Complete C3 Pure Red Powerline
Over the past few years, US brand Shark has been doing its best to take a bite out of Dyson’s slice of the competitive UK vacuum cleaner market. Neither brand is cheap, so if you want to spend your money wisely you will want to know whether one brand is a better bet than the other.
We’ve tested pretty much every model there is from both - 32 vacuum cleaners in total - and have found some brilliant options and some less exceptional ones from both brands.
Which one is right for you depends on lots of factors, including your budget, the type of home you have and what features matter most to you.
Read on to find out more about what each brand brings to the table (or carpet).
Both brands focus on the premium end of the cordless vacs spectrum. Models tend to cost £200 or more, are packed with features and claim to be great for zapping dust.
This is the kind of cordless vacuum that aims to replace your traditional upright, so they will convert to handheld cleaning mode and come with mini tools for tackling crevices and upholstery as standard.
|Dyson cordless vacuums||Shark cordless vacuums|
|Max runtime||1hr 27 min||1hr 11min|
|Max dust capacity||2 litres||1.6 litres|
|Weight||Average (approx. 2.75kg)||Heavy weight (approx. 4.35kg)|
|Length of warranty||Two years||Five years|
|Key features||Auto-clean mode (top model only), dust-ejecting bin, power trigger, digital display with real-time battery countdown (V11 only)||Flexible hinge, lift-away unit, swappable batteries, LED headlights, dual brush floor head, anti-hair floor head|
You’ll get more flashy features on even the lower-priced Shark cordless models, such as LED headlights to show up stray dirt, a hinged cleaning tube, swappable batteries, and the new anti-hair-wrap feature that detangles the brush bar for you. They have a longer warranty, too.
They tend to be heavier, but some of this weight is in the bulky floor head, so you won’t necessarily feel the effects.
But on the higher-priced models, Dyson will give you the latest tech, including:
It also has a dust-ejection system designed to minimise dust-clouds, and a larger capacity so less trips to the bin.
These features can make a difference to how pleasant the vacuum is to use, but which brand you prefer depends on what your biggest vacuuming bugbears are, the size and shape of your home, and how big your budget is.
Some things to consider are:
It’s worth thinking about what matters most to you, and then ensuring you also choose a model that cleans brilliantly.
Dyson says it’s no longer developing new corded vacuum cleaners, as it has switched its focus to cordless technology.
Nevertheless, it continues to sell a small range of corded models, including the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 cylinder vacuums and bagless upright models such as the Dyson Ball Animal 2.
These usually cost around £200-£300, so they’re a cheaper option than the cordless equivalents.
Shark, on the other hand, focuses exclusively on bagless upright corded models. It has one of the most extensive ranges around, as many other manufacturers have followed Dyson’s lead and dialed back on corded vacuum development.
Here’s an overview of how key specs compare:
|Dyson vacuums||Shark vacuums|
Average to light (6.28kg, though some stick models weight around 4kg)
Average (1.65 litres)
Average to large (2.43 litres)
Ball design, anti-topple cylinder, cyclone technology, claims around quietness and allergy filtration
Lift-away canister, dual brush floor head, LED headlights, anti-hair-wrap floor head, claims around allergen filtration
Again, you’re more likely to get fancy features on the Shark range.
The ‘Lift-away’ canister found on most upright models means you can hold the dust canister while using the flexible tube to vacuum the stairs, making it less of an awkward balancing act, while the anti-hair-wrap can help reduce the amount of brush bar detangling you have to do.
Shark also produces some corded stick vacuums. These are slim and versatile, like a cordless vac, but cheaper as they still plug in rather than running off a battery.
This could be a good compromise if you’re after a more compact vacuum, but your budget doesn’t stretch to cordless tech.
Dyson keeps things simpler, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot of tech under the hood designed to make life easier.
Not sure where to start when choosing a vacuum cleaner? Here’s an overview of what the other big brands offer:
Gtech’s original Air Ram model was one of the early cordless cleaners. It’s now got a range of bagless and bagged cordless stick vacuums, including an ultra light and compact model – the Gtech Hylite.
You can expect to pay from around £130 up to £250 for one of their vacs.
Vax still makes a range of corded vacuum cleaners, mostly relatively cheap (£80-£180), but it’s gone big on cordless too. Its Blade range is popular and offers a good compromise between price and specs.
Models hover around the £80 to £250 mark, but the top-end ones, such as the Vax Blade 2 Max and the Vax Blade 4, have decent battery life for the price, and handy extras such as a side-emptying bin and LED headlights.
In our tests, some models have impressed, while others have been really poor, so it’s worth checking our reviews before you buy.
Hoover is another brand that tends to price its vacuums at the value end of the market, but that hasn’t stopped them dabbling with some wacky new features in recent years.
Some Hoovers are wi-fi-enabled, so you can connect them to an app on your smartphone and get updates and reminders about how much you’ve cleaned, calories you've burned and maintenance alerts.
It’s another brand that’s produced a real mix of results in our tests, with some great-value Best Buys and some truly awful models.
Miele is one of the most prolific cylinder vacuum cleaner manufacturers.
The classic Numatic bagged cylinder vacuum remains largely unchanged, and is a good-value option (around £130), particularly if you want large capacity and minimal maintenance.
Just like Dyson, and Shark before them, there’s a constant stream of new vacuum cleaner brands looking to crack the UK market.
The tech giant, Samsung, and Tineco (part of the Eco Vac robotics group), are showing signs of making a concerted effort to challenge the big brands, with a handful of premium cordless vacuum launches.
We’ve also tested models from brands that aren’t always well known for vacuum cleaners, such as AEG and Beko – both better known for their big kitchen appliances.
Some are well worth considering, and have beaten the established brands at their own game in our tests.
As well as testing how good each individual vacuum cleaner is at getting your home clean, we also conduct large owner surveys every year to get a picture of how well your new vacuum cleaner will last with everyday use.
Our unique survey helps us uncover which brands are the most reliable and make their customers happy, and the ones that are prone to breaking down early.
See how Dyson, Shark and the other brands stack up in our guides to the most reliable vacuum brands: