Dyson is a popular brand synonymous with expensive vacuum cleaners. Here at Reviewed, we get a lot of questions from consumers about whether or not these floor cleaners are worth their premium price tags. In answer, we’ve put all the current Dyson vacuums to the test in our labs to see which ones perform and if any don’t. For the majority of people, the Dyson V15 Detect will cover all your bases.
The Dyson V15 Detect is the latest in a storied lineup of cordless vacuums. This time around, we found two huge upgrades: a dust-illuminating laser and a more powerful battery. Many companies often add gadgets and attachments to their vacuums to compensate for a lack of performance. However, after testing the V15 in our labs, we think that these new bits of technology enhance the cleaning experience.
Before we get ahead of ourselves, we should talk about cleaning performance. During our dirt pickup test, the V15 suctioned up about an average of 92% of the detritus we left out on our testing carpet. Those cleaning performance numbers place the V15 in second place, behind the previous generation’s Dyson V11. However, the V15 has a significantly longer battery life—15 minutes on its max setting compared to the V11’s nine minutes. So while our testing shows that the V11 is slightly more powerful per minute, the V15 cleans better per charge.
Based on battery life and cleaning prowess, we are comfortable crowning the V15 as a top contender. What gives it an edge are its unique laser and sensor. During testing, we found that the laser, which can be turned on and off, illuminated dirt under furniture and on floors way better than standard LED headlights. The V15 also has a sensor in it that gives you a readout of the particle sizes that the vacuum is picking up.
People who have used a Dyson cordless before will find the same smooth glide, sensitive trigger, and lightweight design. If you’re considering getting a Dyson, know that the V15 is the best of what the company has to offer, but getting the best comes at a steep price. However, the Dyson V15’s test results mean we can’t deny it the top spot.
In our lab, we make our own dirt mixture with grain sizes ranging from silky talc to coarse sand, which we then embed into short-pile and deep-pile carpet.
In a single pass on regular carpet, this Dyson removed 76.3% of all our testing dirt. We normally see numbers around 33% for upright vacuums, so the Dyson’s performance blows the average upright vacuum out of the water.
Unlike the V15, the Animal 2 isn’t portable. You can’t take it outside to clean your car easily, and it’s heavy to lug up and down a set of stairs.
Still, if you’re looking for a great Dyson upright, this is the one to get. Like the V15, its major downside is its price. Yes, you’re getting the most powerful vacuum cleaner we’ve ever tested, but you’re going to pay a premium for it.
Hi, I’m Jon Chan, the senior lab technician at Reviewed. If you clean with a product then it’s likely I oversee its testing in our labs. This includes everything from laundry detergents to full-sized vacuums. When it comes to cordless vacuums, I like models that provide excellent battery life and value.
Cordless vacuums: 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, like how easy it is to use and how quickly we can change a vacuum’s attachments, plug in the charger, store the vacuum, or empty its dirt bin.
To test their 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 can 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.
Upright and canister vacuums: We hold uprights and canisters to much the same standards. Each vacuum is subjected to a battery of tests on surfaces ranging from deep-pile carpet to bare kitchen floors. The carpet tests revolve around the ability of each vacuum to pick up embedded dirt and pet hair. On bare floors, we’re more focused on seeing if a vacuum can pick up large debris like uncooked rice and macaroni.
Aside from cleaning, we also test how easy each vacuum is to use. We check to see how easy it is to lug up a set of stairs, the length of its power cord, and the number of attachments it comes with.
What You Should Know About Buying A Dyson Vacuum
In Dyson lingo, what does Animal, Absolute, Trigger, and Motorhead mean?
Whenever you see a Dyson V8 Absolute or a Dyson V8 Motorhead, you’ll know the difference between them is the attachments included. Typically Trigger and Motorhead models come with the fewest attachments, while the Absolute models come with the most.
On older models, Animals have more attachments than All Floors.
What’s the difference between cordless, canister, and upright vacuums?
Overall, when consumers think about Dyson vacuums, they’re primarily considering cordless options. For the most part, cordless vacuums should be viewed as supplementary cleaning tools to be used in between heavier cleaning sessions where you would use an upright or canister vacuum, which typically offer a more powerful performance. You’d also want a cordless vacuum in situations where a full-sized vacuum is too cumbersome.
This said, if you’re willing to pay a higher price for the privilege, it’s possible for a cordless vacuum to stand toe-to-toe with a full-sized vacuum—with a few caveats. The top-rated Dyson V15 Detect has a suction force similar to that of an upright vacuum, but you'll only be able to use it 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. The best example of this is probably the Miele TriFlex, which can transform into three different modes to tackle just about any situation.
Other Dyson Vacuums We Tested
Dyson V11 Outsize
The Dyson V11 Outsized is an upgraded version of the V11 Torque Drive. It has the same LCD screen that shows battery life and adjusting suction, but with a larger brush head and dust bin. It also has a removable battery, meaning you can swap over to a new one when the first runs out of power.
With the extra battery you get twice as much runtime as the V11 Torque Drive, and the Outsized has a larger cleaning path. But, the extra-large dust bin and brush head makes the whole unit a little unwieldy, making it awkward to hold up and maneuver. Combined with the increased price tag, the V11 Torque Drive edges this model out.
However, if you’re interested in a replaceable battery and a cordless that has proportions closer to a full-sized vacuum, check out the Outsized.
Dyson announced that it would stop developing new corded vacuums because of how confident its R&D team was in the Dyson V10 Absolute. But, the details made us skeptical.
However, after spending time testing the V10, we found that its Absolute moniker is apt. 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. These all attach to a 5.6-pound, wall-mountable package, making it one of the lightest cordless vacuums on the market.
Without a doubt, the Dyson V10 puts all its tools to good use. In our testing lab, it picked up 89% of the dirt we left out for it.
It 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, the Absolute can run for 9 minutes on the highest setting.
If you haven’t noticed a trend, do so now: The Absolute’s downside is its absurdly expensive price tag. Still, if you want zero compromises in power or battery life, this is the cordless vacuum to buy.
The Dyson V8 Absolute is near the pinnacle of cordless vacuum technology, i.e. it’s one heck of a vacuum.
The V8 almost overwhelms with its number of included 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, infinitely more gentle on floors, and better at picking up dirt. In our labs, the V8 picked up 88% of the dirt we put down for our tests.
On the low setting, the battery lasted an amazing 40 minutes. (The max suction setting drains the battery in 7 minutes, though.) When you’re done, you can empty out the V8’s dustbin with the pull of a single lever on top of the machine.
If you like the Dyson V10’s sleek design but don’t want to spend as much money on it, the V8 is a viable option. However, the Dyson V8 still costs twice the average cordless vacuum.
We weren’t sure what to make of the Dyson Omni-Glide when we first unpacked it in our labs. The design of the body suggests that it’s a hand vacuum, but it can also clean the floor like a regular cordless vacuum. This Dyson is somewhere in between and does an equally good job at cleaning floors as it does countertops.
Even with its heaviest attachments on, the Omni-Glide tips the scales at just around four pounds. This means you don’t break a sweat lugging it up the stairs or cleaning your car. You might even be able to do it in one charge. Our lab tests show that the Omni-Glide can run for about nine minutes on its max setting and about 18 minutes on regular.
After spending a few days cleaning with this Dyson, we think that it’s perfect for small apartments. The titular Omni-Glide brush head is just eight inches wide with a swivel joint that’s limber enough to twist around chair and table legs. It’s powerful as well as flexible. During testing, it picked up 70% of the dirt we laid out for it, which is higher than the average of 57% across all brands we’ve tested. However, the Omni-Glide is below average when it comes to Dyson cordless vacuums. They average around 85% in our dirt pick-up tests.
The Omni-Glide is pretty expensive, but since it cleans floors and furniture well in equal measure it’s like getting two vacuums for the price of one.
The cordless Dyson V7 Car+Boat is a crowd favorite for handheld vacuum, due to its tremendous ability to clean around furniture, tight spaces, and floors.
This handheld offers long battery life, powerful suction, and a flexible set of attachments including: a motorized rotating brush head is compact, just six inches across, and designed to resist tangling hair, two dusting brushes, a crevice tool for tight spots, and a flexible hose that extends out two feet for more reach under seats. We understand the high price tag is a little hard to swallow for most people, so if you’re willing to get by with the minimum number of attachments, the Dyson V7 Trigger lacks the Car+Boat’s included car charger and some tools—but costs less.
When tested, this bagless vacuum beat all its competitors on pick-up for strong suction; it cleaned over 75% of the dirt we laid out for it.
Battery life is up to 30 minutes of low-power cleaning or 7 minutes at full power—the setting we used for testing.
The Dyson V7 Car+Boat’s attachments also impress: A 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 downside is that the V7 Car+Boat model is strictly a hand vacuum, so it can’t clean floors.
The Dyson Big Ball Canister is a sight to behold. It has a specialized self-righting design which means that if you take hard corners or happen to kick the unit, it may roll over, but it will always get back up on its wheels.
This canister vacuum also has superior reach. Its skinny hose and small brush head lets it get into every cranny with ease.
While we like the design of this canister, it has weak suction for a vacuum in its price range. It picked up 34% of the testing dirt, which is average, but not what we’d expect from high-calibre Dyson.
The Dyson Ball Multifloor 2 upright vacuum marks a crossroads between the company’s cordless and full-sized efforts. It weighs about 10% less than the Dyson Ball Animal 2 upright and is subsequently about 10% less powerful.
The Multifloor 2 picked up around 64% of the testing dirt we laid out for it, which is well-above average, but it lagged behind more powerful Dyson models like the Dyson Animal 2.
This being said, the Multifloor 2 offers a great value: Dyson engineering and attention to detail at a relatively affordable price.
Tipping the scales at 19.4 pounds, the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball upright vacuum is the largest Dyson we’ve ever tested, but its massive bulk does not translate to raw power. The Cinetic Big Ball picked up around 62.15% of the testing dirt on the normal carpet, which is about the same as the Multifloor 2.
Maneuverability tests show that the Cinetic Big Ball isn’t the best at cleaning under furniture, because its titular Big Ball gets in the way. Even with a foot of clearance, you can only push the brush head in about 15 inches before the vacuum gets stuck.
Dyson makes up for this by including seven cleaning attachments so you don’t need to rearrange all your furniture if you want to clean your floors.
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.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.