Get insider access
Preferred store
Your browser is not supported or outdated so some features of the site might not be available.

iRobot Roomba i1 Vacuum Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Reviewed Dec 09, 2022 at 12:05 pm
iRobot Roomba i1 Picture
6.8
Bare Floor
6.4
Low-Pile Carpet
6.3
High-Pile Carpet
5.1
Pets
5.6
Stairs
4.6
Cars
4.0
Workshop

The iRobot Roomba i1 is an entry-level model in iRobot's lineup of smart-pathing i-series robot vacuums. It's effectively a retailer-specific variant of the iRobot Roomba i3 that's generally only available at Kohl's and Walmart locations. While both vacuums are mechanically identical, the i1 has a less advanced set of automation features, with no support for imprint smart mapping functionality that would allow you to set up virtual boundary lines or label specific rooms. That said, it feels reasonably well-built, offers fantastic battery performance, and does a pretty good job of maneuvering itself.

Our Verdict

6.8 Bare Floor

The iRobot Roomba i1 is okay for bare floors. It does a good job of handling small debris and pet hair on this surface type, though moderately large amounts of bulky debris are likely to clog its dirt compartment. Thankfully, it's easy to maintain, thanks to its self-emptying capability, which ensures that you don't have to empty its dirt compartment manually if you buy it with its self-emptying station. It does a good job of maneuvering itself, though its lack of smart pathing functionality means you can't set virtual boundary lines or schedule cleaning sessions for specific rooms.

Pros
  • Compatible with a self-emptying base station.
  • Good build quality.
  • Fast recharge time.
Cons
  • Bulky debris can clog entrance to dirt compartment.
  • No permanent room mapping.
  • No mopping functionality.
6.4 Low-Pile Carpet

The iRobot Roomba i1 is a passable option for low-pile carpet. It has a hard time with fine material as well as pet hair on this surface type. Thankfully, it does a pretty good job of maneuvering itself on carpeted floors and is pretty easy to maintain, especially if you buy it with a self-emptying base station. However, buying it with the base station does mean higher recurring costs, as you'll need to swap in a new dirtbag periodically.

Pros
  • Compatible with a self-emptying base station.
  • Good build quality.
  • Fast recharge time.
Cons
  • Struggles with pet hair on low-pile carpet.
  • No permanent room mapping.
  • Struggles with finer debris.
6.3 High-Pile Carpet

The iRobot Roomba i1 isn't bad for dealing with messes on high-pile carpet. It's reasonably effective in clearing away pet hair and larger debris on this surface type but has a hard time lifting away finer material. Thankfully, it offers fantastic battery performance, and unlike a lot of other entry-level robot vacuums, can resume a cleaning session from where it left off if it needed to return to its docking station to recharge.

Pros
  • Compatible with a self-emptying base station.
  • Good build quality.
  • Fast recharge time.
Cons
  • No permanent room mapping.
  • Struggles with finer debris.
  • Can get stuck on thicker rugs.
5.1 Pets

The iRobot Roomba i1 is a solid option for dealing with pet hair on floors. It's pretty effective in dealing with this debris type on bare floors and high-pile carpet, but struggles with clearing it away on low-pile carpet. User maintenance is simple, with its twin rubber brushrolls being very easy to remove and clean. Its high-efficiency filter is also very effective in trapping allergens like pet dander. Unfortunately, its motor emits a somewhat disruptive noise, and it lacks any mopping feature to deal with dried-on dirt.

Pros
  • Easy to maintain.
  • Good air filtration performance.
Cons
  • Struggles with pet hair on low-pile carpet.
  • No mopping functionality.
  • Disruptive motor noise.
5.6 Stairs

The iRobot Roomba i1 is a robot vacuum and isn't suitable for cleaning stairs.

4.6 Cars

The iRobot Roomba i1 is a robot vacuum and isn't designed to clean the inside of your car.

4.0 Workshop

The iRobot Roomba i1 isn't designed for workshop cleaning.

  • 6.8 Bare Floor
  • 6.4 Low-Pile Carpet
  • 6.3 High-Pile Carpet
  • 5.1 Pets
  • 5.6 Stairs
  • 4.6 Cars
  • 4.0 Workshop
  1. Updated Dec 09, 2022: Review published.
  2. Updated Dec 05, 2022: Early access published.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

There are two variants of the iRobot i1: the basic variant, referred to as the i1, and the i1+, which comes bundled with a self-emptying docking station. We tested the i1+ variant, and you can see its label here. That said, both vacuums are mechanically identical and will deliver similar overall cleaning performance, though the inclusion of the auto-empty dock does reduce hands-on maintenance requirements. If desired, you can buy a basic i1 and purchase the i-series Clean Base Automatic Dirt Disposal docking station.

If someone comes across a differently-equipped variant of this vacuum, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Vacuums

The iRobot Roomba i1 is an entry-level smart-pathing robot vacuum that's fully compatible with a self-emptying base station. It's almost identical in design to the iRobot Roomba i3, the main difference between the two being that the i3 can generate a permanent map of its coverage area, which you can use to set specific cleaning settings for different rooms and set up virtual boundary lines. Unfortunately, it carries over a lot of the i3's weaknesses, with poor overall debris pickup performance on carpeted floors. It also struggles with bulkier debris, which can clog the entrance to its dustbin.

If you're looking for an alternative, take a look at our list of recommendations for the best robot vacuums, the best robot vacuums for hardwood floors, and the best robot vacuums for pet hair.

iRobot Roomba i3

The iRobot Roomba i3 is a little better than the iRobot Roomba i1, though it's worth mentioning that the two vacuums are mechanically identical, with the i1 being a retailer-specific variant of the i3. Following a firmware update, the i3 received support for imprint smart mapping, which allows you to set up virtual boundary lines or label specific rooms.

Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty

The Shark EZ Robot Self-Empty and iRobot Roomba i1 each have their strengths, meaning one might suit you better than the other, depending on your needs. The Shark incurs lower ownership costs, as its self-emptying base station doesn't use disposable dirtbags. The Shark also struggles less with bulky debris. However, the iRobot's self-emptying base station has a greater debris capacity. The iRobot is also easier to maintain, takes much less time to recharge, and has a more intuitive companion app.

iRobot Roomba 694

The iRobot Roomba i1 is better than the iRobot Roomba 694. The i1 is easier to maintain, does a better job handling pet hair, and offers a more comprehensive suite of automation features, including smart pathing and full compatibility with self-emptying base stations. The i1 also does a much better job of sealing in fine particles. Conversely, the 694 doesn't struggle as much with bulky debris, thanks to a beater brush that crushes larger debris before it gets sucked up.

iRobot Roomba [j7, j7+]

The iRobot Roomba j7 is better than the iRobot Roomba i1. The j7 has a hazard recognition system that enables it to spot and avoid obstacles like pet waste in real time, meaning you don't need to worry about making sure your home is completely free of obstructions before letting it run. It also feels better built, does a better job of maneuvering itself, and is quieter.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
7.5
Design
Build Quality
Vacuum Type
Robot

This vacuum feels pretty well-built, though build quality does fall slightly short of higher-end iRobot models with a hollow-feeling housing. Otherwise, it's pretty similar to the iRobot standard, with dense rubber brushrolls, a three-armed side brush, and a centrally-mounted caster wheel. It has a top cover made of matte-finish bronze-colored plastic, which differs from the iRobot Roomba i3, which has a plastic top cover textured to look like fabric. There are three buttons on top of the robot: a big center one to start and stop a cleaning cycle, and two smaller buttons to send the vacuum home and have it spot-clean an area.

The vacuum comes pre-assembled, so all you need to do is set up the docking station, which arrives with a dirtbag already inside.

7.5
Design
User Maintenance

This vacuum is pretty easy to maintain.

  • Dirt Compartment: The internal dustbin comes out pretty easily, as you only need to press the release button on the side of the vacuum's body. That said, you should be careful when taking it out, as debris can spill out the back if it's quite full. You should empty it after each use by tapping it on the side of a garbage can and wiping any debris from the lid with a dry cloth. If necessary, you can wash it with water, but be sure to remove the filter beforehand. If you purchase the i1+ variant with the self-emptying base station, you won't have to empty its dirt compartment very often.
  • Filter: The filter is located inside the dirt compartment. Clean it by taking out the dirt compartment, pulling out the filter, and tapping it against a garbage can once a week or twice a week in homes with pets. You shouldn't wash it with water.
  • Brushrolls: The brushrolls are easy to access by lifting the brush cover on the bottom of the vacuum and pulling them out. You can remove any tangled hair or stuck-on debris by hand once or twice a month, depending on whether or not you have pets. Long hair tends to get wrapped around its outer bearings, not the brushroll itself, and they aren't especially hard to clean. That said, it can be tricky to put them back because they need to be properly aligned in their housing.
  • Side Brush: The side brush is located under the vacuum and requires a Phillips-head screwdriver to remove. You'll need to clean it by hand once or twice a month, depending on whether or not you have any pets. It tends to collect a lot of long hair, but it isn't too hard to clear it away once you've unscrewed it from the vacuum's body.
  • Wheel: You can remove the front caster wheel by pulling it out of the vacuum and then pushing it out of its socket. You should clean it twice a month by removing any tangled hair or debris.
  • Sensors and charging contacts: The sensors and charging contacts on the vacuum and docking station should be wiped clean with a dry cloth once a month.
  • Dirtbag: The dirtbag inside the docking station needs to be thrown away and replaced when it's full, which is indicated by a red light on the docking station. Thankfully, it's self-sealing, so you don't need to worry about a plume of dust being created when pulling it out.

Any part you can wash under water should be allowed to dry for 24 hours before putting it back in the vacuum.

3.0
Design
Recurring Cost
Bag Part Number 4640235
Filter Part Number 4639161
HEPA Filter Part Number 4639161

The iRobot i1 Plus incurs high recurring costs.

  • HEPA Filter: You should replace the HEPA filter every two months.
  • Rubber Brushrolls: You should replace the brushrolls every 12 months.
  • Front Wheel: You should replace the front wheel every 12 months.
  • Side Brush: The manufacturer recommends replacing every 12 months.
  • Dirtbag: The dirtbag needs to be thrown away and replaced when it's full.

iRobot sells a 'Replenishment Kit' that contains three side brushes, a new pair of multi-floor rubber brushrolls, and three HEPA filters.

8.5
Design
Storing
Height
19.09" (48.5 cm)
Width
13.39" (34.0 cm)
Depth
16.54" (42.0 cm)
Cord Storing
Not Needed
On-Board Tool Storage
Not needed
Vacuum Rack/Station
Yes

The iRobot i1+ is pretty easy to store. Its base station is taller than that of the j7 variant of the iRobot Roomba j7 but has a similar horizontal footprint and is consequently easy to fit in a small nook. You can wrap up any excess length of power cord behind the base station.

8.2
Design
Dirt Compartment
Bagless
No
Volume
0.70 gal (2.65 L)
Full Indicator
Yes
Bag Included
1

The iRobot Roomba i1+ can hold an impressive amount of debris. The external dirt compartment's capacity of almost two and a half liters is similar to a lot of full-size bagged canister or upright vacuums like the Miele Classic C1. An indicator light on the station lets you know when the bag is full or if there's an obstruction in the tunnel leading toward the bag. The app can notify you when the dirt compartment or bag is full.

Design
In The Box

  • iRobot Roomba i1+ robot vacuum
  • Charging dock/bag emptying station
  • Charging cable
  • 1x HEPA filter
  • 2x multi-surface rubber brushrolls
  • 1x side brush (one already attached to the vacuum)
  • Dirt compartments
  • 1x dirtbag
  • Easy Setup Guide/Warranty Card/Safety Information

10
Design
Range
Cordless
Yes
Cord Length
N/A
Hose Length
N/A
Minimum Wand Length
N/A
Maximum Wand Length
N/A
Total Range
N/A

This vacuum's range is limited only by its remaining battery life, but it can't go up or down stairs.

8.0
Design
Portability
Total Weight
6.92 lbs (3.14 kg)
Weight In Hand
0.00 lbs (0.00 kg)
Carrying handle
No

This vacuum is quite portable. It weighs a little less than the iRobot Roomba i8+, but unlike the latter, it doesn't have an integrated carrying handle that would make it easier to pick up and carry around.

9.5
Design
Battery
Minimum Battery Life
121 min
Maximum Battery Life
121 min
Recharge Time
99 min
Recharge Dock
Yes
Battery Life Indicator
Yes
Removable Batteries
Yes

This vacuum has superb battery performance. It can run for about two hours on a full charge, though since it automatically adjusts its suction power in the presence of high concentrations of debris, its runtime won't be quite as long if it's cleaning a very dirty area. It can fully recharge in under 100 minutes, which is very fast by the standards of other robot vacuums. You can keep an eye on the vacuum's current charge level by monitoring the indicator light around the 'Clean' touch-sensitive button, which switches from solid white to solid red as the charge level drops.

Design
Quality Of Life Features
Rotating Head
No
Power Adjustment
No
Self-Propelled
Yes
Headlights
No
Easy On/Off
Yes
Head Surface Type Adjustment
Only Automatic

This vacuum has a few quality-of-life features. Like the iRobot Roomba i8+, it focuses on cleaning areas with a higher concentration of debris. However, you can't adjust its suction power manually.

Design
Tools And Brushes
Brushroll
Yes
Brushroll On/Off
No
Removable Brushroll
Yes
Turbo Brush
No
Crevice Tool
No
Upholstery Tool
No
Soft Bristle Brush
No
Hard Bristle Brush
No
Extension Wand
No
Ceiling Fan Tool
No
Pet Grooming Tool
No

This vacuum has a single side brush that moves debris from the outside edges of the vacuum into the path of its main brushroll.

Design
Alternative Configuration
Blower Mode
No
Performance
5.9
Performance
Bare Floor Performance (Hardwood, Laminate, Tiles)
Setting Used "Clean"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 46%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 46%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 46%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 46%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 95%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 95%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 95%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 95%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The iRobot Roomba i1 has middling performance on bare floors. It has no trouble dealing with smaller debris like rice, but any moderately large pile of bulkier debris will block the entrance to its dustbin.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L, 0.75L, and 1.5L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked, it doesn't lose suction performance as its internal dustbin fills up.

4.2
Performance
Low-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "Clean"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 67%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 67%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 67%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 67%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 8%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 8%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 8%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 8%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

This vacuum does a poor job of dealing with debris on low-pile carpet. It clears away a reasonable amount of larger debris like sand, though a second or third pass might still be necessary to get everything. It has a very hard time clearing away fine material like baking soda on this surface.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L, 0.75L, and 1.5L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked, it doesn't lose suction performance as its internal dustbin fills up.

6.2
Performance
High-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used "Clean"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 54%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 19%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 19%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 19%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 19%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

This vacuum's performance on high-pile carpet is mediocre. It has a really hard time with fine material like baking soda but does a reasonable job of handling larger material like sand on this surface type.

Note: All testing was completed when the dirt compartment was empty, with the data for the 0.25L, 0.75L, and 1.5L tests being copied from the 0L test. Since this vacuum automatically empties its internal dirt compartment when docked, it doesn't lose suction performance as its internal dustbin fills up.

7.7
Performance
Pet Hair Floor Performance
Bare Floor
94%
Low-Pile Carpet
67%
High-Pile Carpet
78%

This vacuum does a good job of dealing with pet hair, with a few caveats. It doesn't have much trouble dealing with hair on bare floors or high-pile carpet, but it'll take a few passes to fully clear away this kind of debris on low-pile carpet.

0
Performance
Suction
Maximum Suction
0.0 inHโ‚‚O (0.00 kPa)
Setting Used For Maximum "Clean"
Normal Suction
0.0 inHโ‚‚O (0.00 kPa)
Setting Used For Normal "Clean"
Hose Diameter
N/A

The iRobot Roomba i1's real-world suction performance is poor. Like most other robot vacuums, its suction inlet is positioned too high above the contact surface to create a tight seal, so real-world suction measurements are low.

8.9
Performance
Noise
Bare Floor
66.9 dBA
Low-Pile Carpet
62.6 dBA

This vacuum isn't too loud. However, it emits a somewhat odd noise that almost sounds as though its motor is failing, which could be quite disruptive.

7.5
Performance
Maneuverability

The iRobot Roomba i1 has good maneuverability. While it doesn't store a permanent map of its coverage area, it still relies on smart pathing to navigate, and as a result, it cleans in an organized pattern. Unfortunately, it can have a bit of trouble navigating around obstacles like chair legs or coat stands. It also has quite a bit of trouble climbing onto shag pile rugs and gets stuck on loose obstructions like rug tassels. Thankfully, the lack of a LIDAR sensor and its compact dimensions allow it to clean under most couches and chairs without too much difficulty.

0
Performance
Pet Hair Furniture Performance
Sofa Pickup Post Test
Performance
Air Quality
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
Yes

This vacuum does a great job of sealing in fine allergens thanks to its onboard high-efficiency filter.

4.0
Performance
Cracks
Wood Cracks Post Test

This vacuum does a terrible job of clearing away debris in cracks and crevices. Like a lot of lower-end robot vacuums with less powerful motors, it doesn't exert enough suction force to draw out debris from deeper crevices, and its side brush is ineffective in helping to dislodge debris.

1.0
Performance
Stains
Stain Pickup Post Test

The iRobot Roomba i1 does a terrible job of dealing with dried-on stains. Unlike the Roborock E4, it isn't compatible with a mopping attachment for scrubbing away stains.

0
Performance
Water
Wet Compatible
No
Water Pickup Post Test
Automation
9.1
Automation
Physical Automation
Automatic Recharging
Yes
Automatic Bag Emptying
Yes
Pathing Algorithm
Smart
Physical Boundary Markers
No
Scheduled Start Buttons
No
Cycle Control Buttons
Onboard Only
Navigation Control Buttons
Return to Base Only

The iRobot i1 has excellent automation features. Its 'Recharge and Resume' capability lets it resume a cleaning job from where it left off after returning to its docking station to empty its dustbin or recharge. You can also control certain functions with the trio of physical buttons on its top cover. The 'Home' button has it return to the base station, the 'Power/Clean' button turns it on and off and has it start a cleaning session, and the 'Spot Clean' button tells it to clean a small area. It's also fully compatible with Google Home and Amazon Alexa devices, which allow you to make specific commands using your voice.

7.5
Automation
Companion App Automation
App Name
iRobot HOME
iOS Availability
Yes
Android Availability
Yes
Software Boundary Markers (No Go Zones)
No
App Scheduled Start
Yes
App Cycle Control
Yes
Navigation Control within App
No

The iRobot i1 has a good set of in-app features. You can use it to schedule cleaning sessions for your home while you're away, check the 'Product Health' tab to see the replacement time for its filter, side brush, and brushrolls, and enable or disable various user and safety settings, like a child and pet lock. While the vacuum doesn't store a permanent map of your home, you can still see the coverage map it generates at the end of a cleaning session. However, unlike the iRobot Roomba i3, which received a substantial firmware update, you can't label rooms, add area dividers, or set custom cleaning settings for specific rooms.

Discussions