Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 – Which One Is the Best? [Our DETAILED Review]

In Home Security by Christy

If you’re currently looking for a vacuum robot to give you a helping hand at home, then you are probably already eyeing the two most popular robot vacuum cleaners in the market today - Roomba 960 and Roomba 980. 

But don’t be in a hurry yet to click that add to cart button yet - you might want to know first the differences between these two robot vacuum cleaners! This post summarizes everything you need to know about Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 and which one offers a better deal.

Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 – the Common Features

Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 are not the latest Roomba products. However, these robot cleaners are known as the best in the market so far. But before you decide which one to buy, have a look first at their common features:

Navigation Capabilities

Roomba-nav

Source: https://www.qualcomm.com/news/onq/2018/12/17/help-qualcomm-technologies-irobot-roomba-i7-robot-vacuum-delivers-more

When it comes to smart navigation technology, both the Roomba 960 and Roomba 980 are equipped with a Vision Simultaneous Localization and Mapping or VSLAM  technology. This means that these robots can navigate throughout your room with better efficiency. Each robot is designed with a camera on top, pointing at a 45-degree angle to take photos of the area and dynamically build a map into its memory. 

The map stored creates distinctive patterns such as corners and edges of your furniture. The VSLAM software recognizes these patterns so that the robot can smartly navigate the area, moving back and forth in a straight line during the cleaning cycle. And once it is done, it automatically goes back to its charger station.

Roomba’s smart navigation system saves you from manually bringing your robot to the room that you want to be cleaned. You only need to push the clean button and it automatically does its job in cleaning multiple rooms efficiently. The only downside is that after the cleaning cycle, both the Roomba 960 and 980 will not save the map built - your robot has to build the map again in the next cycle.

Cliff Detection

Do you want the second floor of your home cleaned as well but worried that your robot cleaner would fall down the stairs? In this new era, we are becoming more and more dependent on technology and as much as possible, we don’t like dumb robots. Thankfully, both Roomba 960 and 980 are smart enough to detect cliffs so it won’t easily plunge down your stairs. In fact, all Roomba products are equipped with this cliff detection technology.

Extra Filters

Replacing the filters of your robot vacuum cleaner at least every 2 months is very important to keep your robot functioning properly, especially if you have pets at home. Both the Roomba 960 and 980 come with extra replacement filters so you can easily change the filter when needed.

Tracking Sensors

Unlike the older models of Roomba, both the Roomba 960 and 980 have a tracking sensor that helps the robot remember the area that has already been cleaned. This allows the robot to efficiently clean your room - it moves on a straight line (unlike the other robots that move on a random pattern) and knows where to go next, without going back to the area where it has already cleaned.

Smartphone App Features

roomba-app

Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCt8SLGxgBE

Both the Roomba 960 and 980 have the same app features that allow you to set cleaning schedules, view activities, modify settings, and many others. You can even integrate voice commands like Alexa and Google Assistant if you don’t want to get off the couch during those lazy days. Both robots can be connected to the WiFi and controlled through your smartphone to make your home extra clean.

Size and Dimensions

So what about the size and dimensions for both robot cleaners? We don’t want robots that are too bulky, to avoid getting stuck in small areas. Both the Roomba 960 and 980 have no difference when it comes to the size and dimensions. Both have a diameter of 13.8 inches, a height of 3.6 inches, and a weight of about 8.7 pounds. 

Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 – the Differences

Knowing the difference between the Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 will give you ideas on which one will fit your lifestyle and budget since each of the robots can have their pros and cons. Well, it greatly depends on your preferences so it is worth knowing how one product excels the other. So here are some of the major differences between the two top robot cleaners:

Battery Life and Runtime

Both the Roomba 960 and 980 use the same lithium-ion batteries. However, the battery of each robot has different charge capacities. The Roomba 960 carries a 2,130 mAh battery while the Roomba 980 comes with a 3,000 mAh battery. This means that the 980 version has a longer cleaning time of 120 minutes compared to the 960 which can only clean up to 75 minutes.

For an average home, the 75 minutes cleaning time is actually sufficient to cover the entire house. But since both robots automatically recharge when drained and resume cleaning on the last spot, the battery capacity is not a big deal for an average home, unless you have a bigger house then you’re better off with the Roomba 980 with 2 hours of cleaning time. 

Carpet Boost Technology

Roomba-boost

Source: https://shop.irobot.ca/en_CA/roomba-vacuuming-robot-vacuum-irobot-roomba-980/R980020.html

Homeowners with the carpeted floor should pay attention to this feature - not all robot cleaners can efficiently do its job on carpets! Roomba is no exception because only the Roomba 980 has a carpet boost technology feature. The Roomba 980 can identify carpets and automatically changes to “carpet boost mode” to provide the best cleaning method possible. This feature is very helpful if you have pets at home (and we know how difficult it is to clean pet hairs on the carpet!). For owners with carpeted floors at home, the Roomba 980 wins over the 960 model.

Suction Power

As mentioned before, the Roomba 980 works well with carpets compared to Roomba 960 because of its carpet boost technology. Another reason why Roomba 980 performs better with carpets is because of its suction power. While both the 980 and 960 use the technology called “Aeroforce three-stage cleaning system,” only the 980 comes with the power boost mode. This mode allows the Roomba 980 to have a suction power of 10 times which is best for rugs and carpets, unlike the Roomba 960 which only has the 5 times suction capability. Overall, Roomba 960 works best for traditional hardwood floors but if you want better cleaning options for rugs and carpets, go for the Roomba 980.

Aesthetics

Both the Roomba 980 and 960 cleaners have round, puck shape design but with little difference in color. As you can see, the Roomba 980 has a darker shade while the Roomba 960 has lighter color. Other elements such as buttons, bins, brushes, etc. are basically the same. So when it comes to the design, both robots don’t really have a huge difference, unless the color is a big deal for you.

Virtual Wall Barrier

roomba-vbarrier

Source: https://probablyinteractive.com/irobot-roomba-980-review/

A virtual wall helps your robot navigate only to the allowed areas in your room during cleaning mode. It acts as a barrier to radial areas or doorposts (you don’t want your robot to bump into your pet’s litter or go somewhere off-limits). For the Roomba 960, only one virtual wall is included. For the Roomba 980, you can get two virtual walls which are quite convenient if you have a large home. You can purchase a virtual wall barrier separately at $49.99 (if you think you need more).

Motor

Since the Roomba 980 is designed to be more efficient on carpeted floors, this robot is equipped with a bigger third-generation motor that has 5 times more power than the previous models. On the other hand, the Roomba 960 uses a smaller second-generation motor which is only ideal on regular hardwood floors.

Noise Level

Since the Roomba 980 has larger motors, you can expect it to be louder compared to the Roomba 960. On carpet boost, the 980 can produce up to 70 decibels of noise level while the 960 is only around 5 decibels.

Cost

When it comes to cost, the Roomba 960 is significantly cheaper compared to the Roomba 980. Price differs at almost $200 - Roomba 980 costs $927 while Roomba 960 costs $699.

If you just like the upgrades of 980 without an actual need for them, then the additional $200 is likely not worth the extra money. On the other hand, if you have a large house with lots of carpeted floors, then the Roomba 980 is definitely the choice for you.

Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980 – the Pros and Cons

Now you know the common features and differences between Roomba 960 and Roomba 960, let’s take a look at the summary of their pros and cons below:

Roomba 960

Pros:

  • Cheaper compared to Roomba 980
  • Improved iAdapt2.0 navigation system
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Works with voice commands like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Cons:

  • Less suction power
  • No carpet boost technology
  • Shorter cleaning time compared to Roomba 980 at 75 minutes

Roomba 980

Pros:

  • Comes with carpet boost technology
  • Ten times suction power with stronger motors
  • Longer battery life at 120 minutes
  • Comes with two virtual walls
  • WiFi connectivity
  • Works with voice commands like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant

Cons:

  • More expensive than Roomba 960 (price difference of $200)
  • Louder than Roomba 960 especially when cleaning at carpet boost mode

Our Key Takeaways

In this post, we have made a comparison between the two most popular robot vacuum cleaners today - Roomba 960 vs Roomba 980. We have reviewed the common features as well as the differences between the two robots. When it comes to the cleaning performance of both robots on regular hardwood floors, there is not much difference. You are better off with the Roomba 960 if you have an average-sized home and regular floors. But if you have a larger home with carpeted floors, then it is more economical to buy the Roomba 980. The extra $200 you’ll spend is worth the value of your money in exchange for the premium features you get.