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If you’re looking to purchase a leading robot vacuum, you’ll definitely want to consider the battle of Roomba 960 vs 980. These are the latest in a long line of Roomba devices, and the years of innovation show in both models. On the other hand, the Smartpool NC22 SmartKleen – Best Pool Vacuum Robot for Small Pools will take care of your pool needs.
However, since they’re very similar in both design and cleaning functionality, it may be difficult to find the differences and how these fine vacuum cleaners affect overall performance. We’ve tested and reviewed both models side by side so you can make the best purchasing decision for your floors (and your peace of mind).
Keep reading to learn more about the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980 and find out which vacuum will clean your floors most thoroughly
The Roomba 960 costs $699.99 when it’s not on sale. There are plenty of places online and in person where you can purchase this iRobot vacuum at a discounted price. Check places like Amazon.com, Walmart and BestBuy to get the best price. Roombas tend to be more expensive than other robot vacuums on the market, and the 960 is no different. However, the features and functionality justify the higher price. WHY DOES THIS COST LESS THAN THE 980?
The Roomba 980 costs $899.99 when it’s not on sale. Discounted prices on this version of the popular smart vacuum are less common than with the 960 models. Lower prices are uncommon because the 980 model is newer. For the best chance to get a better deal, check the same stores as we listed above. There are a variety of online stores that offer discounted models, but tread with caution, as you may get a refurbished model unknowingly. WHY DOES THIS COST MORE?
When it comes to central design features, the Roomba 960 and 980 are exactly the same. They both feature an onboard camera, carrying handle, dual brush rolls, HEPA filters and manual Clean button. While there are very minimal aesthetic differences in color, these two vacuums don’t look different from one another.
Both the 960 and 980 are the same size, as well. They are 13.5 inches in diameter and 3.6 inches in height and they both way almost 9 pounds.
However, these both offer drastically different designs from the old 800, 700 and 600 series. None of the older series offered an onboard camera, which is what makes the 900 series so much more efficient at cleaning your floors.
When it comes to initial setup and overall user-friendliness, both the Roomba 960 and 980 are the same.
When you’re ready to start a clean, you can simply press the Clean button on the top of the vacuums, and a cleaning sequence will begin. You can also use the iRobot Home app to create scheduled cleanings. You can even connect your Roomba to your smart home system and use Alexa or Google Home to activate the vacuums.
It will take you very little time to learn the specifics on how to work the Roombas, even if you’ve never used a robot vacuum before. This is to say the learning curve isn’t steep for either of these devices.
As with many of the previous iterations, the Roomba 960 can clean carpeted areas and hardwood floors with ease. If you’re not familiar with robot vacuum cleaners like Roombas, you typically use an app – in this case, the iRobot Home app – to create scheduled cleanings. The vacuum then uses its onboard camera and navigation system to move about your home while cleaning. You can also press the Clean button directly on the vacuum to initiate the cleaning sequence.
Similar to the 960 model, the Roomba 980 uses an onboard camera, navigation system and app to clean your floors of pet hair, dirt and crumbs. The main difference here lies in this model’s Carpet Boost mode, which allows the vacuum to sense what type of flooring it’s cleaning and increase its power when on carpet. This feature is super helpful and provides a better clean overall.
In our cleaning tests, we found the Roomba 980 to be more efficient than the 960 in every test. This is especially true in larger spaces. As we discuss below, the more powerful motor in the 980 is the reason for such a comprehensive clean. You can see why robot vacuums are superior vs regular vacuums.
The Roomba 960 uses the same motor as the old 800 series of robot vacuums. This doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad motor, but it’s definitely nowhere near as powerful as the Roomba 980. If you need a more comprehensive clean, you’ll want to consider the 980. Roomba describes this motor as able to deliver five times the air suction power when compared to their popular 600 series.
The Roomba 980 offers a much more powerful motor than anything else in Roomba’s product lineup. This new generation motor allows the vacuum to utilize the Carpet Boost mode to its full potential to suck up pet hair and take care of heavy-duty jobs. Listed as 10 times the air suction power of the popular 600 series, the 980 model’s motor also provides a longer overall life for the vacuum.
Vacuums are noisy, and the Roombas aren’t any different. When it comes to noise between the Roomba 960 and the Roomba 980, you need to consider motor power. Since the 980 has a much more powerful motor, it’s going to make more noise than the 960. This is especially true when using the 980’s Carpet Boost mode.
During our testing, we found that Roomba 960 produced around 65 dB of noise during normal operation. The Roomba 980 produced 68 dB during normal operation and a loud 73 dB during Carpet Boost mode.
It’s important to note, however, that Roombas are significantly quieter than most robot vacuums. On average, the Roombas are about 29% quieter than most other robot vacuums on the market.
As you might imagine, these robot vacuums run off battery power and need to come back to their home station to charge every so often. If you have a large floor plan, your Roomba might need to come back several times before the cleaning is done. The Roomba 960’s 1800 mAh battery is powerful enough to clean for about 75 minutes before needing to recharge.
Roomba 960 does include the Recharge and Resume feature, meaning it remembers where it left off cleaning and will finish the cleaning once charged.
The Roomba 980 has a much more efficient battery than the 960 model. Instead of an 1800 mAh battery, this Roomba has a 3300 mAh battery, which is much larger and lasts much longer. With a runtime of around 120 minutes, the Roomba 980 can clean larger spaces without needing to go back to recharge as often. Like the Roomba 960, this vacuum also includes the Recharge and Resume feature, allowing it to return to its cleaning cycle after charging.
When it comes to extra features and accessories, the Roomba 960 and 980 are very similar. Both of their designs include HEPA filters and side brushes, among the standard central spinning brush and dual brush rolls.
Both models also come with Roomba’s patented virtual wall barriers. These special accessories create an invisible line that the Roomba cannot cross. This is helpful for keeping your robot vacuum out of certain rooms and areas. The difference here is that the 960 only includes one virtual wall barrier while the 980 includes two.
Whether you buy the Roomba 960 or Roomba 980, you’ll receive the same warranty from iRobot. This limited warranty is good for up to one year after the original purchase date and only covers defects in the machine that aren’t your fault. If your Roomba stops working properly within the first year of ownership, iRobot will first try to repair the original vacuum. If that doesn’t work, the company will replace your vacuum with a new or refurbished vacuum of the same model. If the model you purchased is no longer sold, you may get an upgraded version.
Note that iRobot won’t cover problems caused by normal wear and tear, deliberate damage, inappropriate care or tampering with the product.
If your Roomba stops working outside of warranty, you either have to fix it or purchase a new one. Luckily enough, there are plenty of places that can fix your robot vacuum…for a price. Typically with electronics, it will be more expensive to repair the more premium model, but we found something different with the Roomba 960 vs 980. Since the two vacuums are made from the same parts, there’s no difference in price for replacing components like wheels or brushes.
However, if you want to purchase a replacement battery for the Roomba 980, you can expect to pay a cool $100 to iRobot, compared to the $80 you’d pay to replace the Roomba 960’s smaller battery.
After hours of testing and lots of floors cleaned, the Roomba 980 comes out on top as the clear winner in the Roomba 960 vs 980 battle. The 980 offers consistently better features over the 960, with a more powerful motor, longer-lasting battery and more virtual wall barriers. And let’s not forget the Carpet Boost mode, which gives you a more powerful clean on difficult surfaces.
Of course, you’ll need to consider that you’re paying an extra $200, but we think the extra benefits are well worth the added cost.
Ultimately, you can’t go wrong purchasing either of these Roomba vacuums, but if you’re trying to decide between the two, don’t hesitate to go with the Roomba 980. But, if you’d like to see an even great comparison of robotic vacuums, check out our Neato vs Roomba vs Samsung article.