Stick vacuum cleaners or broom vacuum cleaners are long and narrow (like a 'stick', hence the name) upright vacuum cleaners. Due to their size and shape, they are light, very maneuverable, often can reach spaces other upright or canister vacuums can't. Due to their acceptable price, they are often used as second home vacuum cleaner for emergencies and by elderly people who lack strength for 'wrestling' with stronger, but heavier vacuum cleaners.
Updated: November 14. 2016.
Best Stick Vacuum
It is impossible to determine 'the best stick vacuum cleaner' since what is good for someone, doesn't have to be good at all for someone else.
Due to their size, stick vacuum cleaners have smaller dirt bags or dust bin, which can be problem if one plans to clean larger surface. Also, some models don't filter air properly or have filters that get dirty almost more often than their dustbins.
So, before buying any vacuum cleaner, read characteristics carefully but also read reviews and recommendations of people that already have model you are interested in.
Cordless Stick Vacuum
Cordless stick vacuums are battery operated vacuum cleaners - cordless vacuums. Their autonomy depends on the size and the capacity of battery packs. They are great as emergency vacuums since one doesn't have to bother with power cables and such things.
Capacity of the batteries are more than enough for smaller surfaces, but there are also models with relatively strong battery packs that are able to clean larger surfaces - often strong and durable enough to be used as the main vacuum cleaners in smaller homes and apartments.
Good thing is that battery packs are usually easily changed - charging time depends on the battery chemistry and can be even less than 20-30 minutes, although for some cheaper models this can be several hours. In most cases, even lithium ion batteries require at least 2-3 hours to be fully charged, after being fully discharged.
Suction power and air flow of cordless stick vacuum cleaners is not as good as in corded stick vacuum cleaners.
Corded Stick Vacuum
Corded stick vacuum cleaners are often much stronger than their cordless counterparts, have stronger airflow at larger air speed, but they are not necessarily bigger. To function, they need mains power and their mobility is thus decreased when compared with cordless stick or cordless handheld vacuum cleaners. On the other hand, they are easier to handle when compared with 'normal' upright or canister vacuum cleaners.
They can be great as second home vacuum cleaner or even as main home vacuum cleaner for people who don't or can't handle larger but heavier upright or canister vacuum cleaners - especially if high-end corded stick vacuum is used with different attachments for cleaning various surfaces (hard floors, carpets etc.) or various dirt (regular dirt, pet hair etc.)
Stick Vacuum Ratings
Understanding stick vacuum ratings is very important when purchasing new stick vacuum. There are many things to consider, but most often it is better to read other people opinions and recommendations than to understand all technicalities :)
Nonetheless, there are few things that can help and it is good to know:
- battery voltage (cordless vacuums) determine voltage of battery used in vacuum cleaner. The higher the voltage, smaller current required to achieve good suction - smaller current also means less heat dissipation and smaller losses in wires and in motor. It is very important to know that some manufacturers increase battery voltage, but decrease battery capacity which produces the same stored energy:
battery stored energy (Wh - watt hours)= battery voltage (V - volts) x battery capacity (Ah - ampere hours)
- battery chemistry determines type of battery. NiCd batteries can produce huge currents, but they suffer from memory effect, they contain cadmium (very poisonous), they don't last long as other batteries (NiMh, Lithium polymer etc.) and they are heavier when compared with newer types of batteries.
- length of power cord determines 'action radius' of corded stick vacuum cleaner - if you use it only as 'emergency' vacuum cleaner or for smaller surfaces and you have enough power outlet at home, than you can get by with stick vacuum cleaner with shorter power cord. However, just to be sure, try to get models which has at least 15 feet long power cord.
- suction pressure (measured in pascals, but often in various other units), air speed (in feet per second and/or in meters per second) and air volume (cubic feet per second/minute or cubic litters/meters per second/minutes) determine suction power of vacuum cleaner. When combined with nozzle width, it shows quality of vacuum cleaner as cleaning device - greater the suction pressure, air speed, air volume and nozzle width, better vacuum cleaner. Battery operated (cordless) stick vacuum cleaners often have small nozzle which requires less motor power in order to achieve same suction power - these are the tricks that vacuum cleaner's manufacturers often use, but honestly, there is also plenty of physics involved here :o)
- weight, height, width and length determine physical dimensions of stick vacuum cleaner - if you have need to reach narrow spaces, pay close attention both to the nozzle's physical dimensions and vacuum cleaner's dimensions, since it is the nozzle (with or without cleaning attachments) that must reach narrow spaces. Also, elderly people like stick vacuum cleaners since they are very light and easy to maneuver.
- operating noise is usually very low in stick vacuum cleaners, but generally, stronger the motor, larger the noise. Also, high(er)-end models are quitter even if they have stronger motors; battery operated vacuum cleaners are usually quitter than corded vacuums, due to their less strong motors. Anyway, stick vacuum cleaners are usually very quiet.
Best Stick Vacuum for Hardwood Floors
Stick vacuum cleaner suitable for hardwood floors usually don't need special attachments - suitable brush and enough suction power is all that is needed for getting hardwood floor cleaned.
Problem may occur when people want more than 'ordinary' cleaning - like doing hardwood polish and similar. Well, don't expect some 30-40$ stick vacuum cleaner to do the same job as few hundred dollars (euros) expensive upright or canister vacuum cleaner that comes with various attachments suitable for various surfaces and situations. And if you do need such expensive vacuum cleaner, choose wisely and you will soon realize that such expensive vacuum cleaner is not expensive at all. Should you give up on vacuum cleaners? No, just be aware that very often what you pay is what you get - great thing is that with competition, we get more and more for the same price :o)
Best Stick Vacuum for Pet Hair
Pet owners often have need for cleaning of various surfaces - pet hairs are relatively easily cleaned off hard surfaces, but from carpets and rugs can be much more difficult. In order to properly remove pet hair from such surfaces, vacuum cleaner needs to have some sort of rotating tool that pulls the hairs out of carper/rug and strong suction to remove hairs from such tool.
Tools for pet hairs usually come in the form of powered brushes - power can come from brush movement over the surface, from air flow turbine or from second motor.
Of course, having second motor is the best solution regarding performance, but second motor increase weight, power consumption, noise and price. If you really have problems with pet hair, be very careful about reviews of such tools - what is point in paying less for the tool that doesn't work? On the other hand, why pay more if cheaper tool can do the same job?
Long story short - stick vacuum cleaner often can do the job of the larger and more expensive vacuums. But in many circumstances, one simply needs more suction power and more versatile attachments that many stick (broom) vacuum cleaners simply don't have. Since they are cheap, price should not be the reason for not having one around - just in case ...