I really hate vacuuming, and so I vacuum as little as possible. However, in contrast to my hate of vacuuming, I love a clean house. And so I either find myself vacuuming (yuk), or living in a not-so-clean house (yuk).
So to reduce my emotional distress related to vacuuming, I recently bought a Roomba. Here are my impressions and some tips:
Efficacy of the Roomba
The Roomba certainly keeps my floors clean. I'll still have to get out the traditional vacuum to clean the moldings, window sills, and some tricky spots (like behind my desk), but the bulk of my vacuuming effort has gone away.
The Roomba is not nearly as fast as the local cleaning service - but it does do a good job of covering all accessible floor surfaces. My routine: I get up in the morning, and just before I leave for work, I ask the Roomba to vacuum a particular room in my house. By the time I get home, the room's floor has been cleaned and Roomba has recharged itself.
The Roomba can miss some pockets of dirt. But since I have the Roomba working just about every day, it eventually gets just about everything.
You and your dirty, dirty dustbin
If you have a dirty floor, the Roomba's dustbin can fill up quite rapidly. I recommend that you empty the dustbin after each run until you understand how quickly it fills.
Roomba Power Consumption and Considerations
My Roomba has the very neat-and-cool "Home Base" dock. When the Roomba is tired (low on battery power), it searches for the dock and plugs itself in.
I hooked my watt meter up to the Home Base. When the Roomba is charging (amber light pulsing), Roomba-in-dock consumes about 30 watts. Once the Roomba is fully charged (green light), Roomba-in-dock consumes about 5 watts. When the Roomba is out of the dock, and presumably vacuuming, the home base consumes about 3 watts.
My Roomba came with a metal nickel hydride battery - a battery type that is much more environmentally sound than the nickel cadmium batteries used in many other consumer electronics. It should still be properly recycled after it's exhausted (many years from now, I hope), but at least it has less toxic chemicals inside.
Roomba the Martyr
One of my sofas has just enough clearance for the Roomba to scoot under, which is nice because Roomba can vacuum under it. But, sadly, this sofa is quite old and not so plumb... and so Roomba can get wedged under it. Further compounding the situation, the sofa has very sharp staples sticking out of the bottom, resulting in a scarred up Roomba.
Roomba senses objects (like tables and walls) by bouncing into them. And so my Roomba quickly developed "bump marks" on it's front bumper - mostly white paint from my mouldings. I haven't noticed any Roomba-generated damage, but Roomba itself is quickly looking marred up.
Roomba has sacrificed its beauty for me. In return, I feed it dirt and electricity, and shovel out its dust bin.