These products fall into two different price categories, and I will detail how these are similar and different to help you make an informed decision.
Both robots are major milestones for iRobot. The Roomba 981 was the first iRobot with smart navigation (navigating neat rows), while the S9+ is the first with a D-shaped design similar to the Neato Botvac series.
Quick Overview Roomba S9 and Roomba 981
- air flow: 19.74 cubic feet per minute
- deep cleaning: 91.9%
- Automatic unloading: no
- bag capacity: Unavailable
- Mobility: Lidar and SLAM
- Save the map: no
- Number of maps: Unavailable
- containment: no
- Selective room cleaning: no
- Recharge and resume: yes
- Trash capacity: 600 ml
- Side brush: One
- battery: 3300 mAh Li-ion
- the show length: 120 minutes
- Noise: 74.2 dB
Roomba S9 +
- air flow: 25 cubic feet per minute
- deep cleaning: 93%
- Automatic unloading: yes
- bag capacity: 2.5 liters
- Mobility: CAMERA AND SLAM
- Save the map: yes
- Number of maps: 10
- containment: yes
- Selective room cleaning: yes
- Recharge and resume: yes
- Trash capacity: 500 ml
- Side brush: One
- battery: 3300 mAh Li-ion
- the show length: 75 minutes
- Noise: 74.1 dB
presented to Roomba S9+ and 981
Of all the products in iRobot’s robotic vacuum lineup, these two have the highest airflow, and it’s no surprise that both got the most in our cleaning tests.
But the price difference between these variants is significant, and the question is, why so much?
I’ll break down the features of each to help you decide what best suits your needs.
Convenience of automatic discharge: Roomba S9+
One feature that users will enjoy with Roomba S9 + It’s her clean base station, emptying the trash after each run.
iRobot pioneered self-unloading robotics with the Roomba I7+, and the S9+ is an upgraded version with a larger motor and a revamped D-shape design featuring wide extractors and a new five-slit side brush.
she has Most airflow of all Roomba products I tested at 25 feet per minuteso it didn’t surprise me that it was the best performance.
The square front is a departure from other Roomba products with its circular frame. This transformation has enabled iRobot to apply wider extractors to improve efficiency as it captures more debris on each pass.
Another upgrade is the side brush, which is now smaller in diameter and rotates slower, so it doesn’t scatter as much debris.
Cool airflow (for a robot vacuum) at 25 feet per minute At the maximum setting and has the cleanest capture.
This Roomba has iAdapt 3.0, which uses VSLAM (or Visual SLAM), and combines a camera sensor and SLAM for navigation.
One important difference between this and the 980’s iAdapt 2.0 is Ability to save maps (up to 10), unlocking a whole host of other features (selective room cleaning, exclusion zones, etc.).
Finally, the clean base station that ties all of these features together. This feature has been gaining popularity over the past year, with more brands implementing it in their products.
iRobot still has one of the files The best automatic discharge designs There with ramp-style port and bag system.
This feature will automatically Empty the robot’s trash can After each run, so you don’t have to do it manually.
Excellent cleaning performance at a lower cost: Roomba 981
Outside Roomba S9iRobot Another high-performance robot vacuum cleaner Do you Roomba 981. It is the second highest airflow in the Roomba lineup At just under 20 feet per minute.
This power enables her to get The second best overall cleaning results Of all the robot vacuums I tested at 97.65% and (also) Second place in the deep cleaning tests with a score of 91.9%.
These numbers are good measures of a robot’s ability to clean your home.
The Roomba 981 still uses the same circular bezel as older iRobot options, which hampers its efficiency against the S9’s extensive cleaning path.
However, it has one of the cleanest trucks, thanks to the high airflow and excellent cranking of the hoods.
Unfortunately, it only has iAdapt 2.0. The camera sensor will recognize landmarks, but it cannot save maps.
There is no access to features such as blocking areas and selective room cleaning, which hampers its usability somewhat.
But this alternative is much cheaper than Roomba S9+. Based on the tests, I like the performance of this robot and, to be honest, I prefer it over newer variants like the I6 and I3 which have weaker airflow.
Similarities Between Roomba S9 and 980
Even if these variants look completely different, there are similarities, which we will consider in this section.
The first is VSLAM technology that combines a camera sensor and SLAM, allowing both to traverse a more predictable straight line pattern.
Using the camera helps in recognizing landmarks, helping them better avoid obstacles, provided those landmarks remain in place.
But if you’ve done any photography, you’ll know that cameras rely heavily on light, which is the case for these robots.
You will need to turn the lights on in order for them to work efficiently.
One difference is that the S9 can save maps, while the 980 can’t.
Both robots use Same battery 3300 mAh. This is the largest capacity iRobot battery available.
However, the Roomba 981 will run longer at 120 minutes Opposite 75 minutes shorter run time than the S9 Because the latter has a larger engine.
3. Recharge and resume
Since these bots have VSLAM, they both have a recharge and resume feature as it continues to clean after a recharge if the battery is low.
It is a huge advantage for these bots because uptime is not their strongest suit.
Differences between Roomba S9 and 980
Next, we’ll look at the differences, and there are a lot of them.
One glance, and you’ll see the most obvious shape. The Roomba 981 features a traditional round bezel, while the S9 uses a D-shaped design popularized by Neato.
This difference has ripple effects, especially with performance.
If you look at this photo, it’s clear that the S9 has wider extractors up front, while the 980’s rollers are in the middle between the rubber wheels.
Moving the drum forward greatly improves the cleaning performance of the S9 as dirt first contacts the suction tools before the side wheels.
If you have watched Browse my video on YouTubeCoverage test demonstrates the effectiveness of this design.
2. Extractors and side brush
Another difference is the hoods and side brushes. The difference is not only in length but also in structure, as the new hoods are approximately 30% wider, and have deeper grooves, thus improving aeration.
But the purported agitation improvement is not significant given how close these tests are to the cleaning tests.
With that said, I like the wide extractors and the repositioned side brush which rotates slower because it won’t scatter as much debris.
The Roomba 981 cleans well, but lags in efficiency due to its narrow cleaning path and fast spinning side brush.
3. Recycle bin design and capacity
Roomba 981 has an extension Bigger 600ml litter boxa hundred more than the volume of 500 ml in the S9.
I like the S9’s design better with the wider aperture since it’s easier to empty.
However, if I get the replacement with the clean base station, I’ll give the S9 an advantage since the bag Almost four times the capacity of the 980 at 2.5 liters.
4. Savings Map
The Roomba S9+ It has the feature of saving maps, unlocking other features such as blocking zones, zone cleaning, and selective room cleaning, while the 980 does not.
It can save up to ten maps, and at each map level, users can add sections, name those sections, draw block areas, and set clean areas.
These differences (large format size and cleaning path) separate the Roomba 981 from the S9.
Consumers need to think long and hard if these differences are worth the premium add-on.
5. Dimensions of clean areas and areas
I mentioned exclusion zones in the previous section, but I will explain them in this section. These are containment boxes that prevent the robot from entering these areas.
Unfortunately, the iRobot app does not have the invisible wall feature found in LIDAR-based robots like Dreame Tech (L10 Pro, Z10 Pro and D9)And EcofaxAnd Roborockso you are limited to squares and rectangles as containment.
Clean areas are similar to the custom cleaning you’ll see on other brands like Roborock, but the difference with the iRobot version is that you can save these areas, providing quick access.
I like this, especially if you have areas in the house that may need more attention – this feature will come in handy.
One of the downsides with the higher airflow on the S9 is the shortened runtime In just 75 minutes.
A high-powered motor consumes more current than 980, so it is an unfortunate multiplier effect. This number drops to about 45 minutes with the maximum setting.
By comparison, Roomba 981 It will work longer at 120 minutes in the lowest place.
These variants are compatible with the iRobot home app, but there are differences in features, which we’ll look at below.
1. Save map [Roomba S9 only]
The Roomba S9+ Has a mapping feature that unlocks other features that we’ll look at in this section.
It can save up to 10 map levels, so it’s an excellent choice within multi-level homes if you don’t mind moving a clean base station.
Since iRobot relies on the camera, you will have to turn on the lights for this robot to successfully create the map.
It has the option of running maps which shuts down the engine to increase its coverage. You will have to open all the doors and remove any roadblocks to speed up the map creation process.
Once the playback is complete, it is possible to save the map and assign partitions.
I don’t trust default partitions because they are not as accurate as LIDAR, so users will have to adjust them manually.
2. Stay away from areas
These are rectangular or square boxes that are not allowed on the S9. I like this feature since all homes have these zones, and it’s more convenient than putting in a physical barrier.
3. Clean areas
This feature is similar to custom zone cleaning, where people can draw bins and designate them as “clean zones” where the robot will vacuum.
One added wrinkle of iRobot is the option to save these areas for quick access, and you can use it with the scheduling feature, which enhances its usability.
These bots have a scheduling feature, which gives more autonomy as users can schedule runs. But the S9+ can only schedule multiple runs per day.
The S9+ benefits more in this aspect due to the self-discharge feature.
However, one downside to the S9 scheduling is the minimum gap of 3 hours, so technically you can set it Maximum 8 cycles per day.
iRobot did this (I believe) due to a shorter runtime than its competitors which are over 150 minutes.
Roomba 981 can schedule a maximum of one playback per day.
But there is an option to automate the process every time you leave the house.
Unfortunately, it is still only one spontaneous cycle per day.
This tab displays previous cleaning cycles, floor space, time to completion, and the corresponding map. It has no other function than to let you know how often you use the robot Like an odometer in a car.
These robots have a similar type of locomotion, using camera and floor sensors and moving in straight lines.
Roomba 981 was the first iRobot product with smart navigation, but it lacks map saving. It moves in straight lines, unlike other Roomba models like the 675, 690 and E5 that swirl around.
In comparison, the Roomba S9+ It has smart navigation and map saving feature, which gives it an edge in this category.
Wide straws and higher airflow give her an efficient upper hand on every pass as she picks up more.
Save map unlocks other features of the S9 Not available with 980such as isolation areas and designated area cleaning.
Air Flow Comparison
iRobot does not specify suction or strength numbers. To check the airflow, I used an anemometer on my base brush roll.
Below are the results for both variables.
The S9 has about 23% more than the 980 at 25 CFM (the 980 has 19.74) at the maximum setting. You can see this discrepancy during our cleaning tests, which we’ll look at in the next section.
I test all robot vacuums with different types of debris to check how well they perform on hard floors and carpets.
These variants earned some top marks, reflecting the excellent thrill and high airflow range you don’t see on most other brands.
The Roomba S9The 980+ is the only robotic vacuum cleaner I’ve tested that scored more than 90% in the surface and deep cleaning tests and 100% in the hard floor sand tests.
Simply put, these are the best robot vacuum cleaners available.
If cleaning performance is a priority and you don’t mind the quirks, consider these two options.
Which is better on hard floors?
The S9 and 980 feature a neck and neck design with only a thin margin separating them in hard floor tests based on test results. Both I picked up 100% of the sandone of the most difficult things to clean on this surface.
Here’s a before and after shot of using the S9.
and Roomba 981
But I’ll give the slight edge to Roomba S9+ With a wider cleaning path and higher airflow, providing better efficiency in cleaning debris.
Edge cleaning comparison
Once again, the Roomba S9+ Edge cleaning feature with its square front end, wider cleaning path and higher airflow.
The difference with these images is that the S9+ will clean better and more efficiently than the 980.
There was very little debris left with the S9+, while the 980 left a good chunk.
Hair wrap comparison
The Roomba S9+ It was decent, with five- and seven-inch leads that rose over 80% on both trials, with most of the leads wrapping over the axles.
Most of them are on the axles.
One positive outcome from these experiments is that hair coils are easier to clean with these extracts than with a traditional combo brush.
There is no need to use scissors as the hair comes out easily from the bobbin and shafts.
Which is better on the carpet?
If you look at the averages, you will find that the Roomba 981 is Slightly better on carpet (0.10% better)but the S9+ is better in deep cleaning tests by nearly 2%.
The difference is big, frankly, and smaller than an outright winner announcement.
I’d give the S9+ a slight advantage with its higher airflow, wide cleaning path, and map saving.
It should be more efficient per pass with 30% wider hoods, and with the more powerful motor it should be better at deep cleaning carpets.
Regardless, you won’t go wrong with using these carpet cleaning robots because both will pick up debris well.
These robot vacuums use a 3,300mAh Li-ion battery, which is iRobot’s largest battery option (most of its products use a 1,800mAh battery).
However, Roomba 981 will run more when Up to 120 minutes vs. 75 minutes run time from S9+.
One reason is that the S9 uses a larger motor, wider extractors may need more juice to spin, and the 980 uses the same extractors as the 960, so the motor won’t be taxed.
If you use the maximum setting of the S9+, this number will go away Further down to 45 minutes.
With high airflow, both robots will produce a lot of noise. Not surprisingly, the S9 and 980 have nearly Same output at 74.1 and 74.2 dBrespectively, based on the audiometer test.
iRobot products are known for being loud, even low-key variants like the Roomba E5 and I3.
All robotic vacuum cleaners will require maintenance to operate efficiently in the long term.
Fortunately for iRobot owners, its modular design makes maintenance straightforward.
I wrote a detailed guide for Cleaning the Roomba S9 And 980So check it out for a detailed approach.
But here’s a quick overview of what to check, clean, or replace.
- Extractors: It is probably the most used item since it is responsible for capturing debris. Use a clean cloth to wipe away any accumulated debris and remove hair wrap on the drum and hubs.
- Side brush: Another hair magnet. Remove any tangled threads on the arms and base.
- Dustbin and filter: Empty your Roomba 981 trash regularly. If you have an S9+ with a dock that automatically empties, this won’t be an essential task since a clean base station does it for you, but check in at least once a month and clean up any buildup. Check and clean the filter, and replace it after two to three months to maintain performance.
- Wheels: Wipe down the sides and caster wheels to remove any dirt that has built up on the surface.
- Sensors: Check and clean the drip sensors once a month to remove accumulated dust that may lead to an error code.
- the body: Wipe the robot’s body with a clean, dry microfiber towel to remove and build up dust and any debris obstructing the top-mounted camera.
- base station cleaning [S9+ only]: Make sure to keep the port clear of obstructions. Replace the bag when it is full, and clean the ramp to remove any stray debris hanging over it.
Parts availability wouldn’t be a concern for both variants since iRobot is popular, and there’s an abundance of offer (both OEM and third-party).
The 980 has the slight advantage of being an older, cheaper option.
You can buy just about any component, from easy-to-find parts like extractors or filters to more obscure things like side wheels or a side brush motor on Amazon or eBay.
It also shares many of the same components as the 960, enhancing parts availability even more.
Where can I buy these bots?
These bots are available in online stores such as Amazon. Check the links below for the latest prices.
- Roomba S9 +
- Roomba 981
Disclaimer: I’ll earn a commission if you buy from any of the links above, but at no additional cost to you, so it’s a win for us!
What is the best option? Roomba S9+ or 981?
The significant difference in price between these variables is a significant deal-breaker for most consumers.
But cleaning performance should not be the main reason, because both options are close in this category.
The S9+ has a slight advantage in terms of efficiency because it has wider hoods and more airflow.
Other considerations include whether a clean base station and map saving are enough to sway you to spend significantly more on the S9+.
5 reasons to choose Roomba S9+
- Convenience of automatic discharge: The S9+ has a clean base that automatically empties the trash after every boot, ridding users of this menial task.
- Better Efficiency: The 30% wider extractors allow the S9+ to capture more debris in each stroke along with the slower rotating side brush, increasing its efficiency.
- Better Deep Cleans: This alternative is the best deep cleaning robot vacuum.
- Save the map: Imprint’s smart mapping allows the S9+ to not only map but save (up to 10), unlocking other features like block zones, cleaning by zones, and selective room cleaning.
- more independent: Advanced cleaning performance and a clean base station make the S9+ the best choice for autonomy. You can schedule it and not touch it for weeks, only replacing the bag or filter when needed.
4 reasons to choose Roomba 981
- Much lower costs: Depending on the sub-variable, you’ll spend up to three times less than you have to pay for Roomba S9.
- Cleans almost like the S9: The results of the cleaning tests of these two robots are pretty close and shouldn’t be a primary sticking point.
- Effective Mobility: The 980 was the first iRobot product with intelligent navigation. Despite its age, it still holds up well and is more efficient than the random navigation of the Roomba options.
- Large litter box: The 600ml trash can capacity makes up for the lack of a self-emptying feature.
Verdict: How much are you willing to spend?
Cleaning tests reveal that this robot vacuum cleaner is incredibly close, and has too small a variance to call one a complete winner. So this should not be the primary deciding factor.
You should take a look at the other features and decide if they are a priority. Do you need self-unloading or map saving plus its other extras?
If the answer is yes, then consider Roomba S9 Or cheaper alternatives like i6 or i3.
But if those features are unnecessary for you, stick with the Roomba 981 and continue enjoying the benefits of advanced cleaning performance as one of the underappreciated iRobot options available.