Before you take out your credit card and buy a cordless vacuum cleaner, take a few minutes to read this guide so you don’t waste your time and money on something you won’t fully use.
This guide will help you figure out what you need at home by answering some of the most common questions people ask. It will also break down the terms manufacturers use so that you better understand how these features work and which will ultimately influence your buying decision.
First, you have to set a budget and then prioritize the features you may or may not need. Create a checklist of what you want to prioritize, then take the checklist with you as you read through our comparison charts and individual product reviews.
If you need a more comprehensive guide on choosing a vacuum cleaner, head over to this page where I talk about the different types of vacuum cleaners, their pros and cons, and the factors you should consider as to why you might want to choose this specific type of vacuum cleaner.
Where will you use it?
Are you looking for a broom that you will use exclusively on the floor or something more versatile that can clean areas other than floors?
Sticky vacuums usually do not have attachments and will only work on flat surfaces. The Rowenta Delta Force and Hoover Linx Stick Vac are good examples of vacuum cleaners that clean floors only. The first one has a maximum runtime of 40 minutes which is more than enough time to clean one or two rooms and the second one has a 15 minute runtime which is enough to clean a room.
The most versatile models are usually a lightweight hand-held vacuum with several attachments designed to clean every nook and cranny around your home. Some will have attachments that you can use to clean floors but they don’t last as long – about 10-30 minutes and have smaller packages that will hold less dirt, so you’ll have to vacuum them out more often.
How much strength do you need?
This is tricky because there are still manufacturers who don’t mention how much suction their vacuum cleaners should give users a reference, unlike car manufacturers who cite horsepower numbers to show customers how much power their cars are producing.
Most of them will list how much voltage their batteries are producing but you can’t rely on this as it is just an indication of how much voltage the motor needs to run.
The most accurate indicator you should look at is the air watts.
Note that this is different from watts. Watts measure how much power the motor produces. This is not an accurate measure because when air is sucked out of the engine there will be a loss of power. What is the price? Well, it will depend on the type of filter, the length and design of the hose, as well as other factors. Also note that with a clogged filter, the power also deteriorates, so be sure to clean it regularly.
Using a watt of air is more accurate because it measures the suction at the vacuum head where all the dirt enters.
Here is an overview of the power difference between cordless and cordless hoods. Hoover says the straightener must have at least 100 watts of air to fit and the cylinder must have no more than 220 watts of air. In comparison, the top of their cordless line – the Dyson DC44 has about 24 watts of antenna but if you hit the “boost” button – it goes up to 65. However, they fail to mention the recommended number for cordless vacuums.
Unfortunately, not all manufacturers list this. I called some but they said this number is not available yet.
To help you with this lack of information. We’ll break down each one’s performance on carpets, flat floors, rugs, and pet hair based on customer reviews all over the web.
stick vs portable
The vacuum cleaner has a handle that allows you to comfortably clean floors or stairs. At the same time, portable devices allow you to clean other areas such as walls, tables, windows, car interiors, closet, sofa, chairs, etc.
Note that there are hybrid cars that offer both of these features but tend to be more expensive. However, hybrid cars will give you a lot for your money. These types of vacuums would be great if you live in a home with minimal carpeting because there is no need to deep clean hard surfaces.
Two-in-one monitors often have attachments to help you in several ways:
- Pet Attachment – Designed to suck up pet hair on the sofa, chair or bed.
- Slit attachment – a long, narrow cylindrical tube with a flat end that fits into tight spaces such as crevices between sofa cushions.
- Brush Attachment – Use to help remove dirt from windows, vents, blinds, carpets, keyboards, etc.
Mixes vs Bagels
A bag vacuum cleaner has a large paper bag inside its stomach or a litter box that acts as a litter box that is discarded after it is full.
What are the benefits of this?
- It’s easier to get rid of them – all you have to do is take out the bag, toss it and put it in a new one.
- Much cleaner because you are not exposed to dust
- More resistant to clogging because newer models have an anti-clogging property that allows their vacuums to maintain their performance even while they are full.
What are the negatives?
- Expenses for buying extra bags
- Although there is an anti-clogging feature, there are cases when these bags clog quickly to a point where they need to be replaced even if they are not full, especially when cleaning the densest dust.
On the other hand, bagless bag is divided into two types – filtered and cyclonic.
Filter vacuums use a cloth or paper element filter inside the enclosure to capture dirt.
A cyclone also uses filters but the difference is instead of sucking dirt directly onto the filter, a cyclone cyclone uses a cyclone-like motion that keeps debris away from the center where the filter is usually stored in sorts of vacuums.
What’s great about the newer is that it prevents dirt from clogging the filter, maintaining the suction power even while it’s full.
A clogged filter as I mentioned earlier will degrade performance.
What are the benefits?
- You can tell how much dirt was collected because the cans in these types of vacuums are transparent but there are models like the Makita BCL180W that don’t have clear bins.
- In most of the cleaners I’ve looked at, the filters are washable, so the cost of replacing them is reduced.
What are the negatives?
- For vacuum cleaners with paper element filters, you will have to replace them when they are clogged, so the expense can exceed the cost of the paper bag
- Since there are no bags, you are exposed to dirt that comes from the can
- Performance can deteriorate when the case is full and the filters are clogged
All cordless vacuums I’ve reviewed so far have no bags. I have included this just to give you additional information about the difference between the two.
Note that for both types, you will need to clean other parts of the machine to make it run as smoothly as possible for a long time. Read the owner’s manual carefully about which parts need to be cleaned and how often they need to be cleaned.
Lithium ion battery vs nickel battery
One of the big advantages that a lithium battery has over a nickel battery is the charging time. Vacuums powered by a Li-ion battery will be recharged much faster than a nickel-cadmium battery.
How much faster? This depends on the model.
Just to give you an example, the Rowena Delta Force will need about 16 hours to fully charge while the Dyson D35 Digital Slim needs only 3.5 hours to fully charge. That’s a difference of about 12.5 hours which is significant in my opinion.
Battery life meanwhile is mixed. It will depend on how much power the motor is producing, the design of the motor and how efficient it is. The same Dyson machine I mentioned earlier will maintain its charge for about 15 minutes while the Delta Force will have a longer runtime – about 40 minutes.
Also remember that nicad batteries can lose their charge over time if you don’t use them. Lithium batteries are much less susceptible to this.
One final note – nickel batteries cannot be recycled while lithium batteries can be recycled. If you are green, use lithium.
HEPA Filter – Do You Really Need It?
First, you need to know what a Hepa filter does to see if you need it. It traps harmful elements such as mace, pet dander, dust mites, tobacco smoke, etc. from exhaust that can irritate people with asthma or other types of allergies. This type of filter is also found in all air purifiers.
So, if you have asthma or any form of allergy and you’re the one doing the cleaning, consider a vacuum with a built-in HEPA filter. It will cost a bit more than models with standard filters but the health benefits far outweigh the price savings.
Note that HEPA filters are denser compared to standard fabric filters, so efficiency will be affected. Cordless vacuum cleaners equipped with these types of filters will have lower suction power. This is another downside other than the expense.
You can learn more about hepa filters here.
Do you have pets?
Dogs and cats shed a lot of pet hair which can be a source of allergies, especially to children. Fortunately, most of the brooms offered here will have some type of pet hair accessory that will help remove them from carpets, sofas, and chairs.
There are models specifically designed for this task. Only get this if you have a lot of pets at home. They often have powerful motors with additional gear that help catch hair on hard-to-remove carpets and upholstery.
General purpose vacuum cleaners tend to clog very quickly and do not have enough juice if there is a lot of pet hair to remove.
Other things to look for
You will notice a lot of interesting features that some of these vacuums have. The Rowenta Delta Force has a tapered tip designed to get into corners better.
The Bissell exposed floor has a V-shaped head that is designed to transfer dirt into the suction chamber. Great on bare floors but not on carpet.
There are models equipped with motorized brushes inside the cleaning head which is great if you are cleaning carpets but there is a risk of scratching exposed floors if they get too dirty.
Motorized brushes are hair magnets that attract lots of hair to them. So see if you can remove it for cleaning. Some models such as the Delta Force do not have this option while others such as the Electrolux ErgoRapido do.
If you have any questions or concerns about what I have discussed here, feel free to ask them in the comments section below.