While the appeal of cordless vacuums has always been strong, most of the models we’ve used haven’t lived up to their promise. They’re flimsy, ineffective, and short-lived. They’ve posed some particular issues to folks who live in homes with hardwood flooring, too!
Your average cordless stick vac doesn’t have the suction power or brushes to clean fine dust off the surface of floorboards. At the same time, nearly all cordless models have cheap plastic wheels which scuff up finishes in seconds flat.
For this guide, we’ve rounded up the few cordless vac’s which buck the trend. They’re powerful, effective, and most of all safe for hardwoods! In our reviews, we’ll explain why these are so much better than the competition. We’ll also help you figure out which is best for you!
Best on a Budget
Dyson V7 Motor-Head
Dyson V8 Absolute
Battery Operated Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
- Electrolux Ergorapido
- Dyson V7 Motorhead
- Dyson V8 Absolute
Best on a Budget: Electrolux Ergorapido
“the best inexpensive choice for folks who want to go cordless!”
Budget-priced cordless vacuums are typically very unreliable, to put things mildly. They have amazingly short battery life, and reliability records which make you never want to touch a cordless system again. Luckily, this Electrolux is an exception to the rule.
Unlike most other inexpensive cordless models, the Electrolux runs on a lithium ion power pack. It lasts a lot longer than cheaper nickel-metal hydride battery tech (or NiMH). Plus, the Electrolux has a detachable hand vac on board, making it highly versatile.
We think this is the best inexpensive choice for folks who want to go cordless!
As with any good budget recommendation, the Electrolux gives you a lot of value. It’s a hybrid: you get two vacuums in one. You can detach the middle section to use it as a dustbuster (a crevice tool and dusting brush are included), or use the whole thing as a stick vac. Both work a lot better than standalone devices at this price, which is not what usually turns out to be the case with combos.
It’s ideal for hard flooring. The Electrolux has a powered brush head, which helps to loosen surface dust that most stick vacs won’t touch. It does a decent job on low carpeting, too!
This has a surprisingly good feature for the price, which untangles the brush roll by itself. That’s an excellent feature for pet owners who vacuum up a lot of hair. The controls are conveniently on the handle, for both the untangling feature and the suction settings.
This new version lasts a lot longer than a Shark Freestyle or the older Electrolux’s-close to half an hour! That’s similar runtime compared to the Dyson V7, although of course the Dyson is much more powerful. It’s not enough to clean an entire place, unless you have a relatively compact apartment. Still, that’s true of any but the most expensive cordless options!
It’s very light, at less than 6 pounds all told. This is excellent for older users in particular. It’s also very easy to carry around your place.
“one of the only models in its price bracket that’s actually safe on hardwoods”
The Electrolux is one of the only models in its price bracket that’s actually safe on hardwoods. It swivels easily and fits under most furniture and baseboards, and unlike nearly every other inexpensive stick model, it has rubberized wheels. The brushes aren’t natural bristle, but they don’t scratch or scuff that we can see.
It’s a lot more reliable than the Shark Freestyle, which used to be our pick in this slot. While the Electrolux is still built very lightly and not as well as a Dyson, it ought to last you a few years easily. It’s covered by a 2-year warranty.
This is one of the least expensive models with lithium ion batteries. Cheaper models, like the popular Shark Freestyle, use nickel cadmium batteries (an older technology). The Electrolux gets better runtime, and it doesn’t fade as it loses charge, unlike nickel cadmium systems.
It comes with a charging stand for convenient storage. This one takes about 4 hours to charge up from empty.
The suction on this one is good compared to other cheap cordless options, but pales in comparison to the Dyson’s. It doesn’t do great with larger debris like cereal or kibble. It doesn’t get as tight a suction lock on hardwoods, either. If you can afford one of the Dyson’s, they’re worth the upgrade.
It feels pretty cheap, too. This is a very lightly-built vacuum, and while it’s better than other models at this price, it’s still on the chintzy side.
While the Electrolux has a powered brush roll, it can’t clean carpets deeply. You can use it on flat-weave fibers, but we wouldn’t suggest it for anything serious.
The floor tool is a lot bigger than the Dyson’s, too, so it’s not as good for stairs.
You can’t adjust the length of the wand, either, which is a big disadvantage compared to the convertible Dyson’s.
The dust chamber fills up quickly, and it doesn’t pack things down as well as the Dyson’s, either.
Top Seller: Dyson V7 Motor-Head
“a midrange choice to get in on Dyson’s high-powered suction and versatility, without the steep price tag of the V8 Absolute”
Dyson’s V-series cordless vacuums are the best of the best in this category, as far as we’re concerned. Their flagship model is the V8 Absolute, which we’ve chosen as our ultimate recommendation below. If you want to save some money, and can deal with a few sacrifices, the previous generation has a lot to offer.
The V7 (we’ve recommended the motor-head model) is only one generation old, but it’s often available for as much as $200 less than the V8! Of course, prices do vary, and you may catch a good sale. In any case, this is significantly cheaper, and has many of the same great features.
We recommend it as a midrange choice to folks who want to get in on Dyson’s high-powered suction and versatility, without the steep price tag of the V8 Absolute.
Even though it’s not Dyson’s flagship model, it still outstrips any non-Dyson cordless model in the suction department. In fact, the V7 can compete with most full-size vac’s! The only cordless model which beats it is the V8, for hundreds of dollars more. This is a more reasonably-priced way to get excellent suction.
“The only cordless model which beats it is the V8, for hundreds of dollars more.”
Having extra power under the hood means this one does a better job than the Electrolux at removing surface dirt and cleaning between floorboards. Dyson’s cyclonic suction also helps preserve suction and pack the dust chamber more efficiently!
It has as long a battery life as the Electrolux, even though it operates at a much higher level! Since you’re not likely to need any second passes with this one, you could reasonably get through a standard apartment on one charge.
The V7’s trigger design helps you save energy, too. Since the motor only kicks in when the trigger is pulled, you won’t waste any energy when you’re carrying the vacuum around or moving a piece of furniture.
It’s lightweight and maneuverable. The Dyson is actually half a pound lighter than the Electrolux, even though it’s more powerful! That’s one key reason we think it’s better for cleaning hardwoods stairs.
It’s also more convertible than the Electrolux. The V7 converts into a handheld with the motor right behind the attachments, and you can also use the attachments with the wand in an extended format. This way, it’s far better than other stick models for cleaning on stairs and high places.
“it’s balanced and ergonomic in all formats”
The most impressive part of the Dyson’s design is that it’s balanced and ergonomic in all formats, since the motor is lined up with the handle. You never have to lift the weight of the machine on the end of a wand, or away from your body. The lighter end is always furthest from you!
The floor tool is excellent, especially given that it’s an all-purpose attachment. Most of those are underwhelming at best. It cleans carpets as well as hardwoods, and the direct-drive motor in the brush head stays jam-free, even with pet hair. You can also slide the bar out to easily get rid of hair tangles.
The shallow design of the floor tool fits easily on stairs, so both carpeted and hardwood stairs are a breeze to clean. We like these shallower attachments because they make it easier to clean each step without scuffing the kickplates with a big floor head that bumps around.
It’s also safe on your hardwood finishes, like our other recommendations. The brush head doesn’t leave scuffs, even if it’s not as good at buffing as the V8’s carbon fiber attachment!
It comes with a combination crevice tool and dusting brush, as well as a charging hangar to store the vac and tools. Charging takes about the same amount of time as the Electrolux.
It empties more easily than the Electrolux. Instead of having to remove part of the vacuum to empty, you can just hold the motor/handle section over the trash, and press a button to open the trapdoor.
It’s made more sturdily than the Electrolux, and will probably last a lot longer. While Dyson models are nearly all plastic, they’re heavier-duty than the Electrolux, and have far better reliability ratings. The V7 fits that trend. It’s lightweight, but it has a very good long-term track record. You get a 2-year warranty out of the box, and we’ve linked to an Amazon listing where additional coverage is available at checkout!
It doesn’t have as much suction power as the V8 Absolute, or quite as much grunt power in the brush bar. If you want the best performance possible, the more expensive model is where you’ll find it. For the average person, this should be good enough.
It also has a combination tool, while the Absolute includes two different attachments. We prefer the V8 because it has a specific hardwood floor head in addition to the multi-purpose head that comes with the V7. The hardwood attachment has only soft, carbon fiber bristles, which are the safest approach for hardwoods. It also has a wider opening at the front, which makes it better than the V7 on bigger debris.
This is the difference between excellent and perfect, so you shouldn’t feel too bad about saving money and buying the V7. Still, if you want the best hardwoods performance in a cordless format, the V8 Absolute is where the buck stops.
The most noticeable difference is battery life. The Absolute lasts 1/3 longer, and it’s the only cordless model we’ve found that can get through an entire house in one go. If that’s your goal, you should invest in the V8 Absolute.
Best Quality: Dyson V8 Absolute
“the most powerful, versatile cordless vac available at the moment!”
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. It comes with supercharged suction and an array of features and attachments which make the Absolute the most powerful, versatile cordless vac available at the moment!
While this is quite pricey, it’s reliable enough that you can use it for years without issues. It’s also versatile enough to handle any flooring types, from carpets to hardwoods and tile. If you’re looking for a cordless vacuum to replace your primary cleaning machine, this is also the only practical option on the market.
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. It’s actually tested to beat many of them on the highest suction setting! This is the best you can do for suction in a cordless format, and the competition aren’t even close.
“the best you can do for suction in a cordless format”
All the extra suction power gives you the best possible results between your floorboards, where the V8 will remove ground-in dirt or hair which most cordless models can’t reach. It also makes your cleaning easier, since it draws dust bunnies to you, especially around the edges of your walls.
The V8’s biggest selling point in our book is the battery life. This thing will run up to 40 minutes! As such, it’s the first cordless model we’ve ever reviewed which could be a primary cleaning tool for an entire house. As with the V7, it has a trigger control in order to conserve battery life.
“the first cordless model we’ve ever reviewed which could be a primary cleaning tool for an entire house”
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 you get on the V7, a powered brush roll head for deep cleaning carpets and scrubbing tiles.
The second is a soft roller cleaner, which features carbon fiber brushes instead of nylon bristles. It’s designed especially for hard floors, and it’s an absolute gem on hardwoods. The carbon fibers will keep your finishes completely free of scuffs, and they also have a way of buffing the finishes as they go!
“it’s an absolute gem on hardwoods”
The best part of this one is the larger opening at the front. It takes up kibble, litter, and other larger debris with no issues at all! We’re not exaggerating when we say it’s the best hardwood attachment we’ve found on a cordless vac.
As with the V7, the V8’s direct-drive brush head is useful for homes with a combination of hardwoods and carpeting. On this model, it pairs 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 150% more cleaning power than the old V6 models (and 75% more than the V7!).
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.
One very practical advantage of HEPA filtration for those of us who don’t have allergies: it reduces all that fine dust which settles on the surface of your floorboards. It’s that finest dust which makes things feel dirty even though they look clean. Since the V8 won’t release any fine particles back into the air, your floors will look brighter and feel cleaner!
As with the V7, the wand of the Absolute can be removed to transform it into a handheld vacuum. It’s just as highly maneuverable and lightweight as its older sibling. Its center of balance is located close to the grip, making it easy to wield the Absolute during both floor and above-floor cleaning.
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, which doesn’t come with the V7, and a combination crevice tool/dusting brush attachment to tackle every conceivable surface in the home.
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.
As with the V7, the V8 is very reliable and has better build quality than other lightweight stick options. It’s covered by the same 2-year warranty as the V7. And once again, we’ve linked to an Amazon listing where you can add extended coverage if that’s up your alley.
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. We think it’s worth the cost if you can afford it. If you can’t, the V7 is the next best thing, for a much lower price.
It’s loud. The drawback of having so much power in a lightweight stick vacuum is that there’s no masking the noise of the motor. This thing isn’t something you’ll be able to talk over!
Which is the Best Cordless Vacuum for You?
The Electrolux is the best choice for those shopping on a tight budget. It’s easily a hundred dollars cheaper than our midrange pick, and costs much less than the V8 Absolute. This is the least you can pay for a cordless vac with decent suction and protective features for your hardwood floors. Don’t expect it to handle a whole house or handle entire rooms of carpeting, though. It doesn’t have the suction power or ergonomic benefits to match the Dyson’s, either.
The Dyson V7 is our recommendation to buyers who want to avoid budget models like the Electrolux, without shelling out a premium for the top-notch V8. It offers a very reasonable compromise between price and performance. It won’t run more than 30 minutes, though, and you won’t have as many tools to use in your cleaning as you would with the V8.
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 in the home with efficacy and ease. The hard floor head in particular makes it a star on hardwoods. This premium vacuum is powerful, versatile and beautifully designed, standing head and shoulders above all the competition. Just plan to pay a lot to get one!