The Roomba 980 is easily one the top rated, most reviewed and purchased robot vacuum of our time. When it was released, it was the most advanced, highest powered and technological wonder ever. Aside from that, it cleans really well, too. Since, other Roomba models, like the 985, started appearing and making waves.
This article looks at the differences of the Roomba 985 vs. the Roomba 980 to find out if these small nuances are worth the cost, the availability and your floor’s cleanliness. I will also cover the real-world cleaning ability of each machine and show you which robot is best for you. If you are in a hurry, the Roomba 980 is the better deal. Read on to find out why I say this.
- 1 Differences between Roomba 980 and 985
- 2 Similarities between the Two Robot Vacuums
- 3 Comparison Chart
- 4 Comparing the Roomba 985 to the Roomba 980 in Detail
- 5 Frequently Asked Questions
- 6 What I Like About the Roomba 980
- 7 What I Like About the Roomba 985
- 8 Conclusion
Differences between Roomba 980 and 985
The actual differences between the 980 and 985 are slight. Almost to the point they only matter to your pocketbook or wallet. Let’s take a look at those differences now.
- The biggest difference in terms of performance comes in what is included. The 980 includes a second virtual wall barrier and an extra side brush that the 985 doesn’t offer.
- The Roomba 985 was a Costco exclusive. You cannot purchase the 985 through iRobot and it is only recently available through Amazon. The 980 is the model sold everywhere (except Costco).
- Because the 985 was only sold at Costco, the price was set by the retail giant. The lower cost (compared to the 980) came at the expense of the missing extra features.
Similarities between the Two Robot Vacuums
While every other aspect of these two Roomba models are the same, I want to cover a few of the more important similarities for you here.
- Navigation and Mapping. Both models use the second adaptation of the iAdapt navigation (iAdapt 2.0) which includes the use of cameras for mapping and better navigation in the home.
- The 985 and 980 use high-efficiency filters that are HEPA rated to help reduce in-home allergens.
- Recharge and Resume. Because both models can map your home, they can also resume cleaning after pausing to recharge the batteries, which they do automatically.
- WiFi controls. The 980 and 985 both use wireless communications that allow mobile app and voice controls.
- Floor types cleaned. The two robots use brushless extractors that are capable of cleaning any floor type, including hard flooring and high-pile carpeting.
- Containment methods. Both the 985 and 980 use the dual-mode virtual wall barriers and some are included with each purchase.
Have a look at the specifications of each robot to find out if they have what it takes to be in your home.
|Up to 120 minutes
|Up to 120 minutes
|Collection Bin Capacity
|1 (extra included)
|1 Virtual Wall Barrier
|2 Virtual Wall Barriers
|Check on Amazon
|Check on Amazon
Comparing the Roomba 985 to the Roomba 980 in Detail
In this section, I will compare the 980 and 985 on their differences first. The rest of the review will cover how they clean and how their functionality helps keep your floors presentable.
Where to Shop for the Two Models
The primary difference (though not the largest one) is where these two models are bought and sold. Upon the initial release, the Roomba 980 was the public version that was freely available to anyone with the funds to cover the cost.
You could buy the 980 directly from iRobot, through Amazon and several retail shops, home improvement stores and hardware stores around the world. On the other hand, the Roomba 985 was sold only through Costco.
Today, because of its age, the 985 is still sold in some Costco stores, but it is now also available on Amazon. The lower cost of the 985 is a Costco exclusive, but the online retailer, Amazon, has low prices of its own.
The fact that the two models are now sold through Amazon makes this difference a mute point. However, the 980 is still more readily available than the 985.
Bottom Line: The 980 wins this round because it is available in more places and usually at the same price.
Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barriers Make Containment Easy
The Roomba containment is among the best. In terms of physical containment options, the towers they have produced and released over the years have always been at the top of the game. These infrared barriers work well, are affordable and can be used almost anywhere.
The dual-mode virtual wall barrier uses infrared beams (linear, a straight beam of 10-feet, or halo, a ring with a 4-foot diameter) to prevent the robot from crossing. When the RCONN sensor on the top of the robot senses the infrared beam, it changes direction as if it has come into contact with a wall.
The 980 and 985 are both compatible with the DMVWB. The 985 comes with one tower. The difference in the models, is that the 980 comes with two towers. While you can purchase more barriers, if you decide you need them, starting with two for the price of the robots is a slightly better deal.
Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 wins as it comes with a second barrier. Of course, this can be seen as a loss, if you don’t require the barriers and want to save on the initial cost.
Control Options Get Extended
The three primary control options are local controls and two versions of wireless controls; voice and mobile apps.
The two robots use the same controls and have the same abilities, so I will only cover them briefly here. First, the local controls now consist of three options. The two minor options are to perform a spot clean or send the robot back to the Home Base charging station.
A spot clean is done by placing the robot in a specific spot and pressing the spot clean button. The robot will start cleaning in an ever-widening spiral to about 3-feet. The 980 or 985 will then spiral back in to the original spot and shut down, awaiting further instructions.
The other options (Home and Clean) will send the robot home, or start an unscheduled cleaning session. For any other controls, you will need to use the other methods.
Those methods are the voice commands and the use of the iRobot Home App. Using Amazon Alexa skills or the Google Assistant, you can start, stop, pause and resume a cleaning session. You can even use your voice to create, edit or delete a schedule.
The mobile app has these same control options, but also allows you to get reports, see cleaning times, battery status and cleaning updates.
The mobile app is the most inclusive and easiest form of control. If you plan to set up any form of wireless communications, you will need the mobile app to do so.
Bottom Line: The controls are the same for both models. Using the mobile app is the fastest, easiest control method offered.
3-Stage Cleaning Includes HEPA Filtration
The older models, such as the Roomba 670, use the original cleaning methods collectively known as AeroVac. This became superseded by the latest version, AeroForce. The 900 series robots, including the 980 and 985, use this more advanced method of cleaning.
The three stages, suction, collection and filtration, are better and more thorough. The motor is more powerful, creating more suction and a deeper clean. Along with the extraction methods (which I cover next), carpet is better agitated and cleaned, while hard flooring is quickly swept and suctioned.
The filtration is HEPA rated (iRobot calls it “high-efficiency”) which means it does help reduce in-home allergens. Allergy-inducing particles such as pollen, mold spores, pet dander and dust mites are trapped in the filter and prevented from reentering your home’s air and floors.
The exhaust air is not diffused and can push lighter debris around. This problem is prevalent in all Roomba models and was a cause for some concern. However, the robot is thorough and even the lighter debris is collected. This diffusion issue is fixed in the latest model, the Roomba s9 and s9+.
All collected debris is stored in 0.5L capacity collection bins. The bins need to be emptied regularly but the robots will pack them full. While the bins are not water washable, like the i7 and i7+, they still need to be wiped and cleaned out after every second or third cycle.
Bottom Line: The AeroForce cleaning system works well to produce human-like cleaning patterns, better filtration, and deeper cleaning. This is a tie since both robots use the same system.
Extraction Methods are far Superior to Earlier Models
The use of bristle brush rollers quickly became outdated. The rubber-paddled rollers used by the 980 and 985 agitate better, sweep better and collect debris better than any brush roller on the market.
Their rubber paddles don’t get tangled with hair, fur or carpet fibers as much. When they do, though, cleaning is nothing more than a simple wipe with your hand to clear any build-up completely. The entire cleaning process takes less than a minute and doesn’t require any special tools.
On the Roomba models, these rollers are known as “tangle-free brushless extractors.” Aside from the mouthful to say, they are truly superior to any brush roller on the market. The two rubber paddles roller work together to agitate carpet (instead of the single roller of the earlier models.
This allows for a deeper agitation and more dirt and debris loosened and lifted for collection. When the rollers pick up something they can’t handle (i.e. a sock, power cord, etc.) the robot will stop and reverse the rollers to free itself. When successful, the 980 and 985 will move around the obstacle. If unsuccessful it will shut down to prevent damage and alert you with a tone.
Bottom Line: The brushless rollers are the best extraction method currently available, both in performance and maintenance terms.
How Well Do the Roomba 980 and 985 Clean, For Real?
When doing online research it is easy to fall prey to the marketing and videos of these robots cleaning. You often see the small, boxed off areas where the robots are placed and a small, specifically measured amount of rice, or cereal placed lightly on the floor.
This isn’t real life. Your floors get walked on, spills are pre-measured and when something is knocked over or tracked in, it is crushed, stomped, embedded in the flooring. So, honestly, how well do these guys perform in your home? Let’s find out.
When it comes to cleaning carpet, aside form the i- and s-series robots, there aren’t any robots that do it better. The multi-speed motor detects carpeting and ramps up the power, creating better suction and more agitation.
As mentioned above, the brushless rollers are the best on the market and deal well with all types of carpeting, including your high piles, throws and area rugs. Tassels and fringe will still give the robots problems, of course. However, the anti-tangle design means less getting stuck.
The clean isn’t as good as your standard upright vacuum, but it is better than a stick vacuum or a handheld. With the Roomba 980 or 985 cleaning daily, you can leave the upright in the back of the closet for a much longer time.
On Hard Floors
There are a couple of struggles when it comes to cleaning hard flooring. Hey, no robot is perfect. The 980 and 985 will clean your hard flooring, in most instances, better than you can. The main problem comes with the speed of the side brush and the power of the un-diffused exhaust. Combined, these two issues push lighter debris around the flooring.
Now, the robots will get everything, eventually, but they tend to make a bigger mess before they are finished. Along the edges, most of the debris is collected, though you will find that the corners don’t get as clean as you’d hope. For the most part, though, your hard flooring surfaces will stay clean and presentable at all times, until it is time to mop.
Dealing with Pet Hair
The brushless extractors are the true hero here. Pet hair, human hair, long strings and even carpet fibers are no match for these rollers. They collect it all and rarely get tangles. The two rollers counter-rotate and interlock with one another’s paddles. This helps to keep the roller clean, but also works to separate larger pieces for easier collection.
You will, of course, get things that wrap around the rollers. With the simple thumb press of the release button, the two rollers pop out. Make sure you pull off the end caps, as most of the wraps will end up here. Remove and build-up from the end caps and wipe the rollers down between your fingers and they are ready to reassemble. It couldn’t be quicker or easier.
Unlike older models, the 980 and 985 won’t get so clogged with hair that they need to be cleaned mid-use. You can wait until the scheduled clean is finished, or even wait a coupe of cleaning sessions, if you need to. When it comes to pet hair, the 980 and 985 are among the best.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now, I want to take a few moments to answer some of the more pressing questions that arise. Of course, if you have unanswered questions, you can use the comment section below.
Q. What kind of warranty can I expect with the Roomba 985 and 980?
A. All Roomba robots come with a 30-day buy back promise followed by a 1-year warranty on craftsmanship and parts. The battery also comes with a 12-month warranty.
Q. How do I contact iRobot/Roomba?
A. The fastest method is to call them directly at 1-800-727-9077. If you visit the contacts page, you can also get department specific email address or a link to initiate a live chat session.
Q. Where can I find the best deals on replacement parts?
A. You can get replacement parts online through the iRobot shop going all the way back to the 400 series. However, for the best availability, pricing, shipping and support, it is recommended that you get your filters, rollers, side brushes and even replacement wheels though Amazon.
Q. Why are there different model numbers if the robots are the same?
A. The 980 and 985 are the same robot. iRobot has a deal worked out with various trusted vendors for specific models. In this case, the 985 being sold exclusively through Costco. Costco agrees to sell the robot to their members, but requests a separate part number. The basic reason for this is so that Costco doesn’t have to honor coupons for the 980, since they technically sell the 985.
What I Like About the Roomba 980
- Excellent cleaning power on carpets of all pile types.
- Rubber extractors won’t scratch any surfaces.
- Includes two barriers, an extra filter and extra side brush.
What I Like About the Roomba 985
- Long battery life with Recharge and Resume functionality.
- Doesn’t get tangled on power cords or larger items left on the floor.
- Includes one barrier tower and an extra filter.
Your floors deserve the best clean possible. To keep them presentable at all times, it is recommended that you have a robot vacuum assist you between regular cleanings with your upright model. The Roomba 980 and Roomba 985 are among the best for this purpose.
Both models handle all floor types, pet hair and spot cleaning. They also use advanced technology to thoroughly map and navigate your home, reducing collisions and cleaning in more human-like patterns.
However, the 980 comes with two virtual wall barriers and an extra filter and side brush. The slightly higher cost is warranted with these inclusions, and is therefore my pick for the better option.