Through my blog and YouTube channel I’ve had the chance to try possibly a dozen robot vacuums, including some of the most expensive and high tech. Those can be cleaning lifesavers, of course, but it got me wondering about the efficiency, effectiveness and reliability of vacuums in the more budget-friendly range. That’s why when I had a chance to review the budget Roomba e5 from iRobot, I was glad to put it to the test. In this review, I’ll tell you about its cleaning prowess, effectiveness and what it can’t do when compared to those more expensive robots—and whether you’ll be wishing you had those features.
iRobot e5 robot vacuum
Overall, this is a great robot vacuum at a fraction of the cost of some higher end models. Like the other iRobot Roomba models that cost more, it sweeps your home thoroughly and has a host of remote operating features. I feel like you’re getting great cleaning power, and nearly all the features as the higher end models.
- Sweeps well
- Great balance of budget bot and useful features
- Lots of remote features
- Easy set up
- Great starter bot
- No dustbin-full alerts
- Larger dustbin would be nice
iRobot Roomba e5 vacuum review
This robot vacuum is a Wi-Fi connected, remote app controlled, voice assistant connected, home sweeping and vacuuming device. It’s about the same size as other Roombas, but without the price tag. It’s round while some other bots are square. The e5 sells for about $449 CAD, making it one of the most affordable Roombas out there.
It works just like any other Roomba, it kind of feels its way around your room by nudging into things, then avoiding obstacles or blocks and moving on. Cliff sensors prevent it from falling down stairs.
In the box, you’re getting just the basics; your ‘bot and a power cord and dock to charge him up.
What’s the difference between Roomba e5 and other robot vacuums?
What’s missing from other higher cost Roombas?
One key difference in this robot over the more expensive ones: it doesn’t have mapping and intelligent navigation where it can see around obstacles, so you might say it navigates more by touch than sight. That navigation and home mapping allows you to create a map of your home so you can clean specific rooms of your home, or set cleaning schedules for those specific rooms of the house on certain days for example.
The e5 offers less suction than the s9+ for example, but I will say it is quieter. There’s also no cleaning/suction boost on carpets with the e5, as there is on the s9. Even so it still gets the job done.
With the e5 you need to manually empty the dust bin when it’s full while higher end Roombas have an optional automatic dirt disposal.
And while a robot like the s9 will run, then recharge itself and then go out again automatically if needed to finish your whole house, the e5 has a maximum run time of up to 90 minutes.
One other thing to point out.. despite this being the budget model, you still get voice control with Google or Alexa!
How well does Roomba e5 clean?
To the big question… how does this less expensive Roomba clean?
I’ve found that the Roombas clean quite well and this bot is no exception; they pick up a lot of different things, from pet hair, to crumbs, from fine dirt or flour to grittier bits like crackers. I would say the e5 might need an extra pass to get as clean as the s9 or i7, and it wasn’t as good as they are at getting the dirt out of the spaces where the grout has worn away in my old floor.
What kind of floors can Roomba clean?
Roombas including the e5 transition really well from tile to hardwood to carpet and clean each surface well, and while I’ve had folks on my YouTube channel complain that it doesn’t handle tall transitions well, in my home it hasn’t been an issue. In short, I would say this Roomba does a good job sweeping up.
Roomba will get around and under things where the pet hair tends to collect, like underneath chairs or in the hallways. And the robot even did a good job of getting into tighter spaces and corners, however his round shape means he can’t get into them perfectly—that’s another difference in these robots; the D-shape of the newer Roombas are meant to let them reach into corners better. With that said, the tiny brushes that extend from the Roomba e5 do increase the robot’s reach into corner areas.
Overall I was not unhappy with how the robot was able to clean, and the spaces he was able to get into, but yes, corners and narrow areas are sometimes a challenge.
In my testing, the e5 would do 2-3 rooms of my 1000 sq ft main floor with a single charge. The robot would go from room to room and find his way in through doorways and around beds or furniture easily.
Using Roomba Spot Clean
Roomba also has a very handy ‘spot clean’ mode and it works quite well. If you spill something on the floor or have a particularly dirty or dusty area, you can bring the Roomba over and select ‘spot clean’, and the device will begin a series of swirl patterns and sweep up everything in that single area. I decided to test this feature by pouring some flour on the floor and then bringing the Roomba over to attack it.
I have some grout missing from spots on our tile floor, and while the Roomba did not have the suction power to get the flour out of those deeper crevices, he was able to get every last bit of flour from the tile surface. I was pretty impressed.
Does Roomba get stuck?
I will say I have come home a couple of times to find my Roombas stopped at the edge of the stairs, or stuck on a rug or a stray sock. That’s because if the robot gets in a spot he can’t get out of, he’ll just shut down and wait for you to rescue him, beeping out a few ‘help me’ blips. He also has a built-in ability to untangle himself from any cords he may get caught on. Even so, I find Roombas are the least likely of all the robot vacuums I’ve reviewed, to ever get stuck.
Dustbin maintenance and alerts
Keeping the Roomba’s dustbin canister clean and emptying it regularly is important to keep your robot running well. iRobot recommends you empty the dustbin after each use. While I tried to do this, sometimes I forgot.
The Roomba is supposed to let you know if the dustbin is too full to continue. This, however, has never worked well for me. I never get the alerts, and it never shows up on my app screen. To that end, my dustbin is usually full to bursting after just one run, with debris lodged in the suction tube. It needs to be manually pulled free. I’d say the lack of alerts is the biggest problem with all Roombas I’ve tried.
That issue aside, the app works very well, letting you manage your bots, adjust their settings and turn cleaning on and off. It’s easy to get set up and connected and a handy way to manage your robot army.
Schedule your clean for when you’re not home
Using the schedule feature in the iRobot app, you can choose which days of the week and times of day you’d like your robot to clean for you. Similarly, if you’ve dashed out unexpectedly and would love a quick sweep up before you get home, you can just hit the clean button inside the app, and the robot will do a pass of your floors before you get home.
Will Roomba e5 work without using the iRobot HOME App?
Yes, Roomba e5 can be used without the iRobot HOME App, but the App allows you to use your iOS or Android smart device to help you have the best possible experience with Roomba e5. With the iRobot HOME App, you can gain access to exclusive features including cleaning while away from home, managing your robot’s cleaning schedule, customizing your cleaning preferences and more.
Is Roomba e5 noisy?
One of the concerns many consumers have when shopping for a robot vacuum is, will it be noisy? I can say with confidence, that most robot vacuums are noisy; where we can debate is the degree of noise.
Most folks would not be able to sleep through a robot vacuum cleaning cycle, and you probably wouldn’t want to take a zoom call when it’s running. I did feel like the e5 was marginally quieter than the s9, and that may be due to its difference in suction power.
One last point on noise; The great thing about your robot housekeeper however, is that you can schedule him to do your bidding while you were outside in the backyard, running errands, or otherwise not home.
How to use Google & Alexa with Roomba
One of the great things about iRobot’s Roomba devices is that they work with both Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant. That means you can just ask your assistant to send it out, send it home, pause the clean and more. I’ve found the digital assistant features work very well and they’re very convenient. Just link the Roomba skill inside your Google or Alexa app.
Can a Roomba replace an upright vacuum?
This is a question I get all the time. The answer is, that depends. While Roomba is a great way to keep regular maintenance down, it can’t go everywhere like doing baseboards, furniture and deep corners, and the e5 in particular isn’t going to power dirt out of your thicker carpets like an upright will. If you have lots of carpets, you might still need a solution for those. But if you’re trying to be low maintenance, a Roomba and something like a handheld or small vacuum could bridge any gaps.
Overall review: iRobot Roomba e5
Overall, this is a great robot vacuum at a fraction of the cost of some higher end models. Like the other iRobot Roomba models that cost more, it sweeps your home thoroughly and has a host of remote operating features. I feel like you’re getting great cleaning power, and nearly all the features as the higher end models. When it comes to the downsides, I with I could get dustbin full alerts, but perhaps that’s an iPhone issue. I also wish that for all the real estate on this vacuum, the dustbin was larger.
You likely won’t even miss the stuff this robot doesn’t have, like home mapping or automatic dirt disposal, and if you think you need those features, an increase to your budget will give you lots more toys.
Overall the Roomba e5 is easy to set up, easy to use and cleans your home very well at a great, low price. I think it’s a great starter robot housekeeper for people on a budget. I’ve seen the price vary wildly from $200-$449 CAD from places like Best Buy or Amazon.
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