Cordless stick vacuums can be easily moved from room to room for ongoing cleaning without the need to relocate the plug. That said, cordless stick vacs rely solely on battery power -- and when the battery dies, it usually takes hours to recharge. Unless you've purchased a backup battery, you could find yourself stuck waiting midway through a larger cleaning job. The downside here is that replacement batteries are sometimes expensive and add to the overall cost of stick vac ownership.
Our best-reviewed pick, the Hoover Platinum Collection Linx Cordless Stick Vacuum BH50010 (Est. $160) is a strong performer and reasonably priced among cordless stick vacs. It works well on both carpeting and hard flooring, and it has a battery life of about 20 to 30 minutes on a single charge. Most cordless stick vacs average about 15 minutes of run-time. Owners say you'll be surprised how much quicker you can clean when you're not navigating around a power cord.
Not only does the Linx work well on different floors, but you can easily navigate between floor types with a brush roll switch on the handle that's easy to flip on and off -- simply turn the brush roll off when you're on a hard surface to avoid the spinning brushes sending debris flying instead of sucking it up. The Hoover Linx uses a Lithium-ion battery that won't cause a loss in suction power even on a low battery -- it runs at full strength until it's completely drained.
The Linx doesn't come with any attachments, such as a crevice tool, but the special edge-cleaning bristles on the powered brush roll eliminate this need. If you need a stick vac with a little more versatility and don't mind spending more for additional features, the Dyson DC35 Digital Slim Cordless Vacuum Cleaner ($330) is a good alternative. It includes both a crevice and combination tool, along with a detachable wand that's useful for cleaning the top of curtains and other hard-to-reach areas that the Linx's nozzle just can't accomplish.
The trade-off is you'll get the typical 15-minute run-time common to most stick vacs if you opt for the Dyson DC35, but it's also uses a Lithium-ion battery so it boasts the same no-fade suction power as the Linx. On its maximum "boost" setting, you'll get just six minutes of run-time on average. It weighs less than 5 pounds compared to the Hoover Linx's 7.3 pounds, and its cleaning head articulates 180 degrees for added maneuverability.
The biggest downside to the Dyson DC35 is that its power switch doesn't simply switch on and stay on -- users must hold the switch in to maintain power during use. Some owners say this is actually a benefit that saves battery power if you're moving from room to room, but others say it's inconvenient and causes hand cramps after just a few minutes.
If the DC35's price doesn't bother you and you like the added features, you can get more run-time by spending about $70 more for the Dyson DC44 Animal (Est. $400) . The DC44 offers about 20 minutes of run-time per charge, or about eight minutes on the boost setting. It also includes a mini motorized tool, which makes it easy to suck up pet hair from multiple surfaces.
Both Dysons use a lifetime pre-filter and the Hoover stick vac uses cyclonic filtration technology, all of which remove allergens from the air.
In the middle of the DC35's and DC44's price points falls the G-Tech AirRam (Est. $350) It also has a slim design, but lacks the versatility of the Dyson models, as it doesn't double as a hand vac or include tools for crevice or baseboard cleaning. That said, the AirRam boasts between 40 minutes to an hour of run-time on a single charge, and it's energy efficient. In fact, a review at GadgetReview.com says the AirRam will actually pay for itself in energy savings over the course of about five years of typical use.
The AirRam has a low, 3-inch profile, so it fits under most furniture -- though, you'll still need another tool for reaching those tough-to-access areas. It has a double filtration system that prevents dust and debris from clogging the motor, which is especially important considering the dust collection tray is located in this stick vac's cleaning head. This design is meant to trap dust and debris immediately upon entry, compacting it into small "bricks" that are easy to dispose of. It is easy to empty the dust tray, reviewers say, but it's not quite as mess-free as G-Tech's original claims.
If versatility is your top priority and you can afford to spend more than twice as much, the Dyson DC35 offers more flexible cleaning options than the Linx. For maximum power and energy efficiency, a few more dollars will get you the G-Tech AirRam. But if you have larger areas to clean and mostly just need to navigate between carpet and hard floors, the Linx is a more-affordable option that performs equally well in terms of suction and pet hair removal.
Not everyone wants to spend more than $100 on a simple stick vacuum. If your needs are basic, there are a few budget-priced cordless stick vacs that also perform well. Our best-reviewed pick for budget cordless stick vacuum, the Eureka Quick Up 2-in-1 Cordless, 96H (Est. $50) is less than one-third the price of the top-rated Hoover Platinum Collection Linx, and it gets favorable reviews for its suction power and cleaning ability.
The Quick Up isn't the best option for carpeting, but it's great for bare floors and pet hair. Like the DC35, it offers about 15 minutes of run-time per charge -- and it takes 14 to 16 hours to re-charge the battery. The pricier DC35, on the other hand, takes only about 3.5 hours to recharge fully. The Quick Up also converts to a hand vac by simply detaching the handle.
Several owners say the Quick Up is so useful, effective and affordable that they've purchased several units to keep in convenient locations throughout their homes. "It is well designed and perfect for picking up the small stuff when you do not need to haul out the big vacuum. It is very maneuverable, nice quality and easily spot-vacuums our entire home several times on one charge," says one owner posting feedback to Amazon.com.
Another simple option is the Dirt Devil Accucharge BD20035RED ($80) . Unlike the Quick Up, it doesn't convert to a hand vac for added cleaning functionality. It costs a bit more upfront, but it does have some features that set it apart from other cordless stick vacs. First, it uses smart-charging technology that detects when the battery is fully charged when docked and cuts the power flow to a trickle to simply maintain the charge. This avoids "over-cooking" the battery from frequent over-charging, as many users tend to store the battery on its charger, which can damage the battery and shorten its useable life.
The Dirt Devil Accucharge requires about 70 percent less energy to charge, thanks to its Accucharge technology -- it never uses more than the battery actually needs. In professional testing, the Accucharge earns very good scores for bare-floor and edge-cleaning capabilities, but lower scores for pet hair pickup. It also won't pick up larger debris -- but this is a common complaint for most stick vacs. It's easy to maneuver, although its full-body versus nozzle-swivel feature takes some getting used to. "The entire vacuum body, not just the head, swivels, but once you get used to the movement you'll appreciate how well it maneuvers around furniture," explains Brittany Rowland, who reviews this stick vac at 10Rate.com.
Both the Accucharge and the Quick Up are affordable cordless vacs, so it comes down to performance and energy efficiency. If energy savings is important to you, the extra money for the Accucharge will be worth it. On the other hand, if you have multiple types of floor surfaces, the Accucharge may disappoint, making the Quick Up the better bet.