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There are so many ways to automate your home now. Install a camera on your doorbell, or turn on your lights from the other side of the country. Before you get into more complicated automations, however, you might want to start with a robotic vacuum first. iRobot has been making these vacuums for years under the Roomba name, with many possible options that all have their own advantages and disadvantages.

With so many models, I wouldn’t be surprised if you had a problem choosing. I had a hard time choosing myself, which is why I’m here to compare two of the most popular models: Roomba 890 vs Roomba 960.

I’ll break down their features and abilities so you know the pros and cons of each unit before you make your purchase. Check out the rest of the article to learn more, but if you’re in a hurry, I’ll tell you my winner now: the Roomba 960.

Differences between Roomba 890 and 960

If you want to make an informed choice about your purchase, take a look at the features of each model. See if there’s something specific that you’re unable to live without.

  • The Roomba 890 uses what’s known as iAdapt. This is a mapping and navigation technology that helps the robot get around without slamming into things. The Roomba 960 uses the iAdapt 2.0 version, meaning that it works even better.
  • The iRobot 890 also does not have a separate model for edge cleaning, while the 960 has a specific mode for edge cleaning.
  • You can keep cleaning with the 960 even when the full bin indicator comes on. Whereas the 890 will stop and wait for you to empty the bin before it keeps going.
  • Use the 960 for entire level cleaning, a feature the 890 doesn’t have.
  • The 960 model is a little more technologically advanced, sending you a Clean Map Report when it’s done cleaning. The 890 will not do this.
  • You can set both vacuums to clean over your areas in one pass. The difference between the two of them is that the 960 can be told to do a double pass and go over your floor twice for a more thorough clean.
  • With more navigation, you’ll have less to worry about. That’s why the top mount camera atop the 960 is so useful. The 890 doesn’t include a camera.
  • The difference in battery life really isn’t too great, especially if you don’t have a huge space, but you do get 15 minutes more of cleaning with the 960. It will go for 75 minutes vs. the 890 that runs for 60 minutes.

Similarities between Roomba 890 and 960

Yes, both vacuums are different, but they’re not completely different. They do have some similarities between them.

  • Both vacuums use AeroForce vacuum technology to better clean up your flooring.
  • Of course, the 890 and 960 are modern vacuums. This means that they both connect to your home network via wifi.
  • Control either one with your voice using Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
  • Neither unit should randomly bump into too many walls, since they have dual mode virtual wall barriers.
  • Schedule either vacuum to clean when you want using the iHome app or atop the vacuum itself.
  • When the bin gets full, both the 960 and the 890 will let you know.
  • There are carrying handles on both types, meaning that you can carry them from room to room or from one floor to another without a problem.
  • The lithium-ion batteries mean that you have shorter charging times and longer run times.
  • When the battery does get low, each model will know, and will return itself to the docking station so that it can recharge automatically.
  • If you’d like, you can force the robot vac to return to the charging dock with a push of a button.
  • Use the spot cleaning mode to do a thorough cleaning of a specific areas

A Comparison

Roomba 890 Roomba 960

Check Price here

Check Price here

 

Understanding Their Features

So, you know all the features of these irobots. But what was edge cleaning again? And I know that it took me a second to understand virtual barriers. Okay, let’s break down the features of these two vacuums to help you understand everything you need to know for each one.

1. Edge Cleaning Technology

Every Roomba vacuum has side brushes that help the vacuum run along the edges of furniture and walls, all to loosen dust and debris to keep your home clean.

The 960 is more efficient than previous versions though with the edge cleaning mode. This mode is meant to send your irobot along the edges of your home for a thorough cleaning. All dirt will be sent to the middle of the suction area for the vacuum to pick up.

The only downside here is that the edge cleaning mode makes Roomba 890 run fairly slowly. This drains the battery more quickly, especially if the area if large.

2. Spot Clean Mode

Use the spot cleaning mode to clean a specific area in your home. The robot will leave its normal cleaning to start a cleaning cycle where you place it.

During the cleaning, your iRobot will spin in circles to cover the area in a three-foot diameter. Once the area is entirely clean, the sensors will let the vacuum know and it will go back to its normal cleaning schedule.

3. Navigation and Mapping Technology

Both of these vacs use what’s called iAdapt, although the 980 uses the iAdapt 2.0. The iAdapt navigation and mapping technology lets the iRobot use its onboard sensors to detect walls, obstacles, stairs, and landings.

The sensors will also detect if the vacuum has become tangled on something like a fringe or a cord, which lets the 890 reverse the extractors to try and free itself. The 890 will also use dirt detection sensors so that it knows if the area has been cleaned well enough or if it needs to keep cleaning.

The 960 will use the iAdapt 2.0 technology. This is an improvement over the previous version with the onboard camera. The camera will help the 960 detect obstacles a while before the vacuum gets tangled up in them. This means that the area is mapped better and there’s improved navigation while cleaning. Like the Roomba 801.

4. Clean Map Reporting 

This is one feature of Roomba 960, that 890 does not have. The 960 is capable of sending you a report about its cleaning progress through the iHome app. That way you always know how much the vacuum has cleaned and how much more cleaning it needs to do. 

The cleaning report will also let you know if there are any particularly dirty areas in your carpet, as well as the battery level of the iRobot and if it is stuck anywhere in the house. 

5. Debris Extractors

Every modern model of irobot, both the 960 and the 890, comes with tangle-free debris extractors. Unlike most common vacuum cleaners, which use fine brushes to pick up dust, clumps of hair and larger debris, the brushless extractors of the robot work by knocking dirt and debris loose from the carpet fibers so that it can be easily sucked up by the Aeroforce suction power. If a tangle does get caught in the extractors, they will automatically reverse their direction to untangle it. 

Even though the extractors are tangle free, it is possible for an extra long strand of hair or string to get wrapped around the bars. When this happens, you just need to pick up the vacuum and unwind it with your hands – it is much easier than detangling a brush. Like the Roomba 801 review.

6. Voice Control

The intelligent features of both of these vacuums goes beyond the iHome app. Both of them can be connected to a home voice-activated device like Alexa, Siri or Google Home. That means that, through the other device, you can control your robot with voice commands. 

The voice control feature allows you to start, stop and check the status of your vacuum without even picking up your phone. If you have given your Roomba 960 or 890 a name through the iHome app, you can address it by name through your home device, and it will “hear” you.

7. Automatic Recharge

One of the best features of all modern Roomba models is their ability to detect when the battery is low and automatically park themselves on the charging port to recharge. Both the Roomba 890 and the Roomba 960 have the automatic recharge feature, but there is one critical difference: when the 890 docks itself to recharge, it will not automatically start cleaning again. 

The Roomba 960 will remember how much progress it has made through the room already and get started again as soon as it is fully charged. With the Roomba 890, you will have to manually restart the vacuum, and it will start over cleaning the entire room.

8. Virtual Wall Barriers

Virtual wall barriers are a handy feature of all modern Roombas. They allow you to set up a barrier between rooms, or cutting off a certain area, that the Roomba cannot cross while it is cleaning. This is a great way of keeping the vac out of the kids’ rooms or your work area, where it will just be a distraction.

Both the Roomba 890 and the 960 have two different types of virtual barriers. The first is a “wall” barrier that cuts off an area in a straight line – perfect for blocking off a doorway. The second type is a “radius” barrier that blocks off the vacuum with a certain diameter – great for blocking off a pet’s space or kid’s play area.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are a few of the most frequently asked questions regarding the 890 and the 960. 

Question: How well does the Roomba perform on stairs?

Roombas are designed with a self-preservation sensor to prevent them from getting too close to a ledge and falling off. But this sensor is for any height, whether it is half an inch, or 10 feet. Because of this, a Roomba will not be able to get up and down stairs to clean. If the stairs are wide enough your robot will go back and forth to clean that step, but would need to be moved to each stair to clean them.

This is why it is recommended that you have more than one if you have more than one level so they can clean simultaneously. As far as cleaning your stairs, you can either take the time to move the Roomba to each step so it can clean them, or you will need to consider a separate cleaning method.

Question: My pet cat likes to sit on the vacuum. Will this damage the vacuum? 

Pressure on the top of the vacuum should not stop it from working. However, if the camera is blocked, it will not be able to navigate. It will automatically shut down.

Along those same lines, the Roomba 960 needs a certain amount of light for the navigation system to be able to operate. If you have a cleaning scheduled during the day, make sure that there is enough light in the room.

Question: Will Roomba function well from hardwood flooring to a thick rug? 

Yes, all modern Roombas are capable of switching between different types of flooring. Because of the brushless extractors, Roomba is perfectly safe on hardwoods. It may have some difficulty moving from hardwood to carpet if the fringe of the carpet is particularly high, but it will always try to find another way around if it gets stuck in a certain spot.

Question: How long will the lithium-ion batteries last?

This depends on the iRobot model. The 890 will last an average of 60 minutes, and the 960 will last an average of 75 minutes. Of course, different conditions will affect battery life – if the vacuum gets stuck or is working to get through any tough, high carpet, it will drain a little faster. Does roomba work on carpet?

Question: Do I have to Purchase the Docking Station Separately? 

Every iRobot comes with a docking station included in the purchase. Once it docks at that station, it will know to return to it every time – two docking Roombas in the same house will not get their docking stations mixed up.

You can not use multiple docking stations for the same Roomba. It will only want to return to the same station every time. 

Question: How many virtual wall barriers come with each model?

Virtual wall barriers are used to create a blockade for Roomba so it knows where it can and can’t go. Most Roombas come with one virtual wall, but you can add more if you need to. The additional virtual walls will require separate purchases, but they are worth the extra money to keep the Roomba safe as it cleans. Without virtual walls, your Roomba can roam freely and end up stuck in areas it shouldn’t be in, or falling off stairs or other heights.

Question: Is there a remote control I can buy to operate the Roomba?

There is no traditional remote control that comes with the robot. But there is a way to control the Roomba remotely from a smart device. You simply need to download the iHome app onto your phone or tablet. This can be done from the Apple store or Google Play store, so there is no need to worry about having Apple or Android products.

Once you have the app on your device you can control your Roomba’s cleaning schedule as well as see real time updates for how it is going. This can be done from anywhere with a Wi-Fi connection.

Question: How many Roombas do I need? How do I measure my area square feet?

One Roomba can handle a home of any size. But it is important to consider the battery life of the vacuum and the number of levels in your home to decide if it is worth buying an additional Roomba.

A Roomba averages cleaning 1200 square feet to 1800 square feet per charge.

If you have a larger home you will need to either be patient and wait for the vacuum to charge before it starts cleaning again, or will need to have two robots going at once to get everything done quickly. If you have more than one level in your home you will need to either move the robot vacuum from one floor to the other, or have a Roomba going on each floor.   

Question: What happens if something large like a sock gets sucked up into the Roomba?

You should always pick up items like clothes before your Roomba begins cleaning to prevent any unnecessary issues. But if there is a rogue sock on the floor that your Roomba ends up trying to pick up, the vacuum’s design will prevent any major damages. The Roomba has an error mode that occurs in situations like this to shut down the vacuum so the motor won’t overheat and the battery won’t be drained while it is stuck.

If the error mode occurs you will also receive a message via your iHome app letting you know that there was a problem and the Roomba has stopped cleaning until you fix the problem.

What We Love About The Roomba 890

  • You can connect directly to the device via the iHome app and control cleaning times.
  • A lithium-ion battery lets you get up to one hour of continuous running time without recharging.
  • Wi-Fi connectivity keeps you up do date with how Roomba is doing as it cleans.
  • A full bin indicator will let you know when it is time to empty it and let the Roomba get back to work.
  • You can control your Roomba with voice activation software like Alexa or Google Assistant.

What We Love About The Roomba 960

  • You get everything that the 890 has and more.
  • Edge cleaning mode allows your Roomba to clean as much as possible without falling off the side.
  • A navigation camera makes it simple and efficient for your Roomba to map and navigate around your home and belongings as it cleans.
  • Continuous cleaning lets your Roomba keep cleaning after the full bin indicator has gone off.
  • Entire level cleaning ability guarantees that your Roomba does the job, no matter how large your home is.

Our Final Verdict?

So irobot 890 vs 960? Roombas are a fantastic investment for your home to both keep your floors clean and save you time. These two models can handle all types of flooring as well as picking up any allergens or dust particles that may be pulled into the air from the suction. This means cleaner floors and cleaner lungs. But while they both feature things like automatic recharging and lithium-ion batteries, the Roomba 960 is clearly the better choice.

With the superior navigation and cleaning modes, the Roomba 960 (check current price here) can take on harder to reach areas without you having to intervene. This means that it is much easier for you to leave the Roomba 960 to its work without having to worry about it or pick up the slack.

If you have a small home that isn’t going to require the superior features of the 960, you can opt for the Roomba 890 (check current price here). Because it is an older model with less features, it will not cost as much money as the Roomba 960, making it a good option for those on a tight budget.  

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