iRobot Roomba Pet Series Review: Great Option for Pet Owners

If you’d make a survey among pet owners what would be their toughest chores, at the top of the list should be dealing with pet hair.

Roomba Pet Series Review

As this blogger pointed out, even with regular vacuuming pet hair is still everywhere in their home.

It’s all over the floor, on the sofa, everywhere.

Worst part getting pet hair all over his suit.

Regular vacuuming is a much when you have pets at home, not just on upholstery but on floors as well.

While you cannot automate vacuuming on upholstery there is one tool that can help you deal with pet hair on floors.

Let me introduce to you the Roomba Pet Series robotic vacuum created for the pets

Unlike a regular roomba vacuum this has a larger dirt bin. According to Tim Hornyak of Cnet, the pet series has a bin that’s around three and a half times larger than a regular Roomba.

Unfortunately iRobot has discontinued both the 655 and 595. The Roomba 650 is pretty close to this variant in terms of features and will work as well.

If you cannot afford the top of the line Roomba 980, 880 or even the 780, this is a viable alternative that is cheaper but still does the job but there are some limitations that you have to live with.

A quick look at the features

  • Equipped with the “Aerovac” technology that helps it pick up pet hair from both carpet and bare floor
  • Has a three stage cleaning system that starts with the side brush, two counter rotating brushes and a decent vacuum cleaner that pulls all the debris into the bin
  • The 655 comes with a NiCad XLife that will last twice as long (in terms of charge and discharge cycles) than the Roomba 650
  • Equipped with stiffer bristled brush designed for better pet hair pick up
  • Has a larger bin (I’ve mentioned earlier that Tim Hornyak of Cnet says it was three and a half times larger)
  • Has automatic scheduling (up to 7 times a week or one per day)
  • Won’t fall off stairs thanks to the cliff detection sensors
  • 1 year warranty on the robot and 6 months on the battery (pretty much standard for all Roomba products)

Pros

  • Purpose built for cleaning pet hair off carpet and bare floor
  • Has a large bin (at least for the Roomba 655)
  • XLife battery will last 2 times more compared to a Roomba 650 or earlier models
  • You can program it to clean your home by itself once a day, 7 days a week
  • A cheaper option than a Roomba 780, 880 and 980 if you’re just looking for a pet hair cleaner minus the bells and whistles

Cons

  • Old Roombas like this use a random cleaning pattern which means it will take longer to clean a room
  • Very noisy
  • Bristled brush requires a lot of maintenance
  • Will not work on high pile carpet

What to expect from this pet hair inhaling robot?

Pet owners, iRobot has got your back with both these variants. The 655 and 595 come equipped with stiffer brushes designed for better agitation on carpet.

The 655 according to a CNet review has a larger bin than other Roomba vacuums (at least the earlier models).

To be more specific 3-1/2 times larger. Now, I’m not sure if it is larger than more current variants like the 700 series, 880 or the 980 but when you compare it to the older 500 series it has a larger bin.

This translates to more cleaning capacity and less time spent on emptying the dirt bin.

If you buy in Amazon, the 655 will come with one virtual wall, one bristled brush, one squeegee brush, one side brush and 2 C-type batteries (for the virtual wall).

The 595 also comes with pretty much the same accessories as the 655, only with one more virtual wall which explains why it is more expensive.

Here’s what you’ll get out of the box…

The video also shows you how well it cleans on carpet and hardwood flooring. You’ll also see how it navigates a small portion of the house.

Roomba 595 vs 655 – What are the differences?

Under the hood both these machines possess the same motor, same style cleaning brush (a combination of the squeegee type and stiff bristle brushes), and have the same navigation system.

The first difference between the two is the battery.

According to product-reviews.net, the 595 comes with the yellow advanced power system battery, when you compare that to the 655’s Xlife extended life battery – it will run longer.

The 595 does not have the carrying handle the 655 has. And though the 595 is more expensive (that is in Amazon), it does come with more accessories which includes 2 virtual walls (655 only comes with one).

Navigation

Pretty much all of the early versions of the Roomba uses a random pattern when cleaning. It basically looks like this…

Roomba Long Exposure Pattern

While it generally works, it does seem to miss a few spots here and there. When you compare it to the cleaning pattern of a Neato, it is less efficient and will take longer to clean a room.

And because of the shape of the robot (which is circular), it will have a tougher time cleaning along the edges of walls but in terms of picking up debris it will do the job well.

Here’s how it navigates a relatively small room…

Notice that the owner of the home did a good job in removing any stray wires and rugs which made the cleaning process much more efficient.

One of the toughest areas to clean even with a stick vacuum like a Dyson is underneath furniture. Look at how low the clearance is and the Roomba was able to go underneath and pick up dirt and debris.

Time lapse navigation of the 595…

Bare Floor Cleaning

Both these robots will not have trouble cleaning bare floor surfaces like tile or hardood. A bigger issue be the effect it has on this surface.

The stiff bristled brush worries me a bit since it is stiffer there is a risk of scratching hardwood floors.

If you have easily scratched hardwood, you may need to opt for the bristle-less version of the Roomba like the 880 or 980.

These are more expensive but it has bristle-less beater bars that will save you money in terms of not having to polish, repair or replace damaged hardwood.

Carpet Cleaning

This is where the stiffer brushes will do its job. Because it is stiffer, it will be able to provide more agitation compared to the bristle-less version but at the cost of maintenance.

A bristled brush is more prone to attract pet hair and dust bunnies on them which will require more cleaning using the cleaner that comes along with it.

Not good on plush carpet

Brian North says that this will not do a good job on plush carpet or area rug as it does not have the power or the agitation to clean those types of surfaces.

If you have a shag rug or carpet at home do not ditch your upright vacuum.

But on lower pile carpet, this robot should not have any trouble cleaning up dog hair, cat hair or any pet hair scattered on the floor.

Remember that this machine will not have the same cleaning power as a corded upright or a canister vacuum so you will still have to use those tools to deep clean on a weekly or monthly basis.

Rugs

Cleaning rugs shouldn’t be an issue as long as it doesn’t have any tassels. These loose pieces of threads could potentially wrap up around the side brush and stop this robot on its track.

Yes, even with the anti-tangle feature you’d be better off removing tasseled rugs and clean them separately with a stick vacuum or place the robot directly on top of the rug.

This is a common issue with all robot cleaners with a side brush.

Another struggle would be on plush rugs as this does not have enough power or agitation to even move on it. Again if you have plush rugs, better keep your corded stick vacuum for the task.

Pet Hair Removal

iRobot designed these two to clean pet hair. Both have stiffer brushes and have bigger dirt bins (at least the 655).

This translates to better pet hair pick up on both bare floor and carpet.

While this robot will not match the agitation of an upright, it does the cleaning for you autonomously which means you don’t need to drag around a vacuum, it does the task for you.

The cleaning pattern is not perfect though and you will need to clear the rooms of any wires or chairs to maximize the cleaning abilities of this machine but the effort will be worth it when you remove the bin.

There is a bad side with bristled brushes and this is the biggest headache of all…

Roomba 700 series brush roll

Although it comes with a cleaning brush, it will take time to clean up this mess. If don’t want this headache then go with the newer Roombs like the 780 or 880 but these cost at least a hundred dollars more.

Will It Clean Stairs?

Nope. No robot vacuum is capable of such.

Scheduled Cleaning

All Roomba robotic vacuums allow you to schedule automatic clean up one a day for 7 days a week.

Charging time

For the first use, iRobot recommends charging the Roomba overnight. The manufacturer however does not specify official recharge times in their manual.

iRobot recommends keep this robot plugged in unless you’ll not be using it for an extended period.

Failure of doing this can shorten the life of the NiCad batteries.

Robot Cleanup and Maintenance

To keep this machine in peak condition, you will need to clean the following regularly – (1) beater bar and bristled brush, (2) sensors (that includes the cliff sensors), (3) side brush and (4) wheels.

Here’s an overview on how to keep this machine in tip top condition…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGanFvg2agQ

Here’s another video for your reference (the Roomba in the video is a 650).

Run time

iRobot did not specify how long this will run but if you base it on my review of the Roomba 650, run time will be approximately 60 to 90 minutes.

If you are concerned with the longevity of the NiCad batteries, Amazon sells lithium ion batteries that is compatible with the 500 and 600 series and will not void the warranty.

Warranty

iRobot backs this up with a 1 year warranty on the robot and 6 months for the battery, pretty much standard across their product range. Make sure to buy this from a reputable seller so you don’t have any problems with warranty claims or returns.

Product Specifications

Model655595
Battery typeNiCadNiCad
Charger typeCharging StationCharging Station
Charge time3 hours (approx.)3 hours (approx.)
Run Time question mark60-90 minutes
based on reviews
60-90 minutes
based on reviews
Net weight (with battery)7.9 pounds7.9 pounds
Shipping weight12 pounds12 pounds
Diameter13.39 inches13.39 inches
Height3.62 inches3.62 inches
Multi Room question mark
Yes
Yes
Self docking question mark
Yes
Yes
Remote control
No
No
Hepa filtration
No
No
Cliff detection question mark
Yes
Yes
Self adjusting question mark
Yes
Yes
Edge brushes
Yes
Yes
Full bin indicator question mark
No
No
Stair Cleaning
No
No
Cleaning sessions per week question mark77
Extra Filtern/an/a
Containment question mark1 virtual wall2 virtual walls
Brush cleaning tools11
Accessories included1 Auto Virtual Wall

1 Air Filter

1 Bristle Brush

1 Beater Brush

1 Edge Sweeper Brush

2 Cleaning Tools

2 C Batteries
Charging base

A/C adapter

2 virtual walls

1 bristled brush

1 squeegee type brush

1 extra aerovac filter

1 brush cleaning tool
Voltage110v110v
Manufactured inChinaChina
Warranty1-year on robot
6-months on battery
1-year on robot
6-months on battery

Customer Reviews

For the 595

Consumers in Amazon gave this a high rating because of how it helped them keep their homes clean. One even compared the cost of this and hiring a house helper to manually clean their home. Guess who won? Well the Roomba ofcourse. At $40 per cleaning session, hiring a house help would cost over $1,000 a year!

Buying a robot vacuum such as this is a one time investment. You can run it as often as you want and it’ll not complain.

Navigation is far from perfect but if you prepare your home, it will do a pretty decent job in cleaning up pet hair, dust bunnies, pet litter and other debris.

For the 655

Most of the consumers who bought this had pets and they loved how it picked up pet hair on bare floor, carpet and area rugs.

Moving from bare floor to carpet isn’t a problem but it may half trouble going over an obstacle over half an inch tall.

Navigation seems okay but it is far from perfect while it was able to clean rooms it misses spots here and there.

Another issue would be navigation. All Roombs prior to the 900 series used IR sensors that results in a random cleaning pattern. It does a thorough job cleaning but very inefficient compared to a Neato.

It really isn’t a big issue if you clear loose obstacles out of the way.

You will have to do your due diligence and remove any stray socks, toys and wires to maximize the effectiveness of this machine.

Even with all the issues consumers love the performance. They say that it helped them rid their homes of stubborn pet hair. You will need an upright vacuum for deep cleaning.

Bottom line is the helpfulness of this robot keeping pet hair from accumulating to unhealthy levels.

Where can I buy this?

If you look at the iRobot website you won’t see these variants anymore because they’ve ceased production. A quick look at Amazon reveals that most robots sold there are from 3rd party vendors. If you buy from them warranty could be an issue.

Other options

iRobot sells the Roomba 650 which is pretty close to both of these. It has the same dual brush system and performance will roughly be the same.

The newer Roomba 980 with the rubber extractors is another option to consider because it has rubber extractors that do well picking up pet hair.

Both the Roomba 980 and 650 are available in Amazon. The former being the newer variant is more expensive while the latter will still provide decent performance at a much cheaper price at a less efficient manner.

It has the latest iRobot navigation that’s more efficient and carpet boost that helps it perform better on carpet.

To Wrap Up

This robot vacuum is great for folks looking specifically to clean pet hair from their homes or mobile rigs. It isn’t as expensive as the Roomba 880 or the 980. But will still provide close to the same performance as those two more expensive variants.

Why is this a good option?

iRobot equipped these robots with a stiffer brush for better agitation and a larger bin to accommodate more debris (at least for the 655).

When you buy the 655 you’ll get one virtual wall (you’ll get two when you buy the 595 from Amazon), which acts like a wall to block off areas you don’t want it to go to.

Some potential issues

Maintenance could be an issue down the road because pet hair will wrap up these beater bars. I’ve shown you photos of it and if that doesn’t appeal to you then opt for the bristle-less versions – 860 or 880.

Don’t expect this to do anything much on plush carpet though as it lacks power or agitation.

At over $400 for the 655 and $500 for the 595, it’s hard to recommend this to you because of the high cost.

I’d recommend that you go with the Roomba 650 which has basically the same features but it costs just over $300. You save money and still get the same functionality.

Recommended Reading

About the author: Garrick is the founder of the Cordless Vacuum Guide has been testing cordless vacuums for the past 10 years, and writes about them on this website. When he’s not writing reviews, he enjoys spending time with his wife and son, traveling and tasting different cuisines.