We’re taking a look at one of the most popular of all robotic vacuums, the Roomba 960 by iRobot. iRobot claims that the suction power of this model 900 is five times more powerful than its 600 series. It also claims to have an advantage over other mapping technologies.
Its 3-stage cleaning system is supposed to be better at picking up dust and allergens, too.
Let’s dive in and see if this robotic vacuum can deliver on its claims.
Features of the Roomba 960
Dimensions: 13.8 x 13.8 x 3.6 inches.
For whatever reason, iRobot likes to use cameras for their navigation systems. This makes the 960 a little taller than most robot vacuums on the market.
Dustbin Capacity: 20 ounces/600ml
The dust bin latch feels like it’s on the flimsy side. Six hundred milliliters is a good sized dustbin. The app has an option to overfill in order to jam those last dust bunnies into the machine but it really isn’t necessary.
Your shipment should include an extra filter.
Brushes: Two Rollers, Two Edge
The 960 is better than the average vacuum on deep pile carpets. This has to do with the patented dual roller technology. Think of it like a cross-cutting shredder compared to a single cut. Things are less likely to be missed with this system.
There are fewer strands of hair getting tangled, making the vacuum more efficient. Even so, the 960 can struggle with a lot of long hair.
Charging: Charging Station.
These are the requirements for space around their charging station:
- Keep at least 8 feet (2.4 meters) away from Virtual Wall Barriers.
- Keep at least 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) of space on each side of the Home Base.
- Keep at least 4 feet (1.2 meter) away from stairs.
- Keep at least 4 feet (1.2 meter) of empty space in front of the Home Base.
The Roomba 960 includes iRobot’s Imprint™ Link Technology. You can set up a Braava jet® M6 (6110) to mop the floors immediately after vacuuming. This is where smart home technologies really start to shine.
The 960 ships with an extra side brush.
Battery: 4400mAh Lithium-ion
It’s a heavy duty battery when compared to the usual 2800mAh batteries you’ll find in other robot vacuum. This power is necessary for the computing the mapping system does.
Power: Maximum suction capability is 1000Pa.
One thing that doesn’t work as well as we’d like is the ability to suck debris that may be a little finer, like sand, or debris that’s in crevasses. Basically, it doesn’t suck all that much. iRobot had to cut corners somewhere to keep the price down. The battery is already taxed with the mapping system and running that brush system, so iRobot compromised in the power range. The airflow in this vacuum is pretty light and iRobot counts on its patented roller system to get the job done which, for the most part, it does.
Runtime: 70 minutes.
Again, this has to do with the battery having to run all of those advanced components. The Roomba 960 has a Smart Resume feature so it will return to the place it left off before returning to the charging station. Smart Resume makes the limited run time tolerable.
Cleaning Modes: Edge, Three-tier, Spot.
Besides the usual Edge Cleaning and Spot Cleaning Modes, the 960 has a three-tiered cleaning capacity.
- Automatic: This puts the 960 in charge. It will determine how many times it will clean the room. This is based on the size of the room. Like the rest of us, the Roomba isn’t thrilled with cleaning large rooms twice.
- One-cleaning Pass: Self-explanatory. The Roomba runs throughout the cleaning area once and calls it a day.
- Two-cleaning Pass: The Roomba runs over the same cleaning path twice.
iRobot’s vSLAM optical sensors feed their input into the Roomba’s algorithm. This is how it maps the room and can remember where it left off, where it needs to clean, what kind of debris it’s looking at, etc.
It’s an extremely effective mapping device but we’re not happy with something with the word SLAM in it navigating around our furniture (call us crazy). In spite of the connotations, the 960 is actually quite gentle on furniture and walls. Just don’t let animals or babies ride on top like they do on viral videos as they will block the cameras.
You’ll also need a bit of light in the room. Without infrared, the cameras need light to detect objects.
The Roomba 960 comes with a Dual Mode Virtual Wall Barrier. This can send a signal that can prevent the vacuum from entering/leaving an area. Wall Mode will create a virtual wall up to ten feet wide. In Halo Mode, it creates a barrier around a certain area. iRobot gives the example of setting it up around your pet’s feed bowls. It sets up a protective zone that reaches up to two feet away from the device. This tower runs on batteries (included) and the modes are set up directly on the tower.
Anti-Drop Sensor: The Roomba 960 uses five cliff sensors to detect stairs. Most robotic vacuums only use three.
Control Interface: Phone App, Voice Command, Manual
It’s compatible with Google Home and Alexa but you don’t need Wi-Fi to use this vacuum. It’s nice to have as it communicates if something goes wrong (gets stuck) or when it has completed a task. It will submit a report at the end of the cleaning cycle.
There are buttons on the machine if you don’t want to install the app but you should strongly consider using the app. Not only does it give you reports, you’ll also have much more control over scheduling. There are options for each day and hour.
Warranty: There’s a one year warranty on the Roomba 960. It runs from date of purchase.
Feedback on the Roomba 960 Robot Vacuum
What Consumers Like
Pet owners are amazed and somewhat embarrassed by the amount of hair the 960 can pick up.
It handles much more than the average priced robot vacuum and many feel it’s worth the higher price.
They also like how sturdy it feels when compared to lower priced models.
It does seem to have a problem dealing with longer hair, both human and non-human.
If you’ve handled lowered priced robot vacuums, you’ll feel a little spoiled by the durable feel of the Roomba 960.
Homes with multiple floors will love the smart mapping. It really is the only way to finish without having the machine run all day and night.
The 960 is a very good choice especially if you’re considering purchasing a separate machine to mop the floors at a later date. The Braava jet® M6 will fit right into the system.
Just make sure you’re purchasing your vacuum from iRobot (you’ll see the seller’s name under the title of each product). A product this popular always has rip-off artists trying to sell inferior copy-cat products.
Roomba 960 Video Review
Here’s a great review of the Roomba 960. Don’t forget to visit and support Robb Sutton’s Channel.
Manuals for the Roomba 960 Vacuum
The manuals for the Roomba model 960 are available online.
Download the installation manual here
Download the user manual here.
United States and Canada
One the Web, head over to iRobot Support
Call their Customer Care Team
iRobot Customer Care Hours:
• Monday to Friday: 9AM – 9PM Eastern Time
• Saturday and Sunday: 9AM – 6PM Eastern Time
Outside of the US and Canada
Visit Global iRobot to find a local support center.