iRobot Roomba 530 Review

Heather says:

I shouldn’t have so much affection for a robot.

There, I said it.

I am far too fond of this vacuum, heck it even has a name. Internetz meet Gertie, my newest minion¹:

Roomba 530

Do you remember the story, There Will Come Soft Rains by Ray Bradbury?

Nine-fifteen, sang the clock, time to clean.

Out of warrens in the wall, tiny robot mice darted. The rooms were a crawl with the small cleaning animals, all rubber and metal. They thudded against chairs, whirling their moustached runners, kneading the rug nap, sucking gently at hidden dust. Then, like mysterious invaders, they popped into their burrows. Their pink electric eyes faded. The house was clean.

Gertie IS my robot mouse. Now if we can just skip the nuclear apocalypse part, I am perfectly content to be living in the future.

Gertie is an iRobot 530 Roomba

The Good:

Would you believe I haven’t swept since February 22? Do you know how much time I have back in my life? I loathe sweeping, it’s one of my least favorite chores, because as soon as I’m done, it’s time to do it again, at least in our house where kids and the dog traipse in and out all day long².

I’m more inspired to make sure -read that as make the kids do this- that all the Legos and potential Roomba hazards are off the floor at any given time.  This in itself keeps the house looking cleaner.

It is the first appliance I’ve that has reduced the net amount of work in my life.  For the record, I’m counting appliances invented in my lifetime, washing machines and dishwashers have been around a lot longer than me.

Our other minions will someday be coordinated enough to take over some chores, but they have been mess makers from day one.

We have a large basset hound who plays an important role in our family. He is the shedder and he does it well, probably too well, but the iRobot is keeping up with him. We’ll know for sure in the late spring when he goes into his annual allergy-driven shed mode, but so far so good.

The Awesome:

I also have a new routine. Each night before I go to bed, I turn the barstools over on the counter -takes me back to my bartending days- and turn on the Roomba before I head to my room. Usually while I’m reading, I hear the congratulatory tones that mean “All done” and hear the Roomba send itself back to its charger. How awesome is that? A vacuum that tucks itself into bed? I admit it, I am totally anthropomorphizing a vacuum cleaner, but wouldn’t you?

Potential Cons:

Our home has solid flooring and an open floor plan on on the main level. I moved our Dyson upstairs to tackle the carpeting. In order to give a fair review, I  did give the Roomba a try on the carpet, but overall I still prefer our Dyson Animal for pure sucking power, even though it’s almost 7 years old. The thing about hard flooring is that suction doesn’t matter much at all, on carpet the Dyson rules. Now if they ever automate. . .

There are some people for whom I would not suggest a Roomba:

Clutterbugs – if you have a lot of junk on the floor, getting ready to set the Roomba is going to be just as big a pain as getting ready to use a regular vacuum.

The OCD – the Roomba does not make nice, straight traditional vacuum lines

People with lots of nooks and cubby holes to vacuum or several small rooms not on the same level – for example, a sunken living room, in a split level house would make the chore aggravating.

Finally, people with lots of carpeting and several pets. There comes a point where the small dirt collection bin on the Roomba would become annoying to empty. I don’t mind doing it each morning, but if I had to stop it mid job, to empty the vacuum it would grow tiresome.

I should note that if you have exceptionally deep recesses under your kitchen cabinetry, you may still have to get down there and whisk out the crumbs once in a while.

Pricing?

Would I charge a Roomba on a credit card? No. Absolutely not.

Would I qualify this as anything other than a luxury purchase? No.

Would I skip eating out and other treats for a while to save up? Yes. Absolutely.

Send your questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

¹I received an iRobot 530 Roomba from iRobot gratis. I was not asked to do a review.
²Rarely noted drawback of homeschooling, the dirt trackers don’t disappear for 6 hours a day.

Related Posts:


Comments

  1. says

    Yes, it works just fine. I wouldn't expect it to handle a flokati kind of rug, but normal ones? Absolutely. It adjusts its height automatically. I find the thing fascinating.

  2. Jean says

    I hope yours lasts longer than ours have. Granted, ours are used 2-3 times daily on carpet and we have many mess makers (both living here full time and those that only come daytimes) and long haired dogs and a long haired me. I clean the brushes with every-other-use, carefully removing all hair and such and the kids dump the dirt cup every use. I'm still pretty sad our second is dead and I'm back to vacuuming. I miss the kids racing around so "Spot" (before him, "Harry") can work. Never seen them clean up faster!

  3. says

    My fiance bought a roomba on Craigslist about 18 months ago, his name is GoGo. We found a roomba at Goodwill Outlet a couple of weeks ago for just $2.99 (includes robot, charging dock, cord, virtual wall, and maybe something else I'm forgetting)!! We named her GaGa. She had a bad battery, so we put GoGo's battery into GaGa, and we run GaGa twice a week. We have hardwood floors with rugs. There is one rug in particular both roombas hate, and get stuck on, we have no idea why though because it is very similar to our other rugs.

    • says

      does the rug in question have black borders or other dark coloured areas? Roomba uses IR lights and sensors to detect when it's about to fall off the edge of something (like stairs). Dark areas on rugs reduce the amount of reflected light enough that Roomba thinks it's reached an edge and will turn back.
      My recent post Spam bots are back

  4. RhurbarbPie says

    My husband and I have a sick roomba. I agree that they're great, but I haven't lived with a healthy one for very long (this version, Marshall 2 – apparently it is quite common to name them – was purchased to replace Marshall a couple years ago before I moved in with my husband). Now they are both ill. My guess is that our five animals are probably too hard on it. I have heard there is a pet version, and it might be worthwhile upgrading to that one.

    One question about your post – what do you mean about not putting it on a credit card? what are your criteria for charging a purchase to a credit card and why?

    • says

      I can definitely see 5 animals being hard on almost any vacuum, especially if they shed anything like our 1.
      As far as the CC thing, I was basically stating that this a luxury purchase in two different ways. I REALLY like this roomba. It does make me happy, but the frugal part of me worries about telling everyone they must have this appliance. The idea of paying more than retail (assuming a person paid on time and therefore had interest of some level accruing) on a depreciating object bothers me.
      I know it's a personal decision and probably none of my business, but personal finance falls under lifeskills in my head, so I try to at least encourage responsible behavior.
      Maybe I listen to too much Dave Ramsey. . .

  5. Amanda says

    "Ernie", my Pet Series Roomba, has changed my life!!! (Had it for over 2 years/works great) My springer spaniel has skin condition with really bad dandruff and sheds her long hair A LOT…YUCK! I have a husband who will not take off his work boots that track in dirt, a cat and a sweet nine month old baby who is crawling. Roomba keeps me sane. It picks up all the hair, all the pet dander, dust and dirt off the hard wood and our sisal rug. Roomba gets it all. Used every day, my pet hair is not overpowering to it. Just clean the hair off the rollers after every use. BEST MONEY EVER SPENT! I also have Dyson that I use once a week for the deep cleaning.

  6. says

    I had a Roomba Discovery a bunch of years ago (before they started numbering the different models). I always thought they were pretty awesome, although I'm pretty sure I ended up spending almost all the time it would have saved me watching the darn thing work.
    http://blog.imabug.net/archives/2004/12/roomba-in

    That was just before we got a dog. Fortunately she didn't shed much and Roomba was able to keep up with the dog hair. We still vacuumed occasionally, because Roomba is essentially a glorified sweeper and does a good job picking stuff off the surface, but not deeper down in carpet.

    Then one summer day, Roomba got toasted by a thunderstorm induced power surge and we were back to vacuuming. a few months later when we became a two dog household Roomba and the old vacuum were replaced by a Dyson Animal Ball (DC17).
    My recent post Spam bots are back

  7. Alli McFarland Crumley says

    Um, I have two roombas and neither of them have names. I think I am missing something!

    We clean our roombas after every use, breaking down the rollers, using my husband's air compressor to blow away the particles. The amount of hair from me and one dog is kind of disturbing but doable. Each roomba is 4+ years old. We have had to replace each battery and now the older one is kind of not sucking well on the rugs. Great on the hardwood. Since we have berber carpet, it works well.
    My recent post Back to firsts

  8. Christine says

    I love my Helga (what I named mine) a wee bit more tonight because as she docked, her "beep beep ba BEEP ba BEEEEP!" triggered in my head, "CHARGE!" Which I then sang out to my family before I even realized that this was, exactly, what she was doing. :)