iRobot Roomba 860 Reviewed – Best Roomba for the Money?
Last Updated: March 21, 2017
Whether you’re a Roomba veteran or new to the robotic vacuum market, picking out a new vacuum is no easy task.
If you have any interest in the Roomba 860, you are already among the savviest of shoppers. It is priced reasonably and contain all the core functions of more expensive Roombas in the 800 series.
Special Note 11/26: The 860 is available at its lowest ever price of $349.99 on Amazon right now. Stock may go in and out at this price.
For the price, it seems like a bargain. But how does it compare to other models in the series?
This review will make sure you are armed with all the right information before you make your decision.
If you are only looking for the differences between the Roomba 860 vs 870 vs 880, click here. Or, if you do not have time to read the whole review, click here to get our recommendation, the Roomba 860, on Amazon.
- 1 Features of the 860
- 2 Things You Should Know
- 2.1 How well does it clean?
- 2.2 Is the Roomba 860 good for carpet or hard surfaces like hardwood and tile?
- 2.3 How noisy is the Roomba 860?
- 2.4 How much maintenance is needed?
- 2.5 What is included in the box?
- 2.6 How good is the battery life on the Roomba 860?
- 2.7 How does the 860 fare with dog, cat, or long human hair?
- 2.8 Is it able to climb over floor transitions?
- 2.9 What about area rugs?
- 2.10 How well does the Roomba 860 work with multiple rooms?
- 2.11 How does the Roomba 860 compare to a manual vacuum, such as a Dyson?
- 2.12 Does the Roomba 860 have wifi?
- 2.13 Will it vacuum under my bed or sofa?
- 2.14 How does it do around cables?
- 2.15 Does the Roomba damage hardwood floors? What about carpet?
- 3 Differences between the Roomba 860 vs 870 vs 880
- 4 Is the Roomba 860 for you?
- 5 The Bottom Line
Features of the 860
The 860 contains a 3-Stage Cleaning System, made up of the brushless extractors, airflow accelerator, and HEPA vacuum:
1. Brushless extractors – the 800 series Roombas took the rotating brushes of the older generations and turned them into two rubber rollers. The rollers have little “feet” and spin quickly, using this motion to shake and bounce the dirt off your floors and into the path of the suction power. The shaking also helps break up the dirt particles, making them easier to suck up.
This is the single most important improvement since the introduction of Roomba in 2002.
The “brushless-ness” makes maintaining the Roomba so much easier.
You used to have to pick and cut hair out of the brushes on the older generation Roombas. They even came with little hair extractors in the box. I am so glad that the 800 series did away with these completely. And maintenance is truly a breeze.
2. Airflow Accelerator – Fancy name for a series of air ducts that channels the vacuum suction from the motor to the surface of the floor.
3. Vacuum with HEPA filters – Exactly what it sounds like. The 860 comes with an extra HEPA filter, and you can buy more easily. They take about 30 seconds to change.
Without the onboard navigation system, the Roomba would not be able to vacuum your floor or carpet effectively.
Although it is supposed to be intelligent, it does not always seem that way to me.
It does manage to cover every inch of my house, but in a less-than-elegant, seemingly random manner.
For example, it would vacuum the floor behind my standing mirror over and over again, leave the room to vacuum another part of the house, then come back to vacuum behind the mirror again.
I was half expecting it to get stuck, but in the 2 months that I’ve tested the 860, it has yet to get trapped. There is a corner of the kitchen that it has particular trouble with. The space underneath the cabinet is just tall enough for the Roomba to barely squeeze through. This makes it particularly hard for it to get out of there, but it has been able to do so every single time. I get worried every time it vacuum, but it has managed to not get trapped.
After finishing its job, the Roomba will find its docking station to recharge automatically.
Spinning Side Brush
All modern Roombas have a spinning side brush that allow it to sweep the dust in corners and wall edges into the path of the vacuum.
This is one area where the 860 outperforms its more expensive brothers and sisters. Whereas the 870 and 880 have NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride) batteries, the 860 is equipped with a longer lasting Li-Ion (Lithium Ion) battery. This is the type of battery that is used in virtually all smartphones. (And for good reason: Li-Ion stores approximately 30% more power than NiMH)
Virtual Wall Halo
The 860 comes with this accessory. In Virtual Wall mode, it tells the Roomba to not go beyond the wall. In Halo mode, it tells. This unit is useful if you have areas you really don’t want the Roomba to go or pet bowls you don’t want the Roomba to knock over. Otherwise, it is not all that necessary.
Things You Should Know
How well does it clean?
The Roomba is smart. when it is vacuuming along a wall, it knows to point the spinning brush towards the wall so it can sweep any dust out away from the wall.
After getting the Roomba, I never manually vacuumed my floor anymore. Maybe my standards are just low. Some owners say they still vacuum once a month, but in my house I’ve yet to see the need to do so.
Is the Roomba 860 good for carpet or hard surfaces like hardwood and tile?
It cleans both very well. Having to run on a battery, the suction is not as powerful as a corded vacuum. But the Roomba 860 will make many more passes over your floor than you would vacuuming manually. Also the dirt sensors tells it to focus on areas that require more attention. This results in a very clean floor, whether it’s carpet or hard surface.
How noisy is the Roomba 860?
The Roomba approximately 65 decibels vacuuming the hardwood floor in my house. It is much quieter than a traditional vacuum, but still a bit loud in my opinion. I guess suction comes at a price.
It is much quieter on carpets, measuring approximately 60 db.
How much maintenance is needed?
It takes about 1 minute to clean the Roomba whenever its bin gets full. I empty the dust bin afterwards every time because it is so easy. Once a month, I unscrew the spinning side brush and pop out the rubber rollers to clean out the hair.
This process sounds tedious but is actually very easy to do. It takes a total of about 5 minutes to do this. This is a much more pleasant experience than the older model Roombas, where you have to pull out out all the hair stuck in the bristles with the hair extractor they give you.
Roomba 860 Charging Time
The Roomba 860 takes about 2.5 hours to charge from empty to full.
What is included in the box?
- The Roomba 860 Vacuum
- Charging dock + power cable
- One Virtual Wall Halo
- One spare HEPA filter
How good is the battery life on the Roomba 860?
The 860 will vacuum continuously for approximately 1.5 hours before having to dock to recharge its batteries.
How does the 860 fare with dog, cat, or long human hair?
It. is. amazing. As part of the 800 series, the Roomba 860 has brushless rollers instead of conventional vacuum brushes. Since there are no brushes for the hair to get tangled in, it is super easy to clean the dust bins and rollers after the Roomba finishes vacuuming.
Is it able to climb over floor transitions?
Yes, the wheels on this guy are huge. They extend out like an airplane’s landing gear, and measure about 3″ in diameter. This lets it climb over thick area rugs and transition moldings.
What about area rugs?
If the area rug is large and heavy, the Roomba will have no problem climbing over and vacuuming the rug. If the rug is small and lightweight, it might pushed around by the Roomba.
How well does the Roomba 860 work with multiple rooms?
In this area, all Roombas still fall short. The 860 is will vacuum all your rooms at once, which is not super efficient. The virtual wall lighthouse that comes with the Roomba 880 solves this problem by constraining the Roomba to the room it is in before letting it move on to the next. However, the Roomba 880 is much more expensive.
I think the 860 is good enough for most people. If you’re home when you run the Roomba, you can just close the door and move the Roomba from room to room. If you want it to clean while you’re not home, you wouldn’t need to worry about how quickly it’ll finish vacuuming all your rooms.
How does the Roomba 860 compare to a manual vacuum, such as a Dyson?
Although the 860 is equipped with what is probably the most powerful suction on a robotic vacuum, its power is still not as strong as a manual, corded vacuum cleaner. On the other hand, the Roomba can be scheduled to run everyday, which is more than enough to keep the floor clean for the typical household.
Does the Roomba 860 have wifi?
Nope, currently the only Roomba vacuums with wi-fi connections are the Roomba 960 and 980.
Will it vacuum under my bed or sofa?
The tallest part of the Roomba is 3-5/8″ high. Any furniture that is that high off the ground will have enough space for the Roomba to slip under and clean the area.
The space under my bed had always been incredibly dusty. The ruffling of sheets, pillows, and comforters seems to create a lot of dust. I used to hate having to use an extending mop to clean underneath that area, and now the Roomba takes care of all that.
How does it do around cables?
Small cables, like those for charging smart phones, may get sucked up. Bigger, heavier cables won’t. Just to be safe, block off access to your cables or protect them with a cable shield.
I have had different models of Roombas over the last 5 years, and have not noticed any damage to my hardwood floors or Berber carpet. If you have area rugs with tassels, the Roomba will eat away at the fringes over time. This is not a problem if you don’t care about the area rug, but if the area rug has tassels and is expensive, I do not recommend using a Roomba.
Most people are surprised to learn that the main Roomba unit is the actually the same between all three models. To get a better main unit, you would have to go up one tier to the 900 series. There are three main differences between the Roomba 860 vs the 870 and 880:
- Batteries – the 860 is equipped with a lithium ion battery. Lithium ion (Li-ion) is a better battery technology than nickel metal hydride (NiMH), which powers the Roomba 870 and 880.
- Accessories – A Virtual Wall is the most basic version of this accessory–you put this box somewhere in your house, and the Roomba will know not to go beyond it. Two Virtual Walls are included with the Roomba 870. The 860 and 880 have slightly upgraded versions the 870’s virtual wall.
- Remote control – the 880 is the only Roomba in the 800 series to come with a remote. Note that you can’t buy a remote separately for the 860 or 870, it won’t work.
In other words:
- The 860 sports lithium ion batteries and comes with 1 Virtual Wall Halo, which is the virtual wall plus a “halo mode” to keep the Roomba away from things on the floor, such as pet bowls.
- The 870 has NiMH batteries and comes with 2 Virtual Walls, the basic version of this accessory.
- The 880 uses NiMH batteries comes with 2 Virtual Wall Lighthouses, which is the 870’s virtual wall plus a “lighthouse mode” you can can use to contain your Roomba to one room before letting it move on to the next. The 880 also comes with a remote control.
I compare the Roomba 870 and 880 in an in-depth review here.
Is the Roomba 860 for you?
If you just want a machine to do most of the vacuuming in your house for you, the 860 is the best buy. It’s cheaper than the 870 and 880, and have all the necessary features. Also, it’s got a better battery than its more expensive siblings.
If you have a big house and really want the latest features, the Roomba 870 or 880 might better suit your needs.
Reasons not to like
- Forces you to keep your floors clear and keep cords and cables off the floor
- Does not vacuum stairs
- You still have to manually empty the dust bin
- Not the most advanced Roomba currently available on the market
Reasons to like
- Will vacuum places you never thought about, like underneath the couch or bed
- Makes vacuuming almost entirely automatic
- Scheduling allows you to run the Roomba even when you’re not home
- Works extremely well with hair, easy to clean out hair from vacuum
The Bottom Line
While there are fancier, more expensive models on the market, the Roomba 860 hits the sweet spot in terms of features and price. It is $100 cheaper than the 870 but performs just as well. Not only that, it also has a better battery than the 870. For more information and reviews from other owners, I recommend checking the Roomba 860 at Amazon.