January 28, 2023

See Gadget

See My Shiny New Pets?

Best Dyson Vacuums for 2021 by Money

Dyson makes some of the world’s best vacuum cleaners, featuring sleek innovative designs and — most importantly — very impressive suction capacity.

With five cordless vacuum models and four upright corded ones available, there’s definitely a Dyson vacuum that can fit your cleaning needs. Choosing the right one depends on the size of your home, the cleaning attachments you prefer and your budget.

Dyson vacuums are known to be expensive, with some top-of-the-line models costing $800 or more. Yet older versions can be found for less than $400 and are still some of the best vacuums on the market.

(Note: While this story focuses exclusively on Dyson vacuums, we have recommendations for many other brands and styles of vacuums, including reviews of the best cordless vacuums and the best Roombas.)

Dyson vacuum buying guide

Dyson offers different versions of the same cordless vacuum models, usually followed by the terms “Animal,” “Absolute” or a “+” sign. These terms give an idea of how many cleaning attachments are included.

Typically, Animal models are the cheapest, costing less than $600, and come with the fewest cleaning attachments. Absolute models cost $50 or more than Animal ones and include one or two additional attachments.

The + sign also indicates that a model has an extra attachment or two. For example, there are two Dyson V15 Detect models: a standard version labeled as V15 Detect and another one named the V15 Detect+. Both vacuums have the same suction power. The only difference is that while the Detect features 10 attachments, while the Detect+ includes one additional attachment — a low-reach adapter that allows the vacuum to bend right in the middle to easily reach under furniture.

There’s an additional model category sold by Dyson labeled “Outsize.” This is the most expensive kind of Dyson vacuum, with a price tag of $800 or more. Dyson’s Outsize vacuums offer a bit more suction power, a larger dust bin and include an extra battery pack, making them ideal for larger homes.

In addition to the attachments, you’ll want to keep in mind the same factors that are important when buying any other vacuum cleaner — suction power, dust bin capacity and, if it’s cordless, whether the battery life is enough to handle the size and floor type of your home.

• Battery. The battery on the latest Dyson cordless models can last around an hour per charge. The batteries in previous versions usually don’t last quite as long. Basically, the older the model, the shorter its battery life, with some lasting 30 minutes or less.

Keep in mind that the listed runtime on newer models is based on using them on the lowest suction setting — “Eco” mode. Using the vacuum on the highest setting (“Boost” mode) can shave off more than 20 minutes of battery life. Using the vacuum on carpets, especially thick ones, can shorten battery life even more. Getting a Dyson model that adjusts its suction capacity based on the floor type guarantees the best possible battery life per charge; the V11, V15 and Outsize models all have this capability.

If you have a big multi-floor home that takes more than an hour to vacuum, you may want to consider one of the Outsize models. These vacuums not only self-adjust their suction power, but include an extra battery pack so you don’t have to wait between charges. (Recharging a battery pack can take up to four hours.)

If that still doesn’t cut it, you could purchase one of Dyson’s corded upright vacuums, which have stronger suction capacity; however, they’re heavier and you will have to deal with a sometimes annoying cord. Also, Dyson stopped developing corded vacuums back in 2018 to focus on cordless models, and that could eventually make finding spare parts difficult.

• Suction power. Comparing vacuum suction power between different brands can be difficult since manufacturers don’t use the same metric when describing their models.

Fortunately, comparing different Dyson models is easier since the company uses what’s known as air watts — a measurement of how many watts a vacuum uses to move air through its opening. The higher the air watts, the stronger the suction power. For example, Dyson’s latest cordless model, the V15 Detect, generates 230 air watts of suction, while the previous V11 generation offers 185.

• Dust bin. Most Dyson cordless vacuums have a 0.2-gallon dust bin, which is ample enough for the typical home. However, if you usually find yourself cleaning up a considerable amount of hair or debris, and don’t like having to empty the dust bin in the middle of vacuuming, an Outsize model — with a 0.5-gallon dust bin — may be your best option.

Note that whatever your cordless vacuum’s dust bin’s size is, emptying it at least once while cleaning is recommended to maximize suction performance and prevent clogs.

Dyson’s corded vacuums have the definite advantage when it comes to dust bin size. The dust bin (or dust canister) on upright corded models is often large enough to handle vacuuming for days or even weeks before needing to be emptied.

Money's Best Shopping Badge 2021 in blue, shopping cart in the circle with stars left and right.

Best Dyson vacuums

1. Best overall: Dyson V15 Detect

Dyson V15 Detect Vacuum

The V15 Detect was released in March 2021, making it Dyson’s latest vacuum — and its most powerful one yet. All Dyson vacuums are known to tackle all kinds of debris, from fine dust to pet hair, with ease on both carpets and bare floors. But the V15 outperforms the company’s previous models in terms of suction power and technological advances that help you clean better, faster.

While some cordless vacuums include LED lighting on their cleaning heads to help you see dust under furniture or dark corners, the V15 features a powerful laser light, which can reveal even the finest dust on all surfaces.

Dyson’s previous model, the V11, adjusted its suction whenever it detected a change between hard flooring and carpets. The V15 takes this a step further with a sensor that detects how much dirt it’s picking up as well as the size of the particles.

The vacuum then uses this information to adjust its cleaning power based on how dirty an area is. If there’s, say, cat litter in a corner of your living room, the V15 will automatically increase suction as you go over it and then tones it down as you move along the rest of the room. This self-adjustment can help extend battery life as well.

A count of the particles vacuumed is also displayed on the V15 Detect’s LCD screen. Owners can use this information to compare their cleaning sessions and get a general idea of how dirty certain areas may be.

As you move around, the LCD displays how much battery life you have left, down to the seconds. According to Dyson, the battery can last up to 70 minutes per charge when used on Eco mode — the lowest suction setting. When used on Boost mode (its highest setting), battery life is reduced to less than 20 minutes. In Auto mode, the vacuum self-adjusts as it detects dirt levels, delivering an average of 40 minutes per charge.

The V15 comes with 10 cleaning attachments, two more than the previous model. The standard cleaning head digs deep into carpets and prevents hair from tangling. A second floor cleaning head is designed for hardwood and tile floors, picking up larger debris — like cereal — in one pass. Some of the other attachments included an anti-tangle brush for pet hair, a soft dusting brush and a crevice tool.

2. Editor’s pick: Dyson V11 Animal

Dyson V11 Animal Vacuum

Before the V15’s unveiling, the Dyson V11 was considered to deliver the best performance of any cordless vacuum.

Retailing for about $600 (about $100 less than the V15), the V11 is still a great option, with suction capacity that comes a close second to the V15 and that can leave nearly any type of floor spotless in a single pass.

The V11 adjusts its suction power by detecting the type of floor (hard or carpet) it’s gliding on. The sensor on the V11 isn’t quite as sophisticated as the V15’s — which adjusts its suction power by detecting the size and count of the particles it picks up — but it’s still capable of enhancing cleaning and maximizing battery efficiency. And you can always switch to Boost mode manually whenever you feel you need some extra vacuum power.

Both vacuums have a similar design, weight and battery life. However, unlike the V15, the V11 Animal doesn’t display exactly how much battery time is left; it features a three-bar indicator instead.

The V11 also lacks two extra attachments included with the V15, one being a soft roller cleaning head that’s designed to pick up larger debris in one pass on hard floors. However, the V11 is still plenty powerful and versatile, with eight useful attachments (like the mini motorized tool for removing pet hair).

3. Best for low prices: Dyson V8 Animal

Dyson V8 Animal Cordless Stick Vacuum

If the $500+ price tags on Dyson’s newer cordless vacuums are deal-breakers for you, the V8 Animal is worth checking out. It’s often found for less than $400, and although its suction capacity is not as powerful as the latest model, it’s still quite impressive and much better than most other brands.

The V8 Animal includes six cleaning attachments such as a soft dusting brush, a crevice tool and a mini motorized tool ideal for pet hair embedded on sofas. The battery lasts up to 40 minutes per charge. It also features a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter that seals the dust bin, trapping microscopic dust particles.

4. Best Dyson for big homes: Dyson V11 Outsize

Dyson V11 Outside Vacuum

Cordless vacuums are lightweight and easier to store and maneuver compared to corded models. However, the limited battery life is not always convenient for big homes where it takes longer than an hour to clean.

Also, the size of their dust bins isn’t ideal if you typically vacuum large amounts of dirt or hair and find yourself having to empty the bin in between cleaning sessions. If that’s your case, the Dyson’s V11 Outsize is a smart choice.

The V11 Outsize is similar to the V11 Animal in terms of design, but the dust bin is much larger — 0.5 gallons versus 0.2 gallons for the Animal. Most importantly, the Outsize has stronger suction than the V11 Animal and includes an additional battery pack so you can use the vacuum uninterrupted for up to 120 minutes. All of these features make the V11 Outsize more expensive, though. It’s usually available for about $800.

The extra cost may be well worth it. The V11 Outsize may come at a steeper price, but it does provide better performance, which can be especially important for big families with pets.

5. Best Dyson upright vacuum cleaner: Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2

Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Vacuum

Dyson stopped developing corded vacuums in 2018, but the Ball Multi Floor 2 vacuum remains one of the best corded models available.

Selling for about $400, it self-adjusts the cleaning head’s height to create the best possible seal across different floor types. Since it’s a corded upright vacuum, it’s able to deliver stronger suction capacity than any cordless model. (Although cordless vacuums have improved significantly over the years, corded ones are still known to provide a deeper clean.)

As the name suggests, the Ball Multi Floor 2 features a ball design near the machine’s cleaning head which allows for easy maneuverability and tight turns. However, at 15 pounds, it’s heavier than cordless vacuums, which normally weigh under 10 pounds. The extra weight also means it doesn’t double as a handheld vacuum, but it does have a built-in flexible cleaning hose to clean tight spaces, upholstery and curtains.

More from Money:

The Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaners for Your Money

The Best Roomba Robot Vacuums and iRobot Mops for Your Money

The Absolute Best Vacuum Cleaners for Your Money