Americans are cutting the cord left and right, and the trend even extends to their vacuums. Cordless vacuums give you the freedom to track down messes in your home, regardless of how close they are to an outlet.
We’ve been testing cordless vacuums for years in our labs, so we decided to round up 10 vacuums that we thought covered every corner of the market, from modern Dysons to steadfast Oreks.
Our testing focuses on battery life, dirt- and debris-pickup capabilities, and ease of use. After our extensive testing, we think the Dyson V11 Torque Drive(available at Dyson for $699.99) vacuums circles around the rest of the competition.
We’re not saying the V11 is the best for everyone, though. While we think the premium technology is worth the high-end price, we understand that not everyone is looking to spend a small fortune on a cordless vacuum. That’s why we included the best value selection: to give you a gander at what’s out there that won’t break the bank.
These are the best cordless vacuums we tested ranked, in order:
Dyson V11 Torque Drive
Dyson V10 Absolute
LG CordZero A9 Ultimate
Dyson V8 Absolute
Tineco Pure One S12
Tineco A10 Hero
Tineco A11 Master
Kenmore Elite 10441 Complete
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The Dyson V11 Torque Drive is a no-compromise cordless stick vacuum. It has powerful cleaning, great battery life, and features you won’t find anywhere else. The V11 has two major features that set it apart from all other cordless vacuum cleaners: an LCD screen on the back and automatic suction adjustment.
The screen lets you know, down to the second, how much battery life you have left. This feature ensures you’ll never be caught short while vacuuming between the cushions. The self-adjusting suction is a little more subtle. When you’re cleaning, the V11 lowers or increases the amount of suction based on the type of surface you’re cleaning. This increases battery life and helps keep this Dyson from damaging your floors.
Shiny new toys aside, the V11 is a stick vac that aces the basics. Our testing showed that this Dyson picked up 95 percent of the dirt we laid out for it. The large debris tests also impressed us: A lot of vacuums just plows crumbs from one side of the room to the other, whereas the V11 has specialized gaps in its brush head to ensure pickup.
The major downside is that the Dyson V11 Torque Drive is expensive. What you’re getting is a vacuum that has features no other brand has; the top-tier performance is icing on the cake. However, there are vacuums with better value, providing a clean that’s almost as thorough for a fraction of the cost.
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 percent of the dirt we laid out for it; for the going rate, the performance is more than 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.
Hi, I’m Jon Chan, the senior lab technician at Reviewed. If you clean with it, it’s likely I oversee it’s testing in our labs. That includes everything from detergents to full-sized vacuums. When it comes to cordless vacuums, I like models that provide excellent battery life and value.
When we test battery-powered vacuums, we’re looking for longevity, 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.
What You Should Know About Cordless Vacuums
Can Cordless Vacuums Replace Regular 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 Hand 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.
Other Vacuums We Tested
Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute
When we first heard about the Dyson V10 Absolute, the details made us skeptical. Dyson announced that it would stop developing new corded vacuums because of how confident the R&D team was in the V10.
However, after spending time with the V10, we found the Absolute moniker to be apt, since the V10 comes with absolutely everything: a powered brush head that's designed for hardwood floors, a motorized mini brush for cleaning upholstery, a soft brush for hardwood, a combination upholstery/bare floor tool, a crevice tool, a drive cleaner head, and a soft dusting brush for computers and delicate items. They all attach to a 5.6-pound wall-mountable package, making it one of the lightest cordless vacuums on the market.
The V10 puts all these tools to good use. In our testing lab, it picked up 89 percent of the dirt we left out for it. Even more surprising, the V10 also dominated the battery tests. On the low setting, it can run for 60 minutes, perfect for day-to-day maintenance. For intense cleaning jobs, you can run the Absolute for 9 minutes on the highest setting.
The one major downside of the Absolute is that it's absurdly expensive. In fact, you could buy six of our best value pick for what you'd spend on this Dyson. Still, if you want no compromise in power or battery life, this is the cordless vacuum to buy.
LG Cordzero A9 Ultimate epitomizes an easy-to-use cordless vacuum. Its dock can be set up to be free-standing, allowing you to charge anywhere without having to drill holes in the wall. This standing dock also has space for the alternate cleaning head and several attachments. When in use, the A9 comes with two removable batteries, giving you 16 minutes of cleaning time on the highest setting.
We cleaned carpets and bare floors with the A9. This cordless impressed us with its powerful suction, picking up 72.5% of the testing dirt we laid out for it and all of the food debris. Also during cleaning, we enjoyed using the telescopic wand, adjusting the reach up to 45 inches from handle to tip.
Overall, we think the A9 is a strong competitor to Dyson's top performers. The A9 is easier to store and has more battery life, but lacks the raw power of the V11 or V10.
The Dyson V8 Absolute is near the pinnacle of cordless vacuum technology. It's one heck of a vacuum.
The V8 almost overwhelms with the number of attachments: a powered brush head that's designed for hardwood floors, a motorized upholstery brush, a soft brush for hardwood, a combination upholstery/bare floor tool, a crevice tool, and a soft dusting brush. As a hallmark of Dyson design, the handheld unit only weighs 5.6 pounds.
The brush head is made from carbon fiber and nylon. It's softer than a puppy—and infinitely more gentle on floors and better at picking up dirt. In our labs, the V8 picked up 88 percent of the dirt we put down for our tests.
On the low setting, the battery lasted an amazing 40 minutes. (The max suction setting will drain the battery in 7 minutes, though.) When you're done, its dustbin empties out dirt with the pull of a single lever on top of the machine.
If want the V10's sleek design for less, the V8 is a viable option. However, the V8 still costs twice as much as most of the vacuums on our list. For everyone else, our Best Value pick works almost as well, but costs a quarter as much.
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.
The Tineco Pure One S12 is one of the most unique cordless vacuums we've ever tested. It has a user interface that lets you know how much battery life you have left, the amount of suction, and how clean your floor is.
While testing, we found that the S12 was pretty good at estimating how much dirt was on our carpet. It declared a clean surface when 80% of the testing dirt was suctioned up. Overall, the cleaning performance lagged behind other cordless vacuums in the Pure One's price range, but not so much so that it's a deal breaker.
If you want the coolest tech in your home, the Tineco Pure One S12 is a solid choice.
Prolux is best known for its professional cleaning equipment, and the company put its knowhow to use to create the 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 percent 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 Tineco A11 Master stands as the best of what the company has to offer. It’s like an affordable Dyson V8—like the V8, it has two different brush heads, one for carpet and one for hardwood. So if you ever find dust sticking to the floor, its specialized brush head may be just the ticket. Beyond the floor, the A11 has tools for cleaning under and around furniture, which we appreciated.
Aside from having more tools, the A11 also comes with two batteries. During testing, the two batteries gave us about 14 minutes of cleaning power on the highest setting.
The downside is that while the A11 apes many of Dyson’s features, it can’t match its power. It required four passes to get our testing area clean while the Dyson V10, for example, needed only two.
LEDs on the brush head make it easier to find dirt
When it comes to vacuums, Kenmore makes some of our favorite models. This time around, the storied company wowed us with its new cordless duo: the Kenmore Elite 10441 Complete and the 10440 Quick Clean. The Complete comes with an additional brush head that specializes in carpets, while the Quick Clean should only be used on bare floors. We also found that the Complete has a telescopic arm to give you that extra reach, should you need it.
We liked its 13-minute battery life and the fact that it picked up around 45 percent of the dirt we laid out for it. The Quick Clean was in strong contention for best value model, but it has a relatively high price and it’s heavier than most of the models in this roundup. However, if you like the vibe of Kenmore's canister vacuums, you'll love these two Elite vacuums.
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.