Roomba 694 vs. E5

Roomba 694 vs. E5

In this article, we’ll be looking at the Roomba 694 and E5, two of iRobot’s entry-level options.

The Roomba 694 is their latest release with a refreshed face but with the same features as the 675.

While the Roomba E5 combines the features of the I and 600-Series as it uses the rubber extractors found in newer Roomba models.

Which option is better? I’ve put both through a grueling series of tests to find out.

A quick glance at the Roomba 694 and E5

Roomba 694

Roomba 694 Review
  • Airflow: 7.27 CFM
  • Deep Cleaning: 80.2%
  • Navigation Sensors: IR Sensors
  • Self-empty: No
  • Clean base Station: No
  • Navigation: Random
  • Map saving: No
  • Number of maps: N/A
  • Containment: No
  • Keep out zones: No
  • Selective Room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Rubber extractors: No
  • Dustbin capacity: 600ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • Noise: 65.6 dB

Roomba E5

Roomba E5 100
  • Airflow: 6.98 CFM
  • Deep Cleaning: 89.66%
  • Navigation Sensors: IR Sensors
  • Self-empty: No
  • Map saving: No
  • Navigation: Random
  • Number of maps: N/A
  • Containment: No
  • Selective Room cleaning: No
  • Recharge & Resume: No
  • Brush roll: Twin rubber extractors
  • Dustbin capacity: 500ml
  • Side brush: One
  • Battery: 1800 mAh Li-ion
  • Run time: 90 minutes
  • Noise: 65.6 dB

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Introduction to the Roomba 694 vs. E5

In this article, we’ll focus on Roomba’s entry-level line, to be specific, the Roomba 694 and E5.

These two variants perfectly encapsulate the various options in this price bracket.

The Roomba 694 is (one of) Roomba’s latest releases in their budget robot vacuum category with the same power, dustbin, and performance as the older 675 and 614, but with a refreshed interface.

The Roomba E5 is an upgrade over the 694 as both use the same motor, hence, have the same airflow.

One difference is the rubber extractors that offer better agitation, which is evident in the cleaning test scores (more on that later).

Cheapest Option: Roomba 694

Roomba 694 top

Pros

  • Cheapest option
  • Above-average dustbin volume (600-ml)
  • Abundance of parts
  • Workhorse robot will last for years (if properly maintained)
  • Not as noisy as high airflow robots like the Roomba S9 or 980

Cons

  • Not good at picking up hair (long strands)
  • Inefficient navigation (not suitable for big homes)

Higher-end Roomba products will cost between $500 and $1,000, sometimes more depending on the season or where you purchase it.

The Roomba 694 offers a cheaper path to owning an iRobot product.

And that comes with many benefits. One of which is the abundance of parts and the easy to disassemble modular design.

It’s (essentially) the same product as the Roomba 675, but with a refreshed face without the handle.

The 694 has the same motor, dustbin, and everything else inside.

Like the other entry-level Roomba options, it utilizes the older counter-rotating extractors that excel at debris pick-up.

Roomba 694 counter-rotating brushes

However, it retains the iRobot’s entry-level navigation, so it pinballs in a random direction.

Don’t expect efficiency from this product since it’s cheap, but it’s a workhorse and picks up debris well, especially on carpet.

I wouldn’t recommend this for a large home because of the random navigation, but it will excel in tiny homes or cleaning on a room per room basis.

Upgraded Version: Roomba E5

Roomba E5 top

Pros

  • Rubber extractors offer better agitation
  • Excellent performance on carpet
  • Deep cleans carpet better than any budget robot vacuum I’ve tested (over 89%)
  • Fewer hair tangles than the Roomba 694
  • It comes with a handle, making it easy to move around

Cons

  • Low airflow (under 7 CFM)
  • Inefficient, random navigation

A tier above the Roomba 694 is the Roomba E5. I think it’s iRobot’s response to consumer concerns about the older brush roll design not being able to resist tangles.

So instead of using the older brush design, iRobot used the green counter-rotating extractors found in the I-Series to improve cleaning performance.

Roomba E5 extractors

The result is a best-in-class deep cleaning performance on carpet (89.66%), better than any budget robot vacuum I’ve reviewed.

It’s a notch above the Roomba 694, and its ability to resist hair tangles makes this a better option for pet owners.

The extractors aren’t immune to tangles, but not having bristles makes it easier to clean, with most of the strands wrapping on the axles.

Roomba E5 hair around the axles

These two improvements make the Roomba E5 the better option for carpets and pet owners looking for an entry-level Roomba to clean their homes.

Unfortunately, it retains the same navigation as the 600-Series, moving around randomly.

It’s not very efficient and lacks advanced navigational features found in the higher-end options like the I6 and S9.

Similarities between the Roomba 694 and E5

There are many similarities between these entry-level Roomba options, and I’ll go through them in this section.

1. Round Shape

Roomba 694 vs E5 shape

The Roomba 694 and E5 have the same round frame but slightly varying dimensions – the 694 is smaller (only by a pinch).

Using a round frame is iRobot’s way of maximizing cleaning efficiency as this shape navigates better around tight spots.

2. Rear Mounted Dustbin

Roomba 694 vs E5 dustbin comp

Both robots have rear-mounted dustbins but varying designs (more on that below).

3. Random Navigation

These robots utilize iRobot’s “adaptive navigation,” which is their fancy way of saying that it pinballs around.

But it’s smart enough to clean most of the debris, albeit in a smaller area. The larger the area, the less efficient it becomes and the higher the risk of it not returning to home base.

I wouldn’t recommend any of these in larger homes because of the inefficient pattern and the lack of VSLAM.

Thanks to the gyroscope and optical navigation sensors, the cheapest Roomba option with smart navigation would be the Roomba I3 (without the clean base station).

4. Brush Layout

Roomba 694 vs E5 brush layout

Another similarity is the brush layout, as both use counter-rotating brushes and a single side brush.

One difference is the material used for the primary brushes.

5. Interface

Both have simple interfaces with only three buttons – home, clean, and dock.

The rest of the features are accessible through the iRobot app.

6. Run Time and Battery

Like most Roomba entry-level options, the Roomba 694 and E5 use the same 1800 mAh lithium-ion battery with a claimed run time of 90 minutes.

These robots don’t have recharge and resume since neither has the advanced navigational algorithm, so it says on the dock once it recharges.

7. Compatible with the iRobot Home App

The Roomba 694 and E5 are compatible with the iRobot home app.

There are no special features with the 694 and E5 versions of the app, but it provides consumers easy access through their smartphones.

It offers the basics like scheduling and anywhere access, and the most beneficial aspect would be the error code triggers that show consumers what’s wrong and how to fix it.

Differences between the Roomba 694 and E5

Next, we’ll look at the variances between Roomba 694 and E5.

1. Brush Roll Material

Roomba 694 vs. E5 brush roll material

The biggest variance between these robots is the brush roll material used. 

The Roomba 694 utilizes the bristle and rubber blade combo, while the E5 uses the newer rubber extractors (same as the Roomba I and S series extractors).

2. Dustbin Capacity

While both robots have the same rear-mounted dustbin, their capacities are different.

The Roomba 694’s dustbin is bigger at 600-ml versus the E5’s smaller 400-ml volume.

Another variance is the opening with the Roomba 694 has a wider opening, making it easier to empty.

Roomba 694 open dustbin

The Roomba E5’s dustbin is similar to the I-Series with the narrower swing type door.

Roomba E5 dustbin close up inside

3. Filter Material

The following variance is the filter material.

In the previous point, you’ll notice I shared the Roomba 694 dustbin photo with the door open showing the filter.

It uses a thinner filter material that doesn’t sift dirt well, and the E5’s thicker filter piece has more surface area.

Roomba E5 filter close up

iRobot says that the Roomba E5 uses a high-efficiency filter, using a thicker paper element. So it isn’t washable (unfortunately).

But it provides better filtration versus the Roomba 694.

4. Handle

One subtle difference between these robots is the handle present in the Roomba E5 that’s absent in the Roomba 694.

It may or may not be a big deal depending on how your home is laid out.

I like the handle for homes with multi-levels since it makes transporting the robot easier and safer.

One of my pet peeves with the Roomba 694 design is the release button placement at the middle top portion that you can accidentally squeeze, so there’s a risk of dropping the robot on the floor if you’re not careful.

App Features

Both robots are compatible with the iRobot app, and we’ll go through the features in this section.

Don’t expect a lot from these robots since both use the random navigating algorithm.

These lack advanced features like clean zones or keep-out zones.

1. Error Code Explainer

iRobot a[[ decode errors

One new feature iRobot introduced in the Roomba 694 is the error code explainer on the app.

I didn’t see this feature when I reviewed the Roomba 675 and E5. So it’s a welcome upgrade.

It helps users quickly decode what’s wrong with their robot, and there will be numerous instances when this will occur, which takes away the guesswork.

It shows what’s wrong and provides suggestions for fixing the error code.

2. Scheduling

Roomba E5 scheduling

Both apps offer a scheduling feature so consumers can automate the vacuuming task.

But it only allows for once-a-day scheduling, so it’s a limiting factor.

Only the higher-end I3, I6, S9, and J7 have multiple-schedule capabilities, but you’ll have to spend more to get this benefit.

3. History Tab

iRobot 694 history

The history tab is like the odometer of these robots. It shows the previous cleaning cycles plus duration.

There’s no practical function other than letting consumers know how much they’ve used the robot.

Navigation Comparison

Next, we’ll look at how these robots navigate. Both utilize iRobot’s “adaptive navigation,” which simply means it randomly pinball around the area.

But it isn’t as dumb as I used to think it is since it manages to clean most of the debris.

However, one issue with this algorithm is that it tends to miss spots.

Yes, it cleans most areas, but that coverage lowers as the room size increases.

It runs until a certain point and then tries to go back to the home base to recharge.

But realize these robots don’t have recharge and resume, so once it docks, it stays there until you press the clean button again or the next scheduled cleaning.

Airflow Comparison

Robot manufacturers have no universal metric to disclose power figures, leaving consumers guessing how much suction each model may have.

It’s almost impossible to measure suction on a robot because of the various sensors that stop it from functioning if it’s not flat on the ground.

One tool that can measure power is the anemometer.

It doesn’t measure suction but airflow passing through the main brush, which is a good metric for power since high airflow robots tend to pick up debris better.

Here are the results.

  • Roomba 694: 7.27 CFM
  • Roomba E5: 6.98 CFM

The Roomba 694 is slightly higher airflow than the E5, but I consider this variance a non-factor since the difference is tiny.

Also, Roomba’s counter-rotating brushes are designed for maximum debris pick-up, especially on carpet, where these robots excel.

Cleaning Comparison

Next, we’ll look at how the airflow figures translate to how well these robots clean.

I tested quaker oats, quinoa, pet litter, coffee grounds, hair, and sand.

Model
Roomba 694
Roomba E5
Overall
92.53%
96.17%
Hard Floor
96.3%
99%
Sand on hard floor
96.8%
97.3%
Carpet (Surface Pickup)
96.85%
98.72%
Carpet (Deep Cleaning)
80.2%
89.66%

You can see in the table above that the Roomba E5 was better across the board, despite having a lower airflow.

It’s a notch higher and (one of those) rare cases where a lower airflow robot outperformed something with more airflow.

The results above prove that the rubber extractors offer better agitation and pick-up than the older bristle and rubber blade combo.

Which option is better on hard floors?

The Roomba E5 is clearly the better option with the eye and measured tests. It picked up more sand on this surface than the Roomba 694 (97.3% vs. 96.8%).

Here’s a before and after for the Roomba E5.

Roomba E5 sand on hard floor

And the Roomba 694.

Roomba 694 sand on hard floor

Another proof of its better hard floor performance is the higher overall surface debris tests (99% vs. 96.3%), proving that the rubber extractors will pick up more dirt.

Edge Cleaning Comparison

One downside of Roomba’s round frame is the subpar cleaning performance on the edges.

Let’s look at the before and after photos first.

First, is the Roomba E5.

Roomba E5 edge cleaning pet litter

And Roomba 694.

Roomba 694 edge cleaning

The Roomba 694 picked up more debris on this surface, but one caveat is that I used lighter coffee grounds versus the pet litter I used with the E5.

But the common theme is that these robots don’t have enough airflow to offset the narrow brush roll to pick up debris.

Rare do round-framed robots pick up efficiently in this area.

Some I’ve tested that did well are the Ecovacs T8 AIVI and the Ulteni D7.

The former was good because of its higher airflow and the twin side brushes.

Hair Wrap Comparison

Another thing we’ll look at is how well these robots did on hair strands.

Model
Roomba 694
Roomba E5
5-inch strands
51%
40%
7-inch strands
32%
30%

The Roomba 694 picked up more hair on the five and seven-inch tests, which surprised me since the E5 doesn’t have bristles.

One silver lining is that the E5’s rubber extractors are easier to clean since it doesn’t have any bristles.

Most of the hair wrapped around the axels.

Roomba E5 hair around the axles

And some around the side brush.

Roomba E5 hair on side brush

For the Roomba 694, most strands are wrapped on the bristled brush, which can be more challenging to dislodge.

Roomba 694 cleaning seven inch hair

Which is better on carpet?

The E5’s rubber extractors proved better on carpet than the 694’s more traditional brushes.

It picked up a few percentage points higher on surface debris (98.72% vs. 96.85%) and nearly ten percent better on embedded sand (89.66% vs. 80.2%).

This variance may not sound a lot on paper, but it’s a significant difference considering these robots have the same random navigation.

These tests show that the Roomba E5 is better for cleaning carpets.

Run Time Comparison

Remove Roomba 980 battery

Both robots use the same 1800 mAh lithium-ion battery with the same claimed run time of 90 minutes, which isn’t ideal for large spaces.

Neither has the recharge and resume feature, so I wouldn’t recommend any of them to clean big homes.

Noise Comparison

One plus with using a weak motor is the lower noise levels.

I used a sound meter to check the noise levels, and here are the results.

  • Roomba 694: 65.6 dB
  • Roomba E5: 65.6 dB

Both have the same noise output at 65.6 decibels, which isn’t surprising since these robots use the same motor.

Maintenance

Like with all robot vacuums, the Roomba 694 and E5 need some TLC to function at their peak for years.

I’ll enumerate the components you’ll need to clean or replace below.

  1. Counter-rotating brushes: Clean these brushes at least once a week (more if you have pets) to remove any hair or debris accumulation.
  2. Side brush: Another hair magnet that needs cleaning weekly. Use a Philips screwdriver to remove and dislodge hair wrapping on the base.
  3. Dustbin: Empty the dustbin container after every run to prevent it from spilling over the brush roll.
  4. Filter: Use a soft-bristled brush to dislodge debris from the filter. Please note that these filters aren’t washable, so you’ll have to use this method or a handheld vacuum with a brush attachment to clean and extend its service life.
  5. Drop sensors: Clean the drop sensors underneath the robot (once a month) to prevent an error code from firing and disabling the robot.
  6. Robot frame: Use a clean microfiber cloth to wipe the robot body at least once a month to prevent dust accumulation on the surface.

Check my how-to article on cleaning the Roomba 690 for more details on cleaning an iRobot entry-level product. It’s (basically) the same robot, and the steps will be similar.

Product Specifications

Model
Roomba 694
Roomba E5
Roomba 694
Roomba E5
Width
13.4"
13.3"
Height
3.54"
3.6"
Filter
High-Efficiency
High-Efficiency
Navigation
Random
Smart Navigation
Run time
90 mins.
90 mins.
Recharge and Resume
No
No
Map Saving
No
No
Dustbin capacity
600 ml
400 ml
Auto empty capacity
N/A
N/A
Airflow
7.27 CFM (Max)
6.98 CFM
Warranty
1-year limited
1-year limited
Price

Where can I buy these Robot Vacuums?

The Roomba 694 and E5 are available in online stores like Amazon. Check the links below for the latest pricing information.

Disclaimer: I will earn a commission when you buy through any of the links above, but at no extra cost to you, so it’s a win-win for us!

Which is the Better Option, the Roomba 694 or the E5?

There isn’t much difference in the pricing between these options, so it shouldn’t be a deciding factor.

But the brush roll design could sway your decision either way.

The Roomba E5’s newer rubber extractors are better at debris pick-up, especially on carpet, with nearly a ten percentage point increase on embedded sand.

The Roomba 694’s more traditional brushes are good, but it’s harder to maintain and picks up less than the E5.

However, the Roomba 694 is newer with better availability than the Roomba E5, currently out of stock on Amazon.

3 Reasons to Choose the Roomba 694

  1. Cheapest Roomba option: The Roomba 694 is iRobot’s least expensive robot vacuum offering.
  2. Larger dustbin: Its 600-ml capacity is 40% larger than the E5’s 400-ml volume.
  3. Decent carpet cleaning: Despite the low airflow, the Roomba 694 picks up debris on carpet at a decent percentage.

3 Reasons to Choose the Roomba E5

  1. Better on carpets: The E5’s rubber extractors provide better agitation, and it shows in the carpet cleaning tests.
  2. Easier to clean rollers: This variant uses rubber extractors that are easier to clean than the Roomba 694’s more traditional brushes.
  3. Excellent deep cleaning performance: The E5’s 89% score is one of the best robot vacuums I’ve tested.

The Verdict: The Roomba E5 is the Better Option

While these robot vacuums are close in every facet, the Roomba E5 is the better option, in my opinion.

The rubber extractors proved to be a better tool for debris pick-up, especially on carpet (surface and embedded dirt).

Its lack of bristles also makes it easier to clean than the Roomba 694’s more traditional brushes.

If you can find a brand new or even a refurbished E5, it’s a good option with iRobot’s sheer parts availability.

You can purchase a second-hand robot and purchase brand new replacement parts to give it brand new performance.

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About the author: Garrick, the visionary behind Cordless Vacuum Guide, brings over a decade of hands-on expertise in cordless vacuum testing to his insightful reviews showcased on this platform. Beyond his passion for empowering consumers with informed choices, he cherishes precious moments with his family, exploring global cuisines and exploring different horizons with his beloved wife and son. Follow him on Youtube, Tiktok, Facebook, and Instagram.