In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best Shark vacuum cleaners on the market. There’s no shortage of different models and varieties out there and many models can look really similar. This guide is designed to better help you understand the differences between the various Shark models, and ultimately, decide which vacuum is best for you.
The Shark lineup includes many different vacuums ranging from powerful uprights, portable handhelds, and even autonomous robots. The price point for the Shark vacuum generally falls in that middle-of-the-road range, nothing unbelievably expensive with excessive bells and whistles but certainly nice enough to provide a quality clean.
Today, we’re going to focus on seven of the most popular Shark vacuum cleaners including a variety of different vacuum types. First, we’ve got the Shark Navigator. The Navigator is one of the most popular styles of Shark vacuum and for good reason. This series is reasonably priced and comes in a wide variety of different sub models.
Three of the most popular sub models include: the Navigator Lift Away Pro, the Navigator Pro, and the Navigator Freestyle. The Navigator Lift Away is a traditional upright vacuum. As the name indicates, it includes a canister that lifts away from the body of the vacuum. This allows you to vacuum harder to reach places, like stairs or tight areas, without dragging the entire vacuum around.
It has an extra-large dustbin caster that can hold up to 2.2 course of debris, almost twice the capacity of the Shark Rotator Lift Away, which is another model that we’ll touch on in a bit. On the downside, the Navigator Lift Away is a little more difficult to maneuver compared to the newer lightweight stick vacuums.
We tested the Shark Navigator in our cleaning lab and the performance on high pile carpet was a little lacking, in my opinion, where it only captured about 60% of debris on average during our cleaning tests. However, the Shark Navigator Pro dominated hard surfaces and low pile carpets, where it scored an average of 95%.
The regular Shark Navigator Pro, also known as the NV70, is similar to the Pro Lift Away with one difference, no lift out canister. The standard Navigator Pro has the advantages of coming in at a lower price point and also a higher dustbin capacity, up to 3.5 dry quarts.
As potential disadvantages, the Shark Navigator Pro is a little harder to maneuver than the Lift Away. It doesn’t have the option of the lighter canister and is about two pounds heavier as an upright compared to the Lift Away Pro.
If you’re looking for something even more lightweight, you may be interested in the Shark Navigator Freestyle. This model is one of Shark’s most affordable upright vacuums. It’s a bit of a cross between an upright and a stick vacuum due to its compact size and maneuverability. It’s cordless, bagless, and lightweight at just a little over seven pounds.
It comes with two power settings: one for carpet and one for hard flooring. One possible disadvantage with this vacuum: many third party reviewers note that this vacuum doesn’t feel like a replacement for a full traditional upright vacuum. However, they still note that it is good for quick cleans.
The Shark Rotator Lift Away Pro is another one of Shark’s most popular models. There are a few important differences they will want to note between the Rotator and the Navigator. The Rotator has a smaller dustbin capacity and is heavier, 15.5 pounds for the Rotator versus 13.7 pounds for the Navigator Lift Away Pro. But what it lacks in dustbin size and weight it makes up for in overall cleaning performance and lower annual maintenance costs.
Overall, the Shark Rotator drives and feels like a higher quality vacuum while the Navigator feels a little bit more baseline. The Rotator performed well on our cleaning test, scoring an 86% overall. As would the Navigator, the biggest struggle for the Rotator was on high pile carpets.
For cleaning on the go, the Shark Pet Perfect 2 is one of Shark’s most popular handheld models. The Pet Perfect 2 is compact, cordless, and expensive. It comes with three accessories including a crevice tool, bristle brush, and motorized brush roll in addition to the charging cradle. Of course, with something so small, it’s certainly not going to be the end-all be-all of vacuum cleaners.
During our cleaning tests, the Pet Perfect 2 performed exceptionally well, scoring 98% across all three floor types. The biggest downside to the Pet Perfect 2 is the battery. A new battery costs as much as an entire new unit, so if the battery dies, you’ll probably have to replace the entire unit.
If you’re looking for something with more bells and whistles, Shark does offer a few ultra high-end models, including their Shark IONFlex and Shark APEX models. There are a couple different versions within each of these models but the two most popular are the Shark IONFlex DuoClean and the Shark APEX Powered Lift Away.
Ion means cordless and flex means flexible stick in the Shark world. The DuoClean signifies their newest technology that is basically an advanced brush roll. It uses two brush rolls to collect debris of all sizes. Despite the new bells and whistles, there are two small disadvantages to the IONFlex DuoClean, including a relatively short runtime as well as a fairly high price tag.
The APEX DuoClean Powered Lift Away is another advanced Shark vacuum. The DuoClean technology on the APEX is basically identical to that of the IONFlex vacuum. It has the dual brush roll and is able to easily clean up large debris. The APEX is also a lift away model. Like the Navigator or Rotator, the APEX Lift Away has a removable canister that allows you to carry a portable version of the vacuum around as you clean.
Lastly, let’s talk about the APEX. APEX includes a variety of advanced pieces and parts including DuoClean technology, HEPA filtration, an anti-allergen complete seal system, noise reduction technology, the lift away canister, and active glide technology for a smoother cleaning run. All these fancy items basically mean better cleaning performance, especially with small particles, less noise, and better mobility.