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13 October 2020

How to choose the best Dyson

Expert guide to Dyson vacuum cleaners. Find out whether that Dyson you've got your eye on is worth all that cash.
USED_Best vacuum cleaner brands: Dyson
Matthew Knight

Dyson vacuums are on many a wishlist, but they're often pretty expensive too. 

We run through what you get with a Dyson, how to choose between the models, and how they compare with other vacuum cleaners.

Get our verdict on which Dyson vacuum cleaners are best by heading straight to our independent reviews:

Dyson vacuums: the basics

All Dyson vacuum cleaners are bagless and use cyclone technology. This means that dusty air sucked into the vacuum is channeled through the cones visible at the top of the vacuum cleaner's dust canister. The air spirals inside the cones, generating centrifugal force that flings the dust and dirt out into the surrounding dust bin. 

Over the years, this cyclone technology has been developed and refined. But do Dyson vacs pick up more dust and dirt than models from other manufacturers? Find out in our vacuum cleaner reviews.

Dyson shifts focus to cordless vacuum cleaners

In 2018, Dyson announced that it would shift away from developing many new plug-in vacuums, instead focusing on cordless vacuum technology. The existing corded Ball cylinder and upright ranges will remain available for the foreseeable future though.

Dyson vacuum cleaner technology explained

All Dyson corded vacuums have Dyson's cyclone technology and 'ball' design for manoeuvrability, both of which are unique to Dyson - although they have been imitated by rivals.

Dyson Ball

Dyson Ball vacuums ride on a single large ball and supporting castors instead of wheels. The ball pivots around itself so you can change direction more easily. 

Dyson claims that Ball vacuum cleaners are easier to move around than other models. The Ball also houses the motor and other components which Dyson says helps make the vacuum quieter, while also lowering the centre of gravity for better stability.

Since 2016, Dyson Ball cylinder vacuums, such as the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 (£299) have a built-in self-righting mechanism, allowing the vacuum to right itself if toppled over.

Looking for an upright? Dyson's Light Ball models cost just under £200. Check the Dyson Small Ball Allergy review to see if they can clean effectively for less.

Clean well for less

Dyson's technology is impressive, but you don't need to pay a premium for excellent dust pick-up and lasting suction. We've found cheaper Best Buy vacuums from other brands that will leave your carpets clean and won't lose suction over time. See our pick of the best vacuum cleaners to find a brilliant vacuum on a budget.

Tangle-free Turbine tool

Most vacuum cleaners aimed at pet owners come with some kind of mini turbo brush. Dyson's Animal vacuums include its Tangle-free Turbine tool, which does the same job. Instead of a rotating brush bar, it has two counter-rotating spinning discs with bristles which pull hair into the middle and suck it up. 

Dyson says its unusual design picks up fur and hair without getting all tangled up. We've tested this tool out on a number of different Dyson vacuum cleaners to find out whether it really will clean up pet hair - you can find out our verdict in our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.

Dyson Animal vs Multi Floor vacuums: which one should you buy?

Dyson vacs usually come in two versions: Multi Floor or Animal. You may also see some 'Total Clean' models around. These are only sold in certain retailers and have additional accessories for specific cleaning jobs.

On upright vacuums, usually the only real difference between models is that the Animal version comes with the tangle-free pet tool. If you're not fussed about the extras, the Multi Floor version would usually be your best-value option.

With cylinder vacuums, you may get an additional or different design of floor tool, along with the pet tool, on the Animal version. Here, a different floor tool can be the difference between a vacuum cleaner being a Best Buy or not, as the floor-head design has a big influence on how well a vacuum cleaner picks up dirt. We've found this to be the case with some Dyson models, so make sure you read our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews to find out which version is worth investing in.

Upright vs cylinder Dysons

When it comes to upright vacuum cleaners, Dyson models are extremely popular with Which? members. But we've found that some cylinder models are great buys too, so it depends on what features matter most to you.

Advantages of upright vacuums over cylinders

  • Easier to store, as there is no trailing hose
  • Tend to be better for covering large floor areas
  • Generally better at picking up pet hair
  • Often have larger dust capacities

Advantages of cylinder vacuums over uprights

  • Tend to be lighter
  • Often easier to manoeuvre
  • Better-suited to sitting on stairs
  • Often quieter

You can see how Dyson's upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners compare in our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.

Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners

Cordless vacuum cleaners have become Dyson's leading products, and their versatile slim stick design, which converts to a small handheld cleaner, has caught on and is used by several of their rivals including Vax and Bosch. It makes it easy to switch from cleaning floors to things like stairs, upholstery - or even the car.

Dyson cordless vacuums compared

Dyson V11 cordless - launched in March 2019. New digital display with to-the-second battery life countdown. The V11 Torque Drive and the premium V11 Absolute have an auto-cleaning mode which adapts suction settings to the floor type, meaning less hassle switching modes and optimised battery life. The premium Absolute model comes with an extra soft roller head for hard floors, too.

Dyson Cyclone V10 cordless - launched in March 2018. Dyson claims that the V10 is good enough to replace your corded vacuum, and it has had a significant design overhaul versus the older models, including a larger dust container, a longer battery life, a wall mount and a new dust-emptying mechanism.

Dyson V8 cordless - Launched in 2016. An upgraded version of the V6 with new features like a dust-ejecting bin mechanism and a longer run-time (up to 40 minutes) than the V7.

Dyson V7 cordless - Launched in 2017. A less-premium offering similar in design to the V8. You'll get some of the features found on the V8, such as the dust ejector mechanism, but a shorter runtime.

Dyson V6 cordless - Launched in 2015. The oldest, most basic and cheapest range. Has the shortest battery life, and no dust ejector feature. Officially discontinued but pops up again during sales events. The V6 Animal is currently the only model available for purchase.

Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners: key specs and features

Model Runtime (minutes) Charging time Price (entry-level model Notable features
V11 76 / 13 3.5 hours £469 Digital countdown display, auto cleaning mode
V10 43 / 8 2.5 hours £385 Larger bin and easier dust ejection, battery life indicator, wall stand, three power modes
V8 33 / 8 3.7 hours £340 Dirt ejector
V7 28 / 7 2.6 hours £245 Dirt ejector
V6 Animal 20 / 6 2.3 hours £399  
Table notes

1 Table correct as of 10 August 2020.

2 Runtime for cleaning floors in low mode and cleaning on turbo mode

See our Dyson cordless vacuum cleaner reviews to compare all the different models and find out which ones we recommend.

Are cordless vacuum cleaners any good?

We've found that cordless vacuum cleaners can be a bit of mixed bag when it comes to cleaning.

Our tests have uncovered some that do a brilliant job, competing with the very best plug-in versions on cleaning power. However, we've also uncovered an exceptionally high number of poor models - and plenty of mediocre ones too. Currently, there are more than 40 models on our watch list of cordless vacuums to avoid.

Find out which cordless vacuum cleaners we recommend - and the ones to avoid - by reading our independent cordless vacuum cleaner reviews.

Dyson robot vacuum cleaners

In 2016, Dyson unveiled its first robot vacuum cleaner, the Dyson 360 Eye. The latest model, the Dyson 360 Heurist, was released in 2020 with a suite of new upgrades to its motor, sensors and mapping system. It costs a cool £800, but promises to merrily clean its way round your home unaided.

Our tests have shown that, on the whole, robot vacuums can't match full-sized models for cleaning power, but the very best models aren't too far behind and can keep your home looking clean so you have to dig out your main vacuum much less often.

Alongside Dyson's robots we've tested rivals from iRobot, Neato, Miele, Samsung and more. Only a handful of robots have impressed us enough to become a Best Buy, and some are so poor we labelled them Don't Buys. The worst models struggled to find their way around and did a dreadful job of cleaning - one model picked up just 4% of the dust we put in its path.

If the idea of a robot helper appeals, check our robot vacuum cleaner reviews to see the models we recommend.

Dyson vacuums vs other vacuum cleaners

All that technology and glossy marketing can look tempting, but how do Dyson vacuums compare to others when it comes to the essentials?

Bagless cleaning

Dyson vacuums really took off after a marketing campaign around the benefits of bagless cleaning. The main benefit being that you don't have the ongoing cost or hassle of buying replacement bags. 

You can buy bagless vacuums from many brands now, but one drawback with all bagless vacuum cleaners is that the dust is not neatly contained in a bag that you pull out and throw away. Emptying bagless vacuums can be a messy job and may not be ideal for those with allergies.

Dyson's Hygienic Dirt Ejector

More recent Dyson vacuums feature its new Hygienic Dirt Ejector mechanism. This is essentially a silicone collar that slides down the inside of the dust container, pushing dust and debris out. This should mean you don't have to stick your hands in the bin to get any leftover bits out - something we've had issues with in the past.

See our review of the Dyson V8 Absolute for our verdict on this feature.

Dust capacity

Dyson vacuums tend to combine high suction with small-capacity dust containers - as small as 0.3 litres on some models, although we have seen a few with a 1.9-litre capacity.

The average vacuum cleaner has a dust capacity of 2.3 litres. Bagged vacuum cleaners tend to have larger dust capacities than bagless models.

A smaller capacity may help to keep down the overall weight of the vacuum, but it means you'll be making more trips to the bin to empty the dust container.

Noise and weight

Two complaints that Which? members make to us about Dysons, other than their cost, is how heavy they are and the amount of noise they make.

We test how noisy vacuum cleaners are by taking decibel measurements in two specially prepared sound chambers at our lab. We combine this result with a subjective assessment from a panel of experts to account for any particularly annoying noises. Some of the noisiest vacuum cleaners we've tested reach 90 decibels - that's equivalent to standing next to a busy road as a truck goes past.

Some Dyson vacuums we've tested have proved significantly quieter than others. Before you buy, make sure you check the individual noise ratings on the test results page to find a quiet model. Models rated five stars for noise are the quietest money can buy.

Dyson vacuums can weigh almost 10kg. That's a lot to haul up and down the stairs, especially when you consider that we've found some vacuum cleaners weighing just 4kg.

We include the weight of the tube and hose, plus any attachments designed to be stored on the vacuum, when we weigh vacuum cleaners - something manufacturers often leave out. You can use the specs page on individual Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews to check the weight of different Dyson models.

Buying a Dyson - what's the cost?

It's no secret that Dysons are some of the most expensive vacuum cleaners out there. Newly launched models usually start from £400 or more. That's right at the top end, although Dyson is by no means alone - Samsung, Bosch and Miele also have vacuum cleaners in this price range.

While some of these brands offer cheaper alternatives, you'll struggle to get a new Dyson for less than £200, and most will set you back at least £300. We've seen the prices jump around a lot too, particularly for cordless models, so it's worth doing your research before buying to avoid paying more than you need to.

We've found Best Buy vacuums for less than £150, so there's no need to spend more unless you are after particular features or the very best performance. Check our list of the best vacuum cleaners to find out the models we recommend.

Are Dyson vacuum cleaners reliable?

Most upright and cylinder Dyson vacuums come with a five-year guarantee. Cordless models usually have a shorter two-year guarantee, which might sting if you've just spent £400+ on the Dyson V11 Absolute.

In addition to our lab tests on Dyson vacuum cleaners, we also survey thousands of vacuum cleaner owners each year to find out how long their vacuum cleaners have lasted, and what went wrong if they broke down. This means we can tell you which brands last the distance when you get them home. 

According to our most recent brand reliability data, gathered in 2019 from vacuum cleaner owners, Dyson vacuums are generally relatively reliable - but not as reliable as some rival brands. To get our full verdict on reliability, head to our round-up of the most reliable vacuum cleaner brands and most reliable cordless vacuum cleaner brands.

Top tips for buying the best Dyson

Keep an eye out for trade-in offers

Dyson sometimes offers money off a new vacuum cleaner if you trade in your old one.

Decide what accessories and features you need - and what you can live without

Having multiple specialised accessories can be more of a hindrance than a help. Check our reviews to see which models get the basics right, and then look out for specific accessories you're keen on. Mini pet tools are handy for fur-covered upholstery, and a removable brush bar is a godsend if you have lots of longer haired residents, as it will need regular cleaning.

Often the only difference between variants of Dyson cordless vacuums is the accessories you get, so make sure you don't pay over the odds for mini tools you don't really need.

Check the alternatives

There are some brilliant Dyson vacuum cleaners out there, but also some that don't live up to the premium price tag. Our vacuum cleaner reviews can guide you to the ones worth buying, and the best alternatives worth considering.

Need help finding the best options? Get straight to our top picks with our guide to the top five best vacuum cleaners.

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