New battery technology has given rise to a new generation of cordless vacuums. Once plagued by short battery lives and diminishing suction, the latest cordless models on the market offer cleaning performance to rivals their plug-in counterparts.
Cordless vacuums haven’t quite reached the point where they can replace corded models, however. Though new lithium ion batteries have longer lifespans, they still don’t offer enough runtime to clean the entire floor space of a home.
Instead, these cordless models are ideal for spot cleaning—quick cleanups of spills or messes over a small area. Having a cordless cleaner on hand spares the time and effort of dragging your primary vacuum from the closet, untangling hoses and electrical cords, and carrying it across your home for every little mess.
They’re also excellent tools for cleaning hard to reach spots, such as the ceiling, the stairs, or the interior of your car. They offer a mobility that corded models can’t provide, making them a highly useful appliance to have on hand in your home.
We wanted to see which cordless models will make the best tools for your household, weighing some of the most popular models on the market today against each other and picking our favorite. We also took a close look at the strengths and weakness of each pick, evaluating battery life, suction power, hardwood floor performance, design and more.
Best on a Budget
Hoover Linx Cordless
Shark Navigator Freestyle
Battery Operated Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
Top Pick: Hoover Linx Cordless
The Hoover Linx Cordless is one of the most popular cordless cleaners right now, favored among fans for its consistent, powerful suction and cleaning performance.
The Linx uses an interchangeable 18-volt lithium ion battery. Lithium batteries provide fade-free power—unlike older cordless cleaners, the suction doesn’t diminish as the battery loses charge. Since the batteries are interchangeable, owners can also purchase additional back-up batteries for more runtime.
This cordless and bagless model also features Hoover’s WindTunnel technology, a three-channel suction system designed to pick up more dirt and debris in a single pass. The floor head itself is 11 inches in width—closer to a full-sized vacuum head than traditional stick models.
The brushroll in the head of the vacuum can be easily switched on and off when transitioning from bare floors to carpet. The base of the head also features edge-cleaning bristles, which allow for better cleaning in tight corners and along edges.
The Linx has a washable foam filter, as well as cyclonic filter technology. The dust container opens at the bottom for more hygienic disposal.
The Hoover Linx has some of the most up-to-date technology you’ll find in any cordless cleaner, combined with the reliable performance that has made Hoover a household name. Like many other Hoover models, it also comes at a reasonable cost.
The Linx packs substantial cleaning power and suction, supplied by a 12 amp motor and aided by Hoover’s WindTunnel Technology. The wider floor head provides a bigger cleaning path than most stick models, allowing owners to tackle larger areas in a shorter period of time. Meanwhile, the edge brushes reach the difficult spots close to walls and the edges of furniture.
It’s a light, compact and maneuverable cleaner, easily navigated around the floor of your home or carried up a flight of stairs. When it comes time to store it, the Linx stands upright on its own.
The Linx performs well on all floor types. The brushroll can be switched off to protect the surface of hardwood floors, or removed completely. If you have some carpeting in your home, you can switch on the brushroll for a deep, thorough clean of high or low pile carpets. The controls for it are all located on the handle of it for easier access.
The lithium Ion battery in the Hoover provides about 20 minutes of fade-free power, giving the Linx a better than average runtime compared to other stick models. The Linx also has a useful battery charge display—a feature not found in most competing models—that lets you know how much battery life is left.
Charging also takes less time than other models (about 2-3 hours), leaving you more time for cleaning and less time waiting. The suction power of the vacuum won’t fade as the battery charge dwindles, providing consistent cleaning power until the power is completely drained.
The Linx is designed for floor cleaning, and not much else. There are no attachments, making it virtually impossible to use the Linx to clean shelves, curtains, upholstery, or any other above-floor spots.
Furthermore, the wide head of the vacuum—while excellent for open floor space—isn’t suited for cleaning the stairs. The Linx is limited to floors, making it less versatile than many other competing models.
The Hoover Linx is a top performer among cordless stick vacuums, and it comes at a great price. It performs well on both hardwood and carpet, with an on/off brushroll switch, edge bristles and Hoover’s well-regarded WindTunnel technology. Meanwhile, the lithium ion battery provides substantial run time and fade-free suction.
This vacuum is mostly limited to the floor, so it’s not the most versatile cordless vacuum on the market. But what the Linx was designed to do, it does well, and the vast majority of reviewers are quite pleased with their purchase.
Best Quality: Dyson V8 Absolute
Dyson’s high end V8 line are some of the most popular—and pricey—cordless vacuums on the market. The V8 Absolute is the most premium member of the V8 family, with an array of features and attachments that make the Absolute the most versatile cordless vac available at the moment.
So-called because they feature powerful V8 motors, the Dyson V8 vacuum line also run on Lithium Ion batteries that provide roughly 20 minutes of charge. They feature a trigger control in order to conserve battery life. Like the battery in the Hoover Linx, the Dyson V8 vacuums’ batteries don’t lose suction power as the charge fades.
The Absolute is the only member of the V8 line that comes equipped with two different floor heads. One is the “direct-drive cleaner head,” a powered brush roll head for deep cleaning carpets. The second is a “soft roller cleaner,” which features a soft cloth roll designed especially for hard floors.
The V8 Absolute also has HEPA filtration—a rare feature in cordless vacuums—to capture more allergens and bacteria and prevent them from re-entering the air in your home. The Absolute is certified allergy and asthma friendly, expelling cleaner air than the vast majority of competing models.
The wand of the Absolute can be removed to transform it into a handheld vacuum. Dyson also includes a lot of useful attachments alongside the Absolute, in addition to the two different floor heads. There’s a mini motorized upholstery tool, a crevice tool, a dusting brush, and a combination attachment to tackle every conceivable surface in the home.
The feature-heavy Absolute offers unparalleled versatility and cleaning power for a cordless vacuum. If top performance and quality is your goal, the V8 Absolute is the cordless model for you.
The Absolute isn’t just a lot of bells and whistles—at its core, the V8 Absolute offers powerful suction that rivals many full-sized vacuums. There is even a boosted power mode, for dealing with more stubborn messes (although power mode drains the battery much faster). Most users found the normal mode adequate for their needs, however.
Like Dyson’s other V8 vacuums, the Absolute is a highly maneuverable and lightweight vacuum. Its center of balance is located close to the canister, making it easy to wield the Absolute during both floor and above-floor cleaning. The detachable wand allows you transform the Absolute into a handheld vacuum for even more versatility.
The two floor heads that accompany the Absolute are both equally effective on their respective floor types. The soft-roller head is something like a brushroll with a cloth in the place of bristles, combining the cleaning power of a vacuum and a swifter. On hard floors, the soft-roller head picks up more fine particles, while also sucking up large debris as well.
The direct driver head is useful for homes with carpeting, boosting the cleaning ability of the V8 Absolute with a powered brush roll that removes dirt and dust embedded deep within the carpet. Dyson asserts it provides 75% more cleaning power than the original Dyson V8 vacuum.
The attachments included alongside the Absolute are also useful for cleaning everywhere from the stairs, to upholstery, to the interior of your car. Most notable is the mini-motorized brush tool, designed to deep clean upholstery.
It effectively removes hair (good news for pet owners) and debris embedded deep in the furniture.
Finally, the whole machine HEPA filtration is a great feature for those with allergies or asthma—although any household can benefit from the cleaner air exhausted by the V8 Absolute. Removing bacteria and allergens from the air will improve the health and well-being of everyone who lives in your home.
Like many other Dyson vacuums, the main downside of the V8 Absolute isn’t a problem with the vacuum itself. Instead, the price tag of this vacuum will be the main factor that will dissuade most customers.
The Dyson V8 Absolute lives up to its name, offering a cordless vacuum that’s designed to take on every surface in the home. It’s not just a lot of flash either—underneath the extra attachments and special features, the Absolute packs unrivaled suction and cleaning power.
Of course, this high-powered vacuum includes a high-powered price tag to match. But for those with the budget for it, there are no cordless vacuums on the market today that can hold a candle to the versatility and cleaning power of the Absolute.
Best on a Budget: Shark Navigator Freestyle
Shark vacuums are known for delivering solid cleaning performance for a low price. The Navigator Freestyle furthers the company’s reputation for inexpensive quality, and makes a great pick for buyers on a budget.
The Navigator Freestyle is a cordless and bagless vacuum, modeled after Shark’s popular full size corded model, the Navigator Lift Away. The hallmark of Shark’s Navigator vacuums is their swivel steering, which allows users to negotiate the head of the vacuum around furniture, corners and other obstacles around the home.
The Navigator Freestyle has a thin frame with a light weight of about 8 pounds. It also features transparent dust canister, letting owners know when it’s time to empty the vacuum. The dust canister is larger than most, allowing for longer vacuuming sessions without having to stop to empty the canister.
There are two different floor settings located on the head of the vacuum, one for bare floors and the other for carpeting. Inside the head of the vacuum is a motorized brush roll, designed especially to pick up pet hairs from the carpet without tangling.
The bare floor setting slows the brush roll down to a speed that won’t scratch hardwood. The roll can also be removed entirely.
Unlike our other two picks, the Navigator Freestyle runs on a 14.4 nickel-metal hydride battery (or NiMH). This provides about 12-17 minutes of run time, and takes about 4 hours to reach full charge. The Freestyle comes with it’s own charging base, which conveniently shuts off when the vacuum is fully charged to protect the battery.
The Navigator Freestyle dominates the under $100 price bracket for cordless models. Shark compromises little in the way of performance to keep the price of this vacuum low, and the Freestyle often outperforms models many times the price in consumer tests.
It’s a light but well-made vacuum, both maneuverable and easy to transport around the home. The Freestyle reclines to a deep angle, and the head has a low profile that allows you to reach easily under furniture.
The Freestyle demonstrates strong suction capacity, providing great cleaning power on both hardwood and carpeted floors. The two speeds of the brushroll is a good feature for homes with both floor types. On hardwood floors, the gentler, slow turn of the brushroll won’t scratch the floor, but provides better cleaning power than suction alone.
With about 15 minutes of charge time, the NiMH battery of the Freestyle keeps pace with the more costly lithium ion batteries found in pricier vacuums. Charging the battery takes roughly 4 hours—also respectable when compared to competing models.
Automatic shut-off when the Freestyle is fully charged is another convenient feature not found in many other cordless vacuums. This feature protects the battery, which can be damaged by overcharging. You’ll also conserve both money and energy over time.
The Freestyle features cyclonic action, which is designed to spin fine dust particles away from the filter, keeping the suction of the vacuum strong over time. The filter is made from washable foam, and Shark recommends you clean it once a month.
Like the Hoover Linx, the Shark Freestyle doesn’t include any extra attachments—limiting the vacuum to primarily floor use. There were conflicting reports on whether the Freestyle could be used on a stairs. Some customers said that they regularly used this vacuum for stair cleaning, while others said that the head of the vacuum wasn’t suited to navigate the confines of staircases.
For buyers on a budget, the Shark Freestyle offers a whole lot for a very reasonable price. In fact, the features and the cleaning performance of the Freestyle compete with much more expensive vacuums—making it worthy of any shopper’s consideration.
With a long-lasting battery, lots of cleaning power, and an array of useful features, the Freestyle hits all the right notes for great cordless vacuum. At Shark’s asking price, this model is an easy first choice for any shopper looking to save money.
Which is the Best Cordless Vacuum for You?
The Hoover Linx is a perfect blend of price and performance, offering the affordable reliability that has made Hoover one of the best known vacuum companies in America. With good design, solid performance on carpet and hardwood, and a powerful lithium ion battery, it’s easy to see why the Linx is one of the most popular cordless models around.
If you want unparalleled cleaning power from your next cordless vac, check out the Dyson V8 Absolute. The feature-heavy Absolute offers a complete package, designed to take on any surface of the home with efficacy and ease. This premium vacuum is powerful, versatile and beautifully designed, standing head and shoulders above all the competition.
Those shopping on a budget will appreciate the low-cost, high-performance Shark Navigator Freestyle. Shark sacrifices little in the way of performance in this inexpensive cordless vac—it’s maneuverable, well-designed, and does a great job on all floor types.