iRobot Roomba 530 Vacuum Review

Reviewing a vacuum cleaner isn’t the most interesting of things I can think of to do, however, when it’s a Robot Vacuum Cleaner then suddenly it becomes more interesting. Today I am reviewing the iRobot Roomba 530 Vacuum Cleaner and I have to admit, it’s amazing! The thought of leaving a robot to sort all my home vacuuming is great! Just quickly, another vacuum to check out is the neato vacuum cleaner that just recently launched.

In the Roomba 530 Box

In the box you get everything you need to get going right away. This includes the Roomba 530, 1 Virtual Wall, Base Station/charging pack and a spare parts + cleaner. The spare parts include a corner brush which gets in to the corners of your room and filters which should be changed ever few months. The cleaner just helps with cleaning the brushes.

The Roomba 530

The Roomba 530 comes completely assembled and ready to “almost” work out of the box (needs an initial 24 hour charge). It measures about 1 foot in diameter and about 3 inches in height. On the top of the Roomba are the main controls which include a Clean button, Dock button and Spot button. Also a couple of LED indicators which show the status of the robot vacuum are found in this space too. Towards the front is a sensor which detects where the docking station is and where virtual walls are placed.

On the front of the vacuum there is a light-touch bumper which detects walls and slows the robot down to impact gently against any obstacles. On the back of the robot vacuum is the dirt compartment which can store enough dirt for about 2 – 3 cleaning sessions. The compartment unclips easily and the dirt takes just a few seconds to tip out in to the bin.

Underneath you find the wheels, cliff avoidance sensors, rotating corner and wall brush and the regular brush to flick the dirt up from the floor. The two wheels are independently controlled and can send the vacuum any direction that it needs to go. The wheels also height adjust automatically to allow for a transition to different floor surfaces and the ability to climb up small steps (no more then 1cm or so in height).

The brush section contains the main brush which rotates 1 direction while another rubber type brush rotates in the other direction. This helps pass the dirt upwards towards the back of the vacuum in to the dirt compartment. A sensor is also found inside above the brushes that detects when extra dirt is found which then gets the Roomba to concentrate on that particular area of the carpet.

How the Roomba Works

The Roomba uses a computer program called AWARE which controls where the vacuum should go and what it should clean. Dozens of sensors are inside the robot which allow it to work out where it has been and where it needs to still clean. From observing the vacuum it looks totally random to me. It will clean 1 patch, move somewhere else, go another place, move back to the original place and then move to somewhere else completely. In some mysterious way (thanks to AWARE intelligence) it actually manages to clean each part of the carpet at least 4 times in 1 cleaning cycle. The results are very good and every carpet I have cleaned I couldn’t fault.

How good is the Roomba?

The main question on most peoples mind is how good the vacuum actually is. So is it any good? I have to admit that it’s superb. It isn’t completely flawless, but it’s not far from it. When first using the Roomba on a carpet I always need to let it run twice as it tends to miss dirt on the first clean. However, once a carpet has had an initial two cleaning cycles, only the one is needed each time after. A cleaning cycle takes around 45 minutes for an average size room (13ft2) and it is capable of cleaning 3 rooms in one cycle before a recharge and empty is needed. Cliff avoidance sensors prevent the vacuum from tumbling down the stairs.

When starting the vacuum the robot rolls off it’s charging base backwards, the vacuum fires up and away it goes. Virtual walls can be used should you not to want it to pass certain points of your home. Virtual walls are simply miniature light house shaped devices which emit an invisible beam which acts as a wall which the vacuum will not pass. Once the cleaning cycle is complete, or the batteries start to get too low, the vacuum will start to scan for the base station. When it finds it, the vacuum automatically docks and starts it’s charging cycle.

Problems of the Roomba

There are 2 main problems I see with a robot vacuum cleaner all of which are not that bad to be honest.

First of all, it needs a more maintenance then a regular vacuum due to it’s smaller size. Emptying needs to be done daily and the brushes pick up a heck of a lot of dirt which needs cleaning off too. Although I say it needs a fair bit of maintenance it’s really only 5 minutes every few cleaning cycles which isnt bad at all considering it does all the hard work for you.

Secondly, it cannot vacuum stairs, curtains or get cobwebs from the ceiling. For this reason I suggest having the roomba as your main vacuum, but then keep a smaller handheld vacuum for times when hard to reach places need a quick clean. Cars also would need a different vac as it doesn’t do too well on the uneven fabric of your back seat 🙂 Yes, I tried it.

Conclusion

The Roomba is a top quality and very well built product. I highly recommend it and love having it around the house. The benefits are that you can vacuum the whole downstairs of your home while you are at work. As you leave the door, just hit the clean button and then you walk home to a clean carpet every day.

The 530 model which I purchased is a little more limited then it’s big brother (the 560 series) in that it has no remote control and no scheduling. If you are slightly lazy then go for the 530 which will require you to stand up and hit the clean button, but if you are completely lazy then go for the 560 model which can be started, and driven around, via remote control. It can also be scheduled to vacuum automatically at a convenient time for you 😉

Video Notes: The docking happens automatically with no intervention. I started the docking sequence just to show instantly what happens. Also, take no notice of the tip it’s trying to clean 😉 Construction work is being done and the carpet is beyond cleaning.

The Roomba 530 costs just short of $175 (Price for next model up the 535), but considering you will always come home to a nice clean carpet with out lifting a finger, it seems a good price to pay. It’s the next step into the world of home automation.

Product Page

Comments

  1. Does the irobot roomba skipp parts of the floor and does it really clean well? i mean my mother is a neat freak and if it doesn’t clean well then i just waisted my money

  2. @cc – I find it does an extremely good job of the carpets in our home. The only downsides is that it doesn’t do stairs and you have to make sure everything in your living room is out of the way (which is your mother is a neat freak it wont be a problem). I am just impressed with what it does.

    One other downside is that you generally have to empty it every couple of days and it requires a bit more maintenance then a regular vacuum in that you need to clean sensors once in a while and clean out dust caught in the wheels. That’s not often though.

  3. How is it with pet hair. I have a cat and my current vacuum sucks at getting up all the hair she has shed.

    • Not tried it on pet hair unfortunately although the brushes do need to be cleaned quite often if you have long hair that drops on the floor. It certainly picks up that sort of hair.

  4. keith sheehan says:

    In your review, you forgot to mention how long the batteries last, which is another problem with the 530. The batteries they give you with the unit, when you buy it, is probably the cheap ones and last less then a year. The top quality batteries will cost you $138.00 CAD with shipping and handling.

  5. The problem i have is the brushes keep falling off. I have had the530 for less than a month, and it has lost 4 brushes.

  6. Christine Byrum says:

    We were very happy with our 500 series for 2 yrs. Just about the second year it started only going in left and right circles, with no forward or backward movement. Calls to customer support were very disappointing. Was told that there was nothing they could for us since they have no service facilities and our only option was to buy a new unit. What kind of customer service is this?? How could they produce such an innovative and high quality product with no service facilities or repair procedures in mind. A fair comparison-if your car brakes down your only recourse is to buy a new one. We are contacting the NYS attorney general’s office, and the consumer fraud bureau. Think long and hard before purchasing this product.

  7. Pet Vacuums says:

    I have an older version (Roomba 530) and it’s still working fine. It’s great at picking up pet hairs as long as you empty the container regularly. Also good at cleaning from carpet to hardwood floors. My only complaint is the side brush breaks often.

  8. Considering the Irobot advertising on this page, is your analysis slightly biased towards the product??
    I’m guessing so, taking into account for some negative criticism by everyone about the product except you, (it’s obvious that it can’t clean the drapes or ceiling or stairs, that is not criticism)

  9. I have to go along with Christine on this one!!! Our Roomba had the very same symptoms as hers and customer support told me the same thing. We had not even used ours that long before it started acting up and we were told we would just have to buy a new one. It was great for a few months but I would never recommend to anyone to buy one of these. They are too expensive and their customer support is very un-supportive.STAY AWAY FROM IROBOTS!!!!

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