Roomba 980 Review

Derek HalesBy Derek Hales
Updated January 1, 2018

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In the market for a highly advanced robot vacuum that does all the hard work for you? Well then it may be time to check out the Roomba 980. This iRobot vacuum is the top dog in Roomba’s line of vacuum cleaners. But is it actually worth the money? This week, we’re focusing on testing the Roomba 980 vacuum to discover these answers.

Continue reading below to discover if the Roomba 980 is the best robot vacuum for you.

Roomba 980 review

%

  • Cleaning Tests 96%
  • Usability 92%
  • Value 91%
  • Maintenance 95%
  • Maneuverability 93%

Pros

  • The Roomba 980 has among the best cleaning performance in a robot vacuum we’ve tested to date
  • This robot vacuum is able to clean for up to 120 minutes before returning to its charger

Cons

  • The Roomba 980 struggled with finer debris types on high pile carpet
  • This vacuum cleaner is loud when used on low pile carpet or hardwood floors

Roomba 980 review

The Bottom Line

The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s most advanced robot vacuum to date. As Roomba’s top model, it does come with a higher price tag, but it also comes packed with features, including the best cleaning performance in any robot vacuum we’ve tested to date. If you’re looking one of the very best robot vacuums available the Roomba 980 has to be a top contender.

Design

The Roomba 980 robot vacuum is designed in a circular shape, contains a responsive bumper ring, one large air vent, a handle, a camera, and a simple user interface. This Roomba vacuum is designed similar to most of iRobot’s vacuum cleaners, but the technology included within the design is a bit more high tech.

In terms of color scheme, the Roomba 980 is similar to the Roomba 890, in that they both offer more of a black and copper color contrast. This specific model also has a glossy finish on top, giving off a nice, shiny look overall.

  1. Cleaning buttons
  2. Camera
  3. Handle
  4. Bumper ring

Labeled image of the Roomba 980 parts

How It Cleans

Just as all Roomba vacuums do, the 980 utilizes a three stage cleaning process, which includes agitating, lifting, and removing dirt and debris. In addition to several sensors located all around this robot vacuum is an on-board camera. The sensors will detect objects in its path to try and steer clear of them, while the camera helps to create a visual map for the Roomba 980 vacuum.

This combination allows the vacuum to memorize your home’s floor plan and travel on a consistent and efficient cleaning path for every cycle.

The bottom of the unit contains two rolling brushes, also known as the debris extractors, a spinning brush, and a front wheel. The rolling brushes work to agitate and lift dirt and debris, the spinning brush will sweep dirt and debris into the vacuum’s cleaning path, and the front wheel helps this iRobot vacuum turn in a 360° manner whenever needed.

As a more advanced Roomba vacuum model, the 980 has a stronger degree of suction, faster cleaning cycles, and a smarter memory system than most other Roomba, like the Roomba 690.

  1. Rolling brushes
  2. Spinning brush
  3. Front wheel
  4. Dust bin

Birds eye view of the bottom of the Roomba 980

Size & Dimensions

The Roomba 980 offers a size similar to most of their newer vacuums. It has a diameter of 13.9″ and a height of 3.6″. Additionally, this robot vacuum cleaner weighs 8.7 pounds.

Roomba 980 robot vacuum Size & Dimensions

Accessories & Parts

The Roomba 980 includes the following parts and accessories:

  • Filter
  • Virtual wall x 2
  • Charging base and cord
  1. Charging base
  2. Spinning brush
  3. Virtual walls
  4. Filter

The Roomba 980 and the extra accessories included with the vacuum

Cleaning Tests

The following vacuum cleaner tests are designed to show how the Roomba 980 performs on different surfaces, picking up a variety of debris types. We test on three different floor types, including hardwood floors, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. For each floor type we test the vacuum cleaner against:

  • Rice – 3 ounces
  • Dry Cereal – 1 ounce
  • Kitty Litter – 3 ounces
  • Sugar – 3 ounces

Each of the aforementioned debris types was spread across our testing lane. The base surface of our testing lane is an engineered hardwood floor. For our carpet tests, we slide in a low pile and high pile carpet insert on top of the hardwood floor.

Cleaning test debris types

Testing Debris – From left to right: Rice (3 oz.), Kitty Litter (3 oz), Cereal (1 oz), Sugar (3 oz)

Our vacuum cleaning process strives to be as consistent, fair, and true to real world use as possible. Our tests utilize the following procedure:

  1. Measure the weight of the testing debris and weight of empty vacuum debris container.
  2. Spread the respective debris type evenly across the central portion of the testing lane.
  3. Run the vacuum cleaner over the testing lane.
  4. Measure the weight of the now filled container and take notes on the cleaning performance.

Hardwood Floor

Our hardwood floor tests were no match for the Roomba 980 robot vacuum, as this specific unit was able to clean up 100% of all four debris types that we spread out across our testing lane.

  • Hardwood – Rice 100%
  • Hardwood – Cereal 100%
  • Hardwood – Kitty Litter 100%
  • Hardwood – Sugar 100%

Roomba 980 hardwood cleaning tests

Low Pile Carpet

The Roomba 980 had another successful testing series while on the low pile carpet. Kitty litter, rice, and cereal were all cleaned up at a level of 100%. Sugar was not far behind, landing a score of 89% cleaned up.

That said, we did run the 980 over the sugar once more and there was only 3% of the sugar still remaining in the low pile carpet. After two separate cycles at five minutes a piece, I was impressed with this Roomba’s ability to lift the sugar.

  • Low Carpet – Rice 100%
  • Low Carpet – Cereal 100%
  • Low Carpet – Kitty Litter 100%
  • Low Carpet – Sugar 89%

Roomba 980 low carpet cleaning tests

High Pile Carpet

Once again, the Roomba 980 was able to handle the kitty litter, rice, and cereal with ease on the high pile carpet. Sugar was the only debris type that gave this vacuum any trouble throughout this test. This vacuum was able to remove 47% of the sugar we spread across the testing lane.

After testing the Roomba 980 on the high pile carpet, I did notice the vacuum tended to clog up with the sugar. It was almost as if the sugar would form a ball as it was sucked up, clogging the hole leading to the dust bin. Therefore, this Roomba vacuum was not able to fully remove the sugar from the high pile carpet.

  • High Carpet – Rice 100%
  • High Carpet – Cereal 100%
  • High Carpet – Kitty Litter 100%
  • High Carpet – Sugar 47%

Roomba 980 robot vacuum high carpet tests

Usability

Both setup and usability are among the easiest of the robot vacuums we have tested to date. First off, setup is quick and painless. No tools are required, as the Roomba 980 already comes fully assembled. Once you have removed the vacuum cleaner from its packaging you can toss it onto the charger and let it juice up for its first cleaning session.

As we move onto using the vacuum, there is not much more to it. Users have the option of controlling the iRobot Roomba 980 through the iRobot app, or by simply using the physical buttons located on the unit itself. Either was is quite simple.

Setting up the app is a quick process and iRobot gives step-by-step instructions on how to connect your Roomba 980 to your wifi enabled device. Once have linked up the app to your Roomba 980, you have the ability to never get up from your seat and just choose your cleaning style right from your phone, tablet, or other iRobot app compatible device. The app is user friendly and easy to understand, in my opinion.

Roomba 980 robot vacuum usability

Roomba 980 – AeroForce filtration system

Both the camera and advanced suction technology combine for a powerful robot vacuum.

Roomba 980 robot vacuum usability

Roomba 980 – on-board camera

Maneuverability

The maneuverability of the Roomba 980 is among the best we have seen to date. Although the shape and size are not much different than a vast majority of robot vacuum cleaners, the technology used to maneuver this vacuum is top notch. Multiple sensors, a digital camera, strong wheels, a spinning brush, and faster speeds all combine to create a highly maneuverable vacuum.

First on the list, the camera and sensors built into this vacuum. Between these two features, the Roomba 980 robot vacuum is able to configure a consistent path around your home, memorize that path, avoid obstacles, detect ledges, and return to its charging base with ease.

Each of these factors play a large role in the efficiency of cleaning that you get from this specific unit. As a more advanced Roomba model (see Roomba reviews here), the memory and overall cleaning features are the best-of-the-best, within their company.

Weight

8.7 pounds

Width

13.9″

Height

3.6″

Turning

360°

The circular design also allows the vacuum to tun 360°, giving it the ability to work around objects in one pass. The bigger wheels also give the vacuum more power when changing surfaces and rolling over larger debris fields. In addition, the spinning brush sweeps debris from outside the Roomba’s reach into the suction path, helping clear even more dirt and debris from your floors without actually running over it directly.

One of the neatest features on this Roomba is the iRobot app. Users have the ability to download this app and connect their Roomba 980 to their phone, tablet, or other wfi enabled device and control it from there. You can send it into a specific cleaning mode, or send it back to its charging base all without ever having to get up from your seat. This technology is offered by multiple robot vacuums, but I must say I have found the iRobot app to be the easiest to use.

Maintenance

The following table indicates the frequency at which you will likely want to replace the various parts and components of the vacuum. The following replacement frequencies are what the manufacturer recommends. However, your individual experiences may vary.

The replacement cost and buy links below are based on the least expensive replacement part we could find.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyReplacement Cost
HEPA filter2 monthsCheck Price
Spinning brush6 monthsCheck Price
Front wheel12 monthsCheck Price
Debris Extractor12 monthsCheck Price
Battery18-36 monthsCheck Price

Maintenance is important for all vacuum cleaners, but especially so for robot vacuums.

Based on the replacement cost and Roomba’s recommended replacement schedule you should plan to pay around $37 per year in replacement parts for 980 Roomba.

Ensuring the parts are in the best working order will help create the best overall cleaning performance.

Noise

All vacuum cleaner reviews on Modern Castle are put through our standard noise test. For this test, we use a sound meter to measure noise in terms of decibel level approximately 3′ away from the vacuum.

At 3' away, the Roomba 980 robot vacuum emits 70 dB of sound.

At 3′ away, the Roomba 980 robot vacuum emits 70 dB of sound.

Battery

All robot vacuum reviews on Modern Castle are put through a standard assessment of battery size, run time, life, and replacement cost.

BatteryDetails
Size3,300 mAh
Charging Time2-3 hours
Run Time120 minutes
Replacement CostCheck Price

Batteries are large part of the robot vacuum, as they cannot run without one. Therefore, being able to locate a replacement battery should be simple. Because the Roomba is so popular there are a wide variety of companies producing replacement batteries. This makes them easy and inexpensive to get.

You can find a 3,800 mAh battery as cheap as $20 or find an extra large 5,200 mAh battery for $47.

Value

The Roomba 980 is the most expensive iRobot vacuum. That said, it is also the most advanced Roomba (and arguably the most advanced robot vacuum in the world).

But is the Roomba 980 a good vacuum? It really depends. If you’re simply looking for the best performance robot vacuum with the highly advanced features, then absolutely, the Roomba 980 is a good choice and a good value. However, it has a combination of features that could be more valuable (or not) depending on your preferences.

All things considered I still consider the Roomba 980 a solid value. Its total performance and features compared to the price are good.

iRobot offers their standard one year warranty, starting the day of purchase. Additionally, if you purchase on Amazon you’ll have their standard 30 day return policy.

The one positive note I would like to mention about iRobot Roomba is their customer service. I personally own a Roomba vacuum and have now tested several models and still continue to be impressed by their willingness to stand behind their product and create a positive relationship with its customers.

Specifications

Below is a complete list of important specifications and features included on the Roomba 980.

Specifications 
TypeRobot
ManufactureriRobot
ModelRoomba 980
Length (inches)13.8
Width (inches)13.8
Height (inches)3.6
Weight (pounds)8.7
Floor TypeAll (indoor)
Battery3,300 mAh
Dust Bin Capacity0.3 L
CordlessYes
BaglessYes
Returns30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited
BuyBuy

Who Should Buy the Roomba 980 Robot Vacuum?

The Roomba 980 is iRobot’s top of the line robot vacuum. Although this is their most expensive model, it is also their top performer with the most bells and whistles. If you’re in the market for a robot vacuum and like the idea of a more highly engineered vacuum with advanced cleaning methods and a smarter unit overall, the 980 is a great option.

I would recommend the Roomba 980 if you’re looking for the following features in a robot vacuum.

  • Want top tier cleaning performance in a robot – the Roomba 980 offers the best cleaning performance of any robot vacuum we have tested to date. It dominated 11 out of 12 tests, with nearly flawless scores across the board. The suction on all surfaces was impressive all around.
  • Want a powerful robot vacuum – As iRobot’s most expensive robot vacuum, it is also their top performer. It comes with all of the bells and whistles including Roomba’s most advanced suction technology, wifi connectivity, on-board camera, multiple sensors, floor plan mapping, and more.
  • Don’t mind a higher price tag – Priced at $899, the Roomba 980 is not an inexpensive vacuum by any means. If you’re okay paying the extra penny for a more advanced robot vacuum cleaner, the Roomba 980 is one I would recommend exploring.

For more information on the Roomba 980 visit Amazon.com.

  • 93%
    Cleaning - 93%
  • 92%
    Usability - 92%
  • 93%
    Maneuverability - 93%
  • 95%
    Maintenance - 95%
  • 91%
    Value - 91%
  • 100%
    Returns - 100%
  • 100%
    Warranty - 100%
  • 100%
    Company - 100%
95%

Summary

The Roomba 980 is a highly advanced robot vacuum built to tackle almost any dry mess thrown at it. Loaded with several features and an extremely smart household mapping memory, this vacuum cleaner is one of the most high-tech units we have tested to date. The ease of use and setup are extremely simple and certainly make using this robot vacuum a hassle-free experience.

Derek Hales

Derek Hales

Editor-in-Chief

Derek Hales is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ModernCastle.com. He is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to testing and reviewing products for the home. When he is not testing new products, Derek enjoys golf, tennis, and PC gaming. Derek lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Samantha, and poodle, Tibbers.

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