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January 2008
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March 2008

A solution for a Roomba that won't charge

I've written before about my tribulations with a Roomba battery. Last week I had an important new development that took a few hours to track down, so I want to share what I've learned.

Shortly after using my Roomba Discovery, and after I hooked it to its charger, I noticed that the power light was flashing red. (Normally it glows red while charging, this was a distinct flash.)

I turned to the iRobot tech support site, exchanged several emails with tech support, and called them once. I'll save you the gory details and cut to the chase.

Flashing red indicates a problem with battery charging. Either the charger is bad, or the charging circuit in your Roomba is bad. In my case, the green light on the charger apparently indicated it was the internal circuit in the Roomba. The worst possible scenario, in other words.

I solved this problem by buying an external rapid-charger for Roomba batteries. They're discontinued by iRobot, but the one I ordered arrived in brand-new condition and works like a champ. There's a minor hassle-factor with having to remove the battery to charge it, but it keeps my robot working and doesn't cost much, so I'm happy.

My experience with iRobot over this matter wasn't as good as I'd hoped:

iRobot won't repair a broken Roomba, but they did offer me a discount on a discontinued model, without any accessories. The prices were disappointingly high, and I wasn't eager to shell out that much for an obsolete model. Instead, I asked for a discount on a current model. The offered 20% on their current intro robot, but this was still more expensive than a mid-line robot at Costco.

Via email, tech support told me that I'd have to replace the robot but didn't offer any explanation at all, which made me doubt their diagnosis. When I called, the rep I spoke with insisted that a flashing power light is normal, and that nothing was wrong with my robot. This is clearly not the case, and it was frustrating that he had to talk to a higher-level person to confirm such a simple fact.