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Old 8th March 2012, 12:09 PM   #1
Dessi
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Roomba robot slave - worth it?

Following some of the advice I received in my investment thread, I bought a house. Now I need to keep it clean.

I'm thinking of buying a Roomba. I believe I'm able to program these to vacuum on a schedule, they return to their charging pod if they run low on batteries. Mostly I'd like one to clean up the dusty carpets while I'm at work.

Does anyone own one of these? If so, do they work well, worth the money, and would you recommend them? Has anyone tried other models of robot cleaning slaves?
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Old 8th March 2012, 12:16 PM   #2
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I love our Roomba, though it's sick right now and needs some TLC.

It's not perfect. It has to run everyday because it only picks up a small amount of dust or dirt. You need to put up the infrared barriers to keep it from trying to eat curtains or getting stuck in the groove along the bottom of a sliding glass door. And it doesn't eliminate the need for a real vacuuming. It just keeps things nicer between vacummings (and, maybe, allows you to go a little longer between them).

The schedular isn't very helpful because you have to empty it after it runs and because it can't do all the rooms at once. So, we just start it up in a room when we're leaving the house and let it do its thing. We use the infrared things to block it from going into other rooms.

Usually it finds its way back to its home base, but sometimes we come home to find it crying out in fear, lost beneath a bed or couch.

Count on replacing the battery about once a year if you really use it. And be aware that, every once in a while, you need to clean it carefully to keep it in working order.

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Old 8th March 2012, 01:05 PM   #3
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I don't have a Rooma.

But, I got a Neato XV-11 Robotic All-Floor Vacuum System a while back, and it's ever so nice (at least since they fixed the broken wheel tension spring problem that left the first ones limping). Laser scanning to map out the room, single pass over each patch to be cleaned, back and forth in an efficient pattern. No running around and bumping into everything like the Roombas. It navigates my dining table and chairs without problem. It detects pets and routes around them, returning to clean that spot when they move. Enough dirt capacity to run my apartment several times before needing emptying (700sq ft), so it's scheduled to run every day after I leave for work. Picking up a bit of dust, some food crumbs, and lots of long hair; It has turned the weekly vacuuming into a monthly affair (though, I'm looking at making it even less frequent, cause it's clean enough).

However, it does still bump into things, as it's scanner is about 3" off the floor, so anything shorter than that is missed (like the bricks around my fireplace). Also, sheer curtains might not reflect enough signal to be properly detected (like my shower curtain). Transitions from tile to carpet sometimes mess up it's carefully planned movement. It can get confused if something moves (like my bathroom door, after getting bumped due to the aforementioned tile transition), but usually manages to find it's way back home eventually (it's internal mapping system is super good). If it has a problem, it will beep a few times (softly), then shut down in place (turning off it's suction and lights), which can be frustrating if that place is under the bed.

It uses a magnetic strip system instead of IR towers to make off 'do not pass' areas, which isn't as nice, but harder to forget where you last put. It also doesn't get right up next to the wall, nor does it have the Roomba's rotary side sweeper to clean those areas. But, it has squared shape with the brush right at the front, and tries to push it's nose into every corner that looks large enough to fit, and it knows which areas it hasn't cleaned yet, and tries to get into those, rather than the random movements of Roomba. It's 'brush' is a series of rubber slats, so it can't 'comb' through the rug, but it also doesn't get long hairs wrapped around it as easily.

So, if you've got the tax return burning a hole in your pocket, I'd say go for it.
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Old 8th March 2012, 06:31 PM   #4
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There are two things I didn't like about my roombas (Yes, I've had several).

1. The battery life. No, not 'will it last long enough to vacuum the whole floor?' It does okay in that respect. However, I am a bit disappointed in the fact that you have to shell out to buy a new battery rather often. Or at least more often than I assumed you would need to. Nearly $100 for a battery every 9 or 10 months can be annoying.

2. Far worse than the battery issue is this: There is no poo detector. If you have a pet, and it has an accident, and your Roomba is set to automatic, you are in for a VERY unpleasant surprise. You would be shocked at just how far a single turd can be smeared...
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Old 8th March 2012, 07:04 PM   #5
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I had a roomba at one point. In fact, I had the first gen roomba. It was totally impractical for my very full house with lots of furniture and piles of things. I tried a few times, but there was no point. I eventually gave it to my sister, who has a smaller house with fewer things in it. She loved it, and bought a new one when mine finally died.

So I'd say it depends on how complicated your house layout is, how much furniture you have, and whether these things together will confuse your roomba.
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Old 8th March 2012, 07:14 PM   #6
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3 cats, 2 Roombas, 1 for each level. I run them about once a week, far more often than I would pull out a regular vacuum cleaner. Considering you can allow them to run for almost an hour on just one room, I think it does a more thorough job than a once-over with the bigger machine. It also forces me to get a lot of stuff up off the floor before running it.
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Old 8th March 2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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The major reasons I would enjoy having a robotic vacuum are that I am a nerd, and I would enjoy watching my cats freak out.
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Old 9th March 2012, 02:59 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Complexity View Post
The major reasons I would enjoy having a robotic vacuum are that I am a nerd, and I would enjoy watching my cats freak out.
Ours got used to the devices fairly quickly, though he pounced on them a couple of times; now he just ignores them unless they bump him.
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Old 9th March 2012, 03:27 AM   #9
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I love my roomba, but I only send him forth on a mission when I'm here. He is very thorough and sometimes goes under something and can't get out or goes right into a corner and starts trying to suck up cables. It doesn't really matter because he"ll stop and yell for help, but I like to be able to extricate him from any mischief. If you've got an ikea-ish minimalist house it might be different, but I've got stuff. He's very good at sucking (hard floors only)

(None of my pets was/is freaked out by roomba, but one of my dogs attacks the normal vacuum.)
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Old 10th March 2012, 07:29 PM   #10
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I like mine. It works quite well. I have hardwood floors, with just a couple of area rugs. No pets. It does a good job, but as stated above, a proper vac still has to be done from time to time. No problems with it getting stuck generally. Mine is a later model, and it will try to spit out a sock or whatever a couple times before stopping.

I'd say go for it, if your house suits the Roomba. I've never had to consider things like the turd smear coefficient etc.

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Old 10th March 2012, 07:37 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by PbFoot View Post
No problems with it getting stuck generally.
It isn't Roomba's fault, it's mine... Until I can find a cabler, I've got ethernet cables around the place and computer cables and stuff which are accessible until I get the cabling done. He does spit stuff out ordinarily, it's just that at the moment he faces particular challenges where he's stationed here.
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Old 10th March 2012, 08:06 PM   #12
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Vacuuming a floor only takes a few minutes. They might be the most horrible few minutes of your life but pinning your faith on a device that has less intelligence than a slug sounds like even less fun.
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Old 10th March 2012, 08:14 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by Dessi View Post
Following some of the advice I received in my investment thread, I bought a house.
You took my advice?? Well done!

I hope you figured out a repayment schedule that will see the house paid off within 10 years. The sooner you pay off the house, the more secure you will feel.
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Old 10th March 2012, 10:36 PM   #14
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I have two Roombas, one for each floor, with laminate flooring. They work perfectly with one minor exception: my dog sheds excessively and the tiny collection bins fill VERY quickly.

This means that once it fills up with dog hair, it gets jammed up and stops. There is a larger size bin available, but it is a sweeper only (meaning no vacuum). So, I'm stuck with having to constantly empty the bins.

So, if you don't have a pet in the house that sheds its body weight in fur weekly, I find they work terrifically.

(P.S. to give you an idea of how much shed fur I'm talking about: I fill the bin of one of these daily thanks to dog and cat.)
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Old 11th March 2012, 03:39 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Vacuuming a floor only takes a few minutes. They might be the most horrible few minutes of your life but pinning your faith on a device that has less intelligence than a slug sounds like even less fun.


Never had a root canal without anesthesia?
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Old 11th March 2012, 04:09 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by Andrew Wiggin View Post


Never had a root canal without anesthesia?
Is that worse?
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Old 11th March 2012, 04:18 AM   #17
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Hang on, I'll find out.
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Old 11th March 2012, 09:21 AM   #18
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I used to have a dog I nicknamed Roomba when she was old and went a little blind...right now I'm pretty sure my dogs would eat it alive, assuming it's a neat new toy I'd bought just for them. They are in the Anything That Moves department...
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Old 11th March 2012, 08:46 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Is that worse?
I guess it depends on how much you actually hate doing the vacuuming, and how given you are to hyperbole.
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Old 11th March 2012, 08:51 PM   #20
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I've lost count of how many millions of times that I have been accused of being given to hyperbole.

Last edited by psionl0; 11th March 2012 at 08:53 PM.
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Old 12th March 2012, 01:10 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by Dessi View Post
Has anyone tried other models of robot cleaning slaves?
yes, but its NSFW or this forum
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Old 12th March 2012, 10:40 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by Dessi View Post
Roomba robot slave
Also, I prefer the term "house-bound robot companion."
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Old 12th March 2012, 02:04 PM   #23
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Hackable robot platform that cleans your house. 'Nuff said.
Geek out with your robot friends.
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Old 12th March 2012, 02:56 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Tiktaalik View Post
I used to have a dog I nicknamed Roomba when she was old and went a little blind...right now I'm pretty sure my dogs would eat it alive, assuming it's a neat new toy I'd bought just for them. They are in the Anything That Moves department...
Malamutes by any chance?
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Old 13th March 2012, 06:38 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by catsmate1 View Post
Malamutes by any chance?
Actually, Australian Cattle Dogs. So was Roomba.
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Old 13th March 2012, 07:22 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by Dessi View Post
Has anyone tried other models of robot cleaning slaves?
Have you considered a woomba?
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Old 14th March 2012, 12:16 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Dessi View Post
Does anyone own one of these? If so, do they work well, worth the money, and would you recommend them? Has anyone tried other models of robot cleaning slaves?
Got a roomba ~15 months ago, no battery issues.

The little under-unit looks like a toy but does a genuinely good job on hardwood & linoleum and an OK job on rugs & carpet.

The design is decent however the cleaning hub (beater/brush bar?) gets all sorts of fabric threads, hairs and fibers rolled abound the hub and this requires regular manual cleaning an digging the fibers out with a tool. Needs to be cleaned out every several rooms or else it jams up.

Still a net positive, worthwhile purchase.
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Old 12th November 2012, 12:07 PM   #28
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Resurecting this thread as Susan and I are considering getting a Roomba.

Thought I would address this:

Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
Vacuuming a floor only takes a few minutes. They might be the most horrible few minutes of your life but pinning your faith on a device that has less intelligence than a slug sounds like even less fun.
Vacuuming a floor is not that easy for everyone, psion.

Try vacuuming a room while in a wheel chair, using your one functioning hand.

I assure you that it takes waay more than "just a few minutes".

And, although she is fully ambulatory, My Better Half's back and hip issues make it hell for her to just get the vacuum cleaner out of the closet and plugged in, let alone dragging it around a room.

We would gladly "put our faith on a device that has less intelligence than a slug" if it does the job reasonably well, at a reasonable price.
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Old 12th November 2012, 01:08 PM   #29
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I've considered it, primarily because I have a dog that sheds tons of fur. If a robot can do a 90% effective job daily and I just have to empty the bin when I get home, that's far better than having to vacuum/sweep every other day.

Last time I looked the newer models that were recommended for pet hair they were like $600 or $700. I have a reasonably large space to be vacuumed, and it's all tile. I only looked at Roombas, not competitors.
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Old 12th November 2012, 02:29 PM   #30
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Someone needs to make a roomba charger station that sucks roomba's bin into a large trash can sized bin.
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Old 12th November 2012, 04:08 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by RussDill View Post
Someone needs to make a roomba charger station that sucks roomba's bin into a large trash can sized bin.
And then takes the bin out for collection every Tuesday, Xmas and Easter excepted.
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Old 13th November 2012, 02:17 PM   #32
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The Roomba needs to branch out.

It could satisfy other needs, more pressing than a spotless floor.
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Old 13th November 2012, 03:25 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by GodMark2 View Post
I don't have a Rooma.

But, I got a Neato XV-11 Robotic All-Floor Vacuum System a while back, and it's ever so nice (at least since they fixed the broken wheel tension spring problem that left the first ones limping). Laser scanning to map out the room, single pass over each patch to be cleaned, back and forth in an efficient pattern. No running around and bumping into everything like the Roombas.
-snip-
I have one of these also, and I agree with pretty much everything here. We have two cats and a dog, and run our Neato almost daily. The amount of cat hair bunnies is greatly reduced. I do a proper vacuum of corners maybe once a fortnight.
We had the tension spring break in our first one, but we've had our replacement a year without issue. My only quibble is the dust bin sensor it a bit buggy, it sometimes doesn't detect that the bin has been replaced. We've used blue tac as an interim fix as I haven't had the time to take it apart or go into the software.

If you do get a robot vac, make sure it is logic driven (instead of just random), and maps out the room. The brush in the Neato works well to pick up dust and fur.

psion with this I am able to set the vacuum to run before I go to work or out. If I try to vacuum with my son home (and no-one else to hold him) he either gets scared or tries to crawl all over the vacuum. I also don't particularly want to spend 20 minutes every other day to keep on top of the pet fur.
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Old 13th November 2012, 07:45 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by GodMark2 View Post
I got a Neato XV-11 Robotic All-Floor Vacuum System a while back, and it's ever so nice
One problem with my robot came up only recently (after many hours of use). The motor driving the brush can get clogged with stray hairs, which will shorten the battery life greatly. It originally was able to complete the apartment in a single run, it was taking two when clogged. Fortunately, it's smart enough to return to it's dock, recharge, and resume all on it's own.

The motor is behind several baffles, so the hair builds up very slowly, but it does get in there. The only way to remove that hair requires taking the entire machine apart, and using a knife to slowly cut away the offending hair. I don't know if they've changed this in current models.
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