Roomba Battery Lifespan?

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Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 8th, 2009, 8:28 pm

I purchased my Roomba 535 in October of 2007. Around June of 2008, I started noticing that it could no longer support cleaning two separate areas (separated by a lighthouse) the way it once did. I came on the forum with questions and, as always, received a lot of good advice about how to approach the problem. But after trying the 72 hour recharges, it didn't really add anything to the battery's run time, so I got a new battery from I Robot to replace it. Now, about a year later, I'm having the same problem with my second battery. And the 72 hour recharges don't appear to be making a difference. In fact, after the second recharge, I found myself getting less time than I did after the first one.

I tried to be very diligent with the care and use of this second battery. I almost always had Roomba charging when it wasn't in use, except, of course, for time spent in cleaning and maintenance. I ran the battery all the way down about once a month and did a sixteen hour recharge. Is a year about the average lifespan for a Roomba battery at full power? Or is there something else I should have been doing to extend the life of the battery.

Of course, my battery is not dead yet - not by a long shot. But it's frustrating that it can't do the same two room runs it was once able to.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby Fraggboy » June 8th, 2009, 8:54 pm

Batteries are very hard to understand and no one can place an exact time how long they should last. Batteries are given their lifespan in "Cycles". A specific battery has so many cycles until it starts to lose their capacity.

A "Cycle" is when it is recharged, period. It can be only 1/2 full. If you recharge it, you can subtract a full cycle. Some batteries have ~500 cycles until they start losing their capacity. I'm not sure how many cycles the 5xx Roomba's are rated for.

I am happy if my Roomba battery will last over a year, given how much I run my Roomba. If a person runs their Roomba more than I do, their battery won't last as long as mine, due to the extra charging. Granted, there are other factors that help determine battery life. Temperature, how often the battery is used, what percent the battery is charged to, technology (Li-Ion, Ni-CD, etc), what grade of cells are used, and if the battery was properly balanced. A 5xx Roomba battery has multiple cells within, which needs to be balanced. If a single cell goes bad, it affects the whole battery.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby vic7767 » June 8th, 2009, 8:55 pm

I also purchased a 535 in 07 from HSN. Naturally one of the first things I did was to hook up the SCI port and monitor the battery charging data that the Roomba provides. It was reported in the hacker forum that the battery temperature of the stock NiMH iRobot battery reached 62C (143.6 F) during the charging cycle on both the 535 and reached 60C (140 F) on a 510. Since the battery is reaching a very hot temperature it is causing damage to the cells internal to the battery. So far iRobot has not issued an OSMO update and seems to now replace warranty batteries with lower capacity NiCD batteries. I'm aware of the damage that heat can do to NiMH chemistry batteries but don't have a lot of experience with the NiCD battery.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 8th, 2009, 11:01 pm

Thanks for the replies. I should have thought about the number of recharges as a factor in battery life. I use my Roomba at least once a day and, probably, on average about twice a day. I guess that's gotta shorten the life span.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby mfortuna » June 9th, 2009, 7:15 am

I only have 400 series bots. I was getting about 100 cycles on the APS packs before they started to degrade. A reasonable number may be 200 cycles before the cleaning time gets too short to be effective. I tend to replace batteries when I see the cleaning time drop to 45 minutes or less. That seems to be around 100 cycles for me.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 9th, 2009, 5:32 pm

If that's roughly accurate for the 500 series batteries, then I'm actually doing pretty well, I guess, as my batteries have almost certainly been through more than 200 cycles and I've got a run time on hardwood of about an hour (less on carpet). Anyone know of a place to get a better deal on a good battery than I Robot offers? I'm not in the market quite yet, but I suspect I will be soon.

mfortuna wrote:I only have 400 series bots. I was getting about 100 cycles on the APS packs before they started to degrade. A reasonable number may be 200 cycles before the cleaning time gets too short to be effective. I tend to replace batteries when I see the cleaning time drop to 45 minutes or less. That seems to be around 100 cycles for me.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 9th, 2009, 5:36 pm

I have one more question that I'll post here even though it may not be the same problem at all. Both yesterday and today, Roomba ran for approximately an hour in this one rather large room that it used to normally take just a bit over an hour to finish before docking. But instead of docking it just ran out its battery and stopped. Could this be a problem with the battery just not enabling it to get home, running out before it can find the docking station? Or is this yet another problem with Roomba suddenly being unable to find the docking station?
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby vic7767 » June 9th, 2009, 5:41 pm

Most of the time it is not the Roomba or home base but just the battery capacity has decreased thus preventing the Roomba from reaching the home base.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby Fraggboy » June 9th, 2009, 5:49 pm

My Roomba has stopped after it has finished and didn't dock. It has happened a few times. I don't know why it happens.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby Julian » June 10th, 2009, 4:50 am

mfortuna wrote:I only have 400 series bots. I was getting about 100 cycles on the APS packs before they started to degrade. A reasonable number may be 200 cycles before the cleaning time gets too short to be effective. I tend to replace batteries when I see the cleaning time drop to 45 minutes or less. That seems to be around 100 cycles for me.

Maybe the 500 series is a whole different ballgame but from my perspective of owning a 560 for a couple of weeks the data quoted above from Mike sounds really discouraging. Right now my two week old battery is quite enough for Roomba to complete a 90 minute mission with the light being on orange (not yet red) when it docks so it still has at least some power still in reserve. From this I'd guess that my Roomba really is getting the sometimes quoted 100 minute run time, and that's with about 85% to 90% of the cleaning time being on carpet. I'll be pretty disappointed if my battery degrades to 45% of its initial performance in 100 cycles.

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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby MikeD55 » June 10th, 2009, 8:47 am

Regards battery NiMH life in the 5xx.

I believe that I’ve run ~225 missions in the past 18 months (560). ~70 weeks x 3+ missions/week = ~225 missions (includes vacation time, extra missions etc).

Note: typical mission is less than 1 hour – running in one large room (hardwood, area rugs). Approximately twice per week I add the kitchen to the mission (changing the virtual wall to lighthouse mode). Then occasionally I run a mission where I allow the 560 to run until it stops. Note: in our current set up this 560 almost always makes it back to its dock.

We now get just over an hour run time (62 minutes on the last run to stop mission) down from a start of over 100 minutes. Degradation to this point took a long time – in fact I didn’t really notice it until the battery was well over a year old.

I am starting to think about a replacement battery given the reduction in run time – probably Li-Ion.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 10th, 2009, 5:42 pm

Given the way I use my Roomba, it sounds like a year is about the limit I'm going to have on a battery before it starts dropping to about an hour run time or less. If this means, as I think it does, that Roomba can no longer dock effectively in the one large room I have it do every day - 2 dogs, 3 cats spending a lot of time in this room makes that necessary; actually the main reason I bought a Roomba - after about a year on the battery and I need to think about purchasing a new battery every year to have it do what I want it to do effectively . . . honestly, this makes me reconsider Roomba as a good investment. I said "reconsider" here carefully, as Roomba is just so darned convenient. It would be such a pain to have to vacuum this room by hand every day (or even every other day). But dropping an extra $100 on a new battery each year - over a third of what I originally paid for it . . . well, I just start to question whether it's really worth it.

Any thoughts?
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby MikeD55 » June 10th, 2009, 6:14 pm

As noted above - I am still getting over an hour of run time on a 560 after 18 months of relatively heavy use. I ran a mission today that included 2 rooms - a large family room with area rugs on hardwood floors and our a large kitchen with one area rug and linoleum. The 560 did both rooms in a bit more than an hour and returned to its charging base.

I'm not sure of exactly when it finished the second room - but I did hear "I'm home" call at about 65 minutes. Note: I have the base positioned so that the Roomba will "see" the base when re-entering the first room. So it was probably quick.

My sense is that I'm close to the point where the battery won't last more than an hour after 18 months and over 225 missions (charging cycles). I'll post when the battery drops below the point where it's viable.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby Julian » June 11th, 2009, 5:53 am

MikeD55 wrote:As noted above - I am still getting over an hour of run time on a 560 after 18 months of relatively heavy use. ... My sense is that I'm close to the point where the battery won't last more than an hour after 18 months and over 225 missions (charging cycles). I'll post when the battery drops below the point where it's viable.

Thanks. The above is somewhat more reassuring but I also share Shendley's concerns about battery replacement costs.

I am so in love with my Roomba that I couldn't contemplate dumping it but battery issues are probably the biggest thing right now that is influencing my planning for Roomba cleaning patterns and schedules. Originally I was just going to go for simplicity and have two or even three Roombas, each in different areas, and cleaning on a daily cycle. Now I'm thinking that I might see if I can keep to dual Roombas cleaning on alternate day cycles, or maybe even a single Roomba cleaning every day but, by clever use of time-switched virtual walls, it would clean different areas every other day. If I got down to one Roomba then I could also justify a Li-Ion battery upgrade.

One thing I noticed with my 560 charging behaviour is that it seems to need two attempts to fully charge. What I mean by this is that after it comes back from a 90 minute mission it starts charging on the dock station and I don't interupt it (to clean the brushes) until the light turns green which happens after a couple of hours. If I then lift it off the charging station and clean it then, when I put it back on the dock (charging station) the central light goes back to amber pulsing and stays that way for about an hour (I've timed it a couple of times now) before going back to green. At that point if I lift the Roomba on and off the charging station then the light goes back to green either immediately or within a second or two.

I've noticed the above effect before with mobile phones and PDAs, i.e. if they say they're fully charged then unplugging them and plugging them back in seems to push appreciable extra charge into them.

Mike (MikeD55), it would be interesting to hear if a similar experiment causes your ageing battery to take any significant amount of additional charge.

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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby mfortuna » June 11th, 2009, 7:51 am

mfortuna wrote:I only have 400 series bots. I was getting about 100 cycles on the APS packs before they started to degrade. A reasonable number may be 200 cycles before the cleaning time gets too short to be effective. I tend to replace batteries when I see the cleaning time drop to 45 minutes or less. That seems to be around 100 cycles for me.


There was a typo in my post. I tend to replace the batteries around 150 missions. I start to see the battery degrade around 100 cycles. I was getting about 90 minutes with a new APS battery on carpet, a little more on wood/tile After a year of twice a week scheduling and occasional extra cleaning (maybe once a month) with two 400 series bots I noticed I was no longer getting 90 minutes. Maybe something like 75 minutes. About 6 months later (50+ missions) the battery life was down to 45 minutes on both bots. If I went to 200 missions battery life may have been down to 30 minutes or so. Still useful to clean a room.

One of these APS packs lives on in my Create Security Bot project. I get over 90 minutes due the fact I'm only driving and using a webcam.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 14th, 2009, 8:57 pm

I saw that I Robot is offering free shipping and $10 off for a battery right now, so I thought I'd go ahead and order a new one. But I want to keep using the battery I have now as it still has enough juice to finish most rooms (though it nearly always runs completely out now on each run). But, I was wondering how long I could safely put the new battery aside while I'm still using the old one? And is there some special precautions I should take while storing the new battery?
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby vic7767 » June 14th, 2009, 9:05 pm

I rotate and store several Roomba batteries. I store them on a shelf inside the house for a couple of months and then install them into a Roomba or two and run them another couple of months. I've done this on some 4th gen batteries going on 2 to 2 and half years now with no problems. The same process should work on the 5th gen robot batteries also.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby shendley » June 14th, 2009, 11:31 pm

Do you think it helps to keep the batteries fresh to rotate them in and out of service like that?

vic7767 wrote:I rotate and store several Roomba batteries. I store them on a shelf inside the house for a couple of months and then install them into a Roomba or two and run them another couple of months. I've done this on some 4th gen batteries going on 2 to 2 and half years now with not problems. The same process should work on the 5th gen robot batteries also.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby mfortuna » June 14th, 2009, 11:40 pm

IMHO what vic7677 does is better than just leaving the battery on the shelf. The pack won't have a chance to go completely flat. That makes charging less stressfull on both the pack and roomba.
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Re: Roomba Battery Lifespan?

Postby vic7767 » June 14th, 2009, 11:55 pm

shendley wrote:Do you think it helps to keep the batteries fresh to rotate them in and out of service like that?


I forgot to mention that I also perform the same rotation on a bunch of Scooba batteries some of which are 4 years old and going strong. The only difference is that the Scooba batteries are removed from the Scooba immediately after a cleaning missing and a charging cycle.
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