We take a look at two of the most popular Roomba 900 series models inside smart homes today. Even though the model number is lower, the Roomba 960 is actually newer than the Roomba 980. With the lower model number, does that mean that the 960 is not as good as the 980 though?
Let’s take a look at a detailed side-by-side comparison today to see the similarities and differences between the Roomba 960 vs 980. You should be able to see what’s the better fit for your cleanings with each robot vacuum cleaner’s features.
If you’re in a hurry and want to know which one we prefer – the Roomba 960 is the better value for the money. While the 960’s suction power is not as high as the 980, the bang for your buck is there with the price difference.
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- Power Lifting Suction delivers 10X the air power for improved pick up performance; Automatically increases cleaning performance on carpets with Power Boost (Compared to Roomba 600 Series and AeroVac System)
- Patented iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with vSLAM technology allows the robot to map its surroundings to clean an entire level of your home, around objects, and under furniture
Last update on 2023-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
The Roomba 960’s size dimensions are 13.8” wide by 3.6” tall. It’s height will allow it to fit under an average sized couch or drawer. It’s space grey top panel holds the 3 buttons used to control the robovac – Namely the SPOT CLEAN, CLEAN and HOME buttons.
The Roomba 980 measures up at 13.8” wide and 3.8” tall – a little taller than the Roomba 960 but definitely would be able to fit under furniture just as well.
One of the biggest differences is in the design of the top plate – the Roomba 980 has a shinier copper color on the top, rather than the dull space grey on the Roomba 960, which gives it a more premium look and feel.
At 8.6 lbs, the Roomba 960 is easy to carry around the house thanks to the carrying handle attached to the unit itself.
The Roomba 980 weighs 8.7 lbs, hardly any different to the Roomba 960. There is also a carrying handle for easy transportation around the rooms in your house.
There isn’t enough of a difference in weight for one or the other to win this round.
Battery and Capacity
Both of the Roombas have great batteries for cleanings, including their abilities to Recharge and Resume.
A 14.8v lithium-ion 1800 maH battery provides the Roomba 960 75 full minutes of nonstop run time.
If your Roomba 960 detects that its lithium-ion battery is running low, it’ll automatically stop cleaning and go back to the charging station and dock to recharge. In about 2-3 hours of charge time, the 960 will continue the job right where it left off thanks to the Recharge and Resume feature.
The Roomba 980 has a longer 120 minute run time thanks to its 3000 mAh battery. That helps the 980 clean for up to 120 minutes before it needs to recharge. This is great for larger homes which take longer to clean.
The 980 would be looking at about 3-4 hours of cleaning a 1500 square foot floor area. The 960 will take longer because of the shorter run time each time and the need to recharge for 2-3 hours. Unless you’re in a hurry with your floor cleaning, it won’t make too much of a difference because of the Recharge and Resume feature.
The Recharge and Resume function is also available on the Roomba 980, where it continues cleaning where it last stopped. A recharge from an empty battery on the charging station takes about 2 hours.
Types of Filters
Both the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 feature a AeroForce High-Efficiency Filter in the cleaning system.
The filters will effectively capture 99% of airborne particles and harmful allergens from being spread around your house through the Roomba’s exhaust. This is great news for allergy sufferers and keeps your family safe from harmful air.
While Roombas don’t come with HEPA filters, the High-Efficiency Filter pairs well with iRobot’s cleaning system in robot vacuum cleaning tests.
Brushes, Suction & Cleaning Technology
The Roomba 960 offers 900 Pa of suction power – more than enough to tackle cleaning jobs like dust and larger debris with ease. That’s 5x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series. It does have an older generation motor.
iRobot’s patented 3-stage cleaning system also cleans hardwood floors and carpeted floors with great results.
The brush rollers on the Roomba 960 also easily capture pet hair. The brush rollers are made of rubber, so they have less risk of tangling in the brush rollers – a common problem for lower-end Roombas on the market. Roombas also come with brushless extractors that help to remove any stuck hair.
Brush rolls with bristles will often become entangled with pet hair more easily and should be avoided if your budget allows.
The 960 and the 980 both have edge-sweeping brushes for better access to getting the debris from edges on the walls and corner performance. Cleaning along walls and the wall edges can sometimes be tough, so it’s also a good idea to double-check in the early cleanings with your Roomba to see the cleaning performance you’re getting.
Roomba 980’s cleaning performance is great, aided by its more advanced motor and Power Boost Mode for carpet. The stronger motor is definitely helpful for when there’s extra dirt on the floors.
A powerful motor and the AeroForce cleaning system combine to give it exceptional cleaning performance on all types of floor surfaces.
The Roomba 980 boasts 10x the suction power of the Roomba 600 series, which is great news for those looking for performance in their robot vacuum.
On top of that, the 980 has a carpet boost feature that will recognize when it’s on carpet. Once it recognizes it’s on carpet, carpet boost kicks in and increases the suction on carpet for better cleaning. That’s a nice carpet cleaning feature for homeowners with lots of carpeted floors.
iRobot’s robotic vacuums all have anti-tangle technology that prevents the Roomba from eating the carpet fringes and loose cords.
When the 980 is not on carpet, it’ll lower the suction power to save battery power, while still being maintaining cleaning performance.
If you have pets, both the Roomba 960 and 980 are great with pet hair, including on carpeted surfaces. There’s not as much concern here with low-medium pile carpet.
For hardwood floors, both vacuum models are good. The 980 does have higher suction power, but because the floors are smooth, it most likely won’t use all the suction power. So there’s not much of a difference between these excellent robot vacuums with flat floors.
Both of these impressive robot vacuums also come with iRobot’s Dirt Detection Technology, which gives both robots advanced dirt detection. When it detects extra dirt in certain areas, the Roombas will go back over those areas. That’s great if you get daily dirt and other debris types.
Both the Roomba 980 and the 960 make use of the iAdapt 2.0 navigation system (with vSLAM) in order to get around the house and avoid obstacles.
An array of sensors are built-in to both the 960 and 980 for advanced navigation. They combine with the front-facing camera sensors to ensure that your Roomba knows exactly where it’s going.
The onboard optical sensors help the vacuum cleaners to clean as efficient as possible in straight lines, while avoiding sofas, tables, chairs, and other furniture they can’t go under.
The great thing with iAdapt 2.0 is it allows the Roomba to remember where it’s cleaned and hasn’t cleaned to allow for Recharge and Resume when the battery is low.
Unfortunately, only iAdapt 3.0 will allow the Roomba to remember the home’s floor plan for future cleaning sessions. That’s the smart imprinting technology that the Roomba i7 and Roomba s9 series have.
These sensors also allow both Roomba units to create a virtual map of your home, for easier cleaning the next time you use it.
The Cliff Detection system ensures that neither Roomba ends up in a heap at the bottom of the stairs. You don’t need to worry about your Roomba suffering a fall from a higher floor, leaving it malfunctioned.
Mobile App and Voice Assistant Control
The iRobot HOME app allows you to take control of all the basic functions of both the Roomba 980 and the 960.
The app itself is nicely designed and intuitive, and you can turn the Roomba off and on, schedule the cleaning days of your home and view the cleaning log history of your Roomba.
The app will also help you to see the mapping progress of the virtual floor plan that the Roomba is creating of your home.
Both the 980 and 960 are Google Home and Amazon Alexa compatible if you wish to use voice commands to control your Roomba – you just need your home assistant to learn the skill first.
With past and current generation Roombas, it’s always a good idea to take care of these high-quality robot vacuums. Roomba 960 maintenance and Roomba 980 maintenance are both actinos to take to keep your expensive robot vacuums in excellent cleaning performance shape.
The Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 each holds about 600 ml of debris in its dustbin – so emptying it out regularly as a part of scheduled maintenance is recommended. Check the dustbin after cleaning sessions to better understand how much dirt and debris are picked up each time.
Other things such as wiping down the Roombas, cleaning the charging contact points, and ensuring nothing is blocking the suction system will also prolong the life of your Roomba.
Clean the high-efficiency filters regularly. Take the filter out and clear dust, pet hair, etc. Then you can wash it with cold water and leave to air dry before putting them back in the Roomba.
Depending on usage, replace the filters every two to three months or so to ensure that you get the most value out of your filters.
Also check for pet hair in the side brush, front caster wheels, and rubber brush rollers regularly. The checking and removing of debris should only take 3-5 minutes each time, if that.
The Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 come with a dual-mode virtual wall device, which is a little device that uses infrared to create virtual walls or halos.
The virtual walls and halos act as barriers preventing all Roomba vacuums from entering.
You can create no-entry zones around doors, hallways, pet food dishes, and fragile furniture that you want your Roomba to avoid.
The only difference comes with accessories. The Roomba 980 comes with 2 virtual wall devices, while the Roomba 960 only comes with 1.
Roomba 960 Pros and Cons
- Good cleaning performance
- More affordable
- Lower runtime
Roomba 980 Pros and Cons
- Better when it comes to cleaning carpets
- Two virtual wall devices included
- Expensive and cost may not justify additional features
Roomba 960 vs 980 Who is Each Roomba for?
Roomba 960: For those who want a Roomba that will get the job done well and isn’t completely covered in carpet.
Roomba 980: Those who want a more advanced version and don’t mind shelling out more money for it. The 980 is also a good option if your home is covered in carpet.
The Bottom Line – Final Thoughts
Both the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 are in the same 900 series, so there aren’t major differences between the two. There’re only three main differences between them.
The Roomba 980 has higher suction power, carpet boost technology, longer run time, and comes with two virtual wall barrier devices in some packages.
Last update on 2023-02-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API
Even with those three advantages, the Roomba 980 doesn’t provide the value for the extra money, so which is better in the Roomba 980 vs 960 matchup?
The Roomba 960 is the better all-around Roomba for the money. The 960 still offers great performance and has all the same smart features as the 980.
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If for some reason the 980 has a limited price that’s lower than the current price of the 960, I’d go with the Roomba 980.