Using iRobot roomba 560 in an Indian home

Published January 9, 2014 10:23 am

WP_001937In my effort to automate the house chores, I had gone with the instinct last year and looked for solutions to automate home cleaning – sweeping and moping. Note: all the data in this post is roughly 1 year old. For this, I had purchased iRobot Roomba for sweeping.

First the preface. It all started with the maid issues typical of middle class house hold in India. Absent, leave extensions without notice, and frequently in a month. I tried to solve that by getting a robot to do the chores. For the research, the reviews on amazon.com were very helpful. The customers have written very detailed feedback there for the products. After seeing the stats 1) How many years the product has been in market 2) total number of reviews 3) reviews after a year+ of usage – I got essentially which robot technology is mature enough to give me bang for the buck. My priorities included:

  1. It should not take too long to clean a typical bed room.
  2. it should suit Indian house hold means tiled (not carpet) floor, cleaning dust well, do good job at cleaning like corners etc.
  3. maintenance should be contained to less than 5-10 minutes after cleaning.
  4. automation that u can switch it on and forget about it. it should find it’s way around obstacles.
  5. it should not make too much noise that it distracts me and other family members.
  6. In one charge, it should clean at least two bed rooms.
  7. life time of at least 3 years.

This required going over the reviews, critic reviews, watching few youtube videos, reviews after a year. I found that Roomba was mature enough. There were people in western countries like USA who have purchased multiple roombas to automate full house cleaning. It has been in market for long. There were users with year plus usage with decent reviews. It is not supported by iRobot in India officially. but I could find seller on ebay global who was selling 220V ready Roomba with additional 7 spares free to make the deal lucrative. It would cost be 32k. Money was not trivial. I sat on it for 1-2 week.

There was one more robot I researched. That was for moping. Without that, the automation was incomplete. There were multiple options. I looked into scooba and evolutions robotics mint. I was not convinced that they were mature enough and give maintenance free quality moping. I finally decided to go ahead with robot only for sweeping and purchased iRobot Roomba 560 220V ready from ebay.

I had consulted but did not bring my family in confidence before the purchase. They won’t agree for the price paid. Robot arrived through blue dart within 15 days of purchase. I was excited. I charged it over night and put to use in one bed room in the morning. I observed that the more the obstacles; the more the time taken by Roomba to finish. I put the chairs etc on bed and sat on bed watching the little robot making various motions – spiral, corner cleaning, exploring the room. The fun was nothing less than playing a video game over weekend!

Roomba did a great job of going over the room and picking fine dust, hairs etc. quality of cleaning was really good. It took order of 40 min. for the room. My family argued that they can finish in 10 minutes vs 40 min. of robot going round and round. but every change is not accepted easily. The thing is – robot is taking its time – not you time. You can lock the room and forget about it. u can even go out for shopping and come back home to see that it has returned back to base station charging itself. then, you can move it to other room. For the home living area, I tried to limit the area for cleaning using virtual wall and closing the doors. I have to experiment early in morning when other family members were asleep or late night.

The quality of cleaning was superior than manual cleaning done using the broom. There was no human to be monitored. It approached all corners, even areas below the table, almirah etc. It ensured that performance was consistent day over day and did not need monitoring. I kept using robot 2 days a week.

To clean the robot, I have to reverse it and put it on a cloth to avoid scratches. Take out the two brushes opening the cleaning compartment below.  Slide eject the storage box by pressing the button and dump the dust in the dustbin. Open the filter in the storage box, dust it and wash with normal water. Remove the small plastic parts on sides of the brushes carefully, wash them with water and put them on a desk to dry. Put the machine on the base station to charge. Next day morning, assemble back the brushes with gears, filter in storage box, put back brushes and storage box in the robot. After learning the technique, it took order of 5-10 minutes to clean the robot.

I would recommend to keep the base (charging) station against a wall. otherwise, the robot struggles to return to base station since it slides. Use a cotton cloth – typical we use to dust our cars. That ensures robot in dust free, and scratch free. It is good to have a brush; kind of brush we use to reach computer keyboard gaps. I had used that to keep robot clean. I have also been disciplined to clean the robot after the run – not let the dust lie in the robot for days. Also charge overnight which I read somewhere gives better battery time for next run.

I could not recruit my family to use the robot. Hence, after some days – it lied unused. It remained so for a year plus since I thought it came to use on crisis times when maid help was absent. Eventually, I decided to sell it on ebay as used item in excellent condition since it was idling.

In summary, it’s a good product. If u want to automate few things on your plate, you can consider this. If u want to automate on behalf of your family, it is good to recruit/sell them on the device first. If u have stable maid help or happy to help yourself with house hold chores, that’s best; you need not add one more gadget to your life and eco-system. Last but not the least, check also the latest robots in the market if u go for a buy.

References

  1. A search on youtube will help you see iRobot Roomba 560 in action.

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