Which cordless vacuum should you choose? Find out in our shoppable video review

We put leading brands of cordless vacuum from Shark, Vax and Dyson to the test to reveal which is best value for money. Watch the results in our shoppable video

Thinking of swapping your corded vacuum for a cordless model? It can be tough knowing which brand and model to go for. Do you spent £199 or £400? What are you actually getting for your money?

Well, we put three of the best cordless vacuums from market leaders, Shark, Vax and Dyson to the test to show the differences. We compared not just their suction, but the battery life and any other features you get to make cleaning easier. Watch the video above to see them in action – it is shoppable so if you like what you see, just click the product to buy – then read on for more advice.

The contenders

Cordless stick vacuums put to the test: Vax, Dyson, Shark

(Image credit: Vax, Dyson, Shark)
  • Dyson V11 Absolute – a lightweight, high-tech cordless vacuum with digital display and suction that automatically adjusts to the surface (above left). RRP £499.99.
  • Vax Blade 2 Max –  a great-value, lightweight cordless vacuum that promises no loss of suction (above middle). RRP £199.
  • Shark DuoClean with Flexology & TruePet – the only cordless vacuum that folds in half for easy storage without needing wall mounting. This model also flexes to clean under furniture and has anti-allergen seal (above right). RRP £479.99.

The results

We wanted to know how the vacuums perform on hard floors and carpets; how easy they are to empty; how long their batteries actually last; and how much they weigh. Here's how they compare:

1. Performance on different floors

All of the vacuums come with different heads for different surfaces but, let's be honest, who really bothers switching? We sprinkled breadcrumbs and crushed cornflakes on hard floor and carpet and set the vacuums loose using the standard heads. The Shark DuoClean is the heaviest of the bunch and that's partly due to its huge head, which had really impressive suction on both surfaces, but does make it a little tricker to manoeuvre.  The Vax Blade 2 Max is the easiest to move around but has the least sophisticated brush system, which we found didn't pick up as many bits on hard floors as it did on carpets. The Dyson V11 Absolute has the smartest tech here, automatically adjusting its suction as you move from hard floors to carpets when it's on Auto mode.

Winner = We love how the Dyson V11 Absolute (opens in new tab) automatically adjusts its suction levels depending on the surface

3. How long does the battery actually last?

If you're replacing your corded vacuum, then you want to know you can clean the whole house without having to stop and recharge. Here's how they performed in our test:

Cordless vacuum actual run times vs. stated run times
Quoted run timeActual run time
Dyson V11 Absolute60 minutes65 minutes
Vax Blade 2 Max45 minutes47 minutes
Shark DuoClean60 minutes53 minutes (on carpet)

Joint winners = The Dyson V11 Absolute (opens in new tab) and Vax Blade 2 Max (opens in new tab) both exceeded their stated run times

2. Ease of emptying

There's nothing more frustrating then vacuuming the whole house then emptying the vacuum and spreading dust everywhere!  We found all three models easy to empty, once you'd got used to how they work. With the Shark DuoClean and Dyson V11, the handle and collection bin are attached to one another, so you have to remove the whole top half of the vacuum before you can empty them. This means they're harder to direct into the rubbish. The Vax Blade 2 Max is the only model where you can remove just the collection bin, which makes it the easiest to empty.

The winner = Being able to remove just the bin on the Vax Blade 2 Max (opens in new tab)makes it the easiest to empty

4. Weight and size

Two of the most important features of any cordless vacuum is that it is lightweight and easy to store. Here's how the Vax, Shark and Dyson weigh up:

Dyson V11 Absolute2.7kgWall-mounted charging point. Simply connect to the nearest plug and it'll charge whenever it's stored on the mount.
Vax Blade 2 Max3.1kgWall-mounted charging point. Simply connect to the nearest plug and it'll charge whenever it's stored on the mount.
Shark DuoClean4kgFolds in half and is freestanding, which makes it easier to store and means you don't need to mount it on a wall.

The winner: The Dyson V11 Absolute (opens in new tab) is the lightest of the bunch and the wall-mounted charger is super convenient

Which should you choose?

  • It's the priciest of the bunch, but for great runtime, ease of use and lightweight design, the Dyson V11 Absolute is definitely worth the investment.
  • If you're on a tight budget then you can't go wrong with the Vax Blade 2 Max, which has consistent suction, exceeds its stated run time and is the easiest to empty.
  • If you don't want to mount your cordless vacuum on a wall and the idea of a flexible neck that makes it easier to clean underneath furniture appeals, then go for the Shark DuoClean with Flexology.

Laura is Brand Development Director for Real Homes, focusing on digital content. She has written about homes and interiors for the last 12 years and was Deputy Editor and Editor of Real Homes before taking on her current position. She's currently renovating a 1960s house in Worcestershire, doing as much as possible on a DIY basis.