iRobot Roomba i7+ Review
Over the past few weeks, we have been testing the iRobot Roomba i7+ in our home. While we have published a few articles, we felt that full review wouldn’t happen until we had spent ample time with our Roomba. With 3 young kids, our house gets dirty a lot, and even I was skeptical with how well the Roomba would perform, given our cramped living space and overly messy children. Exactly how well did this iRobot product perform? Let’s take a look.
There are a number of iRobot products available, and it’s often difficult to fully understand which you should buy. Even with this model, should you log onto the iRobot website, you can choose between the Roomba i7 and the Roomba i7+. Once you understand iRobot’s naming mechanisms, it will be easy to understand which model is for you. Simply put, the + added to a Roomba product name simply means the device comes with it’s own self-empting base station, which is where we will start this review.
Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal
If you have the funds to purchase the + model of the i7, we highly recommend doing so. Having a self emptying base station means you won’t have to interact with all the dust, pollen, and micro-organisms that you normally would have to if you emptied the Roomba vacuum yourself. The base station is much smaller than I imagined it would be, measuring about a foot across and perhaps 2 – 2.5 feet tall. You will need ample space on both sides of the station, however, that will aide in the vacuums ability to dock itself. You will also need about 4 feet in-front of the station as this is the space the vacuum will use to line itself up when heading home.
The base station is all self sufficient, outside of when you’ll be required to change out the vacuum bag (once every 2-4 months, depending on the size of your home and the amount of debris it collects). The entire system traps 99% of pollens, microorganisms, dust, etc. which is great for those with severe allergies. Once it completes its fun, the Roomba will return home to the base station, where the contents of the vacuum will be sucked up into the AllergenLock bag. For as quiet as the Roomba is compared to a traditional vacuum when actually cleaning, when the system sucks the contents up into the base, it is incredibly loud, which his one of the reasons why it’s not advisable to run your Roomba while you sleep, if you are a light sleeper.
I’ve run the Roomba daily for about 21 straight days, and have yet to encounter a single error with the base station, and haven’t had to touch the disposal bag once. When you are required to exchange the bag, however, an easy to use handle will actually close off the bag access as you remove it from the base, keeping all of the debris in the bag and out of your home!
The Robot Vacuum
While the base station is fun to talk about, it’s obviously not as exciting as the Roomba vacuum itself. iRobot has continued with their traditional round Roomba design – which they have altered in the i9 vacuum – with one rotating brush on the outside to draw dirt towards the vacuum’s rollers. While I think the brush adequately pulls in dirt and debris most of the time, the rotation speed will sometimes spray debris as opposed to picking it up. And this has caused debris to spray into areas the vacuum has already finished, meaning it won’t be picked up when the process is complete.
While I was originally concerned about the various drops around my home, the Roomba has built in depth sensors all around the outside of the device. The second it comes near a drop – even a short drop – the sensors will pick up on the pending doom and turn your Roomba around quickly. A solid design on all side of the Roomba also means that obstacles around your home won’t cause internal damage to the Roomba when it collides with walls, cabinets, chairs, and more. That being said, a more scratch resistant material would have been nice, as my Roomba is looking well used despite being only a few weeks old. Ultimately, however, it’s still a vacuum cleaner first and foremost, and in that area, it has performed better than expected.
Leading into this product review, I took a look at what others were saying about Roomba vacuums as a whole, and for the most part, the same, consistent thoughts were shared – “I’m not sure how well a Roomba would perform in cluttered spaces.” I’m here to tell you that regardless of what you might have in your home, the i7 Roomba vacuum will perform very well, getting into every area it can access. How cluttered is my house? I’ll do my best to paint a picture and detail our main floor where we primarily use the vacuum.
With 5 people living here, we have a decent amount of living space. Our dinning room is a maze of 4 table legs and 24 chair legs. For further reference, while the Roomba can fit underneath the chairs, it can only navigate through the chair by the left, right, and front openings. The back legs of our chairs are too narrow, which means the Rooma can not pass through the back.
When cleaning up in the dinning room, I fully expected the Roomba to underperform because of all the obstacles, and because of the higher degree of debris that would ultimately need to be picked up. I’d say that on each run, the Roomba picked up at least 95% of the visible dirt and debris on the floor, with the remaining 5% either being in unreachable areas (primarily room corners) or the corner cupboard. So, can the Roomba i7 clean in a room full of obstacles? Absolutely.
Our kitchen is pretty straight forward, with no obstacles in site. Ultimately, this is where the Roomba was required to pick up more fine materials such as flower, spilt coffee grounds, and sugar / salt. For the most part, it did a great job of grabbing up these items, even if it took a few passes to complete. One of the great features of the Roomba is that it will identify ‘dirtier’ areas of a room and make multiple passes over those spots to ensure it picks up as much debris as possible. Again, I would assume we are picking up about 95% of the visible dirt and debris in this room, again allotting the final 5% to corners and under various appliances.
Like most family rooms around Canada, ours is pretty standard. Two couches, a chair, a couple shelves, a TV stand, and a large coffee table in the middle. There are plenty of obstacles here to derail the Roomba, but that rarely happened. Fortunately, our couches are high enough for the i7 vacuum to slip right underneath, although that often caused different sorts of problems.
Our kids spend a good amount of time in the family room, especially with their daily snacks. That means perhaps a higher concentration of larger debris than in most family homes. And this is where we felt the Roomba could be more effective. Large, flat objects such as chips and crackers tend to be thrown around the by the rotating brush, as opposed to getting sucked up into the vacuum. While the vacuum performed very well in the majority of it’s runs through this room, there were times were I suspect it only picked up 85-90% of debris, and unlike our kitchen and dinning room, a lot of that debris was right out in the middle of the floor.
The other issue we had in this room has more to do with our ability to pick up the room prior to vacuuming, than anything the vacuum is doing wrong. With three kids, you can imagine the amount of debris that gets shoved under the couch, and when I generally remember to pick up prior to running the Roomba, there are those times that I forget, and the Roomba is constantly chiming at me indicating how it was stuck, how the brushes needed to be cleaned, etc. It really was a mess at times.
Overall, most of the issues we had with the Roomba i7+ was a result of my own forgetfulness, as opposed to the robots limitations. See, the Roomba i7+ really is a smart vacuum, with built in Google Assistant (we use Google, but Alexa is also an option here), smart mapping of your home, and so much more. These functions are all carried out on the iRobot app, and uses their signature Genius software to maximize efficiencies.
Once your Roomba has learned your home, it will map it and vacuum it more efficiently. A map will display on your phone, that you can manipulate however you see fit, including the ability to create Clean Zones – where you can create a specific area in your home where you’d like the robot to focus on cleaning – as well as Keep Out Zones, which creates virtual walls in your home. I actually just set one up last night, to keep our Roomba away from the Christmas tree.
The app will quickly become your best friend, and the more your Roomba cleans, the better it will become. And it will all be in the palm of your hand. You can even send your vacuum out on a cleaning run when you aren’t even home! The options here are almost endless. You can set schedules, tell the robot to clean specific rooms, and so much more.
If there was ever a home to really test the iRobot Roomba i7+, it is mine. It’s cluttered, it’s messy because of kids, and it needs a good vacuum every day of the week. Yet the Roomba performs incredibly well in almost every instance, and even when it didn’t, I knew hitting that clean button and sending it out for a second run would ultimately fix any issues encountered the first time it cleaned.
And it does save time. We’ve only hauled our full vacuum out once a week since getting the Roomba, and that was to vacuum in the corners, and clear any cobwebs that might have formed in the upper corners of the room. Other than that, we have been relying on the i7+ to keep our house clean, and it’s been doing a phenomenal job!