In this review, we’ll be taking a close look at perhaps iRobot’s best entry-level option – the Roomba E5.
Like the 600-series, it has standard navigation where it pinballs around. But the upgrades iRobot put alleviate the issues plaguing models like the Roomba 614 and 675.
How good is the Roomba E5? Is it worth the premium? I’ve put it through our usual series of tests to find out.
Is This The Best Entry-Level Roomba?
Roomba E5 Review
The Roomba E5 is, by far, the best budget robot vacuum at cleaning embedded dirt on carpet. Despite having lower airflow than the Roomba 675 or 690, it picked up more sand. One reason is the upgraded extractors, providing better agitation. However, it only has the standard navigational algorithm, meaning it will pinball around. Other upgrades include the larger dustbin with a HEPA filter. So it addresses all the issues plaguing the earlier 600-series options.
- It resists tangles better than any of the Roomba 600-series options.
- Decent size dustbin – 500 ml.
- HEPA Filtration
- Best-in-class deep cleaning performance.
- Inefficient random navigation.
- Quite noisy.
Introduction to the Roomba E5
Two issues plague older Roomba 600-series robots like the 614, 675, and 690 (or 692) – a small dustbin and the brush roll that is a hair magnet.
Not matter what other reviews say about it being able to avoid tangles, it cannot. I tested it extensively with human hair, and most sticks on the spiky, bristled part of the dual brush system.
It’s horrendous and a maintenance nightmare for those who have pets or live with an individual with long hair.
The Roomba E5’s upgrades aim to eliminate these issues. Sure, it has the same random navigation as the earlier generation Roomba robots, but it’s got the same extractors as the I7 – hair won’t tangle as easily.
Another upgrade is the dust container. It looks smaller, but it can hold more debris, up to 0.5 liters.
Not only does it have a larger volume, but it also comes with a post-motor HEPA, and it’s washable.
iRobot also revised the interface of the E5. Gone are the three-button cluster, replacing it with three separate round buttons similar to newer Roombas like the 960 and I7.
It comes with a mostly black finish. Currently, it’s the only color option available.
The dustbin still slights out from the back, but the release latch is relocated to another area.
One issue I had with the Roomba 690 is if you grab it from behind. There’s a potential of accidentally pushing the lever (since it’s wide) and drop the robot by accident.
This won’t be an issue with the E5 since the release latch is out of the way.
A look underneath
Flip the robot over and notice the changes over an older Roomba like a 690. Gone are old brushes, replaced by rollers from the Roomba I7.
A close look at the Roomba E5 rollers.
So buying an E5 is like getting an I7 without smart navigation. And if you’re familiar with Roomba, the I7 is one of the better robots at cleaning embedded dirt on carpet.
Single side brush
The E5, like most Roombas outside the S9, utilizes the same design side brush. It has the same, three-prong, bristled tips.
One issue, though, is how fast it spins, scattering debris around. It’s a problem with the older models like the 675 and 690, and it is the same issue with the E5.
Dustbin design and volume
The E5’s dustbin is bigger and better with a HEPA filter. Looking closely, you could see it has more surface area and thicker material. It will filter allergens better.
Since the motor is no longer inside, this part is washable. So it’s easier to give a thorough clean.
It may not look bigger, but it can hold up to 500 ml, almost 50% more than the Roomba 675.
How does the Roomba E5 navigate?
Don’t expect the E5 to have smart navigation. Instead, it has what iRobot calls “Adaptive Navigation,” meaning it traverses in a random direction.
To test coverage, I scattered quaker oats around the room to see how much it picks up.
It cleaned most of the debris for the entire run, but it missed a few spots.
The entire run lasted for 22-minutes before it went back to recharge.
Will the Roomba E5 scuff furniture?
Unfortunately, the Roomba E5 has an aggressive algorithm, meaning it tends to bump into obstacles with force. Those objects could be your furniture.
How will it do in cramped spaces?
For the most part, the Roomba E5 did an excellent job not getting stuck in tight quarters. If there’s a Roomba E5 kryptonite, it would be this office chair. It got wedged a few times during the navigation test.
I would suggest clearing this out before running the robot to avoid any problems, especially if you’re using the scheduling feature.
App features of the Roomba E5
This variant is compatible with the iRobot Home app. Features are similar to other entry-level Roomba options like the 675, 690, and 690.
Installation is easy. Search for “iRobot Home App” for your favorite Android or IOS source, then download.
Once you download, tap on the hamburger icon, then add robot. Select the Roomba from the menu. Follow the steps afterward.
Please note that you’ll need a router to connect with the robot.
There’s no live map since it relies on infrared sensors for navigation. You’ll see this interface once upon opening the app.
One reason to get the app is remote access. With it set up, you’ll have access to the robot anywhere. There’s no need to go to the robot, bend over, and press the “clean” button. You can do it through the app.
Another reason to use the app is scheduling. Users can set schedules so the robot will automatically do one cleaning cycle for these set times.
Unfortunately, the iRobot app has a limit of one run per day. If you want to do more runs, you’ll have to manually tap on the “clean” button on the app.
How noisy is the Roomba E5?
I used a sound meter to measure loudness. The Roomba E5 recorded 65.6 decibels in its single power setting. It isn’t deafening but is loud enough to disrupt regular conversation.
I wouldn’t recommend using it early in the morning or late at night, especially in apartment type homes, as your neighbors may hear it.
How much power does the Roomba E5 have?
iRobot doesn’t disclose the amount of suction or airflow. So for all my reviews, I use an anemometer to check the airflow directly at the main brush. The E5 has around 6.98 CFM, slightly lower than the Roomba 675 and 690.
One reason could be the brush design, as there isn’t much space between the rollers, which can hamper airflow.
These rollers don’t rely on airflow much since it provides good enough agitation to pick up dirt.
Next, we’ll look at how well the Roomba E5 cleans. I’ve put it through a series of tests on different debris types.
Here are the overall scores.
- Overall: 96.17%
- Hard floor: 99%
- Carpet (surface cleaning): 98.72
- Sand on hard floor: 97.3%
- Deep cleaning: 89.66%
The Roomba E5 brings across the board excellence with high scores in various categories.
It’s even better than the Roomba 614, 675, and 690 at picking up embedded sand on mid-pile carpet. I’ll unpack all the details below.
Hard floor results
- Quaker oats: 99.6%
- Coffee: 96%
- Quinoa: 94%
- Pet litter: 92.6%
Despite the low airflow, the rubber extractors were excellent at picking up debris. However, there was a small percentage left in the brush roll area.
It’s a side effect of the low airflow, but it shouldn’t be an issue for daily cleaning where you’re only dealing with dust.
The scores could have been higher had there not been any debris on the cleaning head modlue. So the upgraded extractors were good since it picked up most of the trash. However, airflow wasn’t enough to carry everything into the dustbin.
Sand on hard floor test
For this test, I use 50 grams of fine sand to see how much the robot picks up. The Roomba E5 picked up an average of 97.3% in two tests.
It’s higher a higher score than the Roomba 675 (94.1%) and 690 (96.4%).
Hair wrap test
I am trying something new here. Instead of just taking photos of how much hair wraps around the brush, I added a wrinkle.
There are two tests – one of the five-inch strands and another for the seven inch strands, one gram for each length.
With the five-inch strands, here are the results:
On the left are the strands inside the dustbin, and on the right are stands around the axles.
- Inside dustbin: 0.4 grams
- Around the brush: 0.6 grams
For the seven inch strands:
- Inside dustbin: 0.3 grams
- Around the brush: 0.7 grams
Some takeaways. The E5 rollers resist tangles better than the 600-series, but the hair will wrap around the axles.
So check these areas often. In the seven-inch test, a good chunk wrapped around the darker green roller.
And side brush.
The E5 is better than the 675 and 690 at resisting tangles. With most of the hair wrapping on the axles, cleaning should be easier than cut strands of hair wrapping on the brush.
These tests are on the extreme side. It’s a good gauge of what to expect. The E5 is better for cleaning hair than any of the 600-series robots.
I scattered coffee grounds on one edge of my home office (photo above) to see how much the E5 can pick up.
The results were decent for a round-shaped robot vacuum. It’s better than the Roomba 675 or 690 in this area.
Now, let’s look at how the Roomba E5 did on carpet. Again, I used the same debris types to check how well it picks up on this surface. The Roomba E5 is better than the 690, but slightly worst versus the 675 on carpet. I’ll share why in my commentary below.
Low pile results
- Quaker oats: 98.4%
- Coffee: 98.6%
- Quinoa: 99.4%
- Pet litter: 99.6%
Considering the weak airflow, the E5 did quite well on low pile carpet. Again, the problem is the small portion of debris left on the brush module.
Mid pile results
- Quaker oats: 99.4%
- Coffee: 96.8%
- Quinoa: 99.4%
- Pet litter: 98.2%
The E5 is slightly worse on mid-pile than on low pile carpet (98.45% vs. 99%), which isn’t a surprise considering the low airflow. But the scores were still above average and very close to more premium options like the Roomba 980.
It did the worst on coffee grounds, but I noticed the pick up was clean. When I flipped the robot over, there were noticeable coffee grounds left on the brush assembly. So it could have been a better score, if the E5 had higher airflow.
Deep cleaning results
Even with the low airflow, the Roomba E5 picked up the more embedded sand than the Roomba 675, 690, and even the more expensive Roborock S5 Max.
I did three tests where I rubbed 100 grams of fine sand on mid pile carpet, and it had an average of 89.66% – only a few percentage points behind the more expensive Roomba 980.
This robot is the best budget robot I’ve tested so far at cleaning embedded dirt on carpet. The upgraded rollers and dirt detect help it clean this much sand.
Large debris test
The Roomba E5 can clean large debris, but I noticed it struggles with extra-large stuff like Fruit loops. There are two possible reasons – first reason is the tighter clearance between the extractors. The second is the narrow opening going in the dustbin.
Regardless, unless you’re cleaning items like Fruit loops or Cheerios regularly, it shouldn’t be a concern.
How long will the Roomba E5 run?
The Roomba E5 will run for up to 90 minutes in a full charge. I wouldn’t recommend it on large homes with complex floor layouts as it doesn’t have a smart navigating system. It also doesn’t have recharge and resume, so if you’re considering this option, I would suggest using it on a per room basis to maximize its thoroughness.
What comes in the box?
These are the items you’ll get out of the box.
- Roomba E5 robot
- Charging dock plus power cord
- Manual and quick start guide
Please note that the Roomba E5 and E6 are similar products. The only difference is the color – E5 has a mostly black finish, while the E6 has gray/silver accents, plus the E6 comes with a virtual wall, so it’s slightly more expensive.
As with all Roomba products, the E5 will require regular maintenance for it to run efficiently. Fortunately, iRobot makes it easy with the modular design. This means most components are easily accessible without the need for special tools for a more thorough clean.
- Rubber extractors: While the newer extractors resist tangles better, it isn’t maintenance-free. Clean this part once a week and check for dust or hair that tends to accumulate on the axles.
- Side brush: Use a Philips screwdriver to remove it and clear out any hair wrapping on the base.
- Filter: The E5 HEPA filter isn’t washable. So tap it on the trash bin to remove any dirt sticking on the folds. Or use a handheld vacuum with a brush attachment.
- Dustbin: Empty it after every run. The E5 container is washable but only use cool water.
- Wheels: Wipe down the side and caster wheels. Please check this article for the step by step guide.
- Drop sensors: There are four drop sensors. Wipe these with a clean, dry microfiber towel around once a month.
Availability of parts
Another plus for owning an iRobot product is the sheer availability of parts. There are lots of options for components like rollers, side brushes, and filters. You can save some money and buy it in bundles.
Even if parts like the battery aren’t as abundant, manufacturers will eventually sell these parts. So you won’t have any issues finding obscure parts like the side brush motor, wheel assembly, and even drop sensors.
|1,800 mAh Li-ion
|Up to 90 mins.
|Water Tank Capacity
|Dirt Capacity (dry)
|Recharge and Resume
Where can I buy the Roomba E5?
You can buy the Roomba E5 from online stores like Amazon. Check the link below for more information.
Disclaimer: I will 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 E5 provide excellent value?
I’m impressed with the E5’s ability to clean carpet. Despite lacking airflow, it picked up more sand than costlier options like the Roborock S5 Max at close to 90%!
If you’re looking for a budget alternative capable of deep cleaning carpet, the Roomba E5 is one of the best available. It has a larger dust bin and resists tangles better than the older brush design of the Roomba 614, 675, and 690. Plus, it comes with a large dustbin and a HEPA filter – it will sift allergens better.
On hard surfaces, it was also decent. One issue would be the fast-spinning side brush that can scatter debris. But the E5 rollers are better at picking up rubbish on this surface, which somewhat alleviates the scattering issue.
The Verdict: Best Budget Robot Vacuum for Carpet
Hands down, the Roomba E5 is the best cheap robot vacuum for cleaning carpet. The upgraded extractions do a terrific job at gobbling up embedded dirt even with the low airflow. It’s better than the Roomba 675, 690, and any other brand in its price range.
Roombas are known for overdelivering on carpet, and the E5 is no exception. The rollers also resist tangles better than the 600-series, but a considerable amount still wraps around the axles. Really long strands of hair will go around the brush, so it will need some upkeep.
There are some issues like inefficient navigation, which will miss some spots. This robot is best inside smaller homes with simpler layouts because it only pinballs around.
The low airflow somewhat hampers its performance (a little bit), depending on the type of debris you’ll clean.
For stuff like sand, quinoa, or coffee grounds, expect some of it to be on the brush roll or brush assembly. But for daily cleaning tasks, it shouldn’t be a concern.
It only runs for up to 90 minutes and doesn’t have recharge and resume, so use it to clean one room at a time.
The E5 is the best option in my option among iRobot’s entry-level options. Even with the low airflow, it cleans well enough on all surfaces minus the high-maintenance requirements of the more brush found in older 600-series robots.
Is This The Best Budget Roomba Option?
Navigation - 93%
Surface Cleaning - 98.34%
Deep Cleaning - 89.66%
Quality - 95%
Design - 94%
Value - 97%
I’m impressed by how the Roomba E5 performed across all the tests. It wasn’t perfect, but it has a consistent pick up on various surfaces. The rubber extractors are much better at cleaning debris and resisting tangles. However, the low airflow presents some drawbacks. You’ll notice that there may be some debris staying on the brush roll area. But for daily clean-ups this shouldn’t be a concern.