristle-less rollers work fantastically in homes where pet hair is a problem, as the hair is less likely to get tangled up in the bristles.
The Roomba e5 also ticks boxes for consumers looking for good value for money. It’s an updated version of the Roomba 890, coming with the same features but boasting enhanced cleaning performance.
Best for: homes with more than one bedroom; homes with pets with long hair
The Roomba 960 is an outstanding robot vacuum cleaner. Its high suction power, smart mapping and navigation, and Recharge and Resume functions take out the hassle of cleaning without breaking the bank. It’s the ideal robotic cleaner for homes with more complicated layouts.
Best for: people with dust allergies; homes with more than one bedroom; homes with pets
The Roombas i7 and i7+ come with all the advanced design and technology features you could hope for in a robot vacuum. Plus, the i7+ has the self-emptying option, making cleaning even that more straightforward. These cleaners come with high-efficiency filters that ensure that 99% of cat and dog dander allergens are trapped.
If money is no object, you simply can’t go wrong with the Roomba s9+. This model is undoubtedly the best robot vacuum cleaner that modern technology has to offer. Its Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal, optimum performance, powerful and deep cleaning, easy setup, and intelligent mapping mean that it’s a purely genius way to dust and vacuum your home.