What is a Roomba? A Roomba is a robot vacuum that works as hard as you do! This low-riding line of cleaning discs will happily remove dirt, dust, debris and pet hair from your solid surface flooring and carpets.
Roombas will happily transverse a variety of flooring types, obstacles and thresholds to help you tidy your home. Your time commitment will include programming your Roomba and a little maintenance of the tool. In exchange, you get clean floors.
In this guide we will compare Roomba models and their features to help you choose the best Roomba for you and your home.
Roomba Comparison Chart
Run Time *
Ideal Flooring *
Carpets & Rugs
Carpets & Rugs
All Floor Types
Hardwood Floors & Tile
iRobot Home App
3-Stage Cleaning System
AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System
10x Air Power
5x Air Power
Recharge & Resume
Price & Availability
Roombas are designed for all flooring types, but our “Ideal Flooring” category is what we consider the unit to be best for.
Those with hardwood floors shouldn’t be concerned about scratching as these units are designed to be gentle on floors.
The only official run times for our comparison chart that iRobot lists is for the 980. In general, we’ve found that the other units will run for about an hour.
It’s not too much of a concern since they will dock and recharge themselves when the battery is low. Only the 980 will resume its course whereas the others will start a new random cleaning path.
Each member of the Roomba product line has specific characteristics that will make it ideal for your cleaning needs. Let’s start with the older models first.
iRobot Roomba 650
The iRobot Roomba 650 is an ideal basic vacuum for any flooring. This unit will work until the battery is low and self-charge with no effort on your part.
SEE OUR: Roomba 650 Review
You can schedule your iRobot Roomba 650 to run when you’re not home or sleeping, and the 3 stage cleaning system will sweep, agitate and suck away dust and dirt from your floor.
iRobot Roomba 770
In addition to a 3 stage cleaning system, the iRobot Roomba 770 offers a Dirt Detect Series II sensor and will spend more time on the dirtier areas of your floor.
It will automatically dock to re-charge, and can be programmed to clean up to 7 times per week. This unit features the standard roller bar with brushes to agitate dust and sweep it away from your carpet efficiently.
SEE ALSO: Roomba 770 Review
iRobot Roomba 880
For those with pets, the iRobot Roomba 880 is an ideal selection.
This unit offers tangle-free extractors instead of a brush roller in combination with the Aero-Force 3 stage cleaning system for excellent pet hair capture.
If allergies are a concern, the high efficiency filter can help reduce the dust in your home.
iRobot Roomba 980
If your home contains both carpet and hardwood, the iRobot Roomba 980 is for you!
This unit offers the AeroForce Cleaning System with Carpet Boost for more suction power on carpets and rugs.
SEE OUR: Roomba 980 Review
Once you’ve programmed the unit with your phone app, it will clean, re-charge, and keep cleaning until it’s done.
Features To Consider
While it can be tempting to buy the latest and greatest model robotic vacuum for your home, the newest Roomba may not be the best fit for your home.
For example, the iRobot Roomba 980 is a great deal if your flooring surfaces move from solid surface to plush carpet, but if you floors are all tile, it’s probably more vacuum than you need.
Below are some specific details on the specific features available in the Roomba robotic vacuum product line so you can make the best choice for your home.
Once you’ve got your manual, you can program your Roomba to clean repeatedly throughout the week. If you prefer not to have it wandering around your home when you’re not there, you can just press the Clean button.
However, if you like the idea of checking in your Roomba, the iRobot Roomba 980 is an ideal choice. With this tool, you can program your vacuum from your phone and see how it’s doing throughout the day.
Unique Cleaning Challenges
For those of us with pets, particularly pets that shed a lot, the tangle free extractors available on both the iRobot 880 and the 980 are critical.
Pet hair has killed many vacuums over time because it wraps around beater bars, tangling in the brush roller and clogging intake ports.
The tangle-free extractors make it easy to clear this hair away before your Roomba gets bogged down and jammed up with hair.
Tangle free extractors are the answer. These rolling bars have replaced traditional carpet brushes.
Because there are no bristles, hair doesn’t get trapped and tangled. It’s simply swept up and captured in the HEPA filtration system. No tangles, no clogs.
See how Roomba fairs against Neato robot vacuums with pet hair in our Roomba vs Neato review.
As a general rule, firing up your robot vacuum means your whole house gets attention.
However, if certain areas of your home need a bit more cleaning, the iRobot Roomba 770 is a great choice. This Roomba features a Dirt Detect Series II sensor to focus on dirtier areas and spend more time there.
Cleaning Large Homes
For those with especially large homes, Roomba offers a Recharge and Resume feature that helps the vacuum remember where it was and start again in the same spot. It’s important to note that not all Roomba vacuums offer this technology.
However, the iRobot Roomba 980 offers Recharge and Resume. No matter how long your cleaning project takes, this machine will pick up where it left off and get the job done!
Working Around Obstacles
All Roomba robotic vacuum cleaners feature rubberized bumpers to reduce scrapes along baseboards and scratches on furniture.
If dust and pet hair tends to gather along your baseboards, you can be sure that your Roomba will be tough on dirt while staying kind to your trim.
Remember that your Roomba has a side sweeping action that will brush against the baseboards to sweep dirt in front of it and then pick it up. If it looks as though there’s dirt piled along the path, give the Roomba a bit of time and it will get picked up!
All Roombas have a sensor to help them avoid staircases. On occasion, your Roomba may read black patches on rugs as stairs and back away from this “edge.”
There are plenty of suggestions available in the Roomba community to block or override these sensors. If you feel the need to override the “cliff” sensor, take care to protect your Roomba from a nasty fall down the stairs.
In addition, these sensors can fail if they’re covered with dust. Each Roomba has instructions for what needs cleaned at what time. Follow these instructions to protect your vacuum and investment.
You may also need to learn about common Roomba Troubleshooting steps to understand what your unit needs when it stops working.
Vacuuming Under Furniture And Cabinets
While Roombas all stand less than 4″ high, some furniture or very low cabinets may be an issue.
Be certain to monitor the Roomba during the first few rounds of vacuuming so you don’t come home to find your Roomba stuck under a chair or sofa.
Should you have trouble with any particular piece of furniture, consider setting a virtual wall around it so you can run your Roomba unattended.
Virtual Wall vs Virtual Lighthouse
The virtual wall feature protects your Roomba from hazardous areas such as stairways, low furniture or a crowded forest of table legs.
It creates a space where the Roomba won’t go. The lighthouse feature creates a dividing line.
If, for example, you want to enjoy a little television in the living room but want the Roomba to clean the kitchen and dining area, set up a virtual lighthouse and program the time you want.
This will allow the Roomba to work in one portion of the house and then cross over the line to work in another portion of the house after your TV show has finished.
All units come with a battery. Roomba batteries come in two varieties, Ni-MH and Li-on. At some point in the future, you may need to replace your battery. You might also consider upgrading at that time to some of the newer Li-on 2x batteries.
However, it’s important to note that if you’re upgrading your devices battery, you will also require a new charger or charging base to avoid ruining the new battery.
You definitely want to check compatibility before purchasing any new battery. If using a 3rd party battery, your iRobot warranty is pretty much toast!
And finally we need to talk about the price of a new Roomba. For nearly all of us, money actually is an object, so we need to make the best selection for our home as well as our budget.
The iRobot Roomba 650 is an excellent cleaning for those with a limited budget. The self-charging feature means that this little workhorse will happily toddle around your place until it’s out of power, then re-charge and be ready to work again soon.
However, it doesn’t offer the recharge and resume feature; you’ll need to restart it manually if you want it to continue.
The 3 stage cleaning system will do a great job both on solid surface floors and carpets, but won’t boost suction power for carpets. However, for the price, this is more budget friendly than newer models.
If you have a larger budget or want all the features possible, consider the 880 or 980.
What Is The Best Roomba?
Officially, the only way to determine the best Roomba model for any household is to walk a mile on their carpet. That being said, most homes have at least one rug, and many people enjoy sharing their homes with pets.
SEE ALSO: Why Do Cats Ride Roombas?
If you fall into this demographic and would love a robot vacuum to help you keep your floors clean, the iRobot Roomba 880 might be the tool for you.
The 880 is easy to clear of dust and pet hair and offers great filtration. This unit can clean to your specifications either with the invisible wall or using the lighthouse, and offers increased air power on carpets.
It should be noted that the 880, while a great tool, does not offer a mobile app. If you have pets and rugs and a deep desire to program your vacuum from your phone, you will probably enjoy the iRobot Roomba 980. If you really don’t want one more thing on your phone, the 880 should be a great choice.
It’s hard to compare Roomba models because everyone’s cleaning needs and budgets are different.
While many of us would love the phone app, others don’t need another reason to reach for their phone. No matter your level of tech comfort, the number of shedding pets or the depth of your carpet pile, you can find a Roomba to suit your needs.
Did you enjoy this guide? Let us know in the comments with your favorite Roomba and robot vacuum cleaning experiences.