Friday, September 17, 2021

I put two of Roomba’s highest-end vacuums to the test to see which one is better — and carpet owners will want the cheaper version

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In 2002, iRobot launched the primary Roomba. Within the intervening years, the corporate has continued to innovate and produce top-quality fashions. One of many greatest leaps in superior options was the introduction of the i7+ in 2018, with its auto-empty Clear Base. This allowed you to go weeks without having to empty your Roomba’s dustbin, an annoying and typically messy activity.

Close to the tip of 2019, iRobot launched the s9+, which is analogous to the i7+ however has some superior options primarily based on suggestions from customers of the older mannequin. These options embody a longer-lasting battery, two uniquely positioned predominant brushes, a D-shaped design, and 4 occasion the suction energy. 

I examined each of the i7+ and s9+ for several months. Whereas they’re infrequent, the s9+ is improbable on the hardwood flooring and nice for pet hair.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.


Worth and specs in contrast

Winner: Although the costs typically shift, the s9+ presently prices $300 greater than the i7+. Nonetheless, the s9+ has barely higher specs.

Newer robotic vacuum fashions are usually dearer than older fashions with related options. That is the case with the Roomba s9+, which is about $300 dearer than the i7+. Plus, we have seen that the i7+ is often marked down when there are gross sales, whereas the s9+ isn’t on sale. Each vacuum might be bought with month-to-month funds on Amazon and the iRobot website.

Listed here are some specs evaluating the 2 vacs:

robot vaccum chart

The “specialized nook clear” referenced within the graphic refers back to the D form of the s9+. The s9+ can be barely smaller at 12.5 inches in diameter (versus 13 inches for the i7+). Regardless of the smaller footprint, the s9+ has longer predominant brushes. The 2 brushes are every 9.5 inches, which implies it could make extra contact with the ground and suck up extra.

Talking of suction, in keeping with iRobot, the s9+ is 4 occasions as highly effective because the i7+, although the producer does not launch particular suction energy numbers. 

Lastly, every unit is about the identical peak – 3.5 inches. The peak is not vital until you need to clear below furnishings with lower than 3.5 inches clearance. Nonetheless, you are unlikely to discover a vac thinner than 2.75 inches.

Set-up course of in contrast

Winner: This can be a draw. The set-up course is identical for the 2 vacuums and each includes equal extras, although the i7+ additionally comes with a principally superfluous digital wall barrier.

The set-up course for the 2 vacuums is fairly related. First, you take away the entire packaging. Subsequently, you discover a spot for the Clear Base and plug it in. Place the Roomba on the charging dock to let it juice up. Whereas it is charging, obtain the iRobot app, join the app to your vac, and carry out the firmware updates. The updates can take a short time, however, the total set-up course ought to take you lower than 30 minutes, together with scheduling your robotic to run often.

Scheduling is a seamless course that takes a number of seconds. I desire to have my Roomba run at an identical time each day – ideally, once I’m not around, I am not uncovered to the particles it would kick up.

Each vacuum includes identical extras: a high-efficiency filter, an aspect brush, and an alternative dust disposal bag. Moreover, the i7+ got here with a digital wall barrier, a small machine you may set in your cleansing space to make a digital wall or perimeter you need the Roomba to keep away from. That is solely marginally helpful since you may arrange these digital boundaries within the app without the machine.

A part of the set-up course is creating the no-go zones and digital boundaries within the app. That is solely potential after the vacuums map your flooring, which may take three or extra cleaning cycles. As soon as the map is prepared, you may simply draw the no-go zones on a map within the app in addition to label the assorted rooms of your property. This course is an identifier for each vacuum.

Carpet cleansing in contrast

Winner: The Roomba i7+ did a more excellent job of selecting up flour and kitty litter. However, the s9+ was significantly better at eradicating pet hair.

I put each robotic vacuum I assessment via the identical battery of checks. To determine how effectively every mannequin performs on carpeting, I unfold a tablespoon of every kitty litter, flour, and occasional grounds on separate, 18-inch-square patches of carpeting. Additionally, I add several pet hairs to the world. Then I run the vacuum via two cleansing cycles and evaluate the photographs of the particles areas earlier than and after the cleansing. Primarily based on the side-by-side comparability, I estimate how a lot the vacuum picked up.

Each vacuum did an excellent job of eradicating the espresso grounds. I did not discover any proof of the grounds after the cleansing cycles; however, that is the place the similarities stopped. The s9+ did a significantly better job of cleaning up pet hairs. After working the vac, there was no hint of pet hair, whereas the i7+ left behind about 20% of the hairs.

The performances have been a lot nearer with flour and kitty litter. The i7+ collected the entire kitty litter, and the s9+ left behind about 5%. The i7+ additionally outperformed the s9+ with flour eradicating 95% of the substance compared to 90% for the s9+.

Because the i7+ did higher than the s9+ at cleansing up two out of 4 supplies, it seems the superior vac on carpeting. Nonetheless, in case you have pets and plenty of carpeting, the s9+ could also be your higher guess.

roomba i7+ carpet testing before and after
roomba i7+ carpet testing earlier than and after James Brains / Insider

roomba s9+ carpet testing before after
roomba s9+ carpet testing earlier than after James Brains / Insider

Hardwood cleansing, in contrast

Winner: The Roomba s9+ is one of the best robotic vacuums we have examined on hardwood flooring, and thus, it has the sting over the i7+, which nonetheless did reasonably effectively.

To determine how effectively a vacuum cleans on hardwood, I take advantage of the identical test for carpeting. Kitty litter, espresso grounds, flour, and pet hairs are tossed on the hardwood. After two cleansing cycles, I evaluate earlier than and after footage to estimate how the vacuum did.

The distinction in efficiency between the Roomba s9+ and the i7+ was relatively more pronounced on the hardwood. The s9+ is one of the best vacs I’ve ever examined on hardwood flooring. After cleansing, there have been no pet hairs, espresso grounds, or kitty litter to be discovered, and I saw a hint of flour.

The i7+ eliminated the entire pet hairs and occasional grounds. Nonetheless, it did not do effectively cleansing up the flour and kitty litter. About 15% of the flour and 10% of the kitty litter have been on the hardwood flooring after two cleaning cycles.

Nook cleansing in contrast

Winner: Neither vacuum did notably effectively cleansing corners, however, the Roomba s9+ did a little bit higher, coming inside 1.5 inches of every nook.

To test efficiency in corners, I sprinkle a teaspoon of flour in carpeted and hardwood corners. The flour extends out about 4 inches from the nook. Then, I run the vacuum via two cleansing cycles. Once more, I take earlier than and after footage to check how a lot of flour was picked up. I additionally measure how shut the vacuum involves the nook.

A great efficiency on this test is coming inside two inches of the nook and selecting up not less than half the flour. Neither vacuum achieved these benchmarks.

The s9+ was designed for higher nook efficiency with its D-shape and extra-long ahead predominant brushes. And, it did effectively on the hardwood. At 1.5 inches, it got here nearer to the nook than the i7+, which got here with Three inches. It additionally picked up extra of the flour solely abandoning about 15% of the flour versus a dismal 75% for the i7+.

Nonetheless, carpeting was a special story. The s9+ got here inside an inch of the nook, however, it did not choose up a lot of the flour. It left behind 70% of the particles. The i7+ got here inside two inches of the nook and picked up about half the flour.

Loudness in contrast

Winner: It doesn’t matter what suction energy you select, the i7+ runs quieter than the s9+, the loudest vacuum I’ve examined.

I’ve seen that the higher a robotic vacuum does at sucking up particles, the louder it tends to be. To test how loud the 2 Roombas are, I held a sound meter roughly 12 inches from the models as they cleaned a room. I used to be capable of test the s9+ on excessive and quiet modes. I solely examined the i7+ on its highest suction setting.

Each of the excessive and quiet modes of the s9+ have been louder than the i7+ on its highest setting. The s9+ was the loudest vacuum I examined, which is smart because it additionally has the strongest suction of any Roomba mannequin. The highest studying was 77 decibels or about as loud as a busy metropolis road. In quiet mode, the sound meter registered 64 decibels – a bit louder than a standard dialog. The i7+ was a shade quieter on excessive at 63 decibels.

This would possibly make it onerous to have conversations with the vacuum working within the room, Nonetheless, Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor at Clarkson College and president of The American Association for Aerosol Research, and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung well-being specialist at Pulmonary, Critical Care, and Sleep Disorders Institute, each suggests working your robotic vacuum in unoccupied areas to keep away from resuspended particles.

Particular options in contrast

Winner: The Roombas s9+ and i7+ have lots of infrequent, however, the s9+ has some slight enhancements on the older mannequin with its stronger suction, longer runtime, and anti-allergen system.

Each Roombas are full of high-end particular options. My favorite characteristic is the self-emptying Clear Base charging dock. The bottom has a vacuum that sucks the particles out of the dustbin and shops them in an inner mud bag. When the bag fills up, which takes a few months or two, you merely throw it away and put a brand new bag in.

Different extremely helpful options are focused on cleansing and no-go zones. Utilizing the iRobot app, each vacuum can help you choose areas the place you don’t need the Roomba to go. And you may schedule your robotic to solely clear sure rooms on sure occasions. The method for doing that is an identifier for each robot.

In an October 2019 cellphone name with iRobot, representatives highlighted the principal ways in which the s9+ was an enchancment on the i7+. A number of the modifications – the D form, nook brush, wider brushes nearer to the entrance, and 3D sensors – have been added to enhance nook cleansing. But, because the outcomes of our nook cleansing check are present, these modifications didn’t assist.

Nonetheless, the s9+ does have a bigger battery for extended runtime. But, each vacuum are capable of return to the dock when their cost is low and resume cleaning as soon as they’ve extra juice.

Other than having 4 occasions the suction, the opposite characteristic that units the s9+ other than the i7+ is the anti-allergen system that locks in particles and retains 99% of pollen and mildew allergens trapped throughout the unit and out of the air you breathe.

The underside line

General winner: The efficiency and options of the 2 vacuums are fairly related, however at simply $100 extra, we suggest the newer s9+. Nonetheless, in case you discover a whole lot on the i7+, seize it.

Once I examined the Roomba i7+, I assumed it was one of the best robotic vacuums I would ever examine, however, iRobot improved upon the i7+ with the s9+. Although the options of the 2 vacuums are fairly related, the s9+ does a greater job at what issues most: cleansing. But, there are use-cases the place the i7+ is perhaps a greater choice.

On the whole, the i7+ prices are $100 lower than the s9+. The efficiency and barely higher options of the s9+ justify the additional value in my view. The s9+ is one of the best vacuums from the most well-liked model. It is among the many greatest cleaners on carpeting and hardwood; is low upkeep; and options an excellent app that permits you to set no-go zones, goal your cleanings, and schedule your robotic from any place.

Nonetheless, the i7+ is usually as much as $300 lower than the s9+. Should you discover it on sale for $600 or much less, we suggest selecting up the i7+ since we expect the financial savings is price giving up the marginally useful further options and improved efficiency discovered within the s9+. That is very true in case you have a closely carpeted house and no pets for the reason that i7+ did higher with most particles on carpeting.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time indicated and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on [relevant Amazon Site(s), as applicable] at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.

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