Seldom will describing a product as something that sucks be done in a positive light. Cordless stick vacuums are an exception. Once an underpowered accessory (some of you might remember the old “dustbuster” design that resembled a 1990s-era minivan), cordless vacs and battery technology have evolved.
Today’s best cordless stick vacuums provide outstanding cleaning power, portability and ease of use. Following are our three recommended most powerful battery-powered vacuum cleaners that combine powerful suction, and long-lasting energy, with affordability.
1. Vax Blade 4 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner CLSV-B4KS
The Vax Blade 4 CLSV-B4KS Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner—with a 0.6-litre capacity and 12 volts of power—is designed to provide a cleaning experience comparable to that of a traditional corded vacuum.
The high-capacity strong 4.0Ah lithium-ion battery provides an impressive runtime of up to 45 minutes, which is adequate for most spaces. Vax suggests that the CLSV-B4KS can be used to clean your whole home twice on a single charge; that’s possible, though dependent on square footage, flooring type and how much dirt there is to hoover up.
Inside the horizontal cylinder, engineering trickery creates a powerful cyclonic effect to efficiently pull dust and dirt from the floor – without losing suction. Think of it as a tiny, self-contained tornado that sweeps up any debris in its path. You might ask why Vax positioned the CLSV-B4KS’s cylinder horizontally.
In addition to performance, the horizontal placement improves balance by offsetting the length of the vacuum cleaner and the leverage effect of the floorhead. The handle itself doesn’t look like much, but its neutral shape makes it easy to grip in almost any position—and the floorhead, with its rotating brush bar, is designed to work on all flooring types – carpet, tile, laminate, rugs, stairs, vinyl, etc.
On the handle end of the Vax 4 blade, you’ll find a battery status indicator in ¼ increments, a Turbo button for tackling tough areas, and a button to control the brushbar. The controls and display are simple—this is a good thing, because who likes to faff about with fiddly buttons whilst cleaning their home?
The Vax CLSV-B4KS cordless stick vacuum is bagless. Though the 0.6-litre cylinder holds less dust and dirt than a bag of comparable weight, it’s easier to empty: debris is compressed into a puck and easily disposed of.
Vax CLSV-B4KS Blade Pros and Cons
- At under £200, the Vax vacuum is priced right—not so cheap as to be of questionable quality, and affordable enough to fit most budgets.
- The lightweight (3kg) and balanced ergonomic design make vacuuming even hard-to-reach areas, such as corners, curtains and under low furniture easy.
- A runtime of up to 45 minutes means you can clean your whole home at least once, and depending on its size, possibly twice, on a single charge.
- The cylinder could be larger. Its small size is a tradeoff for weight reduction and easier cleaning.
- Most users find the Vax Cordless suction excellent, though a few have found it wanting, especially in comparison to a full-size, corded vacuum cleaner.
2. Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner
Sharks strike you with fear. Not this one, though. The Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner is hungry only for dust, dander and dirt. With its chunky design and large floorhead, Shark’s powerful cordless stick model is just as compact overall as the Powerful Vax 4 Blade Vacuum — but still lightweight enough to be used in high-up areas.
It’s also extra-versatile, thanks to a clever design and removable attachments.
A sleek-looking, 12-volt rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides up to 40 minutes of runtime per charge. That’s less overall power and runtime than some cordless stick vacuum cleaners, but still sufficient for most small to medium-sized homes.
A particular advantage of the Shark’s battery power is that it can be charged on or off the vacuum. This is a sensible design—not all storage closets have electrical outlets.
That said, the Shark is freestanding and can be folded away with one press of a button. A spare battery can be kept on hand, should you run out of power.
Instead of a single brushbar, the Shark’s floorhead contains two brush rolls—both motorized to move independently of the vacuum cleaner. The smaller of the rolls features an unbroken arrangement of fine bristles; the larger, thick groupings of bristles.
The dual-roll design ensures that debris of varying texture and size is removed from both covered and bare floors.
Below the handle and cylinder is a pivoting mechanism, comprising a hinge, spring, and lock-button. This lets the Shark cordless stick vacuum to bend by an impressive degree, making it possible to keep the floorhead flat whilst hoovering under low furniture.
Many vacuum cleaners feature a rotating floorhead, which accomplishes the same thing, but requires that the user bend forward.
The Shark is advantageous in that it allows you to keep your arms and back in a more neutral position—and though your eyes will be farther from the floor, integrated LED lights and swivelling design help you navigate tricky spots, without missing dust or dirt.
Shark’s cordless stick vacuum, as noted earlier, looks rather on the hefty side. However, the large floorhead can be removed. Replace it with a wand-like extension, and you’ve got a lightweight, handheld vacuum cleaner that can hoover curtains, sofas, automobile interiors and dusty corners.
Or, remove the primary wand and floorhead entirely, and clip on the Pet Power Brush—it’s specially designed to remove pet hair, which, as any animal owner knows, clings to carpets with alarming tenacity, defying the pull of many standard vacuum attachments.
Shark Cordless Stick Vacuum Cleaner Pros and Cons
- A completely removable wand and floorhead make the Shark cordless stick vacuum highly versatile—it can be used to clean just about anywhere that you can reach.
- A clip-on pet hair removal brush lifts stubborn pet hair from soft surfaces better than standard vacuum cleaners.
- Charge-anywhere lithium-ion battery can charged away from the vacuum cleaner.
- Pivoting design lets you clean under sofas, beds and other low-lying furniture without straining your back.
- The battery, which provides up to 22 minutes of runtime on a single charge, is good enough for small to medium-sized spaces, but may be insufficient for large rooms or thickly carpeted areas.
- The design of the Shark cordless stick vacuum, while versatile, makes it more prone to clogging than some other vacuum cleaners.
3. Dyson V7 “Animal” Cordless Vac
From powerful hand dryers to hair dryers, cooling fans to vacuum cleaners, the name Dyson is synonymous with innovative products that cool, heat and move air.
The V7 Animal and Motorhead (probably not named after the famous heavy metal band, though we can always hope) is Dyson’s latest iteration of its well-regarded cordless stick vacuums, providing up to 75% more brush bar power than the V6.
The floorhead appears at first glance to be small—but its interior space is filled almost entirely by the oversized, motorized brush bar, whose widely spaced, stiff nylon spiral brushes create channels for debris to pass easily through.
The brushbar is powered by an electronically controlled, direct-drive motor—that means no mechanical transmission elements, such as pulleys, belts and gearboxes, and more cleaning power with less bulk.
Direct drive systems are generally costlier—compare the lower price of most belt-driven appliances with that of their directly driven counterparts—but the increased efficiency is worthwhile.
Perched atop the dust cylinder is a distinctive formation of cones, which you might recognize from other Dyson products. This admittedly unusual-looking design is a functional feature. 15 cones, or “cyclones”, as Dyson calls them, are stacked to save space while working in concert to gather as much dust—even microscopic particles—as possible.
The Dyson V7 Animal, runs on a rechargeable, lithium-ion battery. Dyson has kept things simple with only two power modes: power suction, and MAX. The former provides up to 30 minutes of runtime on a full charge; the latter, up to six minutes.
MAX power mode is a real energy-hog; as tempting as it is to go full-power, we’d recommend reserving it for cleaning very dirty areas. It’s unnecessary for regular use.
Much like some of our favourite electric toothbrushes and shavers, Dyson’s V7 Motorhead includes a docking station that both stores and charges the vacuum, while keeping extra attachments organized and out of the way.
The docking station is wall-mounted, to keep the V7 Motorhead in a space-saving, upright position, well clear of children and pets.
Like the Shark cordless stick vacuum, the Dyson V7’s floorhead can be removed for easy cleaning in high-up areas. Or, take off the long wand completely, and use the V7 as a truly portable, handheld spot cleaner.
In this mode, the Dyson Motorhead excels at vacuuming in tricky areas, such as where two stairs meet, along baseboards, or anywhere else that extra control is required—and the low-profile, pivoting floorhead glides under beds, tables and cabinets, allowing the wand to tilt nearly parallel to the floor.
Included with the Dyson V7 Motorhead are a variety of accessories: the primary floorhead, mini motorhead (for cleaning small areas), combination tool (which combines a suction wand with stiff bristles), a soft dusting brush, crevice tool, and of course, the docking station.
This sounds like a lot to keep track of, but again, the docking station keeps everything tidy and contained.
After cleaning, the 0.14-gallon (0.5-litre) dust cylinder is emptied by holding the machine by its handle and pulling a lever. The base of the cylinder opens, and collected dust and dirt falls straight into the bin—much easier and more hygienic than a dusty bag!
Dyson V7 Motorhead Cordless Stick Vacuum Pros and Cons
- The V7 Motorhead is made by Dyson—a world leader in innovative appliances and cleaning products.
- A powerful, electronically controlled, direct-drive brush bar motor delivers up to 75% more power than the previous Dyson V6 model.
- Highly engineered, two-tier cyclonic action vacuums up even microscopically small dust particles for a cleaner, more hygienic home.
- The Dyson cordless vacuum is versatile—a wide variety of attachments make it suitable for cleaning not only floors, but high-up areas, under furniture, and in crevices.
- A wall-mounted docking station keeps everything tidy, and the vacuum cleaner out of the way when not in use. As long as you have an outlet nearby, this is an ideal solution.
- Up to half an hour of runtime at regular power makes it possible to clean most small to medium-sized homes.
- The dust cylinder is easy to empty—just tip, press and release. It’s a big improvement over previous versions of the Dyson Motorhead, which incorporated a hinged mechanism that allowed dust to spread.
- Dyson’s V7 Motorhead isn’t the cheapest cordless stick vacuum on the market—but you’re paying for innovative features, a trusted name, and years of engineering.
- The battery life on MAX power mode is short—we’d have preferred slightly less power stretched out over a longer runtime.
- Unlike some costlier Dyson cordless vacs, there’s no battery indicator light or other top-mounted display feature.
Cordless Stick Vacuum Buying Criteria
We don’t dispute that for large homes and big messes, nothing beats a mains-powered vacuum cleaner with a large canister. But for a typical household, cordless stick vacs are the way forward—they’re lightweight, possible to manoeuvre into tight spaces, simple to store, and best of all, there’s no cord or long hose to trail behind you.
How Big is Your Home?
When choosing a cordless vacuum cleaner, consider not only the size of your home—a bigger space may warrant a model with a higher capacity battery, or batteries that can be replaced—but the type of flooring, too.
Though the most suitable stick vacuum cleaners cope well with both covered and bare floors, thick carpet pile holds more dirt, and creates greater resistance than a smooth surface.
That means more strain and drain on the vacuum cleaner’s motor and battery. And if you’ll be vacuuming under a lot of beds, dressers and other low-lying furniture, make sure to choose a cordless vacuum cleaner that pivots—let the machine do the hard work, and spare your back and knees.
Feel the Power
How much power does a stick vac need? A higher voltage battery stores more power to deliver to the motor. But voltage isn’t everything. Some cordless stick vacuums are rated by air watts—a unit of measurement referring to both airflow, and how many watts the vacuum produces and uses.
For example, the Dyson V7 Motorhead provides up to 100 air watts, despite its relatively low-voltage 21.6V battery. What ultimately matters is the total effect. Volts, airflow design, output and motor efficiency work together. Numbers matter, but don’t tell the whole story.
All Creatures, Great and Small
Have pets? Look for a cordless stick vacuum that can handle pet hair. Some can, either with a specialized pet hair removal tool, or good overall design and sufficient power to lift hair from hard flooring and pull it out of carpets.
Don’t Forget the Accessories
Extra accessories – namely, attachments – can really make a cordless vac feel like an all-in-one cleaning tool. From spare cordless batteries, to tapered wands and crevice tools, pet hair attachments, mini floorheads and more, these add-on parts greatly expand the versatility of a portable vacuum cleaner.
The only drawback is that they take up a bit more space. Fortunately, some models—such as the Dyson V7 Motorhead—provide integrated storage, letting you keep accessories organized and accessible.
Find Your Balance
As with any tool, the weight and feel of a cordless stick vacuum are important considerations—holding a tool that feels unbalanced or too heavy for even 20 or 30 minutes can be fatiguing.
Most popular cordless vacuum cleaners weigh between 2.5 and 3 kilograms, depending of course on which accessories are attached. This is a manageable weight for most people, and current designs—which place the dust cylinder high up, close to the handle—achieve a balanced feel.