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Cordless vs. corded vacuums: What’s best for you?

Is it time to cut the cord?

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And, when it comes to vacuum cleaners, your options are endless from upright to robot vacuums. If you’re in the market for an upright vacuum, you’ll need to answer the question: do you go with a corded or cordless vacuum?

Americans love powered electronics that don’t have cords—everything from cordless leaf blowers to beard trimmers. If there’s no cord, there’s nothing to get tangled in and nothing to hold you back. But do they have the same suction power as their corded counterparts?

If you don’t know much about the types of vacuums, or the differences between cordless vacuums and corded vacuum cleaners, we’re here to break it down. What type is best for you?

How are cordless vacuum cleaners different from regular ones?

The Dyson V15 Detect cleaning a table
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Cordless vacuums make it easier to clean a variety of surfaces.

Unsurprisingly, cordless vacuums don’t have cords. They are battery-operated vacuums that either charge via a dock or plug-in system.

The first generation of cordless vacuums were really supplementary cleaning tools, not meant to replace an upright, but they’ve come a long way since then. Some still act as spot cleaners while others have superb cleaning power.

Like with all things, cordless vacuums exist on a spectrum. On the lower end, you have hand vacuums that specialize in spot cleaning or cleaning in tight spaces for a few minutes.

As you travel up the price ladder, typically you’re going to get more features. For example, higher-end cordless vacuums are more likely to utilize digital motors, which provide more suction cleaning and have better battery life. You’ll also find more specialized cleaning tools like a laser for illuminating all the dirt on your floor.

When should you get a cordless vacuum over a corded vacuum?

The attachments that come with the LG A9 laid out
Credit: Reviewed / Jonathan Chan

Cordless vacuums often come with more attachments than their full-sized counterparts.

There are a couple of scenarios where a cordless vacuum is better than a corded one.

If you’re a person who cleans your car and your house in equal measure then you should consider buying a cordless vacuum. The majority of cordless vacuums can transform into a hand vacuum and even come with specialized attachments for cleaning upholstery. Because cordless vacuums are battery-powered, they are very portable and don’t need to be near a power source, making them ideal ways to spot clean car seats laden with pet hair or crumbs, floor mats, and patio furniture.

Another scenario where a cordless vacuum cleaner makes sense is if you have limited storage space. Cordless vacuums take up less space than corded vacuums. Higher-end cordless vacuums, like the LG CordZero, feature all-in-one storage for attachments and batteries.

Cordless vacs are also great if you don't want to (or are unable to) lug a heavy vacuum around. Perhaps you’re a senior who is aging in place and can’t handle the heft of corded vacuums (some of the heaviest models weigh over 20 pounds). Cordless vacuums, even with their beefiest attachments on, like a dust bin, still weigh half that.

If a cordless vacuum sounds right for you, here are some we like

We’ve got a buying guide about cordless vacuums that we’ve tried and tested in our labs. Here are three standout cordless vacuums we love.

1. Dyson V15 Detect

The V15 is as powerful as most full-sized vacuums, and it has a laser on the front that illuminates dirt on the floor. For people who want pristine floors, car seats, and window sills, this is the cordless to get.

Shop at Dyson

2. Tineco A11 Hero

This is a quality cordless vacuum does not need to break the bank. It is a no-frills floor cleaner that’s easy to carry upstairs and has a bright light on the front to vacuum under furniture.

Shop at Amazon

3. LG CordZero A939KBGS

If you’re into getting maximum satisfaction for minimum effort, the LG CordZero A939KBGS is a great floor cleaner and it has the ability to self-empty. No more dust plumes over the trash. The CordZero dumps all its dirt into a bag that only needs dealing with once a month.

Shop at Amazon

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Prices are accurate at the time of publication but may change over time.