A cordless vacuum must have a good battery performance since it determines how long you can use it. Cordless vacuums run on a rechargeable battery, and some last longer than others on a single charge. Depending on your cleaning habits, you may care about certain aspects of its battery performance more than others. We test a vacuum's minimum and maximum battery life, as well as its recharging time. Also, we check whether its battery is removable and whether it comes with a recharging dock and features a battery life indicator. Below, we explain these tests in more detail and why these factors may be important to consider when finding a vacuum that's right for you.
A vacuum's battery performance matters if you want a cordless vacuum that you can use without plugging it in. This gives you a virtually unlimited cleaning range, as long as there's still room in the dirt compartment and the battery has a charge left. Although longer battery life is generally preferred to a shorter one, depending on your cleaning habits, this may be more or less important to you. If you have a large area to clean with light debris, you may want a vacuum with long maximum battery life. You may want a model with a long minimum battery life which tells you how long it lasts using its maximum power setting. You may also want a vacuum that recharges quickly, so you don't have to plan your cleaning sessions too far in advance. Also, if you like easy storage, you might want a vacuum that comes with a recharging dock. Most robot vacuums even return to their recharging dock automatically.
We consider several aspects of a vacuum's battery performance, which contribute to its overall score to varying degrees. We test a vacuum's minimum and maximum battery life, which can differ from one another if a vacuum has adjustable power settings. These factor into its score for battery performance since most users care about being able to use their vacuum for longer without losing power. We also test how long it takes for a vacuum to fully recharge. Finally, we check whether the vacuum's battery is removable and whether it comes with a recharging dock and features a battery life indicator. These factors play a part in the overall user experience of a vacuum. Below, we describe these tests in more detail and explain why these factors may be important to you when you're looking for a vacuum that best suits your needs.
A vacuum's minimum battery life indicates how long it lasts when using its max power setting. Cordless vacuums like the JASHEN V16, which has different power modes, can be used for more time in their minimum power setting and less time in their maximum power setting. However, some vacuums, like the Shark UltraCyclone Pet Pro+, don't have different power settings, so their minimum and maximum battery life is the same. Some robot vacuums have an automatic power adjustment feature, which adjusts the suction based on the surface type and amount of debris to clean without any intervention from the user. It can be difficult to approximate the battery life of vacuums with this feature since power modes can vary on different surfaces. We only perform this test on cordless vacuums, which come with a battery. You can use corded models can almost indefinitely, as long as there's room in the dirt compartment.
To test a vacuum's minimum battery life, we fully charge it, set it to its max suction mode and, if applicable, attach its motorized vacuum head. We turn the vacuum on so that it's sucking in the air, and we leave it still without using it to clean any debris. If we're testing a robot vacuum, we make sure its charging dock is not in the room, so it can't automatically return to it to recharge. For vacuums with triggers, we may tape the trigger to ensure it stays pressed. Note that we perform this test in a room without putting the vacuum in a closed box since that could affect its suction performance and cause it to overheat. To determine its minimum battery life, we place a microphone near the vacuum and record it as it's in use. The length of the audio recording of the vacuum actively sucking air gives us its minimum battery life. We use a camera to record a video of robot vacuums in use since they move around automatically. Similarly, the length of the video of it still operating gives us the minimum battery life.
We consider a value of more than 15 minutes to be good for a vacuum's minimum battery life. For example, the Dyson V8 Animal has a minimum battery life of just eight minutes, whereas the Shark ION F80 provides 25 minutes on its max power setting. Note that a vacuum's battery life can vary based on how you use it, so your real-world experience may vary.
In general, robot vacuums have a much longer battery life than a stick or handheld vacuum. For example, the Shark ION Robot 2020 has a minimum battery life of 172 minutes.
A vacuum's maximum battery life indicates how long it lasts when using its minimum power setting. This test is very similar to our test for a vacuum's minimum battery life, except we set it to its minimum suction mode before we use it. We also remove any attachments that could drain its battery, like a motorized turbo brush or vacuum head. Some vacuums with a short minimum battery life have a much longer maximum battery life, so you can clean a larger area if the mess isn't too stubborn. For example, the Dyson V15 Detect lasts just eight minutes on its max setting, but you can use it for around 75 minutes on its 'Eco' power mode with no extra attachments.
We consider a value of more than 60 minutes to be good for a vacuum's maximum battery life. The Dyson V11 Animal lasts around 76 minutes when using its 'Eco' mode, which is good for a stick vacuum. However, some stick vacuums come with extra batteries that you can charge in advance, which helps them last longer. The Dyson Outsize Absolute+ comes with two batteries, letting you use it for around 152 minutes if you quickly swap out the empty battery for the charged one while using it. Note that maximum battery life can vary depending on usage, so your real-world experience may differ from our tests.
Robot vacuums generally last much longer than a stick or handheld model. For example, the Ecovacs DEEBOT OZMO T8 AIVI provides close to five hours of continuous runtime when set to its 'Quiet' mode.
A vacuum's recharge time is important if you want to use it quickly after it runs out of charge. If you remember, you have to clean your house, but your vacuum's battery is low, or if you have a lot of areas to clean and can't finish it on a single charge, you may want a vacuum with a battery that can quickly charge. To test a vacuum's recharge time, we charge it after emptying the battery from the battery life tests. We point a camera at the battery life indicator and record the time it takes for the battery to become fully charged. We consider a value of fewer than 180 minutes to be good. Typically, vacuums take quite a long time to recharge, so you may want to charge your vacuum in advance if you have a space to clean. Some vacuums recharge fairly quickly, with the Hoover ONEPWR Cordless Hand Vacuum taking just over 70 minutes to recharge, so you can easily use it twice in one day if need be.
Recharging docks are helpful since they let you charge your vacuum while offering a secure place to store it. To test whether a vacuum has a recharging dock, we check whether it's packaged with the vacuum. Many cordless vacuums, like the Dyson Cyclone V10 Absolute, come with one. However, some smaller cordless vacuums, like the BISSELL Aeroslim, are charged using a USB cable and don't come with a docking station. That said, it still comes with a rack for easier storage. Most, if not all, robot vacuums like the Neato Botvac D7 can also automatically return to their recharging dock, which makes them especially hassle-free to use, though it's important to note that we don't currently test for this.
A battery life indicator lets you know how much charge is left in your vacuum. This is useful, so you can plan your cleaning session if you have to charge the vacuum before using it. Thankfully, most cordless vacuums have lights that indicate the battery level. However, some vacuums, such as the Black+Decker dustbuster CHV1410L and the Dyson V7 Animal, lack a battery life indicator, so you can't estimate the remaining charge while using them.
Removable batteries are commonly found in cordless vacuums, and they let you replace the battery if it degrades over time without replacing the entire vacuum. Some can easily unlatch and recharge separately, as is the case for the Dyson Outsize Absolute+, which comes with an additional battery that can be swapped in when its first battery runs out of charge. Other vacuums require some form of disassembly with a screwdriver to access it and replace it. To test whether a vacuum has removable batteries, we check the manual and the box to see if the included batteries are removable. If a vacuum doesn't have removable batteries, you may need to replace the entire vacuum if the battery stops working instead of just purchasing a new battery.
Overall, a vacuum's battery performance is important if you want a cordless model but still want to use it for longer cleaning sessions. If you have a large space to clean, you may want a vacuum with longer battery life, so you don't have to worry about it running out of charge while using it. Also, you may have more stubborn messes to clean and expect to use a vacuum in its max power mode. Although many stick and handheld vacuums run out of charge quickly in their max setting, some models can last over 20 minutes, which should be enough time to clean a fairly large area. Typically, robot vacuums last longer than a stick or handheld model. Depending on your usage preferences, you may want a vacuum that recharges quickly or one that has a battery light indicator to tell you when it needs to charge. By looking at these factors of a vacuum's battery performance in more detail, you can make a more informed decision on which vacuum is right for you.