The Best iRobot Roomba Robot Vacuums for 2021 [Reviews, Comparisons, Alternatives & Deals]

written by Sam Harris
part of Robot Vacuums
created on November 22, 2020
updated on May 15, 2021

You’re in the right place if you want to know the best Roomba floor robots available right now in the market and their offerings. 

Three Roomba bots will feature and besides an in-depth review of their performances and suitability for specific vacuuming and mopping situations–including but not limited to large homes, carpet, pets, and hard floors–today’s update will also compare specific models from the line while mentioning some capable and affordable alternatives from competitors for units that may be lacking one way or the other. Let’s get started.

Alert: Long post ahead! Use the Table of Contents below to skip to sections of interest!

Reviews

More than a dozen Roomba bots have been released to date. ONLY the top three from the line (Roomba i7/+, Roomba i3/+, and Roomba e5) will feature in this list. Selection is being made based on value for money, usability, and cleaning ability. That mentioned, here are three of the highest-rated iRobot floor robots worth the money.

3 of the best iRobot robot vacuum cleaners

iRobot Roomba i7 self-emptying robot vacuum review

roomba_i7_vacuuming_robot
roomba i7

The first item on the list is the iRobot Roomba i7 robotic cleaner.

Like most high-end models, the Roomba i7 is FEATURE-RICH with methodical cleaning. It self-recharges, self-resumes, self-evacuates, and maps floors (supports up to ten-floor levels). You can select rooms for cleaning or mark zones for exclusion. The i7 offers support for App and voice commands such that you can schedule rooms to be done at certain times a day, multiple times a day, once a week, etc. You can see the robot cleaning in real-time and see the areas it has already completed. The App also has a remote control function that lets you manually drive to specific areas

Other key highlights of the Roomba i7 floor vac include

  • 68 decibels (max) noise;
  • 460ml dustbin capacity;
  • 17cfm max airflow;
  • 75 minutes of run time; 
  • 0.79in max barrier cross height; and
  • ~2000ft² cleaning area.

Regarding its VACUUMING ABILITIES, the i7 does such a nice job removing dust, dirt, fur, allergens, crumbs, etc. on stone, marble, laminate, linoleum, hardwood floors, and carpets. The no-bristles design improves carpet cleaning and ensures simpler and quicker upkeep. Even though hair (human or animal, long or short) would still collect around the rollers and its tips, tangling isn’t as worse plus declogging is quick and easy. And thanks to some key highlights like its self-cleaning and restrictive ability and full bin sensor, the iRobot i7 is one of the best, if not the best Roomba for pets. While not unique to the i7 (happens with most round-shaped robots), edge cleaning isn’t particularly impressive as you can see from this video from Vacuum Wars (start at 4:27):

As for MAPPING, the i7 generates quick, accurate, and easy-to-use floor maps (up to ten). It path plans, too, meaning it knows where it’s been and where it still needs to go. Camera-guided, however, the i7’s NAVIGATION falls short in its ability to clean in complete darkness or gently negotiate around obstacles. It also tends to skip spots. A climbing height of up to 0.79” provides the i7 with smooth passage through thresholds and tall rugs though. 

Keep the following in mind as a sequel to the above when considering the i7.

  • Mats with black patterns will trigger the cliff sensor. You can use white tape to cover the sensors but this is at risk of a fall if you live in a multistory house.
  • It’s only available on one power setting of around 17cfm.
  • The auto-emptying dock isn’t compatible with previous Roombas including the 900 series. 
  • It doesn’t have the mopping function (although there’s the M6 which is a dedicated mopper), obstacle avoidance, or room sequencing feature. 
  • Not being able to find its docking station, getting confused, terminating cleaning jobs prematurely, bumping hard into things, identifying non-existing objects are few issues that have been identified in the Roomba i7–particularly with the 3.10, 3.12, and 3.14 firmware updates.
  • The i7 can’t run in total darkness.
  • The filter on the i7 may clog or the rollers getting tangled in the hair. Consider removing hair from the rollers and their ends while smacking the filter (don’t wash) after a couple of runs if you have or live with long-haired humans, or whenever you start seeing globs of hair on your carpets or rugs. Also, consider scheduling multiple runs. 

A high-performing cleaning bot and one which is on the high side of price (typically selling around $700)–while not quite as efficient, the i7 Plus is still the best value for money Roomba. That’s because it keeps floors in top shape, eliminates one more task you don’t like, while freeing up time to spend with loved ones or to do other things of interest. Consider the Roomba i7 cleaning robot if you…

  • Live in a multi-level home
  • Live in a home up to ~2000ft²
  • Have a mix of hard floors (tile, hardwood, laminate, etc.) and carpets (low- through medium-pile)
  • Have low shedding pets with short hair
  • Don’t have a cluttered setup or busy house
  • Don’t mind pre-cleaning/constant floor tidying

iRobot Roomba i3 self-emptying robot vacuum review

roomba_i3_plus_vacuuming_robot
roomba i3 plus

Next up on this list of the best iRobot Roomba floor robots is the i3 Plus model (i4 Plus is Costco’s variant).

The i3 Plus is the one to get if you’re big on reliability or don’t want to deal with the software or navigation issues of the i7/+, s9/+, or Braava Jet m6 seeing as the i3/+ uses less complicated tech. It uses Gyro vs. cameras in the high-end models for floor tracking floors; it doesn’t create floor maps or save one; and it rarely receives firmware updates that could otherwise screw functionality.

Its price is another reason to consider the U2 Pro. Just like the Roborock E4 and U2 Pro, the iRobot i3 (w/o the base station) is typically selling between $250 – $350.

Despite its affordability, the i3 doesn’t skimp on the most important things. It cleans in straight, efficient lines; gentle, precise with the ability to cross strips up to 0.79″ tall. The i3 handles hard floors just as well as it does low- and medium-pile carpets thanks to its all-rubber brush design and powerful suction. It’s quiet enough not to interrupt sleep at night and can clean in the dark, unlike the i7. 

There are a few things worth mentioning/emphasizing about the Roomba i3 Plus.

  • Mats with black patterns may trigger the cliff sensor and cause it to kind of spin in circles or shut off completely. You can use white tape to cover the sensors but this is at risk of a fall if you live in a multistory house.
  • Although it auto top-up, the iRobot i3 it turns out isn’t the best Roomba for a large house considering a run time of about an hour. Consider the iRobot 980 or s9 if you’re in this boat.
  • As in the i7, edge cleaning on the i3 is just about decent.
  • The iRobot i3 Plus doesn’t support in-app barriers; it uses boundary walls instead.
  • It doesn’t support targeted cleaning or map saving. 
  • It’s only available in one power setting of around 17cfm of airflow.
  • It doesn’t have the mopping function (although there’s the m6 which is a dedicated mopper) or automatic dirt emptying, obstacle avoidance, or room sequencing features.
  • The auto-emptying dock isn’t compatible with previous Roomba models including the 900 series.

Because there are no bells and whistles, the i3 Plus is affordable, practical, and reliable. Consider getting one if you…

  • Live in a home up to ~2000ft²
  • Don’t live in a multi-level home
  • Have a mix of hard floors (tile, hardwood, laminate, etc.) and carpets (low- through medium-pile)
  • Have low shedding pets with short hair
  • Don’t have a cluttered setup or busy house
  • Don’t mind pre-cleaning/constant floor tidying
  • Don’t want to mop
  • Don’t want custom settings such as room divider, room scheduling, or zone cleaning
  • Don’t have a cluttered setup or live in a multi-level house
  • Don’t plan to run on a schedule or unattended 

[/su_note] VIEW CURRENT PRICE OF THE ROOMBA I3 (W/O THE CLEAN BASE) ON AMAZON

VIEW CURRENT PRICE OF THE ROOMBA I3+ (W/ THE CLEAN BASE) ON AMAZON [/su_note]

iRobot Roomba e5 robot vacuum review

The iRobot e5 robot vacuum is the last item to be featured in this list of the best iRobot Roomba robot vacuums. A downgrade to the i3+ and i7+ in terms of navigation & mapping, object avoidance, App & features, and cleaning ability. Interestingly, there are upsides and downsides to the no-frills offerings of the Roomba e5.

Starting with the positives, the e5 doesn’t receive firmware updates. This explains its ability to avoid the much familiar situation of the i7+ and s9+ where an update fixes one bug while creating another usability problem that would have to be endured until the next update.

More so, the Roomba e5 doesn’t have a camera. This makes sense if you want to clean without having the lights on or if you’d rather not have a camera on wheels driving around your home.

Further, the side brush on the e5 does enough to reach and remove dirt wherever they might be hiding. That, plus its specially designed center brush, powerful suction, and airflow join forces for effective pick up of dust, sand, hair, etc. on a rug, carpet, hardwood, tile, laminate, or stone floors. And while not at room level, it’s possible to schedule cleaning jobs.

Other key highlights of the Roomba e5 include

  • Dirt Detect for improved pickup performance;
  • Full bin indicator to prevent bin overflow;
  • HEPA filter for improved air quality;
  • 65dB max noise level supports nondisruptive conversations during the day;
  • 0.71in max barrier cross height for increased reach;
  • Brushless rollers for easier upkeep;
  • App and voice control for increased control, customization, and flexibility.

Talking about the negative consequences of the entry-level offerings of the e5.

First off, the e5 is lacking the upgraded navigation of the i3+ and mapping system of the i7+. As a result, spots may be missed with rooms getting ignored or cleaning jobs getting abandoned. Baseboards and other objects on the floor can’t escape, and customized and/or systematic cleaning isn’t available for multi-story homeowners.

On low power settings, the e5 can run up to 90 minutes before needing to recharge. That number could drop to 45 – 60 minutes if run on high power/as the battery ages.

And compatible with only 2.4 GHz frequency, auto-resume isn’t available on the e5, either. Thus, cleaning may delay, plus vacuuming is best done if you’re home as the e5 is a little more hands-on.

No Carpet Boost function, so no power savings on the hardwood.

Dustbin at 500ml–and without an auto-empty base station–means you can’t have a busy house with kids & pets everywhere and still lack time to empty the dustbin and wipe the robot as much as necessary.

Optical blocks are your best bet to condone the Roomba e5. Besides they’re less effective and convenient than the keep-out zones found in the i7+, it doesn’t come with the package and is sold separately.

Bottom line, no the Roomba e5 isn’t going to replace your upright or give you the convenience and personalization of the more pricey models. With some patience and a little time to spare, however, you can pay just under $300 for the e5 (being one of the lowest-priced Roomba) instead of $600, $800, and $1000 respectively for the i3+, i7+, and s9+. That’s savings of at least $300! And the e5, because it lets you go longer in between vacuuming, also rewards you with the free time you can spend with your kids or in doing other things of interest.

Get the Roomba i3 Plus vacuuming robot if you…

  • Live in a small house/an apartment
  • Have a less complicated layout and fewer obstacles
  • Have low- through medium-pile carpets and hard floors
  • Have moderate shedding short hair pets
  • Are on a budget 
  • Don’t live in a multi-level home
  • Don’t want to mop
  • Can’t be bothered with personalization
  • Don’t have people with long hair
  • Won’t be running unattended

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Comparisons

Because of the dozens of iRobot products in the market, it can be hard to know which one to choose especially when they share subtle differences like colors or have features you don’t need or that don’t improve cleaning or usability.

It turns out you’re in the right place if you want to make better decisions while maximizing value on your purchase of a Roomba as this section will do a straight-to-the-point comparison between popular Roomba models.

Roomba i7 vs. s9

Roomba_i7_robot_vacuum
Roomba i7
Roomba_s9_robot_vacuum
Roomba s9

The Roomba s9 was supposed to be an upgrade to the Roomba i7 and to some extent it is. However, it’s costly, but that would’ve counted for less if it worked consistently and had a more durable side brush. On the plus side, the Roomba s9 has a ton of suction and airflow which is very helpful if you have full-length (thick) carpets. Its D shape and wider brush design, similar to the Neato, also aid pickup in open areas, corners, and along walls.

Conversely, if you don’t have thick carpets, the Roomba i7 is probably the best choice considering it’s cheaper, has a more durable side brush and stable operation, and is the quieter of the two.

The i7 and s9 are advanced models. Meaning they path-plan and clean systematically in a back and forth pattern. They have floor maps that can be saved and edited which allows for personalized vacuuming. Also, the i7 and s9 have specially designed rubber brushes, auto-recharge and resume (including Smart Top-up), and auto-dirt emptying functions (the i7+ and s9+ variants). “+” indicates the total package with the clean base. It’s also possible to buy the main units (i7 and s9) separately and later on add their clean bases. In any case, the center brush and self-emptying dock of the i7+ aren’t compatible with the s9+ and vice versa. 

Conclusively, either of the i7 or s9 is ideal if you want the latest tech or a fully automatic floor robot, have carpets and/or hair situation, or live in a large or multi-level home.

Product titlesProduct imagesPurchase links
iRobot s9 robot vacuum
iRobot_s9_robot_vacuum
iRobot s9 robot vaacuum
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iRobot s9 self-emptying bin
iRobot_s9_self-emptying_bin
iRobot s9 self-emptying bin
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iRobot s9 Plus (total package)
iRobot_s9_with_self-emptying_bin
iRobot s9 self-emptying bin
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot i7 robot vacuum
iRobot_i7_robot_vacuum
iRobot i7 robot vacuum
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot i7 self-emptying bin
iRobot_i7_self-emptying_bin
iRobot i7 self-emptying bin
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iRobot i7 Plus (total package)
iRobot_i7_Plus
iRobot i7 Plus
Check current price on Amazon

Roomba i7 vs. 980

Roomba_i7_robot_vacuum
Roomba i7
Roomba_980_robot_vacuum
Roomba 980

Both the i7 and 980 clean in logical straight lines while automatically recharging and resuming missions. The iRobot i7 supports automatic dirt emptying, mapping/multi-floor mapping, and custom cleaning. The 980 supports prolonged cleaning given its 120 minutes run time and doesn’t receive firmware updates, so it’s more reliable.

Consider the Roomba 980 if you want a floor robot that simply works in a single-story home/apartment with carpets (high-pile inclusive), hard floors, sand, dust, dirt, and one or two humans/shedding pets.

Consider the i7 if you don’t mind splurging; want something less hands-on; have complicated floor plans with lots of transitions; live in a large/multi-level home; want personalized cleaning; or have kids, pets and humans who constantly lose hair.

Roomba i3 vs. 960 vs. 980

Roomba_i3_robot_vacuum
Roomba i3
Roomba_980_robot_vacuum
Roomba 980
Roomba_960_robot_vacuum
Roomba 960

The i3 (i4 is Costco’s variant), 960, and 980 Roombas are a considerable step up from the 800, 700, 600, and 500 generations in crucial areas of cleaning and operation. They clean in neat rows and when they’re low on battery power would return to their charging stations to charge up and resume missions where they left off. Expectedly they’re pricier but worth it, in my opinion, since they’re more effective at cleaning and less hands-on.

In a typical setup with moderate furniture and obstacles, the Roomba 960 suffices. Given its automated dirt disposal system, i3 (i3+ is the complete package including a clean base) makes sense for a busy household with plenty of foot traffic, kids, and pets. Get the 980 (with 120 minutes of run time, Carpet Boost, and increased suction power and airflow) if you have extended carpeted areas or particularly thicker rugs.

Product titlesProduct imagesPurchase links
iRobot Roomba i3 robot vacuum
iRobot_Roomba_i3
iRobot Roomba i3 robot vacuum
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot Roomba i3 self-emptying bin
iRobot_Roomba_i3_self-emptying_bin
iRobot Roomba i3 self-emptying bin
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot Roomba i3 Plus (total package)
iRobot_Roomba_i3_Plus
iRobot Roomba i3 Plus self-emptying robot vacuum
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum
iRobot_Roomba_980
iRobot Roomba 980 robot vacuum
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iRobot Roomba 960 robot vacuum
iRobot_Roomba_960
iRobot Roomba 960 robot vacuum
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Roomba i7 vs. i3

Roomba_i7_robot_vacuum
Roomba i7
Roomba_i3_robot_vacuum
Roomba i3

 

The iRobot i7 is the i3 with camera and mapping functionality. The i3 uses Gyro and motion sensors which is inferior in precision to the cameras of the i7

for path planning & optimization and obstacle negotiation. While the camera navigation of the i7 seems less effective at night with its mapping technology being more prone to malfunctioning–the i3 retains the cleaning ability of the i7, cleans well in total darkness while adding reliability on top. Understand that the Roomba i3 is lacking in features such as map saving, no-go zones, room cleaning, and room-level scheduling. 

If you live in an apartment, want a stable, practical, and functional cleaning bot and don’t mind personalization or have kids–get the Roomba i3/Plus. Consider the i7/Plus for a busy multi-story house with a complicated floor plan.

Roomba i7 vs. e5

Roomba_i7_robot_vacuum
Roomba i7
Roomba_e5_robot_vacuum
Roomba e5

Dual rubber brush design and app support are just about the similarities shared by the iRobot i7 and e5.

If pricing is such a big deal, the e5 typically sells around $300. For that price, you’re getting a robot that gets the job done in a small space albeit without rhyme or rhythm. It doesn’t offer Interactive Mapping either so you can’t switch it between floors and expect systematic cleaning. The tendency of the e5 missing spots or skipping rooms, failing to dock properly, or jamming, therefore, increases as much as the need to rescue or get it to do the right thing. You may also find the manual emptying of the small dustbin inconvenient especially when you have to do this frequently or if you’re allergic.

The i7+, on the other hand, has the auto-dirt disposal system in addition to other useful and usable functions (upgraded processor, increased suction and airflow, Auto Recharge and Resume, Smart Top-up, Smart Interlinking, app-based barriers, Zone Cleaning, Room Cleaning, intelligent navigation, and mapping) for convenient and efficient vacuuming.

As you can guess, the Roomba i7+ isn’t cheap, but it’s worth it and can get you your weekend back. Highly recommended if you live in a multi-level home or homes up to 2000sqft; have hard floors or carpets (medium- and high-pile) with fewer obstacles and pets, kids, or people with long hair; or if you want a robot that cleans in neat rows, is less hands-on and allows enough personalization.

Product titlesProduct imagesPurchase links
iRobot Roomba e5 robot vacuum
iRobot_Roomba_e5
iRobot Roomba e5 robot vacuum
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot i7 robot vacuum
iRobot_i7_robot_vacuum
iRobot i7 robot vacuum
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot i7 self-emptying bin
iRobot_i7_self-emptying_bin
iRobot i7 self-emptying bin
Check current price on Amazon
iRobot i7 Plus (total package)
iRobot_i7_Plus
iRobot i7 Plus
Check current price on Amazon

Roomba 690 vs. 960

Roomba_690_robot_vacuum
Roomba 690
Roomba_960_robot_vacuum
Roomba 960

Besides hard floor cleaning performance, the Roomba 690 has nothing on the 960. Should I mention the two brushless center brushes of the 960 (the 690’s brush has bristles) that do better under hair vacuuming situations and as such easy to maintain? Or is it the increased suction and airflow, logical pathing, and auto top-up feature that work together for improved coverage, pickup performance (particularly on medium and high-profile carpets), and usability? 

It turns out if you have mostly tiles, hardwoods, or laminates in an apartment and don’t mind babysitting a robot, then maybe get the Roomba 690. If you’d rather spend your time on something more rewarding, want to worry less about cleaning, yet want perpetually clean floors, then you want to check out the iRobot Roomba 960 robot vacuum.

Roomba 675 vs. e5 

Roomba_675_robot_vacuum
Roomba 675
Roomba_e5_robot_vacuum
Roomba e5

The Roomba 675 and e5 are reliable machines since they don’t receive firmware updates or use complex technologies. They’re cheaper too (with the 675 being the cheaper of the two). On top of that, you’ll be getting raw vacuuming power and well-built & modular parts. 

The dual brush-less extractor of the e5 is the biggest upgrade over the 675. But it isn’t like it will not tangle hair except removing hair is a lot easier on the e5 than the 675.

The 690 if it helps to mention is the 675 with a virtual wall. Similarly, the e5 has a black color whereas the e6 is a combo of black and tan with extra filters and two virtual walls.

Bottom line, get the 675 if you have lots of carpets or a mix of carpets and tile or stone floors. Get the e5 if you have mostly hardwood floors, pets, or long human hair situations.

Roomba 675 vs. 614 

Roomba_675_robot_vacuum
Roomba 675
Roomba_614_robot_vacuum
Roomba 614

Similar to the 675 vs. e5, the Roomba 614 and 675 have the advantage of the price (only relative to the mid and top-tier Roomba models though) and use persistence (as against intelligence) to achieve clean floors. And hard floors and low through medium pile carpets, if it helps to mention, given the 600Pa suction and multi-surface brush design which isn’t ideal for hair (human & animal) vacuuming situations. Multi-story homes with complicated layouts are also an exception considering the Roomba 614 and 675 lacks multi-level mapping support and keep-out zone functions.

90 minutes run time (no auto-resume), 300ml dustbin (no auto empty) and random navigation also make the 614 and 675 best suited for small apartments/homes (under 800ft²).

With app and voice control being the only difference between both models, get the Roomba 614 if you want to run on-demand. Get the Roomba 675 if you want to run your robot on a schedule.

Alternatives

Whether you dislike particular aspects of specific models or maybe the features that are important to you aren’t available in your preferred choice. Regardless of your situation or needs, the good news is there are options from competing brands such as Roborock and Ecovacs.

Below are three feature-rich, capable, affordable, and reliable substitutes to specific Roomba automatic cleaners.

3 of the best Roomba floor robot alternatives

The overall best Roomba s9 alternatives: Ecovacs Deebot T8 Plus

deebot_ozmo_t8_robot_vacuum_and_mop
deebot t8

As the best Roomba S9 alternative–but at half the price (typically selling between $650 and $800), while it may not have the deep penetrating, corner cleaning, or hair resisting abilities of the S9–the T8 Plus does however get close enough so that the difference is negligible.

The software on the Deebot T8 Plus, if it helps to add, is a lot more polished.

Floor maps may get a little messed up occasionally plus the app user interface is also a little quirky. Nonetheless, maps are created more quickly and accurately, and you can follow progress through the app.

Unlike the Roomba, the T8 doesn’t path erratically or get stuck nearly as much or in the middle of nowhere.

Better yet, no lid to otherwise trigger the “Close lid error.” No random shutdowns, internal communication aka error 31, “bumper stuck” error, or “clean brush” error.

The T8 Plus is also able to find its docking station if and when it needs to.

Feature-wise, the T8+ is on par:

  • Multi-floor mapping capability
  • Straight-line cleaning
  • Auto top-up
  • Auto-dirt emptying
  • Carpet boost 
  • Restricted, targeted & selective cleaning
  • Longer battery life (up to three hours on low power)…

…In addition to

  • Its 240 ml electronically controlled water tank (vibrating mopping module available as an add-on);
  • Its carpet avoidance feature (in mopping mode) functions, etc.;
  • Its ability to avoid getting stuck on shoes, cords, socks, kids’ toys, etc.

TL;DR–The Ozmo T8/Plus is by far a better option than the Roomba S9. Not only in pricing but also in functionality and usability. 

The best quiet alternative to the Roomba S9: Roborock S6

roborock_s6_vacuuming_and_mopping_robot
roborock s6

Roborock S6 is the second item to feature in this list of the best Roomba S9 alternatives.

Now, for everything the S6 gets right–and that’s worth mentioning–its quietness and nighttime usefulness are hard ones to pass on. 

At only 55 max decibels, the Roborock S6 unlike the Roomba S9 at 75 decibels DOESN’T disrupt conversations or sleep. It’s Lidar-based, too, which lets it clean w/o leaving the lights on. 

Worth mentioning though that the Roborock S6 doesn’t have the vacuuming power or the corner cleaning ability of the S9. You also can’t add the auto-clean dock unless you’re looking at the S7. On the upside, Roborock S6 smart robotic cleaner navigates and cleans excellently.

Smart, functional, and reliable, the Roborock S6 is ideal if you work from home or relish waking up to fresh vacuumed lines on your carpets.

The best most reliable Roomba S9 alternative: Roomba 980 or 960 or i3 Plus

Roomba_i3_robot_vacuum
Roomba i3
Roomba_960_robot_vacuum
Roomba 960
Roomba_980_robot_vacuum
Roomba 980

Noticed there are three items, unlike previous listings? There are highlights unique to each model that makes them better suited to certain vacuuming situations. You may only need to choose one though.

Made to just work, with simple controls and settings (no room mapping or other high-tech features that could complicate things), the Roomba i3 Plus, 980, and 960 clean floors with effectiveness and fewer to zero issues.

The Roomba 980 being the most expensive and powerful of the three, is however an older model. As such, it may not be readily available. If or when this is the case, you can consider the Roomba 960 with lesser power and battery life, but impressive carpet cleaning ability, high-pile inclusive.

Moving on, and while the brush design of the 960 or 980 helps to minimize de-clogging routines, they don’t clean dark carpets plus their dust cup is only 600 ml with no auto-clean function. This poses a challenge if you have a German Shepherd or some other super shedding breeds.

Thankfully there’s the Roomba i3 that doesn’t ONLY clean dark rugs and/or in dark environments, but its Clean Base (available as a bundle or an accessory) works just as well for helping to collect hair and fur from the onboard dustbin through an automated process.

The best most affordable Roomba S9 alternative: Neato D7 or Roborock E4

roborock_e4_robotic_cleaner
roborock e4
neato_d7_robotic_vacuum_cleaner
neato d7

To conclude this list of the best Roomba S9 alternatives are the Roborock E4 and Neato D7.

If it helps for a reminder, the suction power and brush design of the Roomba S9 are two main reasons it’s able to handle high-pile and thicker rugs. Neither Roborock nor Neato have these features. Meaning, while their carpet performance is quite good (the Neato D7 can do rugs up to 15mm or 0.6in thick), PRICING is where they really shine.

The Roborock E4, for example, is typically selling for $300 or less. That’s at least $500 in savings vis-a-vis the Roomba S9. At this price, while you’ll miss out on personalization (zoning, virtual no-go lines, and room cleaning), clean floors are guaranteed, courtesy of a simple machine that works just as expected.

As for the Neato D7, you wouldn’t get as much in returns as the E4. But $300 in savings isn’t a bad deal, either. Even so, you’d be getting near the cleaning power and effectiveness of the Roomba EXCEPT w/o the headaches, of course, seeing Neato’s hardware and software are better refined. Okay, maybe not as powerful enough for shag or heavily padded carpets. However, the Neato D7 smart vacuum suffices if you live in a multi-level home (can save up to three-floor plans) with mostly carpets or rugs.

Best overall Roomba i7 alternative: Roborock s7

Recall while I was reviewing the Roomba i7 machine in the early part of this guide where I mentioned its mapping and navigation imperfections. Another area of concern I noted was the fact that the i7 doesn’t have the mopping function (there’s the M6, a dedicated mopper, which only adds to the cost of an already overpriced i7) obstacle avoidance, or room sequencing feature. Software-related issues too, including the i7’s inability to find its docking station consistently, getting confused, terminating cleaning jobs prematurely, bumping hard into things, identifying non-existing objects, etc.

If any of the above scenarios resonate with you, while not perfect, the Roborock s7 is one to take a chance with. It does all the good stuff you like in the Roomba i7, on top of: 

  • Stable and functional maps (up to three maps allowed for saving); 
  • Gentle and precise pathing; 
  • A bagged auto-empty base station that keeps the air fresh;
  • The ability to avoid getting stuck on shoes, cords, socks, kids’ toys, etc.; and
  • The ability to perform whole house or room-specific cleaning multiple times daily.

CHECK CURRENT PRICE AND AVAILABILITY OF THE ROBOROCK S7 ON AMAZON 

Deals

Can’t afford or don’t want to pay full price for a Roomba or Braava robot? Check this page for ongoing deals. 

Roomba vs Braava

Roomba is the generic name for robot vacuums from iRobot with the Braava being their line of robotic mops.

Conclusion

Although overpriced and until recent firmware updates (3.10, 3.12, 3.16) affected their flagship I and s line, iRobot Roomba bots worked as advertised and quite reliably. Add that to their nice quality look and feel. What’s more, Roomba floor robots support most floor types and cleaning tasks. Keep in mind their mapping and camera-based navigation limitations.

Talking about limitations, busy homes with kids and pets where things move or where small items get left behind may prove too much for the navigation and mapping technology of the Roomba. For these reasons, ALTERNATIVES from competitors featured, including Roborock and Ecovacs that make up for the iRobot’s deficiencies in pricing, mapping, navigation, and usability.

And if it so happens you’re stuck between any of the Roboroc vacs, there’s the COMPARISON section that helps to eliminate confusion while offering insights into who should be getting what and why. As to which Roomba is better or worth it, I’d think this will depend on what’s IMPORTANT to you. Under the REVIEW section, each product’s strong points were highlighted while being associated with suitable use cases/user types. The Roomba i3, if it helps to mention it, is my favorite given its practicality, affordability, and vacuuming potential.

Regardless of which model you choose, though, there are upkeep/ongoing expenses on parts.

You’d have to clean the main brush, wash filters, and empty the bin of your Roomba (maybe more frequently if you don’t have the base station and/or have messy or shedding pets. In which case you should schedule multiple daily or weekly runs.).

Lastly, parts are available on iRobot’s Amazon store. I’d advise getting your robots from there too. This is because iRobot warranties ONLY apply to products purchased from authorized sellers.