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 And there are better Roombas for pet hair, ones that work better with multiple rooms, and there are some outdated ones that I recommend that you don’t buy.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 690, 890, 960, 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.

Features

Roomba 690

Check Price


Roomba 890

Check Price


Roomba 960

Check Price


Roomba 980

Check Price
Cleaning SystemGoodBetterBetterBest
Cleans an entire level?
Recharge and Resume
Convenient Scheduling
Brushless?
Smart Phone App
Multi-Room Navigation
Self-Charging
Carpet Boost
Amazon Alexa Integration
Price$$$$$$$$$$

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

Pets

Roomba for 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 690, because the Roomba 690 doesn’t have a HEPA filter. The other current Roomba models have HEPA filters and will be much better for your allergies.

The 890, 960, and Roomba 980 all have brushless dirt extractors which is really nice because with the Roomba 690, you’ll be pulling gobs pet hair out of the brushes every couple of weeks. Less maintenance means more free time for you. Convenience is one of the reasons your choose to buy a Roomba so you may as well get a convenient one.

Roomba 690


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

The Roomba 690 is the worst of the current Roomba models when it comes to picking up pet hair, but overall if does a pretty good job compared to many other brands.

If you’re curious about how the Roomba 690 works here is a video from iRobot explaining the key features:

Roomba 890

The 890 model is a step up. This model has the brushless extractors that are what you want to have when you have pets. The filter is also a high efficiency HEPA filter that is great for allergy sufferers.

Here’s a summary of why a Roomba 890 might be right for you:

  • Brushless hair extractors. No more pulling clumps of pet hair out of brushes.
  • Better suction system than the 690
  • HEPA filter – This means that it’s better for allergies than the 690 as well.

iRobot has a great overview of the Roomba 890:

Roomba 960

Roomba 960 is the best mid-range price level Roomba right now. It doesn’t have a whole lot to offer over the 890 when it comes to pet cleanup power, but it does have recharge and resume which is nice for larger areas.

Here’s a a few of the key features of the Roomba 960:

  • High Efficiency Filter
  • App for cleaning preferences
  • Amazon Alexa integration
  • Tangle Free brushes
  • 75 minute runtime (cheaper models only have 60 minutes)
  • Smart Mapping (increases efficiency of the Roomba’s movements)

If you’re looking for a Roomba for pets with some awesome home automation features in a med-range budget, this is your Roomba

Roomba 980

  • Brushless hair extractors. Same as the 890 and 960
  • Carpet Boost. Automatically increases power on carpets. (this is a big deal for pets)
  • Best Suction of ALL Roomba models.
  • HEPA filter. Like the 800 and 9600, a good choice for allergy sufferers.

Winner(s): Roomba 980. The 890 and 960 also do a wonderful job at removing pet hair even without carpet boost.

Loser: Roomba 690. Not the best choice if you have pets. Especially if you have allergies.

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

The 960 and 980 are featured in this youtube video, be sure to check it out if you’re interested in either of these models.

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 690 has an older cleaning system which means a little less suction that the 800 and 900 series. Also the 800 and 900 series are less maintenance since the 690 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 690 and 890 series

  • All have good suction for hardwood flooring.
  • No carpet boost for the 690 and 890. Carpet boost can be a big help cleaning up carpets.
  • The Roomba 600 doesn’t have the brushless extractors which means that you’ll have to clean hair out of the brushes.

Best price for Roomba 690

Best price for Roomba 890

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 price for Roomba 980

Best Roomba for Carpet

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

  • Roomba 980
  • Roomba 890 and Roomba 960 (tie)
  • Roomba 690

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 960
  • Roomba 890
  • Roomba 690

When space is your main factor when choosing which Roomba to buy, the 890 and 690 are pretty similar. They both clean a single room and would be ideal for smaller spaces or apartments. When you’re cleaning multiple rooms and large areas the Roomba 980 and 960 really are the way to go. With the 960 and 980 you get recharge and resume, which means that Roomba will return to it’s dock, get a charge, then start cleaning again where it left off.

In my opinion recharge and resume is a necessary feature for larger spaces. Another great feature that the 2 more expensive models have is intelligent mapping. There is an onboard camera that maps out your living space to clean very efficiently. Other Roomba models just bump into things and try to move around obstacles like a little bumper car.

My pick for apartments: Roomba 690

My pick for homes: Roomba 960

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 960
  • Roomba 690

The 980 and 960 both have a smart phone app that connects with your Roomba for scheduling purposes. The 980 also has carpet boost, which activates when it’s on carpet. This is great for getting carpeted areas cleaner more efficiently.

Roomba 960 and 980 have improved navigation that will allow you to clean an entire level of your home. This is an improvement over the cheaper models, which can only clean one room at a time. If you want to use the 690 or 890 to clean more than one room, you have to bring it into that room manually.

Speaking of technology, the 960 and 980 can map out the layout of your house with an on board camera. In the app, you can view your homes map and set custom cleaning preferences like edge cleaning.

The Roomba 690 is your basic economy device. If you care about having the most features, I would avoid this one. It works just fine, and it’s a great Roomba, it just isn’t that high tech compared to it’s more advanced siblings. When deciding which Roomba you’re going to purchase, you want one that’s going to last a while.

Winner: Roomba 980

Loser (in the nicest possible meaning of the term): Roomba 690

*Disclaimer: I call any Roomba “loser” in terms of it’s features compared to newer models of Roomba. I think they’re the best robotic vacuum cleaner on the market right now.

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.

The Roomba 960 is brand new, so I forsee the 960 being sold by iRobot for a few years now since it’s a really nice bot at an attractive price.

One thing that strikes me as very interesting is that the Roomba 980 had been out for a long time now, but it is still the very top of the line when it comes to Roomba models that you can purchase. I have a feeling that it won’t be dethroned for a long time either. The only Roomba that comes close in terms of features is the Roomba 960.

If manufacturer support is very important to you, then you should buy the 980, 960, or 890. Anything in the 700 series and 500 series are no longer being sold new.

Price

The main concern for some people 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 890 – Great tech, budget price. This is the best value Roomba for the money, hands down.
  • Roomba 690 – Bottom dollar budget Roomba. Lacking brushless cleaning system and other bells and whistles, though.
  • Roomba 960 – 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 used to recommend the Roomba 860 (Roomba 860 Review here).  These days I’m recommending the Roomba 890. It’s got a way nicer cleaning system than the 690, none of the features that you will never use, and it costs much less than it’s bigger brothers, the 960 and the 980. This is a really solid choice for your first Roomba.

Other Considerations

Allergies

Allergy sufferers have to be very careful which robotic vacuum that they choose to buy. When pets are involved, filtering pet dander is critical for people with allergies. Any model of Roomba will be OK but the ones with the high efficiency filters are the very best Roomba to buy.

On my list here, that means that you should buy any Roomba but the Roomba 690. The filter on the Roomba 690 is not as efficient as the other Roomba models on this page.

Smart Homes

Lots of people are getting wifi connected thermostats, entertainment centers, light bulbs… you name it. The idea of a “smart home” is here to stay.

All of the Roomba models on this page have wifi apps. The more expensive models like the 960 and 980 will let you view in the app a map of the house it creates with it’s on board camera.

The 900 series Roombas (960 and 980) can also integrate with Amazon Alexa. Once that is set up, you can ask Alexa to have Roomba clean your house. Pretty cool age that we’re living in huh?

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.

Here is a neat little list that’ll help you make a quick choice:

Which Roomba to buy

  • Roomba 690: Best budget Roomba
  • Roomba 890: Most cost effective for pets and allergy sufferers
  • Roomba 960: Cheapest High-Tech smarthome Roomba
  • Roomba 980: Most expensive but best suction and most high-tech
Features

Roomba 690

Check Price


Roomba 890

Check Price


Roomba 960

Check Price


Roomba 980

Check Price
Cleaning SystemGoodBetterBetterBest
Cleans an entire level?
Recharge and Resume
Convenient Scheduling
Brushless?
Smart Phone App
Multi-Room Navigation
Self-Charging
Carpet Boost
Amazon Alexa Integration
Price$$$$$$$$$$

8 thoughts on “Which Roomba to buy?”

  1. Best article about roomba selection. I want it for for a big living room upstairs, hard floor with rugs & having a large area of stairs (10feet) from where it can drop down. What should I do about that curved area of stairs from where roomba can fall off??
    What about huge shaggy rug???

    • Hello Sadia,

      The Roomba shouldn’t have any issue with the curved stairs. The edge sensors should protect the Roomba from falling. The shag carpet would be a problem, however. I know that the 650 does NOT do well with shag carpets. I’ve heard of the rollers burning out badly with the 650 models. I would imagine that the 800 or 900 series would do better with the brushless extractors.

      Your best bet would be to try to block off the shaggy rug or if you have a newer Roomba with the brushless extractors, try it out but watch it very carefully and if it seems to be bogging down or not working correctly take it away from the rug immediately.

  2. I had no idea that the iroomba cleans only one level of the house. I am very upset. I paid $899 for the 980 and it will not clean upstairs. The Best Buy’s salesman never told me that despite the fact that I told him I had a 2 level home. Best Buy’s only returns products within 2 weeks. I have had it for 2 weeks. $899 for half a house is outrageous. How about 2/3 sensors levels and memory? Absolute rip off. It does everything but clean a 2 level home.

    • Hi Fran,

      Yes, sadly Roomba can only clean one level. They’re not designed to go up and down stairs to clean multiple levels. One thing you can do is carry it to another level and have the Roomba clean that one. But then you’re going to have to carry it between levels every couple of days or so. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Robotic vacuums that can deal with stairs in the next 10 years or so, but right now if a Roomba happens to take a tumble down a large flight of stairs, it’s a very bad thing.

      As far as good places to buy a Roomba, for brick and mortar stores I always recommend Bed Bath and Beyond. They have the best return policy of any store I’ve ever been to. They have a “no questions asked” return policy on most items. If you want to get rid of it, selling it on ebay is a good option, seeing as it’s almost brand new.

    • Hi Sandy,

      More recent models of Roomba will not hurt carpet fringe. This used to be a problem with the REALLY old models like the 400 series, but any Roomba made in the last 2 years will not hurt your carpet loops.

  3. Hi,

    I live in an apartment with a large open plan kitchen/living room, 2 bedrooms and 1 bathroom.
    Do you think the 860 would be able to find its way through all the rooms and come back to it’s docking station?
    I’m really looking for something that gives me the less hassle, and that I can just setup and leave running without having to worry about it.

    Thanks,
    Ivan.

    • Hi Ivan,

      The 860 is a very capable robot, but I would only use it to clean a couple of large rooms. If you want entire level cleaning, as it seems you do, the Roomba 960 or Roomba 980 would be the best Roomba for you.

      Good luck!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.