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How to Buy the Best Dyson Stick Vacuum - 3 Easy Steps

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We demystify the Dyson stick vacs and help you make the best buying decision. 

Many people want one of the stylish new Dyson stick vacuums, but when they start shopping they see a bewildering array of options.  The popular stick vac series include the V7, V8, V10, V11, and each of these has different models - Absolute, Animal, Motorhead, Torque Drive, etc.  Frankly, it can all be very confusing.  And buying the wrong vacuum is a frustrating and expensive mistake. Learn about the different vacuums and then follow our 3 easy steps to ensure you get the right Dyson cordless for your cleaning needs.
 

VACUUM SERIES AND MODELS

There are currently four Dyson stick vacuum series – the V7, the V8, the V10, and the V11 (you can still get the V6 but it is slowly disappearing).  Popular models within each series include the following:

V11 – Absolute, Torque Drive, Animal
V10 – Absolute, Animal, Motorhead
V8 – Absolute, Animal
V7 – Absolute, Animal, Motorhead
 
There are some other models out there but the ones listed above are the most popular and the ones you are most likely to run into.
 
Dyson cordless vacuums
 
Absolute
“Absolute” models are the premier units and they come with the most tools and attachments.  Most notable of these is the soft roller cleaner head attachment (great for cleaning hard flooring) and the mini motorized tool (great for stairs, powerful cleaning in cramped areas, and pet hair).
 
Animal
The “Animal” models are second tier (except in the case of the V11 where it is the bottom end).  They do not come with the soft roller cleaner head but usually include the mini motorized tool.  Other tools/attachments vary.
 
Motorhead
“Motorhead” units are the more affordable models and have the least number of tools and attachments.  However these models sometimes vary more than by just tools/attachments.  Motorheads can be a great choice but it depends on your cleaning needs.
 
Torque Drive
This model was introduced with the V11.  The Torque Drive is a mid-range model - it is the same as the V11 Absolute but it does not include the soft roller cleaner head.  Note that in the USA you are only likely to find the V11 Torque Drive and the V11 Animal. The V11 Absolute is hard to find.
 
Dyson V11 Absolute wand
 
For full lists of what is included with each model see our more detailed reviews:
Dyson V7 vs V8
 

KEY VACUUM SPECIFICATIONS

There are many differences between the vacuums but we are going to focus only on the following key differentiators: 

Suction power
For the most part, the newer the Dyson cordless vacuum the more suction you get – at least in Maximum power mode.  However the units have different power modes and suction in Lower power modes doesn’t really follow any rule.  Suction figures are very important especially when you start comparing run times (consider that you could get a very long run time with very weak suction but that would not be particularly useful – ultimately you want long run times combined with strong suction).
 
The following table provides the manufacturer’s suction figures:
  V7 V8 V10 V11
LOW power 21 Air Watts 28 Air Watts 15.8 Air Watts 26 Air Watts
MED power N/A N/A 33.8 Air Watts 38.6 Air Watts
MAX power 100 Air Watts 115 Air Watts 151 Air Watts 185 Air Watts
 
We’ve also created a short video where we walk through the V7, V8, V10, V11 suction figures:

Run Time
We’ve tested the run times of each vacuum and tabulated them below.  These tests were done with a powered cleaner head on low pile carpet.  It is a good idea to also consider suction when looking at these figures.
 
The following table provides the tested run time figures:
  V7 V8 V10 V11
LOW power 23 min 28 sec 27 min 28 sec 40 min 17 sec 55 min 14 sec
MED power N/A N/A 20 min 23 sec 44 min 17 sec
MAX power 6 min 22 sec 7 min 45 sec 7 min 14 sec 12 min 52 sec
 
We’ve also created a short video where we walk through the V7, V8, V10, V11 run times.

Weight
Weight can be a very important specification for some people, especially those who may have difficulty with a heavier vacuum.  Also, if you do lots of handheld vacuum work you may want to pay particular attention to the handheld component weights (remember that these Dyson cordless units are both stick vacs and handheld vacuums).
 
  V7 V8 V10 V11
Stick vacuum 5.3 lbs * 5.75 lbs 5.9 lbs ** 6.68 lbs
Handheld only 3.1 lbs 3.5 lbs 3.65 lbs *** 4.45 lbs
 
* for Animal and Absolute. Motorhead=5.45 lbs
** for Animal and Absolute. Motorhead=5.5 lbs
*** for Animal and Absolute. Motorhead=3.43 lbs
 
Controls
Controls on the eariler Dyson cordless units were pretty simple.  You had two power modes and a single light to tell you if the unit was charging.  Later models added additional power modes and features.
  V7 V8 V10 V11
2 power settings        
3 power settings      
Auto power setting        
Trouble lights        *
Trouble videos        **
 
* Animal only (has LED control panel)
** Absolute and Torque Drive only (shows troubleshooting videos in LCD control panel) 
 
A Note on the V10 Motorhead
The V10 Motorhead a little different from the V10 Absolute and the V10 Animal.  The Motorhead has a smaller dust canister, a shorter wand, a different cleaner head, and it even weighs less.  As a result run times are different, typically lower, than the other V10s (run times in the table above are for the Animal and Absolute).  If the V10 Motorhead is of interest you may want to read:
Dyson V10 Absolute vs Animal vs Motorhead
 

SO WHAT DO YOU BUY? (3 EASY STEPS)

Given the above information (and our own experience testing, reviewing and working with these vacuums) we have created a step-by-step guide to find the best Dyson stick vac for your cleaning needs. Underneath each choice are the most suitable vacuums for that choice. 

STEP 1
 
QUESTION - WHAT IS YOUR FLOORING LIKE?
 
A) Mostly hard flooring
You want the soft roller cleaner head.  This cleaner head is by far the most effective cleaner head on smooth flooring.  Only the Absolute models come with this cleaner head (it can be bought separately but you have to make sure you get the right one and they tend to be costly). 
  • V7 Absolute
  • V8 Absolute
  • V10 Absolute
  • V11 Absolute
 
B) Mostly carpet (or about 50/50 hard flooring to carpet)
You don’t really need the Absolute so forget paying the premium for those models.  You can get an Animal or a Motorhead.  The Animal will include a few more tools than the Motorhead.  Check the tool differences (see Dyson V7 vs V8 and Dyson V10 vs V11 for tool sets) and decide what you want. In the case of the V11 you could consider both the Torque Drive or the Animal (neither comes with the soft roller cleaner head).
  • V7 Motorhead
  • V7 Animal
  • V8 Animal
  • V10 Motorhead
  • V10 Animal
  • V11 Animal
  • V11 Torque Drive
 
STEP 2
 
QUESTION - HOW LONG IS YOUR TYPICAL CLEANING SESSION?
 
C) 20-25 min or less
AND you chose A in Step 1
  • V7 Absolute
  • V8 Absolute
 
D) 20-25 min or less
AND you chose B in Step 1
  • V7 Animal
  • V7 Motorhead
  • V8 Animal
 
E) 30 minutes or more
AND you chose A in Step 1
  • V10 Absolute
  • V11 Absolute
 
F) 30 minutes or more
AND you chose B in Step 1
  • V10 Animal
  • V10 Motorhead
  • V11 Torque Drive
  • V11 Animal
 
You should now have one group of targeted Dyson stick vac options (C,D,E,or F above). 
 
STEP 3
 
In Step 3 you further narrow your options by considering additional filters. Vacuums that overlap between your Step 2 options and the options provided with the suggested additional filters (below) are the best choices.
 
ADDITIONAL FILTERS
 
dyson cordlessYou want a very lightweight vacuum
This of course this depends on your weight threshold but the lightest units are the V7’s and oddly, the V10 Motorhead.
  • V7 Absolute
  • V7 Animal
  • V7 Motorhead
  • V10 Motorhead
 
You simply want the most power and the longest run times
The V11 with its large battery is the most powerful of the Dyson stick vacs, and it has the longest run times.  All models have the same battery. You may want to see our detailed V11 review.
  • V11 Absolute
  • V11 Torque Drive
  • V11 Animal
 
Your main focus is affordability
The V7’s are the least expensive units and the Motorhead and the Animal are the most affordable V7s.
  • V7 Motorhead
  • V7 Animal
 
You want the latest Dyson stick vac with all the features and gadgets
The V11s are the most advanced and the Absolute and the Torque Drive have the fancy LED control interface.
  • V11 Absolute
  • V11 Torque Drive
 
You want the best air filtration possible
All Dyson stick vacuums have top notch air filtration EXCEPT the V7 Motorhead or the V7 Absolute (they do not have HEPA filters).  If you must have the best air filtration do not get either of these.
 
You need as fast a recharge time as possible
The fastest recharge times are the V7 and the V10 at 3.5 hrs.  The V8 takes a full 5 hours and the official figure for the V11 is about 4.5 hours. 
 
You have significant pet hair to deal with
You probably want vacuums with the mini motorized tool, as such you may not want a Motorhead.

If you’ve narrowed things down too far you may be left with no matches, so you may want to remove a filter. If you haven’t narrowed things down far enough you may still be left with several matches in which case you could add some of your own additional filters such as “cost” or “tools/attachments provided”.
 
The links below should help with costs:

4. V8 Absolute --> Check price on Amazon
5. V8 Animal --> Check price on Amazon

Dyson V7 and Dyson V8
 
 

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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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