Roomba 960 vs. 980: What’s the Difference (and Which One Should You Buy)?

Roomba models 960 and 980 compared

If you are thinking about buying one of the top iRobot Roomba models with WiFi and Alexa control, you may be wondering whether to get the Rooomba 980 or the cheaper Roomba 960?

Both Roomba models can be connected to WiFi, both are compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant, both have a HEPA filter and both can automatically charge and resume cleaning. So why the $200 price difference between them?

About Roomba 960 and 980

iRobot launched the two robotic vacuum cleaners within about a year of each other; 980 in 2015 and 960 in 2016.

When the Roomba 980 launched, it was the only Roomba model that could connect to WiFi. But most people though it was too expensive. So iRobot released the 960, a cheaper version of the 980.

While they are uncannily similar in terms of features, size and design, there are some key differences between them that explain the price difference. Let’s begin with the similarities.

Roomba 960 vs. 980: Similarities

WiFi connected: Both connect to your home’s WiFi network. That means you can control them from anywhere using the iRobot HOME app.

Compatible with smart assistants: You can link both the 980 and 960 to either Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa. That means you can control the vacuum cleaners with just your voice through an Echo or Google Home speaker.

Clean Map Reports: Through the app, you can receive cleaning reports from either model. The report includes details of where the robot cleaned, duration and coverage.

Roomba models cleaning reports

Recharge and Resume: If the battery runs low during cleaning, both robots can find their way back to the home base, recharge and resume cleaning all on their own.

Multi-room cleaning: Both robot vacuums can clean multiple rooms on a single level. They are equipped with cameras and sensors that allow them to navigate efficiently and cover every area.

Edge-sweeping brush: They don’t just clean along the flat flooring. Both models have special brushes that sweep dirt and debris along the edges and corners.

Other similarities includes higher suction power compared to cheaper Roomba models, a HEPA filter, scheduling, customized cleaning preferences and ability to clean all floor types.

Roomba 960 vs. 980: Differences

Carpet boost: The Roomba 980 has a special mode that activates more vacuum power when cleaning a carpet. This allows the 980 to properly deep clean carpeted areas.

Roomba 980 carpet cleaning

Battery run time: The Roomba 960 has an average battery run time of 75 minutes. The Roomba 980 can clean for 120 minutes before it needs a recharge.

Virtual wall barrier: The 980 comes with 2 virtual wall barriers while the 960 comes with only one. You can block the 980 from going beyond two areas at the same time. This is handy if a room has two doors that you don’t want the vacuum from going through or you want to keep it away from two areas within the room.

Which One Should You Buy?

The best choice between the two will depend on your particular situation.

If you have a large home, get the Roomba 980. Its longer battery life and 2 virtual wall barriers will come in handy. But most average sized homes can do with the cheaper Roomba 960.

If you have a lot of carpeted areas, get the Roomba 980. It has a power boost feature that allows deep cleaning on carpets. Most robot vacuum cleaners including the 960, struggle to clean on carpets.

If you have mostly hard floors, get the Roomba 960. The 960 performs just as well as the 980 on hardwood, tile and other hard floors. They both use 3-stage cleaning and have an edge-cleaning brush to sweep along the wall and in corners.

Of course these are not the only two Roomba models worth considering. If you want a cheaper Roomba checkout the Roomba 614 ($300), 690 ($375) or the new 890 ($500). Visit our Roomba page to see all Roomba models compared.

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