Roomba is a great vacuum, but it can get stuck in rooms that are closed off from the rest of your home or bump into things that it shouldn’t.
Two main types of accessories will help with this issue, and both are made by iRobot (the company that makes the Roomba). They’re called Lighthouse and Virtual Wall.
Both work in different ways depending on what kind of room or area you’d like to block off from your Roomba, so let’s dive in to see if either of these is worth it.
What Is The Difference Between Roomba Virtual Wall And Roomba Lighthouse?
The Roomba virtual wall is a device that can be used to block off an area and stop Roomba from entering. The lighthouse is used as a signal for the Roomba robot vacuum cleaner, guiding it towards areas in need of cleaning.
While both work well for their envisioned purposes, the lighthouse is generally more effective than the virtual wall directing your iRobot Roomba to pre-determined zones.
Virtual Wall Lighthouse Updates
Both the Virtual Wall and Lighthouse started as individual products, but iRobot has improved these accessories and combed both features into one unit.
So you now have 1 unit to take care of both tasks with the flip of a switch. Again, over time, the newest barrier has the best compatibility.
Compare The Latest Virtual Wall And Lighthouse Products
This guide makes more sense to compare the latest products instead of the older outdated ones. The following models function the same, with differences being in batteries and compatibility.
Virtual Wall® Lighthouse™
Only compatible with some Roomba 500 Series models, Roomba 780 and 790 and Roomba 877 and 880.
- It works with compatible models
- Needs large “c” Batteries
- Batteries not included
- It doesn’t work with the newer Roomba series
Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier
Compatible with Roomba s, i, e, 900, 800, 700, 600, and 500 Series.
- Compatible with the latest Roomba models
- Batteries included
- Needs batteries
To explain the functions of each mode, we’ll sometimes refer to them as individual units below.
What Does The Roomba Virtual Wall Mode Do?
The Roomba virtual wall will temporarily block your Roomba from entering a particular space.
For example, if you plan to run the vacuum overnight but want it to stay out of the bedroom areas, you can set up a virtual wall to block access to the hall leading to the bedrooms.
What Does The Roomba Lighthouse Mode Do?
The Roomba lighthouse serves as a temporary barrier to focus on cleaning power. This barrier will lift when it’s time for your Roomba to relocate to a new room.
For example, if the living room is carpet and the kitchen is vinyl, you can place your lighthouse controller in the doorway to keep the Roomba from traveling over the threshold repeatedly.
If the lighthouse placement is correct, your Roomba will stay on the carpet until it’s done, then move to the kitchen.
The lighthouse comes with a halo mode that can create an invisible 4 ft. diameter barrier to protect items such as pet bowls, shoes, and other things that you might want to protect from your Roomba.
Is Lighthouse Mode Better Than Virtual Wall Mode?
Because they are designed to tackle different tasks, it really depends on what you’re looking for.
The lighthouse mode is better suited to larger areas and less likely to have your Roomba hung up on objects in the room like furniture or doorways.
At the same time, the virtual wall provides a more focused beam of light that prevents your robot from entering certain areas.
Do They Work Well?
Because one works with newer, more innovative, Roombas it’s not entirely fair to compare. That said, the Virtual Wall® Lighthouse™ is an excellent option for older Roombas that don’t work with any of the newer features.
The halo mode on both provides good protection and does what it’s supposed to do.
Of course, there will be hiccups no matter which generation Roomba and barrier you’re using.
Battery Life Is Pretty Good For Both
If you’re using the latest Dual Mode Virtual Wall® Barrier, it comes with 2 AA batteries which you can expect to last at least six months with light usage. Your best bet is to swap these out for some rechargeable batteries.
The Virtual Wall® Lighthouse™ requires “c” sized batteries and may last about the same. However, these batteries are expensive to replace, even rechargeable versions.
In Summary: Roomba Virtual Wall vs. Lighthouse
Suppose you need the extra accessory to help guide your Roomba or protect your things. In that case, the Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier is better because of its compatibility and better battery option.
However, if you’re not concerned with protecting anything and just want to guide your Roomba around for some extra fun, the Virtual Wall Lighthouse may be more than enough.