From Handhelds to Heavyweights

The Complete Buying Guide to Dyson Vacuums: Every Model Explained


June 5, 2019 Home By Photo by Chase Pellerin

There is nothing exciting about vacuuming except for the prospect of not having to vacuum for a while. Of course, there are some vacuums that get the job done faster, more efficiently and provide some added benefits in the process. James Dyson specializes in these vacuums.

Dyson started making vacuums in the ’80s and he became so proficient at it that he later earned a knighthood from the Queen of England. His innovations are numerous — bagless emptying, cyclonic suction, swiveling heads, fade-free batteries and more — but the number pales in comparison to the number of vacuums in the brand’s portfolio. Within the four greater categories — cordless, corded, handheld, canister — there are models and submodels of those models, not to mention a whole world of attachments. Words like “Animal,” “Torque Drive” and “Cinetic” pepper the marketing materials for each.

Don’t know where to start? We don’t blame you, which is precisely why we made this cheat sheet to all the Dyson vacuums you can buy.

Need to Knows

Attachments

The names of new Dyson vacuums are followed by an adjective, such as Motorhead, Animal, Absolute or, in the case of the new V11, Torque Drive. Each one denotes a different number of “extras” that come with the vacuum. These usually take the form of detachable heads for different uses, like a narrower head for cleaning stairs, a slimmer head for fitting in tight spaces and so on. In most cases, Motorhead models come with the fewest number of attachments, while the pricier Absolute models come with the most.

Runtimes

The runtimes listed Dyson’s cordless vacuums can be deceiving. The number you see is the maximum runtime, meaning it’s how long the vacuum will run on the lowest suction setting, which isn’t indicative of how people use vacuums. It’s safe to assume you will get 20 to 30 percent less runtime off a full battery than what’s listed, as you’ll be moving between high suction and low suction fairly often.

Pricing

As new vacuums come out and old vacuums get older, prices change. Dyson vacuums are also frequently on sale through major online retailers like Amazon, Ebay, Jet and Walmart. The takeaway: the prices listed in our guide are approximations and subject to change. One thing we do know: if you want the best value for a Dyson vacuum, go with an older generation model.

Manufacturer-Refurbished

If you ever find a suspiciously low price on a Dyson vac, it’s likely a refurb. Here’s what the company has to say about its refurb program: “Our refurbished machines have been thoroughly tested to meet like-new performance standards. Units may have some cosmetic blemishes that include scratches and/or other surface imperfections, that do not affect functionality.”

Cordless Stick Vacuums

Dyson V11

Available: Animal, Torque Drive
Max Battery Life: 60 minutes
Released: 2019

The brand’s latest vacuum continues down the path of more: more battery life, more suction, more space in the dustbin. In Auto mode, it’s able to adjust suction on the fly according to the surface you’re cleaning — high-pile rugs means more suction, hardwoods means less. The higher-tier model, called Torque Drive, has an LCD display on the handle that shows you exactly how much runtime the battery has left as well as any immediate maintenance requirements. Both features are firsts in the vacuuming world.

Dyson V10

Available: Motorhead, Animal, Absolute
Max Battery Life: 60 minutes
Released: 2018

The V10 marked a Rubicon-crossing moment for Dyson. Upon its release, the company declared it would no longer invest R&D into its classic upright vacuums, opting instead to push further into the world of cordless vacuums.

It was also the first of Dyson’s cordless catalog to feature the vertical dustbin, which allows you to eject vacuumed contents without putting your hands in dirt’s way. It comes with a standard fully sealed, washable, full-machine HEPA filtration system, too. Since its 2018 launch, the V10 has been passed by the V11 in every category but runtime, where both tools can operate for up to an hour in low suction mode. But a reduced price makes it a higher value buy a year later.

Dyson V8

Available: Motorhead, Animal, Absolute
Max Battery Life: 40 minutes
Released: 2016

The V8 represents the best balance of price and performance you’ll find in the Dyson catalog. It boasts plenty of suction and a full-machine, washable HEPA filter (this means you don’t have to replace the filter every few months), and it is frequently on sale. For an added layer of frugality, go for the manufacturer refurbished models, which come with a truncated warranty but are ensured by Dyson to perform up to the standards of its brand new equivalents.

Dyson V7

Available: Motorhead, Animal, Absolute
Max Battery Life: 30 minutes
Released: 2017

Billed as a more affordable V8, the V7 packs similar suction levels, the same dirt ejection system and much of the same shape. It does not, however, come with a washable HEPA filter. Like the V8 and other older Dyson models, it’s often the subject of significant markdowns on major ecommerce sites like Amazon, Ebay and Jet.

Dyson V6

Available: Motorhead, Animal, Absolute
Max Battery Life: 20 minutes
Released: 2015

The V6 was Dyson’s first serious attempt at a cordless vacuum that could rival upright, corded models. The V6 is almost always on sale and readily available as a manufacturer refurb, but its weak battery life can be problematic for owners who live in a big house or have tons of carpet. It features pre-motor HEPA filtration but the filter must be replaced every three to six months of consistent use.

Handheld Vacuums

Dyson V7 Handheld

Available: Trigger, Car + Boat
Max Battery Life: 30 minutes
Released: 2017

The newest Dyson handheld is smaller, lighter, more powerful and more energy-efficient than its predecessors. The Trigger model is the bare bones vacuum body with a small crevice, motorized and general use attachment head, while the Car + Boat comes with more attachment heads as well as car chargers.

Dyson V6 Handheld

Available: Baby + Child, Car + Boat, Mattress, Top Dog, Trigger
Max Battery Life: 20 minutes
Released: 2014

Though discontinued by Dyson, the V6 is still available on Amazon and Ebay. This model boasts fade-free battery control (meaning a low battery level won’t reduce suction) and a lightweight build. The only difference between the host of different models the V6 Handheld comes in is the type of suction heads, so check each to figure out which is best for you.

Upright Vacuums

Dyson Ball

The Ball, sometimes called the Ball Animal 2, is the highest suction vacuum Dyson produces across all categories. It comes with full-machine HEPA filtration standard (though you will have to clean the filters after a while), a small head attachment to clean stairs and an bonus attachment meant specifically for untangling hair from carpet or rug. This model is frequently on sale and available through the brand’s certified refurbishment program, both of which net you significant savings from the retail cost.

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball

The Cinetic separates itself from other Dyson uprights in a boring, but ultimately helpful, way: you don’t need to replace or wash the filters. Other allergen-eliminating vacuums — like the rest of Dyson’s offerings — typically require their filters be replaced every three to six months or require you to wash them by hand. Neither is ideal.

Dyson Multifloor Ball

You can probably guess how the Multifloor is different than the Cinetic or standard Ball models. The suction head of the vacuum raises and lowers according to the surface you’re cleaning — an especially handy feature for those with a mix of high-pile rugs and hardwood floors. It’s significantly lighter than other options in the category, but it packs the least suction of the bunch.

Canister Vacuums

Dyson Cinetic Big Ball

No bags, no filters that need replacing, no suction loss over time — the canister vacuum is for the person that has a lot of space that needs deep and consistent vacuuming. Think multiple large rugs and carpeted floors, not a New York City apartment. This model comes with a dustbin ejection system that doesn’t leave dirt all over your hands.

Dyson Big Ball Multifloor

Think the Cinetic canister vacuum, but with HEPA-certified filters that will need washing and eventual replacing over time. The Big Ball Multifloor functions at the same suction level as the Cinetic, weighs the same and is otherwise the same vacuum (apart from some minor aesthetic detailing).

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