roomba560I had the pleasure of test driving an iRobot 560 Roomba Vacuuming Robot and just minutes into the first vacuuming I was in love! So much so that I purchased one! Even my VERY skeptical husband approves of it!  We are a dust bunny-free home now thanks to our Roomba!

I’ve been thinking about purchasing a Roomba for years, but the cost and the fear it would’t perform as advertised stopped me from doing so. Now that I’ve tried the Roomba, I’m sorry I didn’t get one sooner!  The Roomba does absolutely everything it promises!

Photo Credit - iRobot

The benefit of the Roomba over a typical vacuum is that it picks up an amazing amount of dirt, dust, pet hair, and dander automatically. Set the timer for each day of the week and your Roomba will set off on its cleaning path at the pre-programmed time.  Need a cleaning sooner than the programmed time or an extra vacuuming on the same day?  Just press the large CLEAN button in the center and the Roomba will start its cleaning session.

The only thing you need to do is dump the dirt bin. How often you empty it depends on your home – you may need to dump it daily, but Roomba notes that every 3 days is the average.  I tend to dump mine daily because it’s easier than trying to remember how long it’s been since the last dump.  Recently when the bin was full my Roomba beeped and then a female voice said something I didn’t catch – I was caught off guard by it talking!  I cleared the bin, dusted off the sensors, and I was back in business!

I no longer have to drag out the vacuum and set aside time to clean my floors. My three-room main floor generally took  me about twenty minutes to vacuum and longer to sweep.  Even with two of us, we just couldn’t seem to vacuum daily and my husband rarely swept under or behind anything.  The Roomba cleans under just about everything!  We have just 3 pieces of furniture it can’t vacuum under or behind.  Our floors are now clean right up to the baseboards.  No longer do we have dust bunnies made from our three dog’s shedding hair.  I have to imagine that our health is benefiting from this new found cleanliness as well.

Our Roomba is scheduled to run every day at 11am. Scheduling is so simple – I didn’t need instructions.  I love the simplicity of it. I sometimes forget it’s scheduled and don’t pick up the items that tend to trip it up.  On those days it’s not unusual to find the Roomba out scouring our deck having let itself out the open French Doors or riding on the tray the dog food dish rests on in the kitchen.  When the Roomba finds itself in a pinch, it’ll automatically maneuver around to try and free itself.  Most times it works, occasionally it just can’t, and it will shut itself down.  It also shuts down when it sucks up something too large for it – the other day it was a $5 bill.

The Roomba covers our living room, dining room and kitchen in about 75 minutes. If we’d make use of the Lighthouses it’d probably be faster.  Unfortunately, they require batteries and we’ve not gotten around to purchasing them.  The Lighthouses are small plastic transmitters that tell the Roomba to either stay away from the area or in the Lighthouse mode it tells the Roomba to finish the room it’s in and then go on to the next room. This is an amazing feature I’m looking forward to trying out, as soon as we get those C size batteries.  It’s too bad they don’t have an AC plug, however, in the Lighthouse mode they do turn themselves off after they Roomba passes through.  In the “wall” mode, it keeps the Roomba from entering areas you’re not ready to have it vacuum.

When the Roomba detects a concentration of dirt it concentrates there until it’s clean and then continues on its way. It’s mesmerizing watching it.    It uses a mathematical algorithm to figure out the best cleaning path for your room – it’s not the same path humans would use – it bumps and turns and heads off in seemingly random directions and just when you think it’s going to miss a spot it makes it way there and hits it.  Left to complete its full cleaning cycle, we’ve never found an area that was missed.

Photo Credit - iRobot

When the Roomba has finished its cycle, it returns itself to the docking station.  The docking station acts as the battery charger. This model has a 3-hour quick charge and 7-hour full recycle.  We’ve never had an issue with it not being ready to go, but like any rechargable battery it will lose its charge over time but it’s easily replaceable.  At any time you’d like to end a cleaning cycle in the middle, you simply press the center power button, then the Return to Dock button, and the Roomba senses its way home – it’s truly amazing!

We have Pergo floors and we’re thrilled about how fabulously it works on them, but we were curious about the performance on carpet. My mom took the Roomba to her house which has an engineered floor as well but it’s covered with plush, room-size carpets on top.  She appreciated the cleaning capability on both her carpet and floor and was amazed at its ability to go from one to the other easily.  She did find that she definitely needed a Virtual Wall to keep her sewing room off limits.

The Roomba isn’t going to work for those emergencies like when the Mother-in-Law is on her way over and you haven’t vacuumed in days.  But because the Roomba is meant to run routinely, you’ll never be in that pinch.  It does have a spot cleaner for those spilled cereal or houseplant messes.  It also can’t do stairs, but it is smart enough to avoid them.  That’s a feature we love since we live in a tri-level. I sweep the stairs down onto the floor and let the Roomba finish the job.

The Roomba is made to be owner-repaired as much as possible which means fewer have to be returned to the manufacturer for repair. Many of the parts are easily replaced and available at retail.  In addition, during the warranty period, many of the typical problems can be corrected by telephone – the technician “talks” to the Roomba by sending signals to it – cool technology!   I called when our Scooba started beeping and found the telephone repair service person to be very knowledgeable.  The Scooba had a problem that couldn’t be fixed so it’s on its way back to Roomba for repair.

iRobot offers ten current household Roombas– each with different features. The lower-end models have the least features and generally cover a smaller area on each charge.  The lowest current model’s  is the 400 with a MSRP is $129.99.  It has a simple On button and wall plug.  The top of the line is the model 61001 which has a high-capacity dust bin, 3-cleaning cycles, a heavy-duty charging base and more.  The 560 is in the middle of the line and the perfect one for us.  I would have missed the scheduling ability and automatic docking station had we chosen the model 400.  I appreciate that there’s an affordable model for everyone and some of the models can be test driven – check out the iRobot site for the current offerings.

Photo Credit - iRobot

Photo Credit - iRobot

iRobot also offers an upgrade program for their Scoobas and Roombas. Owners of previous models can upgrade at reduced prices.  Since technology changes so quickly, this is a great feature. While checking out the iRobot home page I was surprised to see that they offer additional robots beyond the Roomba and Scooba.  They have one that cleans garage and shop floors, another to take care of the deck, and still another to clean gutters!  Any of these would be a perfect gift for people like us who like a clean home/garage/shop/etc. but don’t always have the time to keep it up. They’re also perfect for older people who need assistance.  With the docking system you rarely have to pick up the Roomba making it a perfect choice for someone with limited mobility or back issues.

We both love the Roomba and after a few days the dogs have become accustomed to it as well. Good thing, if we had to chose between the dogs or the Roomba, I’m afraid the dogs would be gone!

A VIDEO DEMONSTRATION OF THE ROOMBA BY THE IROBOT CORP

iRobot also provides video for changing the filter,  changing modules (this is part of their self-repair program) and cleaning brushes.


What’s in the Box:

1 iRobot Roomba 5602
Virtual Wall Lighthouses (Each requires 2 C batteries, not included)
1 Self-charging Home Base
1 Power Supply (3 hour charge time)
1 Brush Cleaning Tool
1 Rechargeable Battery
1 Extra Filter
1-year Manufacturer’s Warranty

MSRP: $379.99

Specs:
Package Dimensions: 20″ x 17.5″ x 5.5″
Package Weight: 12.5 lbs

Accessories & Replacement Parts:

  • iRobot Roomba 500 Series Virtual Wall Lighthouse – 80201
  • Roomba 500 Series 3-pack Filters
  • Roomba 500 Series Side Brush, 3-Pack
  • iRobot R3 500 series replacement brush kit (inc. Bristle brush,beater brush, side brush with screw and brush cleaning tool)
  • iRobot R3 500 series APS Battery
  • Replacement Brushes for Roomba® 500 Series (6 Brushes Total)
  • Roomba Brush Cleaning Tool Item #11265
  • iRobot Patents Call For Potty-Trained Roomba [Roomba] (gizmodo.com)
  • Patent app shows Roombas pooping on potties, being big boys (engadget.com)
  • Modded Roomba Lays Down Graffiti for its Brother to Clean Up (geeksaresexy.net)