Vacuum Cleaner Reviews
The following tables are a complete list of all vacuum cleaner reviews on ModernCastle.com. All of these vacuum cleaners went through our standard series of tests designed to showcase the performance, usability, and other features of the vacuum. Interested in how we test and score each vacuum cleaner? Continue below to read about our review process.
Robot Vacuum Reviews
Robot vacuums are small, autonomous vacuums that clean your floors automatically. For more information on robot vacuums check out our robot vacuum reviews page.
|Roomba 980||$$$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 960||$$$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 690||$$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 890||$$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 650||$$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|iLife A4||$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Roomba 870||$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Deebot N79||$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Hair||$$||92%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|RoboVac 11||$||91%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|POWERBot R7010||$||91%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Xiaomi||Xiaomi Mi||$$||89%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|BotVac D3||$$||86%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pure Clean||$||84%||Buy Now||Read Review|
Upright & Stick Vacuum Reviews
The following are vacuums designed to be pushed or pulled around your home, often including multiple accessories or attachments for various cleaning styles. Stick vacuum cleaners tend to be the smaller, more lightweight option, whereas upright vacuum cleaners utilize the more traditional build. See our upright vacuum reviews page and stick vacuum reviews page for more.
|Ergorapido||$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V6||$$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Rocket||$$||92%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Navigator||$$||90%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Rotator Lift-Away||$$||90%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Hair Eraser||$$||89%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Ball Compact Animal||$$$||89%||Buy Now||Read Review|
Handheld Vacuum Reviews
Handheld vacuums are built to tackle smaller and localized messes. Looking for more in depth analysis of these handheld vacuums? Head on over to our comprehensive handheld vacuum reviews page.
|Scorpion Quick Flip||$||96%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Perfect 2||$||95%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Hair Eraser||$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V16 Lithium Ion||$||94%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V20 Pivot||$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|V6 Trigger||$$$||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Pet Hair Eraser Cordless||$||92%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|RapidClean||$||91%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|EasyClean||$||90%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Air Cordless||$$||87%||Buy Now||Read Review|
Canister vacuums remain one of the most popular vacuum types. What they may lack in mobility they make up for in terms of raw cleaning performance.
|Compact C1||$248||96%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Mighty Mite||$99||93%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Hard Floor Expert||$169||91%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Easy Lite||$94||90%||Buy Now||Read Review|
|Cinetic Animal||$549||Buy Now|
Vacuum Cleaner Comparisons
The following table lists our vacuum cleaner review comparisons. In these guides we look at two vacuum cleaners side-by-side, examining their cleaning performance, features, usability, maintenance, value, and more. At the end of our analysis we declare a winner.
|Roomba 960||VS.||Roomba 980||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 690||VS.||Roomba 960||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 650||VS.||Roomba 690||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 690||VS.||Roomba 890||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 890||VS.||Roomba 980||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 890||VS.||Roomba 960||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 690||VS.||Botvac D3||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 690||VS.||Pet Hair||Read Comparison|
|Roomba 690||VS.||A4s||Read Comparison|
Vacuum Cleaner Brands & Types
If you would prefer to look at complete sets of reviews by vacuum brand or by vacuum type please see the guides below.
The following details our vacuum cleaner testing processes, scoring factors, and other information about how we rate vacuums on Modern Castle.
Vacuum Review Scoring Factors
There are eight primary scoring factors that we consider on all vacuum cleaner reviews. We chose these eight factors because they are universally important to all types of vacuums and they (in our view) capture the critical essence of what makes a particular vacuum good.
For each scoring factor, as well as the individual scoring elements, we rate based on a 0-100% scale. A 100% indicates excellence, while a 0% would indicate abysmal failure. That said, most scores will fall between 70-100%. We prioritize testing vacuums that we think our readers would like, as a result, we mostly test products that are well above average. See below for the specifics on the scoring tiers.
It is important to note that we use a weighted scale for these eight factors. While each factor is important, some factors are more important. The scoring weights for each respective section are indicated below.
Unsurprisingly, cleaning is the most important scoring factor on our vacuum reviews, and is by far the most heavily weighted scoring element. Cleaning makes up 25% of the total score for each vacuum cleaner review. After all, if a vacuum cannot effectively clean, it’s not much of a vacuum.
To determine the cleaning score we look at the performance of the vacuum on our standard cleaning tests. Most vacuums are tested with three different floor types, hardwood, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. Most vacuums will attempt to pick up four different types of debris on these three floor types, including rice, cereal, kitty litter, and sugar.
For each of these tests we scatter a debris field onto the testing lane, clean the lane, and then measure the weight of the debris picked up compared to the total weight of the debris field originally laid out. We use a digital scale capable of measuring to the 0.01 ounce for precision.
In addition to the raw cleaning performance data we also ask ourselves the following questions. The final score is an analysis of both the cleaning performance data alongside the questions below:
- How does the design of the vacuum help or hinder the cleaning performance?
- How does the vacuum perform the primary cleaning functions that it is designed for?
- How does the cleaning performance testing data compare to other vacuums of a similar type?
- How does the cleaning performance testing data compare to other vacuums of different types?
We use the following scale to help guide our cleaning scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent excellent overall cleaning performance. The vacuum performed extremely well on the cleaning tests, the design and features helped aid its performance, and the vacuum excels at performing the primary cleaning function that it has been designed for.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent very good overall cleaning performance. However, there may be one or more drawbacks. For example, the vacuum may struggle with a particular debris type or a particular floor type (or a combination). Any struggles may be notable, but they should not be a major deal breaker for most homeowners.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent passable overall cleaning performance. These vacuums have one or more significant drawbacks. They may struggle with certain debris types or certain floors. Additionally, the design of the vacuum may be hindering cleaning performance.
- 69% or lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent failing overall cleaning performance. These vacuums fail to achieve the primary cleaning function for which they are designed. They struggle on more than one cleaning tests and / or floor type.
In its most basic sense, usability is “how easy is the vacuum cleaner to use?” This factor makes up 15% of the total review score. We think the easier a vacuum is to use, the better the overall experience will be, which is why we attribute such importance to this factor.
To determine the usability score we look six different elements:
- How easy is it to use the vacuum?
- Is it corded or cordless? If it does have a cord, how does the length and pliability help or hinder usability?
- Is it battery powered or AC powered? How does the power help or hinder usability?
- How does the bag / bin and filter (if applicable) help or hinder usability? Is the bag / bin large enough to avoid frequent emptying?
- How easy is it to use the vacuum’s hoses, attachments, or other secondary cleaning configurations?
- How easy is it to set up the vacuum and prepare it for cleaning? Are specific attachments needed? Are there extra maintaining tasks? Are other tasks needed to get the vacuum ready to work?
We use the following scale to help guide usability scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent excellent overall usability performance. The vacuum should be simple and easy to use, it should be easily mobile and maneuverable, and if there are alternative configurations or accessories they should be easy to install and use.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent very good overall usability performance. Overall, the vacuum should still be easy to use, however, there may be one or more drawbacks due to extra complexity, lack of mobility / maneuverability, power functions, small dust bin / bag, or other negative usability factors.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent passable overall usability performance. The vacuum has one or more significant drawbacks to usability and it is in general more difficult to use. The usability is being negatively impacted by a combination of major vacuum design elements, excessive complexity, power functions, small dust bin / bag, attachments / configurations that are complex / difficult / ineffective, and / or other significant usability issues.
- 69% and lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent failing overall usability performance. The vacuum cleaner is difficult to use and has major design flaws.
It’s important to remember that “value” is not the same as “price”. A vacuum can be inexpensive, but an amazingly good value due to great cleaning performance. On the other hand, a vacuum can very expensive, but still be a good value because its comparative performance vs. price is still good.
Ultimately, we believe a vacuum cleaner has a good value when it meets at the ideal intersection of performance and price. A good value is achieved when the relative performance and quality compared to price is strong. This factor makes up 15% of the total review score.
To determine the value score we look at six different elements:
- How does the cleaning performance compare to the price?
- How does the usability, mobility, and maneuverability compare to the price?
- What are the typical costs to maintain good proper functioning of the vacuum?
- How does the company’s reputation, return policy, and warranty compare to the price?
- How do the above factors compare to other similar vacuums?
- In looking at the universe of vacuum cleaners, what is our “gut-feeling” on the overall value of this vacuum?
We use the following scale to help guide value scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent an excellent overall value. Their relative performance compared to the relative price is excellent. In addition to performance, vacuums in this range should also reflect great quality, design, usability, accessories, service, and company reputation. Vacuums in this range are what we would consider the “sweet spot” at the intersection of performance vs. price.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners in this range represent a very good overall value. While they are overall a very good value, there many be one or more drawbacks that reduce their value. These might not be deal breakers for everyone, but they all will be important. For example, the vacuum may have higher than average costs / time to maintain it, it may lack important cleaning accessories, and / or its cleaning performance may be disappointing, among other factors. It’s important to remember that all of these are with respect to price. For example, a $100 vacuum that only scored an 80% on cleaning tests may still be considered a great value compared to a $150 vacuum that also scored an 80% on the cleaning tests.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent a passable overall value. Vacuums in this range have one or more significant drawbacks to their values. All of the same value elements are considered here, but the relative difference between that element and the price is more significant. For example, a $100 vacuum that scores an 80% on the cleaning tests may be considered an 90% value, whereas a $150 vacuum that scores an 80% might only be an 85%, however a $300 vacuum that also scored an 80% may fall closer to a 70% on the value. This is because we expect more from vacuum cleaners that are more expensive. Lastly, please note that we look at the combination of factors to determine overall value, one drawback alone would not push a value score below 80% (unless it was a deal breaker).
- 69% or lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent a failing overall value. Vacuums that score in this range have missed the mark on performance / quality vs. price. They may simply be far too expensive compared to the performance / quality or there may be other more significant design flaws that impact performance and usability.
The maintenance scoring factor makes up 12% of the total weight for any vacuum review. Maintenance are the basic tasks and costs associated with keeping the vacuum in good working order over time.
There are three questions we ask ourselves when scoring maintenance:
- How much money does it cost to keep the vacuum in good working order?
- How much time does it cost to keep the vacuum in good working order?
- How difficult is it to maintain the vacuum? Can you make simple fixes yourself or do you have to mail it to the manufacturer?
We use the following scale to help guide our maintenance scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent excellent maintenance scores. These vacuums are very inexpensive to maintain in terms of cost and they do not require complex procedures, tools, or excessive time to conduct regular basic maintenance.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent very good maintenance scores. These vacuums are generally fairly inexpensive to maintain and they do not require excessive time to conduct regular basic maintenance. There may be one or more drawbacks that require extra time or costs in order to maintain the vacuum, but in general maintenance is still quite easy and inexpensive.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent passable maintenance scores. These vacuums have significant drawbacks in either the maintenance time, costs, or both.
- 69% or lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent failing maintenance scores. There are significant design flaws that create a system of maintenance that is either expensive, time consuming, or both. Additionally, if basic maintenance requires you to send the vacuum back to the manufacturer, that would also be another red flag.
Maneuverability makes up 12% of the total scoring. Vacuums that are easier to move around, have extendable hoses or wands, are lighter, and / or are ideally shaped, are all factors that help to make the vacuum more mobile and maneuverable.
To score maneuverability we ask ourselves six questions:
- Does the height of the cleaning deck allow it to clean under furniture, while still being tall enough to go over large debris?
- Is the turning radius tight enough that it can be easily moved about?
- Does the vacuum’s vertical and horizontal pivoting help easily move the vacuum about?
- Does the vacuum’s hose and accessories allow it to reach tall, tight, or otherwise difficult to reach spaces?
- How does the vacuum’s power (cord vs. cordless, battery vs. AC power) impact maneuverability?
- Is the vacuum light enough that it can be lifted or pushed around without difficulty?
We use the following scale to help guide our maneuverability scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent excellent maneuverability. These vacuums have been well-designed to facilitate excellent mobility, as well as the ability to clean in / under / on top of / around various obstacles and objects, and their power system (battery vs. AC power) facilitates excellent cleaning.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent very good maneuverability. These vacuums overall have great design that facilitates excellent maneuverability, however, there may be one or more drawbacks (e.g., a cleaning deck that is on the taller side, non-pivoting handle, heavy to lift, etc). However, the drawbacks will not be deal breakers to most people.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent a passable maneuverability score. These vacuums have more drawbacks with respect to maneuverability. The elements that are analyzed and scored are the same as the above factors, however, the areas where they have drawbacks are more extreme. For example, the vacuum may be extremely heavy, it may not be turned easily, and / or it may be too large to clean in / under / on top of / around various obstacles and objects. Many of the drawbacks here could be major deal breakers to a larger number of users.
- 69% or lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range represent a failing maneuverability score. Vacuums that fall within this scoring range have significant design flaws that negatively impact maneuverability in significant ways.
The total weight of the company score is 7%. This factor is designed to identify the level of trust, authority, and credibility of the company that manufacturs the vacuum.
To score the company factor we look at three different elements:
- Are there any suspicious, artificial, or otherwise manipulated reviews present on Amazon.com, other major retail websites, or direct from the company’s website?
- Has the company engaged in frivolous or other lawsuits that could harm consumers, mislead consumers, or could be considered anti-competitive?
- What is the subjective “gut feeling” from the Modern Castle team on the company’s overall trust and reputation?
We use the following scale to help guide our company scores:
- 90-100% – Companies within this range have an excellent reputation, put consumers first, and can be trusted. In many cases, it is what we “don’t see” that’s even more important than what we “do see”. Companies that don’t have any significant complaints, aren’t engaging in anti-consumer lawsuits, and are not using deceptive marketing practices are all critical factors.
- 80-89% – Companies within this range have a very good reputation. There may be one or more drawbacks that give us cause for concern. For example, they may have less than great customer service reviews, there may be occasional warranty issues, and / or their marketing practices may be a little suspect, among other factors. However, in general, these drawbacks aren’t deal breakers for most people. Companies that are newer or about which we otherwise don’t have enough information to definitively say they can be trusted would also fall into this scoring tier.
- 70-79% – Companies within this range have a passable reputation. We analyze all of the same issues that we discussed above; however, in this scoring tier, these issues are more prominent. There may be one or more significant drawbacks. For example, they may have engaged in anti-consumer lawsuits, their marketing practices may be deceptive, or the company’s general reputation may be dubious. In all cases, when analyzing the company’s score we are looking at the varying degree of distrust present. One lawsuit against one consumer group in the last 10 years may not be as big of a concern, however, a series of lawsuits in a shorter period of time would be much more concerning.
- 69% or lower – Companies within this range have a failing reputation and we do not consider them to be trustworthy. They have multiple serious drawbacks to their reputation and trust.
Sometimes you think a vacuum cleaner may be great until you get it home only to realize there is a fatal flaw that makes it not such a great option for your particular home. Having a good return policy is a must-have in these circumstances. The total weight for the return score is 7%.
Typically, the return policy is determined by the specific retailer, and often each retailer may have a very different policy. We don’t want to unfairly score a product just because one particular retailer has a bad return policy. When we score returns we look at the most popular and prominent retailers and score based on that retailer’s return policy. In some cases, the retailer is actually the company directly (e.g., buying on iRobot.com instead of on Amazon.com).
In order to score the return policy Modern castle looks at two questions:
- Can the vacuum cleaner be returned without undue hassle or extra fees?
- Is the length of the return period typical of that particular vacuum type or longer?
We use the following scale to help guide our company scores:
- 90-100% – Companies within this range have an excellent return policy for their most prominent and popular retailer. There are no fees, no extra hassles, and in most cases return shipping may even be free. The length of the return policy will be least 30 days.
- 80-89% – Companies within this range have a very good return policy for their most prominent and popular retailer. There should be no extra hassles, but they probably don’t offer free return shipping and there may be a small restocking fee. The length of the return policy in most cases will still be at least 30 days, however, in some cases it might be less depending on the other components of the return policy.
- 70-79% – Companies within this range have a passable return policy for their most prominent and popular retailer. There are likely some extra hassles and there are fees associated with the return. Even so, the length of the return policy will still usually be at least 30 days.
- 69% or lower – Companies within this range have a failing return policy. There are hassles, it’s unnecessarily expensive to return, or they may not offer a return policy at all.
Last, but not least, we have the warranty. The warranty score has a total weight of 7%. This scoring factor is a simple analysis of the warranty terms and length.
To score the warranty we ask ourselves three questions:
- Is this warranty length typical of other vacuum cleaner warranties for similar vacuum types?
- Are the warranty terms fair and do they protect the needs of consumers?
- Are there a notable number of documented cases or reviews online where consumers attempted to use the warranty, but were unfairly denied by the company?
We use the following scale to help guide our warranty scores:
- 90-100% – Vacuum cleaners within this range have an excellent warranty. The warranty terms are fair to consumers, the length of the warranty is comparable to other similar vacuums, and the company seems to honor its warranty. The warranty length will often vary between vacuum types. Some vacuum types have a longer or shorter warranty length.
- 80-89% – Vacuum cleaners within this range have a very good warranty. There may be one or more drawbacks including (but not limited to) specific warranty terms that are less than ideal for consumers, a warranty length that’s not quite as long as others, or some evidence that the company isn’t the easiest to work with when it comes to filing a warranty claim. That said, none of these issues should be deal breakers for most consumers.
- 70-79% – Vacuum cleaners within this range have a passable warranty. There are one or more significant drawbacks including the above elements. However, these factors are more critical. For example, the warranty length may be notably shorter than other similar products and / or the warranty terms may be notably unfair for consumers.
- 69% or lower – Vacuum cleaners within this range have a failing warranty. There are significant drawbacks and there may be one or more deal breakers. For example, the warranty terms are unfair to consumers, the warranty length is significantly shorter than other similar products (or there may be no warranty at all), or the company appears to be very difficult to deal with when it comes to filing a warranty claim.
Vacuum Review Updates
All tests and reviews on Modern Castle are continually evolving. As we test new vacuums and other products, we often find ways to improve our tests. This may include the attributes that are scored, the scoring bar that makes a particular vacuum passable / good / great, and of course how that particular vacuum cleaner compares to others within that same category of vacuums (e.g., upright, robot, stick, canister) and within the larger universe of vacuums.
As a result, on all of our vacuum cleaner reviews, best vacuum cleaner guides, and other pages you may find an update log at the bottom. This update log is a history of all major updates and improvements to that particular page. As we make improvements and changes, we do our best to fully document the updates we made, when we made them, and why we made them. We do this so our readers can see how our opinions evolve over time and provide greater transparency into why we believe those changes are needed.
As mentioned above, all of the top-level scoring factors, as well as the individual questions and elements that make up those factors, are scored on a 0-100% system. Please note that 100% does not necessarily mean “perfect”. Most of our scoring factors are scored based on their comparative performance to other vacuum cleaners. So while a particular scoring element may not be perfect, it may score very high if its performance could be considered “best in class”.
Just as with a typical A, B, C, D, F grading scale, the vast majority of scored elements fall within 50-100%. Scores lower than 70% would be considered “failing”. For a score to be below 50% would indicate massive failure. Very few scores are bad enough to warrant a sub-50% score.
- 95-100% – Best-in-class performance; scores in this range indicate excellence in their particular category.
- 90-94.9% – Great performance; scores in this range indicate very strong performance. However, there may be one or more minor detractors.
- 85-89.9% – Very good performance; scores in this range indicate very good performance. However, there may be one or more typical detractors.
- 80-84.9% – Good performance; scores in this range indicate good performance. However, there may be one or more notable detractors.
- 70-79.9% – Passable performance, scores in this range indicate a passable performance, but there are serious notable detractors.
- 60-69.9% – Poor performance; scores in this range indicate significant issues and multiple significant detractors.
- 50-59.9% – Failing performance; scores in this range indicate extreme poor performance or failure.
- <50% – Significant failing performance; scores in this range indicate out-of-the-ordinary failures. Very few products will fail at this level.
Have a specific question about how we review or score vacuums? Send us an email via our contact form. We’re always available to help.
Scoring Color Coding
At various places around ModernCastle.com you’ll see scores, graphs, and other elements color coded. These color codes are designed to indicate varying levels of performance. In general the scores follow a good, better, best format.
- Good – Scores, graphs, or other elements highlighted with the dark gray color indicate the lowest relative performance.
- Better – Scores, graphs, or other elements highlighted with the dark blue color indicate a median relative performance.
- Best – Scores, graphs, or other elements highlighted with the light blue color indicate the highest relative performance.
The exact “levels” at which each color are used vary from element to element. That said, in general, the above color codes will follow the good, better, best format all around ModernCastle.com.
Types of Vacuum Cleaners
In the vacuum world, there are many different types of machines to clean any given mess. At Modern Castle, we don’t believe in one right or wrong way to get the job done, so we spend time, effort, and resources to review all types of vacuum cleaners. The five most popular cleaners include- upright, stick, canister, handheld, and robot.
Robot Vacuums Cleaners
Robot vacuum cleaners are the newest to hit the market, and for many consumers have dramatically changed the way they clean their homes. Robot vacuums are cordless and use a combination of sensors, brushes, and dirt detection technology to clean your home. Many of these units have the capacity to clean multiple rooms for an hour or longer and return to their base to charge when the cleaning is done.
Upright Vacuums Cleaners
This category includes any vacuum that is made to be used at standing height. They generally have a handle at the top and a wheeled vacuum deck base that allows you to easily maneuver around your home, cleaning all types of flooring. Traditional upright vacuums generally have a large dust bin and great suction power.
Stick Vacuums Cleaners
Stick vacuums are similar to a lightweight category of uprights. They are generally lighter than a traditional upright vacuum cleaner and have the dust bin designed into the handle of the unit or somewhere discreet within the body of the stick. They typically perform best for lighter cleaning and work well in tight spaces.
Canister Vacuums Cleaners
Canister vacuums utilize a canister that usually is equipped with wheels or is otherwise lightweight enough to be moved from room-to-room. Attached to the canister is a heavy-duty hose with a variety of potential attachments. These vacuums tend to be more expensive and overall are very strong performers.
Handheld Vacuums Cleaners
A handheld vacuum is a small, lightweight vacuum that works well for spot cleaning, upholstery, stairs, or automotive messes. The dust bin is generally quite a bit smaller on these vacuums compared to the larger units, but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in convenience and portability.
How Do Vacuum Cleaners Work?
Understanding how vacuum cleaners work begins with the question of who does the work- you or the vacuum. In today’s market, which is flooded with robots and new AI (artificial intelligence), vacuums are getting closer and closer to the likes of Robot Judy from the Jetsons. All vacuums work by being propelled through debris. This force can be manual or automated motion.
An upright vacuum cleaner, canister, stick, and handheld vacuum are all going to generally use manual movements. This means that in order for the vacuum to work, you must physically be pushing it. No push. No clean. This is the first step in understanding how vacuum cleaners work.
Robot vacuums are in a category all their own, where the power behind the vacuum is automated. Schedule days ahead or simply press a button and your vacuum will cruise the house for you, scouring out dirt and debris to clean.
Within the two categories of manual or automated motion, there are several overarching technologies that determine how the vacuum works: suction, roller brushes, centrifuge, and sensors, with newer technologies always developing.
Suction, roller brushes, and centrifuge are typical methods of manually powered vacuum cleaners like uprights, sticks, canisters, or handhelds. Sensors are reserved mainly for robot vacuums and helps explain how a vacuum drives around the house to locate dirt and debris that needs cleaning.
Suction is the most common technology used in vacuum design. Suction is powered by a battery or other source that provides the energy to suck debris particles from a dirty floor into the dust bin. Suction is measured in AW (or airwatts) and refers to the amount of power a vacuum uses and produces in relation to the airflow. Generally, an upright vacuum may have a suction power of 100-150AW, while a handheld, might only have 50-100AW.
Roller brushes are extremely common in vacuums and are generally located at the base of the vacuum cleaner. This could be one brush working independently of the other vacuum parts or a combination of two or more brushes that work together with each other to help trap debris inside the unit.
With centrifuge technology, dirt and dust particles are sucked through a series of small cylinders. This cylindrical power creates a centrifuge that forces small dirt particles to the outside of the cone and filters them into the dust bin. Using smaller cylinders as a part of this centrifuge cycle is a way to ensure greater suction without requiring a larger vacuum cleaner. Vacuums that use cylindrical centrifuge technology do not lose suction since the suction is determined by the natural design of the cylindrical area.
Sensors are used in some robot vacuums as a way of helping the vacuum navigate through a space or detect dirt and debris. In some cases, like with Roomba’s “‘Dirt Detection” software, these sensors are programmed to look for dirt, dust, and debris. In other cases, a robot vacuum may be programmed to use sensors to help navigate. Sensors can prevent a vacuum cleaner from driving off stair ledges or continually bumping into furniture. Some sensors are used to create a permanent map of your home, stored inside the robot. This map helps the vacuum to navigate the obstacles of your home more effectively.
Last Updated - January 10, 2018
The following logs all major updates and changes made to this page.
- January 10, 2018 – Updated table pricing to fall into tiers, instead of exact prices. Also added a section on canister vacuums.
- December 7, 2017 – In the last few weeks we’ve added more reviews to this page. The content has not significantly changed, just slightly different formatting and more links to our new reviews.
- October 27, 2017 – Added information about how vacuums work and types of vacuums. We also added more clarity around the specific elements within each scoring factor, adding scoring tiers and the criteria we look for within each scoring tier for each scoring element.
- October 1, 2017 – Added information clarifying our scoring tier levels. Specifically, that most scores will be between 50-100%, with only exceptional failing cases scoring 50% or below. Added clearer definitions for 0-70% scoring tiers.
Derek Hales is the Editor-in-Chief and Founder of ModernCastle.com. He is a passionate perfectionist when it comes to testing and reviewing products for the home. When he is not testing new products, Derek enjoys golf, tennis, and PC gaming. Derek lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife, Samantha, and poodle, Tibbers.