Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away NR96


Avg. consumer rating = 89/100 

The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister Vacuum model NR96 is getting very solid reviews and ratings from owners.  This is the first canister vacuum we have seen with the lift away feature - a feature that allows you to carry the motor/dust-canister assembly with one hand and the hose/wand with the other.  Owners like the lift away feature in their uprights and they also like it in this canister.  The vacuum also has HEPA filtration, a retractable power cord and a low profile nozzle.  In addition, it performs well on carpet, bare floors and pet hair.   The unit is on the small side however and this is reflected in the smaller nozzle and the dust canister.

Quick Specs
Type Canister
Bagged/Bagless Bagless
Best for... Hard Floors & Carpet
Pet Hair Features Yes
Approx. Weight 10.3 lbs
HEPA Level Filtration Yes
Power Cord Length 23 feet
Motor Driven Brushbar Yes
Warranty 5 Years


Consumer Ratings
We found 215 NR96 owner ratings at 7 different quality online retail outlets – see table below.  When averaged these ratings result in a score of 89.4 out of 100.  This is a good score.  You can compare it to those of other canister vacuums in our canister vacuum ratings table or compare it to all other vacuums on the site in our Vacuum Cleaner Finder application.

Source Consumer Rating #Ratings
Amazon 4.4 stars out of 5 141
Walmart 4.6 stars out of 5 21
Wayfair 4.8 stars out of 5 18
Sears 4.5 stars out of 5 29
Overstock 4.7 stars out of 5 3
QVC 5 stars out of 5 2
Staples 3 stars out of 5 1


Pros & Cons
A thorough analysis of Shark NR96 owner comments has provided the following vacuum likes and dislikes:

- Good suction
- Not too heavy
- Low profile nozzle
- Not too loud
- Maneuvers well
- Retractable power cord
- Lift-Away feature is very useful

- The main cleaner head is small
- On/off switch on canister body
- Smallish dust canister

Shark NR96 overhead cleaningWhat are Owners Saying?
As can be seen in the owner ratings above, most folks like their Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Canister vacuum.  Foremost on the list of “likes” is probably the vacuum cleaning performance.  Most comments allude to great suction and good cleaning ability on both carpet and bare floors.  In addition, quite a few people with pets speak favorably of the machine’s ability to pick up pet hair.

The NR96 is also well liked for its compact size, reasonably light weight, and maneverability.  It doesn’t have a large footprint and it is easy to store.  In addition, the canister body is fairly light weight and it turns on a dime, while the small cleaner head and swivel steering make the nozzle very easy to move and turn.

Another popular feature is the LED lights on the front of the nozzle.  Many people have not had this feature in previous vacuums and once they experience it they really like it.  It does help tremendously if you are vacuuming in dimly lit areas or behind or underneath furniture.

The ability to “Lift Away” the motor/dust-canister component of the vacuum and carry it with you is something we have seen for a while on Shark’s uprights.  This is a very well-liked feature and it is very practical.  Owners like how easy this makes doing a set of stairs and how well it works for overhead cleaning.

Other “likes” highlighted by owners include how easy it is to change attachments, the fact that the vacuum is not too loud, the convenience of a retractable power cord, and the low-profile cleaning head.

However, while the small, low profile cleaner head has its advantages, it also has disadvantages.  Such a small head results in the need to do many more passes with the vacuum to clean an area.  So with this machine you will be in for a little more work if you plan on doing large area vacuuming.

Another issue highlighted by owners is the size of the dust canister.  As this is a fairly compact machine it also has a compact dust canister which fills rapidly so it has to be emptied frequently.  Nothing really bad here but just a little more work.

Finally, many folks would like to see the power on/off controls on the vacuum handle (at your fingertips).  However Shark placed it on the canister body.  So you have to reach back to the canister to turn this machine or and off.

You can see more owner comments on Amazon if you wish.

What Comes in the Box?
- Motorized floor nozzle
- Extension wand
- Hose with handle
- Canister
- Dusting brush
- Crevice tool
- Power brush
- Straight suction nozzle
- Manual

The dusting brush is designed to work on all surfaces.  The crevice tool is 5 inches long and helps you get into narrow, hard-to-reach areas.  The power brush picks up pet hair and ground in dirt on both carpet and upholstery.  And the straight suction nozzle is designed to remove dust and debris from bare floors.  All tools can be attached to the end of the handle/hose or to the end of the wand.  The dusting brush and crevice tool can also be stored on-board the vacuum.

The NR96 has what Shark calls Anti-Allergen Complete Seal Technology.   This means it has HEPA level filtration and a sealed system.  A sealed system ensures that all the air entering the vacuum gets passed through the filters before it is exhausted from the vacuum.  Machines without a sealed system often allow unfiltered air back into the room through cracks and poor seals in the vacuum body.

The machine has 3 filters.  
- 2 pre-motor filters: 1 felt, 1 foam  
- 1 post-motor filter: HEPA  
All the filters are washable and the pre-motor filters should be washed about every 3 months while the HEPA filter should be washed about once per year.  The filters are designed to last the lifetime of the vacuum.

2-in-1 Vacuum
The NR96 is advertised as a 2-in-1 vacuum.  In this case, this means it operates as a canister vacuum and also as a handheld unit (the lift away feature).  This provides the ability to clean bare floors, carpet, rugs, and even above-the-floor areas.  In lift away mode you essentially leave the wheels of the canister behind and “lift away” the motor/dust-canister assembly (what Shark calls the “lift away pod”).  A quick release foot pedal on the canister makes it easy to detach the lift away pod.

Shark Canister Lift Away Feature

The lift away pod weighs about 8 lbs so while it isn’t too heavy it also isn’t as light as a handheld unit.  It is perhaps the weight of a typical stick vac (although some like the Dyson V6/V8 are lighter still).  The NR96 vacuum itself is said to weigh 10.3 lbs.  This is likely the weight of the canister and probably does not include the hose/wand/cleaner-head.

Cleaner Head
The brushroll in the cleaner head is motorized which is very helpful when cleaning carpet.  Some canisters do not have a motorized brushroll and this limits their effectiveness on carpet.  Because you carry the motor in lift away mode you also have a motorized brushroll in lift away mode.  Brushroll on/off controls are at your fingertips on the handle.  You can easily turn the brushroll off for bare floor cleaning and on for carpet cleaning.

Shark Rotator Powered Lift Away canister vacuum
The cleaner head itself has a very low profile which helps get under low furniture.  It is also on the small side which, combined with the swivel steering, makes it very maneuverable.   However the cleaner head only has a cleaning path width of 8.5 inches which is quite narrow for a full size vacuum.  This is about the same size as the cleaner head on a smaller stick vacuum so while it helps with maneuverability it also requires additional work to cover a given area.

Suction Release
There is also a suction release valve on the handle.  This valve can be opened or closed to regulate the suction at the end of the hose or wand.  This is useful as one may want to reduce suction when vacuuming delicate items like drapery or lampshades.  It is also helpful if you are vacuuming deeper pile carpet.  Reduced suction will often make it easier to push and pull the cleaner head over deep pile carpet.

Power Cord
The Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away NR96 has a 23 foot power cord.  Several owners have reported that this is quite long.  In our experience this is really about an average length.  You usually see power cords of about 21-23 feet on a canister vacuum.  Some of the less expensive machines may have power cords less than 20 feet.  The power cord on the NR96 is auto-retract and it winds itself in when you depress the rewind button located on the canister (you can depress this with your foot or your hand).  The auto-retract feature is very well liked by folks.

The Shark NR96 also has a 5.5 foot hose, LED headlights on the cleaner head, and it carries a 5-year limited warranty.

Vacuum Cleaner Manual
The manual for this vacuum is in French, Spanish and English – all three on each page which is a bit awkward.  It covers things like Assembly, Above Floor Cleaning, Storage, Accessories, Maintenance and Troubleshooting.  It doesn’t have a lot of detail but it provides some value.  You can see it here: Shark NR96 Manual.



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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer who loves to review vacuums, and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I strive to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide a score for each and every vacuum I investigate.  My goal is to help you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.

Also, watch my video reviews on the Vacuum Cleaner Advisor YouTube Channel.