Will Roomba Clean Multiple Rooms?

Many people are asking the question, will Roomba clean multiple rooms?

And the answer for most models in “No.”

Only four Roomba models have been designed and built to do it properly.

And those models (in price order) are; the Roomba i7+, Roomba i7, Roomba 980 and Roomba 960.

You can read a comparison between the i7+ and the i7 here.

Want to know how the 980 and 960 differ? Then read this.

All other Roomba models, need lots of “outside help” in order to do a thorough job.

Let me explain.  Most Roomba vacuums are designed to travel in a straight line until they hit an obstacle.  At this point they reverse a little and rotate randomly and then start travelling in another straight line.

This is called the “Roomba Bounce”.

Those steps are then repeated until the room is clean or the battery runs out!

By navigating like this, Roombas will move from room to room (if there is an opening between the two rooms) because they will always travel in a straight line.

They do not stay in one room until it has all been cleaned unless;

  • The room is totally enclosed by a door being shut
  •  Virtual walls are used.

If you have, in order to thoroughly clean a room, shut your Roomba in by closing the door then it won’t be able to clean multiple rooms!

The reason question to answer is “Will a Roomba clean multiple rooms and clean each room properly?”

And the answer to this is that only two models can do this- the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980.

And I will explain the reason why they are capable of this a bit later on.

With all other Roomba models, the best you can hope for is to get it to clean one room thoroughly.

Your cheapest option is to do this by shutting the device in the room.

But if your house is open plan then you will need to buy another device called a Virtual Wall.

Virtual Walls, Halos and Lighthouses

A virtual wall is an infrared beam that a Roomba will not croos.

Over time, Roomba has designed three different virtual wall devices which are slightly different from one another in terms of how they work and what models of Roomba they are compatible with.

The three models are;

  • Virtual Wall Lighthouse
  • Virtual Wall Halo
  • Dual Mode Virtual Wall barrier

Most of the Roomba range is compatible with one or more of these walls.

Virtual Wall Lighthouse

The lighthouse is a black plastic object that is about the same shape and size as a flowerpot (although it is much heavier!)

Costing less than $50, it sits on the floor in a doorway or opening between two rooms and emits infrared beam across the doorway or opening.

It can either act as a virtual wall or as a lighthouse.

In the lighthouse mode, it will contain a Roomba robot vacuum in one room until it has been completely cleaned before guiding it through the doorway into the next room.

In the virtual wall mode, any areas on the other side of the infrared beam will be blocked off (until the Virtual Wall Lighthouse is switched off or moved.)

It can either be set to lighthouse or virtual wall mode. The modes cannot be used together.

It needs to be placed on the ground, just inside an open doorway or an opening.

The virtual wall lighthouse is compatible with the following Roomba models;

886, 880, 785, 782, 780, 450, 585 and 581.

So please check this compatibility carefully.

It is powered by two “C” batteries, which will last about 12 months.

Virtual Wall Halo

Whereas the Virtual Wall Lighthouse is designed to “protect” rooms or areas within your home, the Virtual Wall Halo is designed to protect objects, particularly bowls that contain pet food and water.

It should be placed next to a single bowl or in between a few bowls. It creates a protective zone (or halo) around the food and water.

After all you don’t want your Roomba to get wet or to have a plate of cat food all over it.

It is powered by two “C” batteries, which will last about 12 months.

Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier

Roomba’s latest virtual wall device is called the Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier.

This combines the function of a “virtual wall” or a “halo.”

And again it can only be used in one mode or the other.

Used in the virtual wall mode, the infrared beam will block doorways that are up to 3 meters or 10 feet wide.

Used in the halo mode, the protective zone will be up 4 feet or 1.2 metres wide.

This device is compatible with Roomba models  600, 700, 800 and 900 models only.

Choosing one of these virtual walls will make sure that your Roomba will thoroughly clean one room or area thoroughly.

But your vacuum will not be able to clean go on and clean multiple rooms because the virtual wall will be blocking its access!

The advantage of a using a virtual wall is that it is the fastest way of getting a single room cleaned thoroughly.

The disadvantage is that you will probably need more than one and so it will get expensive pretty quickly.

My advice is- if you have doors, close them and shut your Roomba in.

Aim to get one room cleaning thoroughly everyday and over a few days or a week your house your Roomba will keep your house very clean and tidy.

The Roomba 960 and Roomba 980

What is so special about these two models that make them the only multi-room cleaning Roombas?

It is a combination of three features;

  1. These two Roombas ship with a couple of Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barriers
  2. iAdapt 2 mapping
  3. Recharge and Resume technology
  4. Running Time

Dual Mode Wall Barriers

When you buy a Roomba 960 or 980, two of these barriers come in the box.

iAdapt 2 Mapping

Using a combination of a camera and laser sensors, these two robot vacuums create maps in order to navigate a round.

The system is also called SLAM (Simultaneous Location And Mapping).

These are the only two Roomba models to use this advanced navigation system.

This system helps the vacuums to know where they are in “space” be far more efficient as they move around, which means that they can do more than previous models in less time, using less power.

Which means that they have more power to clean more floors.

If you want to see this technology in action, watch this.

Recharge and Resume

Most other Roomba models can auto charge.

This is the ability of a robovac to “sense” when its battery is running low and return to its docking station to recharge.

The 980 and 960 models go beyond this.

When their batteries are low they return to their docking station for re- charging and once recharged because of their mapping systems, they can resume cleaning where they left of with little or no repetition.

The others models cannot resume after recharging.

Running Time

The final big issue that affects an automatic vacuums ability to clean multiple rooms is running time or battery life.

Just how long will a vacuum keep going before it needs to be recharged?

And, how big are your rooms?

600 and 800 series Roombas have a “run time” of 60 minutes.

The Roomba 960 has a run time of 75 minutes and the Roomba 980 will last for 120 minutes (two hours.)

These figures come from Roomba’s own testing of these vacuums on hardwood floors- and so if your house has lots of carpet, the run time will be less.

Now that we have looked at the Roomba 980 and 960, let’s discuss how long it takes to clean a room.

How long will it take a Roomba to clean a room?

There is not one clear answer to this question because of a variety of different factors;

Size of room

This is obvious- larger rooms will take longer to clean

Floor covering

Like any robotic vacuum cleaner, a Roomba will travel faster over hard floors such as wood or tiles than it will over carpet.

Number of “obstacles”

A Roomba will clean a room that has no pieces of furniture in it faster than it will clean a room that has lots of furniture in it.

This is because when a Roomba bumps into an object, it changes direction and goes off on a “new path” which will take more time.

Dirty Room

All Roomba 600, 800 and 900 series vacuums have a dirt detect function, which means that when the device finds some dirt it will spend extra time cleaning it up.

In this discussion, hard numbers are hard to come by, but everyone agrees that their Roomba does a very thorough job.

If you want concrete facts, this Roomba took between 45 and 90 minutes to clean a flat that was 480 ft² (45 m.)

To finish off this article, let’s do some troubleshooting!

Troubleshooting- Roomba doesn’t clean multiple rooms

Of course, there will be some Roomba owners who might have a Roomba 960 or 980 or who have bought a virtual wall lighthouse and are still struggling to get their Roomba to clean multiple rooms.

Let’s go over some some of the most frequent reasons for this problem…

Roomba is re-charging

Does your vacuum sometimes leave a room halfway through cleaning it and return to its docking station?

This means that your Roomba stopped because its battery was running low. It will recharge for 90 minutes before resuming its cleaning from where it left off.

To check that your Roomba has returned to its home base to recharge, the Clean button should be “pulsing” and if you have the Roomba Home app, that will show that the cycle is “paused”.


Another common reason that 800 or 900 series Roombas might miss areas as they clean is a troublesome room or area might be too dark.

These Roombas like daylight or dim lighting at the very least because they use a camera to navigate around.

Sensor Cleaning

The final thing to do, is to clean the two sensors on your 800 or 900 series Roombas.

There are two- the first one is a small “window” which is located behind the clean button on top of the Roomba. Wipe this using a slightly damp soft cloth.

The second one is located on the bottom of the device, which is a round opening on the right hand side. Just use a soft and dry cloth to wipe any debris off.