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Smart-Review: Canister Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide | Best Canisters 2016

April 20, 2016 by  
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Canister Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Canister Vacuum Buying Guide 2016

Canister Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide 2016
Canister vacuums have traditionally been used mainly for hard floor surfaces, including hard wood floors, tile floors, and laminate. Today, many Canisters also have air driven or motorized brush bar tools, so you can also do carpeting. There are a large array of options with today’s Canisters, Many of today’s Canister vacuums filter the air with HEPA filters, especially important to those with allergies. SmartReview.com covers only vacuums that have received the highest consumer and professional reviews. This eliminates many models. This guide will provide you with the options available today in Canister vacuum cleaners. See our top 2016 picks in Canister vacuums.


Top PicksBest Rated Canister Vacuums 2016:
The canister vacuum is primarily designed for hardwood and tile floors, and low pile rugs/carpets. Some premium priced canisters can also vacuum medium and high pile carpets. Canisters are smaller, lighter and more maneuverable than uprights. They are ideal for stairs and under furniture.

The Best of 2016 Canister Vacuum Cleaners:

Top Canisters $300 and under:

Related Article: Best Canister Vacuums – Reviews and Comparison

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Vacuum HEPA FilterCanister HEPA Filters and Bags – A HEPA filter is the strongest type of filtration available on a vacuum. It can filter out tiny particles of dirt, dust and pet hair, preventing you from breathing in what you are vacuuming. HEPA stands for (High Efficiency Particulate Air). The HEPA standard removes 99.97% of all particles 0.3 microns or larger. Not all HEPA filters are the same. Miele brand vacuums have the best quality hepa filters, complete with a rubber gasket seal, and are independently certified. Miele created the world’s first HEPA certified vacuum. Many of the Miele models have sealed air tight systems which keep the dust in. Cheaper HEPA vacuums allow air to escape unfiltered if the filter is not gasket sealed, or from other parts of the vacuum. Based on our research, Miele has the best air filtering system on the market. So, if you are an allergy sufferer, this brand is superior (and more costly).


Best Canister Vacuums for Hardwood FloorsBest Canister Vacuums for Hardwood Floors – Hardwood floors are susceptible to scratching, so it is important that your vacuum have non marking rubber wheels. Cheaper vacuums use plastic wheels which can scratch your floors. Miele Canisters use non-marring rubber wheels. Canister vacuums have traditionally been used for hardwood floors, although you can use an upright. If you have a canister with a rolling beater brush, be sure that your vacuum allows you to turn off the beater brush when vacuuming hardwood floors as this can scratch your floors and scatter dirt and dust. You can also snag small rugs with the rolling brush. Strong suction is essential for getting dirt and dust between floor boards. This advice also is applicable to tile, and other bare floors. Some vacuums have special extra brushes (parquet floor brush for example) with soft bristles for hardwoods. Miele canister vacuums are especially suited for hardwood floors.


Best Vacuums for Pet HairBest Canister Vacuums for Pet Hair – Picking up pet hair can be a problem for underpowered and cheap vacuums. You need strong suction, and if you are doing medium/high pile carpets, a canister with floor attachment with a good beater brush is essential. Many pet or animal vacuums come with a turbo brush (air driven) to clean upholstery, stairs, cars and other smaller areas. We have found both Dyson and Miele brands to be highly rated for pet hair removal, as both have the high suction power required to remove pet hair.


Dyson Tangle-Free Mini Turbine Tool

Dyson's new Tangle-Free Mini Turbine Tool Video Demonstration (Click to Start)

Turbo and Turbine Tools – Most good pet vacuums include an air driven turbo or turbine tool to remove pet hair, dirt and dust from smaller areas inaccessible from the vacuum. This would include vacuuming upholstery, chairs, stairs, beds, car interiors, and other smaller areas.

Dyson has designed what we consider a superior “tangle-free” turbine tool, that removes long and short pet hair without tangling, as it has no beater bar for hair to wrap around like traditional turbine tools (see video on left).

Dyson includes this tool with the: Dyson Cinetic Animal Canister Vacuum (2015), and the Dyson DC39 Animal Canister Vacuum


Miele Power SettingsVariable Power Settings – Some of the higher end canister vacuums, such as Miele Canisters have variable power settings on their canisters. This varies the amount of suction from the vacuum by controlling the suction motor speed. This comes in handy to keep noise down when you don’t need full power, and when cleaning delicate drapes, small rugs, and upholstery. Your vacuum is quieter as well. Cheaper vacuums vary suction by cutting off the air suction, not the motor speed, or have no suction control (always at full power).


Vacuum HeadlightsCanister Vacuum Headlights – Headlights on vacuums can help you see the dirt, dust, and pet hair in dark areas, near walls, and under furniture. You can see objects that you don’t want to vacuum as well. Headlights on canisters are usually built-in to the floor tool. Headlights are not as common on canisters as uprights.

Canister Vacuums with Headlights:


Soft Carpet Canister

Miele’s Soft Carpet Canister Vacuum

Best Plush & Soft Carpet Canister Vacuum Cleaners – Soft plush carpets from Mohawk and Shaw are becoming popular. Going under brands such as SmartStrand Silk, Caress®, Karastan, and Soft Spring. Many traditional vacuums are having trouble with this type of carpet. The ultra dense soft carpets form a suction seal, making it difficult to move the vacuum. Heavier vacuums sink into the carpet, so lightweight vacuums are better. We have looked at the manufacturer recommended list of best canister vacuums for this type of carpeting, and chosen the top-rated ones that are designed to deal with this type of carpet. Most have larger wheels, and venting to prevent the suction lock of traditional vacuums.


Vacuum HeadlightsCanister Vacuums Motorized Floor Head: – If the canister vacuum has a motorized floor head (powerhead), it means that the rotating brush is powered by electricity instead of being air driven. This will give you more power, and it is ideal for medium to high carpets, and plusher carpets and rugs. This is the best type for those with Pets and removal of pet hair.

Canister Vacuums with a Motorized Floor Head:


Vacuum BagBagged Vs. Bagless Vacuums – Both Bagged and Bagless canister vacuums have their advantages and disadvantages. If you don’t want to touch or be exposed to the dirt, dust, pollen, pet dander and other allergens, then a bagged vacuum may be your best bet. Some vacuums (Miele and Oreck for example) have vacuum bags that seal themselves as soon as you remove them. Bagged vacuums usually hold more dirt than bagless bins. Bagless vacuums have the advantage of not having to buy vacuum bags, and you can see the dirt in the clear dust bin as its vacuumed. With bagless vacuums you have to clean the filter in the dust bin, which can be messy, and are exposed to dust when emptying the bin in the trashcan. Dyson bagless vacuums keep the filter cleaner than other vacuums with its cyclonic action. Suction loss in bagless vacuums is usually from clogged filters.

Telescoping Wands – A canister with telescoping wands allows you to have an extended reach for ceilings, ceiling fans, drapes, walls, and other areas that require extended range.

Brush on/off feature – This is an important feature, especially for canisters with a rotating beat bar, which allows you to turn off the rotating brushes when vacuuming hard floors (especially hardwood floors), and delicate rugs.

Electric Hose – For canister vacuums, an electric hose is wired up to provide electricity to attachments, such as a motorized brush floor tool. If the hose is not electrically powered, then the brush tools will be air powered. Motorized brush heads tend to be more effective on carpet.

Related Article: Canister Vacuums with Electric Hose & Motorized Head


Retractable CordRetractable Cord – A retractable cord is a convenience feature on some vacuums that allows you to press a button and reel in the cord automatically into the vacuum. These are very common on Canister vacuums. The cords of these types of vacuums tend to be shorter than regular non-retractable cord vacuums.

Cord Length – A longer cord length will allow you to vacuum larger areas without having to change to another electrical socket. Uprights usually have longer cords than canisters.


Quiet Vacuums – Some vacuums are more sound insulated than others, or can dial down the power settings for quieter usage. Miele Canister Vacuums are know to be quieter than other vacuums as they are sound insulated and provide the ability to change power settings.


Rotating BrushRotating Brush Head for Canisters – The vacuum head of a canister vacuum floor tool can either use straight suction, or if so equipped use a rotating brush head. The brush head is used for vacuuming carpets. The rotating brush can be air powered (turbo) or use electric power (using a separate motor). If it is electrically powered it must have what is called an “Electric Hose” to provide power. An electric rotating brush is also referred to as a “Powerhead”. The rotating brush can be turned on and off when on bare, tile or hardwood floors.

Standard Attachments – Most canister vacuums also include a crevice tool (for tight spaces), dusting brush, and upholstery tool (remove dust from upholstery, curtains, and other fabrics). Most canister vacuums come standard with floor tools such as a bare floor tool, and/or a tool with a brush bar (air or electrically powered). Many pet vacuums come with a handheld brush tool to get smaller areas, like couches, stairs, cars.

Cheap Canister Vacuums – Although initially looking like a bargain, we have found many of the cheaper priced vacuums don’t last long, have poor consumer reviews, are made with inferior plastics/metals, are improperly sealed and smell when vacuuming, and have fewer features than higher priced vacuums. We only feature vacuums with high consumer ratings regardless of price. Only about 20% of canister vacuum models make it to our site.

Professional Vs. Consumer Reviews – Some of the vacuums that are reported to be top models by leading professional consumer magazines/websites can be misleading. The reason is that they are testing these vacuums over a short period of time, and are not in a real home environment. We have found many of the leading models from professional reviews get poor consumer ratings. This is because over time, flaws and poor quality can show up, that don’t show up in the short-term under laboratory conditions. Some products perform well for short-term pickup and suction tests, but fail ultimately in the long-term. We believe consumer reviews to be an excellent indicator of quality, not only in the short-term, but the long term.

Vacuum Ratings and Reviews – Many vacuums get poor consumer ratings. This is either the result of poor design, short longevity, poor filtration, and sometimes a burning smell/bad noise while operating. In the universe of vacuums, two brands stand out for us. Those are Miele and Dyson which both consistently receive extremely high consumer ratings. The reason is superior design, and quality of materials. Miele Canister Vacuums are tested and designed to last 20 years. Dyson vacuums have unique design features and their bins are made of polycarbonate, the same material used for riot shields. Other vacuums we list are the best 2015-2016 models of their respective brands.


Related Article: Best Miele Canister Vacuums Roundup and Comparison

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