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This might surprise you: The Real Best Roomba 900 Series Robot Ya’ll!

If you are looking for a robotic vacuum to take some of the workload off yourself then there is no need to look any further than a Roomba. But with more than one model of Roomba available it can be difficult to decide which one is the best option.

I know it can be overwhelming when looking at the different specs to weigh the pros and cons. But thedecision can be made simpler by narrowing it down to the Roomba 960 vs 980 models. It is important to take a closer look at Roomba 980 vs 960 to find out what model fits your needs best.

What can you expect when comparing Roomba 960 vs. 980? You’re wondering: What makes the Roomba 980 worth the extra $200 price?

The Roomba 960 model is much cheaper than the Roomba 980 model because it is an older model. But why should you spend the extra money on the 980? Here are just a few of the reasons why the 980 is worth the extra cost.

  1. The 980 has a much longer battery life and needs much less recharging to cover the same amount of space as the Roomba 960
  2. The 980 has a newer, more powerful motor compared to the Roomba 960 that has the same motor as less expensive models of Roombas
  3. The 980 has carpet booster technology that the Roomba 960 does not
  4. The 980 has twice as many virtual walls as the Roomba 960
  5. The 980 can clean the home in one session, where the Roomba 960 needs multiple sessions to clean anything over three rooms

Check out this iRobot 960 vs 980 battle!

In a Nutshell

If you want the quick breakdown for which Roomba model is best, then here it is:

The Roomba 960 is a great, inexpensive option for smaller homes and shorter carpets (see its latest price here). If you life alone without pets or children, then the 960 can do the job without much difficulty. If you do have pets it still will work, but may require longer time to clean or multiple passes.

The Roomba 980 is a high quality and super powered machine that can handle large homes and large messes (see its latest price here). It includes several features like a longer battery life, stronger motor and carpet booster technology, as well as twice the virtual walls as the 960 model. While it will cost you more money to get these features, it is well worth it if you need a stronger vacuum or have frequent messes.

Roomba 960’s Benefits

The Roomba 960, while it does not have all the bells and whistles that the Roomba 980 has, it does have certain advantages over the newer model.

 

 

Low Maintenance

Requiring only a few minutes a month for maintenance, the Roomba 960 is relatively hands free. You can rest assured that the Roomba 960 will keep your home clean and will recharge itself when needed so you don’t have to worry about plugging it in or losing cords.

WIFI-Enabled

The Roomba 960 is WIFI enabled to allow you to both monitor the cleaning as it occurs and schedule cleaning from your phone with the iRobot HOME app. You can also utilize voice controls via Alexa or Google Assistant.

Cost Efficient

The Roomba 960 is a less expensive model than the Roomba 980 because it is a much more basic model. While it will not have to power that the 980 model has, if you life in a smaller home or smaller messes then the Roomba 960 will do the job.

Roomba 960 cleaning floor

Comparable Cleaning Power

The 960 model of Roomba features a three stage cleaning system to pick up dust, pet hair and dust to prevent dirty floors and allergens. It can map out your home with the iAdapt 2.0 Navigation and vSLAM technology, and prevent bumping into objects or getting stuck. Two multi-surface rubber brushes are flexible enough to stay in constant contact with the flooring, whether hardwood or carpet, so nothing is left behind.

This means that the Roomba 960 is capable of cleaning your home, even with the less powerful motor. A smaller home does not need an overly powerful vacuum and it really comes down to size and how much traffic is in your home.

Roomba 980’s Benefits

 

The Roomba 980 is a more expensive vacuum but can be worth the price when you consider what you are getting.

Top Of The Line

There are few vacuums that come close to the Roomba 980 and it is jam packed with features to make cleaning your floors quick and easy. You can also control it with the iRobot HOME app, Alexa and Google Assistant to schedule and monitor cleaning. There is also a Clean Map to see what spots have already been done.

Longer Battery Life

The Roomba 980 has a battery life of 120 minutes per charge. This allows your Roomba to clean for longer periods of time without needing to stop and recharge. This makes larger homes a much easier job for your Roomba and smaller homes quick work.

Twice The Virtual Walls

With twice the virtual walls, you are able to create more marked off areas that the Roomba should avoid. This is important if you have a larger home or a multi-level home to prevent the Roomba from falling off stairs or getting stuck.  

Carpet Boost

If you have carpets, rugs or hard flooring in your home it is important to have a vacuum that can take on the job and really clean your floors. Unlike other vacuums that deliver the same power to every spot it cleans, the Roomba 980 automatically increases the power of the suction on carpets for a much deeper clean. This means it isn’t just the surface, but everything, preventing allergens and dust from building up.

Read my super detailed Roomba Comparison

Main Differences Between The iRobot Roomba 960 & 980

Roomba 980 cleaning carpet

Carpet Boost: One of the biggest advantages of the iRobot Roomba 980 is that is comes with carpet boost. This feature allows the Roomba to clean better on carpets, by jumping into “overdrive” as soon as it passes from hardwood to carpet. The Roomba 960 does not have this feature. When it is not in carpet boost mode, the Roomba 980 has a quieter, more efficient eco mode – great for cleaning harder surfaces without wasting the energy.

Battery: The battery life of both Roomba models varies depending on the mode they are cleaning in. Generally, though, we can say that the Roomba 980 has about 60% longer battery life than the Roomba 960. That means it can clean for longer (up to 120 minutes, as opposed to 75 minutes) without having to plug into the charging station.

Virtual Walls: Virtual walls are the feature that will block the Roomba vacuum from going past a certain point – it’s an easy way to block off a room or a kid’s play area while the vacuum is cleaning without having to put up physical barriers. The Roomba 980 comes with 2 virtual walls, while the Roomba 960 only has 1.

Power: One area where you can see the biggest difference between the Roomba 960 and 980 is in their power capacity. The Roomba 960 is equipped with the same motor used in the older Roomba 800 series. It is very powerful and has a high suction power, but it is a little outdated. The Roomba 980, on the other hand, has the newest, redesigned motor. iRobot claims that the newer motor has about twice the suction as the older model. Both vacuums are fairly powerful, but you will definitely see a higher cleaning power from the Roomba 980.

Cost: Of course, the specific cost of your Roomba robot vacuum depends on where you buy it. As a general guideline, we can say that the Roomba 980 will cost you about $200 more than the older Roomba 960. Both vacuums are great smart home cleaning tools, but it is ultimately up to you whether the improved features of the 980 are worth the higher price tag.

Wifi Capabilities

Both of these vacuums have Wifi connectivity so that they can connect to the iRobot home app.

The app allows you to start and stop your Roomba, set up virtual walls, set cleaning schedules and monitor its cleaning progress. You do not need to use the app to operate your Roomba – both of these models can be controlled manually, too. The app just makes things a little easier.

In Summary: Both the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 can be connected to the home app, and have the same features. There is no difference in Wifi capability between the two models.

Maintenance Details

Like navigation, lower maintenance is a feature that the Roomba vacuum has been improving on with each new generation. In the early days of robot vacuums, they tended to be more maintenance than they were worth. With the 900 series models, though, there is not much you need to do to keep them running smoothly.

Both of these models have brushless extractors. That means that the Roomba will pick up hair, dust clumps and larger debris without risking it getting tangled in the brushes – you will not have to remove and detangle a brush after every cleaning, like with older models.

You will want to clean off the rubber rollers every once in a while, and clean any dust or light debris out of your HEPA filter. Other than that, there is not much maintenance required with either Roomba 900 series model.

In Summary: Both of these vacuums are much easier to maintain than older, 800 series models.

Battery Life and Durability

The battery between these two Roomba products is one of the main differences.

The Roomba 960 models uses a 2130 mAh Lithium-Ion battery. This type of battery is expected to last at least 75 minutes when used continuously. The Roomba 980, on the other hand, also has a lithium-ion battery, but instead it is a 3000 mAh battery. This battery can last up to 120 minutes instead.

The average house can be fully cleaned by a Roomba in about 75 minutes. If your house is larger than 4+ bedrooms, you may want to go with the Roomba 980 because of the extended battery life. There is no need to be cut off in the middle of a job when there is an option provided.

Both of the models are designed to return to their charging station when their battery has been depleted. Once they have been recharged, they know they must go back out and finished the job where the left off.

In Summary: The Roomba 980 clearly has a better battery because it will last up to 120 minutes, while the Roomba 960 will only last up to 75 minutes.

How Strong is Their Cleaning Prowess?

Comparing the two robot vacuums in terms of cleaning power, we can see a few significant differences. They both use Roomba’s patented AeroForce cleaning system, which is designed to suck up dirt and debris at a high capacity. The Roomba 980, according to the producers, has 10x the AeroForce power (compared to the original vacuum that used AeroForce) while the 960 has 5x.

That means that the Roomba 980 should have twice the suction power of the Roomba 960. But is that power really noticeable?

In tests, it can be seen that the Roomba 960 performs nearly as well as the 980. It may need to go over certain areas twice instead of just once, but it is difficult to see a real, quantifiable difference in the cleaning performance of the two vacuums. The only noticeable difference is when the 980 goes into Carpet Boost mode, and the 960 cannot.

In Summary: The Roomba 980 has a redesigned motor, and does have a higher cleaning and suction power overall. But both vacuums perform similarly in tests – ultimately, the improved cleaning power alone may not be worth the higher price of the Roomba 980.

How Effective Is Their Anti-Tangle Technology?

It’s bad enough to leave loose chargers and cords out when you’re doing the vacuuming yourself, and it probably causes some anxiety to worry about if you forgot to put them up when your robot vacuum cleans. While it’s always better to be sure before starting to clean, you get some peace of mind with a Roomba.

Each Roomba model is designed to avoid destroying cables and cords, and to avoid getting stuck on them, thanks to anti tangle technology.

In Summary: Both Roomba models include anti tangle technology, and won’t get stuck on cords.

How Good Is Their Cliff Detection?

A fall down the stairs or off a ledge could really damage a robotic vacuum. Fortunately that’s really not something to be concerned about. Pretty much any robot vacuum out there has some kind of sensor to prevent these kinds of falls.

Both the Roomba 980 and 960 include cliff detection, so you don’t have to worry about either having an accident.

In Summary: The 980 and 960 both include cliff detection, as do most other robot vacuums.

Navigation Skills

The navigation ability of the Roomba vacuum is one feature that has been continuously improved with each generation. The Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 both have improved, intelligent navigation features.

A mounted onboard camera on both models allows the Roomba to “see” where it is going. Not only do they use floor mapping and scanning, like older Roomba models, but they can also navigate around unexpected obstacles, like something that is dropped on the floor or someone walking through.

A second improved navigation feature is the Roomba’s memory. Both the 980 and 960 models can remember where they have been in a room. That means that cleaning goes a little faster – the Roomba will only go over each area once.

In Summary: Both of these models have superior navigation features compared to older, 800 series Roombas. They can actively track where they are going and remember where they have been in a room.

Can They Handle Multi-Room Cleaning?

Each of these Roomba models both can handle cleaning multiple rooms and navigating their to each room in your home. These models are quite interesting because they can create a virtual map of your home that stays stored in their memory

Tackling Hardwood Floors

Traditional vacuum brushes often damage floors, but with both Roomba models, the brushes are designed to clean hardwood floors effectively, and without causing any damage.

In Summary: The 980 and 960 are equally equipped to clean hard floors without scratching them.

Effectiveness of Edge Cleaning

Currently, all the Roomba models on the market are designed to clean right up against the edges of your home without any trouble. They have been equipped with side brushes that allow them to reach across baseboards and into hard to reach corners. The Roomba 960 and 980 both have edge cleaning mode so you can ensure that the machine will focus on the edge areas of your home.

Now, you don’t have to constantly be cleaning the edges of your home, but you will want to clean them at least once a month. These areas are often overlooked because because they are not common areas. Thankfully, both of these Roomba models know that edges are their speciality.

In Summary: The Roomba 960 and 980 can clean edges effectively and with no trouble.

The Accessories Included

The largest difference in the accessories that these Roomba vacuums have is in the virtual walls. Specifically, the number of virtual walls that are included. The 980 model comes with two of them, and the 960 includes a single virtual wall. Because of this, along with other features of the 980, it’s a good fit for bigger homes.

These walls prevent the Roomba from going into areas you don’t need cleaned or want to keep the vacuum out of. You can choose to use the Halo mode and keep the vacuum away from specific objects (up to 26″ perimeter), or block off a larger area up to ten feet wide using them in virtual wall mode.

In Summary: The other accessories are the same between the two models, but the 980 has 2 virtual walls included.

Carpet Boost Functions?

Carpets require more effort from your vacuum to get all the dirt out, unlike with hard floors. The carpet boost does take up more battery power, but as you might suspect, it’s because the dirt gets ground in deeper. The Roomba 980 includes this feature, and can automatically sense when to turn carpet boost on.

In Summary: The 960 doesn’t include this feature, while the 980 does.

Final Verdict: Roomba 960 or 980?

Depending on the size of your house (and budget), as well as the flooring you have, the answer may differ. That aside, here’s our quick verdict on our pick:

In terms of value the Roomba 960 does a great job with keeping up with the features of the Roomba 980 (most are the same), but at a more affordable price. While it’s a good fit for most homes, a home with ample carpet, square footage (over 4000 sq ft), and areas to block off, will benefit from the 980’s extra virtual wall, carpet boost feature, and extended battery life.

Want more Roomba Comparisons?

Check out my other Roomba guides:

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