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Most of our readers here at Robovac come from the UK. Given that it’s where we’re based and that the robot vacuum markets around the world can differ quite considerably, that makes a lot of sense. One difference is that you won’t find the iRobot Roomba 980 on Amazon’s UK site or through any official reseller. What you will find, however, is the Roomba 981. You’ll do well to find it as well – the high-end Roomba has been a mainstay on our list of the best robot vacuums since we launched it.

As we mentioned in our Roomba 981 review, there’s no difference between the two models. Outside of a slight colour changes that presumably took place in the manufacturing and distribution processes, they do everything the same. If you’ve read about the Roomba 980 elsewhere and a feature caught your eye, and you’ve wondered why you can’t find the same robotic vacuum cleaner in your own market, the Roomba 981 is your go-to model.

iRobot® Roomba® R981 connected Robot Vacuum with Dual Multi-Surface Rubber Brushes - Ideal for Pets - Recharges and Resumes - Personalised Suggestions - Voice-Assistant and Imprint® Link Compatibility
  • WiFi connected smart robotic vacuum cleaner, with aero fore cleaning system & recharge & resume, runs for 2 hours
  • iRobot home app lets you clean, schedule and set custom cleaning preferences from your smartphone
  • Aeroforce cleaning system with carpet boost automatically provides up to 10 x times the air power on carpets and rugs
  • iAdapt 2.0 Navigation with visual localisation enables Roomba to navigate and clean an entire level of your home
  • Automatically recharges and resumes cleaning to complete the entire job

One difference in terms of box contents is the plug. The Roomba 980 was designed for the North American market and comes with the correct plug on the base unit for homes in that region. The Roomba 981 was created for both Europe and the US. If you order one in the UK from a reputable seller, you’ll receive the standard 3-pin plug. Ordering from your local Amazon store elsewhere in Europe should see the device being delivered with the 2-pin equivalent. Order one on Amazon in the US, and it’ll work right out of the box.

Incidentally, that’s also worth keeping in mind if you need replacement parts for your Roomba 981. Most off-brand replacements come from abroad and are sold all around the world. To keep things simple, they often go with series numbers instead of specific models. This Roomba accessory pack on Amazon is targeted primarily at the Roomba 800 series. However, the 900 series, incorporating the Roomba 981 and Roomba 960, share the same moving parts. The differences between the various series often comes down to the more technical innards that you’ll never replace, such as mapping and navigation.

As the flagship model in the Roomba range, there’s a reason why the Roomba 981 and, by extension, the Roomba 980, are so highly regarded. There are more expensive Roomba models, such as the i7+. However, what you’re getting there is basically a 980 with a larger base unit that enables the robot vacuum to empty itself. It’s certainly convenient, but you’d have to be really tired of the walk from your Roomba’s base unit to the bin to pay almost double the price!

iRobot Roomba 980 vs Roomba 981 – In Summary

To conclude, if you’re after a Roomba 980 and can’t find it at your local online or offline store, but the Roomba 981 is available, you’ve got nothing to worry about. Naturally, the same applies in reverse too. They both boast the same suction power, connectivity through wifi and apps, dustbin capacity and everything else. As alluded to already, that all adds up to one of the best robot vacuums on the market and the best-value iRobot Roomba model around at the moment.

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