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Robotics Toys Hardware

IRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot Review 168

justechn writes "Many of us have seen robots in the movies and wondered how long it would take for them to become a reality. Some of my favorites when I was a kid were Short Circut and Runaway. iRobot is a company that is striving to bring some of that technology home today. Their most popular and well known product is the Roomba vacuuming robot. The Roomba is great, after I finished my review of it and sent it back I went out and bought one. It does its best work picking up pet hair. They just came out with another robot called the Looj. The Looj is used to clean the rain gutters that go around your roof. If you have ever had to do this by hand you know how much of a pain it is. This robot uses a 3 stage auger to break up clogs and sweep all the debris out of your gutter. It is also water proof so you don't have to worry if you have water in your gutter, just don't stand below it when it is cleaning or you will get sprayed." Read on for the rest of justechn's review.
"The Looj does not move on it own like the Roomba does, instead there is a remote control that controls the direction that the auger spins and the direction that the Looj moves (forward and backward). Because it requires constant human interaction I am not even sure I would classify it as a robot, rather it is more like a remote controlled car.

I recently got my hands on one and put it through my gutters. It did a fairly good job. I did have to go over some spots more than once to get all the leaves and dirt out, but in the end my gutters were a lot cleaner after it was done.

The price is also very good. At $99 for the base model it is cheap enough that you can pick one up just to play around with. The more expensive models only give you extra batteries and augers, so you are not missing anything if you go with the base model.

I only found two things about the Looj that I did not like. First, it will not turn corners, it is way too long and not flexible. Second, if you want it to move you have to constantly hold down the forward or backward button. As soon as you let go, it stops. If you could lock in the movement then you could do other things like move your ladder to the next corner while it was cleaning."
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IRobot Looj Gutter Cleaning Robot Review

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  • Link (Score:5, Informative)

    by psergiu ( 67614 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @05:48PM (#23985213)
  • by CrazedWalrus ( 901897 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:16PM (#23985411) Journal

    Exactly. Arms are only so long. With this, you can stand at one end and clean out the entire stretch of gutters. Think of it this way:

    Assume a 40ft stretch of gutters. You might precariously have a 5.5-foot reach per trip up the ladder. Safely, and to make the math easier, figure 5 feet of gutters per trip. That means 8 trips up the ladder per side of the house. 16 trips at two stories per climb is 32 stories -- the equivalent of a moderately-sized skyscraper.

    Besides, with less reaching and climbing, it's a hell of a lot safer.

  • No Brainer. (Score:4, Informative)

    by jpellino ( 202698 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @06:26PM (#23985475)

    If you have a house, you have likely spent $99 on far worse things.

    If all I have to do to clean the gutters is put the ladder at each corner once - I want this.

    I suspect many of the "why bother"s have never actually cleaned gutters by hand. You basically go around the house trying to find a stable spot for the ladder every so often. Every so often is defined as your own wingspan plus how brave you are either side of an extension ladder. Scoop, fling, repeat. Chase leavings with hose or bucket. For even a smallish 24'x36' house, this is tedium with the added risk of a broken arm.

    OK - the wand looks interesting but you're standing under the slop.

    iRobot is in Somerville, MA. And here in New England the fall leaves aren't as bad as the muck made of spring tree flowers and seeds (maple and oak).

  • by microcars ( 708223 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:02PM (#23985687) Homepage
    old mucked up gutters that you neglected.

    I bought one of these when they first came out last fall and liked playing with it, but unless you regularly use it to clean your gutters, you will find that it gets bogged down in heavy mucked up areas.

    These tend to be right in the middle of the run and I have to get on the roof or move the ladder to free it up.

    and if you have a valley that feeds into a gutter that gets clogged with small twigs and branches, fugedaboutit.

    That being said, it is fun to use and works pretty much as advertised you just have to approach heavy obstacles slowly and go back and forth like you are drilling through it.

    My gutters a really a pain to clean and just knowing I can go play with the Looj makes me more likely to drag out the ladder and clean them more often.
  • by Tin_Wisdom ( 1081631 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @07:29PM (#23985863)

    I got one of these off a Woot the other month. It performed as advertised on the vast amount of dry crap on one side of my house. It tossed all the (slightly damp) leaves and twigs out quite nicely. Yes, I still had to get up on the ladder once to put it up there, but I didn't have to climb down, move the ladder three feet, climb back up, rinse and repeat -- the looj probably saved me a good hour.

    Unfortunately, the other side of the house was worse with the gutters containing standing water and a kind of vegetable soup. The looj didn't have any problem being submerged, but it was pretty much ineffectual. It simply showered me with foul-smelling water and pushed the mush ahead of it until it got stuck. I ended up doing that side by hand.

    So if you use the looj a couple times a year and on non-flooded gutters, I think it's a good little tool. It keeps me off the roof, and that's easily worth a C-note to me.

  • battery issues? (Score:3, Informative)

    by drew30319 ( 828970 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @08:27PM (#23986233) Homepage Journal
    I have both the Roomba and the Scooba and while I was initially pleased with both, I've been less than happy with battery life. Although iRobot states that the rechargeable battery will last for "hundreds of cleaning cycles" that hasn't been my experience, with the batteries for each dying far short of that mark.

    Before the batteries did die I was very happy with the performance of these "robots." But ultimately would not recommend either until either the batteries last longer or the price drops for replacements ($80 for the Scooba battery & $70 for the Roomba). I just checked, and the Looj battery is available for $30 so it may be a non-issue for some.

    Obviously YMMV but thought I'd give you a heads up!
  • by QuantumRiff ( 120817 ) on Saturday June 28, 2008 @10:19PM (#23986885)
    My uncle bought one. His shop he uses for his business has 6 RV sized garage doors across the front, plus office and storage space. I'd guess about 150' long total. Front and back have gutters. He mentioned that the $100 tool saved him money on the first day. There are oak trees all around his shop. (it only took 2 hours the first time.. now its down to 30 minutes or so) because of the height of the gutters (about 20 feet off the ground) its a royal pain to move that big of a ladder.. Now he puts the ladder at one end, sets the robot in the gutter, and moves the ladder to the end to collect it..
  • Re:Link (Score:3, Informative)

    by srvivn21 ( 410280 ) on Monday June 30, 2008 @03:32PM (#24005585)

    A better idea would be to create a new kind of gutter. Maybe one that could be manually (or automatically) tilted over to dump out all of the debris, instead of trying to clean it in the upright position.

    Or perhaps a perforated gutter cover that lets the water in but keeps the debris out. Like this [gutterworks.com]. Or some other method of preventing clogged gutters, like a curved cover that water will follow, but leaves will not like this [gutterworks.com].

Sigmund Freud is alleged to have said that in the last analysis the entire field of psychology may reduce to biological electrochemistry.