iRobot Roomba Scheduler

I had never used a robotic vacuum before, so I was really excited when Julie told me that she had a Roomba Scheduler that needed to be tested out and reviewed. I gladly volunteered.

Julie handed me a big cardboard box and a plastic bag of extra accessories. I couldn’t resist but to open it up right there at work. Inside the box was the Roomba, the battery, the docking bay and charger, an extra brush and squeegee and a virtual wall. In the bag was another virtual wall, another extra brush and squeegee.

irobot roomba

It was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, so the office was all but deserted. So, we plugged it in, let it get a charge on it and then let it loose on the office floor (which is supposed to be vacuumed nightly). This test pointed out a few things to keep in mind when bringing a Roomba into an area where only human-propelled vacuums have been used in the past. For instance, the Roomba has a habit of finding any unsecured cable or wire that is touching the floor. The Roomba tried to eat no fewer that two network cables and three power cords before we got everything secured and out of reach. The other thing that the Roomba taught us was that either the office doesn’t get vacuumed every day or the vacuum that they use needed to have the bag changed somewhere during the Reagan Administration. Within about 45 minutes, the bin on the Roomba had to be emptied four times, due to all of the crud that was on the floor.

So, the Roomba then made the trek home and I setup the Roomba with the docking bay (charger) under a rocking chair, in the living room. Others online had mentioned that they had success with putting the bay under a chair. Apparently these other Roomba owners had carpet and not hardwood flooring, because the Roomba continually had trouble docking, because it scooted the charger rather than docking.

Once again, the Roomba pointed out a few places that needed some attention to make my home Roomba-friendly. I setup the schedule to have the Roomba run at 7:00pm each evening (mostly so that we could actually watch it run). The Roomba ran every night for almost two weeks without any issues, then it happened. The Roomba found its way under another chair in the living room and came at its docking bay from behind. He did an excellent job of cleaning back there, but somehow found the power cord and got caught on it. He rolled back and forth several times and ended up breaking the connector in the side of the docking bay, where the power cord connects. Luckily, the charger can be plugged straight into the Roomba, which charges the Roomba, but also disables the schedule.

Overall, the Roomba does an excellent job of cleaning, even though it was challenged in our house by dog and cat fur. Initially, it was louder than I originally anticipated, but we quickly became accustomed to the sound, especially in exchange for not having to run the regular vacuum.

The virtual walls work well, but I was unable to find any way of scheduling these to turn on with the vacuum, so we had to remember to turn them on a few minutes before the vacuum turned on. The vacuum actually stops a couple of inches short of the virtual wall, but this wasn’t normally enough to worry about.

The schedule for the Roomba is programmed via the remote control. I had no problems with the programming, but at times, other commands sent from the remote, such as manual “driving” commands and the “return to docking bay” command seemed to go completely ignored by the Roomba.

irobot roomba

The only negatives that I found were that the docking bay does not work well on hardwood or other smooth floor,the noise was initially louder than expected and the Roomba apparently ignores the remote at times. If I buy a replacement docking bay, I think that I will mount one of those thin, transparent cutting boards to the bottom of the docking bay, so that the Roomba will be sitting on the cutting board before it tries to dock with the bay, preventing it from scooting.

All said, I’d give the Roomba Scheduler a rating of 3 on a scale of pi.

This particular model appears to be discontinued, but you can find it on sale on various online stores such as Amazon.com.

 

Product Information

Price:
Manufacturer:irobot
Pros:
  • Excellent job of cleaning
  • Can be scheduled to vacuum at predetermined times
Cons:
  • Docking bay does not work well on hardwood or other smooth floors
  • Vacuuming noise somewhat louder than expected
  • Sometimes the Roomba ignores commands from the remote
Posted in: Home, Kitchen

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Alan Hoyle January 29, 2008, 9:35 am

    The virtual walls can be scheduled too.

    See page 18 in the following manual:

    http://www.irobot.com/images/consumer/cs/097.06-Roomba-Gnrc-Manual.pdf

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  • David Wendland January 29, 2008, 12:50 pm

    I’m not too clear on your some of your opinions of the roomba….

    First you mentioned how much dirt it picked up yet you didn’t mention that maybe it is just a good vacuum, Instead you quivel about something must be wrong with the other vacuum. Plus You forgot to mention that this vacuum will get in and under things that a regular vacuum can’t get to, thus it will find that hidden dirt.

    And regarding the docking station, its pretty obvious that the docking station should be against a wall. For one it you won’t have cords out in the open and two, it can brace itself against the wall. The problems you experienced were at no fault to the device, just the user.

    But i have noticed the same flaky response to the remote that you mentioned. But then again why do you need to drive it anyways, we should just let it do its thing These vacuums are awesome in terms of cleaning ability, convenience, and a bit fun!

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  • Andrew Baker January 29, 2008, 7:37 pm

    Yes the roomba is a great vacuum. I have 3 pets that excel at dropping hair everywhere. Roomba once a day fixes that.

    As for the hardwood. Here is a solution that worked, without the need to go crazy.

    Get nice strong double stick foam tape. (not the super thick kind) and the rubber sticky matt stuff most people put in there cupboards to keep things from sliding around. Cut it out in shape of the base bottom. use tape to stick it. This material will not slide on a hardwood floor or lanolium, (not sure about tile) IT provides enough tracking to keep the base from moving.

    Also remember to program your walls, They do work. I use them to keep Roomba out of the bathroom, he hungers for frilly bathmats. He also has an attraction to my iPod cable. He has eaten it more then once.

    Although Roomba is a bit louder then I care for, I have him vacuuming while i am at work. Entertain the cats.

    Want to drive your cats nuts? I taped a laser pointer to the top of roomba, turning him into a cat torturing device. Quite fun.

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  • John Kes January 30, 2008, 12:19 pm

    The scheduling remote is lousy for manually driving the Roomba. Seems it can’t handle going directly between straight to turn, or vice versa. You have to let go of the button for one direction before you can go to another direction. The old style black Roomba remote works much better. Also, the beacon on the docking base interferes with the Roomba receiver, so the Roomba can’t receive commands from the remote if it is too close to the base.

    Great tip for the docking base from Baker. I will have to try that.

    I recently noticed that the battery did not last as long. I thought it was going bad. Turns out that dog hair in the brush bearings caused excess friction and power consumption. Battery life went back to normal after I took the brushes out for cleaning. There was a lot of stuff to clean out. I had to use alcohol to clean the dirt sensor.

    I run mine every other day on my hardwood floor.

    [Edited at January 30, 2008 12:22:55 PM.]

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