No matter which way you split it, buying a Roomba can be a bit pricey. So if you are simply looking for help in keeping your house vacuumed, is it worth the money?
Short answer: YES!
Long answer, yes… but there are some things you need to consider before jumping head-first into investing in a robotic vacuum.
Our first Roomba was a Christmas present that my husband carefully investigated but was still a mystery to us. Our second Roomba (both of which we still use) was purchased with the knowledge of their strengths and weaknesses.
Hopefully that information will prove useful in helping you decide if you should buy a Roomba for yourself.
Before I get too far, I want to say that my experience is based on the i7 series and 690 seriess. The 690 was specific to Best Buy and other non-iRobot retailers. It is equivalent to the 675.
If you’re looking for more easy ways to keep your house clean,
So, without further ado…
Does a Roomba replace a regular vacuum?
In my experience, not for major cleaning.
Look at it as more of a maintenance type clean. It will pick up small debris daily and help keep pet hair down, but you will still want to do a thorough vacuum every week or two.
We have done extensive testing on both Roomba models to see if further vacuuming is needed.
Almost every time, you can get deeper dust and hair by running a regular vacuum immediately after the Roomba does its thing.
HOWEVER, it absolutely keeps the dust, hair, dirt, etc down between vacuums. And for a stepmom of 3 kids, 1 giant dog, and 1 indoor mini pig, that is huge.
Also, having chronic illness keeps me from being able to vacuum as often as I would like. These vacuums make it possible to stay on top of it without feeling gross.
It does not replace any function your regular vacuum does with hoses, attachments, etc. Dog hair rolled into ball by rubber brush. Easy to pick up.
Speaking of pets, does a Roomba work on pet hair?
Yes, but different models have different strengths when it comes to pet hair.
Both of our models help keep the dog hair down. However, it is our experience that the rubber brushes that iRobot touts as being superior on pet hair DO NOT WORK AS WELL as the regular brush on the carpet.
Where the regular brush picks the hair up, the rubber brush combines it into a large clump. These clumps can then be picked up very easily. The i7 does not seem to have the suction capacity to pick the clumps up.
The downside, however, to the regular brush is that it needs de-haired more often. If you go too long between cleaning the brushes, it gets clogged and will not pick up as well. The rubber brush also needs cleaned, but not as often.
Both the regular and rubber brush models pick up pet hair on hard surfaces (like tiles, etc) just fine.
Space considerations for Roombas
The base is where the vacuum returns to charge after every run. Some docks can also empty the debris bin.
All versions of the dock need a certain amount of space for the vacuum to make it safely back to the dock. The company recommends 1.5 ft on each side and 4 ft of empty space in the front. Additional space is needed if you have stairs or virtual walls (see more on virtual walls later in this post).
We have found with one of our models that the space is not necessary. The dock is placed underneath a night stand and doesn’t have problems. Ironically, our more expensive model with room mapping capabilities can never dock itself!
The dock is underneath an end table and we have to return the Roomba every morning to the docking station so it can be ready to go the next day. This isn’t an issue as it can vacuum our downstairs, where it is located, on one charge. We also empty the bin every day, so we’re already handling it.
However, if your home requires multiple ‘trips’ a day, you would need to consider whether you have appropriate space to house the dock.
The nightstand Roomba can dock without problems. The end table needs returned to the dock daily.
Does a Roomba damage furniture and walls?
The vacuums have sensors that enable them to slow down as they reach furniture and walls. They do still, on occasion, go careening into something. The built-in ‘padding’ keeps them from hitting too hard, though.
However, I have noticed some ‘wear and tear’ on our furniture and walls that was not there before. I believe this is due to the side brush.
I love and hate this little brush.
On one hand, it really helps to get debris around baseboards and under counters. On the other hand, it is leaving subtle marks along all our walls and furniture.
We have obviously decided that it’s minor enough to continue using them. However, as you can see in the pictures, it may not be for everyone.
Slight damage about an inch up the baseboard from side brush.
Does a Roomba work in the dark?
This is a feature that was majorly disappointing in our more expensive Roomba i7.
With the 690model, the vacuum does not necessarily ‘map’ our house in the traditional sense. It doesn’t learn where the furniture and walls are.
Because it doesn’t use technology that requires a camera, it is able to run at 1 am when everyone in the house was asleep. We woke up to the awesome pattern of vacuum marks in the carpet and knew it did its thing.
We were also able to pick up anything off the floor that did not belong before bed so we knew it wasn’t going to run over or get stuck on something one of the kids dropped in their wake.
The i7, which has the awesome house-mapping feature, requires a camera. This means that our late night vacuuming is no more, unless we want to leave light on.
So the answer to, does the Roomba run in the dark is, it depends on the model you chose.
Can I have a Roomba if I have stairs?
The drop-off sensor on all Roomba stop them from going over a cliff (stairs). Not to say that it doesn’t happen on occassion.
Our 690 model is the only one that has to avoid the stairs. It runs daily. In any given month, it tries to take a nose-dive approximately once. If this is something that becomes an issue for you, which it shouldn’t, you could place a virtual wall before it reaches the stairs. That would turn it around before it had a chance to reach the stairs.
A virtual wall is a small box, approximately the size of a TV remote, but shorter, that discreetly stands near areas where the Roomba should not go. It uses an invisible laser that blocks the vacuum’s path in the same way a wall would. You can use as many in your house as necessary.
Does a Roomba work on more than one floor?
This question is a little more complicated than it appears at first glance.
Take the i7 model, for example. We could take it upstairs, push clean, and let it run. We lose some of the advanced features this way, though. Because it can only map one floor – unlike the i7+, it would not be working on a map layout. This model tends to get stuck on obstacles or ‘lost’ a lot more if it doesn’t have a proper map.
By lost I mean, it stops running and tells you it doesn’t know where it is.
Unless you’re using a model that maps multiple floors, you would also have to take the base with you if you wanted it to dock, charge, and start again. Alternately, you could buy a second base.
Either way you would have to physically move the Roomba from one floor to another. Totally doable but more work.
Here again, the simple answer is, it depends on what you want it to be able to do and which model you buy.
Can I keep Roomba out of a certain room?
The method of ‘how’ will change depending on which model you buy.
iRobots that do not having mapping capabilities can be kept out of rooms using a virtual wall. As mentioned previously, this device sits against a wall and uses a laser that blocks the Roomba.
The mapping models allow you to turn rooms ‘off and on’. In other words, you allow it to map the area then you tell it not to go there using the app. It’s really pretty slick.
The most expedient method, though, is low tech. Just close the door to any area you do not want the Roomba to clean.
Can I turn a Roomba on remotely?
In the push of a button.
Each Roomba is synched with an app. You can run multiple Roombas from the app, like we do. (Ours are both affectionately named Hairy and Fuzzy inside the app)
You can stop, start, and check the status directly from the app. You can also communicate which areas on the map the vacuum should go. We particularly like the schedule function.
It allows us to run the vacuum on certain days and times depending on when our schedule, if the kids are home, and what events we have going.
To be honest, there are probably a lot more functions of the app than we have investigated.
Does Roomba require a lot of maintenance?
I would say, not more than an average vacuum.
However, it does require almost daily interaction. At the least, we like to clean the dust bin daily. You can get by doing it every other day, but I wouldn’t recommend waiting longer than that.
In our family of five blonds, four with long hair, we also have to clean the brushes every 1 to 2 weeks. It takes approximately 5 minutes to clean the brushes.
You also have to occasionally change out parts (like brushes, rollers, etc) due to use. We have had ours for 14 months and have not needed to replace anything yet. Although, I believe this falls outside of how often iRobot recommends you replace certain parts.
All in all, we spend less time maintaining our Roombas than we would vacuuming daily, which our house needs.
What about the Roomba and dog poop stories?
To be honest, I believe this could potentially happen.
Roombas are renowned for sucking up cords around our house if we don’t have them set up properly. It also picks up the rope part of our dog toys if we haven’t diligently put them up every night.
If it happened to hit a patch of dog poop that wasn’t hard, I 100% believe you would have a poop-pocalype on your hands.
Here’s to hoping our dogs don’t lose their minds and decide to destroy our house and hearts when we’re not looking!
Which model Roomba should I get
You need to ask yourself what your budget is and what functions you want. When do you want it to run (nighttime may be an issue with some models unless you leave a light on).
The mapping Roombas are pretty handy. They also vacuum in an organized way by running specific paths every day. You have more control over where they go and when.
If you have pets and carpet, you may want to shy away from the rubber brushes unless you are okay with picking up a few clumps of pet fur after it runs.
My husband and I have discussed this many times. There are pros to each function of a Roomba that we would not want to give up.
However, if we had to do it over again, we would buy the i7 model again. In other words, we would buy the rubber brushes and mapping again.
The rest is up to you.
Where should I buy my Roomba
We bought ours in two different locations. One from Best Buy and the other from Amazon.
You can also get these vacuums at stores such as Lowe’s, Target, and Walmart.
Some stores offer slightly different model numbers from each other. For example, the same model and Walmart and Best Buy may have different model numbers (650 versus 640, for example).
And you won’t be able to get every model at every store.
That is one of the reasons I recommend Amazon. Apart from iRobot directly, Amazon is the only other retailer I have seen carrying every model.
Another reason we chose Amazon for our second Roomba was because we wanted to purchase the extra warranty offered.
One last reason to chose Amazon is…impatience.
It’s quick, easy, and efficient with Prime.
I would recommend looking at various retailers to find the best price. Especially if it’s holiday time and Christmas deals are running.
Even at the time of writing this, mid-February, Amazon is running a deal on the iRobots for $100-$200 off.
Does a Roomba make life easy enough to be worth the money
In case you’re looking for the TLDR (too long didn’t read version), it is absolutely worth the money.
For busy moms, women in the workforce, ladies with chronic illness, and anyone else looking to keep your house cleaner with less effort, the Roomba is most definitely worth it.
Once you decide what you’re looking for and how much you’re willing to spend, make the investment.
They are low hassle. They help keep floors clean between larger vacuums. They have reasonably priced options.
Take it from someone who has had 2 different version for more than a year. Buy a roomba.
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