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Shark APEX Vacuums Review

With the combination of the DuoClean and Zero-M cleaner head, the Shark APEX AZ1002’s performance on hard floors and carpet is unmatched. Seriously, it’s really good.

The Shark APEX are full-size vacuums, but there’s only a 2.5 lbs difference between our recommended model and the smallest full-size upright Shark features on their website.

In general, we find that Shark uprights are on the lighter side when compared with other manufacturers. The 1350W motor is one of the biggest we’ve seen from Shark, and overpowers the Shark Navigator uprights.

If you’re tired of underpowered stick vacuums and want to go back to a full-size upright, then this is currently the best Shark has to offer.

Attachments are the primary difference between the different versions of the Shark APEX with DuoClean and Zero-M. The AZ1002 is the model available at many online retailers and comes with the popular Motorized Pet Tool.

Shark APEX Powered Lift-Away with DuoClean and Zero-M

We’ve included a table here for a quick glance at which attachments are available for each model. The AZ1002 is the most widely available model and it comes with everything you need.

The 1350W motor is one of the biggest we’ve seen from Shark, and overpowers the Shark Navigator uprights.

Attachments

Model#AZ1000WAZ1002AZ1002BRN
12″ Crevice Tool
Pet Multi-Tool
Motorized Pet Tool
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About the Shark APEX Series

The Shark APEX vacuums are a recent addition to Shark’s vacuum lineup. As of late 2018, the leading Shark upright vacuums are the APEX, DuoClean, and Navigator series.

Shark has let the Rotator line fall behind a bit, as there are no DuoClean or Zero-M features on current Rotator models. We’ll see if they decide to continue updating the Rotator Series, or just stick with the APEX vacuums. It would be a lot less confusing if they just focused on a single upright line with a few different versions.

Shark’s naming conventions are somewhat confusing, and that’s why we have a section of this article dedicated to explaining it. Also, the sheer number of vacuums they produce with different names that have barely discernable feature differences doesn’t help.

On the newer models, you’ll see the names “Zero-M” and “DuoClean” used frequently. These names refer to the type of cleaner head built into the vacuums. The Zero-M cleaner head removes hair from the brushroll as you vacuum, whereas the DuoClean technology is an extra brushroll that specializes in vacuuming hard flooring.

So what does APEX mean?

Well, it’s just a name, like the popular Navigator and Rotator vacuums. The APEX name doesn’t refer to a specific technology, that we know of.

Now, if you’re interested in a Shark upright, then you’re in the right place because the APEX series has all the latest updates and technology available from Shark.

Use the links below to skip to the section that interests you. You can learn more about the Shark naming conventions in the next section, or skip to our review of the Best Shark APEX vacuum.

Shark Vacuum Names & Features

Shark names its vacuums by stringing together the names of the various technologies that are built into the vacuum, and it’s form factor.

Shark uprights generally carry the names Rotator, Navigator, or APEX. However, the first upright vacuum that featured the DuoClean brushroll was named “Shark DuoClean…”, and didn’t have one of the common Shark names.

The DuoClean brushroll was adapted to just about every type of vacuum Shark makes, so continuing to name their uprights with the DuoClean name would have led to confusion. Now, you’ll only see DuoClean included in the name of a vacuum if it has that technology.

APEX

This name simply refers to the latest series of Shark upright vacuums. It doesn’t refer to a specific technology inside the vacuums.

Shark APEX vacuums have either the Zero-M brushroll, DuoClean brushroll, or both. There are full-size and compact-size uprights with the APEX name.

Zero-M

Hair removal. That’s what Zero-M is all about.

Hair, either human or pet, gets wrapped around every vacuum’s brushroll. The Zero-M cleaner head actively removes hair as you vacuum.

This is accomplished by a bristle guard that sits along each row of bristles on the brushroll, and a comb that helps separate the hair from the bristles. Once the hair is detached, it’s suctioned into the dustbin like everything else.

This is incredibly convenient, and you don’t have to pull out your scissors and clean the brushroll nearly as frequently as most other vacuums.

DuoClean

Vacuum manufacturers have different approaches to handling hard floors with an upright. For a long time, you would simply turn off the brushroll to avoid throwing large debris around when vacuuming hardwood or tile.

That works, but there’s a better way.

You would like to have some brushing action on your hard floor to remove stuck-on dust and dirt that suction alone can’t pick up. So Shark and some other manufacturers have started including a brushroll that has dense fibers instead of a few rows of bristles. They look a lot like a paint roller.

shark duoclean head

We’ve seen Dyson include a similar style cleaner head with their V6 and V8 series cordless stick vacuums. They work well and allow for large and small objects to get pulled up by the suction instead of thrown behind the vacuum. They also remove that layer of dust that’s often left behind by vacuums that rely on suction alone.

DuoClean is available on Sharks uprights, sticks, and cordless vacuums.

Powered Lift-Away

You will see “Lift-Away” in just about every Shark upright’s name.

There are two versions of the Lift-Away concept. The “Powered Lift-Away” phrase refers to the models that have the detachable pod and the handle that can be attached to the vacuum cleaner head. You can then use the vacuum like you would a canister-style vacuum.

The models that only have “Lift-Away” in the name have the detachable pod, but can’t be attached to the cleaner head. You can only use them with accessories or just pointing the nozzle at areas you want to vacuum.

The Powered Lift-Away feature lets you easily get under furniture that you might otherwise not be able to reach under in the upright form.

Lift-AwayPowered Lift-Away
Detachable CanisterDetachable Canister
Use non-powered attachments, such as crevice tools or dusting brushes.Use motorized brush attachments for cleaning stairs or upholstery.
Detach the vacuum cleaner head and use it like a traditional canister vacuum.

Speed

The Speed name refers to vacuums that are compact and lightweight. Kind of.

There’s generally about one pound difference between the weight of Shark’s full-size uprights and the compact models. One of the more notable differences is the lower wattage of the Speed models. This doesn’t seem to have a significant impact on cleaning power.

The dimensions of the Speed models compared to the full-size models aren’t much different. They’re generally within an inch or two in all dimensions.

Take the “Speed” name with a grain of salt. Look at the specifications carefully.

More About the Shark APEX AZ1002

Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M Powered Lift-Away (AZ1002)

The AZ1002 has the DuoClean and Zero-M brushrolls. Includes a Motorized Pet Tool for upholstery. And has the Powered Lift-Away feature that gives great maneuverability.

The cord isn’t retractable, but we can let that slide. We think you’ll be more than happy with this vacuum.

Attachments

  • 12″ Crevice Tool
  • Pet Multi-Tool
  • Deep-Cleaning Motorized Pet Tool

The Lowdown

  • Yearly Expenses: $0 to $20
  • This estimate assumes you buy Shark brand filters and replace the HEPA Filter once per year.
  • Everyone’s vacuuming needs are different. If you find washing the filter over the course of a year doesn’t affect the vacuum’s performance then you can save money.

Let’s Talk About the Yearly Expenses Number

On Shark’s APEX Model AZ1000W information page, they state you should wash the foam and felt filters every 3 months. For the HEPA post-motor filter, you should rinse every 12 months or as needed.

I like to use the manufacturers recomendations but also take it with a grain of salt. They have a particular vacuum usage in mind when they come up with these numbers, but everyone’s situation is different. If you’re single and live in a small apartment, then you’re vacuuming routine is different than a family of 4 living in a 3000 sq. ft. house.

Check your filters regularly and wash them as frequently as you can.

Buying these filters from a third party is indeed possible and you should be able to replace all the filters for less than $20.

Truthfully, this all depends on how often you vacuum and what kind of messes you’re vacuuming. With the older Shark Navigator models, I used the filters for several years with no trouble.

You can get the HEPA filter and foam filter at Amazon. They’re usually much cheaper than the genuine Shark filters and the reviews are excellent.

The ongoing costs of filters for bagless vacuums tend to be very small and not something you should worry about, especially when there are good third-party options. They are cheaper than bag vacuums.

Comparison Table

Prices shown are pulled from Amazon at the time you view this page. Items with low availability may display unrealistic prices, so consider checking the links to other retailers for more competitive pricing.

Shark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-Away SpeedShark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-AwayShark APEX DuoClean Zero-M Powered Lift-Away
DuoClean
Zero-M
LED Headlights
HEPA Filtration
AttachmentsAnti-Allergen Dust Brush, Pet Multi Tool, Duster Crevice Tool, MultiFLEX Under-Appliance Wand, Accessory BagAnti-Allergen Dust Brush, Pet Multi-Tool, Duster Crevice Tool, MultiFLEX Under-Appliance Wand, Accessory BagPet Multi Tool, Deep Cleaning Motorized Pet Tool, 12″ Crevice Tool
Dustbin Capacity0.9 Dry Quarts1.5 Dry Quarts1.5 Dry Quarts
Cord Length30 Feet30 Feet30 Feet
Wattage90013501350
Weight14.8 lbs16 lbs16 lbs
Warranty5 Year Limited5 Year Limited5 Year Limited
Model#AX912AX951AZ1002
Check AmazonCheck AmazonCheck Amazon
Check Best BuyCheck Best Buy

Design

The most significant design update with the new Shark APEX vacuum is combining the Zero-M and DuoClean features into a single cleaner head. Dyson has bundled a brushroll similar to the DuoClean with its canister and stick vacuums, but it requires you to detach the standard cleaner head and swap them. It’s very convenient to be able to transition between different flooring types without having to take apart your vacuum, no matter how easy it is.

zero-m and duoclean combo cleaner head

There’s more to it though:

In our Shark Navigator Review, we observed the latest Shark Navigator with the Zero-M cleaner head outperform the old Navigator model on picking up fine particles, such as coffee and sand, while also having a less powerful motor.

It’s true for the new Shark APEX too.

These newer vacuums form a better seal against the floor by using a row of bristles behind the cleaner head opening. Debris suctioned toward the opening isn’t slung behind the vacuum on hard floors, and the airflow is focused towards the front and sides of the vacuum.

See this for yourself in the Performance section below.

Hands down, this is a major leap for Shark. At this time, you’d be hard-pressed to find a more versatile upright than the Shark Lift-Away uprights with DuoClean or Zero-M features. This is coming from someone that prefers Miele canister vacuums with a bag.

Now:

Currently, smaller vacuums are very popular, either stick or compact uprights. With stick vacuums, you obviously sacrifice more dustbin capacity and suction power. I guarantee if you go back to a full-size upright after relying on a stick vacuum, then you’ll be amazed at the difference in power.

The Powered Lift-Away feature gives you nearly the same versatility as a stick vacuum, but you get to keep the larger dustbin and suction power.

Size & Weight

Here’s a quick look at a few stats on the older Shark APEX vacuums, and the latest AZ1002.

Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M Powered Lift-Away (AZ1002)Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away Speed (AX912)Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away (AX951)
Weight16 lbs14.8 lbs16 lbs
Dustbin Capacity1.5 Dry Quarts0.9 Dry Quarts1.5 Dry Quarts
Wattage13509001350
Dimensions11.2″ L x 12.2″ W x 46″ H10.1″ L x 12″ W x 46.5″ H10.1″ L x 12″ W x 46.5″ H
Price at AmazonPrice at AmazonPrice at Amazon

Shedding only a pound on the Shark APEX Speed model while also losing power and dustbin capacity just doesn’t seem worth it.

You generally see stick vacuums peak around 10 lbs, then uprights stay around 14-20 lbs. Among Shark’s latest releases, the heaviest uprights are 16 lbs. If you’re looking to buy an upright, then you’ve already committed to at least 3 to 4 pounds more than a typical stick vacuum.

Why not just get the fully-featured upright instead of making sacrifices to save the 1 or 2 lbs?

If you have dexterity issues, then you absolutely should consider smaller vacuums, and a stick vacuum may be better for you. They’re more maneuverable and weigh less.

Performance

Vacuum Wars has a great demo and review of the new Shark APEX with DuoClean and Zero-M. Check it out below.

Highlights:

  • The Shark APEX with Zero-M and DuoClean is the most powerful Shark vacuum available.
  • The suction and airflow at the nozzle is more than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and Miele U1 Dynamic.
  • The Powered Lift-Away mode is very lightweight and makes getting hard-to-reach places much easier.
  • The DuoClean brushroll handles the finest dust or largest debris on hard floors with ease.
  • You can switch between hard floor, carpet, or thick rug settings on the handle.

There are 3 different settings available on the handle:

  • Hard Floor Mode: High suction with slower brushroll speed.
  • Carpet Mode: Normal suction and brushroll speed.
  • Thick Carpet / Area Rug Mode: Low suction with high brushroll speed.

These settings also make it easy to adjust suction while in Lift-Away mode and cleaning above the floor.

You might also be wondering…

Is the Shark APEX Self-Propelled?

Well, not in the traditional way.

Self-propelled vacuums usually have motorized wheels that assist you when you push the vacuum forward. This feature is relatively uncommon now.

The Shark APEX and other Shark vacuums with the DuoClean feature pulls itself forward using the brushrolls. On hard floors, the DuoClean brushroll helps make it easier to push forward. On carpet, you’ll find the combination of both brushrolls, at least on the new APEX with DuoClean and Zero-M, makes it easy to push the vacuum forward.

While in Lift-Away mode on carpet, the cleaner head is almost too strong and resists being pulled backward. For that reason, you’ll probably find that leaving the vacuum in upright mode will help counter the extra pull from the brushrolls. The extra weight of the canister helps with resistance.

Either way, we think you won’t have any problems pushing around the Shark APEX vacuums, but it might take some getting used to if you’ve been using a stick vacuum.

Maintenance

The whole idea behind the Zero-M cleaner head is no maintenance. Aside from emptying the dustbin and cleaning filters, cutting out tangled up hair from the brushroll is the most common maintenance task. It’s also the grossest.

If you didn’t watch the video above, you might be wondering if the Zero-M feature actually keeps hair off the brushroll.

Short Answer: Yes.

It will get the majority of hair off the brushroll by itself. It’s not perfect, though.

If you notice there is some hair building up on the brushroll, then you have two options.

First, move the vacuum to a hard (bare) floor and leave it running in carpet mode. The hair removal process takes a little time and letting the brushroll spin freely, while not accumulating more hair, will help remove the hair that’s stuck on the brushroll.

Second, you can just pop off the cleaner head lid and cut it out yourself. Having the cover on the top of the cleaner head is incredibly convenient.

duoclean lid release

Filters

As we mentioned before, the foam and felt filters need to be cleaned at least every 3 months, while the HEPA filter can be cleaned as needed. Shark recommends at least a yearly cleaning with the HEPA filter, but you might need to do it more frequently than that if you vacuum a lot.

Shark Foam & Felt FiltersShark HEPA FilterAlternative Foam, Felt, and HEPA Filters
Cleaning Frequency1 to 3 MonthsYearly1 to 3 Months for Foam & Felt, Yearly for HEPA
Price at AmazonPrice at AmazonPrice at Amazon

We’re not endorsing any third-party filters here, but the link above has positive reviews and is significantly cheaper than the genuine Shark filters. Always do your own due diligence when buying non-genuine parts. Many times they’re great replacements, but sometimes they’re not. However, Amazon has an amazing return policy.

Attachments

By far, the Deep-Cleaning Motorized Pet Tool is one of the best attachments available from Shark for cleaning upholstery or stairs. Crevice tools are a staple for cleaning above the floor, but the extra versatility from having a smaller motorized brush is super handy.

That’s why we recommend the AZ1002 variant of the new Shark APEX vacuum. It always seems like the more pet-friendly models are the most popular. They’re good for cleaning up after more than just pets though, we humans shed our fair share of hair.

Shark APEX DuoClean with Zero-M Powered Lift-AwayShark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-AwayShark APEX DuoClean Powered Lift-Away Speed
Model#AZ1002AX951AX912
Attachments Included12″ Crevice Tool, Pet Multi-Tool, Deep-Cleaning Motorized Pet ToolAnti-Allergen Dust Brush, Pet Multi-Tool, Duster Crevice Tool, MultiFLEX Under-Appliance Wand, Accessory BagMultiFLEX Under-Appliance Wand, Anti-Allergen Dust Brush, Pet Multi-Tool, Duster Crevice Tool
Price at AmazonPrice at AmazonPrice at Amazon
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Is the Shark APEX Upright a Good Buy?

Lift-Away mode has been around for years with the Shark Navigator and Rotator vacuums. It is a convenient way to make the vacuum more maneuverable without sacrificing some of the key metrics that we look at when considering a vacuum, such as dustbin capacity or powerful suction.

There are always complaints about maneuverability from a minority of people with full-size upright vacuums.

Honestly, Shark is average or below regarding weight for their full-size uprights. The Lift-Away feature makes this even better by letting you carry the canister in one hand while vacuuming with the cleaner head in the other. Overall, this significantly reduces the weight you’re having to push and pull with your dominant hand.