iRobot's Roomba e5

Roomba e5 Review – Is This the Best Entry-Level Robot?

In late 2018, under the shadows of the highly anticipated release of the Roomba i7, the Roomba e5 went on the market. This entry-level robot didn’t get a lot of fanfare, but it quickly caught the eyes of interested consumers.

In what may be considered one of the highest-quality, budget-friendly models available, the e5 receives a lot of attention. If you are in the market for a Roomba vacuum and don’t want to shell out almost a thousand dollars for the high-end models, the Roomba e5 may be for you. Let’s find out everything it has in store for you, and where it falls short.

Who the Roomba e5 is for

Savvy consumers know that value isn’t always about features. If you are currently looking to purchase a new robot vacuum, the e5 might be perfect for you if:

  • You have a moderate or small floor plan less than 1100 square feet.
  • You want multiple control options such as mobile apps of voice commands.
  • Scheduling abilities are a high priority.
  • You want a low maintenance machine.
  • In-home allergens are a concern.

Who the Roomba e5 is not for

Not everyone will find the e5 to be their best option. Sometimes we need more (or even less) from our robotic floor cleaners. You might fall into this group if:

  • You need a more thorough, human-like cleaning cycle each time.
  • You have multiple floor plans that need cleaning.
  • The floor space is over 1200 square feet.
  • There are more than one room or area you want to prevent access.

The Roomba e5 in Detail

Allow me to show you, here, the more prominent features (or lack thereof) that the e5 has to offer.

Roomba’s Largest Battery Isn’t Used Efficiently

The e5 comes with a 3300mAh lithium-ion battery pack. This is the largest celled battery Roomba robots use and will provide you with up to 90 minutes of cleaning time. The runtime is impressive, though it could be better.

As evidenced in other models that have more battery-zapping features like camera navigation or dual-speed motors and have runtimes that top two hours; the e5 isn’t as efficient as it should be.

This isn’t a knock against the battery, though. It does its job. Most robots in the budget-friendly or mid-tier market will only run for 60 to 75 minutes. Having a robot run an extra half hour is a good thing.

When the robot detects that the battery has fallen below 15 percent charge, it will stop the cleaning cycle and return to the Home Base (the name given to the charging dock). Once the robot docks it will recharge the battery to full and then wait until the next scheduled clean, or a manual restart by you.

What it will not do is resume cleaning if the cycle wasn’t complete. This is a feature reserved for robots that have mapping abilities to know where they left off. Since the e5 isn’t capable of creating or storing maps of your floor plan, it won’t be able to go back to where it was when the battery needed to be charged.

With the 3300mAh battery though, you can get quite a lot of flooring cleaned in a single charge. If you have hard flooring throughout the entire home, you can expect the Roomba e5 to cover up to 1200 square feet.

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, this will drop to about 900 square feet per charge. Any mix of carpeting and hard flooring will fall between these two estimates. However, it is important to note here that you most likely won’t see a complete clean of the entire floor space in a single run. Instead, the robot will end up covering the entire floor every 2.5 outings.

I will cover this more in the navigation section, but basically, it means if you schedule a clean every day, your entire home will be vacuumed twice a week.

There are Plenty of Control Options for the Roomba e5

One thing iRobot has never lacked is the ability to offer numerous control options for their robots. The e5 is no different. There are local controls, voice commands and a mobile app that you can choose from.

The local controls are quite limited. Most robot vacuums are getting away from push-button controls and favoring more technological methods. With the e5 you can still start or stop a cleaning cycle with a large button on the robot’s faceplate. You will also be able to perform a spot clean or send the robot back to the charging station.

Voice Commands are Gaining Popularity

As more and more homes get Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant enabled devices, the use of voice controls also grows. The e5, connecting to your home’s wireless network, will also be able to be controlled by your voice.

There are separate commands for the Google or Amazon devices, but in general, they do the same functions. You can start, stop, pause or resume a cleaning cycle; create, edit or delete a scheduled cleaning; or find the location, status or charge level of the robot.

The website has a full list of voice commands. Some of them, of course, won’t be able to be used by the e5 (such as specific room cleaning). You can see the lists here for Amazon or Google devices.

The Mobile App Holds the Most Controls

The iRobot Home app is where most of your controls will come from. It is one of the best-ranked vacuum apps in the industry and has been for some time. The app itself is free to download form your respective app store. Once installed you will have full control over your robot.

You can give the robot a name, which will then be used alongside voice commands, as well as see the status, battery level and cleaning reports (though the reports are limited with the e5).

You will also be able to do a spot clean, start or stop a cleaning cycle, send the robot home to charge or create schedules. When you create a cleaning schedule, you can select the date and time of the clean and you can do this from anywhere, even if you aren’t home.

The Roomba e5 Filtration is Superb; The Navigation is More Humorous

There is a lot of focus these days on the filtration of our vacuums. Allergens are a big problem and those that suffer from them know exactly why. One of the first lines of defense is the vacuum. With a proper filter, the air returning to our homes will be clean and mostly allergen-free.

As little as a few years ago, most major robotic vacuum companies (iRobot included) sought out the HEPA certification for their filters. As the filters passed the inspection, these companies were then able to place the HEPA seal on their packaging.

HEPA certification means that the filters are able to collect in-home allergens and reduce the occurrence of their reentry by up to 99%. This means that any particle down to three microns in size is captured and contained. Such allergens as pet dander, dust mites, mold and mildew spores and pollen are all captured.

Some of the larger brands have stopped seeking HEPA certification. I don’t have the answer as to why and can only guess it has to do with profit margins and cost. However, without the HEPA certification label, some consumers are concerned.

Allow me to squash those concerns. The Roomba e5 (as well as many other Roomba models) uses what is called a high-efficiency filter. This is the same filter that used to go through the certification process. It is still HEPA quality, just without the seal on the box.

The e5’s filter will capture 99% of in-home allergens and is still effective in reducing allergy attacks due to these allergen particles.

The iAdapt Navigation is Funny to Watch, Though Effective

The iAdapt technology is the name given to the system that controls the filtration, navigation and sensors of the Roomba robots. The Roomba e5 uses iAdapt 2.0 technology and it works well.

All of the components work together to keep the robot on the floor, moving ahead and not damaging walls or furniture by banging into them at high speeds. The sensors will detect ledges and cliffs (such as stairs and large thresholds), as well as immovable obstacles like walls, furniture and even the dog.

What the technology won’t allow is guided navigation. Instead of a camera creating maps, the e5 relies solely on it’s infrared and acoustic sensors to navigate. This process makes for a pseudo-random cleaning pattern that is sporadic and clumsy to watch.

It works, but it is quite hilarious to watch the robot shuffling back and forth in random angles and speeds to cover the floor. What you will notice is that some areas of your floor will be covered multiple times and others won’t be touched at all. At first, this is alarming.

However, if you watch carefully (I made a hand-drawn map), you will notice that what is missed on cleaning cycle number one is gone over with cleaning cycle number two. The e5 will never go in the same pattern twice and because of this your entire floor will be cleaned; eventually.

If you set up a daily cleaning schedule and have 1000 square feet to cover, you will have your entire floor gone over twice per week, as a whole. While this may seem counterproductive, it is still two entire floor cleanings a week, which is probably more than you are doing now with your upright.

While no robotic vacuum can compare with the power and thoroughness of a standard upright (and they aren’t designed to), the twice a week covering will reduce the amount of time you have to pull out that large, bulky vacuum from the closet and do it yourself.

What used to be a weekly chore can easily become a bi-monthly one, thanks to the Roomba e5.

Specifications Chart

Here we can get a detailed look at all of the features and options of the Roomba e5.

  Roomba e5
Size 13.3×13.3×3.6 inches
Weight 7.2 pounds
Navigation iAdapt 2.0
Battery 3300mAh lithium-ion
Runtime Up to 90 minutes
Charge Time 3 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes
Entire Level Clean No
Filter High-efficiency
Drop Sensors Yes
Bump Sensors Yes
Dirt Detection Sensors Yes
Camera Navigation No
Wireless Communications Yes
Mobile App Yes
Voice Controls Yes
Floor Types All
Collection Bin Capacity 0.7L
Washable Collection Bin Yes
Side Brushes 1 Side Brush
Containment Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier
Warranty 1 year
Price Check on Amazon

Alternate Options

If you have made it to this point and are still unsure, allow me to offer you a few other choices to compare the Roomba e5 against.

Roomba 890

The one-time “king of the hill” for the Roomba line is the 890. It doesn’t have camera-based navigation either and works much like the e5. It has the same brushless extractors, but a smaller collection bin.

It does have carpet boost that will increase suction on carpet, but the battery doesn’t last as long as it does with the e5. With the newer releases, though, the price of the 890 continues to drop. You can see the full review of the Roomba 890 here.

See Roomba 890 on Amazon

Neato BotVac D5 Connected

If you want a more human-like cleaning pattern, the BotVact D5 could be worth looking into. It uses LADAR (laser guided navigation) to map your home and clean in patterns that are more parallel and thorough.

It has a larger battery (3600mAh) and a better runtime (120 minutes) than the e5, but has a smaller collection bin, and comes with boundary tape for containment. While the boundary tape works, it isn’t as clean and efficient as the virtual wall barriers of the Roomba models. You will, however, also find a significant price drop with the D5 Connected. You can see how it compares here.

See the Neato D5 Connected on Amazon

Shark Ion Robot 750

The entry from Shark had a lot of promise when it was debuted. However, it quickly lost traction because several other big name vendors released better versions around the same time. It also failed when it came to carpet, only able to clean low-pile versions and used a bristle brush roll that gets clogged easily.

However, it does have wireless communications, easy to use controls and is great on hard flooring. The cost has dropped dramatically now and is a viable option for those looking to keep their hardwood floors clean. You can read my review of the Shark Ion 750 here.

See the Shark Ion Robot 750 on Amazon

Frequently Asked Questions

There are some questions that continuously come up about the Roomba e5 and I will attempt to answer those now. If you still have concerns or questions, please use the comment section below.

Q. What kind of extraction method does the Roomba e5 use?

A. The e5 uses the brushless extractor bars that were introduced in the late 800 series robots. They have rubber paddles instead of bristles and are better at sweeping hard floors and agitating carpet fibers. Plus, they don’t get tangled with hair or strings as often. When they o, though, clean up is a breeze.

You won’t need scissors or tweezers and tons of time. You just pull the bars out, wipe them off an put them back in.

Q. What does it mean that the collection bin is washable?

A. With the e5 and i7 series releases, iRobot upgraded the collection bins. You can now rinse them out under running water to get them sparkling clean.

While they are not dishwasher safe (because water that is too hot will melt them) it is more about the internal robot motor than the collection bin. Older styles had the bin directly over the motor and any moisture would pose a serious problem.

However, now, the motor is off-set and the collection bin is clear of any problems. While you should still ensure the bin is dry, if you miss a spot it won’t ruin anything.

Q. What is the Roomba e6, and is it better than the e5?

A. The Roomba e6 is the same robot as the e5. There is a body color difference and that is the only change in the actual robot.

The main difference is where it is sold. The e5 is sold virtually everywhere that carries the Roomba line. The e6, though, is manufactured specifically for certain outlets and markets. You can find them in Sam’s Club or Costco, but not online (on the iRobot website for example).

The other difference is what is included. The 6 gives you an extra high-efficiency filter and a second dual mode virtual wall barrier. The e5 doesn’t have the extra filter and only comes with a single barrier. Other than that, the models are the same.

In Conclusion

The Roomba e5 is the newest budget-friendly model released by iRobot. It has almost every feature you could ask for with great filtration, easy to use containment and low maintenance parts.

The cleaning is efficient on all types of floors, including high-pile carpet, but the lack of mapping causes some concern. You will need to schedule daily cleanings to ensure the entire floor space is cleaned, though this is a problem that is easily overlooked.

Overall, the Roomba e5 is an addition to any home that will make use of its abilities while cutting down on in-home allergens as well as weekly chores with the heavy upright.

In a Nutshell

The Roomba e5 is a good mid-tier option that provides clean floors with little hassle. Scheduling, controls and upgraded features keep it atop the budget-friendly models on the market.

What I Like About the Roomba e5

  • Large capacity, washable collection bin.
  • Multiple control options including one of the best mobile apps in the industry.
  • Longer runtime than most models in this tier.

What I Don’t Like About the Roomba e5

  • The battery could be more efficient.
  • Sporadic navigation patterns mean more work for the robot.
  • Including more containment barriers would be nice.

See Roomba e5 on Amazon

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2 thoughts on “Roomba e5 Review – Is This the Best Entry-Level Robot?”

  1. Joan Van Wyckhouse

    I would really like to know if the Robot e5 will work with a magnet border. I don’t want it to go under the sofa. This is important. I thought I could just put I piece in front of the sofa to redirect it. I hard wood floors.
    Thank you for any help.

    1. Hi Joan, unfortunately the Roomba e5 does not work with magnets strips.

      It also does not have the “keep out zones” feature of the i7 so you will have to find another way to keep it from going under your sofa.

      Some readers have suggested a quick fix before: tape a ruler or spoon to the front of the Roomba. The ruler will hit your couch and the Roomba won’t be able to go under it.

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