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Product Review & Information

iRobot Roomba 860 Review: Budget-Friendly Robot Vacuum

Our review compares and critics the features of this popular budget robotic vacuum.

by PITeam

Product Review & Information

iRobot Roomba 860 Review: Budget-Friendly Robot Vacuum

Our review compares and critics the features of this popular budget robotic vacuum.

by PITeam

by PITeam

It may not be the robot invasion Isaac Asimov envisioned, but robots are here, and they are growing by the day. Robotic vacuums are a popular structure in today's homes, and if you are thinking of getting one yourself, you no doubt have learned there is a lot to choose from.

The iRobot Roomba line alone has more options than you can shake the proverbial stick at. Can’t decide? That’s where we come in. This iRobot Roomba 860 review will take a look at and compare the robot to help you decide if the Roomba 860 is the right choice for you.

iRobot Roomba 860

iRobot Roomba 860 Robotic Vacuum with Virtual Wall Barrier and Scheduling Feature (Renewed)
707 Reviews
iRobot Roomba 860 Robotic Vacuum with Virtual Wall Barrier and Scheduling Feature (Renewed)
  • Cleans all floor types - The Auto-Adjust cleaning head automatically adapts is height to keep the Multi-Surface Brushes in close contact with different floor surfaces, effectively cleaning carpets and hard floors

How iRobot Roomba 860 Works

Roomba 860 under table

Knowing how a robot vacuum works may not alter your purchasing decision, but it can help you understand what to look for in terms of parts, accessories, and maintenance needs. The Roomba 860 uses a 3-stage cleaning process with a high-efficiency filter to collect dirt from your floors and purify the air while doing so.

The side brush gathers dirt from the edges and corners and pushes it into the path of the robot. During the second stage, the rubber extractors agitate carpet, sweep hard flooring and lift the dirt into the air chamber.

The third stage sucks the dirt into the collection bin and then pushes the exhaust air through the high-efficiency filter which captures pollen, dust and pet dander to help reduce the allergens in your home.

The Roomba 860 also has a series of sensors that protect it from falling down stairs or bumping too hard into walls, doors, and furniture. The infrared, acoustic, and touch sensors allow the 860 to traverse your home without causing damage to itself or your belongings.


Benefits of Robotic Vacuums

roomba 860 product

Unlike a standard upright or a cordless vacuum, robotic vacuums have their own benefits.

For instance, their low profile means they can get under your bed and furniture where other vacuums cannot go, at least without significant effort and moving couches on your part.

Robots also allow you to maintain the floor cleanliness, whether you are home or not.

The scheduling feature of the Roomba 860, for example, will enable you to have the floors cleaned while you are at work.

Helping to purify your air and reduce allergens, the Roomba 860 also contributes there.

The HEPA style filter will capture up to 99% of allergen causing particles that pass through it. Having a daily schedule will reduce the amount of these allergens in considerable amounts.


Features of Roomba 860

While it doesn’t have the most features, nor the latest and greatest, the Roomba 860 features set isn’t abysmal. The robot has been stripped of a few features to help control the overall cost, to save you a bit of money.

Cleaning Time/Runtime

Up to 60 minutes

Charging Time

3 hours

Robot Weight

8.4 Pounds

Robot Dimensions

13.9 x 13.9 x 3.6 in.

Coverage Area

Up to 800 Square Feet

Warranty

1-year limited warranty for robot and battery

Tangle Free AeroForce Extractors

height of roomba 860

It wasn’t until the late 800 series that iRobot started using the tangle-free extractors. The two roller bars rotate in opposite directions using their rubber paddles to lift and separate debris. Unlike bristle rollers, the clean up is simple and can be completed with a single wipe of your hand.

The smart system also allows the robot to reverse the rollers if they get snagged on cables or cords, in an attempt to free itself from a clog or jam.

HEPA Filter

The AeroForce high-efficiency filter is HEPA quality, meaning it will collect particles known to cause allergic reactions. These include pollen, pet dander, mold, mildew, and dust mites.

If you have shedding pets, small children, or allergy concerns, getting a robot vacuum equipped with a HEPA quality filter, like the Roomba 860, will help to reduce these particles in your home.

iAdapt Technology

Roomba 860 on steps

iAdapt is the name given to the navigation and sensor system of iRobot’s models. The Roomba 860 uses the first generation of this system, or iAdapt 1.0.

There are no cameras or mapping features with this model, and the robot relies on its sensors to tell it where to go, where to avoid and if an obstacle is passable or solid.

The drop sensors keep the robot on the ground and help it avoid falls and tumbles down a flight of stairs or over high ledges.

The bump sensors alert the robot to slow down when an obstacle is approaching and will gently nudge it to see if it can be moved (like linens hanging off the bed) or is a solid object that needs to be avoided.

Virtual Wall Barrier

The Roomba 860 ships with a dual-mode virtual wall barrier. This is a battery-operated device that uses an infrared beam to block the passage of the robot. There are two modes: linear and halo.

In linear mode, the beam is used to block doorways and large obstacles or complete rooms from being accessed. Halo mode produces a circular beam that is ideal for protecting floor decorations or your pet’s food dishes.

Auto Dock

When not cleaning the floors, the Roomba 860 will dock and rest in the Home Base charging station. It is also here that the battery of the 860 will get recharged. The Roomba monitors its battery level, and when it drops too low, the robot will stop cleaning and return to the Home Base.

As long as you have placed the Home Base properly, the 860 will find its way there, dock and recharge the battery without you having to do anything.

On-Board Scheduling

Using the push-button controls on the robot, you can set the date and time. Doing so then allows you to create a 7-day schedule. You will have to re-create the schedule every 7 days, but it will enable you to have daily cleaning done while you are away or plan to be out of the house.

With the Roomba 860, you can only schedule one cleaning a day. If the job doesn’t get completed or you want a second run-through, you will have to manually start a cleaning run after (or before) the scheduled cleaning time.

Larger Dust Bin

One benefit over most of the other 800 series models, is the larger dust bin size. The 860 comes with a 0.6L dust bin which is about twice the size of the older models in the 500, 600 and 700 series.

The larger dust bin will still need to be emptied and wiped out regularly, including after every cleaning run for the first few outings. After the amount of dirt collected begins to minimize, you can go two or possibly three outings before it needs to be emptied.


Performance of the iRobot Roomba 860

Overall, the Roomba 860 does a decent job on most surfaces and in most sized homes. There are some weak areas, and it has strong points as well, let’s take a look at those.

Carpets

roomba 860 on floors

With the tangle-free rubber extractors, the Roomba 860 can power through and agitate low, medium, and high pile carpeting. It isn't as efficient as the 900 series robots, where the iAdapt 2.0 and camera-based navigation were introduced.

However, for what you pay and the features included, the 860 does a decent job here. High pile carpet owners may need a more powerful model, such as the Roomba 980. Otherwise, the 860 can serve all your carpeted flooring needs.

Hardwood Floors

The rubber paddles and side brush of the 860 make it ideal for all hard flooring types, even softwood which can easily be scratched by stiff bristles. The side brush gets along the baseboards and edges while the rubber extractors sweep up the debris.

Working together in this manner, you will notice that even the pet hair build-up along your baseboards is cleaned after a single run.

Pet Hair Removal

The pet hair isn’t just removed from along the edges of your walls. The suction along with the lift and separate functionality of the rubber rollers works wonders to remove pet fur, human hair and strings from the carpet without causing a clog or getting tangled around the extractors.

Of course, the extractors are rotating, moving parts and hair will get wrapped around them. It is just the nature of the beast. However, unlike a regular bristle-brush roller, the rubber extractors pop out with a push of a button and wipe off with a single swipe, making maintenance time that much easier.

Area Size

The Roomba 860 will be better suited for smaller homes, apartments, and condos. Without camera-based navigation, larger homes will generally have to do two cleaning runs per day to cover the entire house.

Anything under 900 square feet will benefit from the Roomba 860’s cleaning patterns, though. It also makes a perfect addition to homes that already have a primary robot and are looking for a second one to leave upstairs or in the finished basement.

Multiple Rooms

There is one area that the Roomba 860 isn't well suited for, and that is multiple room cleanings. Multiple room cleaning means that the robot enters a room, cleans it thoroughly before moving on to the next.

Without camera navigation, there isn’t a mapping feature, and without the map or Imprint Smart Mapping that comes with the i7 and s9 models, the robot has no idea where it is or has been. In the past, this was corrected with the Virtual Lighthouse, which would force the robot to stay in a single room for a certain amount of time.

You can still accomplish this by closing the 860 in a room, or physically blocking the exit with the virtual wall barrier. However, without a timer function, you will manually have to let the robot out to continue elsewhere.


Comparison with Other Roomba Models

As far as the entire Roomba line up goes, the 860 model is about middle of the road. It is generally better than the 600 and 700 series models while not being as thorough or complete as the 900, i- and s-series models. Let’s see how it stacks up against the other popular Roomba vacuums.

860 vs. 890

The best of the 800 series was capped off with the Roomba 890. Unlike the Roomba 860, it has wireless communications which allow you to use the iRobot Home app as well as voice commands through a qualifying Alexa or Google Assistant device.

The 890 uses the same filtration, motor, and rubber extractors as the 860 models, so they are the same in regards to cleaning ability. The 890s added technology does make it easier to control the robot, keep tabs on the status or start a second cleaning run if needed.

860 vs. 880

If you are more concerned with the accessories instead of the model, then this is an interesting conundrum for you. The 860 and 880 are identical in terms of the robots themselves. The only difference is that the Roomba 860 is capable of multi-room cleaning thanks to the inclusion of the virtual lighthouses.

Because the 860 comes with a virtual wall barrier, you will have to manually move the robot to another room to make it clean each room entirely before moving on. That catch here though is that the dual-mode virtual wall barriers, as well as the Virtual Lighthouses, can be purchased separately and both containment systems work with all Roomba models.

You can purchase a lighthouse for the 860 or a dual-mode barrier for the 860 and use the multi-room feature with either one.

860 vs. 805

As we touched on in our iRobot Roomba 880 review, there isn't a whole lot of differences between the many 800 series models. There is only one notable difference between the 805 and the 860, and that is HEPA filtration.

The Roomba 805 comes with the standard filter while the 860 uses the HEPA style filter. This is what your choice will come down to between these two models.

If you do have allergies or need extra allergen removal from your home, the 860 will be the better option. However, if you want to save even more cash and don’t mind letting your HVAC system and upright vacuum model handle the filtration, the 805 is a viable choice.

860 vs. 980

If the 890 is the best of the 800 series, the 980 is the top of the 900 series. It is also head and shoulders above the 860 models. The Roomba 980 boasts a 3rd generation motor, capable of producing up to 10x more suction power than the 600 series (the 860 can only produce 5x more).

It also has vSLAM camera-based navigation and mapping technology as well as wireless communications enabling the use of the mobile app and voice controls. Finally, with the Power Boost technology, the 980 will clean low, medium, and high pile carpeting much better than the 860 can.

The only advantage the 860 has over the 980 is the purchase price. However, with the release of the newer i7 and s9 models, the cost of the 980 is dropping as well, making it a much more viable option.

860 vs. 960

The Roomba 960 is similar to the 980 when compared to the Roomba 860. The one difference here is that the 960 doesn’t have the 3rd generation motor and therefore doesn’t have the Power Boost. Like the 860, the 960 will produce only 5x more suction over the 600 series.

However, you still get wireless communications, visual mapping and navigation, improved sensors, and the rest of the benefits the 980 has over this model. Its price, which is dropping as well, is also more affordable than the 980.

Choosing between the 860 and 960 is also a natural choice, leaning towards the Roomba 960.

860 vs. 690

If the 800 series comparisons are a wash and the 900 series comparisons are a loss, then putting the Roomba 860 against the 600 series should be a win, right? Well, not always. The Roomba 690 still gives the 860 a little competition.

The 860 will win if you need HEPA filtration, don’t want to do a lot of cleaning out of the bristle brush roll or have mainly carpet and need the better, more powerful clean. However, if you have a smaller home or apartment, don’t suffer allergies (or allow the filtration in your HVAC to handle it) and have mainly hard flooring, the Roomba 690 has something the 860 does not.

You will get wireless communications with the Roomba 690, allowing you to create schedules and take full control of your robot with a mobile app or voice commands.

860 vs. 650

The Roomba 650 is the only other 600 series model still for sale, and it doesn’t fair well against the Roomba 860. For starters, unlike the Roomba 690, there aren’t wireless communications. So, compared to the 860 (also lacking wireless connections), it all comes down to cleaning power.

The Roomba 860 has a more powerful motor, better battery, larger dust bin, and, of course, the tangle-free rubber extractors. The Roomba 650 is the clear loser except in terms of affordability. The Roomba 650 is the least expensive model still being sold new-in-box and for this reason alone may be worthy of making it into your home, as ill-advised as that is.


How to Charge this Roomba Model

Charging the Roomba 860 is a simple task. When you first open the box, you will need to set up the Home Base charging dock and place the robot in place. After the three-hour charging time, you can begin using the robot.

From that point on, the 860 will monitor the battery charge level and return to the dock automatically when it drops too low. Every now and again you may find the 860 dead on the floor. If this happens, you just need to place it on the charging dock and let the battery recharge completely before sending it out again.

If the Roomba is not charging, it may be an issue with the battery, the contacts, or the Home Base. You can see the troubleshooting chart below to help diagnose and repair any problems.


Positioning the Roomba Home Base

To set up the Home Base, you will need to make sure you follow a few simple guidelines. These guidelines will ensure that your Roomba 860 can dock easily and correctly to charge the battery when needed.

  • Position the Home Base near a power outlet.
  • Ensure the base is on solid flooring (not carpet) and that the ramp is flush with the floor.
  • Keep the Home Base (and robot) out of direct sunlight.
  • You should maintain at least two feet of clearance on either side of the Home Base and four feet clearance in front of the dock.

Cleaning, Care & Maintenance

Maintenance of the Roomba 860 is made as simple as possible. Having a regular maintenance routine is crucial to the proper operation of your machine. You will need to eventually replace the rubber extractors, the battery pack, the filter, and the side brushes. Checking these monthly for wear and tear will help you decide when to replace them.

On average the extractors and battery will last you a few years. The side brushes about 9 to 12 months, and the filter should be replaced every 4 to 6 months. Aside from these things, you will need to empty the dust bin every cleaning run or every other cleaning run to prevent it from getting full.

You will also need to wipe the body and sensors clean with a dry cloth, remove any hair or debris build-up from the extractors and end caps as well as check the air ducting for clogs. This process should be done weekly. Follow this routine and your Roomba 860 will last you many serviceable years.


Troubleshooting Your Roomba

The Roomba 860 has two types of trouble indicators. There are audible beeps from the robot to alert you that something is wrong. The battery indicator will also blink if there is a problem with the battery. The chart below will outline these trouble codes and lights, what they mean and how you can correct them.

Code/Number of Beeps

Error

What to do

1

Collection bin is inserted improperly.

Remove and replace the collection bin, making sure it is inserted correctly.

2

Something is caught in the extractors

Remove the extractors and wipe them off, clearing out any tangles you find.

5/7

One (not both) of the wheels is stuck.

Inspect the wheels for anything wrapped around it, preventing it from spinning.

6

Cliff sensors dirty/ robot is high-centered on a ledge

Clean the sensors or move the robot to a new location and press the Clean button to restart.

9

Bumper sensor is dirty, or the bumper cannot move.

Tap the bumper a few times to ensure it is working properly, or clean the bumper sensor.

10/11

Both wheels are stuck.

The Roomba is unable to move so you must move it to a new location or unclog the debris from both wheels.

Battery Indicator Blinks

Reason

What to do

1

Battery not inserted.

Ensure the battery is properly seated and that you have removed the plastic tabs.

2

Battery current is too high.

If in warranty, make a battery claim. Outside of warranty period, replace the battery.

3

Battery contacts not making connection

Return to manufacturer for service, or try cleaning the battery contacts.

5

Charging contacts not making connection

Clean the contacts on the bottom of the robot and the Home Base to ensure proper seating.

6

Battery overheating

Move the Roomba to a cooler spot, along with the Home Base. Make sure it isn’t in direct sunlight and that nothing is on the robot while charging.

7

Battery cannot cool.

The sensors regulating temperature detect the battery is hot longer than 4 hours after use or charging. Remove the robot from the charger for an hour and try again.

8/9

Cannot communicate with the battery

The battery needs to be replaced.


Frequently Asked Questions

Below we will answer some of the most common questions regarding iRobot and the Roomba 860.

Can I use this Roomba 860 with 220 volts power?

Technically, you can. The Roomba 860 is a North American model and should be used with a standard 110-volt circuit. However, the robot is rated for use between 110 and 240 volts. You should note, though, that using the Roomba 860 outside of North America with a power adapter will immediately void the warranty.

What kind of battery does Roomba 860 use?

The Roomba 860 uses 2600mAh lithium-ion battery pack. It will provide the Roomba 860 a runtime of up to 60 minutes, or about 800-900 square feet of coverage.

Can a Roomba battery be replaced?

The Roomba 860 battery can be replaced. When the battery stops holding a charge, it will need to be replaced with a new one. You can choose either an OEM replacement or the newer XLife extended life battery.

How do I know which type of replacement battery to buy for my Roomba model?

To figure out which battery you need, you can ask iRobot customer service through online chat or a phone call. The different contact methods and options are outlined below. Be sure you have your model and serial numbers ready when you contact customer service.

Does Roomba 860 remember a home’s layout?

No, the Roomba 860 does not remember the layout. There isn’t a mapping feature, nor will there be a way for the robot to “see” where it is going. Each time the robot leaves the Home Base to clean your floors, it will take a different route and clean different areas in a different order.

How loud is the Roomba 860?

The Roomba 860 is relatively loud. You won't be able to hear much of the television or maintain a conversation while it is in the same room. The Roomba 860 produces about 67 dB of noise.

How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?

Contacting iRobot customer service can be done through a phone call, email, or online chat. Hours, phone numbers and addresses are all listed on iRobot’s contact page.

What do iRobot Roomba warranties include?

All new Roomba robots have a 30-day money-back guarantee which is then followed by a 12-month limited warranty. The warranty covers the battery as well as robot defects, craftsmanship, or errors. It will not cover replaceable items (filters, side brushes, etc.). You will need to register your robot and maintain sales receipts to make the warranty claim process (if required) easier.

Where to buy parts and accessories for Roomba 860?

You can buy parts and accessories through the iRobot online shop or a trusted iRobot retailer, such as Amazon. If you purchase through Amazon, you may be able to extend your warranties or receive faster customer service.


Conclusion

The Roomba 860 is a smart choice for those with pets, small children, and flooring that measures less than 900 square feet. It is also great for homes with a second floor as a back-up robot or in a finished basement, so you don't have to transport robots up and down the stairs.

With the HEPA filtration, powerful suction and ability to clean virtually any floor type, the only limit is the lack of wireless communications. If you can look past that, you can save a lot of money by purchasing the Roomba 860.

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