Cordless vacuums are all about convenience. Their lightweight, cord-free design makes them easier to store and maneuver than their corded counterparts.
Although there was a time when cordless vacuum cleaners fell short compared to corded models, nowadays they’re just as capable of leaving any floor spotless — all without a bulky bag, a large dust bin or, of course, that dreaded cord that always seems to tangle or fall out of the outlet as you zoom around the house.
Cheap cordless vacuums are sometimes criticized for having weak suction power and poor battery life. However, there are now plenty of cordless vacuums that have enough battery life and power to dig dirt out of thick carpets and tackle any amount of pet hair with ease on a single charge.
Cordless vacuum cleaner buying guide
If you want to make the most out of a cordless vacuum, look for a model that has enough battery life to clean your home (or most of it) on a single charge. Other than that, consider if its suction power, dust bin capacity and filter are appropriate for the type of flooring in your home as you browse different options.
• Battery. Cordless vacuums have a runtime of anywhere between 15 minutes to a bit over an hour before needing to be recharged. Note, however, that this advertised runtime indicates how long the battery will last when you use the vacuum at its lowest suction setting, over hardwood or tile floors. Using the vacuum on thick carpets, or with suction power at the maximum level, can easily shorten the battery life of some models by as much as half.
If you typically need a long time to vacuum or your home has tons of carpets, look for models with lithium batteries that can provide around an hour of battery life in a single charge. Recharging a cordless vacuum’s battery can take two hours or more — possibly making for an annoyingly long break in your cleaning schedule.
Cordless vacuums with top-notch, long-lasting batteries typically cost over $300. If you live in a small apartment or don’t have carpets, you can probably save $100 or more by going with a vacuum with only a 30-minute battery life.
• Suction power. Suction power can be difficult to compare between models since there isn’t a single metric or measurement used by all manufacturers. While many believe a motor’s watts is a strong indicator of a device’s power, this is not completely true. A high wattage means the vacuum will consume more energy. This may be an indication of higher suction power, but it’s not always the case. In the end, the suction capacity of a vacuum is determined by its engine and overall design.
For maximum suction power, expect to spend over $300. Cheaper cordless vacuums may still provide a good clean but will perform poorly with thick carpets and large amounts of debris.
• Dust bin and filter. Instead of a bag or a large dust canister, cordless vacuums have a small dust bin located near the unit’s handle. Some dust bins quickly fill up after vacuuming a single room, while others are large enough to handle three or more rooms without having to be emptied. How fast the dust bin fills up will also greatly depend on the amount of dirt, hair or type of debris you encounter.
Manufacturers use several metrics to measure dust bin capacity — from gallons to ounces and liters — so, if you’re comparing models, you might have to do some conversions. There are models with larger bins of up to 0.5 gallons (ideal for bigger homes), but most models are between 0.1 to 0.2 gallons. However, whatever your vacuum’s dust bin’s size, emptying it at least once while cleaning is recommended to maximize performance and prevent clogs.
Aside from the size of the dust bin, consider the quality of the filter. Some models have high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that completely seal the dust bin, preventing small dust particles from escaping back into the room. Cheap models are known to let around 20% of dust back into the air.
Best cordless vacuums
1. Best overall: Dyson V11 Torque Drive Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Dyson vacuums are often lauded for having the kind of suction that picks up absolutely anything — from small dust particles to big clumps of debris — and its latest cordless model, the V11, is no exception.
The V11 delivers the best performance of any cordless vacuum out there. Its suction capacity is perfect (or as close as it can get) over hard floors, leaving them spotless in a single pass. The performance is equally powerful on carpets, providing a deep clean that’s on par with corded models. In fact, some users mention that the V11 goes so deeply into the carpets (thick ones particularly) that pushing the vacuum gets a bit difficult.
Even more impressive, this model has a sensor that detects the type of surface underneath it (whether hard flooring or carpet) and self-adjusts the suction power. This optimizes the battery life to deliver around an hour or more of runtime on a single charge. As you move around, the LCD displays how much battery life you have left, down to the seconds.
The V11’s capability does come with a steep price tag ($600). So, if you’re looking for Dyson quality and performance for a bit less, the brand’s previous models are still worth looking into (the Dyson Cyclone V10 or V8 Animal, for example). However, do note that the older models generally have weaker suction power and shorter battery life.
2. Editor’s pick: Shark IZ462H Vertex Cordless Stick Vacuum
Few, if any, vacuums, are as powerful as Dyson machines. But for half the price of the Dyson V11 (see above), the Shark Vertex gets close enough. The Vertex ($350) is the most powerful cordless vacuum in Shark’s lineup. With an estimated one-hour run time, it can clean both hard surfaces and carpets with ease.
Most vacuums have a single rotating roller that picks up dirt and dust. The Vertex, however, features what Shark calls DuoClean technology, incorporating two rollers to create a better seal and increase suction power. One roller, designed to always remain in contact with hard floors, is soft (similar to a paint roller) to prevent scratches. The second roller has rubber wipers that dig deep into carpets and pick up hair of all lengths, without tangling.
The Vertex’s suction power can be adjusted for hard floors or carpeting. It also features a suction boost, which you can activate as needed by pressing a trigger on the handle. The dust bin is large enough to clean several rooms before having to empty it, and the HEPA filter is completely sealed to prevent dust and allergens from sneaking back into the room.
The unit bends in the middle, making it easy to vacuum hard-to-reach places without having to bend down. There’s also a LED light in front of the cleaning rollers, which helps you get a better view as you vacuum under sofas and beds.
3. Best for low prices: MOOSOO K17 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
If you want a basic, good-quality cordless vacuum and aren’t overly concerned about maximum suction power, the Moosoo K17 might be the perfect fit.
For its price (often around $170), the K17 can handle debris of any size on both hard floors and carpets — although heavily soiled areas might require a few passes. Its spinning brush can handle even long hair without creating tangles, and, like the Shark model above, it has a LED light that’s ideal for cleaning under beds and other dark spots.
It weighs a little under three pounds, making it more lightweight than other cordless models, which usually weigh around five pounds or more. The battery only lasts around 30 minutes, and its dust bin is a bit smaller (around 0.1 gallons) compared to more expensive models. Still, this shouldn’t be an issue if you live in a small house or apartment.
The battery is removable for easy replacement, or you can consider purchasing an extra one for around $36 if you’d like to swap them and double your vacuuming time without stopping to charge. Also, the vacuum’s wall-mounted dock not only stores the machine and cleaning attachments but also doubles as a charging station.
Overall, the K17 excels in its price range, providing sufficient suction power and ease of use for anyone not ready to commit to a high-end cordless vacuum.
4. Best handheld cordless vacuum: Black+Decker 20V Max Dustbuster AdvancedClean+
Most cordless vacuums have detachable suction tubes that quickly turn them into handheld models. Even so, they’re often heavy and hard to maneuver as they’re mainly designed to operate as stick vacuums. If you’re really just interested in a handheld model for small, quick cleanups — perhaps in the car or the sofa cushions — the Black+Decker 20V Max Dustbuster AdvancedClean+ offers plenty of power and practicality.
Weighing just over 2 pounds, this vacuum is very lightweight while still having enough suction to handle even the tough dirt. It features a built-in crevice tool that extends by over seven inches, perfect to reach tight spaces such as in between car seats.
The battery life is pretty limited (around 10 to 20 minutes), but bear in mind that this is fairly standard with all cordless handheld vacuums.
5. Best wet/dry cordless vacuum: TINECO Floor One S3 Cordless Smart Wet Vacuum
Vacuuming a whole house is both strenuous and time-consuming, and not many people will willingly want to mop afterwards. Luckily, the TINECO Floor One S3 can help you tackle both tasks at once.
The S3 can vacuum dirt, dust, hair and liquid spills while releasing a cleaning and deodorizing solution at the same time. There’s no need to adjust the settings while using it. A built-in sensor detects what it needs to clean and tweaks the suction power and water flow accordingly.
Its LED display tracks cleaning progress (a light goes from red to blue to indicate an area is properly cleaned), blockages and battery levels. The machine also provides voice prompts for maintenance reminders such as when it’s running low on cleaning solution or when the dirty water tank is almost full.
And don’t worry about cleaning messy liquid spills from inside the device. The S3 features a self-cleaning cycle to eliminate odors and debris on the brush roller and inner tubes while the vacuum is set on its charging station.
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