If you've always bought budget vacuum cleaners, you may not be aware that there's an entire market of machines out there that might have price tags with three zeroes on the end of them. These cleaners offer features and attachments not typically found on less expensive vacuums, but not all of them are worth the extra cash.
While it's possible to spend a lot of money on a vacuum cleaner, we think that $400 is the sweet spot price-wise, where you can get vacuum cleaners with great cleaning performance and useful extra features and attachments without breaking the bank. With this price limit in mind, we put together a list of robot vacuums and vacuum cleaners and tested them to see which ones let you get the most bang for your buck. Some of our favorites include the Eufy 11s robot vacuum (available at Amazon for $229.99) and the Dyson V7 Car + Boat cordless vacuum (available at Amazon for $239.00).
Here's our list of the best robot vacuums with prices of (or close to) $400:
EcoVacs Deebot N79S
iRobot Roomba 690
If you'd prefer non-robot vacuums that are more portable, here's our list of the best handheld/cordless/stick vacuums with prices lower than $400:
Dyson V7 Car + Boat
Tineco A10 Hero
Hoover Air Cordless Lift
Black & Decker BDH2000PL
Black & Decker HNV215BW52
Shark Navigator Freestyle SV1106
For those of you who need a regular-sized vacuum cleaner, don't worry, we have recommendations for those as well:
Kenmore Elite 81714
Hoover WindTunnel UH70120
Shark NV352 Navigator Lift-Away
Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.
Eufy RoboVac 11s
Kenmore Elite 81714
Dyson V7 Car + Boat
Other Affordable Robot Vacuums We Tested
Other Portable Vacuums We Tested
Other Traditional Vacuums We Tested
How We Tested
What You Need to Know About Cordless and Handheld Vacuums
The Eufy Robovac 11S is the heir to the much-loved Robovac 11. This robot vacuum does its predecessor proud, offering excellent suction and improved navigation. The slimmer design allows the S to get its brushes into more places.
When we tested, the 11S picked up around 11.6 grams of dirt per run, more than what most iRobot models manage. We also noted that during operation, the 11S was quiet, rarely making enough noise to interrupt a conversation. The combination of good dirt pickup and quiet operation make the 11S one of our favorite robot vacuums.
If uprights aren't your jam, the Kenmore Elite 81714 canister vacuum might be more your speed. This Kenmore has the near-exclusive ability to deal with ultra-plush carpeting. Normal vacuums can get stuck on ultra plush–the loops are so thick that they create a seal with the vacuum from which no brush head can escape. Kenmore dealt with this issue by placing vents on the top of the brush head to relieve the pressure.
During our testing, we found that this Elite lived up to its name. For starters, the Elite carries all its attachments onboard, because there's nothing worse than having to pick up after your vacuum. The 81714 also has a 26-foot long cord that can retract at the touch of a button. Finally, this vacuum has over 2 liters of dirt capacity.
When you combine all these features, you get a machine that lets you focus on cleaning your floors, not looking for a place to re-plug or wondering where you left the dusting brush.
The cordless Dyson V7 Car+Boat is a fantastic handheld vacuum; not only can it easily clean furniture and tight spaces, but it excels at floor care as well. This handheld offers long battery life, powerful suction, and a flexible set of included attachments. If the price tag is a a bit hard to swallow, you can get the same cleaning performance and fewer attachments with the less expensive V7 Trigger.
In our tests, this bagless vacuum beat all its competitors on pickup, cleaning over 75% of the dirt we laid out for it. Battery life is up to 30 minutes of low-power cleaning or seven minutes at full power—which we used for testing.
Its attachments also impress: The motorized rotating brush head is compact, just six inches across, and designed to resist tangling hair. The Car+Boat model also includes two dusting brushes, a crevice tool for tight spots, and a flexible hose that extends out two feet for more reach under seats. No matter whether you're doing some spot cleaning on upholstery or going at some dirt in pile carpets, the V7 will get the job done.
The iLife A4s is an affordable robot vacuum that gets the job done. It has a similar design to our top affordable cleaner, the Eufy RoboVac 11S. What gives the A4s an advantage is its low, three-inch profile. Its cleaning cycles were long but effective. With a vacuum like this, dirt has nowhere to hide.
The Eufy Robovac 30C lives where the budget-minded shopper and the smart home enthusiast can meet. This robot vacuum incorporates everything we loved about previous Robovac models and adds even more.
You still get the easy-to-use app. However, this time around, Eufy also includes two magnetic boundary strips that can be used to keep the 30C from wandering off into sensitive areas.
We found the smart features to be both robust and simplistic. From the app, you can dictate cleaning schedules, initial cleanings, and check on the battery status. If you don’t have your phone on you, the 30C can also be controlled via Amazon Alexa or Google Home Assistant. On the cleaning front, the 30C proved to be ahead of the pack. During our cleaning tests, it picked up, on average, over 10 grams of dirt. Over the course of the week, the 30C can keep up with a light cleaning from a regular vacuum.
The EcoVacs DeeBot N79S is an amazing value. However, that doesn't change the fact the N79S is among one of the more basic robot vacuums we've tested.
The smart app basically transfers the functions from the N79S's remote control onto your smartphone. You can also control this robot vacuum via Amazon Alexa.
Putting the N79S to the test, we found it cleaned well—but sometimes skipped under furniture and shied away from throw rugs. There's no way to keep it out of a room, either. However, the smart functions worked well. Setup was a breeze—just remember you need a 2.4GHz connection.
The Roomba 690 replaces the Roomba 650 as the entry-level offering from iRobot, one of the best-known names in the world of home robotics.
So why isn't this superb cleaner our favorite? Well, it still has a few flaws. For instance, it's based on the iRobot 650, which is rough on furniture, hitting the table and chair legs with 3.3 pounds of force in our tests. That's hard enough to knock an item off the edge of a table.
You can buy the Roomba 614 for even less money, but it loses value in our eyes because it lacks both connectivity and the ability to schedule cleaning ahead of time.
The Tineco A10 Hero comes from the same people that brought us the Ecovacs robot vacuum series. It has a lot to live up to—iLifes are known for being affordable workhorses. The A10 does its robot vacuum cousins proud. And if you're worried about delving into a new brand, the A10 is covered by a two-year warranty.
We liked the fact this vacuum picked up 47% of we laid out for it; for the going rate, the performance is impressive. Plus, the A10 has the endurance to match our top pick, around 7 minutes on the max settings and 14 minutes on the regular. Unlike the Dyson, you can buy additional batteries and swap them in for even more cleaning time.
The A10 comes with the standard assortment of attachments including a crevice tool, a mini-powered brush, and an upholstery brush. While none of these wowed us, we like the fact that the default brush head has bright LED lights to help us spot dirt and debris under furniture. When you combine these aspects, we consider this cordless a great value pick.
Cordless vacuums tend to be lighter, less powerful versions of their tethered cousins. The Hoover Air Cordless Lift bucks that trend, standing as a colossus among cordless vacuums.
Consumers looking for an easy-to-lift cordless vacuum might turn their noses up at the Lift's 12-pound bulk, but its size has plenty of advantages. The Lift includes two 20V batteries that can last up to 50 minutes each. Like other Hoover cordless vacs, the battery is interchangeable.
In a technical sense, the Lift is also a two-in-one. With a touch of a button, the main body can be removed, turning the Lift into a seven-pound handheld canister that can easily be taken up and down the stairs.
Basically, the Hoover Air Cordless Lift costs a lot because it offers two cordless vacuums for the price of one. So if you've ever wanted a cordless vacuum that even stood a chance at replacing a normal floor cleaner, the Lift is probably your best bet.
Black & Decker BDH2000PL
If you want to spend less—a lot less—than the Dyson, we recommend the Black+Decker Pivot 20V. Unlike the Dyson, which is based on a stick vac design, the cordless Pivot is a dedicated handheld unit.
One of the great design features is a pivot joint that lets you bend the unit 200º. This literal flexibility lets you turn the Pivot into a hook to get cobwebs off the tops of cabinets, or fold it up for easy storage. However, its big body and lack of a hose make its hard to maneuver under car seats. The crevice and dusting tool are permanently attached, too.
We clocked the Pivot's run time at 11-and-a-half minutes—third in endurance of all the vacuums we tested. It came in second place during our pickup test, capturing 70% of the dirt we laid out. Considering that it only costs around $70, that's an impressive showing.
At the end of the day, if you need help cleaning up small messes in tight spaces, but don't need a top-of-the-line tool, the Pivot is a safe choice.
Formerly Dyson's cordless flagship until the V8 replaced it, the Dyson V6 is the cordless vacuum to buy if even your smallest messes require significant cleaning. It's as powerful as the V8, but has a weaker battery life (20 minutes on low compared to the V8's 40 minutes) and lack of a bare floors attachment.
However, the V6 does not lack for customizing options. It can be reconfigured to better clean your car, the stairs, the ceiling, the floor, and your carpets. On paper, that's all very well and good, but we found it cumbersome in practice because there's no place for the extra parts to go when they're not in use.
Do you ever have spills at your home that are too small for a mop, but too big for a paper towel? Well, that's where the Black+Decker HNV215BW52 comes in. During our dirt pickup test, it captured 60% of the dirt, placing it in the top half of our roundup. And it picked up water, too, so you won't have to go through a roll of paper towels. This was the lightest handheld we tested, tipping the scales at only 1.5 pounds.
So, why isn't it one of our absolute favorites? Well, its battery life was weak. It only ran for a total of 10 minutes, and we noticed a decline in suction at around the eight-minute mark. That might be fine for a small spill, but that's not nearly long enough for cleaning a car or any of the other more involved uses for a compact vacuum.
The Shark SV1106 shares a number of design features with full-sized Shark vacuums, primarily the same dust bin setup and a similar Lift-Away filter system.
As a cordless vacuum, the SV1106’s performance landed it in the middle of the pack. It has admirable battery life: On its carpet setting, it lasted around 14 minutes before cutting out. But the SV1106 stumbled during the dirt cleanup test, only picking up 44% of the dirt we laid out for it. While that’s good for how affordable this cordless is, you can spend a few bucks more and get much more powerful suction.
Prolux is best known for its professional cleaning equipment, and the company put its know-how to use to create the Prolux Ion. Our tests showed that the Ion’s battery lasts about 20 minutes while cleaning. While cleaning our carpets, the Ion picked up around 45% of the testing dirt we laid out for it.
Those test results put this cordless in the middle of the pack. We really liked that this is a two-in-one vacuum, with the ability to act as an upright or as a hand vacuum. The hand vac tips the scales at around 3.4 pounds, so it’s a little heavy, but we appreciate that it has the capability.
The Kenmore 81614 cleans nearly as well as vacuums that cost twice as much. In our tests, it had no problem with getting debris off floors, or scaring up dirt from the darkest corners of a thick carpet. We appreciated how many attachments it came with, and the height-adjustable powered floor brush will work on any kind of carpet.
The Pet PowerMate attachment on the 81614 is unique to Kenmore. It's a tiny, powered brush meant for cleaning pet hair off upholstery, drapes, and car seats. It was the only vacuum attachment we tested that reliably got the wiry fur of a Great Pyrenees dog out of floor mats.
The main difference between this inexpensive Kenmore and pricier canister vacuums is fit and finish. You'll immediately notice that the Kenmore is a very loud. While the Kenmore 81614 weighs about the same as other canister vacuums, the wand frequently topples over, and its attachments feel cheap and clunky. Still, nothing cleans better for so little money.
If the thought of wrapping up a cord when you're done cleaning fills you with dread, you may want to check out the Hoover WindTunnel Rewind Plus, which comes with a retractable cord.
In our carpet tests, the WindTunnel picked up almost the exact same amount of dirt as the Bissell CleanView. While it costs a little more, that higher price tag gets you a cord that winds up automatically with the touch of a lever.
There's also onboard storage for all the Hoover's attachments, so they'll always be at hand when you need them—instead of lost in the back of a closet.
The downside? All these features keep the WindTunnel from breezing through rooms. With everything onboard, this Hoover tips the scales at 17.3 pounds. That's a full two pounds heavier than the Bissell. Even worse, there's no carrying handle on the back, which means it's a huge pain to lug up and down stairs. It also struggled with pet hair.
The popular Shark Navigator Lift-Away was one of the most unusual vacuums we tested. Its Lift-Away feature means that users can detach the motor from the handle, which turns the unit into a pseudo-canister. Unfortunately, you cannot use attachments unless the motor is detached, and you have to lug the "canister" around because it doesn't have wheels.
Other features don't come with as many tradeoffs. For instance, automatic height adjustment means you can go from cleaning a thick area rug to short-pile carpet without skipping a beat. This Shark is also the only vacuum in the running that has a swivel joint in the brush head, which allows the Shark to pivot around furniture and other obstacles. The Shark's small brush head also helps you reach tight spaces.
However, we feel that the Shark isn't as good a value as other vacuums on the list. Even though it's the most expensive cleaner we included, it only picked up 38 percent of testing dirt we put down on a normal carpet. Other vacuums cleaned better and cost less.
Given all the trade-offs, the Shark Navigator Lift-Away is a fine choice for small apartments that feature a variety of floor types.
Hey, I'm Jon Chan, the Senior Lab Technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it—whether it’s laundry detergents or dishwashers—I oversee its testing. While the vacuum cleaner market used to just be made up of canister vacuums and upright vacuums, we've seen a recent explosion in vacuum cleaning innovation in the form of stick vacuums, handheld vacuums, and, of course, robot vacuums. I've tested all of these types of vacuums, and can tell you which vacuum cleaner/robot vacuum is the best for your home.
How We Tested Robot Vacuums
Most of the tests involved our robot obstacle course. The area contains analogs for furniture legs, shelves, and thresholds. Each robot vacuum has three chances to prove itself. The first two runs, we placed cork pellets under the shelves and between the furniture legs. When we let the robot vacuum loose, we look for how long a cleaning cycle takes, what obstacles it was able to clean thoroughly, and overall debris pickup. For the final test run, we replaced the cork with pet hair.
We also spend time looking at how each robot vacuum could benefit a pet owner. For example, the LG Hom-Bot Turbo+ can be remote controlled from anywhere and has cameras that stream. When you combine these two features, you get a mobile pet cam.
How We Tested Handheld Vacuums
Testing these little suckers and picking a winner was a three-step process. The first step consisted of weights and measurements. Out of the box, we put on the heaviest attachment and placed the vacuum on a scale. We then measured the "reach" of each vacuum: how far it extends from your hand for cleaning.
Next came the performance tests. We measured battery life and pickup of dirt, crumbs, and pet hair. To make everything fair, every vacuum was allowed to charge for 24 hours before and after the battery test. If a powered brush head was available, it was attached. All tests were performed on the highest power settings.
Finally, we took our top picks and brought them out of the lab and into a dirty car. We put uncooked rice on the floor to simulate debris like tracked-in road salt and discarded snacks. We stuffed pet hair between the seats, and scattered dirt all over the trunk.
We also judged our top picks based on how easy it was to change attachments, and how balanced each vacuum felt in hand during cleaning.
How We Tested Cordless Vacuums
When we test cordless vacuums, we’re looking for long battery life, ease of use, and powerful suction. To test battery life, we charge each model for 24 hours. Once charged, each vacuum is run at its highest settings and timed until it stops working. If the vacuum doesn't meet its manufacturer's advertised claim about its total runtime, we take note and adjust our expectations to see if, under laboratory conditions, the vacuum can still adequately do its job.
Cleaning shouldn't be complicated, so we take note of how intuitive the design of the vacuum is: Can we figure out how to use it without opening its manual? We also consider the little things: how easy it is to use; and how quickly we can change a vacuum's attachments, plug in the charger, store it, or empty its dirt bin.
To test cleaning power, we placed 20 grams of sand on a testing platform covered in medium-pile carpet. Before use, this sand is sifted through a specialized mesh to ensure a consistent size of grains between 420 and 595 microns. After evenly spreading the sand across our test platform, we run each vacuum over the carpeted platform once, on max settings. We also check to see if each vacuum could pick up large debris like uncooked rice and macaroni. This test is conducted twice: once with the vacuum's motorized head and once with its crevice tool.
How We Tested Vacuum Cleaners
The most important metric in our vacuum cleaner testing is, unsurprisingly, cleaning performance. We sprinkle a special sand mixture on top of two different floor surfaces (high pile carpet and low pile carpet). After rolling the rug surface with a lawn roller, which pushes the sand down further into the carpet fibers, we give each vacuum cleaner three passes to pick up as much sand as possible; the vacuums that can pick up all or almost all of sand are those that we recommend the most strongly.
Other additional metrics include cleaning up debris (like raw macaroni and rice grains) off of a linoleum floor surface, using baby powder to visualize how well a vacuum can clean the edges of a floor (where it meets the wall), and determining how well the vacuum head will fit under furniture of varying heights. We also measure the vacuum cleaner noise, weight, and cord length.
After gathering all of this information, we can tell you which vacuum cleaner is the best for you, whether you need raw cleaning power or a vacuum cleaner that's easy to maneuver in tight spaces.
What You Need to Know About Cordless and Handheld Vacuums
Can Cordless Vacuums Replace Traditional Ones?
For the most part, cordless vacuums should be viewed as supplementary cleaning tools to be used in between uses of heavier cleaning equipment or in situations where a full-sized vacuum is too cumbersome. That said, if you’re willing to pay a higher price for the privilege, a cordless vacuum can stand toe-to-toe with a full-sized vacuum. Our top pick has a suction force similar to that of a regular vacuum. But, this amount of suction comes at a price: You'll only be able to use the Dyson V11 Torque Drive for this level of cleaning for about 9 minutes before it runs out of power and needs to be recharged.
What’s the Difference Between Cordless Vacuums and Handheld Vacuums?
In many cases, the only difference between a cordless vacuum and hand vacuum is the cordless vacuum's long extension, which allows the brush head to reach the floor. Although rare, some two-in-one–models come with a handheld vacuum that can be removed and used to clean, without the floor extension—a real bonus when you're cleaning furniture or a flight of stairs.
What You Need to Know About Vacuum Cleaners
Bagged vs. Bagless
Bagged vacuums often offer better filtration and dust management. When you empty a dirt cup from a bagless vacuum, a percentage of the dirt gets back into the air. However, bagged vacuums get emptied less and can develop a bad odor.
Types of Floors
Carpet can be divided into low-pile, high-pile, and ultra-plush categories. Most vacuums can deal with high and low-pile carpets, but only a select few are designed to deal with ultra-plush. This special type of carpet feels super-soft because it’s so dense, causing some vacuums to get stuck on it.
For bare floors, cordless vacuums with soft rollers are your best bet. Pine and other softwoods can get scratched and dinged by heavy vacuum use. When in doubt, use a broom and dustpan.
What Does Paying More Get Me?
After testing vacuums for the past five years, we have an understanding of what you get for your money. In the sub-$100 category, every extra dollar you spend usually goes towards more power. Of the models we tested at this price range, all of them carry the same bare-minimum array of attachments. When you spend a bit more, around $100 to $300, you start to see stratification in usability and features. We’re talking about more attachments, better joints so the vacuum moves with you, and better warranties. Anything above the $300 range is showing for a premium market. When we test these vacuums, we’re looking for brush heads that won’t scratch delicate flooring, designs that won’t tip over, and motors with enough power to tackle the thickest of carpets.
Your cleaning style should also match your lifestyle. For example, if you live in a small apartment and spend lots of time in your car, you should shift your budget toward a cordless. Do you have a multi-level home with mostly hardwood floors? A canister is going to serve you the best.
Jonathan Chan currently serves as the Lab Manager at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it's likely that Jon oversees its testing. Since joining the Reviewed in 2012, Jon has helped launch the company's efforts in reviewing laptops, vacuums, and outdoor gear. He thinks he's a pretty big deal. In the pursuit of data, he's plunged his hands into freezing cold water, consented to be literally dragged through the mud, and watched paint dry. Jon demands you have a nice day.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.