Updated: August 27, 2022
There are so many robot vacuums from iRobot, it’s almost impossible to know which Roomba to buy without doing a little bit of research. This Roomba comparison explains what the differences are between each model in detail.
This Roomba comparison is very in-depth. For those who don’t have the time to read the whole thing, here’s the quick comparison, listed in order of decreasing cost:
👉 If you don’t mind spending money, the Roomba s9+ is the best robot vacuum on the market right now, it will empty its own dust bin (and also your bank account).
👉 If you have any pets that may leave unwanted “presents” for you on the floor, the Roomba j7 or Roomba j7+ is the way to go. It has a front-facing camera for identifying obstacles so it can avoid driving into pet waste and making a mess over the whole house.
👉 If you want a good balance of price and features: get the Roomba i7. 👈 The i7 does not empty itself, but saves you a couple hundred bucks vs the i7+ (which does auto-empty). In my experience, it’s not that much work to empty the dust bin yourself. Also, if you ever change your mind and want upgrade it to an i7+ later, you can always buy the clean base itself separately.
👉 If you want the most bang for your buck: go with the Roomba i3. 👈 It has advanced navigation technology and brushless rollers, which makes maintenance painless.
👉 If you are very tight on budget and don’t mind occasionally cleaning out trapped hair from the brushes and a random cleaning pattern, get the Roomba 675.
Most of these robot vacuums come in a “plus” and “regular” version. When a model number has a “+” sign at the end, it means it comes with an auto-emptying docking station. For example, the j7+ is the auto-emptying version whereas the j7 is the exact same vacuum but without an auto-emptying home base.
There are some great Roomba deals on Amazon today:
- $50 off on the Roomba i3
- Pros: brushless rollers, smart navigation, good basic vacuum, good price
- Cons: no "keep out zones" feature found on higher end Roombas
- $289 off on the Roomba i7 <-- hot deal
- Pros: efficient cleaning, logical navigation
- Cons: no front camera for obstacle avoidance, no auto-empty
- $200 off on the Roomba j7
- Pros: front camera for obstacle avoidance, best "bang for your buck"
- Cons: no auto-empty
- $200 off on the Roomba j7+
- Pros: obstacle avoidance, auto-emptying
- Cons: none
- $200 off on the Roomba s9+
- Pros: strongest suction, wider brushrolls, improved corner cleaning, auto-emptying
- Cons: price
Or see all current robot vacuum deals
- 1 Quick Summary
- 2 Comparison Table
- 3 Roomba 694
- 4 Roomba 675
- 5 Roomba e5
- 6 Roomba i3+
- 7 Roomba i7
- 8 Roomba i7+
- 9 Roomba j7+
- 10 Roomba s9+
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions about Roombas
- 12 Which Roomba Model is Best for these Specific Situations?
- 13 Older Models (May Not be Available Anymore)
- 14 iRobot Roomba Conclusion
|692/694||e5||Roomba i3+||Roomba i7+||Roomba s9+|
|brushrolls||1 bristled brush, 1 antitangle rubber roller||2 rubber rollers||2 rubber rollers||2 rubber rollers||2 rubber rollers|
|WiFi & app||yes||yes||yes||yes||yes|
|navigation||random (bump and turn)||random (bump and turn)||smart||smart||smart|
|recharge & resume||yes||yes||yes|
|auto emptying home base||included||included||included|
|non-autoemptying version||yes (Roomba i3)||yes (Roomba i7)||yes (Roomba s9)|
|specific room cleaning||yes||yes|
|keep out zones||yes||yes|
Choosing a robot vacuum should not be so hard. As good as iRobot Roombas are, the information found on manufacturer iRobot’s official website can be vague and somewhat misleading. Not every feature is a must. Only current iRobot Roomba models are included in this review to keep the information relevant and digestible. You will find out what makes each Roomba model different from another, what to like and what not to like, and which Roomba is best for specific situations (long hair, pet hair, multilevel homes, etc).
The most basic of the Roomba lineup in 2022.
I will refer to just the 694 in this article, but keep in mind the Roomba 692 and 694 are identical vacuums.
Perhaps calling this the most basic Roomba is a bit of an insult to the 694. If we rewind a couple years, this would be one of the best robot vacuums money can buy.
If you don’t have pets or family members with long hair, or if you don’t mind occasionally cleaning out hair stuck in the vacuum, the Roomba 694 may be a good vacuum for you. But if you do have long hair or pets, I would skip this model because hair getting trapped in the brushes is the main drawback of the Roomba 694.
Other than that, it does everything a robot vacuum is expected to do, including the following.
It’s equipped with dirt-detect and drop sensors. The dirt detect sensor tells the robot to spend more time cleaning problematic areas. The drop sensor keeps the Roomba from careening off any ledges or stairs in your home. This means extra clean floors and no broken Roombas.
It is WiFi and app connected. Using the iRobot app, you can customize your cleaning preferences and set a schedule for it to clean while you are away from home.
It uses a “random” style navigation. To ensure complete coverage of your floor, the 694 uses a psuedo-random cleaning algorithm. This means that after the robot leaves its dock, it starts vacuuming in one direction, moving until it comes into contact with an obstacle. Then it turns itself away a random number of degrees, and moves in that new direction. This process is repeated until your house is cleaned. Although it sound chaotic, this “drunken sailor” approach to vacuuming actually results in pretty complete coverage of your living area.
Areas needing improvement
- Lacks smart navigation
- Tedious maintenance when hair inevitably gets stuck in rotating brushes
- If budget is your only concern, pick up the 694. The 694 is the most affordable vacuum on this list.
- If budget is your main concern but you also care about ease of maintenance, skip this model and pick up a Roomba with brushless rollers instead.
Same as the Roomba 694
The Roomba 675 and 694 similar in almost every regard. The main difference is that the 675 has a built in handle while the 694 does not. For more details, read my Roomba 675 vs 692 comparison.
Basic Roomba equipped with brushless rollers.
How is the Roomba e5 Different from the 694? – Brushless rollers (matters more than you think)
In the world of vacuums, brush-less rollers are no doubt the best thing since sliced bread. I love this new design so much that I no longer recommend vacuums with traditional rolling brushes. The manufacturer calls them “tangle-free debris extractors”, but all that means is no more bristle brushes.
Instead, you get two rubber rollers with protruding “feet” that beat and vibrate the floor as the Roomba moves around. The vibrations shake the dirt off the floor and into the path of suction.
Compared to the bristles on the Roomba 694, rubber rollers give you an equally clean floor but much easier maintenance. If you’ve ever tried to pull hair out of a traditional vacuum brush roller, you know how tedious the process can get.
With rubber rollers, hair rarely gets stuck in the Roomba e5. Even when they do, pulling out the hair is a trivial task. Just pop out the rubber rollers, and the stuck hair can be easily pulled out.
My wife has shoulder length hair, and so much of it ends up on our floors. The hair eventually ends up stuck on the brushes of our upright vacuum. If I don’t clean the hair out every so often, it would make this terrible burning smell–a combination of burnt hair and dust.
I hated cutting the hair out of the vacuum so much that I avoided vacuuming as much as I can, unless the carpet was starting to look gross or we were expecting a guest.
With the brushless Roombas, all the hair on the floor now ends up directly in the dust bin. We come home to a clean house and a dustbin full of hair and dust. Every time the Roomba vacuums, I look forward to seeing how much dust and hair it got this time. It is so satisfying to see all that hair and dust end up in the bin.
Navigation: The e5 navigates using a random pattern, just like the Roomba 694 above.
Areas needing improvement
- No smart navigation
- Not able to recharge and resume
This is a basic Roomba equipped with brushless rollers. Although I love the anti-tangle brushrolls, the lack of smart navigation makes this Roomba stuck in a awkward position on this list. I would go either one tier below or above and skip the e5.
Smart Navigation Roomba without a camera
This is when the Roomba lineup seriously steps up its game. The i3+falls in the middle of the pack in terms of specs. But in my opinion, this Roomba hits the sweet spot between price and features. This is a great robot vacuum for the price, and will last you many years.
How is the Roomba i3+ better than the e5? Smart navigation, recharge and resume, auto-emptying bin
Pro: smart navigation
Using the floor tracking sensors on the bottom of the machine, the Roomba i3+ is able to navigate your floorplan and vacuum it logically, like a human would. This is a huge step up from the “bump-and-turn” style navigation found in lower tier Roombas. Smart navigation covers your entire home much more efficiently.
Pro: recharge and resume
Recharge and resume is one of my favorite features of the modern Roomba lineup. When the Roomba i3+ detects that its batteries are running low, it will remember where it has already vacuumed, find its way back to the dock, and recharge itself. When it has enough juice to continue the job, the Roomba will return to that area and continue vacuuming your house until the whole house is completely cleaned. This feature basically renders battery life a non-issue, especially if you set the robot to clean while you’re not home.
Pro: auto-emptying bin
The i3+ comes with a auto-emptying home base. This is a large docking station with a disposable vacuum bag. When the Roomba i3+ finishes vacuuming, it will connect with the home base. The contents of the i3+’s dustbin are then suctioned into the docking station. This process is loud and actually quite startling the first couple times it happens.
Areas needing improvement
- No keep out zones
- Can’t specify which rooms to clean
- Self-emptying process is very loud
This is the robot vacuum I would recommend for most households, it strikes the best balance of price and features.
Advanced navigation without hefty price tag of i7+
How is the Roomba i7 Better Than the Roomba i3?
On the inside, the motor has been repositioned to take full advantage of the high powered suction with carpet boost. This allows it to pick up more debris.
The i7 models and above all use a camera to help it navigate. This gives it many advanced features. The robot will detect areas of your home that constantly need a deeper cleaning and pin those areas on its internal map. The i7 can now map and remember up to 10 different floor plans at the same time.
“Imprint Smart Mapping” is available. This means:
- You can label your rooms (kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc) and specify a cleaning on specific rooms only.
- You can use voice commands with Amazon/Google devices to say things like “Alexa, tell Roomba to clean the bedroom.” the robot will run off to clean just that room.
Areas Needing Improvement
- Not self-emptying (but can be upgraded)
If you have the budget for it, the i7 is hands down better than the i3. The only downside is the price. It doesn’t come with the automatic dirt disposal but you can always buy that separately later if you change your mind and effectively turn the i7 into an i7+.
Upgraded Roomba i7 with the ability to empty itself when docked
How is the Roomba i7+ Better Than the Roomba i7?
Difference 1: the large docking station allows it to self-empty. The i7+ has a special charging station + automatic dirt disposal called the “Clean Base” that allows it to empty itself.
For every other Roomba on the market, the dock has not changed much–they are low profile and don’t take up much floor space.
For the i7+, the Clean Base automatically sucks everything out of the dust bin every time it docks.
The process is loud, though. You won’t be able to muffle it and will definitely know when it is being used. If you’re a veteran Roomba owner, you know what the Roomba sounds like while it vacuums. The Clean Base is different, when the base turns on to suck the dirt out of the Roomba, it sounds like a full sized corded upright vacuum.
Granted, this noise only lasts a couple seconds. It is definitely noticeable though, even when you’re not in the same room. Unless you live in a mansion, you’ll be able to hear the robot empty itself no matter where you are in the house. This may be satisfying if you like to hear that your robot is indeed doing its job.
One thing we do have to give iRobot credit for is the design of the Clean Base, even though it looks HUGE, it doesn’t take up any more footprint than the Roomba itself. With the robot docked, the only additional space the Clean Base takes up is the 18.5 inches of “airspace” above the Roomba.
Difference 2: the dustbin is slightly different to accommodate self-emptying. While the size is the same as the i7, the i7+ bin has an opening with a rubber flap to allow the Clean Base to suck out the contents. The flap prevents the contents from escaping back to your floor. It is this seal that the Clean Base recognizes and begins suctioning out the contents.
Besides the above two differences, the robots themselves are identical. This means you can upgrade from the i7 to the i7+ if you change your mind later.
For this reason, I only recommend the i7+ if you absolutely hate emptying the dust bin. Although the i7+ is the best of the best, the i7 does everything just as well (minus the self-emptying). The price premium is quite high, and you can always upgrade later (but not downgrade)!
Areas Needing Improvement
- The Clean Base is very loud.
- Using disposable vacuum bags seems like a step backwards in this day and age. Not to mention it’s an added cost. Perhaps an optional reusable large dust bin may help. It’s really not that much work to empty a dust bin.
For people who really hate emptying the dust bin and people with severe dust allergies, the Roomba i7+ makes sense. For everyone else, the i7 is a much cheaper option.
The Roomba j7+ is similar to the i7+, but with a new front-facing camera to avoid obstacles
How is the Roomba j7+ Better Than the Roomba i7+?
The j7+ ‘s biggest improvement over the i7+ is the presence of a front-facing camera. iRobot moved the camera from the top of the robot to the front. This gives the j7+ the ability to see obstacles and navigate around them. The j7+ is capable of learning on the fly: when it comes across an object on the floor that it does not recognize, it will send you a picture via the iRobot app so you can decide what to do with it in the future.
If you have any pets that may accidentally leave unwanted “presents” for you on the floor, the j7+ (along with the non-auto-emptying j7) will be able to identify the pet waste and not drive itself into the mess like older robot vacuums would.
Another improvement over the i7+ is a much smaller docking station. The auto-emptying docking station is much smaller on the j7+, taking up significantly less vertical space. This gives you more flexibility in where you can place the home base. Note that although the home base is shorter, it holds the same amount dust as the home base of the i7+. The two use the same replacement dust collection bags.
The j7+ is an improvement over the i7+ is every aspect. If you ask pet owners who’ve had their robot vacuum smear poop all over the house, I’m guessing they would recommend the j7+ over all other vacuums. If you have pets, go with the j7 or j7+.
Better corner cleaning and the most powerful suction. The best vacuum on the market.
How is the Roomba s9+ Better than the Roomba i7+?
Difference 1: the Roomba s9+ has better edge and corner cleaning due to its shape and wider brushroll. iRobot took a cue from competitor Neato and completely changed the look of the Roomba. The robot is now D shaped and the brushroll has been moved from the middle to the front of the robot. This design is much better for getting into corners and I’m glad iRobot finally converted to this superior “D” shape. As you can see, moving the rollers to the the front of the robot allows the rollers to be (30%) wider. This means more efficient cleaning because each pass covers more ground.
Difference 2: suction is stronger on the Roomba s9+. The Roomba s9+ is able to pick up more embedded dirt from all surfaces better than the Roomba i7+ due to a stronger motor.
Difference 3: the navigation technology on the s9+ is more efficient. For some reason (most likely an improved navigation algorithm), the s9+ is more efficient when it comes to picking out the best cleaning path. While the i7+ is no slouch, the s9+ is faster than the i7+ in vacuuming the same exact room.
Areas Needing Improvement
- Too expensive
This is the Roomba for you if money is no object. The technology and performance of this robot vacuum speaks for itself.
Frequently Asked Questions about Roombas
Which Roomba is the best value?
For most people, the Roomba i3+ is the best value. It has the all of the essential features that make a robot vacuum great without breaking the bank. It strikes the best balance between price and features. These features are: powerful suction, ease of maintenance due to its brushless rollers, and the ability to navigate your house logically and efficiently.
Is it true that you can’t move a Roomba from one floor to another in a multi-story home because it only memorizes one floor?
In terms of mapping ability, there are 3 categories of Roombas. The Roombas in all 3 categories can be moved from one floor to another without issue, for different reasons.
Roomba models 6xx and 8xx (e.g. Roomba 675, Roomba 860) do not have any mapping ability, and therefore do not ever “learn” your home layout. This means it doesn’t matter if you move them from one floor to another. Note that the Roomba i6 and Roomba i8 are much newer than 6xx and 8xx Roombas, and both the i6 and i8 do have mapping and smart navigation.
Roomba models 960 and 980 do have mapping built-in. But every time they perform a new cleaning cycle, they will make a new map of the layout. In other words, these Roombas do not save or store the mapped out areas (at least the current software does not), so moving it to a different story of the house would not confuse it.
Roomba models that start with i, s, or j. (e.g. i7, s9, j7) also have mapping built in. It is able to memorize up to 10 floor plans. When you move it from one floor to another, it will use its internal maps to determine where it is located and clean accordingly.
Does the Roomba resume cleaning where it left off when the battery is low?
Yes, iRobot calls this feature “recharge and resume” and it is available on models starting with the number “9” and the i7 and i7+.
When the robot detects that it is running low on battery, it will return to its dock to charge. After charging, it will go back to where it left off and finish cleaning the entire floor.
Are Roombas Worth It?
The answer depends on how much use you will get out of it. Some people love their Roomba and don’t know how they lived so long without one, others rarely use their robot vacuums.
Roombas are great for maintenance cleaning, but are not currently powerful enough to clean the floor as well as a traditional upright vacuum. If you have pets, a Roomba will probably be worth it for you. The ability to vacuum your floor daily keeps the floor fur-free.
If you are too busy to manually vacuum regularly, the Roomba is probably worth it for you also. Coming home everyday to a freshly vacuumed floor is a great feeling and takes one more item off your todo list.
Why do you recommend the “brushless” models so much?
Robot vacuums are supposed to make your life easier. It kind of defeats the purpose of getting a Roomba if half the hair on your floor ends up tangled in the rolling brushes. If you’ve tried to manually extract stuck hair from a vacuum bristle, you know what a pain it can be.
The brushless models avoids this problem. When hair does get trapped on these rollers, extracting the hair is easy.
Which Roombas are brushless?
Roombas e5, i7, i7+, s9, and s9+.
Any Roomba with model numbers that begin in 8 or 9.
Is a home Wi-Fi network required for WiFi-capable Roombas? Do I have to download the iRobot app?
No, you do not have to have a home Wi-Fi network to use the internet connected Roombas.
Without a home network (and therefore the ability to use the app), the Roombas will still vacuum (you can just hit the physical Clean button), but you would miss out on the functions that require the iRobot Home app such as scheduling and changing cleaning preferences.
Since the internet connectivity is why some of these robots cost more, I’d recommend going with one of the more basic models if you anticipate not ever having WiFi in your home.
Are any of the older Roombas compatible with the self-emptying Clean Base?
Unfortunately, only the i7 can be upgraded to the i7+ by purchasing the Clean Base addon. The addon includes a special dust bin that is required to interface with the Clean Base. Older models are not compatible. This effectively turns the i7 into an i7+, which is the only self-emptying robot vacuum available today.
So if I have a multi-room layout in my home, should I not get an 800 series Roomba?
It depends on how much human interaction you would want in your cleaning.
If you are on a budget and don’t mind manually picking up the Roomba and placing it in the room you want it to vacuum, any of the 800 series is fine.
But if you want to take a more “hands-off” approach, you will probably be better off with a 960. This robot is able to cover every inch of the floor in a logical and efficient manner.
For the ultimate “set it and forget it” vacuum, the Roomba i7+ and s9+ have all the features of the 900 series in addition to the ability to empty themselves.
Yes, most likely it will. Unless the height difference between two areas is very significant (i.e. over 3/4″), all current Roomba models should climb over the obstacle no problem with their 3 inch wheels.
Which Roomba has the most powerful suction?
The Roomba s9+ and s9 have the most powerful suction in the iRobot family. The Roomba i7+ and i7 are a close second. The suction power follows this trend and decreases as the price of the Roomba decreases.
Tip: unless you have very high pile carpet, you probably won’t need the Roomba s9+ or i7+. For example, the Roomba 960 strikes a good balance between price and suction power.
Will the Roomba leave markings on my walls?
Possibly. All robot vacuums will occasionally bump into your walls as they clean, and Roombas are no exception. If your walls/baseboards are easily “markable”, scuff marks will build up with repeated contact over time.
To minimize this effect, Roombas actually decelerate slightly as they approach a wall to soften the impact. If you would like to minimize the impact even further, try taping a strip of cushion/foam to the front half of your robot vacuum. It may not be pretty, but it will keep your walls pristine. Here is a ready-made solution if you are not the DIY type.
How loud are Roombas while they vacuum?
Since they use similar motors and suction technology, the noise levels do not vary significantly between all Roomba models. The noise level depends on the type of surface it is vacuuming.
On hard floors, the Roombas measure 65 to 70 decibels. They are quieter on carpet, measuring about 60 db. For comparison, a normal conversation is also about 60 db.
Although these are quiet by full size vacuum standards, they are not quiet enough for you to sleep while they clean.
How Good are Roombas at Cleaning Corners?
All Roombas have a spinning sidebrush that sweeps dirt into the suction path. In a regular room (where the corners are at 90 degrees angles) there will be a small triangle measuring about 1.5 inches in length where the side brush can’t reach. This means that those corners will never be vacuumed by the Roomba.
In practical terms, this has not caused any problems though, meaning that the corners of my house are clean and I don’t see any dust buildup in the shape of a triangle in the corners.
So the 900 series and the i7 can clean an entire level, but what about the 800 series?
iRobot only guarantees the 960 and 980 can clean an entire level because those are the only models with onboard cameras and visual navigation. They map the floor as they vacuum and do so in more-or-less straight lines. They have also been lab tested to cover up to 2,000 sq. ft.
The 800 series, on the other hand, cleans randomly. It will not clean an entire level if the layout is split into multiple rooms with doors and hallways. Most American homes probably fall into this type of layout.
My home has multiple rooms, would a 800 Roomba clean every single one of those rooms every day?
It would run for about 60 minutes, then return to the charging station. How far it gets is heavily dependent on the layout of your home.
Let’s say you have 1,500 sq ft split into a living room, two bedrooms, a bathroom, and a kitchen. You place the docking station and Roomba 860 in the living room and set its schedule to start cleaning every day at 10am. Would it clean every room?
In this layout, the 860 would probably not get to it all. This is because it uses a semi random pattern in determining where to go next. The area where the Roomba starts will always be vacuumed, but where the Roomba goes next is random.
The navigation technology of the 800 series uses the feedback from the sensors to make 60 decisions per second on where it goes, dictating 40 robotic moves.
What this translates to is not as impressive in real life. If it finds itself near an open doorway, it will probably move into it most of the time.
But without the charge and resume feature of the 900 series, it will likely not cover every room. It’ll vacuum as much as it can (which rooms it picks is up to chance), and return to the home base when it runs out of juice.
On the other hand, if you live in a giant studio that is just in the shape of a rectangle 1,500 sq ft large, the 860 would most likely vacuum all of it in one go, even with the nature of its random navigation.
Where should I buy the Roomba from?
Check out this page dedicated to current Roomba deals.
Which Roombas have “Keep Out Zones”?
The Roomba i7, i7+, s9, and s9+ have this feature.
How do “Keep-Out Zones” work?
From the iRobot smartphone app, you can draw boxes around areas you don’t want the robot to vacuum.
How does this help? You know that pesky corner under your kitchen cabinet that your Roomba always get stuck in? Draw a box around that area, and your Roomba won’t go there at all, and therefore won’t get stuck anymore.
It’s a way for you to tell your robot vacuum where in your house you don’t want it to go, making the robot work a little smarter (with your help). Setting up keep out zones significantly reduces the likelihood that you will need to rescue your Roomba.
You will know where to draw the boxes for the keep-out zones after spending a couple weeks with the Roomba in your house. It takes a few runs for the robot to map your layout, and a couple more for you to realize where it is likely to get stuck.
So you’re saying now I don’t need virtual walls anymore?
For older models: you still need virtual walls to block off sections of your home since the KOZ feature is not available on those models.
For the i7 and s9: Yes and no. For most people, there’s probably no more need for Virtual Walls. The KOZ feature takes care of that.
However, depending on how your family uses your home space, virtual walls might still be useful to temporarily block off an area.
For example, if your kids sometimes play in the den and leave their toys on the ground, you can temporarily block off that section more easily with a Virtual Wall. You just turn it on and place it in the den. When the toys are not there, turn off the VW, which is faster than editing the Keep Out Zones in the app.
Note that the S9 and S9+ do not come with any virtual walls.
Hair, Pets, and Pet Hair
If you have pets or a family member with long hair, pick anything but the 600 series vacuums. Not only are all the other models equipped with HEPA filters, they are a breeze to clean. With the 6XX vacuums, you will want to start pulling out your own hair out while trying to extract the hair that’s stuck in the vacuum itself.
For a more in-depth article, read our guide to choosing the best roomba for pet hair.
Flooring – Hard surfaces (such as hardwood, tile, marble, etc)
All the Roombas perform similarly on hard floors. Even though the different models claim 5x or 10x suction on their boxes, they all seem to pick up dirt well enough.
Flooring – Carpet
The best Roomba model for carpets are the Roomba i7 and the 980, because they have the strongest suction power of all the Roombas.
The 980 is older and does not have as many features as the i7 (e.g. “imprint smart mapping” which lets you pick specific rooms for cleaning). The two vacuums are similarly priced, so unless the 980 is significantly discounted, I would pick the i7 over the 980.
In practice, any of the Roombas in this guide will do a good job, but if you have high pile carpet and want the best of the best, the i7/i7+ is your best best.
Home Layout – Studio or One Bedroom
When it comes to simple layouts, any Roomba in this guide will do. Models starting with a “6”, “8”, or “e” use a pseudo-random cleaning pattern, zigzagging around your home until it covers every inch. The rest (namely the 960, 980, i7, and i7+) are more sophisticated and use a combination of sensors and cameras to map your house. They vacuum big open areas in straight lines, like a human would.
Either method will work, so the cheaper models are good enough.
Home Layout – 2+ Bedrooms
The best iRobot Roombas for households with multiple bedrooms are the 960, i7, and i7+. There are two reasons for this.
The first reason is that they are much more logical and efficient in navigating your home. The sensors and cameras allow these Roombas to know where they are and where they should go next (vs the random zigzagging of lower models).
The second reason is the ability of these models to recharge and resume vacuuming when they are low on battery. If you have a large home, this allows them to clean the entire floor of your home. The older Roomba models will just return to its dock when the battery runs low and not know where it has or hasn’t vacuumed. This will result in certain areas not getting cleaned if you have a particularly large or complex layout.
Home Layout – Multiple Stories
Unfortunately, there is no Roomba that can vacuum two levels in one go. The ability to climb stairs is just too complex for consumer robots with current technology. Some owners have suggested stationing your older vacuums on your upper levels when you get a new one.
Not everyone can afford two robot vacuums though. So until then, you can just pick it up and set it down on whichever level you’d like to be cleaned and press the big “Clean” button in the middle. The Roomba doesn’t care where it is placed, and will vacuum the area in its entirety.
Older Models (May Not be Available Anymore)
Roomba 960 – Great for most households, great price to value ratio
How is the Roomba 960 Better than the e5? – Visual Mapping + Recharge and Resume
The Roomba 960 is where the upgrades start to get really good. Although it was released way back in 2016, the 960 is still one of the best vacuums in the Roomba lineup. (Check Amazon for current price)
It was one of the first Wi-Fi enabled Roombas. You can set the Roomba’s cleaning schedule directly from the phone, and also change some preferences regarding how you’d like the Roomba to clean. The app also has reminders to tell you when the dust bin needs emptying and when the Roomba requires maintenance.
More importantly, the 960 is the first Roomba in this article that come equipped with visual sensors. These sensors use your furniture and walls as landmarks to create an internal map of your house.
All previous Roombas use a pseudo-random pattern to vacuum, resulting in the haphazard cleaning pattern that makes the Roomba seem drunk. With visual mapping, this Roomba can finally vacuum in a logical manner.
Vacuuming in a pseudo-random pattern is fine and actually produces great results after multiple passes, but it is just much more efficient to vacuum the floor in a logical, line by line, manner. If you have any hint of OCD, the lines traced by the Roomba 960 will satisfy that inner compulsion.
Finally, the 960 is able to automatically recharge when low on battery and resume vacuuming where it left off. This is a big deal because it means that no matter how large your home is, the Roomba 960 will be able to cover it all as long as it’s all on one single level.
It will vacuum as much as it can on its current charge, return to its base to recharge, then continuing vacuuming. This process continues until your whole floor is clean.
Areas needing improvement:
It’d be nice to have the option to self-empty, but considering the price difference, this is our favorite Roomba.
This is the best Roomba model to pick up if you want the best combination of price and features. The technology on the 960 are not just marketing buzzwords but actually result in a great user experience. Our top Roomba pick.
Roomba 980 – Great for carpet but expensive for what you get
How is the Roomba 980 better than the 960? – Higher Battery Capacity and Carpet Boost
The 980 is very similar to the 960 in terms of overall features, with the following differences:
The first difference is that it comes with two Virtual Wall Barrier accessories instead of just one. The Virtual Wall Barriers are nice to have, but one may already be enough for your household. You can also purchase them separately if you find that you need more. One or two should be enough for most households, though.
The second difference is that the 980 sports a better battery that gives it a continuous run time of 120 minutes instead of the 960’s 75 minutes. Given that both models are able to recharge and resume though, a bigger battery doesn’t mean too much to me. If I won’t be home when the Roomba is cleaning, who cares if it takes a break after 75 minutes to recharge?
The third difference is that the 980 sports a newer generation motor that the manufacturer claims to be 10x the suction power of the most basic Roomba.
The last difference is important for households with mostly carpet. The 980 is equipped with an additional “Carpet Boost” sensor that can tell whether it’s on carpet or a hard floor. When it detects carpet or area rugs, the motor is revved up to increase suction. The idea is that dirt is harder to vacuum off of carpet, so the more powerful suction will help compensate.
Areas needing improvement
The price is too high for what you get. As good as this Roomba is, it is slightly outdated. Skip to the next tier.
With the release of the i7, the Roomba 980 is stuck in a very awkward position. The i7 is equal or better in every way and it is cheaper. Skip this one and go one model down to the 960 (for price) or one level up to the i7 (for features).
iRobot Roomba Conclusion
If you made it this far, you are incredible! If you skipped around and scrolled to the bottom, that’s ok too, I won’t judge. Here is the rundown one more time:
- Roomba 675 : The most basic modern iRobot vacuum and also the lowest priced. It will automatically leave its dock, randomly navigate around your house until it covers most of the floor, then return to the dock to recharge automatically. It is unable to continue cleaning where it left off, since there are no mapping sensors.
Recommended for: budget conscious shoppers; homes with simple layouts; no pet hair or long hair.
- Roomba 890 : In addition to all the features of the Roomba 675, the 890 comes with rubber brushrolls. The main advantage of these bristle-less rollers is that hair is unlikely to get stuck in the bristles, making maintenance a breeze.
Recommended for: budget conscious shoppers; homes with simple layouts; pet hair or long hair.
- Roomba e5 : An updated Roomba 890, it has all of the same features but slightly better cleaning performance.
Recommended for: (same as the 890)
- Roomba 960 : This Roomba is my favorite because it has what I consider two of the most important features in a robot vacuum: the ability to navigate logically and continue where it left off.
Recommended for: everyone; homes with more than one bedroom; pet hair or long hair.
- Roomba i7/i7+ : A really advanced robot vacuum, it navigates logically and resumes where it left off. The i7 plus empties itself.
Recommended for: those with dust allergies; homes with more than one bedroom; pet hair or long hair.
- Roomba s9/s9+ : The best robot cleaner modern technology has to offer. There is no better robot vacuum on the market, period.
Recommended for: those who simply want the best of the best, regardless of the price.
Thank you for reading this lengthy Roomba comparison. Please let us know if you have any suggestions in the comments below. And if you found this article helpful, please share it with your friends!