10 Best Cordless Vacuums | March 2017
- doubles as a handheld vacuum
- motorized brush for pet hair
- not great for large particle pickup
- pushes out dirt when emptying
- easy to maneuver
- won't scratch wood floors
- comes with two batteries
- auto jam shutoff
- convenient snap-together design
- extendable wand
- transparent dust bin
- spinning head floor attachment
- hypoallergenic hepa filter
- swivel steering navigation
- dust cup holds over one quart
- easy-to-wash dust collector
- folding handle for compact storage
- illuminates cleaning path
- separates to be used as a handheld
- good for hard floors and carpet
- center of gravity is near the handle
A Vacuum Is a Vacuum Is a Vacuum
Let me just get this one pun out of the way, because it's been gnawing at me all day long. You've probably heard the joke before; you may have even used it yourself. You're certainly welcome to use it after you read it, but I want to add this important DISCLAIMER: The following joke is a joke:
Vacuum cleaners suck.
Okay, now that you've recovered, we can get down to the business of this thing. Which is that it can be massively difficult to figure out what makes one vacuum superior to another.
These cordless models have their portability and safety advantages over their tethered brethren (Tethered Brethren, there's a band name), and the way we talk about which one's the most powerful is much the same.
Now, the electric vacuum as we know it has been around for the better part of the 20th century, with its exact origins muddied by patent disputes and snake oil sales histories. What's important to note is that the mechanisms for suction have been more or less standardized by now, and that makes it a little easier to measure performance.
These suction power measurements are often referred to as air watts, and they represent the actual suction power, not just the electricity consumed. There's an organization dedicated to developing these standards called ASTM International, and they have a nice little mathematical formula you can use to understand air watts, but knowing that won't help you pick a vacuum.
So ask about air watts. If you get a straight answer, and that answer is in the higher double digits, you're in business. If you get a lot of answers to other questions you didn't even ask, like you're dealing more with a slick presidential candidate than a salesperson, it's time to turn away.
Cut the Cord
You might be sitting there thinking, Do I even need a cordless vacuum? What if they aren't as strong as something I just plug in? Well, nowadays, they're more than capable. And remember that incredibly menacing children's film The Brave Little Toaster, in which the Vacuum character chokes on his own cord? I still have nightmares.
As battery power has advanced over the past few decades, the fear that these machines wouldn't be capable of producing enough power seems less justified. What you can expect, however, is that the more powerful vacuums among the lot are bound to have shorter amounts of viable run time than their competitors, though they usually all have enough to get you through a session of cleaning.
How long does it normally take you to vacuum with a corded unit? If the answer is less than 30 minutes (which I hope it is, or your house is big enough that you can afford a cleaning company) then pretty much every cordless vacuum on the market will sustain you through that process.
Is some power still sacrificed in the name of battery life? Probably. Some of these models, if corded, could be unleashed (while leashed, hehe) at slightly higher powers, but the odds are, unless you've purchased a corded vacuum in the last 5 years, that even a middle of the road cordless is going to seem like an upgrade.
Get yourself one of the nicer ones, and it's the only vacuum you should need.
Do's and Dont's: Cordless Vacuum Cleaner Edition
Do make sure your vac has the power to clean up pet hair.
Don't try to vacuum your pets with it; it is not an animal cleaning device.
Do take a good look around your house. How hard is it to clean with your current tools? What are the toughest places to get clean, to get rid of dust? Does the vacuum model you've been drooling over for some inexplicable reason seem capable of alleviating that specific burden?
Don't buy based on looks. There are some strange and fancy looking vacuums out there. Sometimes these designs are truly innovative changes to our previous concept of the vacuum, and they make a great positive difference. Sometimes these are just designers trying to look like the guys that are outselling them.
Do take brand name into consideration. Vacuum cleaners are a scientific technological product. Time in the industry implies both a deep understanding of the products being manufactured and a reliable sense of liability should something go wrong.
Don't be seduced by brand name. I know, I know, I just said the opposite, but some of these companies, though time-tested, have become so successful and so diverse that they've spread themselves pretty thin over the years. Ask yourself this: Does the company make anything other than vacuums? If so, are the other products related in any way? Or are there so many products under this umbrella of a brand that you don't even know if they specialize in anything?
Do go with your gut. You've got the information you need. What's your heart telling you?
Don't be afraid to get it right. Manufacturing issue? Use that warranty. Not the right model? Go exchange it. There are a few benefits to this whole capitalism thing; you might as well take advantage.