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Shark Navigator vs. Rotator

Derek Hales

Written By: Derek Hales

Updated on:

If you’re in the market for a Shark upright vacuum, chances are that you’ll want to get familiar with the Shark Navigator vs. Rotator.

These are two of Shark’s most popular models in the upright vacuum class.

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator vacuum review comparison

This guide will compare similarities and differences of these two models to help you decide which is right for you.

Let’s dive in!

Shark Navigator
  • Cord Length: 30′
  • Dustbin: 2.2 dry qts.
  • Weight: 13.7 lbs
  • Noise: 77 dB
  • Cleaning: 84%
Shark Rotator
  • Cord Length: 30′
  • Dustbin: 1.3 dry qts.
  • Weight: 15.5 lbs
  • Noise: 80 dB
  • Cleaning: 87%

Rather watch than read? See our Shark Navigator vs. Rotator video comparison below:


The overall body style of both of these vacuums is pretty similar. They are both full-size uprights with a wide cleaning head, large see-through dust bin, upright cord wrap, and on-board accessories.

2-IN-1 | Both the Navigator and the Rotator have the ability to run as an upright or as a handheld vacuum.

As an upright, the Shark Navigator weighs about 13.7 pounds. As a handheld canister, it weighs only 8 pounds.

As an upright, the Shark Rotator is slightly heavier, at 15.5 pounds. As a handheld canister, it is about the same as the Navigator, coming in around 8.4 pounds.

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator

DESIGNED IN PARTS | Both the Shark Navigator and the Shark Rotator are designed in parts, for versatile assembly options. Each vacuum has four basic points:

  1. Cleaning head
  2. Canister
  3. Upright wand
  4. Attachments

The Navigator and the Rotator both have two cleaning head option; one brushroll for carpeted floors and one for hard surface flooring.

They also both have large capacity dust bins. The Navigator can hold 2.2 quarts of dry debris, while the Rotator can only hold 1.3 quarts of dry debris.

The Rotator comes with a few more advanced accessories, while the Navigator’s accessories are more basic.

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator cleaning heads

BELLS AND WHISTLES | The Shark Navigator is a bit more of a “base model” than the Rotator, in my opinion. The Rotator is designed with some added features like a brushroll indicator light, LED headlights, more advanced accessories, and a modern color scheme with pops of red and gray text at various locations that helps with usability.

REVIEW – For more detailed information see our comprehensive Shark Navigator review and Shark Rotator review.

How It Cleans

Both the Navigator and Rotator clean using brushrolls and suction, with a separate cleaning head for hard floor cleaning. The brushrolls help to agitate dirt and debris from high-pile carpet and strong suction forces the debris up into the dust bin.

Shark Navigator brushroll cleaning head
Shark Navigator brushroll cleaning head
Shark rotator brushroll cleaning head
Shark rotator brushroll cleaning head

CLEANING HEADS | Shark manufactures two main styles of cleaning heads:

  1. Traditional brushroll for cleaning carpeted floors
  2. Hard surface cleaning head for hardwoods and tile

Both the Navigator and the Rotator come with one brushroll cleaning head and a hard floor cleaning head.

The exact style of hard floor cleaning head varies by model. In the case of our Modern Castle reviews, we were looking at the Shark Navigator Pro NV356E and the Shark Rotator Pro NV501.

These models use two different cleaning heads for hardwoods. The Navigator comes with a sleeker looking head that matches the body style of the rest of the vacuum, a modern white. It also includes a microfiber cleaning head wrap that helps it to capture debris.

By comparison, the hard floor cleaning head for the Shark Rotator is a solid gray, which does not match the body of the vacuum. This cleaning head also does not include any microfiber cleaning pads.

BEST OF – Wonder who is the best at hard surfaces? See our best hardfloor cleaning vacuums primer.

Size & Dimensions

Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro is 45” tall, 12” wide (with a 9.5” wide cleaning path) and 15” deep. The Navigator weighs 13.7” as an upright, and about 8 pounds as a handheld canister vacuum.

Shark Rotator Lift-Away is 45.7” tall, 12” wide (with a 9.5” cleaning path), and 12” deep. The Rotator is slightly heavier, weighing in around 15.5 pounds as an upright and 8.4 pounds as a handheld canister.

Shark Navigator Size

  • Height: 45″
  • Width: 12″
  • Depth: 15″
  • Weight: 13.7 pounds

Shark Rotator Size

  • Height: 45.7″
  • Width: 12″
  • Depth: 12″
  • Weight: 15.5 pounds

Accessories & Parts

The table below documents all of the parts and accessories that were included with each model at the time of purchase. Depending on when you purchase each model and through which retailer, exact accessories may vary.

In this comparison, we’re looking at the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro (NV356E) and the Shark Rotator Lift-Away Pro (NV501).

AccessoryShark NavigatorShark Rotator
Hard floor cleaning headNoYes
Dust away genie cleaning headYesNo
HEPA filter YesYes
Crevice toolYesYes
Dusting brushYesYes
Pet power brushYesYes
30" hoseYesYes
Upholstery brushNoYes

The Shark Navigator and the Shark Rotator include the following accessories:

Shark hard floor cleaning head

Hard floor cleaning head: Used when cleaning hard floors, like hardwoods, tile, or a hard composite flooring. The Shark Navigator hard floor cleaning head includes two microfiber cleaning clothes for a deeper clean.

Shark dust away genie cleaning head

Dust Away genie cleaning head:  Used on hardwood floors and other hard surfaces to remove ultra fine dirt, dust, and debris that might otherwise be used with the traditional brushroll

Shark Crevice tool

Crevice tool: A long narrow tool used to get in hard-to-reach spaces

Shark dusting brush

Dusting brush: A brush with soft bristles, used for dusting furniture, fans, or other finishes you don’t want to scratch

Shark motorized pet brushroll tool

Pet power brush: A motorized brush with rotating bristles, specifically designed to clean pet hair, without excessive tangling

Shark upholstery tool

Upholstery brush: Used to clean upholstery, like sofas, chairs, love seats, or bedding.

We mostly featured images of the Shark Rotator’s accessories above. However, they are functionally the same as the Shark Navigator.

Cleaning Tests

The following vacuum cleaner tests are designed to show how the Shark Navigator vs. Shark Rotator perform on different surfaces, picking up a variety of debris types.

We test on three different floor types, including hardwood floors, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet.

Shark Navigator Cleaning


Shark Rotator Cleaning


For each floor type we test the vacuum cleaner against:

  • Rice – 3 ounces
  • Dry Cereal – 1 ounce
  • Kitty Litter – 3 ounces
  • Sugar – 3 ounces

Each of the aforementioned debris types was spread across our testing lane. The base surface of our testing lane is an engineered hardwood floor. For our carpet tests, we slide in a low pile and high pile carpet insert on top of the hardwood floor.

Cleaning test debris types

Testing Debris – From left to right: Rice (3 oz.), Kitty Litter (3 oz), Cereal (1 oz), Sugar (3 oz

The graphs below summarize the cleaning performance for both the Shark Navigator and Shark Rotator for each floor type. Please see our complete Shark Navigator Review and Shark Rotator Review for our full cleaning performance data.

Shark Navigator Cleaning Performance



Low Carpet


High Carpet


Shark Rotator Cleaning Performance



Low Carpet


High Carpet


Cleaning Hardwoods

While cleaning hardwoods, both the Navigator and the Rotator performed well. They did struggle a bit with the large debris cereal test— Navigator only captured 83% of the cereal while the Rotator only captured 77%.

shark navigator pro hardwood test
Shark Navigator cleaning performance on hardwood floors
shark rotator upright hardwood test
Shark Rotator cleaning performance on hardwood floors

That being said, we only used the large cleaning heads for these tests. Using the wide mouth hose you could clean the larger debris more easily (if you desire).

Cleaning Low Pile Carpet

These Sharks really excelled on low pile carpet, with each model capturing at least 95% of the debris. On low carpet, the Navigator and Rotator both struggled the most with the ultra-fine sugar test, where the Navigator picked up 91% and the Rotator picked up 84%.

shark navigator pro low carpet test
Shark Navigator cleaning performance on low pile carpet
shark rotator upright low carpet test
Shark Rotator cleaning performance on low pile carpet

Cleaning High Pile Carpet

On high pile carpet, the Shark Rotator shot to the lead in cleaning performance. The Shark Navigator seemed to struggle a bit with all debris types, never capturing more than 80% on any given test.

shark navigator pro high carpet test
Shark Navigator cleaning performance on high pile carpet
shark rotator upright high carpet test
Shark Rotator cleaning performance on high pile carpet

By comparison, the Shark Rotator captured 99% of the rice, 92% of kitty litter, and 78% of the sugar. The Rotator had the hardest time with the cereal, like the Navigator, where it captured less than a quarter of the cereal pieces tested.

CARPETS – If you need something that performs better on carpets see our best vacuum for carpets guide.


As an overview, I would say that the Shark Rotator gets the gold concerning usability over the Shark Navigator.

UNBOXING | Initial unboxing between the two is equally as daunting. Both of these models have a large number of parts and setup isn’t completely obvious upon unboxing. That being said, you only have to unpack these vacuums once.

SETUP | Setting up these vacuums is pretty straight-forward. The Navigator and the Rotator both have similar connections and body styles. I will say that the Rotator has more user-friendly connections. Bright red accents on the vacuum highlight important connections or special features.

Shark Rotator vs. Navigator usability
Both the Shark Rotator and Navigator can be configured as upright or handheld canister, with a multitude of accessories in both options available.

DAILY USE | For daily use, both of these models take the user into consideration with pretty good swivel steering and maneuverability. There are also inclusions-like text labels and quick snap connections- that make it easy to swap accessories, hoses, or wands.

The Shark Navigator and the Rotator both have a wand with a comfort handle. This is a nice feature when using the vacuum as a handheld, as it keeps your hand from holding the vacuum at awkward angles.

In addition to the handle, the Shark Rotator includes other bells and whistles, like a cord hook, brushroll indicator light, LED headlamps, and more text direction than the Navigator.

2-IN-1 | Both of these models also have the ability to go from a powerful upright to a lightweight handheld canister vacuum. Included accessories, like the dusting brush and crevice tool can be used with either style of vacuum.

EMPTYING THE DUST BIN | Comparing Shark Navigator vs. Rotator, the dust bin is similar between the two models. On each vacuum, there is a latch that, when unclasped, swings the dust bin door open and allows debris to fall into the trash can below.

Empting the Shark Rotator dust bin
The Shark Rotator can be emptied for the base or the top of the canister

I will note that the dust bin on the Shark Navigator (2.2 quarts) is almost twice the capacity of the Shark Rotator (1.3 quarts). If you’re looking for a model that can store more debris, this may be something to consider.

Emptying the Shark Navigator
The Shark Navigator can be emptied by the top of the canister


Considering maneuverability, once again, the Shark Navigator and Shark Rotator are neck and neck.

Shark Rotator vs. Navigator maneuverability
Both the Shark Rotator and Navigator can turn at approximately 45°

CLEANING HEADS | Both vacuum models have a cleaning head that is 12” wide with a 9.5” cleaning path with a 3” height. They are about equal in their ability to get into tight spaces.

ACCESSORIES | The Shark Rotator does have better accessories for maneuverability, in my opinion. The crevice tool is longer, the comfort handle on the hose is redesigned for better grip, and it includes an upholstery tool.

MAX REACH | Both of these models are corded upright vacuums with a 30’ cord.RELATED – Want something that can easily go under furniture? Check out our robot vacuum reviews, including some of our favorites the Roomba 690Ecovacs N79, and Xiaomi Mi.

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator reach
Using the wand on both the Shark Navigator and Rotator you can reach hard to reach spots both above and below you.


The maintenance tasks for both the Shark Navigator and Shark Rotator are basically identical. Each of these vacuums has the same number of filters, a central brushroll, and the optional ‘Dust-Away Genie” pad. Overall, the maintenance costs for these models are relatively low.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyShark NavigatorShark Rotator
Foam & Felt Filters (washable)12 monthsCheck PriceCheck Price
HEPA Filter24 monthsCheck PriceCheck Price
Brushroll24 monthsCheck PriceCheck Price
'Dust-Away Genie' pad12 monthsCheck PriceNA

Annual maintenance costs on the Shark Navigator is around $20 / year.

This includes a new foam filter set and new dust Genie pad every year, with a new brushroll and HEPA filter every other year.

Annual maintenance costs on the Shark Rotator is around $17 / year.

Just like with the Shark Rotator, this includes a new foam filter set and a new brushroll and HEPA filter every other year.

Overall, the maintenance schedules and costs between the Navigator vs. Rotator are similar, so for the sake of this comparison, we’re going to call maintenance a “draw.”


All vacuum cleaner reviews on Modern Castle are put through our standard noise test. For this test, we use a sound meter to measure noise in terms of decibel level approximately 3′ away from the vacuum.

The Shark Navigator generates 77 decibels of noise from 3′ away.

The Rotator is slightly louder, generating 80 decibels of noise (also at 3′ away.)

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator - noise vacuum review test

Shark Navigator Value

Concerning value, is the Shark Navigator worth the cost?

Let’s look at the overall performance. The Shark Navigator has a similar body style as the Shark Rotator. It comes with various accessories, a large dust bin and pretty good cleaning performance.

It performed best on our low carpet test, second best on the hardwood floor test, and struggled the most with high pile carpet. Compared to the Shark Rotator Pro, the Navigator Pro outperformed in cleaning performance on both hardwood floors and low pile carpet.

Depending on the type of flooring you have in your home, the overall value of the Shark may vary. Prices can fluctuate, but the Shark Navigator is generally less expensive than the Shark Rotator.

Shark Rotator Value

The value of the Shark Rotator was pretty good as well.

This vacuum feels a bit higher end, but you do give up quite a bit of the dust bin canister to have the sleeker look. As for cleaning performance, the Rotator still did a solid job. The results of the Rotator on hardwood floors and low pile carpet was within 1-3% of the Navigator results.

The results of the high pile carpet were over 10% better than the cleaning performance of the Navigator on high pile carpet. It’s biggest struggle was with cereal, where it only captured 21% of cereal from the floor test.


Below is a complete list of important specifications and features included on both the Shark Navigator and Shark Rotator.

SpecificationsShark NavigatorShark Rotator
Type2-in-1 (Upright & Handheld)2-in-1 (Upright & Handheld)
ModelNavigator Lift-Away Pro NV356ERotator Lift-Away NV501
Weight 13.715.5
Floor TypeAll (indoor)All (indoor)
Dust Bin2.2 quarts1.3 quarts
CordlessNo - 30' cordNo - 30' cord
ReturnsVaries by retailerVaries by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited1-Year limited
BuyCheck PriceCheck Price

Shark Navigator vs. Rotator Differences

Dust Bin

The dust bin to the Shark Navigator is nearly twice the capacity of the Shark Rotator dust bin. The Navigator can hold 2.2 dry quarts, while the Shark Rotator can only hold 1.3 dry quarts. If you’ve got a lot of debris to clean, this could be an important difference between these two models.

Bells & Whistles

The Shark Rotator comes with a few more bells and whistles, like LED headlamps, a cord wrap, text notations, the redesigned comfort hose handle, and an advanced collection of accessories, like the upholstery brush.


The price on the Shark Navigator is usually a bit less in terms of price, than the Shark Rotator.

Shark Navigator vs. Shark Rotator – Which Should You Buy?

Should You Buy the Shark Navigator?

The Shark Navigator comes with a wide range of included accessories, an XL Dust bin, swivel steering, and the 2-in-1 ability to run as an upright or a handheld canister vacuum.

I would recommend the Shark Navigator Lift-Away Pro to people who:

  • Want a lower price tag – While the difference is not significant, the Shark Navigator does generally fall at a lower price than the Shark Rotator Pro. While both are affordabke, the Navigator Pro will leave a little extra in your pocketbook.
  • Want a larger dust bin capacity – If you want a larger dust bin, the Shark Navigator Pro is the vacuum to go with, as the dust bin has almost twice the capacity of the Shark Rotator Pro.

Click here for more information or to buy the Shark Navigator.

Should You Buy the Shark Rotator?

The Shark Rotator Lift-Away Pro is only slightly more expensive than the Shark Navigator. If you prefer the sleeker design and improved usability, and won’t miss the larger dust bin of the Navigator, the Rotator Pro could be a great option for you.

I would recommend the Shark Rotator Lift-Away Pro to people who:

  • Want a sleeker look – If you’re concerned with aesthetics, the Shark Rotator Pro is a sleeker model. It comes with accessories that match the white style of the body of the vacuum and bright red accents help to highlight special areas and features.
  • Want more accessories – The Shark Rotator comes with all of the same accessories as the Shark Navigator, but also includes an upholstery brush. Depending on the type of cleaning you do, this could be an important feature for you.

Click here for more information or to buy the Shark Rotator.

Update Log

  • July 3, 2020 – Added video comparison.
  • November 22, 2018 – Improved comparison table added to the top of the page.
  • April 3, 2018 – Initial version of the page uploaded.

About Derek Hales

Derek HalesDerek Hales is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of He has been featured in Fast Company, Reader's Digest, Business Insider,, She Knows, and other major publications. Derek has a Bachelor's Degree in Business Administration from Kansas State University. Hales has been testing and reviewing products for the home since 2014.

Need Help? Ask Your Question Below.

29 Comments on “Shark Navigator vs. Rotator”

  1. Does the Shark LA502 Rotator Lift away pick up pet hair on bare floor and carpet without using the pet attachment?

    Can I just use the pet attachment for weekly vacuming on carpet and bare floor?

    is the pet attachment really for furniture?

    • It will still do reasonably well even without the pet attachment. Pet attachment just helps. Using it once a week would be perfectly fine.

  2. I need to replace my Shark Rotator lift-away (UV795) BRUSHROLLER, is the Navigator and Rotator compatible or are all ROTATOR compatible/interchangeable? The bristles have gotten very short. Have had vacuum for 4 yrs.

    • Unfortunately, I am unsure about that. Though I would guess probably not.

      In any case, this is a better question for Shark support. Sorry we couldn’t be of more help.

  3. Because of your side by side demonstration I was able to decide which one to get. You covered all my questions.
    The host also spoke clearly and precise.

  4. Do both of these models have the same power. I have my bedrooms carpeted, not high pile, and the rest of the house hardwood floors. I don’t want a heavy vacuum.

  5. Thank you for the review. I, however, do not see if either of the NV365e are self-propelled-meaning under their own power. Please, Yes or No on this issue.
    Thank you.

    • Yes, they are. The self propulsion isn’t as strong as other vacuums I’ve tested, but there is a slight to moderate degree of self pull.

  6. I really love your website and in depth reviews. One thing I noticed was you said the Rotator performed within 3% of the Navigator performance on low pile carpet but there was actually a 7% difference with sugar test. Nav at 91% and rotator at 84%. This mattered to me as I have half low pile carpet and other half laminate. I researched vacuums for 3 days (many hours a day) before I decided on the Shark Navigator NV350 which I love. Cleaned my whole apartment as soon as I brought it home. It did wonders using the pet roller attachment on a recliner full of pet hair and dander. Also picked up pet hair and debris easily all around floors without any issues. No clogging and barely any wrapped around brush. Just a few strands. Very easy to use and clean. The bare floor head even picked up debris and hair outside the head that was along side it. Very happy and impressed. Thank you.

    • Hi April,

      Thanks for your comment and for sharing your experience.

      I’m glad to hear our reviews were helpful and that the vacuum performed well in your home!

  7. In the figure, it says that the Rotator had a worse score on high carpet (73% vs 86%), but then in the text talk about how much better the Rotator was in high carpet.

    Which is correct?

    • My apologies for the confusion. Looks like some of our testing data got copied over wrong from our standalone reviews.

      Here are the correct numbers:

      Rotator = 87% average debris removed, 73% on high pile carpet
      Navigator = 84% average debris removed, 61% on high pile carpet

      Please let me know if there are any other questions.