Product Review: iRobot Roomba 605

Avatar for Emre Tan

Many would remember robot vacuum cleaners from the appearance in popular TV series Breaking Bad, where a UFO-shaped robot was displayed often moving around the house of the main character. What a successful product placement! Early-stage vacuum cleaners were rather expensive. However, lately they have become more affordable as every new technology eventually does.

As a result, I recently purchased an iRobot Roomba 605. My search criteria were: minimum 1 hour runtime, being one of top three leading  brands for robot vacuum cleaners, and price. Prices are the same across most e-commerce sites. Luckily I found a limited time offer on Vente Exclusive at 199 euro only.

The 605 is a circular robot that uses a pair of wheels for traction and a third castor wheel for stability. It’s pretty easy to carry it around to clean the other areas in the home. In the box is a charging station, which the robot returns to when it has finished a cleaning job or the battery gets low mid-run.

The small 0.5 liter dustbin is mounted at the rear of the robot, which needs to be emptied every time the robot is used.

605 is the base model of the Roomba series and misses the few fancy features of more expensive versions such as remote control via a smartphone app, virtual wall, and timer. Despite the lack of these advanced features it does have all the core features I need in a robotic cleaning assistant, e.g., an array of sensors, good cleaning technology, and bumpers. It doesn’t have laser mapping technology, however it is able to map its surroundings successfully and moves methodically to cover every inch of the room. It has also a “spot” functionality and when activated, it cleans a particularly dirty area. It comes especially handy for families with kids, who leave crumbs on the floor after each meal.

It requires a bit of maintenance and cleaning, especially to remove the hair from the main brush and spinning side brush otherwise it stops spinning. The noise level can be annoying as well at 61dB. It’s best to turn it on just before leaving home. Finally, the cleaning power is not comparable with traditional vacuum cleaners given that it needs multiple rounds to pick up some bread crumbs.

Is it greener and more energy efficient than normal vacuum cleaners?

Interestingly, iRobot does not share much information about the energy efficiency of its devices. However, a simple approach can be used to compare energy consumption: Roomba takes three hours to charge 30 watt, and keeping it all the time on docking station would consume 5 watt. Using the robot every day would cost, based on the current electricity price in the Netherlands, 8.16 euro a month.

For comparison, I used a similar priced Dyson with a 1400 Watt motor. Running it 15 minutes a day would cost 12.72 euros a month.

Besed on how much electricity it consumes, Roomba seems like the more energy efficient choice. However, keep in mind that it’s comparing apples and pears given that the devices have different functionalities.

Roomba 605: Good entry choice despite weaknesses

Overall, Roomba 605 is a good choice despite low suction power and frequent maintenance/cleaning needs. It’s reasonably priced and hardly ever gets stuck. It goes easily under the furniture and gets on with cleaning, returns to base when it’s finished. And that is exactly what you want a robot vacuum cleaner to do.

Avatar for Emre Tan

Managing Director of Icecat, MSc. in International Finance, investor via E-nvest., ex- IBM, PwC, McKinsey

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