Power cords got you wound up? We’ve spent more than 100 hours over the past few years looking into 73 different cordless vacuums, and after testing more than a dozen of them, we’re sure the Dyson V6 is the best choice. No cordless vacuum from any other brand matches the cleaning performance of the V6; in our tests, it picked up more ground-in dust and hair from our carpets than any competitor and cleaned up bare floors in fewer passes.
The V6 has about 17 minutes of constant run time, which is enough to clean most condos, apartments, or townhouses. Lightweight and easy to steer, it works well on carpets or bare floors and can convert into a handheld vacuum for cleaning shelves, windowsills, upholstery, or your car. This model is expensive, and it has only a two-year warranty, but that’s what it costs to get a cordless vacuum that’s good enough to replace a plug-in model—and based on the positive feedback from owners, lots of people think the V6 is worth the price. This Dyson used to be our upgrade pick, but now we’re making it our main pick (replacing the Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1) because its performance goes far beyond the competition and the price is lower now than it was in previous versions of this guide. If you have the right kind of home for a cordless vacuum, the V6 is the best one for the money.
If you just need something affordable and convenient for tidying up a small space, the Hoover Linx (BH50010) is a tried-and-true option. It’s one of the most effective cleaners among budget-priced cordless vacs, and it has a respectable 16-minute run time. The foam filter is reusable, clogs and tangles are easy to clear, and the machine won’t need much general maintenance. Like its competitors at this price, it’s really effective only at cleaning bare floors, and maybe sweeping up some surface-level crumbs and hair from short rugs. The Linx has been around for a while and has great customer reviews, so we know that it holds up well over a couple of years with a modest workload. (This model used to be known as the Hoover Platinum Collection Linx; the new vacuum is exactly the same, to the best of our knowledge.)
Another affordable cordless vacuum we really like is the Anker HomeVac Duo. It has two advantages over its competitors: a 24-minute battery life, which is a few minutes longer than that of most other budget models, and a pop-out hand vacuum, so you can use it for more than just cleaning floors. Like the Linx, the Anker HomeVac Duo is a competent bare-floor cleaner and okay at tidying up short rugs, and it won’t need much maintenance. The downside is that it costs more than the Linx (at least at the time of writing) and that it’s a new model, so we don’t know if it has any reliability or quality-control problems yet.
If your home is too big for the V6 to clean in one pass, but you still want a cordless vacuum that cleans like a great plug-in, your only good choice is the Dyson V8 Absolute. It’s a lot like the V6, but with twice the battery life—we timed it at 32 minutes per charge on the standard power setting—plus some extra accessories and a few other design tweaks. The average size of a new house in the US is about 2,400 square feet, and the V8 should almost be able to handle that floor space. The main drawback is that the V8 costs a lot more while retaining the same relatively short expected lifespan of other, cheaper cordless vacs. For a large home, a plug-in vacuum is a much more practical, cost-effective choice. But if you really want a cordless vacuum for your big house, get the V8.
I’ve covered vacuums for The Sweethome for more than three years, logging hundreds of hours of vacuum research and testing in that time. I’ve personally tested dozens of vacuums of all types (cordless, robots, handhelds, and traditional plug-ins) in several homes with varied floor plans. And I have at least passing knowledge of hundreds more vacuums.
Other trivia: At the time of writing, I counted 19 vacuums in my condo, and I might have forgotten a couple. I’ve learned to preemptively explain the vacuum situation to guests when they come to my place for the first time. I’ve mostly lived in spaces where cordless vacuums are easier to use than plug-ins (including where I’m living right now), so I have a particularly good perspective on this guide.
For this update, I put in an additional 16 hours of research and testing into about 25 new vacuums, plus dozens of additional hours of using our favorite vacuums to clean my own home.
Although we do our own testing, we also think it’s important to hear what other people have to say. So we’ve interviewed a bunch of vacuum experts over the years, including:
I’ve also made a point to listen to as many of our readers as I can, through comments on our guides, emails, Twitter exchanges, and message-board posts.
And I also like to read other vacuum reviews, including customer reviews (I’ve easily read more than 1,000) as well as reviews by other editorial sources like CNET, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, and Reviewed.com.
The best cordless vacuums now have enough cleaning power to match good plug-in vacuums, and enough battery life to clean small to midsize homes (roughly 1,200 square feet) in a single pass. Obviously, the best part about owning a cordless vacuum is that you have no cable to unwrap and rewrap during every cleaning session or catch on corners and doorways. So if you have ever skipped vacuuming because you’re feeling too lazy to unwrap the cord (guilty as charged), or your cramped floor plan makes cord-wrangling feel like a major chore, a cordless vacuum can be a life-changer.
But cordless vacuums have some disadvantages:
This update covers new vacuums released since mid-2015, the last time we did a big update of this guide. We’re realigning a few things. Our old upgrade pick is now our main pick, and one of our old main picks is now a budget pick. We made these changes because attitudes toward cordless vacuums have shifted. Lots of our readers told us that they wanted a cordless vacuum to completely replace a plug-in vacuum, not just as a good-enough cleaner for small jobs. And as much as we tried to get the point across that our old main pick was best for tidying up apartments, some readers still bought it expecting it to work like a good plug-in and weren’t happy with the results. So we’re adjusting for those expectations.
If you need more help choosing the right vacuum for your home, we have a quick guide for that!
We started by making a list of all the cordless vacuums we could find. Since 2014, when we started covering this category, we’ve tracked 73 models (though many are now discontinued).
For our main pick, we looked for a cordless vacuum that cleans as well as a good plug-in. That means it should suck up noticeable debris from bare floors and short- or medium-pile carpets in a couple of passes, as well as some of the less-noticeable fine dust and hair that accumulates deeper in carpets over time.
We narrowed in on models that met the following criteria:
Other important features like reusable filters and swiveling joints are pretty much a given on any cordless vacuum these days. Warranties are also all fairly similar (two years), though we did favor brands with better reputations for responsive customer service.
After winnowing down the possibilities based on specs, we decided to call in four vacuums for testing, ranging in price from $180 to $300:
If you spend less than $180 on a cordless, it’ll lack a bunch of features and won’t come close to replacing a good plug-in vacuum. However, some cheaper picks work fine to tidy up smaller spaces—not a bad choice for a cozy apartment with no carpet, or as a secondary vacuum for your kitchen, for example. So we called in a few budget-friendly models for testing as well:
Every cordless vacuum that costs more than $300 is an upgraded version of the Dyson V6 (except for one model by Simplicity, which we’re not too excited about). These step-up models come with specialized cleaning heads that can eke out better performance in some scenarios. But the most compelling reason to spend more is to get extra battery life, and the only model that scratches that itch is the Dyson V8 Absolute. We called it in for testing, too.
We test at home, using an evolving procedure to measure cleaning performance, handling, and ease of maintenance. These tests include cleaning trials using cat litter, baby powder, cat hair, steel-cut oatmeal, and lentils, sucked up from wood floors, laminate floors, tile floors, low-pile area rugs, low-pile knit carpets, and medium-pile rugs. We test open-floor pickup, as well as side suction from corners and baseboards. And we try to measure the strength of a vacuum’s airflow by seeing how much debris it can clean up without actually driving over it.
Most cordless vacuums have about much battery life as their manufacturers say they do, we’ve found. But we double-check anyway, because sometimes the vacuums meet their advertised run time only under certain conditions, like with the brush roller turned off, or with certain tools attached. We also listen for whether the suction drops off as the battery drains, though this problem is uncommon now that the industry has largely switched to lithium batteries.
For handling, we run each model through a timed slalom course to get a feel for steering and maneuverability. We drive through a few rooms, around and under a bunch of furniture, and over a mix of bare floors and rugs. The point is to see what it’s like to use each vacuum in a real-life apartment with a tight floor layout. Racing a vacuum through an obstacle course isn’t exactly how you would use one of these, naturally, but it clues us in on a few frustrations and flaws that might annoy owners, like how vacuums can bunch up area rugs or struggle to get around corners. In addition, we use each vacuum (when possible) for “above-floor” cleaning—upholstery, countertops, windowsills and curtains, stairs, and even the ceiling—to get a feel for handling and performance.
Our favorite tests are the stress tests. They give us the best idea of how each vacuum stands up to the dumbest operator errors (we’ve all made them). Basically, we try to clog and tangle each machine with tough debris like shredded copy paper, balls of cat hair, sawdust, and socks. And if we succeed in jamming them up, we figure out how to unclog them. The fewer tools and the less time needed, the better.
The Dyson V6 base model is the best cordless vacuum for most people because it cleans as well as a good plug-in vacuum on most common types of flooring and costs less than other Dyson cordless models. In our tests no other brand’s cordless vacuums came anywhere close to matching the carpet-cleaning performance of the V6. The V6 is also great on bare floors, and it can convert into a handheld vacuum, too. It’s lightweight and very thin, and most people find it easy to handle and to stash away between uses. With a 17-minute battery life (about average for the category), it’s best suited for an apartment or a smaller townhouse, where it can usually clean the whole space on a single charge—our estimate is about 1,200 square feet.
Cordless vacuums aren’t a great value compared with plug-in vacuums because they rarely last as long, have limited run times, and can’t handle long carpet well. But if do you have the right kind of home for a cordless vacuum, the V6 is the best one for the money by a mile.
Dyson makes a handful of V6 variants that some people might want to consider depending on their flooring, but after looking at all the configurations we think the base model is the right choice for most people because it works well on almost any surface and (most days) costs less than the others.
Cleaning performance is the most important feature here. It puts the V6 in a class above all other cordless vacuums. Nothing else we’ve tested (except for the flagship Dyson V8) comes close even on the standard power setting, let alone the boosted-power Max setting.
In our crumb-cleanup tests, the V6 usually picked up the majority of debris from a plush rug in one back-and-forth pass, which no other cordless vac managed. In powder-cleanup tests, it was the only model that consistently picked up most fine debris from floors on one pass (including from between floorboards) and from our short test rug in a couple of passes (or one pass on the Max setting). Other models left behind some dusty debris regardless of how many passes we made with them.
Other outlets rate the V6 highly, too. Consumer Reports (subscription required) gave Recommended status to all the variants of the V6 that it tested. CNET awarded four out of five stars to the Dyson V6 base model, tying the top rating that site has given to any cordless vacuum.
The most illuminating cleaning data we got wasn’t even from a controlled cleaning test. I was in the process of moving out of an apartment, and I used the opportunity to get some hands-on time with a few vacuums. I used the Dyson V6 side by side with the Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMB, one in each hand, to get a feel for how each one handled and how the battery life compared. The amount of dust and hair that the V6 pulled out of the carpeting, on just one battery charge and on the regular power setting, was astounding next to the Smartech HSVJ520JMB. Check this photo out:
The V6 can clean more effectively than other cordless vacuums mostly because it has a better motor. Dyson representatives told us that they think the motor is the biggest advantage. The so-called V6 digital motor spins at 110,000 rpm; as the company claims, it “spins three times faster” than motors in other cordless vacuums (though the reps did not share with us which model Dyson used as a comparison). The faster rotation helps it create more suction, which helps it clean better. We don’t have details on how fast other cordless-vac motors spin, and Dyson’s marketing often makes claims that are technically true but presented out of context.1 But the proof is in the cleaning power here—we know from testing that the V6 is much stronger than other cordless vacuums. The motor is also much smaller and lighter than most other vac motors, which helps make the V6 one of the lightest overall vacuums.
The V6 also has a better brush roll than its competitors. The base-model cleaning head has four rows of edge-to-edge bristles, more coverage than on any other brush roll we’ve seen in cordless vacuums from other brands. That design helps it agitate carpet more thoroughly, loosening up more debris from between fibers.
Dyson’s customer service gets fewer bad reviews than other brands’ departments. Nobody has good data to show that certain brands have faster or more responsive customer service than others, but we do know that very few customer reviewers for the V6 at Amazon even mention Dyson’s service. That bodes well for reliability. And those owners that do mention customer service, even if they leave a bad review for the product, tend to mention that customer service is at least “friendly and helpful,” as reviewer Bridget Gustafson does. We’ve found the same thing in our own interactions. Wirecutter staff writer Nick Guy called looking for a solution to poor suction, and the representative walked him through the steps to clear a clog, which fixed the problem. We can’t find many recent stories about Dyson going above and beyond to help customers, but we also can’t find examples of people feeling like they got totally screwed or dismissed by the service team when a serious hardware problem cropped up. We’d love to hear your stories either way.
The V6 is easy to steer and pleasant to handle, all things considered. At about 5 pounds, it’s a shade lighter than our other contenders and one of the lightest vacuums available anywhere. The swivel joint at the cleaning head turns as tight as anything we’ve seen on any vacuum. Since the V6 is so narrow and nimble, it can get into tight spaces much more easily than other vacuums—between or under furniture, for example, or reaching for the ceiling. It has some downsides that we’ll cover below, but on balance the design is an asset.
Like most cordless vacuums, the V6 doesn’t take up much floor space and can easily fit into a closet between uses. It’s also the only cordless stick vac we know of that doesn’t need to take up any floor space at all: You can screw the charging dock into a wall, and the V6 can just hang from the dock without touching the ground.
Customer ratings for the V6 are excellent for a vacuum. At the time of writing, the base model has an overall rating of 4.3 stars out of five at Amazon based on 850 reviews (and growing), which is strong for this category. Other variants of the V6, such as the Motorhead and Absolute models, have great ratings as well, also based on many hundreds of reviews.
The V6 has enough battery life to clean somewhere between 1,000 and 1,200 square feet on a single charge, we’d estimate, depending on how fast you work, how much open space you have, and how much carpeting you’re trying to clean. To think of it another way, we clocked it at about 17 minutes, running constantly, on the standard power setting (or about 6 minutes on the boosted-power Max setting) with the cleaning head attached. Your actual cleaning sessions might last a little longer than that. With the head detached, it can run for 20 minutes because it’s not using any extra power to drive the brush roll, so if you switch to handheld mode for a bit you’ll earn back a little time. And the trigger-style power switch turns the vacuum off when you loosen your grip, so you’ll save juice whenever you pause for a bit.
The 15-to-20-minute range is a typical run time for a cordless vacuum these days, and the V6 actually has the shortest run time among all our main-pick finalists. However, no amount of additional run time can offset the V6’s advantage on cleaning power, so on balance the modest run time is a limitation we think most people who live in apartments and condos can learn to live with.
The V6 is also easier to unclog and untangle than most cordless vacs, because it comes apart in so many places. The cleaning head pops off, the brush roll slides out, a plate comes off the bottom of the head, and the extension tube detaches from the dust bin. So while it clogs and tangles about as easily as other cordless vacuums, we’ve found that it’s easier to fix.
Like other cordless vacuums, the V6 comes with a reusable filter and a belt that should last the lifetime of the machine. You probably will not need to pay for any replacement parts while you own the V6.
The Dyson V6 costs way more than a comparable plug-in vacuum. For some owners, it does not live up to the expectations they had for the price. We can’t blame them, and we want to make sure you know what you’re getting into before you decide to buy this or any other cordless vacuum instead of a handheld.
The most common complaint we read about the V6 is that it doesn’t have enough battery life. The average newly built American home is about 2,400 square feet, according to the Census Bureau (PDF), but we’ve found that the V6 can clean about 1,200 square feet on one charge if you work quick. The battery needs about four hours to recharge completely, which is typical for vacuums with this run time.2 It’s also built permanently into the body of the vacuum, so you can’t swap it out for a fresh battery. And the V6 won’t run while charging, either—you can’t use it like a plug-in vacuum—so once the battery is empty, you’re done cleaning for the better part of the day.
If your home is too big for the V6 to cover in one pass, your options are:
A couple of cordless vacuums have significantly longer run times than the V6 for roughly the same price, including the Hoover Air Cordless Lift (one of our other finalists) and the Bissell AirRam. But in all of our testing, neither one was nearly as strong a cleaner as the V6.
We also came across several complaints that the V6 runs for less than 10 minutes, or that it can clean only a single room. That’s true on the Max power setting, but you can turn that off to extend the cleaning time out to 17 minutes. Just press the Max button on the back of the main assembly, so that the blue LED isn’t illuminated. If you’re still struggling with short run times even with Max mode turned off, get in touch with customer service.
Other V6 owners expected more cleaning power for the price. That’s understandable, but this is simply the strongest cordless vacuum apart from the Dyson V8. We’ve found that on its standard power setting, it cleans about as well as a good $150 plug-in vacuum, like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away that we recommend in our guide to plug-ins. In Consumer Reports tests (subscription required), which used the boosted-power Max mode, the V6 actually outperformed many plug-in models.
The V6 base model comes with only a single tool, a combo brush. No turbo tool for quickly cleaning upholstery, not even a simple crevice tool. For $300, that’s a raw deal. However, at the time of writing, Dyson.com is giving away three extra tools of your choosing with the purchase of the V6. That should be the standard offer.
Unrelated to the price expectations, we found a few other common complaints:
The V6 doesn’t work on high-pile carpets or rugs, because the fibers wrap around the brush roll, and you have no way to turn off the brush roll. You should not expect the V6 to work on shag, saxony, cable-cut, or other types of rugs or carpets with long, loose fibers. Some people find that the V6 base model is even hard to push across mid-pile plush carpets, though we didn’t find that to be a problem. If your floors are mostly carpet, you could upgrade to one of the V6 variants with the direct-drive carpet-cleaner head (like the V6 Motorhead or V6 Animal), which works great on mid-pile carpets.
Small, lightweight area rugs often get bunched up under the V6, because the suction is strong and the brush roll is very aggressive. Bigger and heavier rugs, rugs held down by furniture, or rugs with rubber backing should stay in place.
The base model of the V6 acts like a snowplow—that is, the cleaning head sometimes pushes around large pieces of debris (think cereal) without sucking them up. If you have a toddler who likes to toss Cheerios off the high chair, you can use the V6 without the cleaning head attached (just the open extension tube) to pick up the pieces instead. Alternately, buy one of the V6 variants with the soft-fiber cleaning head.
Since the cleaning head doesn’t have a locking joint, the V6 can’t stand up under its own power. You’ll either need to wall-mount the dock (which involves drilling holes) or get used to leaning the vacuum up against a wall or shelf.
Noise is an issue for some people. In short: The volume is fine for short periods, but the high pitch can be annoying. We measured the V6 at about 80 dBC on the standard power setting, which can fatigue your ears over time, though usually not before the battery runs out. It’s also completely typical for a cordless vacuum, right in the middle with others we’ve tested. However, it does have frequency spikes at 4,000 Hz and 7,000 Hz, which come across as a high-pitched whine that can be irritating. And on Max mode, it’s louder and whinier, running at 84 dBC, spiking at an even-higher-pitched 6,500 Hz and 10,500 Hz. Most cordless vacuums are not pleasant to listen to, and the V6 is no better than the lot, but we think most people can deal with it.
Driving the V6 can be hard on your wrists. It’s a top-heavy vacuum, so you’re holding the bulk of the weight in your hands. You also need to squeeze the power trigger constantly while you’re vacuuming. As loose as the action on the trigger is, pressing it is still an effort. Personally, the V6 has at times aggravated my lingering case of tendonitis, though I’ve learned to relax my death grip on the trigger. People with arthritis pain may find the V6 too uncomfortable to use.
The V6 can cut out unexpectedly during use, though the problem is uncommon. While this symptom can mean the battery or the wiring is faulty, it usually means the intake is clogged, or the filter is very dirty, or the brush roll is jammed or tangled. When the V6 senses an obstruction like a clog or tangle, it turns itself off to protect the motor from burning out or the belt from popping. So before you panic about the power source, run through your care-and-maintenance checklist to see if you can find a simpler cause. Another possible cause is that the trap door to the dust bin is not fully sealed. Try wiping off the gasket and reclosing it.
We’ve heard reports of chronic clogging in the V6, though we really don’t know if it’s more or less common than with other cordless vacuums. Parts of the intake path are fairly narrow—particularly right at the entrance to the dust bin—so big tufts of thick pet hair may cause blockages. Wirecutter staff writer and owner of several pets Nick Guy tested the V6 for about a year and had to deal with occasional pet-hair clogs. Again, run through the basic steps for care and maintenance to see if that fixes the problem. But if you have pets with long hair, you may be better off buying a great plug-in model like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away, which has wider intakes as well as a longer warranty period and a lower up-front cost to offset the risks of chronic problems.
Even if debris doesn’t cause performance problems, it can get caught in hard-to-clean parts of the V6. The upper part of the dust bin is the most obvious spot—hair gets wedged between the walls of the dust din and the cyclone, and most people’s fingers are too thick to pull it out. You’ll need a pipe cleaner or some other stick-like tool to unwedge the debris. The bearings on the tiny wheels at the front of the cleaning head are another pain point for hair and fuzz buildup; we know from experience that over time those bearings can get so jammed up that the wheels won’t roll anymore. You’ll need to spend some time with a pair of tweezers or needle-nose pliers getting the debris out. Try to stay ahead of the problem with regular cleanings.
And again, the Dyson V6 is an expensive vacuum. As good as the test results and most of the owner reviews are, nobody can guarantee that this thing will work well for you. And the cost makes it a somewhat riskier buy than a plug-in vacuum. If you have any doubts about this vacuum, that it’s more trouble than it’s worth or that it can’t handle your flooring and layout, you should probably pass. But if the upsides of a cordless vacuum feel like they’re worth that risk, the Dyson V6 is the best choice for most people.
I’ve personally been using a version of the V6 off and on for close to three years.
I first tested it when it was known as the DC59, released back in early 2014. I knew right away it was a great vacuum for an apartment, but at $500 it was too expensive to recommend to many people. Now that the price has dropped, the V6 is a better value.
I’ve also been able to see how these vacuums hold up over time: We’ve had the same V6 floating around between Sweethome staff members since mid-2015, and a DC59 making the rounds since early 2014. We haven’t had to do anything out of the ordinary to keep the test units running well—just washing filters, cutting away tangles, and clearing clogs.
A cheaper cordless vacuum can work for small jobs like picking up crumbs off the kitchen floor, or as a “good enough” cleaner for a home with mostly bare floors. If that’s what you’re after, we think the Hoover Linx (BH50010) is the best choice. For the price, it’s as durable and effective as a cordless vac can get.
The Linx is a competent floor cleaner, a little more capable than others at its price. It can pick up visible debris from bare floors and surface debris from short rugs and carpets. The side brushes pull particles away from baseboards pretty reliably. The Linx is not strong enough to suck up much of the fine dust in your carpets—nothing at this price is. But if you’re mostly cleaning bare floors and area rugs (which you can pick up and shake out by hand from time to time), using the Linx is a fine way to keep your floors tidy. If you’ve only ever used a cheap vacuum anyhow, the Linx will seem normal.
Compared with other inexpensive cordless vacuums, the Linx is sturdy. If you use it a few times per week for tidying up, it should last for two or three years before an important part breaks, without needing much maintenance. We can’t guarantee that longevity, but it is an educated guess: The Linx has been around for five years (which is amazing for this category, because it changes so rapidly) and has thousands of customer reviews that we can reference, so we feel like we’re drawing from a solid data set about its build quality.
Maintaining the Linx is easy enough. As with many other vacuums, you’ll need to rinse (and air-dry) the foam filter every few weeks. You’ll also need to untangle hair from the brush roll and baffle tube from time to time, which is as easy as cutting it away with scissors or a razor blade. The bearings on our test unit stayed free and clear of hair after a few years of use, so you won’t have to worry about cleaning those. We found the Linx to be quick to unclog, because the intake tube between the cleaning head and the entrance to the dust bin is only a few inches long and it’s easy to fish out obstructions with a finger or a pipe cleaner. You probably won’t have to change the belt and may not need to buy any replacement filters. We don’t anticipate any ongoing costs of ownership within the expected two or three year lifespan.
The Linx comes with one battery that lasts for about 16 minutes with the brush roll running, by our measure. That’s enough time to tidy up most condos or apartments and typical for cordless vacuums at this price (which range from 11 minutes up to about 24 minutes at full power). The battery is removable and charges in a separate dock, so if you want, you can buy a second battery and swap between them as needed.
Handling is reasonably smooth and light on the Linx. While the joint at the cleaning head is stiffer than on some competing models, it still swivels a bit and is pretty easy to turn and get under some furniture. The angled handle also makes this model easier to steer and recline than the straight stick-style handles on other cordless vacs.
Owner reviews for the Linx are strong, at 4.2 stars out of five based on more than 7,900 Amazon reviews at the time of writing. That is an enormous number of ratings over many years, so we’re confident that most people are happy with what they paid for.
The main downside to the Linx is that it does not have a hose or removable hand-vac component, so it’s a floors-only cleaner. That design was common a few years ago, but now most cordless vacuums have some sort of above-floor cleaning capability. If you’re looking for an affordable two-in-one cordless vac, we have a recommendation below.
The Linx is not really meant to be repaired, nor is it built to withstand heavy use. Judging from customer reviews we’ve read, our estimate is that if you’re using the Linx for more than three battery cycles per week, the plastic construction may not hold up as long as you’d hope. If you try to pry open the body, it may not go back together. The Linx has a two-year warranty, but it explicitly covers only defects, not wear and tear. Plus, we’ve read dozens of owner reviews that say Hoover’s customer service can be difficult to deal with, many of them complaining of long wait times and several layers of escalation before anything gets resolved.
We also want to reiterate that this is a decent tidy-up cleaner, but it’s not in the same league as our main pick in this guide and definitely not on a par with a good plug-in vacuum. In previous versions of this guide, we may not have done as good a job as we should in getting that point across. Don’t expect this model to fully clean plush carpets or reliably pick up after three dogs—those are tough jobs meant for vacuums better than this.
And as solid as the Linx has been, nobody can guarantee against bad production runs in the future.
Hoover recently released the Linx Signature (BH50020). At the time of writing, it costs the same as the regular Linx (BH50010). We’ve confirmed with Hoover that these are exactly the same vacuum—they are “different in terms of looks only,” a rep told us. So grab whichever version costs less, or whichever one you prefer to look at.
If you want a budget cordless vacuum with more battery life or the ability to pull double duty as a hand vacuum, check out the Anker HomeVac Duo (also known as the Eufy HomeVac Duo). Like the Hoover Linx, the Anker HomeVac Duo can’t compete with the Dyson V6 in cleaning power, but it’s useful for tidying up.
Anker is not a familiar name in vacuums, but it is a popular maker of battery accessories—so the jump to battery-powered vacuums isn’t a huge stretch.
The HomeVac Duo’s biggest advantage over the Linx is its extra running time. We clocked it at about 25 minutes at full power, so 9 minutes more than the Linx (and 8 minutes more than the Dyson V6). That’s better for larger spaces, but it also gives you some flexibility if you tend not to recharge the vacuum after every small job. The HomeVac Duo can also run for up to 60 minutes on “eco” mode, but we found the suction to be so weak that it’s essentially useless for anything but dust bunnies.
The other upside is that the HomeVac Duo can convert into a handheld vacuum for tidying up windowsills, countertops, crevices, and anything else that’s not the floor. It comes with two attachable tools, as well: a combo brush tool and a crevice tool. It’s not a particularly strong handheld vacuum, but it can come in handy for easy jobs.
The Amazon customer ratings for the HomeVac Duo are very strong, at 4.4 out of five stars based on more than 350 reviews at the time of writing. That’s one of the highest ratings for any vacuum—suspiciously high, actually, as Fakespot grades the quality of the customer ratings as a C, with “indications of inauthentic/low quality reviews.” We’re going to let that slide for now, but we’re keeping our eye on the feedback to see if it takes a dive in a few months.
The HomeVac Duo can also fold at the handle, into roughly half its normal height. We haven’t seen that feature in any other vacuum before, and we aren’t sure how useful it’ll be for many people. It could be convenient for people who live in very small homes and want to be able to store this vacuum in a small cubby or under a bed. It’s also easy to repack into its box, which is not something we can say for most other vacuums.
In other ways, the HomeVac Duo is pretty typical for a cordless vac. Cleaning performance is good on bare floors and for getting surface-level grit and hair out of short carpets. In our tests, it picked up most obvious, midsize debris in one or two passes, which is pretty quick for this type of vacuum. At least in the first couple of weeks of testing, the suction was a little stronger than we expected, though we don’t know how it will hold up over time. Handling is light and nimble. Taking it apart to clean clogs and tangles is easy. Not much maintenance is required apart from keeping the filter clean.
The big unknown with the HomeVac Duo is that we don’t have any historical brand data about Anker vacuums. This is the company’s first model, and we don’t know if they’re built to last. To be fair, we don’t always know that about brand-name vacuums either until they’ve been out for a few years. But in our experience over the past couple of years, we’ve found that the two-in-one style gets grimy and loses suction faster than nonconvertible vacuums do—the crevices in the dust cup are tricky to clear out completely, we’ve found, so debris builds up over time, to the detriment of the air flow.
If you want a cordless vacuum that can not only suck up as much debris as a plug-in vacuum but also clean an entire house, the Dyson V8 Absolute is your only good choice.
The V8 is a lot like the V6, with about twice as much battery life. We timed it at slightly more than 32 minutes per charge on the standard power setting. That puts it right on the edge of being able to clean 2,400 square feet, the average size of a new house in the US. The boosted-power Max mode, which can pull fine dust out of a carpet like a very good plug-in vacuum, ran for 8 minutes by our measure (it’s worth noting that’s only a couple of minutes longer than the V6 on Max mode, not twice as long).
As a newer model, the V8 has a few other refinements over the V6. The dump-lever pops the cyclones away from the dust bin like a Transformer, so fully emptying the vacuum without getting your hands dirty is much easier. The V8 also runs about 8 dBC quieter than the V6, with less of a high-pitched whine—it’s easier on the ears than any other effective cordless vacuum we’ve tested so far. While we didn’t notice a big difference in our at-home testing, the V8 allegedly has stronger suction (via electronics upgrades), which should help improve cleaning performance.
That’s all great, but the issue here is price. The everyday street price for the V8 is $600, which is a ton of money for a vacuum with a two-year warranty and an expected lifespan of less than five years. We’ve seen it for $480 on sale, but that’s still wicked expensive. The steep price makes this model hard to recommend wholeheartedly, when plug-in models with better filtration, unlimited run times, and decades-long lifespans cost the same amount of money.
But if you understand the caveats and still think the V8 is right for you, go for it. We’ve had a great time testing it, and it’s a wonderful vacuum; the price is just so eye-watering.
The V8 Absolute comes with two cleaning heads (the direct-drive carpet head and the soft-roller bare-floor head), plus a bunch of attachments, including a mini motorized tool. It’ll work on most types of flooring, including mid-pile carpets that the V6 base model might struggle with. Long, loose carpets still pose a problem.
The Hoover Air Cordless 2-in-1 used to be our top pick in this guide. But we got lots of feedback from readers who expected that since it was our top recommendation, the Air Cordless 2-in-1 would be a much stronger cleaner than it really was, even though we tried to emphasize that its abilities were limited. So we shifted the focus of the guide to vacuums that can legitimately replace a plug-in vac in most apartments and small homes. As for the Air Cordless 2-in-1, it’s not even one of our favorite budget models anymore—time has passed it by. The 11-minute battery life is significantly shorter than that of newer competing models like the Anker HomeVac Duo. And we’ve come across many documented cases of battery defects, which makes it tough to keep recommending when a trooper like the Hoover Linx is available. The Air Cordless 2-in-1 is still a decent little vacuum, but we now think you have better options.
Dyson makes several variants of the V6—all the same vacuum, just different accessories. We’ve recommended the base model throughout this guide because it’s relatively affordable and the cleaning head works well on both carpets and bare floors, so it can work for pretty much anyone. But depending on your flooring, you might want to consider another variant. Here are the important details:
Dyson’s V6 Motorhead and V6 Animal both come with a specialty cleaning head that’s better for carpets, particularly thicker carpets, but not so great on bare floors because it ends up scattering midsize debris. Both models also come with a crevice tool, while the Animal also adds a mini turbo tool for easily cleaning hair off upholstery, as well as a dusting tool. The Dyson V6 Absolute comes with everything listed above plus a specialty soft-roller cleaning head that’s better for bare floors and not so great on carpets, because it has no bristles and doesn’t agitate the fibers. So although it has heads for both carpets and bare floors, you’ll need to swap between them. The V6 Absolute also has a HEPA filter, which is pointless—the regular filter already does a fine job, and emptying the V6 will always kick dust back into the air, undoing a lot of what the extra filtration did anyway. A few other retailer-specific variants pop up from time to time, but they’re all just combinations of the above.
The street prices for these Dyson variants shift constantly. At the time of writing, the V6 Motorhead actually costs less than the V6 base model due to a holiday promotion. And the V6 Absolute, which sometimes costs as much as $600, is, at the time of writing, selling for just $385. We can’t give you some magic number where one variant becomes better than another for the money, because everyone values each tool and cleaning head a little differently. The base model is a safe bet for most cordless-vac shoppers, but if you see a great deal on a different version and think you’d gain something from attachments, go for it. Also remember that you can always buy the attachments separately if you need them.
The Hoover Air Cordless Lift comes with two 25-minute batteries, more than enough run time to vacuum a big house. (We actually clocked each battery at an impressive 28 minutes per charge in our tests.) That’s much more battery life than the Dyson V6 (or even the V8) offers, for a much lower price most days. It also has a five-year warranty, the longest coverage we’ve seen for a cordless vacuum. But the Air Cordless Lift was not that strong of a cleaner in our tests, as we found that it left behind dusty debris in carpets. It did not perform well in Consumer Reports tests, either, and it’s heavier than any other cordless vacuum we tested. If you like the extended run time and the general design of the Air Cordless Lift, you’d probably be better off getting a similar plug-in vacuum, like the Shark Navigator Lift-Away that we recommend.
The Hoover Cruise looks like it was designed to mimic the Dyson V6 as closely as possible without technically infringing on any patents. It even has a trigger-style power button. But the Cruise is not in the same league as the V6. In our tests, the suction was much weaker and the brush roll had less bristle coverage, so the Cruise was not nearly as effective a cleaner on any surface. It does have one neat feature we’d like to see Dyson adopt: a lock for the trigger switch, so that you don’t need to keep squeezing it throughout the cleaning session.
The Black+Decker Smartech HSVJ520JMB has the right specs to compete with the Dyson V6 and even adds some neat features like a floor-type sensor, which automatically adjusts the suction when you switch from bare floors to rugs and vice versa. But the HSVJ520JMB’s cleaning power was pitiful in our tests—it just did not clean carpets effectively at all, barely able to pull surface-level hair out from the fibers. From what we have read about other Black+Decker cordless vacuums, they’re not any better.
The Bissell AirRam wasn’t really one of our top contenders—it’s a floors-only cleaner, with no hose or convertible hand-vac component—but Bissell sent us one to test anyway. It has a long battery life, which we clocked at about 36 minutes. Consumer Reports gave it Excellent marks for carpet and bare-floor cleaning, right up there with all the Dyson models. That seems like a great recipe for an affordable whole-house cleaner. But it just did not perform well in our cleaning tests on floor or carpets, particularly with dusty debris. As tempting as the specs and some test results might look for the price, we think this model would fall short of most people’s expectations for cleaning power.
Tons of other cheap cordless vacuums are available from the likes of Bissell, Black+Decker, Electrolux, Hoover, and others. We have not tested all of them, but based on our research we believe that our budget picks in this guide are better choices than any of those.
Apart from the Dyson V8, the only other really high-end cordless vacuum is the Simplicity Cordless Freedom. According to Simplicity, it has a 44-volt battery and more than an hour of run time, which is very impressive. But it’s even pricier than the Dyson V8, and it can clean only floors—no hose, no convertible hand vacuum. We tested a plug-in version of this vacuum a while back, and it was nothing special when it came to carpet cleaning, either. The Cordless Freedom represents a nice attempt by an old-school brand to embrace the future, but we would not recommend it over the Dyson V8.
It’s safe to assume that a few new cordless vacuums will come out every month for the foreseeable future, but we don’t anticipate much serious competition against the Dyson V6 for now. Dyson’s motor puts its vacuums way ahead of the field, and we don’t have any intel suggesting that competitors are anywhere close to catching up.
We will keep an eye out for new, interesting cordless models, and we’ll post updates about them in this space. As we’ve found over the past few years, some of them may turn into vaporware (like the LG CordZero), but we’ll let you know if anything interesting is on the way.
We’ll have a more thorough article on care and maintenance covering a wider variety of vacuums coming soon. But in a nutshell: Keep your filters clean according to manufacturer directions. Empty the bag or dust bin when it’s full. Check for clogs and tangles if the vacuum is having trouble cleaning. Follow the manufacturer’s directions for maintaining the health of the battery.
Oh, and seriously—if your pet pees on the carpet, never try to clean it with a vacuum.
Originally published: December 16, 2016