Rhonda (the Roomba)

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A few months back, I asked my Facebook friends if they had experience with Roombas.  Despite receiving a lot of mixed reviews, I decided to give it a go.  We recently double the square feet in our house, which also double the square feet that gets covered in dog hair.  I don’t mind vacuuming a couple times a month (on top of what the house cleaner does every other Monday), but it was apparent that it needed more maintenance than I was willing to do (ie every day).

After looking at all the models available, I decided to splurge on the most recent model, Roomba 980. I chose this one because it connects to our wifi.  I know this seems silly, but the idea of connecting to the Roomba through an app in order to create and adjust a cleaning schedule just seemed easier.  Also, I thought the latest model might have worked out some of the technical kinks that were found in some of the earlier models. At the moment, it does not connect to any smart home hubs, but I’m hoping it will eventually.  Since Chris wants to automate everything in the house, I figured this was a better choice than the other models that do not connect.  

So two months in, how do I feel about my purchase? Would I spend $900 (!) on a robot vacuum again? Hell Yes. It’s ridiculous how much dog hair and dirt gets picked up every day.  The picture is only one day’s worth of dirty & hair.  Rhonda (the Roomba) vacuums in places that I would never get to, including under the claw foot tub and the bed.  If she can fit, she will clean.  In the past, when things get a bit too furry, Chris’s allergies would start bothering him, but that hasn’t been an issue since Rhonda (the Roomba) moved in.  I justified this expensive purchase as a “medical need” so I’m particularly tickled that worked out. (Note: Justified to myself. Chris was always on board.) Also, I find myself using the Roomba app fairly often.  Currently, she’s set to start cleaning at 10am.  However, I often start her after I’ve left the house so she’ll be closer to done when I arrive home.  Or if I find out someone is going to stop by the house, I don’t have to wait until I’m home to get the house vacuumed.


Then everything is peachy? Things are peachy, but things aren’t perfect.  Rhonda (the Roomba) does great with dog hair.  With my loooong human hair (lower mid-back), she has a hard time.  My hair gets rapped up in her brushes and spinning sensor. However, my hair has wrapped up and clogged vacuums since I was a teenager so it’s not really a Roomba flaw - it’s a vacuum flaw.  If you flip over my Dyson, you would see a very hairy brush that needs to be cut free.

Rhonda also struggles with items left on the floor, such as phone cords and socks.  If you don’t want it sucked up, don’t leave things on the floor.  Once she gets choked on something, she turns off.  Of course, I’d much rather her turn off than ruin the motor, but it usually results in a weekly game of hide-and-seek.  I can see how that would be annoying for some people, but I actually get a kick out it.  Maybe it’s because we’ve anthropomorphized the Roomba by giving her a name, but I feel like I’m rescuing her.  At least once a week I say, “I need to find Rhonda!” She works so hard for us! I don’t want to leave her stranded!

She is noisy.  I wouldn’t say she’s excessively noisy, but she’s as loud as my Dyson.  Also, she’s high maintenance. Her dirt bin needs to be emptied daily.  If her bin is full, she won’t vacuum.  (Technically you can override this feature, but it seemed like wasteful Roomba mileage.) And she needs her brushes washed once a month or so.

Lastly, I had a bit of a hard time setting her up.  It should be simply plug-n-play, and that’s what iRobot, the creators of Roomba, strived for.  However, I had to contact customer service, but that turned into a great experience.  The Roomba rep even played along with my jokes while getting me fixed up. 

Basically, it’s a vacuum and has many of the same drawbacks as regular vacuum.   It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a robot that vacuums and does a good job vacuuming! That makes up for all the funny quirks.