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BISSELL PowerForce Helix Vacuum Review

Tested using Methodology v1.1
Updated Feb 16, 2022 at 02:35 pm
BISSELL PowerForce Helix Picture
6.8
Bare Floor
7.7
Low-Pile Carpet
7.3
High-Pile Carpet
6.8
Pets
5.7
Stairs
6.2
Cars
4.5
Workshop
Vacuum Type
Upright
Bagless
Yes
Cordless
No
Anti-Allergy Filter (HEPA)
No
Wet Compatible
No

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a budget-friendly upright vacuum with a bagless design. What is unique for a vacuum in this price bracket is its five-level head height adjustment feature. It also delivers excellent performance on both low and high-pile carpet. However, it doesn't have a rotating head, so it can be hard to maneuver around tight spots, and its range is disappointingly short. It also feels cheaply built.

Our Verdict

6.8 Bare Floor

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix 2191 is an okay option for bare floors. While it can pick up pet hair without a problem, it tends to push around small and bulky debris rather than suck them up. Since it doesn't have a rotating floorhead, it can also be hard to maneuver in tight spaces. You also need to ensure that its brushroll height is set to a sufficient height when cleaning bare floors if you want to avoid scratching delicate surfaces since there's no dedicated brushroll off switch. It also feels fragile in places and has several parts that need regular cleaning. On the upside, its bagless design incurs minimal recurring costs.

Pros
  • Easily picks up pet hair on all surface types.
  • Low recurring costs.
  • Good-sized dirt compartment.
  • Fairly long power cord.
Cons
  • Pushes around small and large debris.
  • No rotating floorhead.
  • Cheap build quality.
  • No brushroll on/off switch.
7.7 Low-Pile Carpet

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix 2191 is good for low-pile carpet. It has little trouble picking up pet hair and most fine and large debris. However, it has disappointing maneuverability, and despite its five-level brushroll height adjustment, it can still drag around some lighter rugs. It also feels cheaply built and has many parts that need regular cleaning.

Pros
  • Easily picks up pet hair on all surface types.
  • Picks up most small and large debris.
  • Low recurring costs.
  • Good-sized dirt compartment.
  • Fairly long power cord.
Cons
  • No rotating floorhead.
  • Cheap build quality.
  • No brushroll on/off switch.
7.3 High-Pile Carpet

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix is good for high-pile carpet. It can easily deal with pet hair and clears a relatively impressive amount of large and fine debris, thanks in part to its five-level brushroll height adjustment function. However, build quality is mediocre, and several parts need periodic cleaning. Since its floorhead doesn't pivot, it can also be hard to maneuver in tight areas.

Pros
  • Easily picks up pet hair on all surface types.
  • Picks up most small and large debris.
  • Low recurring costs.
  • Good-sized dirt compartment.
  • Fairly long power cord.
Cons
  • No rotating floorhead.
  • Cheap build quality.
  • No brushroll on/off switch.
6.8 Pets

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix is excellent for picking up pet hair. It can easily deal with this kind of debris on everything from bare floors to low and high-pile carpet. However, there's no onboard HEPA filter to trap allergens as you clean. It has a plasticky build quality, and several parts need regular maintenance. It isn't very maneuverable, making it hard to clear pet hair under tables or chairs. You can easily remove its brushroll to clear tangled hair.

Pros
  • Easily picks up pet hair on all surface types.
  • Low recurring costs.
  • Removable brushroll.
Cons
  • Cheap build quality.
  • No HEPA filter.
5.7 Stairs

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix is sub-par for vacuuming stairs. While it's lightweight and has a built-in handle to make it easier to carry, it has a very short vacuum hose, making it hard to clean stairs when using it in its semi-handheld configuration. The vacuum can also easily tip over if you aren't holding it upright, and it feels very cheaply built. That said, it still performs very well on carpets and does a decent job of dealing with debris on bare floors.

Pros
  • Low recurring costs.
  • Fairly long power cord.
Cons
  • Short vacuum hose.
  • Cheap build quality.
6.2 Cars

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix is an upright vacuum, and it isn't for cleaning your car.

  • 6.8 Bare Floor
  • 7.7 Low-Pile Carpet
  • 7.3 High-Pile Carpet
  • 6.8 Pets
  • 5.7 Stairs
  • 6.2 Cars
  • 4.5 Workshop
  1. Updated Sep 06, 2022: This vacuum's suction force has been retested with a more accurate manometer. The test results for the 'Maximum Suction' and 'Normal Suction' fields have been updated. All relevant scores and text have been updated.
  2. Updated Jul 29, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 1.1.
  3. Updated Mar 18, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  4. Updated Feb 16, 2022: Updated review for accuracy and clarity.
  5. Updated Aug 26, 2020: Review published.
  6. Updated Aug 20, 2020: Early access published.

Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
6.0
Design
Build Quality

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix has mediocre build quality. Its mainly hard plastic construction flexes and creaks while in use and has a couple of obvious weak points, like its floorhead wheels, brushroll cover, and dirt compartment.

Out-of-the-box assembly isn't too difficult, though you do still need to attach the handle to the vacuum's body with two screws.

5.5
Design
User Maintenance

This vacuum is fairly easy to maintain.

  • Dirt compartment/Cyclone: The dirt compartment can be easily clipped or unclipped from the vacuum. The cyclone is attached to its top cover, and you can twist it free of its housing, though you can also access it from the bottom of the dirt compartment. The dirt compartment needs regular emptying. You need to clean the cyclone with warm water and a mild detergent if necessary, though the manufacturer doesn't give a specific maintenance interval.
  • Brushroll: You can access the brushroll by removing six Phillips screws and then the brushroll plate. You can then clear tangled hair by hand or cut it away with a pair of scissors. You can also remove the brushroll belt if you want to check for damage or to see if it's been stretched out.
  • Pre-motor filter: The foam filter is located in the dirt compartment's top cover. You have to wash it with warm water when necessary.
You must air-dry any part that's washed with water for 24 hours before putting it back into the vacuum.

7.5
Design
Recurring Cost
Bag Part Number No bag
Filter Part Number 1608225
HEPA Filter Part Number No HEPA Filter

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix Bagless incurs low recurring costs.

  • Pre-motor filter: This part needs to be replaced every six to eight months, depending on your usage and maintenance habits. A Febreze-scented variant of this filter is also available.

7.1
Design
Storing
Height
43.50" (110.5 cm)
Width
13.39" (34.0 cm)
Depth
14.76" (37.5 cm)
Cord Storing
Manual
On-Board Tool Storage
Yes
Vacuum Rack/Station
No

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is decently easy to store. While it takes up a bit of space, you can store its tools directly on the vacuum's body.

8.0
Design
Dirt Compartment
Volume
0.40 gal (1.50 L)
Full Indicator
Yes
Bag Included
No Bag Needed

The BISSELL 2191 has a good-sized dirt compartment. It's clear plastic, and there's also a line to indicate when it's full, though it's worth noting that it feels a little flimsy. Although it's advertised as holding up to 1L of debris, its actual measured capacity is closer to 1.5L.

Design
In The Box

  • BISSELL PowerForce Helix
  • Vacuum handle
  • Dirt compartment
  • Inner cyclone
  • Crevice tool
  • Extension wand
  • Soft bristle brush
  • Turbo brush
  • Lower cord wrap
  • Filter cover
  • Pre-motor filter (foam)
  • User guide

6.1
Design
Range
Cord Length
22.97 ft (7.0 m)
Hose Length
3.48 ft (1.06 m)
Minimum Wand Length
1.25 ft (0.38 m)
Maximum Wand Length
2.92 ft (0.89 m)
Total Range
25.89 ft (7.89 m)

This vacuum has a disappointing range. While the power cord is fairly long, its hose is very short, even when stretched out.

8.0
Design
Portability
Total Weight
10.36 lbs (4.70 kg)
Weight In Hand
1.63 lbs (0.74 kg)
Carrying handle
Yes

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix has great portability. It's lighter than alternatives like the BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet, and it has a built-in carrying handle, which makes transporting from room to room even easier.

0
Design
Battery
Minimum Battery Life
N/A
Maximum Battery Life
N/A
Recharge Time
N/A
Recharge Dock
No
Battery Life Indicator
No
Removable Batteries
No
Design
Quality Of Life Features
Rotating Head
No
Power Adjustment
No
Self-Propelled
No
Headlights
No
Easy On/Off
Yes
Head Surface Type Adjustment
Manual

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix has a few quality-of-life features. There's an on/off switch at the bottom of the vacuum as well as a body/head release latch so you can place the head in a more convenient position. There's also a five-level surface-type adjustment dial on the floorhead. These surface settings range from 'I', best suited for bare floors and low pile carpet, to 'IIIII', intended for very dense high-pile carpet. You can easily adjust the dial if you're having a hard time pushing the vacuum.

Note: The brushroll keeps spinning, even when the vacuum is upright, and it can damage your floors if you don't raise it.

Design
Tools And Brushes
Brushroll
Yes
Brushroll On/Off
No
Removable Brushroll
Yes
Turbo Brush
No
Crevice Tool
Yes
Upholstery Tool
No
Soft Bristle Brush
Yes
Hard Bristle Brush
No
Extension Wand
Yes
Ceiling Fan Tool
No
Pet Grooming Tool
No

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix comes with a couple of extra tools to help you clean more effectively. You can store the crevice tool inside the extension wand, and there's also a soft-bristle brush for cleaning more delicate objects like lampshades.

Design
Alternative Configuration
Blower Mode
No

You can clean hard-to-reach areas using the vacuum's hose in its semi-handheld configuration.

Performance
6.8
Performance
Bare Floor Performance (Hardwood, Laminate, Tiles)
Setting Used Dial Setting "bare floor I"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 87%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 87%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 87%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 88%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 88%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 88%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 89%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 89%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is decent on bare floors. It can pick up all pet hair and most small debris like rice. However, since the vacuum's brushroll is always spinning, it can send debris scattering everywhere, especially bulkier material like cereal, so it might take you a couple of extra passes to fully clean a mess. If you want an upright vacuum that performs better on this surface type, consider the Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind.

8.8
Performance
Low-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used Dial Setting "bare floor I"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 86%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 93%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 92%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 91%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 89%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is excellent on low-pile carpet. It can easily clear all pet hair. It can also suck up fine debris like baking soda and larger material like sand with relative ease. Suction performance remains consistent as its dustbin fills up, which is good if you have several large messes to deal with and don't feel like emptying the dustbin frequently.

8.0
Performance
High-Pile Carpet Performance
Setting Used Dial Setting "III"
Large Debris at 0 gal (0L) 63%
Large Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 63%
Large Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 63%
Large Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 63%
Large Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Large Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A
Small Debris at 0 gal (0L) 76%
Small Debris at 0.07 gal (0.25L) 75%
Small Debris at 0.2 gal (0.75L) 71%
Small Debris at 0.4 gal (1.5L) 65%
Small Debris at 0.8 gal (3L) N/A
Small Debris at 1.6 gal (6L) N/A

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is great on high-pile carpet. It easily picks up pet hair, and while it struggles a little more with fine and large material compared to how it performs on low-pile carpet, its performance in this regard is still very good.

Note: This vacuum was tested with its floorhead set to the 'III' brushroll height level. You may need to change this setting when cleaning even higher-pile carpet.

10
Performance
Pet Hair Floor Performance
Bare Floor
100%
Low-Pile Carpet
100%
High-Pile Carpet
99%
3.3
Performance
Suction
Maximum Suction
1.0 inH₂O (0.24 kPa)
Setting Used For Maximum Dial Setting "bare floor I"
Normal Suction
1.0 inH₂O (0.24 kPa)
Setting Used For Normal Dial Setting "bare floor I"
Hose Diameter
1.4" (3.5 cm)
7.4
Performance
Noise
Bare Floor
81.5 dBA
Low-Pile Carpet
78.6 dBA
5.5
Performance
Maneuverability

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix 2191 has sub-par maneuverability. Since it doesn't have a rotating head like the Kenmore Intuition Bagged, you need to make larger motions to navigate obstacles. It can be difficult to get underneath tables or chairs due to its bulky dirt compartment. While it's easier to clean furniture if you're cleaning with the hose, the vacuum can still tip over or have its brushroll catch on carpets and rugs. Unlike the Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged, which has a brushroll you can turn on and off, rug tassels can get stuck in BISSELL's brushroll, forcing you to turn the vacuum off to clear the obstruction.

The vacuum's brushroll continuously spins when upright. The head has to be placed in a higher setting to avoid damaging bare floors, like hardwood or vinyl. Changing the head levels can be a little inconvenient as you need to crouch to reach the dial.

7.0
Performance
Pet Hair Furniture Performance
Sofa Pickup Post Test
Performance
Air Quality
5.0
Performance
Cracks
Wood Cracks Post Test
1.0
Performance
Stains
Stain Pickup Post Test
0
Performance
Water
Water Pickup Post Test
Automation
0
Automation
Physical Automation
Automatic Recharging
No
Automatic Bag Emptying
No
Pathing Algorithm
No Pathing Algorithm
Physical Boundary Markers
No
Scheduled Start Buttons
No
Cycle Control Buttons
No
Navigation Control Buttons
No
0
Automation
Companion App Automation
App Name
No App
iOS Availability
No
Android Availability
No
Software Boundary Markers (No Go Zones)
No
App Scheduled Start
No
App Cycle Control
No
Navigation Control within App
No

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix 2191 is currently available in two color variants: 'Blue' and 'Purple'. We tested the 'Blue' variant, and you can see its label here.

The manufacturer advertises the BISSELL PowerForce Helix 2191 as the updated and improved version of the ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix 1700. However, since the manufacturer hasn't publicly listed the updates to this version of the PowerForce Helix, it's unclear if the 1700 variant performs differently from our test unit. 

If you come across another variant of this vacuum, let us know in the discussions, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Vacuums

The ​BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a corded upright vacuum that you can use in a half-handheld configuration. While it doesn't perform as well overall compared to more expensive bagless uprights like the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and doesn't come with as many tools or brushes, it still delivers strong performance for a vacuum in this price bracket.

If you're looking for an alternative, take a look at our list of recommendations of the best vacuums under $100, the best upright vacuums, and the best bagless vacuums.

BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a better overall upright vacuum than the BISSELL Pet Hair Eraser Turbo Plus. The PowerForce has a larger dirt compartment, it's lighter, and it has better overall performance on bare floors as well as low-pile carpet. It's also easier to maintain and there are fewer recurring costs. However, the Pet Hair Eraser is better built, it comes with an upholstery tool as well as a turbo brush, and it's more maneuverable.

BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a better upright vacuum for carpets than the BISSELL CleanView Swivel Pet. The PowerForce Helix has better performance on low as well as high-pile carpet, it's lighter, and its dirt compartment is bigger. It's also easier to maintain and there are fewer recurring costs. However, the CleanView has significantly better performance on bare floors, and it comes with a couple more tools and brushes than the PowerForce.

Shark Navigator Lift-Away

The Shark Navigator Lift-Away is better than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. The Shark feels better-built, incurs virtually no recurring costs, has an allergen-trapping HEPA filter, and delivers significantly better performance on bare floors. It's also much easier to maneuver, with a 'Lift-Away' design that enables you to pick up and carry its canister body independently of its upright portion to clean countertops and shelves with its wand and selection of attachments. Conversely, the BISSELL has a larger dustbin and weighs less. Its floorhead also offers five levels of height adjustment, compared to the Shark's two.

Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a better upright vacuum for low and high-pile carpet than the Hoover WindTunnel 2 Whole House Rewind. The BISSELL has significantly better performance on carpet, it's lighter, and it has a slightly bigger dirt compartment. However, the Hoover performs a bit better on bare floors, it's easier to maintain, and it has virtually no recurring costs. The Hoover also has automatic cord storage.

Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix and Hoover WindTunnel Tempo Bagged each have their own strengths. The BISSELL has a lighter bagless design that incurs lower recurring costs and it clears more debris on both low and high-pile carpets. That said, the Hoover is better-built, more maneuverable, and is easier to maintain. It also comes with more tools and does a better job on bare floors.

Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine

The Miele Dynamic U1 PowerLine is a better upright vacuum than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. The Miele is more effective at clearing all kinds of debris on bare and carpeted floors, much sturdier-feeling, easier to maintain, and offers greater maneuverability in tight spaces. It also comes with more specialized cleaning brushes. That said, the BISSELL is cheaper to maintain and much lighter in the hand.

Kenmore Intuition Bagged

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix and Kenmore Intuition Bagged have different advantages, and one may suit you better depending on your needs. The bagless BISSELL has lower recurring costs, a lighter design, and performs better on low and high-pile carpet. Meanwhile, the Kenmore is better-built, easier to maintain, and performs better on bare floors. It's also a little more maneuverable.

Sanitaire PROFESSIONAL Upright

The BISSELL PowerForce Helix is a better upright vacuum than the Sanitaire PROFESSIONAL Upright. The BISSELL is better built, has a bagless design, and is more portable. It also offers significantly better performance on all surface types. However, the Sanitaire has a better range and is easier to maintain.

Dyson Ball Animal 2

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is a better overall upright vacuum than the BISSELL PowerForce Helix. The Dyson has a better performance on all surface types, it's more maneuverable, it's easier to maintain, and it has virtually no recurring costs. It has a longer range, and it comes with more tools and brushes. However, the BISSELL is lighter and has a slightly bigger dirt compartment.

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