Modern technology is meant to be easy and so why at times does it seem so complicated?
Take your Roomba as a prime example.
We all roughly know that a green light on any of our gadgets is a good sign and that a red light probably means something bad.
But when my Roomba displays a blinking orange light, what does that mean?
Bear with me for a few minutes whilst I explain.
And there is nothing to worry about.
The orange light isn’t an indication that you have an expensive repair bill coming your way..
What is the flashing orange or amber light all about?
There are two types of flashing orange or flashing amber lights on most Roombas.
One of the flashes is slow and the other fast.
A slow flashing amber light is an indication that your Roomba is recharging.
There is no need for drama or to panic, your machine will be ready to use at the most, in a couple of hours.
However, if you see a rapidly blinking orange light, then that means something entirely different.
A rapidly blinking light tells you that your Roomba needs to be recharged for up to sixteen hours as a special refresh cycle or a trickle charge.
And the video below shows you what a rapidly blinking amber light looks like.
What Roomba models does this affect?
There are five generations of Roomba models that have a 16 hour refresh cycle.
And these are:
- Roomba 500s
- Roomba 600s
- Roomba 700s
- Roomba 800s and
- Roomba 900s
Why do Roombas need to be recharged for up to sixteen hours?
All of these different models of Roombas need a recharge cycle when their battery levels are both absurdly low and weak.
This weakness doesn’t tend to occur in Roombas that are working so hard on a daily basis that they are returning to their homebase “running in fumes.”
For these Roombas a standard two hour charge (or there or thereabouts) will get them fighting fit and ready for action.
A 16 hour trickle charging session is for Roombas that have a battery level that is so low because it hasn’t been used or recharged for weeks or months.
It is a completely different level of exhaustion.
It is important to emphasize that the recharging session will take up to 16 hours- for some batteries it will take a lot less.
Every Roomba battery is different- how old they are, how much use they have had and how often they have been charged will all be important factors in determining the length of time that the trickle charge session will last.
But once that fast blinking amber light appears expect your Roomba to be out of action for much longer than two hours
How is a recharge cycle different to a standard charge?
Although the specifics are a little bit vague, a Roomba’s battery isn’t just recharged during this period, it is also serviced in some way or other to make sure that the battery life is extended.
As the name suggests, the trickle charge recharges the battery with smaller amounts of electricity than a standard two hour charge.
Whilst charging the battery, this trickle charge also balances the charge across the whole battery.
Because a Roomba battery isn’t just one large cell but lots of individual cells or mini batteries if you like.
Can a refresh cycle be started manually?
This is a decision made after a “consultation” between a Roomba and its power lead.
You as an owner have no say as it were.
How do I know when the trickle charge has finished?
You know when a trickle charge has finished because your Roomba will display a solid green light.
Much like it would do after a standard charge
What happens if the sixteen hour recharge is interrupted?
If a Roomba trickle charge is interrupted all that will happen is that you will have a partially recharged battery.
And depending on how long the battery was charged will determine how much power the battery will have.
I think at this point that it is worth saying that you should only interrupt this charging cycle in exceptional circumstances.
Leaving the battery to charge for up to sixteen hours gives your battery the best chance to return to its optimal performance.
How can I prevent a battery from needing a 16 hour refresh cycle?
Batteries that power modern appliances such as robot vacuums are kept in the best condition by being used and charged on a regular basis.
So, if you want to protect the performance of your Roomba’s battery, then put it to work everyday.
For a variety of reasons this isn’t always possible.
One reason could be that you are planning to take an extended vacation or that you have moved into temporary accommodation and have had to put your belongings into storage.
And so, if you know that you won’t be using your Roomba for some time, you can place it into “vacation” mode.
For all Roombas, this involves taking the battery out of the robot vacuum.
Most modern Roombas have yellow batteries and these need to be fully charged before they are removed.
Older Roombas have blue or black batteries and these batteries need to run flat (discharged) before they are removed.
For instructions on how to remove the battery from your Roomba, just search on YouTube “remove battery Roomba (model number).”
Obviously you put the model number of your Roomba where I have placed the parenthesis!
Does a 16 hour recharge always work?
Unfortunately placing your Roomba into a recharge cycle won’t magically roll back the years and make your battery like new.
The trickle charge will improve the functioning of the battery.
But for some batteries this will not be enough to make them function properly and hold a charge long enough to complete a decent cleaning run.
If, after a 16 hour recharge cycle, your battery still disappoints then your best bet is to buy a new one.
And I have written an article about how to decide if your Roomba needs a new battery and how long this brand new battery will need to be charged for.
What are other occasions that a Roomba needs a longer charge?
To finish this article, I just want to mention another occasion in which your Roomba’s battery needs to be charged for longer than the standard charge time of around two hours.
And this is when your Roomba is brand new or when you buy a brand new battery for your Roomba.
In both of these instances, for best battery performance, your battery will need to be charged overnight before it is used for the first time.
If you want to read some more advice about how to treat new Roomba batteries, read this.
¹ Photo by Gavin St.Ours on Flickr