What is a stick vacuum?
A stick vacuum is essentially an upright vacuum, but is less powerful and weighs much less. It is intended for quick pick-ups, which explains the less power. It is primarily for convenience, and isn’t meant to replace a primary vacuum (with a few exceptions). They are very easy to store and use, even for younger members of your family or if you are older and can’t lift much weight.
What are advantages of stick vacuums?
There are lots of advantages to a stick vacuum over, say, a canister vacuum, which are also known for their small size and convenience. The first plus is that stick vacuums are significantly less expensive. Canisters might be small, but they are often more expensive than even upright vacuums. Stick vacs are very affordable and fit in any budget. The next advantage is that anyone can use (and afford) them: students, busy people, people who can’t lift heavy weights, and people in assisted living. They are easy to move around and easy to store, so people like students with limited space can easily find a place to put them. All around, stick vacuums are a cheaper, quicker, and more convenient option than canister vacuums.
What about disadvantages?
No vacuum is perfect, and stick vacuums definitely have their disadvantages. The main issue is that they do not work very well for carpet. They don’t have the power or tools necessary like an upright does, so the most they can handle is low-pile carpeting, and even then, you won’t get a really deep clean. Another problem is that they have much smaller waste cups, so you need to empty them out a lot. This can interrupt the flow of vacuuming and just be a pain in the neck. Another issue is exclusively with the cordless stick vacuums, which are powered by batteries. With most of them, they only run long enough for one room before needing a recharge (more details on that later), and recharge takes a long time. These problems just reaffirm that stick vacuums are not intended to work especially well on thick carpet or on any area larger than where quick spills like potted-plant dirt or food occur.
How powerful are stick vacuums?
This is a common concern, because less power means a less useful vacuum. Because stick vacuums come in both corded and cordless options, there are two ways to look at power: amps and volts. Amps are for the corded vacuums and there’s a wide range. Something with very few amps (and less power) is the Bissell Featherweight. It only has 1.2 amps, so suction is the primary issue. As a contrast, the Dirt Devil Power Air has 10 amps, which is a lot for a stick vacuum. This means more suction power. However, don’t think that just because it has a strong suction, that it will work on carpet. The Power Air is designed specifically for smooth floors. When it comes to cordless vacuums, the power measurement is volts, for the battery. An example of a vacuum with a smaller volt is the Eureka Quick Up. It only has six volts. The more powerful cordless sticks range from 10 volts (Shark Bagless Navigator) all the way up to 18 volts (Rowenta Delta Force). Like corded vacuums, high voltage doesn’t necessarily mean it will work on carpet, but it is a good place to start when you’re looking for more powerful stick vacuums.
What are the most convenient stick vacuums?
When we talk about convenient stick vacuums, we’re basically talking about how easy it is to move around. There are two things to look for: does it have a cord, and can it convert into a handheld? The addition of a handheld vacuum means more cleaning in harder-to-reach areas, which is also convenient. For cordless vacuums that also convert to handhelds, look at the Electrolux Ergorapido Brushroll Clean 2-in-1. It has additional tools like a crevice and dusting brush, can be taken anywhere including your car, and turns into a handheld by the removal of the handle. The Bissell 3-in-1 stick has similar features, and turns from a stick into a handheld or a crevice vacuum. Other convenient and easy to move vacs include the Dirt Devil AccuCharge (no handheld, but very light and cordless), the Bissell Lift-Off (cordless and handheld), and the Eureka AirSpeed 2-in-1 stick and handheld vacuum with a sealer (not cordless).
How long do cordless vacuums run before needing a recharge?
The main question with cordless vacuums is how long can you run them before the battery dies. In general, cordless vacuums do run longer when you have the brushroll off (if they have a brushroll), so to get the longest run time, keep your stick vacuum for smooth floors. Some stick vacuums run for only five minutes before they die completely, but there are a few that run longer. The Shark Bagless Navigator can run between 12-17 minutes. It has a brushroll, so expect 17 minutes if that part is off. The Bissell Lift-Off comes in at a good fifteen minutes, so if you need to quickly clean up a small room before company, you could probably get away with less than fifteen. The Electrolux ErgoRapido EL 1030A Ion 2-in-1 stick and Dirt Devil Swift double that time and runs for 30 minutes. The longest run-time, however, belongs to the Rowenta Delta Force with 40 minutes
How long do I have to recharge a vacuum battery?
The next question about cordless vacuums is how long you have to wait before you can use it again, after the battery dies. Again, there is a wide range. The longest recharge time is around 24 hours. That’s the Dirt Devil Swift Stick, which runs about 30 minutes at most on a full charge. The Bissell Lift-Off gets you about 15 minutes of run time on a 16-hour charge. The shortest charge time takes four hours, and that is with the Shark Bagless Navigator. The Rowenta, which had the longest run-time, takes 16 hours to recharge.
Which stick vacuums work best on carpets?
Since most stick vacuums don’t work super well on carpets, you need to look for specific features to get most effective one. Brushrolls are key. Without brushrolls, your vacuum won’t be able to work up the dirt that gets embedded in carpets. The Eureka Easy Clean 2-in-1 lightweight vacuum is an example of a good stick vacuum for low-pile carpet. It has a brushroll, so even though it only has 2 amps, it’s specifically designed to work on carpets as well as smooth floors. The Rowenta Delta Force has a brushroll and very strong suction, so it is fitted to work on medium-pile carpet. It is the only stick vacuum that does this.
Which are good for pet owners?
If you have pets, you have to deal with vacuuming up pet hair, food, and litter. There are at least two vacuum with pet owners in mind. The Electrolux Ergorapido Brushroll Clean 2-in-1 has a special brushroll that, with the push of a button, sucks up all the tangled hair from the head into the dirt cup. You don’t have to mess with pulling or cutting hair off of the head. The Bissell Lift-Off is the other good stick vacuum for pet hair and has a rubberized pet nozzle that aims for embedded hair. Other good vacuum options for you include any with strong suction and with handheld options, to get hair off of furniture.
Are there are any stick vacuums that could work as primary vacs?
There’s really only one stick vacuum that has the suction power and versatility to replace a primary vacuum: the Rowenta RH8559 Delta Force. It’s cordless, has an 18-volt battery, 40-minute run time, large dust cup, and works on medium-pile carpet. Still, it would work ideally as a primary vacuum for a smaller house or apartment.
What’s the price-range on stick vacuums?
There’s a pretty wide range on price when it comes to stick vacuum. Some are very cheap, like the Bissel 3106 Featherweight, which is only about $30. The Eureka Easy Clean, Eureka AirSpeed, and Dirt Devil Swift cost more at around $40, while a middle-range stick vacuum costs more like $60-$70 (the Bissel Lift-Off/Eureka Quick Pick-Up). The two more expensive vacs are the ones that work best on carpet. The Electrolux Ergorapido and Rowenta Delta Force are more in the $200 range.
Top Product Features
The key feature that anyone can agree on when looking for a stick vacuum is its weight. Compared to traditional upright or canister vacuums, stick vacuums tend to be the middle ground for vacuums. They are expected to be bit heavier than hand-held models, but should also be nowhere near the weight of a full-sized vacuum. On average, the ideal weight is between 2 to 5 pounds, though the goal is to have something that is easily managed with a single hand. To get an idea of what size the ideal stick vacuum is, look at models such as Dirt Devil’s highly popular Simpli-Stik, which weights only 1.9 pounds.
On the other end of the spectrum, portability does not always mean feather-light construction. Shark’s Bagless Navigator (SV1106), which weighs in at 11 pounds, is also a very popular model of stick vacuum that is touted as being extremely portable and easy to manage. The key elements to what can make any vacuum, including carpet cleaners (which often weigh 20lbs or more), is their size and accessibility. With stick vacuums, the total weight is as equally important to its distribution. Look for models that are both even in design, or at the very least, bottom heavy. When possible, look for models that have a uniform appearance from handle to head, as they will often have the best maneuverability. If uniform is not an option, opt for a bottom heavy model, which will tend to have better steering than top heavy models.
For stick vacuum cleaners, the ideal cord length will not be that far off from any other corded vacuum. Take into account the size of the area that the vacuum is going to be used in. If you are wanting a simple vacuum that you can quickly get out of its storage area and make use of for small, easy to cover areas, than you won’t need a 20 foot cord. However, if you have a small, one to two bedroom, or studio apartment, then look for models that have at least 15 feet of cord, with the ideal being anywhere from 25 to 30 feet. In addition to the optimal length, look for models that include a compact and easy to use storage system for the cord itself.
Like any vacuum made in the last ten years, stick vacuums have two major categories for dirt containment; traditional bags and canisters. If you take a look at different top ten lists for stick vacuum cleaners you will find a majority of top selling models are canister (although there are some professional quality brands and models that still stick with bagged systems). The main reason that there both styles remain readily available, and popular, is because it boils down to preference. There are pros and cons to both forms of dirt containment.
Multi Surface Capacity
Another hallmark for stick vacuums is their ability to transition between flooring types. Due to the lightweight nature of a typical stick vacuum, there is a common omission of a complex cleaning head (which often weighs quite a bit in upright models). The simpler head means that it should be able to more easily transition between carpeted and smooth flooring. Some models take advantage of the streamlined design and work in additional features (a good example is Bissell’s Symphony All-In-One). Note, smooth flooring does not always include wood floors. It is important that you look for a specific lists of surfaces that a stick vacuum can safely clean, without the risk of damaging them, and be sure to get a model that can handle all the floors in your home.
Suction is the most important selling point and what generates the most value for a vacuum cleaner, regardless of its general style. Despite all the hype that gets built up around the size and flexibility of a cleaning head, the real power comes from the motor, and the suction it produces. Anyone can use the basic equations to determine the real suction power of a vacuum, however, many manufacturers tend to not provide all the pieces of the puzzle in their literature. If you have really heavy traffic areas, or thick carpeting, look for a vacuum that is rated for these heavier jobs by users (Dyson and Bissell are both known for making heavy duty stick vacuums).
Can It Get The Edges?
No matter how strong it can clean, or how much agility it has, if a vacuum cannot reach the places you need to clean, then it is not the vacuum for you. One short coming of stick vacuum cleaners, is the fact that they cannot reach all the places a regular vacuum with attachments can. There are two major ways that companies try to counter this; they either make it an extremely lightweight and/or flexible model so that users can easily manipulate the head where it needs to go, or they make it compartmentalized, so that a break away unit can lift up from the handle for greater reach. Consider the rooms where the vacuum will be used most, will you need a lot of flexibility and reach? If so, be sure to look for an adaptation that will work best for your physical comfort.
Our Key Considerations
A much larger division among stick vacuums, aside from dirt containment type, is the distinction between corded and cordless. Both have their pros and cons, but more often than not, professional quality models will feature cordless systems with long lasting usage times. If you dislike tripping over a cord, and don’t mind a more finite amount of cleaning time, then consider a cordless model of stick vacuum. (Eureka makes an economical cordless if you want to get a feel for how they handle and would rather not invest in something like a Dyson to start with.)
Long Run Time
A further distinction between basic quality and professional among stick vacuums, aside from being cordless, is the battery life per charge. To give perspective, budget models can get up to 12 minutes of intense and sustained use per charge, whereas top end models get around 20 minutes per charge before performance slacks. For small areas and touch ups, budget models (Eureka Quick Up) may work just fine. However, if you have a lot of vacuuming to do, or plan to use your stick as a primary means to clean your floors, consider either a professional quality (Dyson V6 series), or you want to opt for a corded model.
Detachable For Hand-Held Mode
While almost considered a standard feature (given how popular it is), there are several popular, quality machines that remain single unit in design. Hand-Held mode is something of a luxury that can be great for people who like to really reach the nooks and crannies, but can be cumbersome for those with less than full mobility. Sometimes the detachable option can come with a needless larger price tag, which doesn’t always fit best with needs. Think about your (or the person who will be using it) mobility and needs when deciding if a hand-held mode is really an option you want/”must have”.
Less frequent among stick vacuums, the inclusion of side hoses are fairly rare (Bissell’s 3 in 1 has a crevice tool in place of being detachable). More often, professional quality, and some standard models, will include different brush heads to offer a variety in both surfaces and levels of clean. If you have items such as furniture that you’d like to be able to clean as well as floors, consider looking for models that include accessories designed to broaden the machine’s versatility.
Whether it is a canister or a bag model, just about every stick vacuum has at least one or two layers of filtration to help with performance and cleanliness. What distinguishes a standard model from a professional or commercial quality is the level of filtration. Some of the best performing brands (Dyson and Miele) have exhaust air coming out of the machine that is cleaner than when it was sucked in. If you have serious allergies, or want to have the ultimate in clean, consider investing in a commercial or professional quality model of vacuum.
If there is one thing that Dyson is known for, it is high quality professional grade vacuum cleaners. Their most notable feature is the ball and siphon technologies that they have developed. They claim to have developed a superior method of suction that will never fade through the life of the vacuum cleaner. While some remain skeptical of such claims, many users note the only major downside to owning a Dyson is having to pay such a high initial investment. Their line of “stick” vacuums is limited to one line of five models: the Dyson V6 series. If you are looking to make a long term investment into a professional quality vacuum, then Dyson level technology, that comes with a standard 2 to 5 year warranty, is a brand to consider.
In rather polar contrast to Dyson’s pricing range, Dirt Devil could easily be considered their competition in terms of budget flexibility. The bright red Dirt Devil brand of vacuum cleaners includes six different models classed as stick vacuums. Their most popular, and budget friendly Simpli-Stik vacuum, is extremely well received among students and singles living in dorms or small apartments. It, like their other stick models, is very lightweight and versatile. Other models, such as their cordless Accucharge, incorporate the basic features that comprise a standard stick vacuum; lightweight, maneuverable, easy to use, versatile, and easy to store. If you are looking for something simple, yet effective, that is also very budget friendly, consider a Dirt Devil.
Another budget class of stick vacuums, Eureka offers about the same number of stick models, bit vary in the variety of features and looks. The Eureka compact and cordless Quick Up model is the company’s answer to the concept that makes the Simpli-Stik from Dirt Devil so popular. It embodies Eureka’s core concepts for innovation and improving on design. It is a compact, lightweight, cordless model that is compartmentalized to allow for its use as a stick or hand-held vacuum. Feature for feature, Eureka is a brand to consider for budget and innovation, with a tendency to consolidate affordability with convenience.
Made famous by their brand of green machines (literally green), Bissell has branched out to provide a wide range of vacuums and carpet cleaners for both home and professional use. Their lineup of stick vacuums includes eighteen different models to date. While they are more expensive on average than brands like Eureka and Dirt Devil, they are easily affordable for most budgets, and can be considered a good stepping stone from basic stick vacuums to closer to professional quality models. The Bissell PowerEdge for pets is one of their most popular models among consumers for both performance and pricing. If you are looking for a quality stick vacuum that is likely to last more than a year or two, consider a Bissell.
There are a few points that easily define an Electrolux vacuum: almost all of their models are combination stick/hand-held designs, they tend to be more expensive than Bissell, and there are touted as near professional quality machines for less than other comparable models. Their Ergorapido series is extremely popular and is available in a few colors, with slight variations (one model is better for basic cleaning, while another has more accessories). If you want a top notch stick vacuum that is also a powerful cordless hand-held, consider an Electrolux stick.
Made famous for their steam mops, Shark is a brand known for bringing innovation (through out of the box methods) and affordability into a single series of floor cleaning machines. Their selection of stick vacuums are all cordless models, each with a uniquely appealing feature. The Shark Bagless Navigator is a highly popular model that features extreme maneuverability and adaptability between flooring types. If you want something a little less than ordinary, that delivers a quick and quality clean, consider a Shark.
Of any brand on the list, Miele is definitely what you could call a very niche company. They don’t’ just make vacuum cleaners, they go above and beyond to provide extreme allergy controlled machines. Their filters and bags are a unique product from years spent perfecting the concepts. Approved by the Asthma Foundation, Miele, while being a bit pricey, are rated as some of the premiere machines (stick or otherwise) for allergy sufferers. If you have severe allergy problems, especially for dust, pollen, and dander, but don’t quite have the investment for a commercial quality machine, consider Miele’s professional quality Swinging Quickstep model.