The best cordless vacuum cleaner is, for most peoples' purposes, now the best vac full-stop. They are bigger sellers than the corded ones and that's because people have realised the convenience and versatility of the best cordless vacs now outweighs worries about battery life. I've been using cordless vacs since the earliest Dyson efforts and I know that their cleaning power has really shot up in recent years. That has also naturally tended to make them bulkier but you can't have everything, and they are usually still lighter than practically all corded vacs.
So long as your home is a not a sprawling pile, lined throughout with deep pile carpet, the best cordless vacuums will not let you down in terms of battery life or suction. You can waft them about with such ease, without being hindered by the wire spooling out from the back of a bulky traditional vac.
There is a lot of choice out there, too. You can still go for one of the best Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners – try our guide to the best Dyson deals if you seek a bargain – but there are numerous rivals for the title of best cordless vac. While many of these are Dyson-style stick vacs, there are also cordless models that take a different approach, such as the more upright-style Lupe Pure, Gtech AirRam and Roidmi RS70 which also mops hard floors.
If you want something with a cable attached, try our guide to the best vacuum cleaners, as that's got a bit of everything. But if you really can’t be bothered to ‘hoover’ the floors yourself, why not get a Best Robot Vac to do it for you?
Best cordless vacuum cleaners on Amazon Prime Day
You'll find some great deals on the best cordless vacuum cleaners on July 12-13 with something for all. Find out more at our Best Amazon Prime Day deals hub.
The best cordless vacuum cleaners you can buy in 2022
Dyson has refined its cordless vacuum formula yet again, and this is the T3 Award 2021 winning result. Cleaning power has been improved across all surfaces but the real headline improvement is the addition – finally – of a headlight. But in true Dyson fashion, it's no ordinary headlight. It's a laser mounted at an angle on the front of the hard-floor head and it reveals a borderline horrific amount of dirt and dust.
There's another excellent cleaning head for doing your carpets, although this 'High Torque' head does not contain a laser. Among the various smaller heads the pick is a powered one for doing upholstery that is almost totally resistant to getting tangled in long pet or human hairs.
Dyson really has thought of everything with this vacuum cleaner. It's the complete package, the best cordless vacuum cleaner in town, has now won a T3 Award two years running.
• Find out more in our full Dyson V15 Detect review
It’s pure white, it stands up on its own and it vacuums like a trooper – the new Gtech AirRAM Platinum is available to buy right now so if you find cordless stick vacs a bit ungainly and you simply can’t take their weight in the hand for more than a few minutes at a time, the AirRAM Platinum is the vac for you.
This new model has some additional tech in the form of ‘Anti Hair Wrap Technology and innovative Forward Inertia Drive’, otherwise it’s very similar to the Gtech AirRAM Mk2 K9, only in a gorgeous white livery.
If you’ve never used one of these upright vacs before, you’ll be amazed at how well it performs on all types of flooring, even deep pile carpet. It’s a brilliant model for pet owners, too, because all the hair that’s collected is quite literally rammed into its transparent 0.8-litre bin which is then emptied with a quick slide of a lever, leaving nothing behind. If you’re fed up with sticking fingers in a vac bin to pull out clumps of hair, this model will impress you a lot.
Of course, the really good thing about a cordless vac of this nature is that all the weight of the motor and bin is on the floor so all you need to do is a bit of push and pull. It also stands up on its own and can even collapse to half its height for easy storage. It has great battery stamina, too – 60 minutes on a full charge.
The Gtech AirRAM Platinum doesn’t come with any tools, though you can use the supplied short handle to turn it into a stumpy version for cleaning the sofa or stairs. But when it comes to convenience and quick vacs around the home, it’s one of the best cordless models on the market.
Want to know more? Please read my full Gtech AirRam Platinum review.
This cordless model from Vax – also available as a Pet-specific model – is a lot cheaper than the Dyson V11 we review below.
Now, the Vax doesn't look like it will last as long as a Dyson, and the high speed setting makes a racket like 10,000 banshees escaping from Hell. Oh, and it's less fun to use as a handheld than a Dyson, as it's not balanced as pleasingly, and the brushes are less good. It's also clearly not as chic as a Dyson, but then a lot people just aren't that bothered about how their vac looks.
All that being said, given how much cheaper the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 and Blade 4 Pet are, there is remarkably little to tell between them and the V11 when it comes to cleaning power.
Vax itself is adamant that it's 'proven to clean carpets better than the UK’s Top 3 best selling cordless vacuums, with the cleaning performance of the best selling corded uprights.' Okay, most tests for vacuum cleaners are ridiculous and bear minimal resemblance to how people vacuum their floors in real life, but even so, there is no doubt that this Vax cleans very well indeed.
The Blade 4 Pet’s antimicrobial brush bar is just 22cm in width so it will require a few more sweeps per session, but it picks up pet hair and everything else in between exceptionally well. If things get really hairy – like the dog bed, sofa or car seats – with this model you have an extra motorised pet tool to hand that genuinely makes an impression, removing pretty much all signs of canine life.
The 0.6-litre dust collector is of above average size for a cordless stick and the three-stage filtration system does a grand job of keeping dust and musty carpet smells to a minimum. The bin is easy to eject for emptying, although putting it back on again is a touch fiddlesome.
Battery life seems at least as good as the V11. It's hard to declare a precise battery life for cordless vacs because of the varying real-world ways they get used, but the Blade 4 and Blade 4 Pet generally seem to last as long if not longer than the Dyson in both Max Power and standard modes. That's particularly impressive given that, unlike any Dyson to date, the Blade 4 Pet incorporates an LED headlight, which activates alongside the revolving brush bar and really helps with cleaning in dimly lit areas.
All in all, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 and Blade 4 Pet come very highly recommended.
- Read our full Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 review
Please note that the number IZ251UKT refers to the version of this vac that comes with two batteries and pet-friendly air filtering and additional tool. Also available are the IZ251UK, which has two batteries but no pet-specific features, and IZ201UK which only has one battery.
Shark enjoys a significant presence in the vacuuming arena which is of no surprise given the general effectiveness of their products and the great prices. This new, very well engineered pet-specific model comes with a tranche of clever design flourishes, including a folding main tube for easy storage. This is a major plus because a common issue with most cordless vacs is that they’re so top heavy they can’t stand up on their own; hence they either need to be stored on a provided wall mount or left loose in a jumbled mess in the cupboard under the stairs. Another cool byproduct of the articulating main tube is that it allows the cleaning head to reach deep under beds, sofas, chairs and cupboards. If you wish to do some detailed cleaning simply remove the main tube and use it as a hand held.
If you’re concerned about battery consumption then the good news is that this model comes with two, plus a charging station that accommodates both batteries at the same time. Shark states a combined running time of 80 minutes and this writer won’t argue with that.
Bar the Miele reviewed below, practically all cordless vacs of this nature site the motor housing and dust collector near the top just below the handle, and this of course adds extra weight on the wrist and forearm. This model is no different but in its favour it does feel fairly light in the hand, especially if you use it at the end of a relaxed arm. The anti-allergen dust collector is of average size – ie quite small – and super easy to empty without creating too much dust in the process.
One of the main selling points of this model is that it comes with Anti Hair Wrap tech that uses a series of prongs to prevent long hair and threads from wrapping around the cleaning roller; it works extremely well. And speaking of rollers, this one comes with two – a front mounted towel-covered one for catching larger detritus and a brush roller behind it for deep cleaning.
This writer has two dogs and three cats and the ravenous Shark collected a remarkable amount of hair and other stuff I didn’t recognise after just a few sweeps. The steerable head – replete with LED headlights – was easy to manoeuvre, too, and surprisingly easy to push around.
The Shark comes with two suction levels plus a ‘Boost’ trigger under the handle that ramps it up to near mains-powered levels of suction. In fact, I did most of the test using the lowest suction level with only occasional need for the boost. Very impressive. As is the case with all cordless vacs, the Shark comes with an assortment of tool attachments – almost too many – for detailed cleaning of stairs, shelves and crevices.
If you’re in the market for an impressively specced, well designed and remarkably quiet pet-specific cordless vac that truly sucks in the real sense of the word, then make a beeline for this proficient contender.
Ever since Dyson started making a mint by selling premium cordless vacuum cleaners that could, in many homes, replace corded ones there have been two types of cordless vac. On the one hand, Dyson cordless vacs, and arrayed against them, vacs that are just like Dyson cordless vacs but not quite as good. Nearly always more affordable, and always somewhere between a bit crappier and a lot crappier. Now though? I'm not so sure.
Nearly all the other products in this list will do an excellent job as a 'Dyson alternative' but this Samsung one matches it in practically every way, and will almost certainly end up being cheaper.
You already get a lot for your money. The Jet 90 Pro comes with a proper stand to hold and recharge it when not in use – it's perhaps not as neat as the Dyson wall mount, but it's considerably more substantial, and you don't have to screw it in to a wall, which a lot of people will prefer. It also has attachments for 4 tools instead of the Dyson's endlessly irritating limit of two.
Then you get a revolving mop head for wet and dry cleaning of hard floors, a bendy attachment for going under beds and other furniture, a main suction tube that you can extend to the length of your choice – admittedly more useful for adjusting to your height or for storing away, rather than reaching up particularly high, but still a neat touch.
You also get all usual, Dyson-esque stuff, with an efficient HEPA filter and attachments for dusting and 'crevices' – does anyone actually use crevice tools? The battery life is between 6 minutes and 60 minutes, depending on which of its tools and three power settings you use, while a screen shows you what setting you're on, and how long you have left. All just like the V11 above, in fact.
The only minor failing of the Jet 90 Pro is it doesn't seem to clean quite as well as the Dyson – that's based on abstract tests such as sucking a pile of ricicles, as well the more general feeling gathered during day-to-day use. There's very little in it, though.
I am not sure the mop head attachment spins quickly enough to be really effective, but again it certainly isn't bad – and Dyson doesn't even make such a thing, so it's a USP of sorts.
In summary, I still narrowly prefer the look and cleaning performance of the Dyson, which also has a bin that's slightly bigger and slightly easier to empty. The Dyson also handles better when used for dusting surfaces but again not by much. Actually it might just be that I'm more used to the Dyson. Samsung hasn't cut any corners with the Jet 90 Pro, and if you see it at the right price in the widgets above – ie: that bit cheaper than the Dyson V11 Absolute – I would not hesitate to recommend it. Make sure you check our Samsung discount codes to bag the best price.
This new keenly-priced upright from Vax is an ideal choice for those who want a cordless vac that can stand up on its own instead of lying around in a jumble under the stairs. The Edge comes with a larger-than-average dustbin (1.5-litres) and two near full-width brushes (soft and bristle) that have been designed for all types of flooring, including deep pile carpet.
Although the grippy low-set rollers make it feel quite heavy when pushing it around, for an upright it’s actually pretty light in the hand – a good thing for anyone with stairs to climb. It also steers extremely well around obstacles and it has a front headlight upfront for sweeping in darker recesses of the home.
There are no clever automatic settings with this vac. Instead you have four simple mode choices: suction only, a gentle hard floor setting, a more robust carpet specific setting, and a boost function that ramps up the suction power quite considerably.
This vac is one of the best options here for larger houses because it comes with two batteries and each one is capable of keeping the motor running for up to 50 minutes at a time in standard hard floor or carpet mode. That’s a combined running time of around 100 minutes.
It also comes with a shedload of tools, including a pet-hair specific mini motorised brush head for dog beds and car seats. And if you purchase the unit directly from Vax (opens in new tab), you’ll receive an extra tranche of tools for all manner of household cleaning duties. However, you may struggle to reach some elevated areas with the hand tools because the hose is quite short.
For the price, this is an excellent upright option that performs commendably well on all types of flooring. But it’s the larger bin and its ability to stand up on its own that really clinch the deal.
This British-made vac delivers similar cleaning power and innovation to its compatriots at Dyson – although Halo's styling and marketing budgets are clearly somewhat lower than Lord Dyson's stable.
This is for some reason made of carbon fibre, which seems to be the go-to design idea for brands with no aesthetic sense and a desire to seem high-tech. Unlike almost every other cordless vac it uses little tiny bags rather than being bagless, and the dirt collection area is not a cunningly designed capsule that pings out at the press of a button. Instead, it is held on by a clamp, a bit like something you'd take on a camping holiday circa 1978.
However, that all rather fades into insignificance when you clean floors with it, as it performs supremely well. The Halo Capsule is far cheaper than the Dyson V11 and it doesn't emit a horrific shrieking sound as works, unlike its budget rival Vax. On hard floors in particular, cleaning performance is comparable to both, as is overall battery life.
For cleaning spills, car interiors and surfaces as a handheld, the shape and weighting of it mean it's nowhere near as good as the Dyson or Vax. It also feels a bit ridiculous to be using bags in a vac in 2020. Still, given that Halo throws in no fewer than 52 of them with every purchase, you at least can't complain that the brand is milking you by selling its hardware cheap and its software expensive.
- Read our full Halo Capsule review
Taking a totally different approach to Dyson and co, the older AirRam Mk2 K9 – which is being superseded by the Platinum edition above – is a traditional upright vac, stripped down to the lightest, simplest form possible, yet still highly effective.
Its 22-volt Lithium Ion battery provides up to 40 minutes of vacuuming – enough charge for a two bedroom house – and although it takes about four hours to charge, that means you won't feel obliged to leave it habitually plugged in, as this writer does with both the Dyson v11 and V8.
The dirt collection system is one of the very best. All detritus is compressed into a cylindrical capsule positioned just behind the front roller brush. To clean, you just remove the 0.8-litre bin, flip it open above a dustbin and slide an ejector arm across to pop the compressed dirt out of the side. Being able to see how much it's picked up is a satisfying bonus.
If you're used to dragging a standard vac around, the AirRam Mk2 K9 is a revelation. It's so light to manoeuvre – all the weight’s at floor level – and the vertically adjustable handle articulates to the sides for literally 'steering' around corners. It can also go very low to the ground, to get under beds and other furnishings with legs.
Use the AirRam Mk2 K9 on a hard kitchen floor or a dog-hair strewn carpet and it will collect more dirt and hair than you'd think possible. It's at least as good as the Dyson v11 Absolute in this respect. And one thing it has that the v11 lacks is a bright LED headlamp, which is extremely useful – it's actually slightly chastening to see just how much dust is on the floor, when it's suddenly illuminated by a bright LED light.
The only surfaces the AirRam struggled with are thin rugs, as the fast-spinning rotary brush is positioned at a low, non adjustable height, it tends to suck them up into its maw. A lot of vacs do that, but the thing about the AirRam is it only has one power setting, so you can't really get around it
That small limitation aside, the AirRam Mk2 K9 is one of the very best at removing pet hair. It's quick, effortless and proficient for both quick shufties round the living room and full house jobs, and the small footprint and upright design mean it’s a doddle to store.
Of course the AirRam Mk2 K9's massive failing compared to the other vacs here is that it is just an upright, so you can forget about doing shelves, mantelpieces, behind the TV and up on the ceiling with it. However, if you invest in the cordless Gtech Multi handheld at the same time as the AirRam you do get a discount. The Multi is nowhere near as good as the Dyson V8 or V11 in handheld mode, but it's also by no means bad, and the bundle price is considerably less than the price of the V11 on its own.
If you want to embrace the very latest in Gtech tech, head straight to our review of the new AirRAM Platinum edition which is very similar to the K9, only with some newer onboard tech to make it even better.
- Read our full Gtech AirRam Mk2 review
This looks a great deal like the V10 but adds more suction, especially on carpet, better battery management and a power gauge that tells you when to start panicking because the battery is running out. A clock actually counts down, based on estimates determined primarily by what power mode you're using.
The good news is that, although you aren't likely to get more than 15 minutes of suck out of this if you only use the highest, 'Boost' setting, the 'Auto' mode, which adapts suction based on use conditions such as whether you're on carpet or hard floor, lasts a lot longer and is highly effective. The 'Eco' mode which can last for up to an hour, is also not bad at all.
For a mid-sized, modern-ish home with a mix of carpets and hard floors, I can't really think of how a vac could be better than the Dyson V11 Absolute.
Due to its size it's not as satisfying to use as a handheld (for shelves, surfaces, the car etc), as the older V8 but it works well enough when doing that. Also, the increased bulk is balanced by the fact it allows for much more suction power, and a bigger bin. Granted, the bin is still hardly gargantuan at 0.76 litres, but it's sufficiently easy to empty to make that a non-issue.
The 'Dyson premium' is well worth paying for the V11 Absolute. Sell your corded vac to contribute towards the cost. The cheaper V11 Animal, incidentally is excellent but alas, lacks the Absolute's High Torque head, which is one of the real killer features here. So you will have to go all in if you want the current state of the art in cordless vacuum cleaning.
- Read our full Dyson V11 review
Roidmi’s flagship RS70 is an extremely capable cordless vac that takes smooth minimalist Scandinavian design to the max. Let’s start with the rounded lightweight handle. Where most cordless vac handles are quite angular and not especially comfortable in the hand, this one trounces the opposition by dint of a smooth, curvy profile that allows it to be held in different positions and even vacuum the floor using a light-handed back-and-forth swinging motion.
There are two small buttons on top: one is to switch it on and the other is for ramping up the suction in three increments from low to high to max. Like most of the vacs here, the low setting is the one to go for if you don’t want the battery to drain too quickly (a small LED screen on the handle displays real-time battery usage). In our tests we managed to eke out an impressive 80 minutes in low mode but just 15 minutes or so when switching it to ‘max’. Annoyingly, the power button has a delay so you have to hold the button down for a couple of seconds before it starts up.
Uniquely, this model also comes with a twin rotating wet or dry mop head with self-cleaning station. To use, simply fill the 550ml water tank, clip the mop head on the end of the suction tube, tap the same button you’d use for vacuuming and the two mop heads start revolving. Now head down to the mop head itself, and you’ll see a rocker switch which selects between dry mopping and two levels of wet mopping – mild for wooden floors and not-so-mild for tiles, linoleum, stone and polished concrete. When you’ve finished mopping, simply place the dirty mop head into the supplied interface and the heads are given a thoroughly good clean.
Aside from the ultra comfy handle and its overall lightness (just 2.7kgs), one of the best things about this vac is the way it steers. It’s just so effortless to manoeuvre around furniture and it’s especially impressive at cleaning along skirting boards. It has an LED headlight too but it doesn’t stay on all the time because there’s a light sensor on the front. Hence, it only switches on in the darkest recesses of the home – a great battery saving device, we thinks. While we’re in positive mode, we also like the very simple wall-mounted magnetic charging base; simply mount the tiny plaque on the wall and rest the RS70 against it.
We gave this model a good innings on a swathe of hard flooring – the RS70’s favourite playground – and its velveteen V-shaped motorised roller brush picked up more dust and hair than we expected. However, the 0.55-litre bin wasn’t that great for pet hair, mind, because half of it got trapped around the suction cylinder and we had to remove the top lid to release it. Also, the style of roller supplied isn’t suitable for most carpets, especially those of the deeper variety.
The ROIDMI RS70 comes with the usual cluster of detail tools, including a small motorised cleaning head for stairs, bed sheets and the car. As a cordless vac for mostly hard floor homes, the RS70 performs extremely well and it’s a sterling mopper, too, for cleaning floor stains and small liquid spillages.
If you’re in the market for a commendable two-in-one hard-floor cordless vac that’s more versatile than most, the Roidmi RS70 is a unique, albeit expensive, option that’s easy to use and highly practical.
Check out our guide to the Best Hard Floor Cleaners
Why settle for a cordless stick vac or a cordless upright such as the Gtech AirRam Mk2 (the UK's favourite such vac is further down this list) when you can have a Lupe Pure Cordless, which does both?
Offering Dyson-rivalling battery life and even better cleaning power when used as an upright, the Pure doubles as a stick vac, converting in just a few seconds. The only downside to its stick incarnation is it does remain tethered to the upright portion – rather like the pull out handheld part of a Dyson corded upright, in fact.
However, with a great design and every part serviceable and/or replaceable, the Lupe Pure Cordless should last a lifetime, which is another big plus.
• Read our full Lupe Pure Review
Outdoing even the Lupe Pure in terms of cleaning options, Miele’s first cordless vac is a three-in-one system that allows you to configure it in a number of ways.
If you have the strength of Hercules, you can use it with the main power unit-cum-dust collector positioned near the top of the suction tube. Most cordless vacs use this method but many of them suffer as a result of the extra weight on the wrist and forearm – that’s the case with this model which is about 1kg heavier than the average Dyson.
Just as well, then, that Miele’s engineers gave us another option to mount the power unit to just above the cleaning head. This method is not only far easier on the wrist and forearm, it enables the unit to stand up on its own for easy storage and behave more like a standard upright cleaner. However, it doesn’t provide quite the same level of flexibility (getting under sofas and into tight spaces, etc).
The third configuration involves removing the main suction tube and using it as a hand vac for stairs, shelves and hard-to-reach areas.
For some reason (maximum battery efficiency apparently), Miele recommends the very first charge is carried out while the battery is attached to the power unit (oops). From thereon in the battery can be removed and charged separately. Unfortunately, there’s no status light on the battery or the charging plug (an oversight) so we’d recommend always leaving it attached to the power unit which at least has a row of battery status lights.
As the moniker suggests, the Triflex HX1 Cat & Dog is designed for pet owners. It certainly passes much muster in the pet hair arena though the small bagless dust collector does fill up very quickly, especially if your pet is of the long-haired variety. On the plus side, the collector is a doddle to empty.
Suction is excellent but you do have to keep the main brush head moving on carpets or it may stop spinning (a byproduct of the design that allows you to stand the unit upright while still on if pausing between sessions). Power wise, the Triflex comes with three levels of suction and runs for about 60 minutes on the lowest setting and about 17 minutes on the highest. Mind, the suction on even the lowest setting is ample for most vacuuming duties.
This pet-specific model comes with two heads: the main revolving Electrobrush Multi Floor which features LED headlights and a smaller ‘Electro Compact’ head with long revolving bristles for removing obstreperous pet hair. It also comes with the obligatory trio of small crevice tools. A long-life HEPA filter completes a very efficient but pricey package.
Tough as nails, the Triflex will appeal to fans of both Miele's build quality and its renowned reliability record. Available in any colour as long as it’s black.
How we test cordless vacuum cleaners
As we do not own a testing lab, with robot arms pushing vacs along lengths of mind-blowingly expensive carpet, the only way to test is in the homes of our reviewers. We put these machines through their paces on carpets and hard floors, doing day-to-day cleaning and also dealing with spills – both ones that happen naturally and ones we create ourselves.
We base our assessment of cleaning performance and battery life on real-world testing rather than going on what the manufacturers claim. Although at this point, it can be taken as read that any vac we recommend will last the usual 5-10 minutes on max power, 1 hour on the lowest setting and somewhere in the region of 20-30 minutes when on auto, eco and medium power settings.
Want to know more? Discover how we test at T3.
What is the best cordless vacuum?
Our top choices for best cordless vac come from Dyson, Panasonic and Vax. The best cordless vacuum cleaner overall, and just the best vacuum cleaner period, is the newish Dyson V15 Detect Absolute (opens in new tab). This model will quite happily take over from your corded vac because it’s exceptionally powerful. It even uses a laser beam to highlight dust and debris.
Although the 15 minutes or so of cleaning that you get on the V15’s highest setting seems rather fleeting, the two lower suction settings last much longer. I just keep it plugged in when not in use and it has literally never run out of juice in mid-clean, so theoretical arguments about how long it does or doesn't last seem rather moot. Also, the V15 (and V11) have battery meters that actually count down the time to the next required charge, so if nothing else, you can't claim to be taken by surprise.
The closest thing to a true 'Dyson killer' we’ve so far encountered is the Gtech AirRAM Platinum (opens in new tab) – an upright vac we unreservedly recommend. However, we still rate the Samsung Jet 90 Pro (opens in new tab) and, for those seeking a cheap Dyson alternative, the Vax ONEPWR Blade 4 (opens in new tab), which pretty much matches the Dysons when it comes to floor cleaning. Another excellent option is the UK's Halo Capsule (opens in new tab), which is a bagged, cordless vac made of carbon fibre that sucks like a big sucking thing.
How to buy the best cordless vac for your space
The best cordless vacuums come with one obvious advantage: no cord. This makes them so much easier to push around than the best vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab) (of all kinds) and they're also light enough to clean everywhere from the ceiling to the skirting board, as well as sucking up kitchen spills from worktops, dust from shelves (high and low), and so on.
They're a lot more convenient to use than the best robot vacuum cleaners (opens in new tab), especially if you're trying to clean a contained spillage (although robot vacuum cleaners certainly have their uses as well).
Because of the way they've developed since Dyson made them a more premium, versatile product, they're good for everything from traditional uses, such as cleaning out the footwell of your car, to properly vacuuming large expanses of carpet.
Cordless vacs do come with disadvantages. In order to keep the weight low enough to make them useful, the lithium-ion batteries they use can't be all that big and heavy, and so their battery life is invariably quite short – usually no more than 20 minutes at full power, up to 40 or so at the lower power settings (that nobody uses). Dyson has addressed this by gradually improving its batteries over the years, but now some other brands are taking a rather simpler approach to the problem and including two batteries.
A lot of homes' floors can be given a good enough clean in 20 minutes, especially if you're using your handheld daily to maintain a dust-free domicile. Your other option, of course, is to buy a corded vac (opens in new tab) for the weekly/monthly/annual Big Vacuuming and use the handheld for smaller tasks.
If you live in a house with lots of carpets and two or more bedrooms, a cordless vac is still a great supplement to your mains one. If you have a flat with mainly hard floors, you can probably forget about a cylinder or standup.
Of course, they're also ideal for cleaning your car, so you'll find some of the same models in this guide also in the best car vacuum (opens in new tab) buying guide.
Nearly all cordless vacs are bagless, which seems like a great feature initially. Then, when you come to empty their often small, usually translucent dust bins, you may initially find yourself cursing the day you ever bought one. With practice, if the vac is sufficiently well designed, this will become less of a problem, but the only one we'd unreservedly recommend in this department is the Dyson V8. Its bin emptying mechanism is sheer poetry in motion.
Finally, most stick vacs come with a range of heads for different surfaces, crevices, pet hair and so on. You can usually also buy cheaper versions of the vacs with just one or two basic heads, but, as the old saying goes, more heads are better than some.
Looking to clean hard floors or windows? Read T3's guide to the best hard floor cleaners and the best window vacs (opens in new tab).