Roomba 980 Review

The House Method team tested the iRobot Roomba 980 on carpets and hard floors and measured suction power, maneuverability, noise, mobility, and more. Read our full review here.

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If you’re in the market for a highly advanced robot vacuum, you’ve come to the right place. Maybe you find yourself unable to keep up with the constant pet hair and dust around your house, or maybe you simply can’t be bothered to lug out the heavy upright vacuum in your closet. Whatever the reason, if you’re looking to relieve yourself of your vacuuming duties, consider investing in a robotic vacuum.

The Roomba 980 is designed for the neat freaks, the exceptionally busy, and the people who want their only vacuuming responsibility to be lifting their feet when the robot comes around. Keep reading to determine if the iRobot Roomba 980 is right for you.

Overall score: 9.8/10

The value prop

With 120 minutes of clean time—the longest of any robot vacuum we’ve tested—the 980 can clean your home without hesitation. As iRobot’s most advanced vacuum to date, it comes with a variety of updated features like Smart Mapping, Dirt Detect Technology, and innovative carpet agitators. In our opinion, this is the best robot vacuum on the market.

Pros
  • It has a quick charging time and long battery life.
  • It features Visual Navigation and advanced mapping capabilities for complete cleaning coverage.
Cons
  • It may struggle with fine debris on high-pile carpet.
  • It’s loud on bare floors and low-pile carpet.

Roomba 980 design

The Roomba 980 is similar in size to previous Roomba models, but its technology is slightly more advanced. Like the Roomba 890, the 980 comes in a black and copper color scheme with a glossy interface on top. There are three buttons located on the top of its interface: a Home button on the left, a Clean button in the middle, and a Spot Clean button on the right.

It comes with tangle-free, dual multi-surface brushes and an edge-sweeping brush to pick up any debris in its path. A circular design allows the 980 to clean close to furniture and move in a spiral direction on spot cleaning mode. However, its round design means it can’t adequately clean corners as effectively as the Neato Botvac Connected.

Some other important design features of the Roomba 980 include:

  • A battery indicator—This indicator will pulse yellow when the vacuum needs to be charged or display a green light when the battery is full.
  • A Full Bin indicator—To prevent the Roomba from overworking, there’s a red trash can icon to note when the dust bin is full.
  • An advanced Gen 3 motor—This motor gives the 980 up to 10 times the air power of the Roomba 600 series.
  • A high-efficiency filter—Capturing 99% of dust and allergens, this filter is a top feature for those who suffer from asthma or allergies.

Vacuum assembly

The Roomba 980 comes securely packaged and assembled—the only real assembly you’ll have to do is charge the vacuum. The product manual states that the 980 comes with a partial charge; however, we were unable to turn the vacuum on before charging it completely. iRobot recommends charging your Roomba completely before use for a more optimal cleaning experience. This complete initial charge takes about two hours.

How the Roomba 980 cleans

Similar to the other Roombas, the Roomba 980 uses a three-stage cleaning process that agitates embedded dirt with its debris extractors, lifts debris from the floor, and sucks it into its dust bin with its spinning brush. Several sensors and an onboard camera help this Roomba detect obstacles in its path and create a visual map of your home to follow the next time it cleans. This memory mapping lets the vacuum travel on a consistent and efficient cleaning path during each cleaning cycle.

Before testing the Roombas, we didn’t expect them to have powerful cleaning ability, but the Roomba 980’s ability to effectively vacuum multiple surfaces blew us away. It actually performed much better all around than most of the stick, upright, and canister vacuums we reviewed. Its performance was nearly identical to the Roomba 960, one of the earlier Roomba models.

What to note about the Roomba 980

This robotic vacuum is comparable to the Roomba 960 in almost every aspect, but it’s slightly more expensive. The Roomba 980 needs light to use its camera sensor and effectively move around, so if you’re thinking of initiating the clean cycle at night or have darker carpets and area rugs, you may want to consider leaving lights on during a clean or opt for a different robotic vacuum.

See the best robot vacuums on the market.

How big is the Roomba 980?

Dimension Measurement
Height 3.6 inches
Length 13.9 inches
Width 13.9 inches
Dust canister 0.8 gallons

Accessories included with the Roomba 980

Unlike the earlier Roomba models, the Roomba 980 comes with two dual-mode virtual wall barriers instead of one. These devices allow you to create invisible barriers to prevent the vacuum from cleaning certain areas. The Roomba 980 also comes with a filter, a charging base, and a cord that connects the vacuum to the charging base.

iRobot Roomba 980 vs. iRobot Roomba 960 vs. iRobot Roomba 890

View this Roomba comparison chart to determine which iRobot vacuum is best for you. If you want a longer run time and bigger dust bin, opt for the Roomba 980.

Dust bin capacity
Weight
Run time
Charge time
Accessories

iRobot Roomba 980

Dust bin capacity

0.8 gallons

Weight

8.7 pounds

Run time

2 hours

Charge time

2 hours

Accessories

Two dual-mode virtual wall barriers, charging station, cleaning tool, extra filter

iRobot Roomba 960

Dust bin capacity

0.08 gallons

Weight

8.5 pounds

Run time

75 minutes

Charge time

2 hours

Accessories

Dual-mode virtual wall barrier, charging station, cleaning tool, extra filter

iRobot Roomba 890

Dust bin capacity

0.2 gallons

Weight

8.7 pounds

Run time

1 hour

Charge time

2 hours

Accessories

Dual-mode virtual wall barrier, charging station, cleaning tool, extra filter

Looking for more Roomba reviews? Check out more Roomba comparisons below.

Cleaning tests

We performed three different tests that measured suction power, maneuverability, and mobility on hard floors, low-pile carpet, and high-pile carpet. For our suction tests, we used Cheerios, kitty litter, coffee grounds, and pet hair.

Cleaning score: 9.92/10

Test 1—Suction test on hard floors

When the Roomba 980 first approached the substances on hard floors, it pushed them away with its edge-sweeping brush. However, it cleaned up each substance without any trouble after passing over the debris a second time.

Test 2—Suction test on high-pile carpet

The Roomba 980 performed better on the high-pile carpet than any other robot vacuum. It was able to remove even the finest materials, like coffee grounds, from the thick carpet in two passes. It also had no problem sucking up the Cheerios, kitty litter, or pet hair.

Test 3—Suction test on low-pile carpet

We were really impressed by how well the Roomba 980 did on low-pile carpet. This surface has proven to be the most challenging for the other robot vacuums we’ve tested, especially when trying to remove coffee grounds, so we weren’t sure how the 980 would fare. The Roomba picked up all four substances with ease.

Maneuverability

Multiple sensors, an onboard digital camera, strong wheels, and faster move speeds combine to create a highly maneuverable vacuum. With the camera and sensors, the Roomba 980 can configure a consistent path around your home, memorize that path, avoid obstacles, detect ledges, and return to its charging base.

Its circular design allows the vacuum to turn 360 degrees, giving it the ability to work around objects in one pass, and bigger wheels that give it more power to change surfaces and roll over large debris with ease.

Because of its low profile, the Roomba 980 is limited by which surfaces it can climb onto and which obstacles it can go under. It occasionally got stuck on carpet corners during our suction tests, but it didn’t get stuck to the point where we needed to intervene.

Usability

You can control the Roomba 980 from your smartphone, through the iRobot app, or by simply pushing the buttons located on the vacuum’s interface. Setting up the app is a simple process and iRobot gives step-by-step instructions on how to complete this. Once you’ve linked the app to your Roomba, you’ll be able to enjoy the convenience of controlling the vacuum from wherever you are.

Noise

The average noise level of a vacuum is between 78 and 80 decibels, however, robotic vacuums are generally much quieter than traditional vacuums. The Roomba 980 measured 67.1 decibels, which is comparable to the sound of normal conversation.

Roomba 980 maintenance

The Roomba 980 contains a small dust canister that can easily be removed and emptied in fewer than 20 seconds. Another bonus: you won’t have to touch the contents of the canister thanks to the robot’s no-touch emptying design.

In addition to emptying the dust bin whenever it gets full, iRobot recommends replacing these accessories as follows:

  • HEPA filter—2 months
  • Spinning brush—6 months
  • Front wheel—12 months
  • Debris extractor—12 months
  • Battery—18–36 months

In general, it’s a good idea to check your robot vacuum for tangles in the brushroll and issues with the filters to ensure your Roomba stays in top condition.

Filtration

As with the other Roomba vacuums, the Roomba 980 has a HEPA filter that should be replaced every two months.

Is the Roomba 980 a good value?

The Roomba 980 excels on all types of flooring, with its cleaning performance being just slightly better than the Roomba 960. We found the large dust bin and extended run time to be two of the best features of this vacuum, and we also thought the extra virtual wall barrier was a worthwhile addition, but this accessory can be purchased individually and doesn’t warrant the massive price difference between the 960 and the 980.

Overall, the Roomba 980 is without a doubt the most advanced Roomba and does an incredible cleaning job on multiple surfaces. If you’d like to take a more in-depth look at the Roomba 980 compared to the Roomba 960, check out our Roomba 960 vs. 980 comparison review to determine which model better suits your lifestyle.

Who should buy the Roomba 980?

We recommend the Roomba 980 if you’re looking for the following:

  • The best robot vacuum—With a two-hour run time, a large dust bin, updated technology, and a sleek, compact design, the Roomba 980 is a top contender when it comes to robot vacuums. It offers the best cleaning performance we’ve seen with any other robot vacuum and aced nearly all of our suction tests.
  • A solution to manual vacuuming—Robot vacuums provide a solution to people who don’t want to worry about taking the vacuum out and cleaning on a regular basis. This vacuum can be programmed to clean your floors when you’re away and spot clean messes as they occur.

Roomba 980 specifications

Below is a list of the most important iRobot Roomba 980 specifications.

Specifications
Type Robot
Manufacturer iRobot
Model Roomba 980
Length 13.9 inches
Width 13.9 inches
Height 3.6 inches
Weight 8.7 pounds
Run time 2 hours
Charge time 2 hours
Floor type All floors
Dust bin capacity 0.8 gallons
Cordless or corded Cordless
Bagless Yes
Warranty 1-year limited

Consumer ratings

See how other sites rate the Roomba 980.

Source Consumer rating Number of ratings
Amazon 4.2 stars out of 5 1,826
Bed Bath & Beyond 4.5 stars out of 5 2,552
Walmart 4.5 stars out of 5 2,261
Best Buy 4.7 stars out of 5 1,180
Sylvane N/A N/A

Customer reviews

I purchased the Roomba 980 as my fifth robotic vacuum (I’ve previously owned the Roomba 880, Neato BotVac 65, Roomba 655, Neato XV-11, and a few more). Long story short, this is by far the best robotic vacuum cleaner I’ve ever used, and I highly recommend it if you can stomach the price. You are getting a robot that’s second to none in terms of cleaning power, navigational finesse, and ease of maintenance.” — Amazon review

“I am a neat freak and I own two Dysons. We have three cats and a dog so animal fur is always everywhere! I would need to vacuum twice a day just to pick up the pet fur. I just turned 62 and am very tired of pulling out the vacuum to once again remove fur from my floors so I decided to try a Roomba. All I can say is, wow! This Roomba is better than my Dysons in picking up everything! But….the reason I’m giving it 4 stars is that it’s too good. Don’t think you can turn it on, leave for work and come home to clean floors. I named my Roomba “Rosie” after the maid in the old cartoon show: The Jetsons. Anyway, Rosie is so good I need to clean her basket between each charge. Our home is 2400 square feet and it takes Rosie about 9 hours to vacuum everything.” — Amazon review

Buy the Roomba 980

Frequently asked questions

How does the Roomba 980 navigate an entire level of your home?

At the start of a cleaning cycle, the Roomba 980 uses iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with Visual Localization to map out a series of small areas, cleaning them efficiently, one at a time. Using this map, the Roomba will track where it’s cleaned and where it hasn’t been to ensure complete cleaning coverage.

What is the iRobot Roomba Pet Series?

The iRobot Roomba Pet Series vacuums your carpets and hard floors, removing pet hair, kitty litter, pet food, dander, and other pet debris. All Roomba 500 Series models feature a three-stage cleaning system and iAdapt Responsive Cleaning Technology.

What is the best Roomba for pet hair?

We recommend the Roomba 572 Pet Series as the best Roomba for pet hair. It has three interchangeable bins to keep up with pet hair, extra brushes and filters for easy maintenance, and onboard scheduling that allows you to preset the vacuum to clean up to seven times per week.

How long does it take to charge the Roomba 980?

It takes roughly two hours to fully charge the 980.

About the author

Kealia is a staff writer and social media coordinator for House Method. She writes for a variety of beats, including home inspiration (her favorite), real estate, and home wellness.

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