Roomba 960 vs 980: Which Robot Vacuum to Choose in 2020?

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out what the winner is, then we recommend the Roomba 960.

Winner
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors
iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors
iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot
$449.00
$932.96
Winner
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors
$449.00
iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot
iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot
$932.96

In a busy house, it is difficult to keep up with the sweeping and vacuuming. Just when you have one area clean, someone tracks in dirt from the outside. You think you have cleaned perfectly, but then you see dust bunnies living under the couch. This situation made me start thinking that a robotic vacuum could be a big help with daily cleaning. While there are several makes and models on the market, in this article, I am looking at the Roomba 960 vs 980.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Roomba

The iRobot Roomba vacuums seem like they could be the perfect solution for removing dust and dirt on your floors. With every generation, these little guys keep getting better. They do a better job navigating through your home and can last longer on a single charge, covering a larger area. The current models have Wi-fi connectivity, so you can launch them remotely with a smartphone app. The newer generations of Roombas are perfect for families who want the house cleaned while everyone is away at school or at work.

One thing to consider before you invest in a Roomba is whether your home gets easily cluttered. The Roomba avoids obstacles on the floor. If there are textbooks, clothes or other items waiting to be put away, the Roomba will not move them. It will just vacuum around them. This design may inspire you to pick things up so the vacuum can work at its full potential. It may also frustrate you to invest in a cleaning device that only works well when you clean up first.

Another important consideration is how much control you want over the cleanliness in your home. Although newer models are more efficient than older Roombas, you may still feel that you can do a better job yourself. If that is the case, invest your money in a quality bagless vacuum. You can make sure things are always clean up to your demanding standards.

Getting to Know the Roomba 960

iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors

The 900 series of iRobot Roombas are some of the most popular sold by the company. Unlike earlier 600 and 800 models, the 900 models use the vSLAM Advanced Navigation system. This system includes optical and acoustic sensors that let the unit know where it is in your home. It can also remember where it has cleaned and, when it has to recharge, where it stopped. Once it has recharged, it will automatically pick up where it left off. Its lithium-ion battery gives you about 75 minutes of cleaning power on a single charge. The Roomba 960 comes with one Virtual Wall, a device that creates an electronic barrier to keep the Roomba from disturbing things like pet food bowls. Its AeroForce cleaning system gives the unit five times the suction of the older 600-series Roombas.

Pros

  • Simple operation through button control or smartphone app
  • Tangle-free rollers with rubber brushes
  • Efficient navigation

Cons

  • Noisy operation
  • Small dirt bin
  • Can run out of power before reaching docking station

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Getting to Know the Roomba 980

iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot

Many of the features of the Roomba 980 are the same as the Roomba 960. It uses the same navigation technology and the same rubber brushes to avoid tangles. However, the Roomba 980 has some significant improvements over the 960. While it uses the AeroForce cleaning system, the company claims it has ten times the suction of the older series. The Roomba 980 has an improved battery that offers 120 minutes of battery life. There are fewer complaints about this unit failing to make it to its charger. The 980 also has an automatic Carpet Boost system. When the unit recognizes that it is on a carpeted surface, it increases the suction power to give your carpeted surfaces a deeper clean. A second Virtual Wall comes standard with the Roomba 980. It is important to note that iRobot stopped making the 980 when it introduced the i-series of Roombas. They are still available at some retailers.

Pros

  • Stronger on carpets
  • High-efficiency, replaceable filter
  • Longer battery life

Cons

  • Discontinued with the introduction of the newer i-series
  • Carpet Boost can shorten battery life
  • Can have trouble confusing dark carpeting with a cliff

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Important Features of the Roomba 960

iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors

Although not as advanced or as expensive as the newer i-series, the 900 series made important improvements to the Roomba line. Most of these features are available in both the 960 and the 980. If you have owned an older Roomba, you will be especially impressed by the new navigation system.

Sensor-driven Navigation

Roomba vacuum cleaners through the 800 series navigated mainly by avoiding obstacles. If a unit came to an obstacle it could not pass, it would change direction. A common complaint about these units was inefficiency. They could cover one area several times while missing others. The vSLAM Navigation system radically changes your Roomba’s ability to find its way. Combined with the Cliff Detection and Dirt Detection sensors, you have a much more robust unit.

vSLAM Navigation

This navigation system uses visual and acoustic sensors to map your space. When the Roomba goes into cleaning mode, it makes a temporary map of your living space. Using this map, the Roomba can figure out where it needs to go and where it has been. This has several important benefits. The Roomba no longer wastes its charge vacuuming an area multiple times. When vacuuming a large space, the Roomba 960 can remember where it stopped and pick up again after a charge.

Cliff Detection

This sensor keeps the Roomba from falling down the stairs while allowing it to go over different surfaces and thresholds. When the unit comes to a significant drop, it vacuums to the edge and then changes direction. Your Roomba can vacuum a whole level of your house staying safe and sound.

Dirt Detection

The Dirt Detection sensor has been a standard part of every Roomba line. This sensor points out large amounts of loose dirt and debris that will require more than one pass. For example, imagine your dog creates a fresh trail of dirty paw prints. When the Roomba reaches the spot, it will begin to spin in a slow circle until the sensor indicates that everything is clean.

Simple Control Modes

Most Roomba models have three manual control buttons on top. Each of these buttons put the Roomba into a different mode.

Clean

“Clean” is the basic cycle for the Roomba. When you press this button, your Roomba revs up and heads out, mapping along the way. It will keep cleaning until it reaches a ten percent charge or finishes the cleaning area it has mapped. It will then automatically make its way back to the charging dock.

Spot

If your kids knock over a bowl of popcorn, you will want the “Spot” cycle. In this mode, you will carry the Roomba to the middle of the area. Once you hit the “Spot” button, the unit will begin to travel in a spiral, vacuuming all the way. It will continue until it has made a circle about three feet in diameter.

Dock

The “Dock” button interrupts the cleaning cycle and sends your Roomba back home to its charging dock.

Automatic Charging Dock

The charging dock is the resting place for all Roombas. For the lithium-ion battery in the Roomba 960, it takes about 90 minutes to fully recharge, giving you 75 minutes of cleaning time. According to iRobot, you must locate the station in a space where the vacuum can make its way in and out easily.

Programmable through Wi-fi Connection

You can program the Roomba 960 through the iRobot Home app. Using your smartphone, you can set a timer for your unit and start a cleaning cycle from anywhere in the world. As an added benefit, you can also use the app to give your Roomba its own name.

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Top Features of the Roomba 980

iRobot Roomba 980 Wi-Fi Connected Vacuuming Robot

One of the challenges of comparing the Roomba 960 to the Roomba 980 is that many of the features are identical. The navigation system uses the same vSLAM mapping technology. The main control buttons and cleaning modes are also the same. Both units can be programmed or activated remotely using the Home app. However, where the Roomba 980 shines is in the cleaning system itself. iRobot designed the 980 to offer superior cleaning power.

Upgraded Cleaning Power

The Roomba 980 is a bridge between the 960 and the i-series. It uses a pumped-up version of the AeroForce cleaning system. iRobot claims that the AeroForce system in the 960 is five times as powerful as the previous AeroVac system in the 600 and 700 lines. The AeroForce system in the 980 is supposed to be ten times as powerful as the older system. This extra suction can make a big difference when trying to clean dirt from your carpets. Combined with the non-tangling rubber brushes to lift dirt, the Roomba 980 is a powerful cleaning force.

Carpet Boost Technology

In addition to a stronger cleaning system, the Roomba 980 has Carpet Boost technology. iRobot recognized that it takes more power to pull dirt from a carpet than from a hardwood or vinyl floor. When the unit makes its way onto a carpeted surface, you will hear the engine rev up to its full power. It will pull dirt that is held deep in the carpet fibers. By using a variable power motor, the Roomba offers extra carpet cleaning while still maintaining efficient battery use.

Longer Battery Life

The Roomba 980 has an improved lithium-ion battery that gives you up to 120 minutes of vacuuming on a single charge. Like the 960, it takes about 90 minutes to recharge. This extra battery life can make a big difference in the space that the Roomba 980 can cover. Keep in mind that battery life is variable. If you have many carpeted surfaces that engage the Carpet Boost mode, you will have a shorter cleaning time.

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The Reviews Are In!

After doing extensive research, I found that both the 960 and 980 have garnered positive reviews from consumers. As mentioned above, many of the features of both units are the same, so it makes sense that owners would appreciate both models.

Why People Like the Roomba 960

Consumers like the Roomba 960 because of its efficient cleaning. They appreciate the Home app interface that even posts a map of the area the unit cleaned. One happy Roomba 960-owner writes: “A robotic vacuum is certainly a luxury, but if you can leave your home, go to work, and come home to a clean home, it’s worth every penny. It’s one of those items, that you didn’t think you needed, but find it indispensable once you have it.”

Why People Like the Roomba 980

People like the Roomba 980 for many of the same reasons as the 960. However, they appreciate how the extra battery life lets it clean larger spaces. One owner writes, “I have watched it navigate around 1100 square feet of space and it is pretty impressive. It learns the layout and increases in efficiency.”

My Choice: The Roomba 960 vs 980

Although I usually opt for extra cleaning power in making my choice, there are a few reasons that I would choose the Roomba 960 over the 980. One of the most important reasons is that the 980 is no longer produced by iRobot. They stopped manufacturing it when they introduced the i-series. This makes it difficult to find. The other reason to recommend the 960 is the cost. While the 980 has some extra power, most consumers seem satisfied with the work of the 960, especially if the unit is running mostly while people are out of the house. With new mapping technology, the difference in battery life is not as important since the unit will start where it last stopped. As things stand, I recommend the Roomba 960 as your new robotic cleaning partner.

Sale
iRobot Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum- Wi-Fi Connected Mapping, Works with Alexa, Ideal for Pet Hair, Carpets, Hard Floors
  • Power-Lifting Suction delivers 5X the air power for improved pick-up performance. (Compared to Roomba 600 Series)
  • Intelligently maps and cleans an entire level of your home. Patented iAdapt 2. 0 technology with vSLAM navigation actively captures thousands of precise measurements each millisecond to optimize coverage.
  • Ideal for homes with pets. Premium 3-stage cleaning system cleans the dirt and pet hair you see and the allergens and dust you don't.
  • Unique dual multi-surface rubber brushes adjust and flex to stay in constant contact with carpets and hard floors.
  • High-Efficiency filter captures 99% of all allergens, pollen, and particles as small as 10 microns.
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