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Shark ION P50 Review

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Avg. rating = 88/100 

Like a number of other Shark vacuums we have tested, the P50 is somewhat unique.  Shark has managed to pack a host of features into one machine and in so doing created a vacuum that is both fascinating and a little hard to classify.  But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good.  On the contrary, the P50 does many things well.  It is lightweight for an upright, it is cord-free, it has a removable battery, it uses two brushrolls, and it can be used - to some degree - as an upright, a stick vac, or a handheld.  However, it’s not as powerful as most full-size corded uprights, and it’s not as light and maneuverable as most smaller stick vacs.

Quick Specs
Type Upright
Bagged/Bagless Bagless
Best for... Hard Floors & Carpet
Pet Hair Features No
Approx. Weight 12 lbs
HEPA Level Filtration Yes
Power Cord Length Cordless
Motor Driven Brushbar Yes
Warranty 5 Years
 
Disclosure: We recently approached Shark and asked for several vacuums to review.  They agreed and sent the P50 over.  Thanks Shark!  Also, please note that this in no way affects how we review the vacuum.
 

Models

There are two P50 models - the IC160 and the IC162 (we have this model).  The machines are the same but the peripherals are different.

Model IC160
- 8 inch Crevice Tool
- Dusting Brush
- ION Power Core Charger
- ION Power Core Battery
 
Model IC162
- Duster Crevice Tool
- Dusting Brush
- Upholstery Tool
- ION Power Core Charging Cradle
- ION Power Core Charger
- ION Power Core Battery
 
Both models appear to have the same color scheme.  Shark calls the color scheme “limestone”.

Consumer Ratings

There are very few of what we would call verified owner consumer ratings at this time.  This vacuum is also still relatively new (at the time of this writing).  We will revisit consumer ratings when there are more reviews to assess. 
 
We usually create a score for each vacuum based on the average of its consumer ratings, but in this case we have created our own score for the ION P50 (adjusted carefully to ensure it fits in approximately where we feel it should with respect to the other vacuums on the site).
 
88/100Vacuum Cleaner Advisor scoring:
Value for money = 4/5
Cleaning - bare floors = 4.5/5
Cleaning - carpet = 4/5
Cleaning - pet hair = 4/5
Cleaning - edges =  3.5/5
Run Time = 4/5
Recharge Time = 4.5/5
Ease of use = 4.5/5
Level of Filtration = 5/5
Noise Level = 5/5
Cleaning Reach = 5/5
Maneuverability = 4.5/5
Maintenance = 4.5/5
Warranty = 4.5/5
Average score = 4.4/5 or 88/100
 
We’ve reviewed well over 200 vacuum cleaners in the past 10 years.  88/100 feels about right for this machine.
 
Shark ION P50

Pros & Cons

Based on our testing and analysis, we have determined what we believe are the pros and cons of the vacuum: 

PROS
- Quiet operation
- Respectable run time
- Easy to move and maneuver
- Controls conveniently located on handle
- Larger dust canister than most stick vacs
- Lift Away feature is very handy
- DuoClean Technology works well
- Has a headlight
- Top notch filtration
- Removable battery
 
CONS
- Brushrolls cannot be turned off
- No motorized brushroll tool
- Tools are compression fit
- Hose is on the short side
- Edge cleaning is not great
- Stands upright but is not that stable
 

What Are Owners Saying?

This vacuum is lightweight for an upright but it is heavy for a stick vacuum.  We’ve seen plenty of consumer comments where someone says one or the other of these statements.  It clearly depends on your perspective.  We feel the P50 is probably a little more of an upright than it is a stick vacuum.  As such, we would classify it as a fairly lightweight upright.

Almost all owners agree that the Shark P50 is quiet.  It most definitely is.  It is perhaps the quietest upright vacuum we own.  We tested it against a number of other full size upright vacuums and it was quieter than all of them.  It was more on par with some of our stick vacs (and frankly even quieter than some of them).
 
As with almost all cordless vacuums there is disagreement regarding the run time.  Some feel it is sufficiently long while others report that it is too short.  We haven’t reviewed any other cordless uprights so it is hard to know where the bar is for this kind of thing.  However, we have a host of cordless stick vacs, and the P50 run times are perhaps a little longer than most of these.
 
Pretty much all owners like the cordless aspect of the vacuum.  Not too many people like to be tethered by a power cord, but a cord does provide essentially endless run time and (usually) strong suction.  A cordless vacuum has to offset its run time / suction limitations with cordless convenience, which isn’t always easy to do.  We’d have to say that most owners feel the P50 has achieved this, but not all.  
 
The vacuum sports two very popular technologies: Lift Away Technology and DuoClean Technology.  You will find one or both of these on many Shark vacuum cleaners.  Why?  Because they work and people like them.  It’s pretty much that simple.  In the case of both technologies owners seem generally quite happy with the versatility and cleaning performance they provide.  We’ve also seen a few comments about the ingenuity of the 2 brushroll system (DuoClean Technology) as one doesn’t have to change cleaner heads for different floor surfaces. 

Shark Lift Away overhead cleaning
 
Owners are pleased that the vacuum has HEPA level filtration and that all the filters are rinsable in water.  No buying new filters when they get dirty.  They also like that the unit has a sealed system, so no unfiltered air is released back into the home.
 
The P50 has a removable battery.  This is no small thing for some people.  A fixed battery is one of the major complaints about the Dyson stick vacs.  A removable battery allows you to buy a second battery and then take turns using the batteries while vacuuming – essentially doubling your run time.  If you feel the run time on the vacuum is too short this solves your problem.  Of course, however, you have to buy that second battery as the vacuum only comes with one.
 
Folks also like that the vacuum controls are conveniently located on the vacuum handle.  No need to bend over to find and press buttons/switches.  In addition, owners report they like that the vacuum comes with headlights, that the dust canister empties easily, and that the three indicator lights on top of the battery are helpful (they provide insight into the battery charge status).
 
Shark ION P50 Headlights
 
Some owners have stated that while boost mode provides additional suction, it also quickly depletes the battery.  Our tests do show a significant drop in run time when using the higher power mode, but we've seen worse.
 
Also, the hose on the P50 is rather short.  It is not really sufficient for doing a set of stairs or frankly anything that requires much reach.  However, it is possible that Shark have designed this with a short hose because the vacuum does have the Lift Away feature which, to some extent, removes the need to stretch the hose any great distance.
 
Finally, we have noticed a few comments where folks have struggled with assembling the vacuum and figuring out how everything works – it does have quite a few features.  Most of it seems fairly intuitive and if you get stumped there is a quick start guide that is helpful.  Removing and reattaching the battery and filters perhaps requires a little thought, but once you see how it is done then it is reasonably straightforward (although truth be told it took us a while to figure out how to remove the HEPA filter – it required a little more force than we thought).  We have videos of all these things further down in the review.
 
You can see more P50 owner comments on Amazon.
 

What’s in the Box?

- Shark ION P50 Powered-Lift Away
- Lithium ION Battery
- Charger
- Charging cradle
- Duster crevice tool
- Dusting brush
- Upholstery tool
- Manual & Quick Start Guide

Shark P50 - what's in the box
 

Tools

The P50 (model IC162) includes three tools.
- Duster crevice tool
- Dusting brush
- Upholstery tool

Shark P50 Cord Free Tool Set
 
All of these tools are compression fit.  Compression fit means they are pushed on and pulled off.  We would have preferred a more secure “click-fit” system where they click into place and one has to depress a button to take them off.  Having said that, when we’ve worked with the tools they have stayed in place. 

We also notice that there is power to the end of the hose and to the end of the wand, however the vacuum does not come with any powered tools.  It would have been nice to have a motorized brushroll tool. There isn’t one.  This kind of tool is good for dealing with heavily ground-in dirt/debris/hair on carpet or upholstery. We do have two Shark power tools here (with motorized brushrolls) but one doesn’t fit and the other, while it works, has very little power.

The tools attach to the end of the wand or the end of the handle.  The hose on the vacuum is only about 6 feet long so you don’t get a lot of cleaning reach.  Perhaps this is due to the fact that you do have the Lift-Away feature and really don't need a long hose in order to extend your cleaning reach.  Also, if you are using the Lift-Away feature you may not want to be dragging a long hose around.
 

Battery & Charging

The unit uses a lithium-ion battery with the following specs:
- 28.8 V
- 83.52 Wh
- 2900 mAh

This is a removable battery which allows for battery swapping if you have more than one.  The battery can also be charged in the charging cradle or you can charge the battery while it is in the vacuum – which is a nice feature (you don’t always have to pull the battery out of the vacuum). 

Shark ION P50 Battery and charger
 
Three charging lights are built into the battery.  While you are vacuuming the lights indicate remaining charge, and when charging they show status of charge.  It takes approximately 3.5 hours to fully charge the battery.  This is a reasonable time.
 

Run Time

The vacuum is marketed as having 50 minutes of run time in ION Power Mode.  This is when using the Lift Away feature with the wand or handle.  Run times are lower in other configurations.  Following is the official table of run times:

Shark P50 Run Times 
We’ve performed our own run time tests and you can see them in the table below:

 Mode & Setting  ION POWER  ION BOOST
Upright & Powered Lift-Away (Carpet) 28 min 41 sec 20 min 38 sec
Upright & Powered Lift-Away (Bare Floor) 30 min 38 sec  20 min 40 sec 
Above-Floor & Lift-Away (Wand or Handle) 50 min 26 sec 19 min 0 sec
 
Shark were good to their word and every tested run time is slightly longer than its official figure

Lift Away Feature

As previously mentioned, the Lift Away feature appears on quite a few Shark uprights and this is simply because it is popular and it works well. 

Shark ION P50 Lift Away Features

Lift Away Technology allows the vacuum to operate as an upright, and it allows one to carry the dust-canister/motor assembly in one hand while using the handle/wand/cleaner-head with the other hand.  This creates tremendous versatility and you can access hard to reach areas in the home or even inside a vehicle. Also, the fact that the P50 is cordless allows you to clean in areas where there is no power outlet or in areas beyond the reach of a typical power cord.  You can operate the P50 in the following ways:
 
1) Like an upright
This is the default mode with the lift away pod attached to the vacuum.
2) Similar to a stick vacuum
With the lift away pod in one hand the vacuum handle/wand/cleaner-head section becomes lightweight and slim with a low profile (like many stick vacuums).
3) Similar to a handheld
With the lift away pod in one hand you can use the wand/handle and a tool with the other hand.
 

 

DuoClean Technology

We first tested this technology several years ago and we were impressed.  Since then we’ve seen it on a number of Shark vacuums.  We still like it. 

DuoClean Technology uses two brushrolls in the cleaner head – one bristled brushroll near the center of the cleaner head and one soft roller brush at the front of the cleaner head.  The first time we saw this we were somewhat skeptical and thought it may be something of a gimmick.  However, having used it and tested it over the past few years we believe this actually has something to offer.  The idea is that the front brushroll tackles large debris easily (no snowplowing debris around) and it also helps clean right up to the front of the cleaner head.  In addition, on smooth surfaces the soft roller brush lifts away stuck-on dust.  It also does not seem to have any adverse effects on carpet – if anything it also enhances carpet cleaning. 
 
Shark P50 DuoClean Cleaner Head
 
Some manufacturer’s have tackled the need for different cleaner heads on different surfaces by providing the user with two cleaner heads - one for carpet and one for bare floors.  This works but you have to swap cleaner heads when you move from one surface to another.  DuoClean Technology eliminates this need.
 
However one downside is that the brushrolls cannot be turned off – even on bare floors.  In carpet mode both brushrolls spin rapidly and in bare floor mode the brushrolls spin slowly.  If you have very delicate flooring this could be an issue. 
 
The cleaning path width of the vacuum is said to be 10 inches, although that is a little closer to the overall width of the cleaner head.  The suction channel in the cleaner head (where the brushroll resides) is closer to 8.5 inches.  This is rather narrow – especially if we are considering this an upright and not a stick vac.  However a narrow cleaner head does have some advantages.  They are generally easier to move and can get into narrow, cramped areas easier than a larger cleaner head.  But bear in mind that you have to do a lot more back and forth work to cover large open areas.
 

Shark P50 Controls on handleCleaning

The vacuum controls are all on the handle and are conveniently accessible with your thumb.  We really like this setup.  You can do everything with the one hand.  The controls include the vacuum power (ON/OFF), the floor settings (“bare floor” or “area rugs & carpet”), and the ION Boost mode.  Manufacturers always seem to come up with catchy terms for power modes but ION Power is simply “low” and ION Boost is “high”.  

We found a few quirky things about the ION Boost mode.  When in upright mode you have to hold down the ION Boost to get it to stay on.  This is perhaps Shark's way of increasing run time by not making it too easy to use ION Boost mode continually.  We also notice that when you use lift away mode the vacuum automatically engages ION Boost mode.  Not sure why they have done this but perhaps they felt that when using the Lift Away feature the vacuum needs the extra suction provided by ION Boost mode.  At any rate, you can always drop the power back down into ION Power mode if you want.  One other thing about Boost mode - it tends to produce a very high pitched whine.  We find it ok for short periods but a bit annoying for extended vacuuming.
 
Also, when the vacuum power is ON and the brushrolls are engaged (spinning) the two headlights on either side of the cleaner head are automatically turned on.  They are bright and do a good job illuminating the area in front of the vacuum.
 

Cleaning carpet

We put down 34.5 grams of small to medium sized debris (ground fruit loops, flax seeds, chili flakes, green peas) and some larger debris (full size Froot Loops).  This was placed in a long strip (4 ft long) on low pile carpet.  We ran the P50 (in ION Power mode – the low power mode) and a favorite upright of ours, the Shark NV752 TruePet.  The NV752 is a full size corded upright with one power mode and one brushroll (no DuoClean Technology).  We also threw the Dyson V10 Absolute into the mix.  The V10 is another cordless vacuum but it is substantially more expensive than the P50.  The V10 was also run in low power mode with its torque drive cleaner head set to "large debris".  You can see the tests in the video below:

Pickup results were as follows:
 
P50: 96.4%
NV752: 98.7%
V10: 92.1%
 
It should be remembered that the P50 has two power modes and we only tested it in one mode.  The V10 has three power modes and there are three settings on the torque drive cleaner head (the "large debris" setting does reduce suction under the cleaner head).  We did not test the vacuums in all of their possible settings.
 

Cleaning bare floors

We did the same test here as we did on carpet (above) except the vacuums were set up for bare floors.  Results were as follows:

P50: 97.0%
NV752: 84.9%
V10: 99.5%
 
The issue here is that the NV752 has one brushroll which gets turned off in bare floor mode.  Many uprights with a single bristled brushroll have it turned off in bare floor mode as they tend to cause scatter.  They then rely mostly on suction.  In addition, the front of the cleaner head sometimes snowplows the larger debris.  With the P50 we see the value of the DuoClean system with the extra soft brushroll at the front of the cleaner head.  It outperforms the NV752 here despite having less power.  The V10 does a fantastic job but we had to manually switch to the soft roller cleaner head which ONLY comes with the Absolute model.
 

 

Cleaning pet hair

We ground some white dog hair into a piece of medium pile carpet and ran the P50 in carpet mode (ION Power).  We then ran the NV752. 

As you can see the P50 is not as aggressive as the NV752 but it still managed the pickup.  The NV752 is corded and you can feel it pull harder on the carpet than the P50.  Also, both vacuums resulted in the need to clean the brushroll.  There was lots of hair tangling.  If you don’t want hair tangling consider looking at the Shark Navigator Zero-M.
 

 

Cleaning edges

We have done this test with many uprights.  We placed chili flakes up tight against the baseboard of one of our walls and ran the vacuum over them.  Some machines pick up everything (varying number of passes), others do not pick up everything.  As the video below shows, the NV752 makes short work of the chili flakes – even tight up against the baseboard, but the P50 struggles.

Noise

The P50 is a very quiet vacuum cleaner.  In this sense it is a real pleasure to use.  You could probably have a conversation while you are vacuuming.  We’ve done some noise level tests to put this into perspective.  We placed a digital noise level meter 3 feet in front of the brushroll on a number of uprights and recorded the peak decibel level.  See table below:

P50 PEAK DECIBEL TABLE

  ION Power ION Boost
Carpet 65.7 dB 68.7 dB
Bare Floor 64.3 dB 68.0 dB
 
The following upright vacuums have only been noise tested on carpet (brushroll engaged typically makes the most noise) and they only have one power mode, but they still provide a good comparison.
 
UPRIGHT VACUUMS PEAK DECIBEL TABLE
 
Shark APEX AX952 72.5 dB
Shark NV752 TruePet 75.2 dB
Shark Navigator Zero-M 77.6 dB
Dyson Ball Animal 2 78.7 dB
 
In terms of stick vacuums, we also did a sound level test of the Dyson V10 stick vacuum in low power mode and it generated 63.2 decibels, while the Dyson V6 produced 69.3 decibels.

Dust Canister

The dust canister is a reasonable size for this vacuum.  However some folks feel it is too small for an upright while others feel it is large for a stick vacuum – same old argument. 

Shark states that the canister has a volume of 0.54 dry quarts up to the max fill line.  It is very easy to detach from the vacuum, to empty, and to reattach to the vacuum.  A simple push of a button releases the bottom door and the dust and debris fall out.  We have noticed that debris does not get easily stuck in the canister so we haven’t had to put our hand inside to dig the stuff out.  You frequently have to do that with some bagless vacuums. 
 

Filtration

The P50 has three filters: 2 pre-motor and 1 post-motor.  The pre-motor filters are located on one side of the vacuum and are easy to access. They are both rinsable in water.  The HEPA filter is located in the same area in which the battery resides. It too is rinsable in water.

Shark P50 Cord Free vacuum filters

The pre-motor filters should be cleaned about once per month while the HEPA filter should be cleaned about once per year.  This, of course, assumes average vacuum use.  If you use the machine a lot then clean the filters more frequently.  When rinsing the filters use lukewarm water and run it over the filter until the water runs clear.  Do not use soap.
 
Filtration is always more effective when combined with a sealed system.  This vacuum has both a HEPA filter and a sealed system – Shark refers to this as Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology.  The sealed system ensures that air entering the vacuum does not leak out of poor seals or cracks in the vacuum body.  The air is forced through all the filters before it is exhausted from the machine.  This approach helps keep the air in your home clean.
 

 

Weight & Movement

This is a lightweight upright and it weighs about 12 lbs (excluding accessories).  The lift away pod weighs 5.4 lbs so it isn’t too heavy to carry but it isn’t super lightweight either – remember you are carrying the motor, dust canister, filters and battery. 

We think movement of the vacuum is very good on both bare floors and low pile carpet.  The swivel steering allows you to change direction with a twist of the wrist.  Also, the smaller cleaner head helps.  The vacuum does have a tendency to pull itself forward a bit (2 brushrolls spinning).  This makes it a little easier to move the machine forward and a little more difficult to pull it back, but we don’t think it is an issue.  It doesn’t pull that hard really.
 
We also tested movement on very deep pile carpet (1 inch pile) with the vacuum in carpet mode.  It felt a little jerky moving forward but smooth on the pullback.  The main takeaway here is that it moves.  Some vacuum cleaner heads just get stuck on very deep pile carpet.  The cleaning ability of this vacuum on deep pile carpet may only be average however.  It doesn’t feel quite powerful enough.  If you want to really clean deep pile carpet you may be better off with a different machine.
 

The vacuum is designed to be able to stand on its own and this makes it easier to store (some stick vacs have to be leaned against a wall or placed in a wall mount or something like that).  However, even though it can stand upright it does not feel particularly stable.  If you bump into it or pull hard on the hose it will topple easier than most uprights.
 

Warranty

The ION P50 carries a 5-year manufacturer's parts and labor warranty.  There is also a 2-year limited battery warranty. 

Vacuum Cleaner Manual

The manual for the P50 is short but it covers the basics.  You will find information on Assembly, Charging the Battery, Charge Indicator Lights, Operating the Vacuum, Maintenance, Additional Accessories, Troubleshooting, and the Warranty.  You can see a copy of the manual here: Shark ION P50 manual.

 
 

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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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