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10 best cordless vacuum cleaners

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The joy of the cordless machine (and if you’re doing chores like vacuuming, you need all the joy you can find) is you don’t have to keep plugging and unplugging the cleaner as you move from room to room. The downside is that if it’s battery-powered, it will lack the suction power of a corded machine and it’s going to run out of charge sooner or later. Usually sooner.

As such, cordless cleaners have mostly been restricted to spot cleaning rather than as your main machine, though, as we’ll see, Dyson aims to change all that with its latest model which is, the company claims, as powerful as a regular, corded upright or canister (also called a cylinder).

There are two kinds of cordless: handhelds which are compact, extra-lightweight and have spot cleaning written all over them, and larger, stick vacuums with full-length wands. The wand is the long, tube that connects from the bit in your hand to the floor tool. All the models here have a longer wand (though the Bissell is more of a spot cleaner, despite this).

Things to look out for include the run time of the battery between charges and how long it takes to recharge: you may well have had enough of vacuuming when the battery runs flat but waiting for hours before you can use it again can be annoying. It’s important to check the weight – with smaller machines you may spend more time carrying them.

And it’s worth asking if this machine can serve as your main cleaner or is only suitable as a secondary machine for those awkward dinner-party spills when dragging out the main, corded machine would cause so much of a disturbance your carefully cultivated ambience would be spoilt.

Dyson Cyclone V10: From $499.99, Dyson


This just-revealed stick vacuum from Dyson came with the announcement that the company is no longer developing corded machines because this one matches the power of a plugged-in model. That’s down to the new, tiny V10 motor which is highly efficient and delivers suction for up to 60 minutes. In other words, this is not a companion to a corded cleaner: Dyson hopes it can be your only machine.

It’s easy to assemble and has a range of attachments to suit different surfaces. One, nicknamed the Fluffy, uses carbon-fibre to attract dust to it and another is curved to make vacuuming the dust off the top of a refrigerator, say, an easy task.

The V10 is light enough to be easily manoeuvred and powerful enough, especially on the upper settings, to clean very thoroughly. Dyson says it will run for up to 60 minutes between charges, recharge time is a little over three hours to reach full capacity.

It’s also designed to be quieter than many on the market.

The Cyclone V10 comes in three versions: Cyclone V10 Motorhead which has a regular-sized bin, $499.99, Cyclone V10 Animal with a bigger bin and which is designed to pick up pet hair, $599.99, and Cyclone V10 Absolute with the bigger bin and two additional cleaner heads, $699.99. All have the same motor and run time.

Run time: Up to 60 minutes

Recharge time: Around 3.5 hours

Weight: 5.5lbs MotorHead, 5.9lbs Animal, Absolute

Bin capacity: 0.14 gallons (0.53 litres) Motorhead, 0.2 gallons (0.76 litres) Animal, Absolute

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Shark IonFlex DuoClean Cordless Ultra-Light IF201: $269.99, Best Buy


If you need to see clearly into dark corners, the LED lights on the front of the Shark IonFlex will help. It’s quite noisy in use and excels at picking up crumbs and other debris on bare floors. Using it on carpet, however, though still good, is not as effective because the run time drops to around 20 minutes instead of 30. Set it to maximum power and it’ll only run for 15 minutes, but it’s pretty impressive on this setting.  It’s also available in a version with two batteries, which is handy. It’s easy to store because it folds up thanks to a flexible wand, which also makes it easier dealing with dirt under furniture.

Run time: Up to 30 minutes

Recharge time: Around 3 hours

Weight: 8.6lbs

Bin capacity: 0.079 gallons (0.3 litres)

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Dyson V8 Animal: $499, Walmart


Until the release of the Cyclone V10, the Dyson V8 was about the best stick cordless available, thanks to a range of tools, powerful suction and run time of up to 40 minutes, enough for many users to do as much vacuuming as they need before they get bored. When you’re using it, it’s powerful and effective: the trigger instead of an on/off switch means the V8 is only working when the trigger is pressed, instead of running continuously as a corded machine does, which makes it run longer and gives the battery a longer life. It includes the “Fluffy” roller cleaning brush found on the V10, which is great for picking up dirt on wooden or other solid floors. Emptying the bin is satisfying and simple – as good as on the Cyclone V10 with its point-and-shoot system. Because the V10 has arrived, this has dropped in price by $100.

Run time: Up to 40 minutes

Recharge time: Around 5 hours

Weight: 5.8lbs

Bin capacity: 0.14 gallons (0.53 litres)

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Dibea ST1601: $134.45, Gear Best


This is an affordable machine that has reasonable but not outstanding suction. Its design means the weight is loaded towards the top which isn’t always ideal. Unlike some machines there’s a noticeable distance between the motorized brush and the side of the surround, so it doesn’t clean quite to the edges of rooms so easily which in turn means extra passes to clear all the dirt. Still, it has a good run time of up to 40 minutes in quiet mode (that is, not at full power, though this still has an acceptable run time of up to 25 minutes). When vacuuming under low furniture, the larger dirt cup means you can’t reach quite as far as some vacuums here.

Run time: Up to 40 minutes

Recharge time: Around 4 hours

Weight: 4.5lbs

Bin capacity: 0.079 gallons (0.3 litres)

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Hoover Air Cordless Lift Bagless Upright BH51120PC: $199.99, Amazon


This is a highly versatile machine, not to mention unusual: a cordless upright cleaner. What’s more, the canister is removable to make it more portable for use on stairs, say. Cleverly, the wand that sits in the back of the vacuum in its upright position also removes so you can vacuum from higher levels in canister mode. It comes with two batteries and a separate charging unit. If both batteries are charged, you have up to 50 minutes of vacuuming capability, though this is now beaten by the Dyson Cyclone V10. It cleans well and has a lot of flexibility.

Run time: Up to 50 minutes using two batteries

Recharge time: Around 3 hours per battery

Weight: 12.5lbs

Bin capacity: 0.28 gallons (1.05 litres)

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Hoover Linx Signature Stick BH50020: $149.99, Hoover


The Linx is lightweight and effective, though not quite as easy to manoeuvre around corners as some here. The dirt collection area is quite large so it doesn’t reach as far under low furniture as you might like. It has a removable battery and separate charging unit, so if you opted to buy a second battery, you can keep going for longer while the drained battery recharges. However, since it only runs for 15 minutes and recharges take 12 times that, it’s not a perfect solution. Suction is good, but it lags behind some rivals such as Dyson for pet hair collection.

Run time: Up to 15 minutes

Recharge time: Around 3 hours

Weight: 7.3lbs

Bin capacity: 0.18 gallons (0.7 litres)

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Proscenic P8: $149.99, Amazon


The P8 looks like a Dyson but it’s noisier and not as efficient. But it’s quite a lot cheaper. It’s pretty versatile thanks to a range of supplied tools for different floor types. Emptying the bin relies on gravity – unlike the Dyson Cyclone V10 and Dyson V8 which shoot the dirt out when you open the bin. The battery is removable, so the product could have an extended life even if the battery diminishes. You can also buy a second battery to extend usage time but note that the only place to recharge it is in the cleaner itself.  Still, it’s light and easy to use, even if it’s not as good as a Dyson.

Run time: Up to 30 minutes

Recharge time: Around 4 hours

Weight: 6lbs

Bin capacity: 0.09 gallons (0.35 litres)

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Shark ION Rocket IR101: $192.49, Walmart


This is a simpler Shark ION than the IONFlex above, because it lacks the advanced cleaning head which is especially good on bare floors, making this cleaner stronger on carpeted homes. But it still has the LED lights which are useful in darker areas. Design details, such as icons next to the power button to indicate settings for different floors and power levels, look good. Some of the tools, like the anti-allergen dust brush designed to grab every little dust particle from smooth surfaces, work very well. Like the pricier Shark above, this has a removable battery.

Run time: Up to 30 minutes

Recharge time: Around 3 hours

Weight: 7.2lbs

Bin capacity: 0.079 gallons (0.3 litres)

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Black + Decker Cordless Lithium 2-IN-1 Stick + Hand Vacuum, BDH3600SV: $94, Amazon


The 2-in-1 vacuum cleaner is a clever idea. When you need a stick, here it is, but when you need to get into a smaller area, or you just can’t be bothered to drag the whole machine out of the cupboard, a smaller vacuum slides out of the main stick to provide you with a handheld. This cleaner is not the most powerful available but it’s very good value and easy to move around – you can easily get the main unit under low furniture, though pushing it fully under the bed isn’t quite so easy. It’s easily stored in a cupboard as it stands upright on its charging base.

Run time: Up to 25 minutes

Recharge time: Around 4 hours

Weight: 7.9lbs

Bin capacity: 0.13 gallons (0.5 litres)

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Bissell Lightweight 1985 Cordless Hand Vacuum: $119.20, Amazon


This is a cordless that’s aimed more at spot cleaning and less as a total replacement for a corded machine. But it’s very good at what it does, with decent suction for 15 minutes. There are useful extension wands and a flexible hose, though this is made of lightweight plastic that errs on the flimsy side. It’s a good fit in the hand and easy to manoeuvre into tight corners. The lack of a big floor tool emphasizes the need to use this as a supplementary cleaner.

Run time: Up to 15 minutes

Recharge time: Around 5 hours

Weight: 3.9lbs

Bin capacity: 0.11 gallons (0.4 litres)

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Verdict

It’s not cheap, but the new Dyson Cyclone V10 isn’t just a superb cleaner, it’s a glimpse of the future. One day, all vacuums will be cordless, probably. The previous Dyson, the V8, is now more affordable, too. As are cleaners from other manufacturers, such as the Hoover Air Cordless Lift Bagless Upright BH51120PC which is novel and effective. And the Shark IonFlex DuoClean Cordless Ultra-Light IF201 with its LED headlights makes vacuuming in dark corners much easier.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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