How many US households can you think of that do not have a vacuum? I would venture to guess those that regularly hire a maid may not have one. At the other end of the spectrum are those who may not have access to reliable power. Which, we would consider is true for ourselves when boondocking. The need for power, quickly made us realize our household vacuum was not ideal for the RV lifestyle. Our research began to find the best cordless vacuum, enabling us to leave behind our old faithful corded Hoover and prepare for maybe a Shark vacuum.
Like most of us, you probably grew up in a house where your Mom cleaned the entire home every weekend. Maybe she even had to clean up during the week after you, your siblings or pets. Vacuuming Cheerios, fuzzy bits scatter all over the house from a dog chew toy, or the cat shredded the toilet paper roll, again. I won’t get into the grass clippings that Dad brought in after mowing the lawn. As you can see, we demand a lot from the sucking apparatus that gets little to no recognition.
In our sticks-and-bricks house, we had: a regular Hoover vacuum, Dirt Devil handheld, Shop-vac, and upright Bissell carpet cleaner. I’ll admit that it was rare these cleaning items would get used on a weekly basis. So why did the appliances suck up over $800 but were not being used to suck up the dirt? I wish I had the answer to that.
What I do know is that living in an RV, space is considerably smaller than that of a traditional house. This means the dirt, sand, leaves, pet hair and really, everything is ground into the carpet quicker. It’s as if the dirt is alive and looking for a way to cross the threshold. So with all the crud being dragged inside the RV every day, we needed a vacuum solution.
Living in an RV we need to be conscious of the following:
- The limited storage space for tall items.
- Keeping the weight of items in mind, so we are not over our max carrying capacity.
- Power usage when boondocking. Meaning we are not on 30amp or 50amp campsite power.
- The need for deep carpet cleaning, since we will drag in the entire campsite with our shoes.
Ideal Vacuum Qualities
Quickly we realized that when it came to our need of powering the vac, a long-lasting battery option would be ideal. That narrowed down our search considerably. We were now faced with a small selection of handhelds and stick vacuum options.
The next consideration would be the size of the vacuum. We have two closets that are tall and one of those will be used for a washer/dryer in the future. So a long stick vac was not the best option unless it could come apart. And there was no way I would be on my hands and knees vacuuming the entire RV with a handheld Dirt Devil, making a stick vac the best choice.
Since the options were extremely limited, we did not have the luxury of ruling any out because of weight. So instead, we could rule a few out based on their effectiveness and battery life.
When shopping around for Cordless Stick Vacuums, we found the stick vacs were being labeled as “Canister Vacuum” and “Cordless Vacuum” in different stores. However, not all stick vacs are cordless. Just like not all canister vacs are compact, which is a trait of the stick vacuum.
Another thing we noticed is that the smaller the vacuum appeared to be, the larger the price label. Price tags were ranging from a mere $75 to well over $600. But how effective would a $75 vac be? Would a $600 vac be worth it? How long does the battery last? How much space do they take up? And how long will they last?! Read further to find out all this and more in our comprehensive dive into choosing a stick vacuum.
After reading Consumer Reports and other blogs we found over and over again two brands that were always on the list of ‘the best’ cordless stick vacuum. So we did what any good shopper would, we hit YouTube to see videos of specific models in action. Why should we pay several hundred dollars on a product that we have never seen in use? We wouldn’t. Just like we would not buy that particular brand on a gut feeling, because it is on sale that day or it has a nice box.
A cheap article of clothing is one thing, but at $300 vacuum is another.
The models we kept seeing for 2018/2019 that claim to be the best cordless stick vacuums are the Shark ION Flex Line (IF) and Dyson V series (V8 through V11). To make things a little more confusing, each of the “V” models have sub-models. For example, the V10 comes in: Animal, Absolute, and Motorhead. Through more research than I cared to have performed, I found out that the only difference is the number of onboard tools it comes with. The Absolute is as the name reflects, it has everything. The Motorhead comes with the least amount of options. As always, the price is different on each because of the number of accessories for that unit.
Dyson vs Shark Vacuum
Through tons of videos, blogs, customer comments, and reading the manufacture websites we found a few other key pieces of information to share with you. Because the Dyson Cordless Vacuum line has so many variations, we simply can not go into that much detail to cover well over 30 models. Rather, the following comparison will be based on the Shark IONFlex IF201 and Dyson V8 Motorhead. Both of which we thoroughly researched as our top two considerations in the Fall of 2018.
|SHARK IF201||DYSON V8|
|10 min – max power |
20 min – Extended Run (carpet)
|10min – max suction|
25-30m – brush head
40 min – crevice tool
|CANISTER CAPACITY||0.3 dry quarts||0.56 dry quarts|
|VACUUM HEAD||Double Roller||Soft Roller Head|
Direct Drive Head
|STORAGE||Folds in half |
(or it will fall over)
|Wall docking station|
|CHARGER||Single battery charger|
|Part of the wall |
Dyson Vacuum Battery
On average the Dyson V-series lithium battery, per their website, is said to last 500 cycles before it begins to lose its full power. So if you vacuum once a week, you can expect the cordless wonder to last a little over 9-years. A nice feature of this vac is that once you place it on the charger, it will fully charge and then turn itself into a safe mode to preserve the battery.
At this point the replacement battery cost is hovering around $50 to $100, depending on the model. As of this blog (Aug-2019), the V8 battery was running $61 at a local Walmart. We do not suggest buying off-brand batteries and it may void your warranty. Click HERE for the current price at Dyson.
Shark Vacuum Battery
I would love to show you the information on the battery life expectancy but the Shark website does not provide that information. We have no way of knowing how many cycles the battery can do before a full charge is lost. However, they do offer a 2-year limited battery warranty. With the word ‘limited’ in there, you may want to read the fine print before hinging your ultimate decision on this warranty.
As for the replacement batteries they are ranging from $80-$150 depending on the model. The IF201 replacement battery is priced at $86 as of our blog (Aug-2019) from a local Walmart. This is where performing researching now may help keep money in your wallet later. Click HERE for the current price from Shark.
Best for RV
In the Fall of 2018, our search for the perfect cordless vacuum had been narrowed down to the Shark Vacuum IF201 (ION Flex) and Dyson V8. Like most RVs, our 5th wheel is a mixture of carpet and linoleum. Making the ideal stick vac for RV living one that can effectively perform a dual role. Both the Dyson and Shark Cordless Vacuum, from all the videos we watched, perform fairly equal on cleaning these two surfaces. So we feel that either would serve you well, but here are a few more comparisons to help you decide:
Where we found the Dyson to shine is:
- Longer lasting battery – we could easily deep clean the 37’ 5th wheel.
- Weighs less – great from the RV weight perspective as well as reaching up to clean the ceiling fan and AC vents.
- Wall docking station – the vac could have a home mounted inside the closet, and the wall mount will charge the unit. No need for an extra cord or battery station for us to lose.
- More Dirt – the canister capacity was almost twice the size. Not having to dump the cup more than necessary was only a bonus in our eyes.
The Shark Vacuum has some pros and cons:
- Run Time – was not as much as the Dyson, but it should be enough time to clean the RV.
- Vacuum Head – both the soft roller and brush roller were built into the one vacuum head. There is no need to switch out for a different head to go from hardwood to carpet.
- Folding – the whole vacuum will fold in half for storage. However, we do not have a closet big enough to accommodate the bulky unit. We would have to purchase some sort of wall mount.
By now you should have guessed we purchased the Dyson V8 Motorhead, which we paid full price for at a local hardware store. We chose the Motorhead version since it came with a limited amount of hand tools (crevice tool, edge cleaner, and extension wand) along with the standard direct drive (brush) head. The wall mounting unit also holds the extra attachments and charges the cordless vacuum. This setup is perfect to mount inside our closet that has a power outlet.
Now, the Dyson V8 Absolute Cordless Vacuum comes with everything they offer as far as accessories. Doing so would have given us the ‘fluffy’ head that we wanted for the kitchen floor. However, since you can order any tool from Dyson separate, we decided we could get it later if we felt it was necessary. We also did not feel the need for the rest of the attachments in the Absolute package.
So why the V8 over the V9 or V10? Price. Plain and simple. We did not see a huge advancement in the great technology Dyson already has, in the newer models with higher price tags. The whole unit filtration is said to trap the allergens inside and blow out clean filtered air (read more HERE). The allergy filtration system is among the best in the vacuum realm. And as an avid allergy sufferer, I wanted to give it a try. As far as the filter, it is hand washable. I do not have to worry about finding and buying replacement filters when traveling.
As of this blog post, there are new Shark ION’s available that were not out yet when we bought our Dyson V8 less than 8 months ago. A lot has changed within the Shark line. Including a longer run time, provided you use two batteries compared to just one of the Dyson’s.
We look forward to your comments below on what cordless vacuum you use at home or in your RV and why. Maybe we over thought this purchase and a $75 battery operated vac would have worked just as well as these $300 units.
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