Shark IONFlex Cordless Vacuum Review
Avg. consumer rating = 78/100
The Shark IONFlex 2X IF252 is another interesting vacuum from Shark. It is a bagless, cordless, stick vacuum that sports 2 brushrolls, 2 batteries, and a flexible wand that can bend a full 180 degrees. Consumers like some aspects of this vacuum but are not too crazy about others. In our testing we found the IF252 suction to be strong, especially for a cordless machine, and the unit’s cleaning performance on carpet, bare floors and pet hair is quite good. It is a little on the hefty side for a stick vacuum and some folks feel the handheld component itself is bulky. The MultiFLEX Technology (bendable wand) is something of a hit and miss. It’s useful for storage and while it works for vacuuming under low furniture it can be a little awkward.
|Hard Floors & Carpet
|Pet Hair Features
|HEPA Level Filtration
|Power Cord Length
|Motor Driven Brushbar
Shark isn’t shy about introducing new and innovative ideas/features, and while some innovations are brilliant others sometimes falter. We certainly don’t denigrate this approach by the way. Taking chances is how new and useful ideas are born.
The 2 brushroll feature on the IF252, referred to as DuoClean Technology, has proven itself to be an effective means of cleaning both carpet and bare floors (see our review of the Shark NV801 or the Shark HV382). With respect to muliiple batteries, it isn’t an entirely new idea, but it is a very good idea, and it answers one of the major complaints consumers have about running out of a charge when using a cordless vacuum. The flexible wand, referred to as MultiFLEX technology, is not something we have seen before. At this point in time we’d have to say the jury is still out on this concept. It makes sense but it isn’t as easy to use as one might expect (at least not initially).
F80 run times are as follows:
There are several different IONFlex models on the market and the different model numbers often cause confusion. There are presently 2 groups of IONFlex vacuums – those with 1 battery and those with 2 batteries.
1 Battery Models
- Shark IONFlex IF200 / IF200W / IF201 / IF202 / IF205
2 Battery Models
- Shark IONFlex 2X IF252 / 2X IF251
The models within each category above are usually differentiated by their tool set (different tool sets for different models).
You may also see some corded vacuums out there with MultiFLEX Technology. These are not IONFlex machines and are HV models, namely HV390/HV391/HV392.
In terms of ratings we typically research owner ratings from a host of quality online retailers and average the results to develop a vacuum score. This can get a bit tricky with newer vacuums as there are sometimes large numbers of folks who have received the unit in exchange for a review. Granted that the reviews are supposed to be unbiased and impartial but it is hard to determine if this is truly the case. As such we scan ratings and attempt to only consider those from a guaranteed purchase. Amazon is fairly clear about guaranteed purchases so we have used those as well as Bed, Bath & Beyond to determine the IONFlex vacuum score.
We have also considered all models together for rating purposes.
RATINGS FOR SCORE CALCULATION
Amazon - 3.6 / 5 stars, 22 reviews (model IF251)
Amazon - 4.4 / 5 stars, 9 reviews (model IF201)
Bed Bath & Beyond - 4.2 / 5 stars, 6 reviews (model IF252)
Walmart - 4.5 / 5 stars, 27 reviews (model IF200)
Best Buy - 4.7 / 5 stars, 56 reviews (model IF251)
Best Buy - 4.5 / 5 stars, 26 reviews (model IF201)
Kohl’s - 4.6 / 5 stars, 29 reviews (model IF252)
Target - 4.7 / 5 stars, 19 reviews (model IF201)
The ratings have generated a score of 78/100 which is perhaps not as high as we have seen in some of the other Shark vacuums. That is not to say that the score is bad, however we have become accustomed to Shark “knocking it out of the park” recently with their newer machines.
What Are Owners Saying?
A thorough review of owner comments and our own experience with the vacuum has resulted in the following vacuum pros and cons:
- Cleans right up to the front of the cleaner head
- Powerful suction for a cordless vacuum
- Good set of tools that work well
- Capable on both hard floors and carpet
- Good at removing pet hair
- Vacuum controls are easily accessible
- Small dust canister
- Some folks feel it is a bit expensive
- No tools mount on-board
- Handheld unit feels bulky/heavy
Most owners agree that the IONFlex generates powerful suction for a cordless stick vacuum, and that the cleaner head with 2 brushrolls works well. The cleaner-head is perhaps a little on the heavy side for a stick vacuum but is does a great cleaning job on bare floors and carpet, and is even good and pulling up pet hair.
Folks are also pleased at how tight the vacuum cleans up to the baseboards and walls, and there is consensus that the tools provided work well. People like that the tools fit onto the end of the wand and also onto the end of the handheld unit. In addition, owners like the flex wand, highlighting its ability to reach further under beds, coffee tables and couches than a normal vacuum. We've used this tool and it does work, providing a very long reach.
Quite a few folks make comparisons to the Dyson stick vacs and many report that they prefer the controls on the IONFlex as they are much easier to access and are essentially at the “tip of your fingers” (or thumb in this case).
On the other hand, some feel that the vacuum is a little on the expensive side and those with the 1 battery unit wish that a second battery was cheaper to buy (they are kind of pricey at close to $100). Also, the 3.5 hour recharge time is sometimes extended as the battery will not begin to charge if it is too warm. This has given those people already unhappy with the recharge time additional cause to complain. Battery specifications are shown in the image below:
While the tools work well, some people wish that they would store on-board the vacuum. None of them do, but this is not uncommon for a stick vacuum where manufacturers are trying to save weight and limit size. Finally, a number of consumers report that the handheld portion of the vacuum is a bit heavy and awkward to use.
Above we’ve highlighted areas that some owners like and areas that some owner do not, however there are a few features/aspects of the vacuum where there is disagreement. These include:
a) Weight - The vacuum is considered lightweight by some and too heavy by others. It is likely a matter or whether you think you are buying an upright or a stick vacuum. As an upright it is definitely lightweight. As a stick vacuum it is perhaps on the heavy side (most notably when compared to the Dyson V6 or V8).
b) Inability to stand upright on its own - There are quite a few complaints about this. Again, as an upright you would expect it to stand on its own but some stick vacuums (like the Dyson V6 or V8) do not. The flexible wand has solved this to some degree but not to the extent that some owners would like. The image to the right shows the storage profile of the IONFlex.
c) Battery life - This is almost always an area where some consumers are disgruntled when discussing a cordless vacuum. Some owners complain that the IONFlex battery life is too short while others report that it is long enough to do whatever cleaning they need to do. The battery life (for a single battery) on this machine is, in our opinion, reasonable. It is not fantastic, but it is not bad, and if you have the 2 battery model then overall run times are pretty good. You are more likely to be complaining about this issue if your IONFlex has only one battery.
d) Recharge time - Some folks feel it is too long while others don’t have an issue with it. The batteries have a recharge time of 3.5 hours. This is pretty much typical these days and is much better than most of the older cordless machines.
e) Self Propelled - The vacuum is not really self propelled but it feels like it sometimes. It has a tendency to pull itself forward, which generally isn’t an issue, however it does make it harder to pull the machine back. Some like this characteristic while others don’t.
You can see more IONFlex owner reviews and comments on Amazon.
Now let’s look into more details and specifications regarding the Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean IF252 and also our experience working with the vacuum.
What’s In The Box?
- IONFlex vacuum
- MultiFLEX wand
- DuoClean Technology cleaner head
- Pre-motor and post motor filters
- 2 ION Power Pack Batteries
- 1 Charger
- 1 Charging Cradle
- 4 Tools
Four tools are provided:
1) Duster Crevice Tool: Combination dusting brush and crevice tool. Has soft bristles for dusting delicate surfaces. The bristle head is removable.
2) Anti-Allergen Dusting Brush: For fine dusting of delicate objects. Also helps clean in narrow spaces.
3) Pet Multi-Tool: A combination tool designed to dust different surfaces, pick up large piles of debris, and remove pet hair from curtains and other delicate fabrics.
4) MultiFLEX Under Appliance Wand: Adjustable tool for cleaning under and behind appliances and furniture. This is the very long tool you see in the image below. It can also be extended even further and has a reach of over 40 inches.
The tools all fit on the end of the wand or on the end of the handheld component of the vacuum. This approach makes the vacuum very versatile and besides floor cleaning it can be used for above floor and even overhead cleaning.
The handheld unit on this vacuum works just fine but as a number of owners say it is a little bulky and it is not particularly lightweight. Having said that, for basic handheld kinds of cleaning it worked well for us and the power is sufficient, even on the lower setting.
We’ve also tried overhead cleaning (up to the ceiling) with the vacuum and while it works, it is not quite as easy as it looks because the handheld component combined with the wand and tools is on the heavy side. You may be able to do this with one hand for a short while (a few minutes) but depending on your arm strength it is going to tire you out pretty fast. You will likely resort to using two hands.
What is the run time? This is probably the most asked question about the IONFlex stick vacuum. According to Shark a fully charged (and new) battery should provide:
11 minutes: Handheld vacuum, "High" mode
23 minutes: Handheld vacuum, “Low” mode
12 minutes: Stick vacuum on bare surface, “High” mode
20 minutes: Stick vacuum on bare surface, “Low” mode
11 minutes: Stick vacuum on carpet, “High” mode
14 minutes: Stick vacuum on carpet, “Low” mode
In the following table we’ve tried to tie these run times together with those of the Dyson V6 and V8 for comparison purposes. We’ve made every effort to be as accurate as possible but there are no guarantees. These figures are what we have gleaned from the manufacturers.
|Low Power Mode (minutes)
|High Power Mode (minutes)
|IonFlex (1 battery)
|IonFlex (2 batteries)
|Dyson V6 Absolute
|Dyson V8 Absolute
As one can see the run times vary from vacuum to vacuum. Also, one needs to consider that the different modes (high or low) for each vacuum may produce different levels of suction/power. For example we know that the high power mode on the V8 produces 115 Air Watts of suction while the high power mode on the V6 only produces 100 Air Watts of suction. Unfortunately, determining suction for each machine in each mode is difficult.
We have a vacuum gauge that measures suction in kilopascals (and inches of water). Using this device we have measured the suction of the IONFlex in both Low Power Mode and High Power Mode. We used a fully charged battery. In Low Power Mode we found the vacuum generated 14.5 kPa of suction while in High Power Mode it generated 23.0 kPa of suction. We attempted to compare these to the Dyson V8 or the V6– but these are built in such a way that suction is difficult to measure and Dyson only provides suction performance in terms of Air Watts which is a unit that, annoyingly, cannot be converted to most other more common suction measurements.
So we have to resort to a less scientific conclusion on IONFlex suction - our experience and opinion. Off the cuff we would say that suction is very good. We have measured suction for several uprights and even a few other stick vacuums in the past and we feel the IONFlex provides some pretty solid figures.
What Does Shark Say?
Shark literature indicates that the IONFlex generates more suction power than the V8 - but this statement only refers to Low Power Mode. They also highlight that the IONFlex has a longer runtime that the V8 - but this is when 2 batteries are used consecutively.
Charging the batteries is fairly easy and it can be performed in a few ways.
1) Leave the battery in the vacuum and plug the charger into the battery.
2) Remove the battery from vacuum and plug the charger into the battery directly.
3) Remove the battery from the vacuum and place the battery in the charging cradle (shown below).
A fully depleted battery should take about 3.5 hours to charge – this is a reasonable timeframe given what we see with other stick vacs on the market today. However, sometimes the battery after a lengthy vacuuming session, may be hot. In this case the battery will not charge right away. It has to cool first. This can take an hour or so. When this occurs a full charge will actually take longer than 3.5 hours (battery has to cool first then charging will start).
Removing and replacing the battery is extremely easy. They pop out and snap back in.
The batteries are 25.2-volt removable, rechargeable lithium-ion battery packs. There are 3 blue light bars on the side of the battery which tell you the remaining charge and, when charging, they blink to tell you what level the battery is at. These are both useful features as it is helpful to know approximately how much charge is left while you are vacuuming, and if you are in a hurry, to know how much longer it will take to finish recharging a battery.
MultiFLEX Technology is probably the main thing that sets this vacuum apart from other stick vacuums. The wand can be “bent” a full 180 degrees which accomplishes two things:
1) The unit can stand on its own.
2) The vacuum head can reach under low furniture.
We suspect that the main reason for this feature was to answer one of the foremost criticisms of Shark’s popular rocket stick vacuums. That the unit will not stand upright on its own. The flexible wand does solve this problem to a point. It does stand on its own but perhaps not “fully upright”.
With respect to reaching under low furniture, we feel that the MultiFLEX Technology is a little awkward to use. It does work but the cleaner head is a bit tricky to turn and it can be difficult to move the head back and forth. The video below discusses this technology and shows it at work.
We’ve covered this in other reviews – see our Shark HV382 review for example. In short, the technology works well on carpet and bare floors and does what it is advertised to do. This technology is no gimmick. You can see the two brushrols on the underside of the cleaner head below.
The following videos show the vacuum at work on short pile carpet, hard flooring, and pet hair (on medium pile carpet). All of these test have been performed in Low Power mode. One would expect even better cleaning ability in High Power mode.
We did notice that the cleaner head on the IF252 seemed to “claw” the vacuum forward. This is why some people refer to this vacuum as self-propelled. We experienced something similar with the Shark Rocket HV382 (which also has DuoClean Technology).
Some people really like that the cleaner head draws itself forward, while others don’t like it citing difficulties in pulling the clean head back. We found that this problem does not exist on bare floors but it does happen when using the vacuum in carpet mode on carpet, and for us it is a little annoying (not a lot, but some). It is very easy to move the vacuum forward but it does take a little tugging to get it to come back and this does get tiresome over time. Some owners report that they have to pull back so hard the back of the cleaner head comes up away from the floor surface.
We were impressed with the controls on the IF252. They are easy to use and very accessible. While using the vacuum you can access the on/off button, change from carpet to bare-floors/area-rugs, and go from high power (max power) to low power (extend runtime) – all with the press of your thumb. This has been well thought out. See the image to left.
Filtration is provided by 3 filters - 2 pre-motor filters and 1 post-motor filter. These are all washable. The pre-motor filters (1 foam and 1 felt) are located on the top of the hand vacuum (see image below). Under normal usage they should be cleaned about once per month. The post-motor filter is located under the handle of the vacuum (see image below). Under normal usage this should be cleaned about every 9 months. None of these are HEPA level and it also does not appear that the IF252 has a sealed system (you can read about these in our HEPA filter article).
The vacuum is fairly lightweight at 8.7 lbs but this is without any tools. When you start adding tools the weight, of course, increases. We weighed the handheld unit alone (with battery) and it came in at about 3.5 lbs. This is interesting as it is the same weight as the Dyson V8 handheld component with battery. However we did not hear as much complaining about the weight of the V8 handheld as we have about the IONFlex handheld. So what is going on here?
It is possible that the position of the battery may have something to do with it. The IONFlex has the battery forward of the wrist and this creates tension on the wrist to keep the vacuum level. The V8 has the battery underneath the wrist so holding the vacuum level uses more arm strength than wrist strength. We did notice this when comparing and using one handheld unit after the other. See image to right:
More IF252 Features
We’ve seen all sorts of figures for the cleaning path width of the vacuum – from 11.9 inches to 10.3 inches. Our understanding of cleaning path width is the actual cleaning path not the size of the cleaner head. We’ve measured the suction channel (where the main brushroll resides) on the bottom of the cleaner head and it is about 8.5 inches wide. This is about the typical size for a stick vacuum.
The vacuum also sports headlights which are designed to last the lifetime of the vacuum. These are a nice feature and not something you typically expect on a cordless (due to the draw of power). They are not super bright but they do help when vacuuming in dimly lit areas. They turn on automatically when the brushroll is spinning.
The dust canister on this stick vacuum is not large. It holds 0.3 dry quarts (about 0.33 litres) and some people complain that it has to be emptied frequently. In our experience most stick vacuums have small dust canisters. The dust canister capacity for the Dyson V8 is 0.54 litres and the Dyson V6 is about 0.4 litres. The IF252 dust canister is very easy to empty. Simply press the blue button labeled "Empty" on the side of the handheld unit and the hinged door opens up releasing the dust and debris (image to left). When finished you close the door manually and it will snap shut.
The Shark IONFlex 2X DuoClean Cordless Vacuum model IF252 carries a 5-year limited manufacturer's warranty on the vacuum and a 2-year limited manufacturer's warranty on the ION Power Pack batteries.
Vacuum Cleaner Manual
The vacuum manual is fairly good with decent instructions and illustrations. You can find a copy of the manual here: Shark IONFlex manual. You may also wish to view the IONFlex Quickstart Guide or the IONFlex Warranty.