The thought of purchasing your first robotic vacuum might be overwhelming. A simple search on the Internet will yield over one hundred models, brands, and features to choose from. How do you know you're going to pick the right one?
This article will compare two of the most popular robots, based on price, brand quality, reviews, and testing. The Roomba 880 is one of the most complete budget-friendly models from iRobot. The iRobot Roomba 980 is still considered the best purchase you can make. Read on to find out which one is best for you.
When comparing models from two different series, such as the Roomba 880 and Roomba 980, there are going to be a variety of differences. The newer model, in this case, the 980, will have more advanced features, upgraded options, and better functionality.
For instance, both robot vacuums use the rubber paddled, tangle-free extractors, have HEPA filtration and can be scheduled to clean any day of the week. The Roomba 980, though has camera-based navigation, a stronger battery and will offer you a more thorough clean on more surfaces.
In reality, the Roomba 980 is a much better robot vacuum than the Roomba 880. However, that doesn't mean it will be a better vacuum for you or your home. The Roomba 880 has its place and does well in smaller homes, floor plans with less carpeting and saves a lot of money for those on a tighter budget.
The Roomba 980 is for those that want a little more. More controls, more options, and more reliance on the robot and less on the upright stuck in the closet. Continue reading to find out how the two robots compare against one another and to determine which is the better fit for you.
How These Roomba Models Are Similar
Even though the Roomba 880 and Roomba 980 are an entire generation apart, they do share some of the same qualities and features. Let's take a look at those now.
AeroForce 3-Stage Cleaning System
Both of the Roomba robots use the iRobot AeroForce 3-stage cleaning system. This is the process of collecting debris, suctioning it up, and filtering the exhaust air.
The first stage is the collection, where the side brush will pull dirt in from outside the reach of the robot, and put it in the cleaning path.
The rubber extractors agitate the carpet, sweep hard floors and lift the debris.The second stage is the suction where the dirt is pulled in to the robot and deposited in the dust bin.
Finally, the exhaust air is pushed through a filter before returning to the home.
Both the Roomba 880 and 980 have a HEPA style filter which will help reduce allergens in your home such as pet dander and dust mites.
Docking Station & Self Charging
The Roomba 980 and Roomba 880 both use the Home Base charging station. They will each monitor their battery levels and will return to the dock when the battery level gets too low. Once docked, the robots will wait until their batteries are fully charged, which is indicated by a solid, steady green battery icon indicator.
How they handle the cleaning sessions after the battery is fully charged is different,—more about this difference in the next section—but they will both return to recharge on their own. In some rare instances (more common for the 880 than the 980) the robots will not be able to make it back to the charging station before the battery completely dies.
When this happens, you will need to pick up the robot and place it on the charging cradle manually.
Dirt Detect System
The two Roomba models in this review both have dirt detection systems. A series of infrared lights detect where dirt remains after a single pass. If detected, the robots will circle back to make another pass, cleaning the area one more time. How they make, this loop is handled slightly differently because of their navigation and cleaning patterns.
What is essential, though, is that the Roomba 980 and 880 will each make another pass of areas that they sense as still dirty.
There are a few different filter types made and used by the various Roomba models. The AeroForce high-efficiency filters are HEPA style and found in both the 880 and 980 models. These filters will reduce allergens by capturing particles down to 3 microns in size.
The particles captured, aside from the dirt and dust, will be things that can cause allergic reactions in your home, such as pet dander, pollen, dust mites, even mold.
The rating for these high-efficiency filters is 99% of what they collect. This isn't an entire home reduction, only what is on your floors. Your central air filter will clean more of the allergens from your home than the Roomba will.
Tangle Free Beater Bars
The extractors went through a change when the AeroVac cleaning system gave way to the AeroForce system. The bristle brush tolls were replaced by two, counter-rotating rubber paddled extractors.
The rubber paddles agitate the carpet, loosen and lift debris and separate larger waste for collection. They are quickly removed with a press of a button, and you can make a single wipe with your hands to remove anything that is wrapped around them.
The extractors are called "tangle-free" because the robots will sense when something is caught, such as a power cord or sock. The motor will reverse the extractors in an attempt to untangle the captured objects. If successful, the robot will then move around the obstacle and continue cleaning. If unsuccessful, the robots will shut down to prevent damage and sound an audible alert to let you know they are stuck.
Full Bin Indicator
When the dust bin needs to be emptied, having an indicator can help. Both the Roomba 880 and 980 have a full bin indicator located on the face of the robot. It is recommended that you empty the bin after every cleaning session. This is helpful when you first begin using the robots, though.
In the beginning, they will collect a lot of debris, and the bins will fill quickly. However, because of their capacity, as the floors are maintained and remain clean, the containers will fill up less and less. With the Roomba 980, for example, you can generally go three cleaning sessions before the bin needs to be emptied.
The indicator is a visual reminder to empty the bin. When the sensor is triggered, the bin isn't 100% full; however, it is nearing capacity. If it is allowed to reach capacity, the robots will shut down until it is emptied. This protects the motors, the filters, and the robots from overheating. Keep an eye on the indicator and empty the bin regularly for the best performance.
With the Roomba 880, you can use the local controls to set the date and time and create a 7-day schedule. With the 880 you are allowed a single cleaning session scheduled per day. When the 7-day cycle is complete, you will need to create a new schedule.
The Roomba 980 also has scheduling capabilities. The methods and outcome are a bit different, though. You are still only permitted a single scheduled cleaning per day. However, through the use of the iRobot Home App; you can create a recurring schedule so you won't have to recreate a new one every week.
Either way, you go, a daily cleaning schedule is much easier to maintain and input than manually starting a cleaning session.
Multi-room navigation is generally achieved through accessories. In the case of the Roomba 880, this comes from the use of the virtual wall lighthouses.
When used in lighthouse mode, the device will contain the robot to a single room for up to 25 minutes. When the timer expires, the infrared blockade is extinguished, allowing the 880 to move to the next room.
For the Roomba 980, the iAdapt 2.0 vSLAM navigation is what controls the multiple room cleaning. The robot will use the camera to create a map of your home.
Then the 980 will systematically follow the route going from one room to another, just as you would pushing your upright vacuum.
The sensors that are responsible for the dirt detection are also responsible for detecting falls and drop-offs. The cliff detection sensors use infrared light to determine how far below the robot the ground is. If it is discovered that the ground is more than an inch and a half, the robot is alerted to a drop.
Once the alert is sent, the robot will either stop immediately or change directions, depending on which sensor sent the signal. These help the Roomba 980 and 880 avoid falling off of stairs or getting caught up on high thresholds.
How These Roomba Models Are Different
Being from two different series of robots, there are going to be some significant differences in the functionality and operation of the two robots. Below we cover these differences in detail.
While it is true that both robots use iAdapt navigation technology, the similarity is in name only. The Roomba 980 uses the second generation version, known as iAdapt 2.0. In the second version, cameras are added to the sensors. The navigation algorithms are updated to include visual simultaneous localization and mapping (vSLAM).
The Roomba 880 uses random cleaning patterns over your floors, relying on its host of sensors to tell it if there is an obstacle or drop to avoid. The updated version of iAdapt found in the 980 allows for human-style cleaning patters, map creation, and a host of other features and abilities we will cover below.
iRobot Home App
With the Roomba 980, you get wireless communications. Once the robot is connected to your home network, you can use the iRobot Home App for control, programming, and scheduling your robot.
The Roomba 880 doesn't have wireless communications, so you are left with other control options that don't require an internet connection.
Because of the wireless communication feature on the Roomba 980, you also can connect the robot to a Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa device. In doing so, you can then use voice commands to run cleaning sessions, create or delete scheduled cleanings, get status updates, and locate the robot.
Just like with the iRobot Home app, the 880 doesn't have the wireless communications needed to use voice command controls.
Recharge and Resume
With the iAdapt 2.0 technology, the Roomba 980 will create a map of your home. Using low-resolution photos taken multiple times per second. The map created allows the robot to know where it is in relation to the Home Base, where it has already cleaned and what is left to clean.
If the battery needs to be recharged before the cleaning is complete, the 980 will return to the Home Base to recharge the battery. When the battery is fully charged, the 980 will resume the cleaning session from where it left off. This recharge and resume technology is also known as "Entire Level Cleaning," which is a term you may find during your research.
The Roomba 880 does not have mapping or cameras and will not have the required information to resume cleaning. Instead, the 880 will clean until the battery needs to be recharged when it will return to the charging station. When the battery is fully charged, though, you must manually restart a new cleaning session or wait until the next scheduled session.
Battery Type & Life
Both robots use a lithium-ion battery, but they are not the same. The Roomba 880 uses an 1800mAh battery pack that offers a runtime of up to 60 minutes.
The Roomba 980, on the other hand, uses a 3300mAh battery pack. This larger celled battery gives the 980 a runtime average of up to 120 minutes. The extra power is also needed to run the camera and sensors, create, store, and build the map and run the WiFi hardware.
Until the release of the Roomba i7 in late 2018, the Roomba 980 was the only Roomba with the 3rd generation motor.
The new motor offered multiple speeds and could use the sensors to detect when the robot was on carpeting.
When carpeting is detected by the 980, the motor increases the speed, and therefore the suction power, to help clean the carpets deeper and more thorough than ever before.
This increase in speed is known as Carpet Boost technology. The Roomba 880 uses an older version of the iRobot motor that only has a single-speed and is not able to use the Carpet Boost feature.
The mapping feature of iAdapt 2.0 technology gives the 980 the ability to see where it is going and know what is coming up ahead. By using this ability, the robot will use a back and forth cleaning pattern that covers the entire room. The parallel lines are more akin to how you would clean with your upright; going from one side of the room to the other in straight lines.
The Roomba 880 doesn't have the mapping and camera features, and its cleaning pattern is more random. Instead of starting on one side of the room and going to the other, the robot will go in straight lines until it encounters an obstacle.
The Roomba 880 will then change course slightly, heading off in a new direction. While the entire room will, eventually, be covered, it isn't thorough or planned out like it is with the 980.
As we touched on earlier, the Roomba 980 has WiFi capabilities. This opens up two alternative control options. The first new control option is the use of the iRobot Home app. The app does a lot more than control your robot, though. You can use the app to get status updates, view the cleaning map, check on the battery life, and much more.
The second control option is the use of voice commands through enabled Alexa and Google devices. With your voice, you can run or cancel a cleaning session, create or edit a schedule, and find the robot if it becomes lost.
The Roomba 880 doesn't have WiFi capabilities, so there isn't the use of voice commands or apps. You are limited to the local controls to set the schedules and perform cleaning sessions, or the infrared remote control that comes with the purchase. The 980 has limited local controls but is not compatible with the remote.
Virtual Wall Features
The final significant difference between the 880 and 980 models is the virtual wall containment options. The Roomba 880 comes with the virtual wall lighthouses. These devices allow you to block the robot in a specific room for a set amount of time. The infrared beam prevents the robot from leaving the room. Once the timer is up, the infrared light goes off, and the 880 can then move to a different room.
The Roomba 980 comes with the Dual-Mode Virtual Wall Barriers. These devices also use infrared lights to control where the robot cannot go. They do not have a timer. Instead, they offer two operation modes named halo and linear.
Halo mode produces a ring around the device up to 4-feet in diameter. It helps protect things on the floor like pet dishes. The linear mode uses a 10-foot infrared light beam to block off doorways, exits and even portions of larger rooms.
Performance of the iRobot Roomba 880 vs. 980
When it comes to overall performance, the Roomba 980 will outperform the Roomba 880 every time. With a better motor, navigation, and suction, there isn't anything the 880 can do that the 980 cannot. However, this doesn't make the Roomba 880 useless.
On carpeting, the 980 will win hands down. Carpet Boost technology, along with the tangle-free extractors and higher suction power means that the Roomba 980 can take on low, medium, and high-pile carpeting.
The Roomba 880 cannot handle high-pile carpets. However, the 880 also has the tangle-free rubber extractors, making it viable on low and medium pile carpeting, especially if there is pet hair involved.
On hardwood flooring, the two machines are almost equal. Both will sweep along edges and in corners while picking up anything on the floor. However, the Roomba 980 might be "too good" in this respect.
The power created by the Roomba 980 produces a heavy flow of exhaust air. On hard flooring surfaces, the exhaust tends to blow lighter debris away from the robot. It appears as if the 980 is making a bigger mess than it is cleaning up. The 980 will collect all the debris eventually, but because of the exhaust blow-back, the Roomba 880 is slightly more efficient on hard flooring.
When it comes to collecting pet hair (and human hair for that matter), the 880 and 980 are pretty equal. The tangle-free extractor bars loosen, lift and separate strands to prevent wrapping, clogs, and tangles. The Roomba 980 may be more efficient and quicker about the pick up of pet hairs, but the 880 doesn't miss anything, either.
With the recharge and resume capabilities, the Roomba 980 is designed for more extensive floor plans. On a single charge, it is not unheard of for the 980 to cover 1200 or more square feet. If the home is larger, the 980 will recharge and continue until the whole home is done.
The Roomba 880 will not resume cleaning after a recharge and will only cover up to about 900 square feet. Ideal for apartments or smaller homes without a lot of separate rooms, the Roomba 880 isn't made for larger houses or multiple rooms.
Roomba 880 & 980 Comparison Chart
The accessories that come with the robots are designed to help you maintain and provide replacements for worn out parts. The virtual walls are included to aid in cleaning your floors.
The Roomba 880 comes with two virtual wall lighthouses (with batteries), the XLife lithium-ion battery (installed), Home Base charging station and power cord, two AeroForce high-efficiency filters (1 installed), and one remote control with batteries.
The Roomba 980 comes with two high-efficiency filters (one installed), two side brushes (one installed), a lithium-ion battery pack (installed), Home Base charging station and power cord, and two dual-mode virtual wall barriers (batteries included).
You can purchase supplemental packs that come with the rubber extractors, filters, and side brushes, or buy each item individually. You can also purchase extra virtual walls if you find that you can use more than what is included.
Setting Up the WiFi Connection
For the Roomba 980 only, setting up the WiFi connection is a straightforward and simple process. You will first need to download and install the iRobot Home app. The app is a free download from your mobile app store.
Once logged in, you will need to connect the Home Base to the app. It will scan and find the device through the home network where you will be prompted for the SSID and password. After the Home Base is discovered, you can enter the model number of your robot. Place the Roomba 980 on the Home Base, and the robot will connect to the network.
Once everything is connected, you can begin using the app or voice commands to control the robot.
How to Charge these 2 Roomba Models
Charging the Roomba 880 and 980 are identical. When you first receive your robot, the battery will require a full charge. Once you set up the Home Base (see below), place the robots on the cradle to allow the batteries to charge completely.
From then on, the robots will each monitor their battery and return to the Home Base when the battery charge level gets too low (about 10% charge remaining).
On rare occasions, the robots will not make it back to the charging stations before the battery dies and powers down the robot. When this happens, you simply use the carrying handle to transport the 880 or 980 to the Home Base, placing them on the cradle, as you did for the initial charge.
Positioning the Roomba Home Base
To properly position the Roomba Home Base charging station, you need to follow a few recommendations.
Tips for Using a Roomba
To prolong the life, performance, and functionality of your robotic vacuum, there are several steps you need to take. First and foremost, you should have a regular, weekly maintenance schedule. It should include such things as:
You should also ensure your Roomba robots are used frequently. Daily use is recommended, but at a minimum, the robots should be run twice a week. If you are going to go without using them for longer than a week, place the robots in idle mode.
Frequently Asked Questions
Now we will answer some of the more common questions about iRobot, Roomba and the Roomba 880 Vs. Roomba 980 in general.
Has the Roomba 980 or 880 been discontinued?
Neither model is currently offered for sale on the iRobot website. However, the Roomba 980 is still being produced in limited numbers. The manufacturing of the 980 is primarily to maintain a supply for warranty reasons. The Roomba 880 is no longer being manufactured due to its age. However, new-in-box models are still available through verified retailers such as Amazon.
Does the Roomba 980 empty itself?
The Roomba 980 does not empty its dust bin itself. There are only two models that currently have this ability, the Roomba i7+, and the Roomba s9+. Both models require the Clean Base charging station and a special dust bin to perform this action.
Can I use this Roomba 980 with 220 volts power?
The Roomba 980 is rated to accept voltage inputs between 110 and 240 volts. However, you should note that the Roomba 980 is a North American model, and any use outside of North America will void the warranty immediately.
Can Roomba 880 clean specific rooms?
By using the Virtual Lighthouses with the Roomba 880, you can contain the robot within a specific room for up to 25 minutes. The lighthouses will prevent the robot from leaving the room during the timed period, allowing it to clean a particular room before moving to the next.
How can I extend the battery life?
Both the XLife battery of the Roomba 880 and the 3300mAh battery of the Roomba 980 should, under normal conditions, last about three to five years, or 3000 charging cycles. To prolong the life and help the batteries reach this longevity, you should make sure the battery stays cool when not in use.
Do not allow animals to ride the robots while they are being used. Run the robots daily to keep the charging cycles active. Place the robots in idle mode when not in use for more than a week. Once a month you should prevent the robots from recharging until the battery has completely died; allowing the battery charge "memory" to reset.
Does Roomba resume after charging?
The Roomba 880 does not resume after charging. Entire level cleaning, or Recharge and Resume functionality is only available on models with camera and mapping abilities. The Roomba 980, for example, as well as the Roomba 960, i7 and s9 will all resume cleaning after charging.
How do I reset a Roomba unit?
To reset the Roomba 880 and 980, the process is the same. Remove the robot from the Home Base and then press and hold the Clean button. The Roomba 880 will take about 10 seconds. Once you release the Clean button, the 880 display will show "rSt" to let you know the process was complete. The Roomba 980 will need to have the Clean button held for 20 seconds. When released, the robot will beep a few times to let you know the reset is done.
How do I contact iRobot Roomba customer support?
You can contact iRobot customer support through email, telephone, or live chat (during working hours). The proper addresses, phone numbers, and live chat links are found on the iRobot Customer Service page of the website.
Comparing the Roomba 980 vs. the Roomba 880 shows that the 980 model is far superior. Not only does it have a more powerful motor with Carpet Boost technology, but the suction is higher, the vSLAM navigation is better, and the cleaning patterns and efficiency are better.
For larger homes, or floor plans over 1200 square feet, the Roomba 980 is a natural choice. However, you may not need all of the functionality and options that come with the 980 models. If you are in a smaller home, apartment, or condo, you might not need the extra runtime and life that the 980 has compared to the Roomba 880.
Those on a tighter budget or looking to add a second (or even third) robot vacuum to their homes, may find the cost-effectiveness of the Roomba 880 enough to make it their final purchase.
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