Robotics have come a long way in the last couple years. They have moved out of the Sci-fi realm into real life, by becoming useful to the average person. iRobot has been at the forefront, bringing robot technology to the home. Last year I took a look at the iRobot Roomba Vacuuming robot. They now have a new cleaning robot that will sweep out your rain gutters.
- Works with standard K-style, aluminum, copper, metal or vinyl gutters
- Cleans a 60-foot section of gutter in just 10 minutes
- Belt clip
- Auger spins at 500 RPM
The iRobot Looj will work with most kinds of rain gutters. It is designed to have a very low profile so that it can fit in tight spaces.
The Looj is pushed through your gutters using treads. The treads can push the Looj fast enough to clean a 60-foot section of gutter in about 10 minutes.
The belt clip is used for safely carrying the Looj while you are climbing a ladder. If you attach the belt clip to your belt and then put the Looj on the belt clip you can safely use both hands climbing the ladder while the Looj is secured to your belt.
The speed at which the auger spins is very important. If it spins too fast or slow it will not be effective at removing debris from your gutter. iRobot set the Looj to spin at 500 RPM.
The Looj is basically a long rectangle with an auger at one end. Both sides of the Looj have treads on them that push the Looj forward or pull it backwards. The treads are removable so you can clean or replace them easily.
On the top of the Looj is a small power switch that turns it on or off. This switch does not actually start it moving. For this you will use the remote. The remote, which is also on top of the Looj, is removable and it also has all the controls for the Looj.
At the top of the remote is the control for the auger. You can have it rotate to the right or left depending on which way it is facing in your gutter. The next button is for moving the Looj forward and backward. Finally, the last button is used for turning the remote on and off.
The left side of the Looj has an opening for the battery. The battery must be inserted with the plug on top so that the door with close. If you put the plug to the side of the battery it will cause the door not to close all the way. This will let dirt and water into the compartment and will ruin the motor.
At the front of the Looj is the auger. It is considered a 3-stage auger because it has three kinds of brushes. The first stage consists of two hard plastic disruptors that are used to break apart clogs. The second stage is large rubber ejectors that will lift and throw debris away from your home. Sturdy polypropylene bristles make up the third stage, These will brush your gutters clean.
When I saw the Looj I had my fair share of doubts. Because of its design it will not be able to turn corners. If you have a lot of small sections of gutter that need to be cleaned, the Looj may not work very well.
Before we get to all that I first had to put it all together. This was really easy and will not take more than 5 minutes once you have the battery charged. Charging the battery takes 15 hours, and you get about 30 – 45 minutes from one charge. If you have a lot of gutters you may want to invest in more than one battery. In order to charge the battery it must be removed from the Looj. The reason iRobot did not provide a charging plug right on the body of the Looj is because that plug would be a place where water could get into the Looj body and damage it.
Once the battery is charged you need to put it in the body of the Looj. This must be done with the plug resting on top of the battery. If the plug is to the side of the battery, then the lid will not close all the way and the Looj could be damaged. Do not try and jam the door closed because you could bend it, and if it gets bent it will not seal correctly and water or dirt may get inside and damage the Looj. The remote also takes two AAA batteries.
Attaching the auger is very simple. All you need to do is slide the auger onto the head of the Looj and push until it clicks.
For me the treads were already attached, so I did not have to do anything. If yours are not already attached then you can put them on fairly easily. Do not stretch them too much because if they are not tight on the wheels they will not have the traction they need to move the Looj.
To test the Looj, I put it in my gutters and ran it for a few minutes. I don’t have any large trees near my house so my gutters don’t get clogged with leaves or other tree related debris, so I went to my neighbors house and borrowed some leaves from their tree and put them in my gutter. The big problem I do have naturally occur is dirt and gravel in my gutters. Where I live we get dust storms that blow through and deposit dirt on the roof which settles in my gutters. Currently I have about 1/4 inch of dirt inside all of my gutters. In addition my roof is fairly new so I have quite a bit of roof gravel from the shingles that washes into the gutter when it rains. So the Looj has triple duty of cleaning not only the leaves I put in, but also the dirt and gravel from my roof.
As you can see from the video below, the Looj was able to power through most of the leaves and dirt. The Looj kicked up quite a bit of dust as it went through the gutter cleaning out the dirt. When it got to the leaves it was able to push most of them out on the first try. I had to go over some spots a couple of times before it got everything. This may have been because the leaves were green and soft. Dried crunchy leaves are probably easier to break up and sweep away. I made the mistake on the second run of having the auger turn to the left. This caused some leaves to be pushed up onto my roof, I had it turn the other way when it came back and it worked much better. At one point during my tests the Looj stopped responding. I could not tell if it was stuck or had lost the signal from the remote. Either way I was able to push the buttons and get it going again.
The auger spins at 500RPM which makes it hard to see. So I created this short video where I slowed down the video so you could see what is going on.
It did a fairly good job of cleaning the gutters. There was still some debris left in the gutter, but it was certainly less than when I started.
My biggest complaint with the Looj is that it cannot turn corners. I have about 10 corners in my gutters and two sections that are only 1 – 2 feet long. This means if I want to clean all my gutters I have to move my ladder at least 10 times and clean out 2 sections by hand. This is less than before, but I would prefer not to have to move my ladder at all. I suppose I would not have to move my ladder if I climbed up onto the roof, but then I could possibility damage my roof shingles.
My second biggest complaint is that I had to hold down the forward or reverse button or else the Looj would stop. If it would keep going then I could have been moving my ladder to the next section while it was cleaning.
Here is a picture of the Looj after it was done cleaning a small section of my gutters. After it was done the Looj was completely covered in dirt, there were even some leaves stuck in between the body and the auger. These leaves may have been what caused it to stop during the video. Dry leaves would not have this problem because they would break apart. Some of the bristles even got caught in the space between the auger and the body. This caused them to get bent out of shape. I will probably have to trim them off before I use it again so they don’t get in the way. Because it got so dirty, I needed to clean the Looj. This is where the fact that it is water proof comes in handy. I was able to simply put it my sink and rinse it off. This makes cleanup really easy. The handle is not water proof so make sure you remove it first.
The Looj comes with a one year parts and labor warranty. This is understandable for the auger, because it will wear out very quickly if you use it a lot. However, I would expect the body of the Looj to last a lot longer. I would like to see at least a 5 year warranty on the body of the Looj.
I am really happy with the Looj. It will probably take some time to get used to it and optimize my handling of it so I can get the best performance out of it. The low end version, which I am using, only costs $99 and it performed really well. The higher end version adds an extra auger, two battery packs, and a holster for $169. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|