One of the recent advances unveiled by iRobot is the auto-empty system they unveiled, the Roomba I7+.
In this review, we’ll look at the Roomba I6+ – one of iRobot’s sub-variants in the I-Series line. I’m not sure how different this model is from the I7, but it seems to be sold at a lower cost. I’ve read comments about the I6+ being exclusive to Amazon and the I8 for COSTCO.
According to iRobot, it has similar specs as the I7+ – same auto-empty system, extractors, side brush, and battery.
Less Expensive Auto-Empty Option Than The
Roomba I6+ Review
The Roomba I6+ is one of the latest variants in iRobot’s product line with the same auto-empty system as the I7+. This feature is one of iRobot’s latest innovations and takes out one menial task: emptying the dustbin after every run. It’s large enough to hold up to 30 bin fulls, so there’s no need to dispose of dirt for a few weeks. This feature is a godsend for busy people or doesn’t have time to babysit an appliance.
- No need to empty the dustbin manually
- Access to advanced navigational features like keep out zones
- Saves up to 10 map levels
- Upgraded extractors resist tangles better than the Roomba 960
- Decent at cleaning surface and embedded dirt
- Not very noisy (below 65 decibels)
- Weak airflow (below 9CFM)
- Smallish dustbin
- The auto-empty dock is loud if it empties the robot’s dustbin
Introduction to the Roomba I6+
iRobot unveiled a game-changing technology for home automation with the Roomba I7 – its first with the auto-empty system.
Not long after, other brands followed suit – Shark, Neabot, and many more, but iRobot remains the gold-standard as they pretty much perfected this technology.
The Roomba I6+ is another variant in the I-Series line and has similar specs as the I7, only with a light gray finish.
It has the same top-mounted camera and iAdapt 3.0 navigation, unlocking map saving features not found in older Roomba variants like the 960 and 980.
Then there’s the clean base station that empties the robot’s bin every time it docks with a bag inside that can hold up to 30 times the dust container’s capacity.
The I6+ retains the round-frame you’ll see on most Roomba products. But it has a more premium look with the touch screen feel of the buttons.
It retains the same button layout as the older Roomba 675, 690, and E5. I doubt you’ll use these buttons often since this robot is compatible with the iRobot app.
Underneath, it has the same brush and placement as the Roomba E5, utilizing the upgraded extractors with deeper grooves.
Dirt volume shouldn’t be a concern for I6+ users because of the clean base station, but I’m sharing the specs for your information.
The I6+ dustbin loads from the back and has a 400-milliliter capacity. If you look closely, it has the same design as the E5 bin with the HEPA filter at the side.
However, you’ll see a notch inside, which is for the clean-base station to suck out contents. This is a 100 ml penalty, but the auto-empty feature negates it as it empties the bin after every run.
Inside the clean base station is a bag that can hold up to 30 bin fulls, increasing capacity to around 1.2 liters.
So there’s no need to touch the robot for weeks to empty the bin if everything goes well.
One of my pet peeves with the older Roomba models is the lack of app features. It’s no longer the case with the I6+ (or any I-Series robot) as iRobot added more customization features. I’ll go through them one by one.
Perhaps the biggest upgrade in the I6+ is the Imprint Smart Mapping, or the capability to save maps. The I6 app can save up to ten maps, which is six more than Roborock. Within each map level, users can name rooms, set as many keep-out zones and zone areas as needed.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t have the invisible wall feature. So users are limited to using boxes or rectangles for containment.
Selective Room Cleaning
Imprint Smart Mapping unlocks another convenience feature – selective room cleaning, enabling users to select a specific room or zone within the map they want to clean.
iRobot’s version is different, as you’ll have to check all the rooms you want to clean. With a Roborock, you’ll tap the room on the map.
Choosing between the two will be a matter of preference.
You can use this feature in conjunction with the scheduling feature, which I’ll talk about next.
In older Roomba models, the scheduling feature is quite limited. You can only schedule one run per day max. But with the I-Series, this is no longer the case. Users can schedule multiple runs per day with a minimum gap of three hours per run.
This upgrade is helpful in different ways. For instance, you can schedule the robot to clean unoccupied rooms at specific timeframes. Clean the master’s bedroom at 10 am and the dining area at 2 pm after lunch and cleanup.
The ability to stagger cleanup times is invaluable, in my opinion.
Ensure open doors to prevent any error codes from firing and the robot not finishing the run. It’s a quirk I hope iRobot fixes.
Selective room cleaning
Another enhancement with the I6 app is the ability to choose specific rooms to clean. You can do this by tapping on the “New Job” icon on the upper right, then select the room or zone.
There’s an option to save it as a favorite for quicker access in the main interface.
Keep out zones
These are rectangular or square boxes that are designated keep-away zones for robots.
To put it simply, these block the robot from going into these areas you set on the map.
You can draw as many of these as needed. It’s iRobot’s version of Roborock’s no-go zones.
The clean zone has the opposite function of keep-out zones. Instead of blocking the robot, it’s a designated “cleaning” area.
It’s similar to the spot cleaning function in older Roomba variants but more precise. There’s no need to move the robot to the area physically. For example, you can draw a box around the living room and maybe schedule more runs for it as it is a high-traffic area.
I like that iRobot enables users to save these, so there’s no need to draw the box manually every time the need arises.
This is a special mode for creating maps. When you toggle this feature, the robot traverses with the vacuum motor off to save on battery so that it can cover a larger area.
Two things to remember. First is you need to turn on all the lights. Since this robot utilizes a camera, it needs a light source to “see” and properly map the room.
If you do the mapping run with the lights off, it will not finish the process, and advanced features like keep out zones will not work. Trust me. I learned the hard way.
Second, open the doors for the robot to create the map of the whole area.
After the run, the app automatically creates partitions of rooms, but I suggest you override this and create your own partitions as it won’t be accurate.
The iRobot logs the previous cleaning cycles in its database, and you can access it by tapping on the History tab. It shows the previous runs, corresponding maps, area size, whether the run is successful or not, and more.
Another benefit of the iRobot app is the error code readouts. Instead of just spitting out a number, it tells the user exactly what’s wrong and eliminates the guesswork on what’s happening, which helps diagnose and resolve any issues.
Clean base station
The clean base station is one of the more innovative designs I’ve seen. It takes away the menial task of empty the dustbin after every run; once the robot returns to the dock, a second vacuum fires and empties the dustbin’s contents through an opening underneath the container.
It’s strong enough to pick up contents inside the dustbin, but if there is debris around the lip area, you’ll have to clean it manually.
I’ve tested it with big messes, and it’s quite effective at vacuuming dirt out.
Inside is a bag that can hold up to 30 bin fulls. Once you pull it out, it seals itself, so there’s no direct exposure to dust or allergens.
How does the Roomba I6+ navigate?
Like the Roomba 900-Series, the I6 navigates in straight lines. iRobot calls these “neat rows.”
Unlike previous models like the 614, 675, 690, and E5, it’s much more efficient and navigates well even in tight spaces.
iRobot further enhances the Roomba 900-Series navigation in their I-Series line with iAdapt 3.0. The most significant improvement over iAdapt 2.0 is the “imprint smart mapping.” In layman, it’s the ability to save maps (up to 10).
This feature unlocks several other features like keep-out zones and selective room cleaning.
Keep-out zones are rectangular or square zones that are “off-limit” spots to robots. Selective room cleaning is the option to choose an exact location where the robot will clean.
These navigational features help improve the app’s usability over the 900-Series that didn’t offer very much.
Unfortunately, the iRobot Home app doesn’t support invisible walls like other brands such as Roborock or Dreame have.
An invisible wall has over the keep-out zones feature is the option to draw diagonal lines on the map. It further adds flexibility on what areas users can block. Hopefully, Roomba can address this in future updates.
Will the Roomba I6 scuff furniture?
I have not encountered the I6 bumping into any of our home furniture hard enough to scuff it. The algorithm is smart enough that the robot slows down and only nudges it.
Now there will be instances where it will bump into doors with some force. One instance would be the door being halfway closed, where the robot didn’t account for it since it was fully open when it did the mapping run.
Once it “relearns” the layout, it recognizes the changes and will avoid subsequent runs.
How much power does the Roomba I6+ have?
I use an anemometer to measure the airflow of the nozzle. It’s a useful device to check the flow of air. The Roomba I6+ had 8.2 CFM of airflow in its single power setting, lower than the Roomba 960 with 9.33 CFM.
Next, we’ll look at how well the Roomba I6 cleaning various debris types such as quaker oats, quinoa, pet litter, sand, coffee grounds, and hair on different surface types.
First, here are the overall scores
- Overall: 93.97%
- Hard floor: 97.57%
- Sand on hard floor: 98.26%
- Carpet (surface): 97.55%
- Deep cleaning: 82.5%
The I6 had decent overall scores but slightly lower than the Roomba 980 I tested earlier with higher airflow. You can see the effect the low airflow has on the test results as it didn’t pick up all the debris, which I’ll elaborate on below.
Hard floor results
- Quaker oats: 97.6%
- Coffee grounds: 100%
- Pet litter: 97.8%
- Quinoa: 94.2%
It struggled most with quinoa, picking up 94.2%. Pick-up isn’t an issue here as the dual extractors picked up whatever it touched.
The problem is the fast-spinning side brush scattering it around. This is the same issue with quaker oats and pet litter, hence the lower scores.
Sand on hard floor
Another side effect of inadequate airflow is cleaning heavier debris like sand. The I6 still got a high percentage – 98.26%, but it left traces on the extractors and assembly.
It wasn’t a clean sweep of a run. Considering it had only 8 CFM, the percentage is encouraging and proof that the newer extractors with deeper grooves agitate well.
Hair wrap test
The I6 did quite well in the hair wrap test, especially with shorter five-inch strands. Check out the results below.
- 5-inch strands: 100% inside the dustbin, 0% around the brush
- 7-inch strands: 54% inside the dustbin, 46% around the brush
However, it didn’t do as well with longer seven-inch strands, picking up only 54%. It’s still a decent score, considering the low suction.
The good news is it’s easier to remove hair from these rollers versus the bristled brush of the Roomba 675 and 690.
Another surprise is how well the I6 did cleaning the edges. Here’s a before and after photo.
It’s an excellent result for a round-shaped robot, picking up most of the debris in this area.
Next, we’ll look at how well the I6+ cleans carpet. I used the same set of debris on low and mid pile carpet.
Low pile results
- Quaker oats: 96.6%
- Coffee grounds: 93.2%
- Pet litter: 98.4%
- Quinoa: 99.8%
These are slightly lower scores than on hard floors. It struggled most with fine coffee grounds, which isn’t a surprise with the low suction. The scattering issue isn’t as problematic because carpet fibers provide more friction, but the lack of airflow hampers its pick-up on this surface.
Mid pile results
- Quaker oats: 100%
- Coffee grounds: 95.2%
- Pet litter: 97.8%
- Quinoa: 99.4%
Unexpectedly, the I6 picked up more debris on mid-pile carpet. It picked up 100% of quaker oats and a higher percentage of coffee grounds than on low pile carpets, but the difference isn’t much – I wouldn’t put too much weight on it.
Another trickle-down effect of the low airflow is cleaning embedded dirt. I tested the I6 on 100 grams of sand I rubbed on mid-pile carpet. I picked up an average of 82.5% in four tests. It’s the lowest score so far of all Roomba products I’ve tested so far.
How noisy is the Roomba I6+?
One positive aspect of having low airflow is the lower noise output. I used a sound meter to test, and the I6 registered around 64.5 decibels in its single power setting. However, the clean base station is loud – with close to 80 (79.6 to be exact) decibels when it empties the bin. Fortunately, it doesn’t last very long.
How long will the Roomba I6+ run?
The Roomba I6+ uses the 1800 mAh Li-ion battery and will run for up to 75 minutes. Not as long as the 120-minute run time of the Roomba 980, but with recharge and resume, it shouldn’t matter because it has recharge and resume.
One thing to note is the I6+ (and all I-Series robots) will not dock when the bin is full. It will stop mid-run and fire and error code. You’ll have to empty the bin manually to continue the run.
What comes in the box?
- Roomba I6 robot vacuum with the brushes attached
- Clean base station with one bag
- Power cord
- Manual and warranty card
Availability of parts
One reason I like Roomba products is the availability of parts. Components like the filter and bags are widely available, not only from iRobot but also from other manufacturers, because of their popularity.
Even harder to find parts like the battery, dustbin assembly, side brush motor are available even in online stores like Amazon.
All vacuums will require a level of maintenance to function at their peak over the long haul. With robot vacuums, regular maintenance is vital since they rely on various sensors to navigate and clean.
Any accumulation will hinder components like the side brush motor, adding more friction and wear. So it’s crucial to clean these regularly.
I’ll enumerate some of the components you’ll need to clean and/or replace.
- Main brush: The I6 has counter-rotating extractors that require less upkeep, according to iRobot. Regardless of what they say, it’s not totally maintenance-free. Longer strands of hair will wrap around the roller and axles. Check these areas regularly and remove any build-up to prevent unnecessary friction.
- Side brush: Check for hair tangles on the arms or base.
- Dust bin and filter: The auto-empty feature means you don’t need to touch it for weeks. But do a visual check to see if there is build-up inside. Wash the bin as needed and replace the filter every two to three months.
- Drop sensors: The I6 has six of these sensors underneath to prevent it from toppling over cliff points like stairs. Use a clean, dry microfiber towel to wipe it at least twice a month.
- Wheels: This robot has three wheels (two side wheels and one caster wheel). Wipe these with a clean towel to remove the build-up of dirt sticking on them.
- Body: Wipe the whole body with a microfiber towel to clean any fingerprints or dust sticking on the surface.
- Clean base station: Make sure that the slot (where debris flows through) is clear. Check the bag inside if it’s full. It doesn’t have a sensor, so you’ll have to do it manually.
|Battery||1800 mAh Li-ion|
|Run time||75 mins.|
|Dirt Capacity (dry)||400 ml.|
|Recharge and Resume||Yes|
Where can I buy the Roomba I6+?
The Roomba I6+ is an Amazon exclusive product, so it’s the only place where you can purchase it.
Disclaimer: I’ll earn a commission if you purchase through the link above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!
Does the Roomba I6+ provide excellent value?
Despite the high cost, the Roomba I6+ offers good value, in my opinion. The app upgrades, navigation, and the auto-empty system make this product a truly autonomous robot.
Yes, you’ll have to do your part and prep the area by removing any wires or small obstacles to maximize this robot’s effectiveness.
Depending on the season, it can be slightly cheaper or much cheaper than the I7+, but it only comes with only one bag, and no other add ons.
The lower airflow sucks, so don’t rely on this robot for heavy-duty vacuuming. It won’t be as good as Roomba airflow monsters like the 980 and S9 for large messes. But for daily tasks, it will be good enough.
6 Reasons to buy the Roomba I6+
- Auto empty: The clean base station empties the robot’s dustbin after every run, freeing you from doing this task.
- Improved app experience: The Imprint Smart Mapping unlocks other features like keep-out zones, clean zones, and selective room cleaning – all of which further enhances user experience.
- Better navigation: I’ve tested this robot a ton, and it seems to become more efficient as it learns your home’s layout. Make sure to keep the lights on during the mapping run.
- Schedule multiple runs per day: Users can now schedule multiple runs per day, which gives consumers more options with how to utilize this robot.
- Containment features: The iRobot app now has keep-out zones preventing the robot from venturing into off-limit areas.
- Cheaper than the S9: While the S9 offers better cleaning performance, it’s more expensive, and the I6 is a more affordable alternative, albeit with less power.
The Verdict: Auto Empty Feature Is A Game Changer
One of the features I tested with the Roomba I6 is how well it empties the dustbin, and it was excellent – with enough suction to clean a bin full of dust, which is what you’ll clean on most days.
It won’t gather everything, but it gets most of it out.
Roomba has pretty much perfected its auto-empty system and a huge reason why it’s popular.
However, it won’t be as potent as a Roomba 980 or S9, and it won’t be as effective in cleaning larger messes.
If you don’t mind this and want a workhorse robot vacuum that requires minimal babysitting, give this robot vacuum a look.