The iRobot Code and the Combo j7+: Vacuuming, Mopping and Mapping in the Living Room
It was a pleasant surprise that iRobot, the company that started the robot cleaning craze, has now also solved the code for a combination vacuum and mop.
The other robotic mops and vacuums I tested made me feel like I was dragging a damp rag around because they only used water in the tank. It’s one of the reasons that iRobot is one of a handful of brands that allows you to add floor cleaner.
IRobot’s stock price has fallen since last fall, possibly due to stories like this. But more importantly, I have not found iRobot OS to be significantly faster or more reliable than cameraless navigation systems like that on the Roborock. I love the Combo j7+’s design, but that might not be enough to compensate for both the principle and the price.
The j7+ includes the iRobot version of a base/docking station called The Clean Base. The robot has a waste bin that allows it to empty it’s contents into a bag. When it empties itself, like a jet engine flying overhead, it is done quickly enough. I appreciate that the waste bag will keep about two months of debris before the need for a change, depending on how frequently you clean your floors and whether you have animals that shed a lot. The more I have to do, the better.
The combo j7+ is a robot that can help you vacuum and mop your house if you want a single product to do both.
It solved one of the major pain points with a combo 2-in-1 vacuum by watching that arm maneuver itself up and over, but I couldn’t use that feature to start a vacuuming or mopping run. You also don’t have to place it strategically in the kitchen—you can hide it away, although it’s beautiful enough that maybe you wouldn’t want to.
The iRobot app can be used to start a mapping run. The sharkai ultra finished its run in 20 minutes with no problems but the combo j7+ was out after 56 minutes with an unknown navigation error. It took several tries to complete a mapping run, ultimately taking an hour and eight minutes to map a total of 762 square feet.
IRobot Roomba: An Easier Robot to Mop and Fold My Room Using a Newly Developed Robotic Water Tank
A robot vacuum cleaner may no longer be the cutting edge technological wonder it once was, but finding one that can also thoroughly mop your home, with nary a finger lifted, is a dream many of us are still holding out for.
Many robot vacuum cleaners have a single internal dust bin. That means that when you want to mop the floors, you need to take that bin out of the robot and replace it with the included water tank. Because the tanks are separate, I was never able to send the device on a simultaneous mop and vacuum run. I had to vacuum and fold my rugs because the robot did not always rise high enough above the carpets.
The magic is that the mop will only be brought down when the robot sees a hard surface such as wood or tile. If it senses carpeting, it backs away. It was moved to another side of the room so I could see if it would get back, but alas it didn’t. It worked its way around.
The Clean Base is over 14 feet tall, so you will need to find a room that can hold it. The space on either side of the base is needed for the robot to maneuver into place. I placed it in a corner of my guest bedroom with 8 inches on either side and it managed to get in and out quite easily. The robot itself is 13.3 inches x 13.3 inches x 3.4 inches tall and easily fits under my living room couch and other low furniture.
Having iRobot in the App Store to Mop and Vacuum while I’m Out and About (How much do I need to know)?
There are adjustments you can make in the app if you want a deeper clean. I have it set to mop twice in my kitchen, on the Ultra setting, which puts down the most water. The downside to this is that I have to refill the water tank when it inevitably runs out, which is fine if it’s mopping while I’m home (I’ll get an alert on my phone), but not so great if I decide to let it clean while I’m out and about.
Many robots I tested took hours to map my house, sometimes running out of battery and having to go back to the base to recharge before resuming the job. iRobot mapped my 1500 square foot home in one and half hours, it was superb. The new sensors helped it differentiate areas that have carpeting opposed to flooring.
As you use it the combo j7+ keeps on learning about your space, suggesting locations that may need an extra clean run, and prompting you to add keep-out zones on the map. I have a “cat litter clean zone” in the guest bathroom where I can put an irobot in and order it to clean the floor if the litter gets out of hand. (There are also voice commands specific to mopping and vacuuming so you can tell it to mop the kitchen floor or vacuum the bedroom.) I also set up a virtual keep out zone around my kitchen bar stools. There’s a virtual wall on top of the stool that keeps the robot stuck on the raised base, so it can’t climb it.
It helps the robot learn and see obstacles, like maneuvering around headphones and lamp cords on the floor, even a pair of shoes I left out. If the headphones are a problem, you will be asked to review the photos, and to let the robot know if it is a problem. Of course, machine learning still leaves something to be desired: It once identified one of my cats under the bed as an obstacle. However, all my responses do help it get smarter with every cleaning run.
The mop pads are too large for my liking. The Roborock and Ecovacs Deebot X1 Omni have bigger mop pads so they can cover a bigger area. The mop footprint is noticeably smaller because iRobot tucks the mop away while vacuuming.
In addition, because the water tank shares space with the dirt tank, it’s also smaller and needs to be filled more frequently. That is a small price to pay for the convenience and reliability of a robot that can vacuum and mop my floors whenever I please, using just the push of a button on my phone.
It does a great job keeping my carpets from getting wet, and it gets the job done with little intervention. It is best for anyone with high pile carpets because of its higher arm lift.
Smart Vacuum Cleaning: The iRobot Braava Jet 240 ($200) Robot Mop Revisited for $1,100$
You will pay more for these advanced features if you go to $1,100. So, if you already own an excellent smart robot vacuum, you may prefer to add iRobot’s less expensive standalone robot mop, iRobot Braava Jet 240 ($200) to your cleaning repertoire.