Which Roomba to buy?

You may be asking yourself “Which Roomba To buy?”

Which Roomba to Buy

With all of the choices on the market, that’s a perfectly valid question. There are many different models and classes of Roomba, all sporting different features at different price points. And there are better Roombas for pet hair, ones that work better with multiple rooms, and there are some outdated ones that I recommend that you don’t buy.

So, given this sea of information and with so many choices, what’s the best Roomba for you? How will you get the best bang for

your buck, and how will you find best price on a Roomba? Read on to find out…

What to consider when buying a Roomba

Roomba is an expensive robot and there are a few things that you might want to consider when buying a Roomba. Since you’re reading this this, you already know you really want to buy one. Oh Yeah! You made the right choice! (Ok, perhaps that was a little overzealous, but you’re going to love your new Roomba).

As of this writing, the current models of Roomba for sale on iRobot’s Website are the 650, 860, 880, and 980. This buyer’s guide will focus on those models, while NOT focusing on the 770 or anything in the 500 series which both are discontinued.

2016 Roomba model comparison

Features
Roomba 650


Check Price

Roomba 860


Check Price

Roomba 880


Check Price

Roomba 980


Check Price
3 Stage Cleaning SystemGoodBestBestBest
Cleans an entire level?
Recharge and Resume
Convenient Scheduling
Brushless?
Smart Phone App
Multi-Room Navigation
Self-Charging
Carpet Boost
Price$$$$$$$$$$

Here is the main list of things to consider when buying a Roomba:

Pets

All current Roombas are pretty good with pet hair. Some are better than others, as you can see in the chart below.
If you have allergies, definitely choose anything other than the Roomba 650, because the Roomba 650 doesn’t have a HEPA Roomba for Petsfilter.
The 860, 880, and 990 all have brushless dirt extractors which is really nice because with the 650, you’ll be pulling gobs pet hair out of the
brushes every few weeks.

Roomba 650

  • Uses a brush to extract hair
  • Has a weaker suction system than the other models
  • Has the older AeroVac cleaning system. The newer models have an upgraded cleaning system (AeroForce) which gives more suction, has HEPA filters, and does an overall better job of picking up pet hair.

The Roomba 650 is the worst of the current Roomba models when it comes to picking up pet hair

Roomba 860 and Roomba 880

I’m grouping these two together since they’re exactly the same when it comes to cleaning power. The 860 is cheaper but that doesn’t affect pet hair cleanup one bit.

  • Brushless hair extractors. No more pulling clumps of pet hair out of brushes.
  • Better suction system than the 650 but not quite as good as the 980
  • AeroForce cleaning system. Better suction, HEPA filter, and more efficient than earlier models

The Roomba 860 and 880 are both great with pet hair. Much better than the 650

Roomba 980

Roomba 980

  • Brushless hair extractors. Same as the 860 and 880
  • Carpet Boost. Automatically increases power on carpets.
  • Best Suction of ALL Roomba models.
  • HEPA filter. Like the 860 and 880, a good choice for allergy sufferers.

Winner(s): Roomba 980. The 880 and 860 also do a wonderful job at removing pet hair even without carpet boost.
Loser: Roomba 650. Not a great choice if you have pets.

Click on the picture of the Roomba to get the very best price on Amazon for that model.

Roomba 880

Floor Type

Which Roomba is best for hardwood floors? Which Roomba is best for Carpets? When you’re on a flat, smooth surface like hardwood or tile, all current Roomba models do a wonderful job at picking up debris. Carpet can be a different story. The Roomba 980 has Carpet boost, which increases suction when the Roomba is on the carpet, and that makes a pretty big increase in it’s performance. The 650 has the older cleaning system (Aerovac) which means a little less suction that the 800 series. Also the 800 and 900 series are less maintenance since the 650 has brushes that you’ll be cleaning every couple of weeks. When deciding which Roomba to buy, performance on different flooring types is a huge consideration.

Roomba 650 and 800 series

  • All have good suction for hardwood flooring.
  • No carpet boost for the 650, 860, and 880. Carpet boost can be a big help cleaning up carpets.
  • The Roomba 650 doesn’t have the brushless extractors which means that you’ll have to clean hair out of the brushes.

Roomba 980

  • Really in a class of it’s own when it comes to carpet. No other Roomba models are as good on carpet.
  • About the same performance on hardwood and tile.

Best Roomba for Carpet

Here’s that list in order of best to worst.

  • Roomba 980
  • Roomba 880 and Roomba 860 (tie)
  • Roomba 650

Best Roombas for hardwood and tile

  • Tie for all Roomba models

Also be aware that Roomba has an issue with very dark or black carpet. See my blog article about Roomba and Black Carpet for more details.

Space Layout

Choosing which Roomba to buy can also be influenced by what kind of space you want to put the Roomba in. I’m going to do my best to give you my recommendation for a few types of spaces, and you can make a choice based on the information below.

Apartments

Depending on the size of your apartment you should go with a cheaper Roomba. Most apartments are smaller, and while I could push you to buy a more expensive Roomba, I’ll just say that I would go with the 650 for a very small apartment. Sure, it’s not that high tech, but for such a small space you don’t need something that’s designed to clean a bunch of larger rooms.

Houses

Which Roomba to buy for a house is a different story. Here, you want the Roomba that cleans as large amounts of space efficiently as possible.

If you’re a homeowner, here is the list of Roombas I would buy, in order of best to worst (I’ll explain in a moment):

  • Which Roomba to Buy - For housesRoomba 980
  • Roomba 880
  • Roomba 860
  • Roomba 650

See how I listed each one separately here instead of putting the 860 and 880 in the same category? The big difference with the 880 is the navigation. It includes the lighthouse, which guides the Roomba from room to room. The goal of the lighthouse technology is to make multi-room cleaning more efficient for Roomba. The Roomba 860 does not have a lighthouse, and doesn’t have the ability to work with lighthouses which is why it’s cheaper than the Roomba 880.

The Roomba 880 will clean up to 3 rooms, while the 980 will clean an entire level of your house. The navigation system on the 980 maps out your space

Roomba 650

and allows it to clean every room on a single level. Pretty slick!

The 860 can clean a couple of rooms very nicely and works the best in an open space, like a large living area or kitchen.

My pick for apartments: Roomba 650

Roomba 880

My pick for homes: Roomba 880

Multi Level

Do you want a device that cleans more than one level of your home? Unfortunately there is nothing that can handle more than one level, since Roomba does not go down stairs. In fact, it has sensors that prevent it from falling down stairs and for good reason. See my post about Roomba and Stairs here. If you want multi level cleaning, my suggestion is to figure out which Roomba to buy for the main level (the best one you can afford), then if you have a level that’s rarely used, grab a cheap Roomba like the 650 and have it set to clean once and a while to save energy and maintenance.

If you use all levels of your home regularly, I still suggest getting a better Roomba for your main level (the places where people hang out the most often), and a cheaper one for each level that are not usually frequented by family and friends. You’ll spend a LOT less time cleaning, and you’ll save yourself from buying top of the line, most expensive Roomba for all levels.

Another option is to buy the best Roomba that you can afford for your main level, then check eBay and craigslist for some very old models in order to get your other levels clean. It’s a very cost effective way to command a robot army to clean your entire home.

Technology

For some buyers, the latest and greatest technology is one of the most important things when deciding which Roomba to buy. I’m one of those people so obviously I’m going to be biased here because for me, connectedness and cleaning efficiency with easy to use features is going to be my main priority in choosing a robot to clean my house.

Here’s a list of Roomba models with what I consider to be their best technological features, in order of “wicked cool” to “hey, that’s pretty neat”.

  • Roomba 980
  • Roomba 880
  • Roomba 860

The 980 has a smart phone app that connects with your Roomba for scheduling purposes. It also has carpet boost, which activates when it’s on carpet. This is great for getting carpeted areas cleaner more efficiently. It also has improved navigation that will allow you to clean an entire level of your home. This is an improvement over the 880, which will allow only 3 rooms of scheduled cleaning.

The 880 has lighthouse technology which allows for cleaning more rooms than the 860 or 650. It also comes with a remote (which some people like but I find of limited usefulness. I like to set it up and then just let it do it’s thing).

The 860 is a big step up from the 650 in terms of technology. It has brushless dirt extractors like it’s bigger brothers, and has the guts of the 880 without the lighthouse technology.

The Roomba 650 is your basic economy device. If you care about having the most features, I would avoid this one.

Winner: Roomba 980

Loser: Roomba 650

Manufacturer Support

Which Roomba models are well supported by iRobot? Which are not anymore, and which will lose support in the coming years? price. iRobot has a habit of discontinuing old Roomba models since their technology is ever evolving. That being said, there is still a market for older models of Roomba on Ebay and craigslist, and an enthusiastic forum of Roomba users that will give you tips and pointers on older Roomba models. Check the Manufacturers Warranty as well. Some of the discontinued models still have warranties, and still have a good market for replacement parts.

Roomba 860

The 860 is new, so I forsee the 860 being sold by iRobot for a few years now since it’s a really nice bot at an attractive price.

As of the time of this writing, I expect the 650 to stop being sold sometime soon since the price gap between that and the Roomba 860 isn’t that much. Also, I am not a big fan of the Lighthouse, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see that go away either. Time will tell.

If manufacturer support is very important to you, then you should buy the 980, 880, or 860. Anything in the 700 series and 500 series are no longer being sold new. The 650 has been around forever but with the price of the 860, I can see the 650 going the way of the dinosaur soon.

Price

For some people, the main concern when choosing which Roomba to buy is price. They want a smart home that’s clean – but on their terms and on their budget. For these savvy shoppers, I present the list of Roombas in order of what I believe the best value is to the most expensive. Keep in mind that this puts heavier weight on price than it does features.

  • Roomba 860 – Great tech, budget price. This is the best value Roomba for the money, hands down.
  • Roomba 650 – Bottom dollar budget Roomba. Lacking brushless cleaning system and other bells and whistles, though.
  • Roomba 880 – Not the cheapest, not the most expensive, and also has features that a lot of people won’t need.
  • Roomba 980 – The most expensive Roomba you can buy. Full of features but you may not even need them.

For budget-minded consumers I always recommend the Roomba 860 (Roomba 860 Review here). It’s got a way nicer cleaning system than the 650, none of the features that you will never use, and it costs much less than it’s bigger brother, the 880, but without the remote or lighthouse. This is a really solid choice for your first Roomba.

Conclusion

As you can see, there are many considerations for which Roomba to buy, and I may have only just scratched the surface. If you can think of anything I left out, please leave me a comment. If you’re looking for the best price anywhere on a Roomba, click one of the pictures of which Roomba you’re thinking about buying. You’ll be taken to Amazon, where you’ll find the best price on all of them.

2016 Roomba model comparison

Features
Roomba 650


Check Price

Roomba 860


Check Price

Roomba 880


Check Price

Roomba 980


Check Price
3 Stage Cleaning SystemGoodBestBestBest
Cleans an entire level?
Recharge and Resume
Convenient Scheduling
Brushless?
Smart Phone App
Multi-Room Navigation
Self-Charging
Carpet Boost
Price$$$$$$$$$$

8 Comments

  1. Sadia Habib October 16, 2016
    • Robotic Vacs October 17, 2016
  2. Fran July 12, 2017
    • Robotic Vacs July 12, 2017
  3. Sandy August 14, 2017
    • Robotic Vacs August 20, 2017
  4. Ivan August 26, 2017
    • Robotic Vacs August 30, 2017

Leave a Reply