In this article, we will compare two specific models from the Roomba range: the Roomba 980 and Roomba 960.
Although these two Roomba models are very similar in many ways, they do also have their differences.
To make it easier, let’s look at a comparison chart of key features.
I am going to take a detailed look at these two Roombas and I will start by explaining the many ways in which they are similar.
Both the Roomba 980 and 960 are a nifty 13.8 inches in diameter and 3.6 inches tall. The low height enables the vacuuming robot to clean in hard-to-reach places, such as under beds, sofas and toe-kicks. This also facilitates easy storage, which is especially useful if you’re strapped for space.
Recharge & Resume
Sometimes, the area that needs cleaning is too big to cover on one charge of the battery. The Roomba 980 and 960 models both have a recharge and resume function. Here, the robot will return to the home base unit when it needs to recharge. Once fully charged, the robot will resume the cleaning job until it’s done. The home base unit is included when purchasing one of the newer Roomba models, but should be bought separately when purchasing an older unit.
As implied in the previous section, the Roomba 980 and 960 both have the capability to self-charge. The home base unit is designed such that the Roomba would “drive up” on a specially design docking pad, where the charging will then take place. The Roomba finds the home base unit by searching for the infrared signal emitted by it, which helps it to successfully navigate to it.
The Roomba 980 and 960 models navigate using the iAdapt 2.0 software. This enables the robots to map a series of small areas, track where it’s been and where is still needs to clean. The Roomba would move forward until it detects a barrier (an actual wall or a piece of furniture). It would assume that this is the perimeter of the area to be cleaned and would move along this barrier until it encounters another barrier. At some point, it would move across the “room” that’s just been mapped out in order to clean the rest of the floor.
These two models remember a room’s layout for the duration of the current cleaning job. But once the Roomba 960 or 980 has finished a cleaning session these details aren’t stored.
And if they need to clean the same room again tomorrow, the room’s layout would need to learned all over again.
This is a bit confusing and so I have written this article which explains more about which Roomba models remember a room’s layout and how they do it.
To prevent your expensive house cleaning device from taking a trip down the stairs or falling off a drop-off, both the 980 and 960 models are fitted with cliff detection. When a vertical drop is detected, the Roomba would move away from that point, avoiding it for the remainder of the cleaning session. The robot will clean an entire level of your home, avoiding the stairs or any other shift in level, after which you will have to move it to the next level to start again.
Tangle Free Rollers
Anyone with pets would know the frustration of getting pet hair tangled in your vacuum cleaner’s rollers. Roomba has added some useful tools to the 980 and 960 models in the form of tangle free rollers in order to prevent this. The rollers are also suitable for use on pet hair and larger debris. It should be noted that you have to remove larger items, such as clothing, from the floor to prevent your Roomba from getter caught in it.
Edges & Corners
The brushes on the Roomba 980 and 960 are situated at such an angle that dirt and other debris trapped against walls or edges are swept into the path of the cleaning system, allowing the 3-stage cleaning system to suck it up into the bin. These robots are also able to get into tight corners to offer a clean sweep in any room.
Bin Full Indicator
Both the 980 and 960 models are equipped with a bin full indicator, which can be connected to the iRobot HOME app. This allows you to know when the bin is full, even if you’re away from home, and hopefully empty it in time for the next clean.
Bin capacity for both models are 600mL, which is a bit smaller than other models available on the market.
The Roomba 980 and 960 models are both equipped with preset scheduling capabilities. This allows the robot to clean your house up to 7 days a week at times that suit you. Schedules can be updated from your smartphone, allowing you to control and change this anytime from anywhere.
Clean Map Reports
Clean Map reports are a unique to iRobot, showing you areas that the Roomba cleaned and the duration of each cleaning session. This is all linked to your smartphone, enabling you to access these reports from anywhere and potentially adjusting the preset cleaning schedule to suit your needs.
Both the Roomba 980 and 960 are able to clean an entire level of your home at a time. Here, it uses Smart Mapping and vSLAM technology to navigate the space it needs to clean, keeping track of progress as it goes along. This software doesn’t tell the robot to clean one room at a time. Rather, the robot would move into the next room if it “sees” and unobstructed entrance, then returns to the first room at a later point. The floor plan will be mapped out as the robot moves along, enabling it to keep track of areas that have already been cleaned.
The Roomba 980 and 960 models come equipped with patented Dirt Detect technology. Here, sensors are used to identify areas with large concentrations of dirt, telling the robot to spend more time in order to clean these areas thoroughly. Both the Roomba 980 and 960 models are capable of sucking up rather large chunks of debris, ideal for when you tracked chunks of mud through the house.
High Efficiency Filter
Filters built into the Roomba 980 and 960 are highly efficient, able to trap 99% of allergens. This includes dust and mites, down to the size of 10 microns, preventing them from becoming airborne and affecting the air quality of your home.
Cleans All Floor Types
The multi-surface rollers built into both the Roomba 980 and 960 enables these robots to clean your entire home, regardless of the floor type. Here, the robots can effectively clean pet hair, dust and large debris from most surfaces, hard or soft. This is ideal for homes with a combination of tiles, wood and carpets. Limitations exist when you have shaggy carpets, similar to the limitations seen in ordinary vacuum cleaners.
And now for the differences.
The Roomba 960 is slightly heavier than the 980 model, weighing in at 8.5lbs, compared to the 8.7lbs of the 980 model.
Battery life on the Roomba 960 model is 75 minutes, much shorter than the 120 minutes of the Roomba 980 model. This allows the 980 model to clean a far greater area of your home in a day, especially taking into account the amount of times it would have to self-charge in the middle of a cleaning session.
Both the Roomba 980 and 960 models are compatible with the iRobot virtual wall barriers. These nifty little devices allow you to set “no-go” zones for your Roomba, preventing it from potentially getting caught in your computer cables or getting water damage from that wet spot near the cat’s water bowl.
When the Roomba detects a virtual wall barrier, software prompts it to go the other way in order to avoid that specific area. The Roomba 960 comes with one virtual wall barrier, while the Roomba 980 has two of these, allowing for greater versatility.
The Roomba 960 has 5 times the suction power of older generation Roomba models, allowing it to clean floors more effectively. In comparison, the Roomba 980 has even more suction power at 10 times that of older generation models.
Deep Cleaning on Carpets
Enhanced performance mode is available for the Roomba 980, which is activated when it detects carpets (the software identifies carpets as soft surfaces). This allows the robot to use even greater suction power in order to deep clean the carpet. The Roomba 960 does not have this function.
The Roomba 980 and 960 are very similar in everyday functionality. However, when you need something that’s just that touch better than your average vacuum robot, especially if you have a considerable carpeted floor space, the Roomba 980 would be the model to choose.
It has greater ability to deep clean and longer battery life than the Roomba 960.
Here, you would have to weigh up required functionality and cost, since the Roomba 980 is more expensive than the Roomba 960.
It should be noted that the Roomba range can only be used on dry surfaces. If you need automated cleaning in a potentially wet area, it would be better to use one of the iRobot Braava mopping robots.