The iRobot Roomba 600 series is a tried-and-true range of robotic vacuums that keeps making sales and finding their way into homes. The Roomba 650 and Roomba 690 are among the most popular of the series and for a good reason. With dependable, clean, and reliable technology, the 600 series robots offer a high value, low-cost solution.
This article will compare the iRobot Roomba 650 vs. 690 to find out which of the two belongs in your home. We will examine the features of each robot as well as their overall performance in various situations. Read on to discover if either model deserves your attention.
The Roomba 690 was modeled off of the Roomba 650 and for that, seems to be a slightly better option. New features were introduced to the 690 that made it stand out in the series. The WiFi connectivity, for example, gives you more control options such as voice controls and smartphone apps.
The base functionality of the two units is the same, though. If you are looking for a model with fewer frills, or as a secondary robot for a separate floor of your home, the Roomba 650 may fit the bill. The right model for your specific needs should be tailored to your expectations, floor types, usage amount, and budget.
How These Roomba Models Are Similar
As the Roomba 650 is the base design for the Roomba 690, there are going to be a lot of similarities. Each feature is briefly outlined for you below.
Both models can create scheduled cleaning sessions. With the Roomba 650, the physical buttons on the faceplate will be used.
You must first set the date and time before you are allowed to enter a scheduled cleaning. Using the physical buttons, you can pick a day of the week and time of day for up to seven scheduled cleans (one per day).
At the end of the seven days, you will need to reset the schedule manually.
For the Roomba 690, there aren’t as many physical buttons, and none will allow you to set the date, time, or create a schedule. Instead, you will use the wireless connections and the iRobot Home app to sync the robot.
Once synchronized, the date and time will automatically be updated. You can create a schedule for any day, at any time, without the need to reset a cleaning session every seventh day.
Self-Docking & Recharging
After the initial charge, the two robots will self-monitor their battery charge level. When that level drops too low to continue cleaning, they will begin making their way back to the Home Base.
The Roomba 650 and 690 will recharge their batteries while docked, awaiting the next scheduled cleaning session time, or manual entry from you. Neither robot will resume cleaning when the charge is complete, though, so if you need more cleaning, you will have to restart a session yourself.
Spot Cleaning is a mode that you can select to perform a quick and localized clean. This is useful when there is a small spill, or under the baby’s highchair after a meal. Instead of pulling out your bulky upright vacuum, you can use the robot to handle the mess quickly.
A Spot Clean will start where you place the robot. The Roomba 650 or 690 will spiral outward from the starting location to about a 3-foot diameter. It will then spiral back down to the original starting position and shut off.
You can then carry the robot to the Home Base or press the home button (physical button—650 and 690, or mobile app—690 only) to send the robot back to recharge.
iAdapt 1.0 Navigation Technology
Navigation is handled the same in both models. Using iRobot’s patented iAdapt navigation technology, the robots will use their onboard sensors to move around your home.
The cliff detect sensors will find drop-offs and ledges greater than 1.5 inches for the robots to avoid. The cliff detection sensors also double as dirt detection sensors (more below). You will also find the RCON sensor on the top of the robots.
This detects the beacon signal from the Home Base as well as the infrared light from the virtual wall containment barriers.
Finally, the 650 and 690 make use of touch sensors to determine if the object or obstacle is solid, like a wall, or soft, like bedding.
If it is solid, the robot will turn, and if it is soft, the robot will push through to continue cleaning.
As mentioned above, the cliff detect sensors also double as the dirt detect sensors. Located on the bottom rear of the machines, these sensors look for particles and debris left behind. If found, the robots will make a 360 degree turn to cover the area one more time.
In some instances, the robots will turn twice or more, though generally these high-traffic areas will only be covered twice in total (first pass and one loop). However, over time, the area will become cleaner, making additional loops unnecessary.
The two robots use dual, counter-rotating brush rollers to extract dirt and agitate carpet. The brush rollers have two main functions. First, the large roller agitates the carpet and sweeps hardwood floors. It then lifts the debris where the secondary roller helps to separate the debris to prevent tangles.
Because the rollers have bristles, you will need to clean them from hair and string tangles periodically. iRobot recognizes this and includes a cleaning tool to assist you with this issue.
3-Stage Cleaning AeroVac Technology
AeroVac is the name given to the system technology that allows the robots to vacuum. The 3-stage cleaning process begins with the side brush and extractors.
Collecting dirt along baseboards, in corners, and the path of the robot, the brushes work together collecting the debris on the floor.
From there it is lifted into the air chamber where the motor creates the suction power to deposit the dirt in the dust bin.
Finally, The exhaust air is pushed through the AeroVac standard filter, which keeps the motor area free of dust and helps to purify the return air reentering your home.
The noise produced by both the Roomba 690 and 650 is about the industry average. Both units will hit the decibel scale at about 67.
The sound isn’t loud enough to make you leave the room. However, you will have to raise your voice to continue a conversation or turn up the volume on the TV.
Dust Bin Capacity
The dust bins on both models are pretty small. The capacity of each is 0.3 liters. This will be large enough to clean most homes on a single charge without needing to be changed. However, getting two or more cleaning session without emptying the bin will be impossible.
You should get in the habit of emptying the bin after every session. If it does get full while cleaning, the robot will shut down to prevent overheating.
How These Roomba Models Are Different
While they do have their share of similarities, they also have a few differences. Let’s take a look at those differences now.
One significant difference is the inclusion of wireless connectivity in the Roomba 690. The 650 doesn’t have WiFi. With the 690, you can use the WiFi to connect to your home’s wireless network. When you do, you will have the advantage of using the iRobot Home app.
With the app, you can control your robot, create schedules, give a name to the Roomba 690, and get status updates on cleaning sessions and battery consumption. You will also be able to use Alexa or Google Assistant voice commands with the proper skills learned.
Voice controls are more limited than the smartphone app but still, offer a little more than the physical buttons. Further, you will also find that you can use other smart home integration, such as Samsung SmartThings, Wink, and IFTTT.
Both robots use an 1800mAh lithium-ion battery pack. However, the Roomba 650 uses the XLife battery. This battery doesn’t produce more power or prolong the cleaning session runtime of the robot.
Instead, it is capable of handling more charging cycles before needing to be replaced. On average, the Roomba 690 battery will require replacement every 18 to 24 months. The 650’s XLife battery will last up to 36 months before needing to be replaced.
Virtual Containment Barriers
The inclusion of a virtual wall is common. However, the difference here is the type of virtual wall that is included with your purchase. If you go with the Roomba 650, you will receive one automatic virtual wall. With the Roomba 690, you will get the dual-mode virtual wall.
The automatic wall is an “always-on” barrier that you set and leave in place. In automatic mode, the infrared light that blocks the path of the robot will come on only when the robot is near. In manual mode, though, the light will come on and stay on for up to 125 minutes.
The dual-mode virtual wall has two modes, linear and halo. Linear mode is used to block doorways or to section off portions of a larger room.
The light will extend up to ten feet. In halo mode, used for protecting items on the floor like pet dishes, the light is circular. The halo will extend out about four feet in diameter.
If your budget is a concern, the Roomba 690 will cost more than the Roomba 650. The inclusion of wireless connectivity is the primary reason for driving up the price. While both are still considered affordable, the 650 has a smaller price tag.
Interestingly, though, is that the Roomba 690 is a more popular model, and will generally be on sale when the 650 is not. During Amazon Black Friday or Amazon Cyber Monday, for example, the 690 may be featured when the 650 is not, making the 690 more affordable.
Performance of the iRobot Roomba 650 vs. 690
The true test of the features and capabilities comes down to real-world tests. How do the two robotic vacuums stack up when actually cleaning your floors? Have a look.
The problem with a comparison of this nature is that internally, both robots are the same. They have the same motor, suction, extractors, and battery capacity.
Each one will clean low and medium-pile carpeting with relative ease.
The brush rollers will fill up with hair and string, which will need to be cleaned out regularly. If you have area rugs with fringe, or deep, plush carpeting, both robots will struggle.
As with the carpet, both Roomba models are equally decent on hardwood floors. You can clean all manner of hard floorings such as vinyl, tile, marble, granite, hardwood, and softwood.
For sealed surfaces (and some of the softer softwoods) you may experience scratches in the finish. This is rare, as the bristles on the rollers are soft. However, it has been reported by a few owner’s, so it is worth mentioning.
Both models rate as "pet hair capable." This is not a lie, but it should come with an asterisk. Pet hair will be collected at a reasonably consistent and reliable rate. However, because of the bristles on the brush rollers, they will get tangled and wrapped as the hairs are picked up.
You will need to clean them more often than you will with the improved rubber extractors of models like the Roomba 890.
Finally, the batteries will push the robots to clean an average of 1100 square feet of hardwood flooring. With a runtime of up to 90 minutes per charge, both robots are capable of cleaning most homes.
Apartments, condos, and smaller houses will benefit the most from these two machines since they don’t have Recharge & Resume capabilities. More extensive floor plans will find the robots lacking and in need of multiple cleaning sessions to complete the job.
Roomba 650 vs 690 Comparison Chart
There are two types of accessories you should consider, optional and required. The required accessories are going to be things like replaceable parts that will wear down. This list will include the batteries, filters, side brushes, and extractors.
Over time, each of these components will need to be replaced. You can find the suggested replacement schedule in the owner’s manual.
You will be able to purchase replacement parts form the iRobot store or through Amazon. Make sure that it is sold by iRobot as 3rd party parts will void your warranty.
The optional accessories will be things that aren’t needed for operation, such as the virtual walls.
You can purchase additional barriers for your robot. The great thing about the two types listed here is that both models are compatible with both types. So if you prefer the dual-mode virtual wall, for example, they will work with the Roomba 650.
Setting Up the WiFi Connection
For the Roomba 690, you will need to set up the WiFi connection. To do so, you will need to set up the Home Base (see below) and download the iRobot Home app. Once the app is installed, and your account is created, you can then sync your app to the Home Base tower.
This will enable the device to find your robot where you can then begin using the app features as well as voice commands. The app set up is straightforward and will walk you through each step to get the Roomba 690 ready to go. The entire process takes less than 10 minutes. Ensure you have your wireless network SSID and password handy.
How to Charge these Roomba Models
Once you receive your robot, you will need to set up the Home Base charging station and place the robot in the cradle. Once the initial charge is complete, your robot will be ready to go. Each charging cycle will take about three hours.
After that initial charge, though, you will rarely have to place the robot on the docking station manually. Instead, the robots will handle it themselves. As the battery level drops to an unusable state, the robots will return to the Home Base under their own power and begin the recharge cycle.
In rare instances, the battery will die before it can make it back to the cradle. When this happens, you will need to dock the robot so the battery can refill manually.
Positioning the Roomba Home Base
Proper positioning of the Home Base will reduce the number of times you come home to a dead robot in the middle of your floor. The following tips should help this process.
Tips for Using a Roomba
You will want to get the most out of your Roomba without adding to your frustration. Following these suggestions will go a long way to keeping your Roomba performing as expected and your floors remaining clean.
Roomba Maintenance Tips
Having a regular maintenance routine will keep the robots clean, active, and performing to the best of their abilities. It is not uncommon to have a properly maintained robot last more than ten years.
Troubleshooting Your Roomba
As any electronic device is bound to do, there will be problems from time to time. The good news is that the Roomba robotic vacuums have an internal computer chip that will help you diagnose the issue.
When a problem is detected, the robots will beep a trouble code or blink a battery icon to alert you to the issue. The following chart will help you figure out which code is being represented and offer advice to fix the problem.
Code/Number of Beeps
What to do
Collection bin is inserted improperly.
Remove and replace the collection bin, making sure it is inserted correctly.
Something is caught in the extractors
Remove the extractors and wipe them off, clearing out any tangles you find.
One (not both) of the wheels is stuck.
Inspect the wheels for anything wrapped around it preventing it from spinning.
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.
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.
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
What to do
Battery not inserted.
Ensure the battery is properly seated and that you have removed the plastic tabs.
Battery current is too high.
If in warranty, make a battery claim. Outside of warranty period, replace the battery.
Battery contacts not making connection
Return to manufacturer for service, or try cleaning the battery contacts.
Charging contacts not making connection
Clean the contacts on the bottom of the robot and the Home Base to ensure proper seating.
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.
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.
Cannot communicate with battery
The battery needs to be replaced.
Frequently Asked Questions
Allow us to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about the Roomba and iRobot.
Will the Roomba get caught on cords and carpet fringe?
The Roomba 650 and 690 may get caught up on carpet fringe and electrical cords. It is advised that you tuck fringe under the edge of the rugs and move cords out of the robot’s path when possible.
Will the Roomba transition between hardwood floors and thick braided rugs?
Some reports state that this cannot be done. The general guide is that any uphill difference of ¾ of an inch will prevent the robots from making the transition. The same is not true of going from a higher level of flooring to a lower level. However, the robots will make multiple attempts from various angles to get on the thicker carpet.
Do I need WiFi in my house to use these Roombas?
For the Roomba 650, not having WiFi won’t affect the robot at all as it doesn’t have wireless connectivity. For the Roomba 690, though, you will lose the ability to have the smartphone app, voice commands, or smart home integration. The robot can still clean without WiFi, but you will need to use the physical buttons as you cannot schedule cleaning sessions.
Will the Roomba mark or mar my white baseboards?
In some cases, you will find that the robot has left a mark on white baseboards. Although this isn’t a frequent occurrence, it can happen. When it does a simple soapy water solution will get most marks off. Tougher marks are removed with a bit of mineral oil.
Can a Roomba battery be replaced?
iRobot makes it easy to replace the batteries. Once you open the access panel, the battery pulls out with two pull tabs. Replacement batteries snap into place with relative ease, and the entire process will take you less than three minutes.
How do I reset a Roomba unit?
There may be times when it becomes necessary to reset the Roomba 690 or 650 to factory settings. To accomplish this, pull the robot off of the Home Base and press the Clean button for about ten seconds. When you release the Clean button, the robot will beep to let you know the reset completed adequately.
How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?
There are several methods of contacting customer support. You can call the toll free number at 1-800-727-9077. If you have a more specific need or want to use another contact method, you can find all the information on the customer service page. There you will find the proper department email addresses, departmental phone numbers, and live chat links.
Where are the best places to buy a Roomba 600 series?
The best place to buy a new-in-box Roomba 600 series robot is through Amazon. Because of the release of newer models, the 600 series robots are harder to find anywhere else. iRobot has a storefront on Amazon where they still sell most 600 series robots including the Roomba 650 and Roomba 690.
Where can I buy Roomba replacement parts?
As with the 600 series robots, the best place to purchase replacement parts is also through Amazon. The only thing here is to ensure you have the correct part number for your specific model. Also, note that if your robot is still in warranty, you should only purchase iRobot parts as 3rd party items will void your warranty.
If you want a robot that will connect to your home’s wireless network, will clean any hardwood flooring type and can take on most carpeting, the Roomba 690 might be the right choice for you.
On the other hand, if you want to save a little bit of money and don’t mind using physical control options, the Roomba 650 should be the robot you look closer at.
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