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Shark Rocket PowerHead (AH452)

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Avg. consumer rating = 94/100 

The Shark Rocket PowerHead model AH452 is something of a hybrid between an upright and a stick vacuum.  It is fairly lightweight (for an upright) and has some unique design features including placing most components in the cleaner head and interchangeable brushrolls. Consumer ratings are excellent and owners like the strong suction, easy operation & maintenance, and also the performance on bare surfaces and carpet.  It does not come with a hose or attachments however and this reduces the machine’s ability to be an all-around vacuum cleaner.

 

Quick Specs
Type Upright/Stick-Vac
Bagged/Bagless Bagless
Best for... Hard Floors & Carpet
Pet Hair Features No
Approx. Weight 9 lbs
HEPA Level Filtration No
Power Cord Length 30 ft
Motor Driven Brushbar Yes
Warranty 5 Years

 

First let’s highlight the differences between the 4 different Shark Rocket Powerhead models:

  AH452/AH452W AH401 AH400
Number of Brushrolls  2  2  1
Power Cord Length (ft)  30  25  25
Telescopic Handle  Y  N  N
Headlight  Y  N  N

 

Consumer Ratings
Consumer ratings for the Powerhead are excellent and we’ve split them into two groups: one group for the AH452 and another for the AH401.  The AH452W is the same as the AH452W and the AH400 is not particularly popular so they have been left out.

When the ratings for the AH452 below are averaged (we use a weighted average) they generate a very healthy score of 93.5 out of a possible 100.  The AH401 score is 90.3 which is still nothing to sneeze at.  You can compare these to other stick vacs and uprights in our stick vacuum ratings table and upright vacuum ratings table.

AH452
Source Consumer Ratings #Ratings
Amazon 4.7 stars out of 5 127
Bed, Bath & Beyond 4.6 stars out of 5 42
 
AH401
 Source  Consumer Ratings #Ratings
 Amazon  4.4 stars out of 5  22
 Lowe's  3.5 stars out of 5  8
 Target  5 stars out of 5  15
 Home Depot            4.6 stars out of 5  25
 Kohls  4.6 stars out of 5  14

 

Shark Rocket Front View

Owner Insights & Tests
A review of owner comments – and our own experience with the vacuum – yields the following likes and dislikes:

PROS
- Easy to assemble – you are up and running in 5 minutes
- Respectable level of suction
- Dust canister is easy to remove, empty and reattach
- Works great on both carpet and bare floors
- Interchangeable brushroll feature works well
- Long warranty – especially for the price point
- All filters are washable
- Small footprint
- Simple and easy to operate and maintain

CONS
- Not so great for stairs
- Doesn’t come with a hose
- No attachments
- Can require some muscle to move on deeper pile carpet

In the course of working with and testing this vacuum we found that it was easy to pick up and move around and that it was fairly maneuverable (the swivel head works well).  Also, the long power cord gives the machine a good cleaning reach.

The dust canister is easy to access, empty and re-attach and we didn’t find that debris got hung up inside the canister.  With some other machines we have noticed the tendency for dust/debris to get stuck in the canister and it can be difficult to get out.  You often have to reach in and try and dig it out by hand.  We didn’t have this problem with the Powerhead.  The canister is a little on the small side however.

The “swap out” brushroll feature is not a gimmick.  It works very well and swapping rollers takes under a minute.  The top access roller feature is very easy to use.  We are a little surprised at not having seen this approach on many other machines.  Having a specialized roller for carpet and one for hard surfaces is nice and the rollers are easy to access and clean.

AH452 Interchangeable Brushrolls

The machine performs well on small and medium size debris on carpet and there was no scatter when vacuuming hard floors – despite having the brushroll spinning.  We tested hard floor (tile) cleaning with the brushbar on both Hi and Lo and in both cases the pickup was good and there was no scatter of debris.

One side of the Powerhead nozzle is marked with the words “Edge Cleaning” and we ran this side along our baseboards to see how well it performed.  It did a very good job and accessed debris up tight against the baseboards.

Shark Powerhead Edge Cleaning

A few areas where the machine struggled included some of our tests on deeper pile carpet.  We did notice that with larger debris (we used fruit loops) on medium to deep pile carpet the machine had a tendency to push the debris forward as opposed to sucking it up.  This is likely due to the lack of height controls on the nozzle.  The nozzle just wasn’t high enough to go overtop the larger material.  This wasn’t so much of an issue on the low pile carpet however.

Shark AH452 Noise LevelAlso, on a deeper pile carpet the Powerhead required a little more muscle to pull back (the back stroke of the vacuuming motion).  There is a suction release valve on the nozzle head however which helps – to some degree.

Our audio tests indicated that the Shark Rocket Powerhead is not a particularly quiet vacuum.  It tested louder than the Shark Rotator NV752 and was about as loud as a Dyson DC65.  Repeated tests showed a noise range of 74-78 decibels for the NV752 and 80-82 decibels for the Rocket.  It is certainly acceptable but we wouldn’t call this a quiet vacuum.

The Shark Rocket Powerhead also does not come with a hose or any attachments/tools so it also doesn’t allow for above floor cleaning.  In addition, with no hose and a large cleaning head this machine is a bit tricky to use on stairs.

You may wish to check out our comprehensive video review below.  We walk through the vacuum features and run it through a series of tests.

 

What are others saying?
With predominantly high ratings from consumers, you would expect the bulk of comments and insights related to the Powerhead to be positive – and they are.  People really like the interchangeable roller feature.  Owners reports that the Gentle Touch Hardfloor Brushroll works well on bare floors.  The Deep Clean Carpet Brushroll is also effective at pulling up pet hair and other dust and debris from carpet.
 
In addition, some folks report not bothering to swap out the roller when moving from carpet to bare floors.  Some flooring isn’t too delicate so you don’t have to worry about the stiff carpet brushroll brushes scratching it and you can just slow the brushroll (use Lo power mode) so that it isn’t too aggressive.  

Shark Rocket Back view with Power CordPeople with soft, delicate flooring are also pleased to have a soft, gentle brushroll that they can use on their delicate hard floor.  It is extra work switching out brushrolls but it is worth it to ensure there is no scratching or marring of the floor surface.

A number of owners report using the unit with no roller at all on bare floors - Shark doesn’t appear to mention this approach but it is possible.  We tried it ourselves just to see how it worked but the pickup was only average.  It definitely performs better with the brushroll.

Many people highlight how lightweight the vacuum is and like how easy it is to carry up and down stairs or from room to room.   They are also pleased with the length of the power cord.
 
Several owners have commented positively on the Powerhead’s ability to pull up lots of dust and dirt from carpet even after it has been vacuumed with their old machine (they don’t often elaborate on the make and model of their “old machine” however).

While the vacuum gets great reviews and ratings from consumers it is not perfect.  Like us, a number of folks feel that it is not a particularly good machine for cleaning stairs.  There are also some complaints that the small dust canister needs to be emptied frequently and that the machine can be difficult to move on deeper pile carpet.

In addition, some owners feel that due to its compact size it is not really the best fit for larger homes but is better for light cleanups and a smaller apartment or home.  

You can read more Shark Powerhead owner comments on Amazon if you like.

More Details & Specifications
The Shark Rocket PowerHead is a bagless vacuum cleaner and it comes with two interchangeable brushrolls:

-Deep Clean Carpet Brushroll – This brushroll has 2 rows of very stiff bristles.  It is useful on all floor types but optimized for carpet.
-Gentle Touch Hardfloor Brushroll – This brushroll has 4 rows of very soft fibers.  It is useful for enhanced bare surface cleaning that won’t scratch delicate flooring.

One of the innovative features of this vacuum is the ability to remove the brushroll from the top of the nozzle and easily replace it with another brushroll.  Indeed the brushrolls do come out and go back in very easily – it takes seconds.  The brushrolls also each have a deep groove that makes it easy to insert a pair of scissors and cut away wrapped up hair/thread/string/etc.  In addition, these brushrolls can be rinsed under a tap (and reinserted when dry).  This kind of easy access and maintenance with respect to brushrolls is not something we have encountered before and we like it.  It is smart design.

Shark Powerhead Carpet Brushroll

In addition, the second brushroll is carried on-board the vacuum in what Shark call the brushroll holster which attaches via a strap and some clips to the vacuum wand.  It stays put fairly well and it is useful - you don’t have to go digging though the storage closet for the other brushroll.

Shark Powerhead HandleThis vacuum also has Hi and Lo power settings and while we’ve seen this on other vacuums we haven’t really seen it done in quite the same way.  The Hi and Lo setting do not relate to vacuum suction but rather to the speed at which the brushroll spins.  The OFF/LO/HI controls are located conveniently on the vacuum handle and are essentially at your fingertips.  Also, while there is no brushroll OFF switch (the OFF on the handle is vacuum cleaner power OFF) the brushroll will turn OFF when the vacuum is in the full upright position.  It will only engage when the vacuum handle is leaned back.

According to the Shark Rocket Powerhead manual the following settings allow for cleaning on a range of surfaces:

Deep Clean Carpet Brushroll
- Lo Setting: Gentle on hard floors and also good for area rugs
- Hi Setting: For deep cleaning carpet

Gentle Touch Hard Floor Brushroll
- Lo setting: For large and heavy debris pickup on hard floors
- Hi setting: For loose and stuck-on dust and debris on hard floors

There is also a suction release valve on the cleaner head.  This – when slid open – will reduce suction to the floor.  It is a good idea to use this if you are having difficulty pushing or pulling the vacuum on deep pile carpet.  It is also useful when vacuuming area rugs which may have a tendency to be pulled up due to high suction.  Note - you will sometimes see this feature referred to as variable suction but in our experience true variable suction involves changing the motor speed and overall level of vacuum suction.

Suction Release Switch

The unit has something that Shark refers to as Dynamic Steering Technology.  This is - to some extent - fancy marketing jargon as the vacuum has two large wheels at the back and a couple of smaller felt-covered wheels in the middle of the cleaner head.  The vacuum handle also swivels thereby allowing the head to turn much easier, especially when the vacuum is running.  These combined features actually work quite well but don't appear to be part of some "standout technology".  

When pushing the vacuum without power it feels a bit heavy and awkward due to all the weight being in the head of the vacuum.  However with the power ON the machine is more maneuverable than it looks and most folks, including us, feel it moves fairly well.

This vacuum seems to break a lot of the rules and given our tests and consumer ratings this is not necessarily a bad thing.  All of the cleaning components are in the vacuum cleaning head - the motor, the brushroll, the dust canister, and the filters.  So why do this?  According to Shark there are a few reasons:

1) Having all the components in the cleaner head significantly reduces the airflow path from the floor to the dust canister and therefore increases vacuum efficiency

2) This configuration keeps most of the vacuum weight on the floor and not in your hand.

The increase in efficiency (#1 above) may relate to shorter distances and less corners for the air to travel thereby reducing friction and helping keep suction strong.  Keeping the vacuum weight on the floor (#2 above) presumably makes it easier to move and while we would agree that the handle is very easy to move, it also translates into having to use a little more wrist effort in our opinion.

As mentioned, the dust canister is in the cleaner head.  This is very different but it works well.  It is easy to remove, empty and reattach.  There is a small footswitch that allows you to remove the canister and a button on the side of the canister for opening the bottom and emptying.  It is also very easy to place back into the machine.  The capacity of the canister is a little on the small side.  But this is not really a full size upright so a smaller canister is to be expected to some degree.

Shark Rocket Dust Canister

There are 3 filters in this vacuum: 2 pre-motor filters in the dust canister and 1 post motor filter on the top of the cleaner head.  All are washable and should be rinsed about once per month to keep the vacuum operating optimally.  It should be noted that this vacuum does not have a HEPA-level filter.

Shark Rocket Pre Motor Filters

Shark Rocket Powerhead Post Motor Filter

There is also a brushroll indicator light near the back of the cleaner head.  The color of this light indicates a few things:  

- Green: The brushroll is on and working as it should.
- Red: There is a jam in the brushroll area. Turn your vacuum off and remove the blockage.
- Flashing Red: The Motorized Floor Nozzle is overheating. Turn your vacuum off and wait for it to cool down.

The cleaning path width of the Shark Rocket Powerhead is 10.5 inches which is reasonable.  Sometimes you see this reported as 12 inches but this is incorrect (we have measured it).  The nozzle itself is 12.25 inches wide but the suction/brushbar area within the nozzle is only 10.5 inches wide.  A wide cleaning path width covers more area in one pass of the vacuum than a narrow cleaning path width, and while this is nice, if it is too wide the nozzle can be unwieldy and also difficult to fit into tight/narrow areas.  The nozzle on the Powerhead is a good size.

The handle of the vacuum is telescoping so it can be set to short or long depending on how tall you are – there are 5 settings.  It worked well for us (I’m about 5’8”).   

You can see what is included with the vacuum in the image below.  Notice that there is no hose or tools provided with the Powerhead.

In the Box - Shark Rocket Powerhead

The Shark Rocket Powerhead model AH452 has a 30 foot power cord which is nice and long, especially for a smaller vacuum like this.  It also has a headlight at the front of the cleaner head that should last the lifetime of the vacuum, and the vacuum (without the power cord) weighs in at 9 lbs.  Finally, the Powerhead carries a lengthy 5-year limited warranty which is quite good at this price point.

Vacuum Cleaner Manual
If you want to learn more about this machine and also see some information on features, maintenance and troubleshooting you can check out the manual here: Shark Rocket Powerhead Manual.

 

 

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Comments  

0 # Karen Freeman 2017-01-04 19:41
My Shark Rocket broke & I have to send it back to the company. I was told the handle detaches for easier shipping but can't figure out how to get it off. It is only extending to full height but not separating from the blue section. Please advise how to detach.
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0 # Nigel - admin at VCA 2017-01-04 23:40
Hi Karen,

We tried to detach the handle as well but no luck. However it is done, it doesn't seem to be obvious. Perhaps another reader may have the solution?
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0 # Kathy 2017-03-30 20:18
There are two slots on the blue handle. Get a big slotted screwdriver and push it in while pulling up the handle. That will release the handle
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About Me

Hello!

I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer originally from the west coast of Canada.  I love to review vacuums and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I make every effort to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide average consumer ratings for each and every vacuum cleaner I investigate.  My ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.  

I also like to help when I can so feel free to send comments.


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