iRobot Roomba 960 vs 980 – In Search for the Greatest Robotic Vacuum

roomba 960 vs 980

Let’s face it. As of 2017, Roomba 960 and 980 are the two of the most high-end robotic vacuum cleaners iRobot has to offer. If you’re in the market for a cleaning bot and want the absolute best Roomba for your home, you have clicked on the right link.

A Roomba 980 will cost you around a couple of hundred bucks more than a Roomba 960. Is Roomba 980 really worth counting the extra bucks?

In this Roomba 960 vs 980 reviews and comparison guide, we will discuss the robotic cleaning abilities of both devices. At the end of this read, you will know which robot vacuum cleaner you should go for and why.

Roomba 960 vs 980 – Side by Side Comparison Chart

Features Roomba 980 Roomba 960
Carpet Boost Yes No
WiFi Support Yes Yes
Motor 900 Series 800 Series
AeroForce Cleaning Tech Yes, 10x suction Yes, 5x suction
Side brush Yes Yes
Scheduling Yes Yes
Energy Usage Reports Yes No
Cliff Detector Yes Yes
Floor Detector Yes Yes
Full bin indicator Yes Yes
HEPA filters Yes Yes
Virtual Walls Yes, Two Yes, One
Built-in camera Yes No
Battery 3000 mAh Li-ion 2130 mAh Li-ion
Run time Up to 120 minutes Up to 75 minutes
Voice Prompt Yes Yes
Spot cleaning Yes Yes

What are the Improvements in Roomba 980?

Roomba 980 and 960 are quite similar in many ways. iRobot had to incorporate some new features in the 980, if it were going to be listed at a higher price.

In case you are in a hurry, we will reveal the changes straight up.

  1. Stronger Suction

Roomba 960 has a 5 times stronger power functionality than the previous Roombas. In Roomba 980, the power has been bumped up to 10x, giving it more strength.

Make no mistake, Roomba 960 is a highly capable device. But Roomba 980 has double its power.

  1. New Motor

Roomba 960 is powered by an older, 800 series motor. iRobot has developed and placed their latest motor inside the 980.

  1. Carpet Boost Mode

Roomba 980 comes with a power setting specially designed for cleaning thick, dusty carpets. In the carpet boost mode, the 980 puts a greater effort to dig and vacuum into the carpets.

  1. Enhanced Battery Life

Roomba 960 can clean around for about 1 hour and 15 minutes, which is pretty impressive. But Roomba 980 has a battery that lasts 45 minutes longer. If you have a big home and want it to be clean within a single session, the 980 can handle it.

  1. Two virtual walls

Roomba 980 comes with two virtual walls. The 960 has just one.

roomba-virtual-wall-barrier

That features I just briefly discussed tells you what sets Roomba 980 apart.

Wait, dont make up your mind just yet!

Roomba 980 has a few downsides as well. I will go over the full features of each Roomba vacuum cleaner. Read on to find out what’s in store for you, if you take these Roombas home.

 

Cleaning Performance – Roomba 980 vs 960

This is one of the most important aspects to consider when shopping for a vacuum cleaner. You want your robot vacuum cleaner to perform up to the mark.

Roombas are pretty good at giving you your money’s worth. We just have to find out which one does it better than the other.

Roomba 960

roomba-960-robotic-vacuum Roomba 960 uses iRobot’s AeroForce 3stage Cleaning system. The technology is pretty simple but effective. It agitates, brushes and sucks debris in.

The same technology had been used in almost all the old Roomba models. Roomba 960’s version just comes with a twist. The technology has been paired up with 5x suction power and provides optimal performance.

Roomba 960 uses antitangle rollers made of rubber. You do not have to worry about picking up hair. The 960 does not require you to manually intervene to disentangle them.

We tried the 960 on several surfaces and the 960 did not disappoint. It just silently cleans around and remains unnoticeable. So when you open the bin, you would be surprised to find out how much it picked up.

On hardwood and bare floors, Roomba 960 did an awesome job. It picked up crumbs, pet hair and fine dust with a 100% success rate.

On midpile carpets, Roomba 960 was able to perform just as well. However, while cleaning high-pile carpets, it does not run as well the 980 and leaves somewhat visible stains.

Roomba 960 is able to clean the around the edges and corners of walls with its rotating side brush. The difference after the cleaning is clearly recognizable.

Roomba 980

roomba-980-robotic-vacuum

Roomba 980 has the same AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System but paired up with 10x suction. You would think this makes the cleaning bot twice as efficient. But in terms of cleaning performance, the difference did not add up to much.

Roomba 980 delivered pretty much the same performance as the 960, except for when in carpet boost mode. In the carpet boost mode, the suction of the vacuum cleaner intensifies to pull dirt from the depths of carpet fibers. It sure drains the battery pretty quickly though.

This boost mode is useful on other surfaces as well. If you have got clingy dirt, better to use this and be rid of it. However, be careful not to use this on delicate surfaces, as it may leave scratches.

Notably, Roomba 960 does not have the carpet boost feature. The rubberized debris extractors are common in both Roombas.

 

Enhanced Edge Cleaning Technology

Roomba 980 uses an upgraded and improved edge cleaning system. The spinning side brushes are more useful and efficient. It can remove the stubborn dirt that has been sitting on that corner for ages.

HEPA Filters

Both Roombas use Hyper Efficient Particulate air filters to remove dust and allergens from the air. Even the tiny particles of dust can’t escape HEPA filters. For homes with allergy sufferers, these Roombas will be of great value.

 

Moving around the House

roomba-navigation

Up until the 900 series, Roombas cleaned in random patterns. The problem with random patterns is that they hit the same spots over and over. It causes the battery to drain for nothing and yet miss a few spots.

Roomba 960 and 980, both clean in organized patterns. Let’s see how well they fared in real life.

 

Roomba 960

Even though cleaning in an organized pattern means never missing a spot, Roomba 960 tends to do that. As rarely as that might happen, it’s still something to keep in mind.

One thing should be made clear that Roomba 960 does not need babysitting. The point of owning a cleaning bot is to be about your business while it takes care of the cleaning all by itself. Roomba 960 is capable of doing just that.

Roomba 960 uses the iAdapt Navigation 2.0 technology. It has multi room navigation feature and a virtual wall barrier. It develops a map of your house to move from room to room easily. And it can do that without crashing into walls and furniture.

If you have small objects left on the floor, the 960 will just clean around it. For your Roomba to give your floor a thorough cleaning, you have to give it the whole floor first.

 

Roomba 980

The navigation technology behind Roomba 980 is the same as that of the 960’s. The real catch is the 980’s builtin camera and Virtual wall block off feature.

The built-in camera allows it to actually ‘see’ and memorize the layout of your house. It takes some time to adapt to its surroundings though.

The block off feature allows you to let your Roomba know which areas are off-limits. You may have certain parts in your house that should not be cleaned unsupervised. Roomba 980 will avoid entering those areas.

Even with all these features, Roomba 980 still has a bit of issue with navigation. Despite the high price, it isn’t perfect.

 

Multiroom Navigation & Auto Resume

Both, Roomba 980 and 960, are capable of cleaning multiple rooms per level. As soon as they are done with one room, they let themselves through the door and move on to another room. However large your space may be, it shouldn’t be a problem for either of the Roombas.

If your apartment is considerably spacious or your Roomba isn’t fully charged, it will return to the docking station to recharge. You don’t have to trouble yourself any of this. It will automatically resume cleaning from where it left off, once fully charged.

 

Floor Detector

Roomba 960 and 980, both come with floor detectors. These detectors are able to understand what type of surface they are cleaning. This makes transitioning easier from one floor type to another.

The cleaning setting for bare floors would not be effective on carpeted surfaces. The carpet mode can be unsuitable for tiles, laminates and hardwood. The robot vacuum cleaners sense the surface and adjust their cleaning modes accordingly.

 

Cliff Sensors

Both of the Roombas are equipped with sensors that allow them to detect cliffs. When it’s too close to an edge, the Roombas can sense it and stop advancing that way.

This feature prevents the cleaning bots from falling off of cliffs and causing damage to themselves.

Comparing Battery Life? 960 Or 980

Roomba 980 uses a lithium-ion battery, just like the Roomba 960. Only the battery inside the 960 is 2130 mAh whereas the 980 comes with a 3000 mAh battery.

Roomba 960 can run up to 75 minutes on a full charge. This is a good enough duration for a robot vacuum cleaner. In this time, it can cover at least three rooms.

Roomba 980 can last up to 120 minutes. It can clean multiple rooms, and perhaps an entire level depending on your place, in one session.

In the carpet mode, however, the battery of the 980 drains rather quickly. But it is nothing to worry about. When the battery gets low, its recharge and resume feature will kick in no time.

The 2130 mAh battery of the 960 has an upside we can’t ignore. It takes less time to charge up compared to the 980’s battery. A solid 3 hour or more is required to fully power up the battery inside Roomba 980.

If you feel the need, you can dock the Roombas manually into their stations as well.

 

Comparing the Features between 960 and 980

Roomba 960 and 980 both come with sets of handy features. Many of the features are shared by both models.

Auto Scheduling

Roomba 980 and 960, both, feature auto-scheduling. You don’t always have to be present to give it the command to clean. You can just set up a schedule and the Roombas will do their job according to it.

You can schedule up to 7 sessions per week. If you program your Roomba to clean while you are away, you can return to a neat and clean home.

 

WiFi Connectivity

Both of these Roombas can connect to your smartphone by establishing a Wi-Fi network. You do not have to get up and find your cleaning bot just to give it a command.

It can be controlled from a distance without your having to keep track of remote control. We know how easy those are to lose.

 

Voice Prompt

There is a range of apps that are compatible with these Roombas including iRobot Home app, Amazons Alexa and Google Assistant. They respond to ios and Android alike.
You can give activated voice commands to your Roomba via these apps. You can schedule it, ask it to clean and to return to the docking station.

You will also receive push notifications through the apps. In the case of Roomba 980, you can also receive energy usage reports.

 

Full Bin Indicator & Full Bin Action Control

Roomba 980 and 960, both feature indicators that notify you when the bin is full. This sounds like an uninteresting feature. But you would understand if you have ever owned a vacuum cleaner without one. You can never be sure how long your vacuum cleaner can go without needing to be emptied.

But thanks to iRobot, with these Roombas, you don’t have to worry about that at all.

Roomba 960 Pros

  • Cheaper, but with almost the same features
  • Needs less time to recharge and resume cleaning
  • Excellent on bare surfaces
  • Quiet

Roomba 960 Cons

  • Does not run as long as the 980
  • Does not have carpet boost mode
  • Navigation is a bit flawed

Roomba 980 Pros

  • Longer battery life
  • Two virtual walls ensure a better block off
  • Great for carpet cleaning
  • Sends energy usage reports

Roomba 980 Cons

  • Longer recharge time
  • Loud in carpet boost mode
  • Navigation is not flawless
  • More expensive

Final Words – Which one to choose?

If you have made it this far, you already know which model suits you better. For those of you who just skipped to this part, here’s the gist.

Roomba 980 is definitely the superior bot out of these two models. Roomba 960 shares many of the same features but comes significantly cheaper. Roomba 980 just does not justify its price in most scenarios.

If your home is crazy big and mostly carpeted, you can get the 980.

If you live in a regular-sized apartment with no carpets, don’t bother counting an extra 200 bucks. You’ll be satisfied with Roomba 960.

3 thoughts on “iRobot Roomba 960 vs 980 – In Search for the Greatest Robotic Vacuum”

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