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iRobot Roomba 960 Vacuum Review

Tested using Methodology v0.8
Reviewed Jul 22, 2020 at 08:27 am
iRobot Roomba 960 Picture
7.3
Bare Floor
6.6
Low-Pile Carpet
6.5
High-Pile Carpet
6.5
Pets
6.3
Stairs
6.2
Cars
Vacuum Type
Robot
Bagless
Yes
Cordless
Yes
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
Yes

The iRobot Roomba 960 is a well-built robot vacuum with a ton of automation features that some other robot vacuums don't have. It has a camera on top that helps it navigate around a room and locate itself. Its smart pathing feature is efficient at moving around and cleaning a room, and once it's done cleaning, it sends you a map of the area it cleaned via the companion app. Also, the decently-sized dirt compartment has sensors in it to notify you when it's full. It easily cleans debris and hair on bare floors, although some dirt gets stuck in the tunnel between the dirt compartment and brushrolls. It doesn't perform as well on carpets, although it's still not a bad choice if you have low-pile carpet. However, this vacuum is difficult to maintain and you need to replace several parts regularly.

Our Verdict

7.3 Bare Floor

The iRobot Roomba 960 is decent to use on bare floors. It has good performance on this surface as it cleans up an outstanding amount of large and small debris, and a good amount of hair, but it loses its performance as the dirt compartment fills. Sadly, it's difficult to maintain and there are a few parts you need to replace regularly. On the upside, its smart pathing feature gives it excellent maneuverability.

Pros
  • Easily cleans debris on bare floors.
  • Sucks up most hair on bare floors and low-pile carpet.
  • Excellent smart pathing feature.
Cons
  • Demanding maintenance needs.
  • A number of parts you need to replace often.
6.6 Low-Pile Carpet

Okay for low-pile carpet. Its performance on this surface isn't bad as the iRobot Roomba 960 easily cleans hair and large debris, but doesn't suck up finer debris like baking soda. It has demanding maintenance needs and you need to buy replacement parts regularly. However, its dirt compartment is fairly big for a robot vacuum and it has an excellent smart pathing feature.

Pros
  • Sucks up most hair on bare floors and low-pile carpet.
  • Excellent smart pathing feature.
  • Fairly big dirt compartment.
Cons
  • Can't clean fine debris on carpet.
  • Demanding maintenance needs.
  • A number of parts you need to replace often.
6.5 High-Pile Carpet

The iRobot Roomba 960 is alright for high-pile carpet. It sucks up some hair and large debris like sand, but it struggles with small debris. It has an auto head adjustment feature, making it easier to navigate over thick rugs, but this vacuum is difficult to maintain and there are a lot of parts for which you need to buy replacements.

Pros
  • Excellent smart pathing feature.
  • Fairly big dirt compartment.
Cons
  • Doesn't clean much hair on high-pile carpet.
  • Can't clean fine debris on carpet.
  • Demanding maintenance needs.
6.5 Pets

The iRobot Roomba 960 is an acceptable robot vacuum to use if you have pets. It cleans up a very good amount of hair on bare floors and low-pile carpet but doesn't pick up as much on high-pile carpet. Hair doesn't really get stuck around the brushrolls, but instead, it gets stuck in the tunnel before the dirt compartment.

Pros
  • Sucks up most hair on bare floors and low-pile carpet.
  • Excellent smart pathing feature.
Cons
  • Doesn't clean much hair on high-pile carpet.
  • Demanding maintenance needs.
  • A number of parts you need to replace often.
6.3 Stairs

The iRobot Roomba 960 isn't designed to be used on stairs.

6.2 Cars

The iRobot Roomba 960 isn't designed to clean cars.

  • 7.3 Bare Floor
  • 6.6 Low-Pile Carpet
  • 6.5 High-Pile Carpet
  • 6.5 Pets
  • 6.3 Stairs
  • 6.2 Cars

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
8.0
Design
Build Quality

The iRobot Roomba 960 has a great build quality. The entire design of the vacuum feels premium and it's made out of hard plastic. The plastic is glossy on top and the sides, and the bumpers have a matte finish. The dirt compartment is made out of hard plastic, which feels fairly sturdy, and it has sensors in it to detect when it's full. The brushrolls are rubber, similar to the brushrolls on the iRobot Roomba E5, and they rotate in opposite directions. It has a camera on top to navigate itself around the room and it also comes with a virtual wall barrier tool. There are three buttons on the top to do a spot clean, start a cleaning session, or return to the dock. There are lights above the controls that are indicators for the battery, Wi-Fi, dirt compartment, and if there are any errors. There's no assembly required when you first get it, as you just need to set up the charging dock.

5.0
Design
User Maintenance

The 960 is fairly difficult to maintain as there are a lot of parts you need to take care of, but they're all easy to access.

  • Dirt compartment: The dirt compartment is easy to take out with the press of a button. You should empty it after each use, but unlike the iRobot Roomba E5, you can't clean it with water. Just gently tap it against the side of a garbage can.
  • Dirt compartment sensors: There are four sensors around the dirt compartment: two on the inside door and two on the outside of the dirt compartment. You should clean them with a dry cloth every two weeks.
  • Brushrolls: The rubber brushrolls are easy to take out as you just need to remove the brushroll guard. You can remove any tangled hair, but they're not the easiest to put back as you need to align them back in place. iRobot suggests cleaning the brushrolls every four months or every three months if you have pets.
  • Side brush: You need a screwdriver or a coin to remove the side brush. You should clean it by removing tangled hairs once a moth.
  • Filter: The filter is located inside the dirt compartment. As you can't clean it with water, you have to gently tap it on the side of a garbage can to remove any debris. It should be cleaned once a week or twice a week if you have pets.
  • Wheel: You can pull out the omnidirectional wheel from the vacuum and out of the socket to remove any tangled hair. You should clean it every two weeks.
  • Sensors: The sensors and charging pins on the vacuum should be cleaned once a month with a dry cloth.

5.0
Design
Recurring Cost
Bag Part Number
No bag
Filter Part Number
4636433
HEPA Filter Part Number
4636433

There are a few parts that you need to replace regularly for the 960. You have to replace the HEPA filter every two months and the brushrolls every 6-12 months. You also need to replace the front caster wheel once a year. iRobot sells a replenishment kit that includes the brushrolls, three HEPA filters, and two side brushes. Although the side brush doesn't have a regular replacement time, you should replace it when it gets visibly worn.

9.0
Design
Storing
Height
3.94 in (10.0 cm)
Width
13.39 in (34.0 cm)
Depth
15.75 in (40.0 cm)
Cord Storing/Management
Not Needed
On-Board Tool Storage
Not needed
Vacuum Rack/Station
Yes

Excellent storing capabilities, which is expected from a robot vacuum. The 960 doesn't take up much space and it mounts onto the charging dock by itself.

6.8
Design
Dirt Compartment
Dirt Compartment Volume
0.12 gal (0.45 L)
Full Dirt Compartment Indicator
Yes
Bag Included
No Bag Needed

The Roomba 960 has a good-sized dirt compartment for a robot vacuum, and it's bigger than the dirt compartments on the iRobot Roomba 675 and iRobot Roomba E5. It has sensors that notify you when the compartment is full, either through the application or the light on top. Note that the cover doesn't close if the HEPA filter isn't inserted.

Design
In The Box

  • iRobot Roomba 960 robot vacuum
  • Charging dock
  • Charging cable
  • 2x HEPA filter
  • 2x rubber brushrolls
  • 2x side brush (one already on the vacuum)
  • Dirt compartment
  • Virtual wall tool (with 2x AA batteries)
  • User guide

Note that the vacuum comes with the parts assembled and ready to use.

10
Design
Range
Cord Length
N/A
Hose Length
N/A

The 960 has an unlimited range as long as it still has battery life left, but it isn't able to go up stairs.

8.8
Design
Portability
Total Weight
8.38 lbs (3.80 kg)
Weight In Hand
0.00 lbs (0.00 kg)
Carrying handle
Yes

The 960 is very portable. It's on the heavier side for a robot vacuum but luckily, it has a carrying handle for when you need to bring it to another room.

9.1
Design
Battery
Minimum Battery Life
86 min.
Maximum Battery Life
86 min.
Recharge Time
84 min.
Recharge Dock
Yes
Battery Life Indicator
Yes
Removable Batteries
Yes

The 960 has an excellent battery life, although it lasts a bit shorter than the iRobot Roomba E5. The battery takes the same amount of time to charge as it takes to lose its battery life, which is convenient and not something we see on most other robot vacuums. This vacuum automatically adjusts its head height and suction power depending on the surface and the amount of dirt it detects, so your total battery life may vary. There's an indicator on top for the battery life remaining, and it goes from green, to yellow, to red. The application also notifies you of the battery life. If you want a robot vacuum with a longer battery life, check out the eufy RoboVac 11S.

Design
Quality Of Life Features
Rotating Head
No
Power Adjustment
Yes
Self-Propelled
Yes
Headlights
No
Easy On/Off
Yes
Surface Type Adjustment
Automatic

The 960 has a few extra features. It automatically detects the surface it's cleaning and it senses how much dirt is on the floor too. It changes its power and head height according to the surface, and you can't manually adjust either of these settings.

Design
Tools And Brushes
Brushroll
Yes
Brushroll On/Off
No
Removable Brushroll
Yes
Turbo Brush
No
Crevice Tool
No
Upholstery Tool
No
Soft Bristle Brush
No
Hard Bristle Brush
No
Extension Wand
No
Ceiling Fan Tool
No
Pet Grooming Tool
No

The Roomba 960 comes with two rubber brushrolls that rotate in the opposite direction. It has a side brush that pushes dirt into the cleaning path. There's also a virtual wall tool that sets up a barrier of 10 feet (3m) or a circular no-go zone with a diameter of 4ft (1.2m).

Design
Alternative Configuration

There's no alternative configuration for the iRobot Roomba 960.

Performance
7.8
Performance
Bare Floor (Hardwood, Laminate, Tiles)
Pet Hair at 0 gal (0L)
78 %
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L)
95 %
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
61 %
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L)
98 %
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
93 %
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Setting Used "Clean"

The Roomba 960 has good performance on bare floors, which is much better than the iRobot Roomba E5. It sucks up an outstanding amount of large debris like cereal, but it struggles as the dirt compartment fills. Some debris, especially cereal, gets stuck in the tunnel between the brushrolls and dirt compartment, as seen in this photo. It also cleans up an excellent amount of small debris and a good amount of pet hair, but the hair also gets stuck in the tunnel.

6.4
Performance
Low-Pile Carpet
Pet Hair at 0 gal (0L)
80 %
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L)
87 %
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
87 %
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L)
26 %
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
22 %
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Setting Used "Clean"

The 960 isn't bad on low-pile carpet, especially for a robot vacuum. It cleans up a great amount of hair and an excellent amount of larger debris like sand, although some still gets stuck in the tunnel before the dirt compartment. It struggles with cleaning finer debris like baking soda.

6.3
Performance
High-Pile Carpet
Pet Hair at 0 gal (0L)
60 %
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L)
56 %
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
57 %
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L)
21 %
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L)
22 %
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L)
N/A
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L)
N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L)
N/A
Setting Used "Clean"

The Roomba 960 is mediocre on high-pile carpet. It cleans some hair and large debris like sand, but not that much, and it struggles with finer debris. Some sand once again gets stuck in the tunnel. If you're a pet owner and want a similarly-performing robot vacuum that can clear more pet hair on high-pile carpet, consider the iRobot Roomba i7+ or the Roborock E4.

8.5
Performance
Maneuverability
Under The Couch
Excellent
Under Low Table
Excellent
On Furniture
Not Possible
Rug With Tassel
Ok
Electric Cord
Ok

The 960 has excellent maneuverability. Its smart pathing feature navigates the room well. It cleans the room horizontally then vertically, and if it has trouble cleaning a certain area, it finds another path to clean around it. Its auto head adjustment helps it move around and clean in a room with carpets, and for the most part, it's able to clean a rug without getting stuck. If it does, it notifies you to move it. It pushes electric cords around but it doesn't get tangled.

Automation
6.0
Automation
Automation (Robot Vacuum)
Remote Controller
No
Automatic Bag Emptying
No
Automatic Recharging
Yes
Schedule Programming
Yes
Boundary Markers
Yes
Random Pathing
No
Smart Pathing
Yes
App Name
iRobot HOME

The 960's automation features aren't bad. It has a camera that helps it navigate around the room and keep track of its location. There are buttons on the top to start a cleaning session, do a spot clean, or send the vacuum to its dock. You get a bunch of features with the iRobot HOME application, although you can't use it as a remote control. With the app, you can see its battery status, get notified when the dirt compartment is full, set cleaning times, and start cleaning sessions. You get a map of the areas of the room it cleaned after each session, but it doesn't remember the map like the Roborock S4, so it's not as efficient at cleaning the room each time. If the battery dies mid-cleaning session, the vacuum returns to the dock to charge, then finishes the cleaning session. Also, the vacuum is compatible with Google Home and Alexa, and you also get a virtual wall tool to set boundaries.

Compared to other vacuums

The iRobot Roomba 960 is a decent overall robot vacuum with good performance on bare floors. It cleans much more debris than the iRobot Roomba E5 and iRobot Roomba 675 and it has more automation features. However, its overall performance isn't as good as the Roborock S4 or even the Neato Botvac D7. Also see our recommendations for the best vacuums, best robot vacuums, and best robot vacuums for pet hair.

Roborock S5

The Roborock S5 is better to clean bare floors, while the iRobot Roomba 960 is better for carpet. The Roborock has outstanding performance on bare floors, the battery life is longer, and it's easier to maintain. On the other hand, the iRobot performs a bit better on high-pile and low-pile carpet, the dirt compartment is slightly bigger, and the battery takes less time to charge.

Roborock S6

The Roborock S6 is better than the iRobot Roomba 960 as it performs much better on any type of surface, especially bare floors. It's better-built, easier to maintain, and its battery lasts much longer, although it takes longer to charge. You can use the app as a remote control for the Roborock. However, the iRobot has a slightly bigger dirt compartment.

Neato Botvac D7

The Neato Botvac D7 is a bit better overall than the iRobot Roomba 960. The Neato has much better performance on bare floors and carpets, and it has better automation features. It's also easier to maintain and the battery lasts longer. However, the iRobot's battery takes less time to charge and there are less recurring costs associated with this vacuum.

iRobot Roomba E5

The iRobot Roomba 960 is much better overall than the iRobot Roomba E5. The two vacuums are similarly-built and have virtually the same maintenance needs, but the E5 has more recurring costs. The 960 performs better on bare floors and carpet, it has a smart pathing feature, and the dirt compartment is bigger. However, the battery on the E5 lasts longer, but takes more time to charge.

iRobot Roomba i7+

The iRobot Roomba i7+ is a somewhat better robot vacuum than the iRobot Roomba 960. While both vacuums are very well-built, the i7+ can automatically empty its dirt compartment into its charging dock. Its performance on low and high-pile carpet is better, and its companion app offers slightly more features. However, the 960 has fewer recurring costs and it can clean bare floors more thoroughly.

eufy RoboVac 11S

The iRobot Roomba 960 is better than the eufy RoboVac 11S. The iRobot has a bigger dirt compartment, performs better on any surface type, and it has a smart pathing feature. However, the eufy has a slightly longer battery life, but it takes longer to charge.

Roborock E4

The Roborock E4 is a better all-around robot vacuum than the iRobot Roomba 960. The Roborock is more effective on all surface types, slightly easier to maintain, and comes with a bigger dirt compartment. It also lasts much longer off of a single charge and offers a remote piloting function in its companion app. The iRobot charges much faster and does a better job of dealing with obstructions like power cords and rug tassels, however.

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