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iRobot Replacement Battery

October 6, 2011

Our iRobot Dirt Dog recently started quiting before it could do a thorough cleaning job. Since we usually let it run while we’re out of the office, it took a while to realize it was because the battery was no longer holding a charge, so the robot would putter out after just a few minutes.

Given its maybe 2 years old and doesn’t get used more than once a week, the lifespan of the original battery was disappointing. And, at least in the Dirt Dog, its a NiCAD battery which perform poorly compared to the NiMH and Li-ion batteries used in most anything modern now.

So I looked into the options. There are affordable aftermarket batteries that have much larger capacities. Sounds great. What’s the catch? The iRobot expects a NiCAD battery, so it charges whatever you put in there like a NiCAD. Modern Li-ion batteries require a different charging procedure. If you charge a Li-ion like a NiCAD, namely with a continue trickle like the iRobot Dirt Dog does, you’ll shorten the life of the Li-ion battery. Which is a common complaint from those who buy these aftermarket batteries and expect it to be a drop-in replacement.

That’s a pain, but not enough of one that I’d consider replacing it with another NiCAD just yet. Luckily, there’s a cheap hack that’s been working well for me. Plug the iRobot charger into a Belkin Conserve Socket. This allows you to set a 30 minute, 3 hour, or 6 hour timer, at which point the power is turned off. I’ve been using the 6 hour mode since the 3 hour mode doesn’t quite top off the battery.

Total for the fix: $45, which is $5 less than the replacement NiCAD from iRobot. And it runs much longer than the original battery did, even when new. Win.

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