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Cordless Vacuum Buying Guide

Should I buy a cordless vacuum?

You will mostly be vacuuming bare floors such as hardwood or tile.You have mid to high-pile carpet or thick area rugs.
You want a vacuum to supplement between in-depth cleaning with a corded vacuum.You have pets.
You will be vacuuming a small area (1000-1500 square feet or less) on a single charge.You have sensitive allergy issues.

Cordless vacuums try to find a compromise between being compact yet powerful enough to be used instead of traditional vacuum for light-duty cleaning. High-performance lithium-ion batteries have breathed life into a product line that was before only able to be used for spot cleaning. Combine this with bagless design and HEPA-style filters and cordless vacuums are an excellent choice for cleaning small apartments, cars, trucks, boats, RV’s, or even an entire home.

With that said, the most common complaints are fragile parts, poor filtration, poor battery life, and clogs. These aren’t limited to the cheaper priced vacuums either. You have smaller piping and suction systems and smaller filters. You can’t expect to be able to vacuum your carpeted house with 3 cats and a full grown Golden Retriever on a single charge or without getting a clog.

It’s easy to buy a cordless vacuum and be smitten by how light it is to push around and how quick you can cover a large area, but in the end, these vacuums are no replacement for a corded vacuum for heavy use. So it is important to step back and make sure your expectations are reasonable. Cordless vacuums offer the best performance on bare floors (hardwood, tile, etc.) and are capable of superficial cleaning of low-pile carpet. If you’re cleaning up after pets expect to clean the vacuum after every use to avoid clogs that damage the motor.

This is one of those products that fits a very specific niche in cleaning. People will try to use a cordless vacuum for a job that is meant for a traditional, more powerful, vacuum and find that it falls short. It is important to take Pros/Cons with a grain of salt when making a decision to purchase.

What features and hassles can I expect?

You will find in any article we write about vacuums that the first thing to consider when buying a vacuum is what type of flooring you will be cleaning. Mostly carpet? Then you will want a powered brushroll. Mostly hardwood or tile? You will at least need to be able to turn off the powered brush, as only being able to adjust the height will still cause dirt to be tossed around on the floor. Since powering a brush taxes the battery more, you will find better battery life in cordless vacuums that either do not have a powered brush or have the option to turn it off. Naturally, this means if you’re floors are mostly hardwood you can cover quite a bit more square feet than if you had carpet.

Most (if not all) cordless vacuums are bagless. It’s hard enough to get users to clean a cord-powered bagless vacuum enough to prevent overheating or motor damage due to clogs. When you combine this with a much weaker power source and smaller filtration systems, the likelihood of an unsatisfied customer is much higher. This is why it is important for a user to understand that you may, for example, need to clean the brushroll during every use. Of course, this depends on how often you clean your floors and what environment you cleaning in. Pets or even a many-person household will naturally have more hair, dirt, and dust to deal with. Hair seizing the brushroll and dust/hair/lint clogging the pipes/filters are your number one concern if you want any vacuum to last.

Pros of Cordless Vacuums:

  • Lightweight, Compact, and Versatile
  • Works especially well on hardwood and other bare floors.
  • Great choice for vacuuming RV’s, boats, small homes/apartments.
  • Lithium-ion batteries allow for continuous vacuuming for over an hour on some models.
  • Cordless vacuums are generally bagless (good and bad)
  • No Cord!

Cons of Cordless Vacuums:

  • Avoid cordless vacuums if you have lots of pet/human hair. Just save yourself the heartache and money.
  • Must keep batteries charged.
  • Not recommended for high-pile carpet.
  • If you are vacuuming carpet, expect to be able to vacuum less square feet.
  • Weaker suction than traditional vacuums.
  • Smaller dirt/dust container and filter system (Needs more frequent cleaning).
  • Expect 15-30 minutes of continuous usage.