Avg. consumer rating = 87/100
Shark makes a host of stick vacuums. Some are cordless and some are corded. Some have two brushrolls while others have one. Some stick vacs have a special brushroll that limits hair tangle, others do not. First and foremost in getting the right Shark stick vacuum is knowing your requirements. Do you have only carpet? Only hard flooring? Both? Do you have pets? Are you partial to corded or cordless? Does the vacuum need to be lightweight? Etc. In this review we investigate the Shark Rocket corded vacuum and we highlight where this unit excels and where it fails – and ultimately if it is a fit for you.
|Swivel steering works well||Generates high pitched noise|
|Easy to empty||Will not stand on its own|
|Headlights||Lackluster tool set|
|Low profile cleaner head||No tool storage|
|Both stick vac and handheld||Average edge cleaning|
|Good on carpet and hard floors|
|Brushroll reduces hair tangle|
|Long power cord|
|Best for...||Hard Floors & Carpet|
|Pet Hair Features||Yes|
|Approx. Weight||8.8 lbs|
|HEPA Level Filtration||No|
|Power Cord Length||30 ft|
|Motor Driven Brushbar||Yes|
SHARK ROCKET CORDED OR SHARK ROCKET CORDLESS?
There can sometimes be confusion because Shark has two stick vacuums called “Rockets”. Some are corded and some are cordless. For example we recently reviewed the Shark Rocket Pro which is a cordless vacuum. The main issue here is that the cordless and the corded units are very different - these are not the same vacuum at all.
To avoid confusion it appears that Shark may have recently dropped the “rocket” from the names of their cordless units. So moving forward it would appear that “Shark Rocket” only refers to the corded stick vacuums – like the unit we are reviewing here. However, we still see some third party retailers selling the cordless units under the name “rocket” so just be aware.
In this review we will be looking at the corded Shark Rocket ZS350 series. We actually have the ZS350C which is pretty much the same as the Shark Rocket ZS351 (with the exception of the tool set:ZS350C = Pet Multi-Tool, 5" Crevice Tool. ZS351 = Pet Multi-Tool, Duster Crevice Tool, On-board Tool Clip) . I believe ZS350C is the model number used in Canada while the ZS351 is sold in the USA (and possibly elsewhere). For the remainder of the article I will refer to the vacuum as a ZS351.
We found a host of online retailers selling the Rocket ZS350 series vacuums and many allow comments and ratings. In total we found 6 popular retailers and over 2200 owner ratings - see table below.
When averaged the ratings result in an overall vacuum score of 87.4/100. This is a good score but it isn’t stellar. We’ve seen both better and worse. You can check out other scores in our stick vacuum ratings table or you can view all vacuum scores in our vacuum cleaner finder application.
|Source||Consumer Rating||# Ratings|
|Amazon||4.5 stars out of 5||1583|
|Kohl's||4.2 stars out of 5||245|
|Home Depot||4.0 stars out of 5||126|
|Canadian Tire||3.8 stars out of 5||144|
|JC Penney||3.9 stars out of 5||103|
|Best Buy||4.5 stars out of 5||90|
Shark introduced Zero-M Technology (a tangle-free brushroll or sometimes referred to as a self-cleaning brushroll) a few years ago, and it proved popular. As a result we have seen a host of Shark vacuums with this technology now. We’ve tested the technology many times and have found that it does work. It isn’t perfect but it is much better at alleviating hair/string/thread tangle than a traditional brushroll.
Zero-M Technology uses a brushroll with both bristles and fins which pass through a comb-like device. The comb helps remove hair while the brushroll is spinning. In the image below we show the underside of the cleaner head.
STICK VACUUM & HANDHELD VACUUM
Many stick vacuums today are 2-in-1 machines. Meaning they are both a stick vacuum and a handheld vacuum. The wand and cleaner head can be removed from the stick vacuum leaving just the handheld component which can run on its own. The Rocket ZS351 has this feature.
We’ve used the handheld component and it is perhaps a little bulky. It does have a nice grip however, and you can add tools directly or attach them to the end of the wand.
Also, removing the cleaner head is extremely easy as there is a small foot switch that you step on and the wand just pulls out. This is easier than having to stoop over to press a button with your fingers in order to release the wand.
CARPET & BARE FLOORS
The vacuum is designed to tackle both carpet and bare floors. A slider on the top of the handheld unit has three settings: Carpet, Bare Floor, Off (see image to right). There is no difference in suction level between carpet and bare floor modes (the vacuum only has one power level). The difference in the two floor settings is that in bare floor mode the brushroll spins slowly and in carpet mode it spins much more rapidly.
There is no way to turn the brushroll off on the ZS350’s. All floor settings result in the brushroll spinning. Some folks with delicate hard flooring may not like this.
Quite a few owners (including us) like that there are headlights on the front of the cleaner head. These turn on when the vacuum is on and they help to illuminate dim areas when you are vacuuming. Once you get used to this feature its something you miss if you don't have it.
In addition, Shark has put an LED light on the front of the handheld unit. This illuminates the working area when you are using just the handheld. This is a “nice to have” feature. We like it.
We found suction at the handheld unit to be fairly strong and the handheld has pretty good pickup. However suction on the underside of the cleaner head isn’t very strong. One can barely feel the suction around the brushroll. As a result the cleaner head relies mostly on the brushroll for pickup.
Our vacuum came with two tools:
- Crevice tool
- Pet multi-tool
The tools are functional but not awe-inspiring. The crevice tool is only 5 inches long which, in our opinion, is rather short. Also the tools are compression fit – meaning they push on and pull off. They do not click securely into place.
We performed a noise level test on the Shark Rocket. We placed a digital noise level meter 3 feet in front of the cleaner head with the vacuum set to carpet mode. We turned the vacuum on, engaged the brushroll and recorded the peak decibel reading over a 10 second period.
We’ve done this test with many vacuums so we’ve also thrown a few other units into the table below for comparison purposes. Note that many vacuums have two power modes. The ZS351 only has one.
|Stick Vac Model||Low Power (dB)||Max Power (dB)|
|LG CordZero A9||63.0||74.4|
|Shark Vertex Cordless||72.9||72.9|
|Shark Rocket Pro (cordless)||74.2||75.1|
|Shark Rocket ZS351||N/A||76.6|
As you can see the corded Shark Rocket is the loudest of the bunch. Also, one thing the table won’t tell you is if a vacuum has a particularly annoying noise. Unfortunately, in our opinion, the ZS351 does. The handheld portion of the vacuum has a high-pitched whine that can be grating over time.
The vacuum has 2 pre-motor filters (one felt and one foam) and 1 post-motor filter. All of these can be rinsed in water and re-used. Shark suggests cleaning the pre-motor filters once a month and the post-motor filter once every nine months.
One should note that even though the filters are rinsable they will not last forever. Shark suggests buying new pre-motor filters after about 2.5 years and a new post-motor filter after about 3 years. It is worth noting that the post motor filter is NOT a HEPA filter. Some people with asthma or allergies may want a vacuum with a HEPA filter and a sealed system (you can read about these in our article on HEPA filters).
The filters all reside in the handheld unit and they are easy to remove and easy to place back in.
At 0.8 quarts the dust canister is a good size for a stick vacuum. By comparison the dust canister on the Shark Rocket cordless only has a capacity of 0.34 quarts. The dust canister on the Rocket ZS351 is about the same size as those on the Dyson V10/V11.
We do like that you can easily remove just the dust canister portion of the handheld and empty that into the garbage bin. This means you don’t have to disconnect the handheld unit from the wand and you don’t have to carry the entire handheld vacuum to the garbage bin.
To empty debris from the dust canister you just press a button and the hinged bottom opens. Pretty standard stuff for most bagless vacuums.
As far as stick vacs go the Shark Rocket ZS351 is perhaps a little on the heavy side at 8.8 lbs. The only heavier stick vac we’ve tested is the cordless Shark Vertex which weighed in at 9.0 lbs. Most of the other brands that we’ve investigated are lighter. See table below:
|Stick Vac Model||Weight (lbs)|
|Dyson V7 (motorhead)||5.5|
|LG CordZero A9||6.0|
|Shark Rocket Pro (cordless)||7.3|
|Shark Rocket ZS351||8.8|
|Shark Vertex Cordless||9.0|
We also weighed just the handheld portion of the vacuum (without the power cord). This came in at approximately 3.38 lbs. This is a good weight for a handheld. Not too heavy. Other handhelds we’ve weighed are usually between 3 and 4 lbs.
The vacuum moves well. While it isn’t the lightest of stick vacs it is still not too heavy as a vacuum, especially compared to most uprights. The swivel steering is particularly good and the unit can be steered easily by just twisting your wrist. Some folks find it a little top heavy – and it is – but we did not find that to be a particular problem. Overall we like the maneuverability on both carpet and hard flooring.
One thing we did notice however was that the underside of the cleaner head sometimes contacted our hard floor when we were moving the vacuum around. Unfortunately the cleaner head has metal bars along the underside. In our case we have tile so it wasn’t really an issue. But if one had delicate flooring it could be.
In this test we created our own debris. We measured (by weight) a specific amount of ground cheerios, a specific amount of flax seeds, a specific amount of chili flakes, and a specific amount of split green peas.
These were all mixed together and placed in a 5 ft long line on low pile carpet (see image below). We ran the vacuum over it in about a 10 second pass and determined the percentage pickup by weight.
Test results were as follows:
|Vacuum||% Pickup by Weight|
|Shark Rocket ZS351||98.0%|
We have done this test with many vacuums and 98% is a respectable figure. It isn’t stellar but it is pretty good.
Hard Floor Test
We used the same debris (same as the carpet test) in the hard floor test. The floor surface was tile.
Percentage pickup by weight was as follows.
|Vacuum||% Pickup by Weight|
|Shark Rocket ZS351||99.6%|
This is an excellent result and is much better than we’ve seen for most stick vacuums (especially Dyson units with the direct-drive, high torque or torque drive cleaner heads).
Hair Tangle Test
This is an important test for a vacuum with Zero-M technology. Does this technology work or not? To find out we placed both short white pet hair and long black human hair on low pile carpet and ran the vacuum over it. We then stopped to look at the brushroll.
Overall we were impressed with the ability of the unit to strip hair from the brushroll (and move it to the dust canister). It wasn’t perfect but it was pretty good. We’ve done this test on vacuums with traditional bristled brushrolls and it always resulted in lots of hair tangle.
Also, in the video you will notice we did some extra vacuuming then looked at the brushroll a second time. This is because Shark tells us continued vacuuming can help remove straggling hair from the brushroll. We could see that it worked in the test – not perfectly but fairly well.
Edge Cleaning Test
Our edge cleaning test involves placing chili flakes against the basedboards along a wall and vacuuming as tightly to the wall as we can. Good edge cleaning provides cleaning right up tight against the wall while poor edge cleaning leaves a strip of unvacuumed area along the wall. See test video below.
The Shark Rocket ZS351 edge cleaning results were ok. We’ve seen much worse but we’ve also seen better.
The vacuum will not stand on its own and quite a few owners find this frustrating. Shark has recognized this and made some “tweaks” to help. First, there are small rubber strips on the back of the handheld component that ensure no scratching or marring when you lean the unit against a wall. Second, you can remove the handheld component and attach it to the bottom of the wand so the vacuum will store upright. It is kind of a pain to do but it does work – see image to right.
Finally, Shark has included a wall mount. Its pretty basic and is just a plastic hook with two holes for screws so you can mount it to a wall (screws not included). We haven’t used it but it should work fine. Unfortunately it doesn’t provide any storage for tools. So tools will have to sit in a drawer or closet somewhere.
The Shark Rocket ZS351 carries a 5-year manufacturer's parts and labor limited warranty
In terms of cleaning performance, we were impressed. The vacuum did a good job on carpet, a great job on hard floors, and it was also effective at keeping hair off the brushroll (not perfect but pretty good). In addition, edge cleaning was reasonable.
The dust canister can be removed from the vacuum and emptied very easily, and the vacuum is quite maneuverable (swivel steering works great). Also, for a corded machine we found the cleaning reach to be very good as the unit has a lengthy 30 foot power cord.
However, the unit is noisy. It has a high pitch whine that we found quite annoying while we were vacuuming. We also noticed that the underside of the cleaner head felt like it was dragging a little on our tile floor (nothing dramatic but it was touching the floor). On tile it was fine but on very delicate flooring it could be an issue. In addition, the vacuum won’t stand on its own and while Shark has provided solutions they are not elegant.
Overall the ergonomics are average and the noise level is annoying – but, in terms of cleaning ability, the vacuum performs well.
VACUUM CLEANER MANUAL
The vacuum manual is written in English, Spanish and French. It is short but it covers the basics. You can view a copy here: Shark Rocket ZS350 Series Manual