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Shark Rotator Lift-Away
Vacuum Cleaner Review

By Derek Hales | Updated August 7, 2018

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The Shark Rotator Lift-Away is a combination upright vacuum that can adapt to different messes. Use it as a traditional upright, or lift the dust canister out and use it as large handheld with crevice hose and wand. This vacuum has nice maneuverability and the size to handle even very large messes.

Continue reading below to discover if the Shark Rotator Lift-Away is the best upright vacuum for you.

shark rotator pro lift away upright vacuum cleaner review

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Detailed Score

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Pros

  • Multiple configurations for a variety of messes
  • Strong degree of suction for tough debris fields

Cons

  • A little heavy when used as a handheld
  • Multiple filters to replace means a bit more maintenance

Bottom Line

  • The Shark Rotator Pro is a good choice for the user who is looking for an upright vacuum that has the ability to turn into a handheld.
  • This vacuum cleaner comes equipped with a lot of tools, allowing for deeper cleans.

Score

%

  • Design 94%
  • Performance 86%
  • Quality 93%
  • Usability 93%
  • Value 91%

Design

The Shark Rotator Lift-Away is an upright vacuum with a sleek design and extra large dust canister. This vacuum is a bit of a 2-in-1 design since the canister can lift out of the body of the vacuum and be used as a handheld vacuum. This model has advanced swivel steering with LED lights.

For cleaning, this vacuum is designed with a 9.5” wide cleaning path and a large dust bin that can hold 1.3 dry quarts of dust and debris.

Aesthetically, the Shark Rotator has a modern white body with pops of bright red accents and a see-through canister.

Designed In Parts

The design of the Shark Rotator Lift-Away is unique in that it disassembles into many parts. This allows the vacuum to be assembled as an upright, a handheld, use wands or hoses, and offers 4 different attachment nozzles for unique situations.

How it Cleans

The Shark Rotator Lift-Away cleans using a combination of brush and suction. The roller brush at the base of the vacuum helps to loosen dirt and debris from carpet fibers, while the suction lifts the debris away and into the debris canister.

Once inside the debris canister, this vacuum seals the dirt in using their Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology. This is basically a fancy phrase to say that they work really hard to keep even the smallest debris inside the canister and out of the air.

With the Rotator Pro vacuum, you have the option of using it as an upright or popping the canister out and using it as a handheld vacuum. Additionally, Shark offers a caddy base with wheels which would allow you to wheel the handheld unit around the house and use the suction hose with handheld attachments.

FAQ:  Need a handheld vacuum for pets? See our Bissell pet hair eraser handheld vacuum review

At 15.5 pounds, this vacuum would not be considered lightweight so users who are concerned about the sheer mass may really enjoy this wheeled caddy base option.

Once you are done cleaning, you can empty the debris canister by releasing it from the upright and with the push of a button, the debris empties directly into the trash can below.

Roller Brush Head

The underside of the Shark Rotator uses a rolling brush head to help suck up dust and debris and empty it into the dust bin. For hard flooring, there is an option to turn off the rollers.

Size & Dimensions

The Shark Rotator Lift-Away is 45.7 inches (slightly more than 3.5 feet) tall and 12 inches wide. The actual cleaning path is 9.5 inches wide, which makes it a good option for whole home cleaning.

The head of the vacuum is 3 inches tall, so it’s able to squeeze under most, but not all furniture.

As for the weight, this vacuum is a bit of a heavy-weight at 15.5 pounds when used as an upright. When used as a handheld, the weight decreases down to 8 pounds. It’s a little heavy for a handheld vacuum as well, but the Shark roller caddy does remedy this a bit since the wheeled base would support a majority of the weight.

Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away upright vacuum - Size & Dimensions

Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away upright vacuum – Size & Dimensions

Accessories & Parts

The Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away upright vacuum includes the following parts and accessories:

  • Dust-Away hardwood floor tool
  • Dusting brush
  • Crevice tool
  • Upholstery tool
  • Pet power brush
  • HEPA Filter Set (3 count – foam and felt)

The Shark Rotator Lift-Away includes three attachments for the handheld unit, including a crevice tool, dusting brush and pet power brush. For parts, the main one that you would have to worry about replacing is the filter set. This set includes 3 separate filters, which work together to filter the debris and keep it from leaking back into the air.

Parts & Accessories

  1. Dust-away tool
  2. Dusting brush
  3. Upholstery tool
  4. Crevice tool
  5. Pet brush

Cleaning Tests

The following vacuum cleaner tests are designed to show how the Shark Rotator Lift-Away upright vacuum performs on different surfaces, picking up a variety of debris types. We test on 3 different floor types, including hardwood floors, low pile carpet, and high pile carpet. 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 were spread across our approximately 11 square foot 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.

Our vacuum cleaning process strives to be as consistent, fair, and true to real world use as possible. Our tests utilize the following procedure:

  1. Measure the weight of the testing debris and weight of empty vacuum debris container
  2. Spread the respective debris type evenly across the central portion of the testing lane
  3. Run the vacuum cleaner over the testing lane
  4. Measure the weight of the now filled container and take notes on the cleaning performance
Cleaning performance testing debris

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

Hardwood Floor

While testing this Shark vacuum on the hardwood flooring, each of the debris types were easily cleaned up, with the exception of the cereal. Although the cereal did not test as well as the other debris types, the Shark was still able to tackle it for the most part. After pushing the cereal for about a foot, the vacuum was able to roll over the cereal, crush it, and suck it up into the dust bin.

Rice, kitty litter, and sugar were easily handled by the Shark Rotator Pro vacuum while sitting on the hardwood floor.

  • Hardwood – Rice 99%
  • Hardwood – Cereal 77%
  • Hardwood – Kitty Litter 94%
  • Hardwood – Sugar 98%

shark rotator upright hardwood test

Low Pile Carpet

The Shark Rotator vacuum cleaner actually performed better throughout the low pile carpet tests as compared to the hardwood floor tests. While on carpet, this Shark vacuum has a button that turns on the brushroll, creating a self-propelled movement at which it sucks up the tough messes.

The Shark struggled slightly more to handle the sugar test on the low pile vs. the hardwood, however, it still managed a solid 84% clean rate.

  • Low Carpet – Rice 100%
  • Low Carpet – Cereal 99%
  • Low Carpet – Kitty Litter 96%
  • Low Carpet – Sugar 84%

shark rotator upright low carpet test

High Pile Carpet

The high pile carpet test was a bit more of a struggle for the Shark Rotator Pro vacuum. Rice and kitty litter were no match for this vacuum, as both debris were cleaned up by more than 90%.

On the other hand, cereal and sugar were a bit tougher. After turning the brushroll on, the vacuum sank into the high pile carpet, leaving the cereal sitting higher than the vacuum itself. Therefore, it was nearly impossible for the unit to suck up the cereal. With regards to sugar, the vacuum did not have enough power to grab the particles that sank deeper into the carpet. This Shark vacuum cleaner did not perform terribly during the sugar test, but I would have liked to see it do a bit better.

  • High Carpet – Rice 99%
  • High Carpet – Cereal 21%
  • High Carpet – Kitty Litter 92%
  • High Carpet – Sugar 78%

shark rotator upright high carpet test

Usability

The usability of the Shark Rotator Lift-Away upright is pretty straight-forward for general vacuuming and a little more complicated for the handheld configurations.

As an upright, it was simple to turn the vacuum on and off as well as turn the roller brush on or off for different surface types. Bright red buttons provide a nice accent to the crisp white body of the vacuum. These pops of red makes it a little easier for the user to locate buttons and switches.

There’s a brushroll indicator light at the base of the vacuum which takes the guesswork out of whether or not the rolls are spinning.

Shark Rotator Upright Handle button
Shark Rotator Upright Vacuum Cleaner brush roll indicator

One feature that can be used as an upright or a handheld vacuum is the suction hose. The hose is 8.4′ and attaches to any of the nozzle attachments. To remove the hose from the upright unit, simply squeeze the tabs and pull the hose out. During our tests, I found this hose to be very useful with the attachments and provided increased maneuverability and access to tight spaces.

Shark Rotator upright vacuum - how to use the hose
Shark Rotator upright vacuum - how to use the hose (part 2)

Maneuverability

Maneuverability plays a few different roles when it comes to this Shark vacuum cleaner. If the vacuum is being used as upright, mobility is somewhat limited. The vacuum is able to turn at a 45 degree angle, but it almost feels forced at times. After testing other vacuums, such as the Electrolux Ergorapido with a 180 degree turn radius, the Shark Rotator Pro does not necessarily sweep me off my feet.

That said, once the vacuum is turned into a handled, maneuvering around becomes much easier. The only downfall of the handheld configuration is weight. The vacuum has a 30 foot cord, so distance is no issue with this unit. Holding the vacuum up to use it as a handheld is probably the most daunting task associated with this vacuum cleaner.

When it comes to cleaning stairs, corners, edges, and other hard to reach places, this Shark vacuum excels. It was able to reach all of those areas with ease after swapping around individual pieces and accessories.

Weight

15.5 lbs (upright) 8.4 lbs (handheld)

Power

30′ long cord

Hose

100″ max length

Turning

45° turning radius

Height

shark rotator pro cleaning deck

3″ cleaning deck

Y Pivot

shark rotator pro back pivot

130° back pivot

X Pivot

shark rotator pro side pivot

45° side pivot

Width

shark rotator pro cleaning path

9.5″ cleaning path

Maintenance

The following table indicates the frequency at which you will likely want to replace the various parts and components of the vacuum. However, your individual experiences may vary.

Accessory / PartReplacement FrequencyReplacement Cost
Foam filters12 monthsCheck Price
HEPA filter24 monthsCheck Price
Burhsroll24 monthsCheck Price

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

This includes replacing the foam filters every year and replacing the HEPA filter and brushroll every 2 years.

Noise

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 feet away from the vacuum.

shark rotator lift away decibel test

At 3 feet away, the Shark Rotator Lift-Away upright vacuum emits 80 dB of sound.

Value

So the big question here- is the Shark Rotator Pro upright vacuum worth the money? To really assess the value, we look at a variety of factors, but overall we’re comparing the design, cleaning performance, usability, and maintenance, vs. the cost.

This upright vacuum cleaner is sold in the lower to medium price tier, which includes the body, initial set of filters and all accessory nozzles and hoses. Considering that the Shark Rotator Pro is a 2-in-1 and serves the purpose of an upright and a handheld, this vacuum is an above average value in my opinion.

The Shark Rotator Pro also comes with a 5 year limited warranty to help protect the investment should an unexpected defect or decline in performance occur. However, it is important to note on the warranty that:

Non-durable parts including, without limitation, filters, brushes and electrical parts which normally require replacement are specifically excluded from warranty.

While the weight of the vacuum, turning radius, and larger debris cleaning tests (namely, cereal) leave something to be desired, overall, the performance was strong, especially consider the lower price tag.

Specifications

Below is a complete list of important specifications and features included on the Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away upright vacuum:

Specifications 
Type2-in-1 (Upright & Handheld)
ManufacturerSharkNinja
ModelRotator Lift-Away NV501
Length (inches)45.7
Width (inches)12
Weight (pounds)15.5
Floor TypeAll
CordlessNo - 30 foot cord
BaglessYes
Returns30 days via Amazon. Varies by retailer
Warranty1-Year limited
PriceCheck Price

Who Should Buy the Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away Vacuum?

After putting this vacuum through several tests, analyzing the data, and taking a look at all it has to offer, I must say I am overall impressed with the Shark Rotator Pro. This unit excelled through most of our tests, costs less than most others, and is able to change form into either an upright or a handheld with a simple process.

I would recommend the Shark Rotator Lift-Away if you’re looking for the following features in a 2-in-1 upright vacuum.

  • Like the idea of two vacuums in one – As a 2-in-1 vacuum, the Shark Rotator Pro is able to be pushed around as a sturdy upright, or removed for a durable and powerful handheld. Either configuration offers strong suction and a plethora of extra tools for specific cleaning styles.
  • Don’t mind a slightly heavier unit – As an upright, this vacuum comes in with a total weight of 15.5 pounds. Once removed and turned into a handheld, the Shark weighs 8 pounds. Neither are particularly light options, so you will want to be sure you’re okay with the heavier build before purchasing.
  • Want a few extra bells and whistles – This vacuum comes with some extra bells and whistles that not all vacuums have. For example, headlights, a brushroll indicator light, and 5 extra tools.

For more information on the Shark Rotator Pro Lift-Away visit Amazon.com.

Last Updated - August 7, 2018

The following logs all major updates and changes made to this page.

  • April 3, 2018 – Updated the maintenance section with more accurate costs and parts.
  • August 7, 2018 – Updated the review score as part of our site-wide 1.0 scoring overhaul. Score increased from 90% to 91%.
Multi-functional, Heavier
  • 94%
    Design - 94%
  • 86%
    Performance - 86%
  • 93%
    Quality - 93%
  • 93%
    Usability - 93%
  • 91%
    Value - 91%
91%

Summary

The Shark Rotator Pro lift away vacuum cleaner is a 2-in-1 upright / handheld machine. The vacuum can be used in standard upright mode or converted to handheld for easier mobility. While the Shark Rotator did struggle with our cereal debris testing, overall, its performance was very strong. Ultimately, the Shark Rotator vacuum is an above average value and provides great flexibility and usability through a variety of tools and attachments.

Derek Hales

Derek Hales

Editor-in-Chief

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, son, and poodle, Tibbers.