Roomba 980 on the right and Roomba e5 on the left

Roomba e5 vs Roomba 980 – Let’s Compare!

When iRobot released the Roomba i7, it was touted by the company as the greatest robot they have ever made; Unseating the Roomba 980 as the top-tier model. Some believe the Roomba 980 is still the best of the best. However, the release of the budget-friendly Roomba e5 is still turning heads.

While the two models are in different classes, there is a lot of debate on which one is actually the better deal. This article will compare the Roomba e5 and the 980 to find out which one is better for you, your home and your wallet. In short, the Roomba 980 comes out on top. Let’s find out why.

Differences between Roomba e5 and Roomba 980

Both models offer a lot of the same features and options. However, there are some key differences you should be aware of.

  • The Roomba 980 will clean up to a half hour longer than the Roomba e5.
  • After a recharge of the battery, if the entire floor hasn’t been cleaned, the 980 will return to where it left off and continue. The e5 will not return nor continue.
  • There is camera based navigation on the 980 that the e5 doesn’t have.
  • The collection bin on the e5 is larger than that of the 980. The e5 bin is also washable where the 980’s bin is not.

Similarities of Roomba e5 and 980

The two Roomba models have a lot of things in common. It is important to know which features they both share to help you make a more informed decision.

  • Each model uses the second version of the iAdapt navigation technology (iAdapt 2.0) although the camera system has been removed from the e5 model.
  • Both machines use the 3300mAh lithium-ion battery and monitor the battery for a low charge.
  • When there is a low charge, both robots will return to the charging station to recharge their batteries.
  • Each robot uses wireless communications to allow controls from mobile apps and voice commands.
  • Both the 980 and the e5 are rated to clean all floor types and use the brushless extractor bars to do so.
  • The Roomba 980 and Roomba e5 each come with a virtual wall barrier for containment purposes.

Comparison Chart

Let’s see the two machines side by side to get an idea of what each one offers you and your home.

Roomba 980 Roomba e5
Size 13.8×13.8×3.6 inches 13.7×13.7×3.6
Weight 8.7 pounds 7.9 pounds
Navigation iAdapt 2.0 iAdapt 2.0
Battery 3600mAh lithium-ion 3600mAh lithium-ion
Runtime Up to 120 minutes Up to 90 minutes
Charge Time 3 hours 3 hours
Automatic Recharge Yes Yes
Entire Level Clean Yes No
Carpet Boost Yes Yes
Drop Sensors Yes Yes
Bump Sensors Yes Yes
Dirt Detection Sensors Yes Yes
Camera Navigation Yes No
Wireless Communications Yes Yes
Mobile App Yes Yes
Voice Controls Yes Yes
Floor Types All All
Collection Bin Capacity 0.5L 0.7L
Washable Collection Bin No Yes
Side Brushes 1 Side Brush 1 Side Brush
Containment Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier
Warranty 1 year 1 year
Price Check on Amazon Check on Amazon

Comparing Roomba 980 and Roomba e5 in Detail

Let’s get a breakdown and an apples to apples comparison of the features and options of the two robots. You should be able to make up your mind which is better for you by the end of this section.

The Batteries in Both Models are Identical, Though Not Used the Same

Both the Roomba 980 and the e5 use the largest battery iRobot offers. The 3300mAh lithium-ion monster supplies all the power that the Roomba vacuums need. There is a slight difference you should take note of, though. The 980 is more efficient with its use of the battery than the e5 is.

This almost seems improbable as the 980 has more pieces relying on the power source than the e5 does. With the camera based navigation and mapping features, the 980 should use more battery than the Roomba e5 that is without these features.

The truth is, though that the 980 is a much more efficient machine when it comes to battery usage. With the 980 model, you will get up to 120 minutes of runtime. If you have all hard flooring, this will equate to about 1400 to 1600 square feet of coverage. Mix in carpeting and this will drop to about 1200 square feet of coverage.

When the battery falls below 15 percent charge remaining, the 980 will return to the charging station and recharge the battery. This cycle will take about three hours to complete. When the charging cycle is complete, though, the 980 will undock and resume cleaning right where it left off, if there is more floor space to clean.

The Roomba e5, on the other hand, will give you up to 90 minutes of runtime. On hard flooring, this equates to about 1200 square feet of coverage. When you add in carpeting, this will drop to between 900 and 1000 square feet.

Like the 980, the e5 will return to the charging dock for about three hours while the battery recharges. However, once the charge cycle is complete, you will have to manually restart the cleaning cycle if the job wasn’t finished. There isn’t a mapping feature in the e5 to tell it where to return to or what is remaining to be cleaned.

Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 wins. With a more efficient battery usage as well as entire level cleaning feature, it’s an easy win over the less efficient e5.

Navigation and Sensors of the e5 are Modeled From Those of the 980

The navigation system of the Roomba line up is named iAdapt. Starting way back with the 400 series on through the i7 series. iAdapt has been the core of how the robots vacuum, clean and run. When the camera-based navigation of the late 900 series was released the iAdapt firmware git a major overhaul and was released as iAdapt 2.0.

Because of changes with the i7 series, iAdapt went through another change and was released as iAdapt 3.0. With the 2.0 upgrade, cameras were introduced as a sensor and map building feature. The 3.0 released added Imprint Smart Mapping, memory recall and the ability to store and use up to 10 different floor plans.

Now that the history lesson is over, what is the point of knowing all of this? Because the 980 uses iAdapt 2.0 and the e5 uses none of the above. Essentially, the e5 uses the same technology as the i7 that is was released alongside.

However, it doesn’t make use of any of the 3.0 upgrades such as multi-room navigation, single room cleaning or Imprint Smart Mapping. The e5 also doesn’t make use of any of the 2.0 upgrades either. There isn’t a camera to create a map and no manner to resume cleaning after a battery recharge.

The problem is that the parts are all there; the functionality has just been disabled. I call the e5’s navigation system iAdapt 2.5, even though this isn’t a real thing. It uses the advancements in sensors that the 3.0 software relies on, but has none of the components. This is the most likely reason the battery is so inefficient; supplying power for things that technically aren’t there.

Roomba 980 Navigation Technology is Simple and Useful

The Roomba 980 uses the iAdapt 2.0 technology and actually makes use of it. The camera-based navigation and sensors allow the robot to not only maneuver around your home without a lot of banging into things, but also allows the machine to perform a more human-like cleaning pattern.

The camera takes low-resolution photos every few seconds to build a rudimentary three-dimensional map in its memory. This map allows the robot to know where it is, where it has been and where it has left to go.

Even after a battery recharge cycle, the 980 can return to where it left off and continue the clean until the entire home is completed.

The Rest of the Sensors Remain Unchanged, Which is What the e5 Relies on

The other sensors besides the camera are the drop sensors, the bump sensors and the dirt detection sensors. All of these help the 980 stay in position and give you the most efficient clean possible.

These sensors are also the only ones that the Roomba e5 uses. Because there is no camera involved with the e5, there isn’t a mapping feature or human-like cleaning patterns. It still uses the pseudo-random cleaning patterns we have all come to love with most robot vacuums.

While the sensors have received an upgrade and work and respond better on the e5 (and the latest i7) than they have in all previous models, the e5 is still not as thorough as the 980 with the mapping and regular cleaning pattern.

Bottom Line: The Roomba 980 wins. Camera-based navigation, even a generation older, is still better than sensor-based navigation.

The Roomba e5 Collection Bin is Made Better. Does it Help With Maintenance?

One thing the 980 had was an extremely simple maintenance routine. With the use of the brushless extractors, you simply pressed a release button, removed the extractor caps and wiped off the bars.

The rest of the maintenance routine was just as simple. Wipe off the sensors to keep them clear of dirt, dust and debris. Follow that up with a check of the side brush for wear and tear, replacing as needed (about once a year). Make sure the wheels and vent ports were clear of debris and then empty the collection bin.

When you empty the collection bin, you should wipe it out as well, cleaning the fill sensors and getting as much dust out as possible. Pull out the HEPA quality filter and knock it off to get the larger debris out, replacing as needed (about every four to six months).

Once you have done the maintenance a few times, the entire process only takes about five minutes. It remains one of the strongest selling points of the Roomba 980 models.

Roomba e5 Introduces a Washable Collection Bin

The only thing to change as far as maintenance goes is the new style of the collection bin. First off the motor was repositioned inside the robot to allow for better airflow and suction power. This allowed iRobot to increase the capacity of the collection bins from 0.5L to 0.7L. The extra space means you can go longer without having to empty the bin on the e5 than you can on the 980.

Aside from being a larger capacity bin, the collection bin is now washable. Instead of having to use a dry cloth to wipe out the remaining dust, you can run it under a tap to wash out all the left behind gunk.

Do not place it in the dishwasher though, it isn’t designed for high-heat water and will warp in the wash. While you should thoroughly dry the bin before reuse, a few drops aren’t going to hurt anything. Because of the motor being repositioned, any moisture from the bin will no longer drip into the motor area. I would still be cautious though and not tempt fate.

Other than that the maintenance routine is the same. You will still wipe off the body and sensors, replace the side brushes and filters as needed and clean the vent ports and parts from dirt, dust and debris to keep everything running smoothly. All in all, after some practice the entire routine, including washing the collection bin should only take about 8 to 10 minutes.

Bottom Line: This round is a tie. While the 980 routine is faster, the e5 routine produces an overall cleaner machine, counteracting the extra few minutes it takes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Let’s answer some of the more common questions about the two machines to clear anything up. If you still have questions or comments, please use the comment section below the article.

Q. Do the two models come with containment options?

A. Every Roomba is compatible with every containment option iRobot makes. The sole exception is the Imprint Smart Mapping found on the mobile app that is exclusive (at this point) to the i7 models.

However, as far as physical containment options there are three: The Virtual lighthouse, the Virtual Wall and the Dual Mode Virtual Barrier. Each one uses infrared beams to control where the robot can and cannot go.

Both the Roomba 980 and e5 use the latest version, the dual mode barriers, and come with a single tower each. You can purchase more, and for less than $100 you will get a pack of two.

Q. What type of filter do they use?

A. Both the 980 and the e5 use the iRobot high-efficiency filter. This is a HEPA certified filter that will capture up to 99 percent of in-home allergens.

While keeping the motor areas clear of dust and build up, the filters are also effective at capturing such things as pollen, dust mites, pet dander and mold spores. All things that can trigger allergies while in your own home.

Q. I have a lot of different flooring types in my home, will either model clean all of them?

A. Both models will, actually. Because of the brushless extractors, the 980 and e5 are safe to use on all floor types.

Hard flooring (even soft surfaces like pine or sealant) won’t be scratched or marred. When it comes to carpet, both are rated to clean low, medium and high pile carpeting. If you find that certain carpeting, tassels, fringe or shag get caught in the rollers, the Robots will attempt to free themselves.

In most cases, they will be able to untangle and move around the offending carpet. If they cannot, though, they will shut down, sound an alert and wait for you to rescue them.

What I Like About the Roomba 980

  • High power motor capable of cleaning all floor types.
  • Super simple controls, mobile apps and voice commands for everyday use.
  • Maintenance is one of the easiest routines in the industry.

What I Like About the Roomba e5

  • Budget-friendly design and functionality.
  • Large, washable collection bin to help keep things clean and operational.
  • Mobile app and voice command controls are among the best in the business.

In Conclusion

Both the Roomba 980 and the Roomba e5 are a fit for a lot of different homes. Picking the right model for you can be a bit tricky. Do you go for the known reliability and added features of the 980 or the cost-saving cleaning of the e5?

If you choose the Roomba e5, you are going to get most of the features from the 900 and i7 series robots. What you will miss out on is the camera-based navigation, some mobile app and voice command controls and a battery that isn’t as efficient as it should be. You will have a budget-friendly robot that can tackle virtually any floor and will clean better than most entry and mid-tier level robots on the market.

Choosing the Roomba 980 though is a little bit better of an idea. While it will cost more, you will get the camera-based navigation resulting in a more thorough clean every time it ruins through your floors. You will have the full experience with the mobile app and voice controls and even get to save a little bit of money as the price continues to drop with the i7 gaining popularity.

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