If you need a stick vac for more than a quick clean-up, a corded stick vacuum could be your best bet. Their distinct advantage over cordless stick vacuums (which we cover elsewhere in this report) is that their cleaning time doesn't depend on battery run time.
When it comes to corded stick vacuums, the 7.5-pound Shark Rocket Ultralight (Est. $190) is universally praised by both experts and owners for its superior performance on a wide variety of surfaces -- hard floors, carpets and area rugs. It's also very versatile, converting to a handheld vacuum for cleaning above-the-floor areas, and with a full range of included accessories for other cleaning tasks.
There are several models in the Shark Rocket Ultralight line, each varies by the accessory package, and that package may vary by retailer. For that reason, we're not detailing these stick vacuums by model number, but the basic Ultralight will perform the same regardless of the included accessories.
In one professional test the Shark Rocket Ultralight is the highest rated corded stick vacuum, earning a score of Excellent for its performance on carpet and pet hair, and Very Good for hard floors, edges and noise -- scoring nearly as well as two pricier Dyson cordless models. Other experts give it more average ratings, but usually ding it for having a cord, saying that makes it a very good lightweight vacuum, but not a good stick vacuum. Still, even those testers say the Shark Ultralight performs very well on carpet for such a small vacuum.
Users love the Shark Rocket, giving it some of the highest ratings we saw for any stick vacuum. They say it has very powerful suction, good enough that many note that they don't have to use their larger upright vacuums any longer, and works very well on both carpets and hard floors. The light weight and extreme maneuverability that is the hallmark of the Shark brand of vacuum cleaners also earns much praise. The only quibble we saw was that, because the motor is located in the handle, some say it's too top-heavy and unwieldy, and, of course, some complain about the cord, which we discount since this is a corded vacuum. On the plus side, the cord is 27-feet long, which most users say is plenty for a good-sized cleaning job without having to unplug and re-plug too often.
Another well-rated corded vacuum is the Bissell PowerEdge 81L2T (Est. $50), which owners say is both affordable and powerful. With a unique V-shaped nozzle designed to pull debris towards the middle of the head where suction power is the strongest, it's effective at removing dust and debris from hard floor surfaces. The Bissell gets great reviews for pet hair pickup thanks to its rubber lips instead of brushes, which aid in removing pet hair from bare floors, but it doesn't work as well on carpet, many owners note. Still, pet owners and beach-dwellers who purchased the Bissell PowerEdge to control pet hair and sand on their hardwood floors are very satisfied. Like the Shark, the Bissell weighs 7.5 pounds.
The Bissell PowerEdge has a 20-foot power cord, which some owners say makes it necessary to relocate the cord several times in the midst of a larger cleaning job. It also doesn't have any attachments, like a crevice or upholstery tool. However, the V-shape of the nozzle creates two pointed ends on either side, which tuck easily into corners and crevices. Many say that is actually more convenient than dealing with switching attachments in and out.
If maneuverability is a priority and you don't mind spending a bit more money, the Hoover Corded Cyclonic Stick Vacuum (Est. $80) is another good option among corded stick vacuums. Like the Bissell PowerEdge, the Hoover Corded Cyclonic has a 20-foot power cord, though it's slightly heavier at 8.8-pounds. It also doesn't have attachments, and it lacks the Bissell's V-shaped nozzle. However, its swiveling handle makes it extremely maneuverable around furniture and chair legs and it reclines almost flat to reach under beds and other tight spaces. The handle folds down compactly for easy storage.
The Hoover has a powered brush roll for use on carpets. Owners say it performs pretty well compared to some stick vacuums on carpeted floors, especially on low-pile carpets and area rugs.
If you're looking for the most basic corded stick vacuum for quick pick-ups and cord length isn't an issue, you may want to consider the ultra-lightweight Eureka Easy Clean 2-in-1 (Est. $35). Its power cord is only 15-foot long, but the vacuum is also super light at 4.4 pounds and converts to a hand vac by removing the handle. This stick vacuum is has been around for a while, and it has proven its durability through the test of time. In fact, many users say they've owned the Easy Clean 2-in-1 stick vacuum for years and have experienced no problems.
The Eureka Easy Clean works well on bare floors, low-pile carpets and area rugs, and it's a decent performer for picking up pet hair, as well, reviewers say. The Easy Clean has a washable filter that rarely needs replacing if it's cleaned regularly -- most owners suggest doing so after each use for the longest life span.
Owners give the Eureka Easy Clean very high ratings in hundreds of reviews, saying it excels at keeping hard floors clean and helping them to control pet hair. The only complaints we saw were that the power cord is short -- and many deal with that by using an extension cord -- and that the vacuum itself is kind of short for taller users.
Another basic, very inexpensive stick vacuum is the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik (Est. $20). It weighs just 3.8 pounds and has a slightly longer, 16-foot power cord that many owners say is fine for most of their small cleanups. Like the Eureka Easy Clean, remove the handle and the Simpli-Stik converts to a hand vac for above-the-floor cleaning duties such as removing crumbs from furniture. It also has a washable filter.
Reviews are mixed. In one comparison test of 10 stick vacuums conducted by a consumer testing organization, the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik lands at the bottom of the pack overall. It earns just fair scores for its ability to clean carpets and bare floors, as well as its edge-cleaning and pet-hair-removal capabilities. However, owners give it pretty great feedback, praising its ease-of-use for small jobs, especially in small apartments or dorm rooms. Most say it's very effective if you have the right expectations, noting that it's a cheap stick vacuum and is not for heavy cleaning.
With similar cord lengths and the ability to convert to a hand vacuum, the major differences between the Eureka Easy Clean and the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik are performance and durability. For about $10 to $15 more, opting for the Eureka offers proven reliability, better edge- and floor-cleaning capabilities, and better pet hair removal. That said, if you're looking for the most basic stick vac for a small space, the Dirt Devil Simpli-Stik might be adequate for your needs and the price for its features can't be beat.
Elsewhere in this report: