Cordless vacuum cleaners as power source have onboard batteries of various types and sizes. Such vacuums have great autonomy since they don't depend on mains power for operation, however, their operation time, air flow, mechanical cleaning tools and suction strength is limited because of the limited amount of energy stored in the batteries.
Cordless vacuum cleaners come in various forms and types:
- cordless backpack vacuum cleaners can cover large area and are very maneuverable. Such backpacks easily move from room to room, not requiring mains outlets. They are mostly used in hotels, business buildings, but also airplanes, ships and similar areas where standard mains outlets are not always available and/or don't have required power. For more about backpack, feel free to check Backpack Vacuum Cleaners article.
- cordless handheld vacuum cleaners are small vacuums that are commonly used as second or even third vacuum cleaner in the homes. They are often used as 'emergency' vacuums for cleaning spilled foods, liquids and other similar debris in homes, offices, cars, boats and similar areas. Their operation time is often limited, while suction strength is kept high, but with small nozzle surface area. Such vacuums are often stored on their docking stations that are also used for charging the batteries. Due to small size, capacity of dirt bins is usually small, but since they are cleaned after each use (highly recommended) low capacity of dirt bins is not an issue. For more about handhelds, feel free to check Handheld Vacuum Cleaners article.
- cordless stick vacuum cleaners are excellent choice as first/main vacuum cleaner in small homes and apartments, especially high-end models. They can clean various surfaces due to many cleaning attachments. Since they are lightweight, they are easily operated by kids and elderly people. They also have good suction, decent dirt bin capacity, often HEPA grade air filtration etc. Of course, to power such cordless vacuums, strong, lightweight, but expensive lithium batteries are used. All these features cost, so such vacuums cost more than small handheld vacuums. For more about stick vacuums, feel free to check Stick Vacuum Cleaners article.
- robot vacuum cleaners are special category of cordless vacuum cleaners that operate in full or almost full automatic mode. They are great for areas with no obstacles like furniture, stairs and similar. Their cleaning capabilities and list of features are increasing with every new model, but they can be very costly. For more about robotic vacuums, feel free to check Robotic Vacuum Cleaners article.
There are also other cordless vacuums that don't fall strictly into any of the given categories, but are versatile and do their job well - most of such vacuums are so-called '2-in-1' or 'all-in-1' models. They usually cost little bit more than ordinary cordless vacuums, but their features more than justify their higher initial costs.
For example, some stick models are in fact small cordless vacuums with addition of a 'stick' - 'stick' containing cleaning head with various attachment options and a handle with switches needed for operation as a stick vacuum. Small cordless section can be used as 'emergency' vacuums when required and when combined with a 'stick', they can be used as ordinary cordless stick vacuums.
Quality of exhaust filtration depends on the price - most cordless models have simple mechanical, washable filters between dirt bins and electric motors. Some high-end models combine cyclonic air-particle separation and HEPA filters providing clean exhaust air - very important for people with allergies and similar health issues. As with everything in file, such performances influence the price of such cordless vacuums.
Onboard battery provide energy required for cordless vacuum operation. Their capacity limit operating time and power of vacuum cleaner, but also the price and weight.
Most common battery types are:
- lead acid batteries are used in older cordless vacuum cleaners or where weight is not so important. They are very cheap, can withstand high discharging currents, but are heavy - the models have capacity in the 35-40 Wh/kg, that drops significantly when discharged with higher currents, even deep cycle lead acid batteries. Not environment friendly technology.
- nickel cadmium (NiCd) batteries have higher relative capacities than lead acid batteries and can withstand high discharge currents. They don't lose capacity as much as lead acid batteries when being discharged with higher currents and are relatively cheap. However, due to memory effect, cadmium present and other issues, they are being more and more replaced with NiMH batteries.
- nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries are environmental friendly batteries that have capacities up to a 130 Wh/kg (or even more). High discharge models easily produce 80 or more Wh/kg. Their memory effect and self discharge issues are not so problematic as with NiCd batteries and are much more environment friendly.
- lithium batteries produce up to, or even more than 200 Wh/kg, with high discharge models producing 120-150 Wh/kg. Such performances come with a nice price tag that influence the price of the cordless vacuums.
For more about batteries used in cordless vacuums, feel free to check Vacuum Cleaner Battery Types article.
How to Choose the Best Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
It all comes down to individual preferences and requirements and the price we are willing to pay for such vacuum cleaner.
For example, Dyson V6 Absolute Cordless Vacuum Cleaner is great, versatile, high-end cordless vacuum, but if somebody needs something smaller and cheaper, with good air filtration, then Black & Decker CHV1510 Dustbuster 15.6-Volt Cordless Cyclonic Hand Vacuum is a great option.
Such comparisons are endless - IMHO define the budget you want to spend on cordless vacuum and buy the best one in the class. And the 'best' doesn't always mean 'the most expensive' - on contrary. Be sure to read our reviews and recommendations, but also reviews and recommendations from other people and think twice if that is what you actually need before buying.
For a list of our reviews and recommendations of cordless vacuum cleaners and other related articles, please check 'Related Articles' below.