Today we’re taking a close look at the Robot AddOns Keepout Strip, an accessory for both the iRobot Roomba and Scooba lines. In a nutshell, the Keepout Strip is a length of black carpet with some double-sticky tape on the back. You stick it on the floor, and since it is black, your robot will refuse to cross the strip. In a perfect world, this would be handy to block off places that you don’t want your brand new Roomba 780 to go.
For example, a good place to use one of these might be under your desk where all the cords and cables hide next to your computer. Another spot might be behind or next to your television. Also, if you’ve got a tricky spot in your house that your robot tends to get stuck in, that might be a place where you would install one of these.
We reviewed (and really liked) the Robot AddOns Soft Bumper a while ago. The bumpers help protect the robots as well as your furniture and walls. Based on the success of this other product, we figured that the Keepout Strips would be as good. And indeed, we found that they did the job – for a while.
They work by fooling the cliff sensors in the Roomba into thinking that there is a step or drop-off where the strip is. Roombas are rather famous for refusing to vacuum black or very dark carpet. The Keep Out Strips themselves look OK (although I’m totally sure that a certain percentage of the population will hate how they look). They are really as neat, clean, and inoffensive as someone can make a two inch wide, 18 inch long strip of black carpet material. Personally, I would prefer them with square corners instead of round, but something tells me that would make for bad Feng Shui.
In the package, you get four strips and also some spare pieces of double-sided tape so that you can reuse the strips. It bears mentioning that these aren’t a practical solution for blocking doorways. Mostly because you’re not going to want the things sitting around in plain sight. But also because the strips have to be firmly stuck to the floor to be of any use.
Indeed, it’s the double-sticky tape itself (and the necessity of using the tape) that becomes the problem with this product. Unfortunately, the bottom of the Keepout Strips is relatively slick plastic, and so the double-sticky tape has a bad habit of coming off of the strip. A person would think that this wouldn’t be a problem unless you were bumping into the strip regularly. But wait! – your robot is going to be doing just that – every time you use it.
In our testing, the strips were basically useless unless they were sticking to the floor, because the Roomba (and/or the Roomba’s spinning side brush) will just knock it out of the way. The tape actually kind of stops adhering to the Keepout Strips after a couple of days, even if nothing is knocking into it. Then you’re left with gunky double-sided tape left on your nice floor, where it gathers dirt, dust, and hair until you pull it off.
I thought about the possibility of using stronger tape, but the idea of putting stronger tape on the finish of my nice hardwood floors isn’t attractive. So there you have it. At first glance, these items look like a great idea. Especially in the case of spots under a desk or bed, the Keepout Strip seemed like a great way to keep your iRobot Roomba or Scooba from getting tangled up in cords (or worse yet, inhaling them and pulling them around). But in actuality, these accessories end up being a pain. In the very strange case that I haven’t talked you out of trying this product, they can be purchased from Amazon, here..