The Best Canister Vacuums Buying Guide of 2015 & 2016

Canister Vacuum Features To Look For


In comparison to upright vacuum cleaners, canister models tend to be a bit more expensive. Depending on the model and brand, the difference can be quite significant when compared to similarly featured uprights. The big tradeoff is that quality canister vacuum cleaners tend to last a fair bit longer than their upright counterparts. Consider the purchase of a canister vacuum as you would any long term investment and look for something that will fit within your current budget. Keep in mind that most models, standard and professional, will have some measure of maintenance cost in regards to filters, belts, and potentially bags.

Bag Versus Bagless

Canister vacuums are available in both traditional bag and container systems for collection. Both have their pros and cons, such as containers tend to be cheaper in upkeep but louder in operation volumes, while bag models tend to be quieter, easier to clean, and tighter on filtration, but they do add more to upkeep costs and garbage contribution. There is also a significant difference in the volume of dirt and dust they can hold, with containers usually being good for around one-half gallon and bags at least a full gallon’s worth. When looking for a good canister vacuum, you will find models of both variety that are highly rated, which means it is something that will come down to preference and how much you want to pay for maintenance.


One of the most common advantages to using canister vacuum cleaners is their tendency toward compact design. While there are slimline and fold-able models of upright vacuums, they tend to either be more expensive, or not as powerful as standard canister models that offer similar compactness. Look for a vacuum that not only meets your cleaning needs, but also fits into an allotted storage space.


Most modern vacuum cleaners today have some manner of air filtration on them. HEPA filters in particular have almost become standard. With bagless models, there is often one or two additional layers of filtration leading into and out of the containment compartment, while bag models sometimes include these in the bag itself. Regardless of the style, it is important to look for at least HEPA level filtration for the vacuum itself, which can help reduce allergens in the air.

Easy to Use Controls

When it comes to controls, nothing can make an excellent canister vacuum loose popularity points when they are cumbersome to operate. Some of the best control setups to look for are located on the handle of the cleaning wand. Typically you will want an on/off switch, settings switch, and perhaps a lighting on/off button to be easily accessible. The only major drawback to some canister vacuum designs is that the controls require you to bend down to reach them on the body. Some models do counter this with setting up the controls to where they are easily operated by foot, though such setups are not always as convenient as being able to operate it from the handle. Look for models that have easy use controls that will be easier for you to handle.

Noise Level

As with any vacuum cleaner, canister models can have an issue with being loud. Container style systems are often more so than bagged. While some consider the sounds of a vacuum to be a form of white noise, it is not always desirable. Look for models that rate themselves as being quiet, or operate with “whisper” levels of noise to find those with the best quietness rating.


While upright models are well known for including a small assortment of accessories, the same should be true for a worthwhile canister vacuum. Basic inclusions should be adapters for the wand to extend the reach, or cleaning head, that adjust the size, or surface it is designed for. Look for models that come with the same three or four adapters that most models that have a hose come with; extender, narrow corner adapted head, and a smaller brush for upholstery or curtain-type surfaces.


A general standard for quality machines is not less than a 3 to 5 year warranty. Professional and commercial quality, especially when used in home, should last at least ten or more with regular use and maintenance. More expensive models are not always the longest lasting, as the majority of costs is comprised of extra features. Look for models that come with long term warranties, or that are highly rated for their durability.

Best Canister Vacuum Brands


Known for being an elite brand of professional quality products, Dyson is well known for both their upright and canister vacuums. They make two models of canister vacuums, the Dyson Cinetic Animal and Dyson Ball Compact Animal. Unlike other brands, Dyson can guarantee their products will not loose their suction rating over the lifespan of the vacuum, so long as regular care is maintained, their products can outlast many other brands.


One of the oldest names in carpet cleaning, Bissell began in 1876 and has not stopped being a solid provider of quality vacuums and carpet cleaning machines. They offer eleven different models of canister vacuums in both bag and container styles. Their pricing is also very competitive, as well as their reputation for quality. Their business model reflects a focus on making products that are well made, affordable, efficient and easy to use. The Bissell Zing Bagless Canister Vacuum is one of their best selling and highest rated models that retails below $100.


Another long standing name in vacuum cleaners, Eureka is an ancient expression that means, “I found it!” and is used to express joy at discovering something great. It has been the founding idea for the company and remains so to today. They are dedicated to inventing new and innovative technologies for vacuum systems, while also keeping the end costs low for consumers. Their best selling canister vacuum, the Mighty Mite, is packed full of features that comes in an extremely petite and easy to handle package.

Dirt Devil

An offshoot from Royal appliances that has been around since the 1980s, Dirt Devil brand vacuums have a trademark color scheme; bright red. The first vacuums they produced were hand held, “dust busting” style units, though they have since expanded into stick, upright, and canister machines. Today, they offer wide selection of models, including their most popular Featherlite Cyclonic Bagless Canister (SD40100 for short).


With over a century in the floor cleaning industry, Hoover has a wide selection of machines. For their canister ranger, they produce four high quality models. Each of them use similar trademark Hoover technologies, which includes using a bagless containment system. The Zen, The Wind Tunnel, The Air Hard Floor and Air Pro each has a unique selling point, such as the Air Hard Floor model being designed for use on hard surface floors without scratching any finishes.


Electrolux has been a household name for several decades, with their innovative and high quality products focused on making work in the kitchen, laundry and general home easier and more efficient. They are often sold in conjunction with other well known brands, such as Frigidaire and White-Westinghouse. Their extensive collection of at home and professional quality canister vacuums easily places them as an easy competitor against professional brands such as Dyson. One of their more popular models is the UltraSilencer Canister Vacuum, which is applauded for living up to its namesake of being extremely quiet, without sacrificing suction.


A well known brand that is found in many areas of the home, Kenmore offers a lineup of fourteen different canister vacuums that range in functionality in price from economically compact to professionally full-sized. Their most popular model, the Kenmore Progressive Canister Vacuum, has been awarded with recognition and certification from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation for meeting or exceeding their standards by using a True HEPA filtration system. Such features are a trademark for the brand, including things like long time warranties and versatility in regards to types of floors they can clean.


While not known for just their vacuum cleaners, the Shark brand of cleaning products has been around since the 1990s. They continue to expand on their collection of floor cleaning items, including the addition of a unique and versatile vacuum, The Shark Pro Convertible. As the name implies, it is a professional quality vacuum that can be used as an upright, or converts into a convenient canister setup for increased versatility.

Features of Professional & Commercial Canister Vacuums

Different Flooring

One of the biggest distinguishing features between professional quality canister vacuums and standard, is the ability to clean more than carpets. Some of the more commercial grade models can handle just about any surface in a home, including carpets, hardwood, tile, and smooth stone floors. The versatility comes from the inclusion of special heads, or the adaptability of a single head that is adjusted via the controls. Of any, above standard feature, this one that does not tend to affect pricing as much as others, such as broader cleaning heads. If your home has a lot of different flooring styles, you will want to look for models that come with, or offers this versatility through accessories.


Surprisingly not as standard as one might think, professional quality models are sure to have at least one or two sets of handles to provide versatility and convenience when it comes to transporting and using the vacuum. If there are a lot of steps, or you will need to move around quite a bit, look for models that mention handle systems that will make transporting it easier.


Aside from having handles, another important feature of professional quality canister vacuums is being lightweight. Outside of metal machinery in the engine, and brush head, there is little need for the entire case to be so heavy duty. Most modern machines have come a long way in trimming down from older models. It has been proven that heavier is not always better and that modern plastics are capable of being both lightweight and highly durable. Looking for lightweight models also means that they will be easier to transport around as is needed, making it easier on your back and life in general.

Retractable Cord

One feature that most consider a luxury point is a retractable cord. Many lower end models have a retractable system, but they tend to be prone to malfunction and can add back to the weight when trying to store the vacuum. A truly professional quality vacuum that has a retractable cord will have a more reliable system, which will not hang up when in use, tangle or get stuck when being retracted, and makes use of a lightweight cord to help reduce overall weight, making it easier to manage. When looking for a professional quality canister vacuum, be sure that if it has a retractable cord, that is makes mention of what system it uses to ensure it works properly.

Telescoping Handle

Most canister vacuums come with a long handle and hose for ease of use. One feature though, that really separates from a standard and professional handle, is the ability to adjust its length. Telescopic handles allow people of all heights to comfortably use the vacuum without having to bend or stretch at odd angles. When considering a canister vacuum, look for one whose handle is adjustable or that list the height ranges of users it was designed for.

Canister Vacuum Tips

Ideal Dimensions

While not all vacuums are the same, there are some basic dimensions to look for in both standard and professional quality models. The floor cleaning head should have a 10” to 15” width to help minimize the number of times it has to pass over the floor. A good length for power cords is considered to be 15′ to 20+’ to help maximize how far you can move around without having to constantly change sockets. In terms of standard hose length, that can vary by preference, with some suggesting 5′ to 10′ being optimal without becoming unmanageable. Look for three three dimensions on each model you consider to compare which will present the most versatility and least amount of stopping/restarting to get the job done.

Differences Between Upright and Canister

As a general rule of thumb, upright vacuum cleaners tend to have a broader cleaning head and the simplicity of only needing to tend to a power cord. While they excel are large expanses of flooring, uprights require hoses and attachments to reach places that are a breeze for canisters. Canister vacuum cleaners on the other hand, require tending to a hose and power cord, but tend to be more flexible and able to clean difficult areas, such as steps, quite easily. The lightweight models help counterbalance the disconnected assembly between the hose, cleaning head, and body, which also makes storing them fairly versatile. If you are not sure which style to choose from, consider how many areas in the home include steps and hard to reach areas, which canister vacuums excel at handling. For those that prefer both styles of vacuum cleaner, convertible models are becoming more popular.

Amps Versus Airflow

When looking at different models, terms such as amps, horsepower, or watts are often used to try and make a particular model more appealing, either by advertising it as being high on horsepower or low on watts. These terms all relate to power usage, and while something that is energy efficient is good for you and the environment, in terms of its ability to be an effective vacuum, what really counts is airflow. Look more for advanced airflow systems, such as those found in professional quality models, to get the best cleaning power.

Upkeep Considerations

As touched on previously, there are two types of containment for the dirt collection; bags and containers. As part of regular upkeep for any vacuum, bags need to thrown out and containers need to be emptied and cleaned. The former involves somewhat higher costs to maintain, while the latter requires more effort. One important area of upkeep that many don’t think about when shopping for a new vacuum, is cleaning the brush heads. Like changing the bag, or emptying the container, the brushes need to be regularly cleared of debris to keep up the overall efficiency of the vacuum. If you live in a household with pets or long-haired individuals, consider features that make it easier to access the brushes for easier cleaning.

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