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The best handheld vacuums selected for suction power, tank capacity, autonomy, wet&dry function, and price to quality ratio.
How to choose a handheld vacuum
A handheld vacuum is a household appliance that can be found in every home due to its great ease of use. Let’s see below what are the main features to consider before choosing the best one for you.
The trend is the use of cyclonic or multi-cyclonic suction technology, the same that manufacturers use in the modern bagless vacuums. Thanks to the use of a cone (or a group of cones for multi-cyclonic devices), a very powerful air vortex is created that separates dirt from the air by means of centrifugal force.
The advantage of this technology is the elimination of collection bags. The best models are also equipped with the Wet&Dry function that allows you to aspire small amounts of liquids.
The filtering system is very important. In a high-end vacuum, we have two filters: one for large and one for fine particles. The best devices are also equipped with HEPA filters (indicated by the abbreviation H13-H14) able to retain up to 99.97% of the allergens present in the air. Fewer premium models mount EPA filters (indicated by the abbreviations E10, E11, E12, etc.), which retain up to 85% of fine powders.
The suction power, measured in Air Watts, indicates the suction capacity of the appliance. The most performing devices show a figure higher than 20AW while for mid-range models it measures between 10 and 20AW. The cheapest handheld vacuums sport only 4-5AW.
High-end models use lithium-ion batteries that are light, long-lasting and recharge quite quickly. Other batteries used are nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries, which are heavier and suffer the memory effect. Finally, there are also nickel-cadmium batteries (Ni-Cd) which is an outdated technology but you can still find one inside a cheap handheld vacuum.
One key aspect is the practicality of using a handheld vacuum. It has to have a good balance, the grip must be comfortable and the power button must sit in a position easily actionable.
Weight and size are two aspects that greatly affect handling. On average the weight is around a kilogram with the best models not going over 700 grams. Cheaper devices are significantly heavier (mainly due to the battery) and can reach almost 2 kilograms.
And like any type of vacuum, the capacity of the dust bin is also a factor to be considered. A good product has a capacity of between 350 and 500ml.
Last but not least the accessories. Many handheld vacuums come with different nozzles.
Best Handheld Vacuums
The Philips MiniVac as a whole is a solid handheld vacuum; we most appreciated the quality of the materials that make this device very durable.
It comes with a desk charging base that stores and recharges the device in a neat upright position. It has a well-designed ergonomic shape, soft-touch handle and a balanced weight balance of just 0.8 kilograms.
The suction power is good but not exceptional. It will do great in your kitchen but if you want a device to use for cleaning your car, we recommend a more powerful device.
The Li-ion battery grants you an autonomy of 9 minutes.
It also comes with an extra-long nozzle and a brush to use on delicate surfaces.
The only drawback is its noise level measured at 81dB: it isn’t such a big deal considering the limited time use but it’s something to keep in mind.
The Black+Decker Dustbuster (Check on Amazon.com) is more similar to a portable vacuum cleaner than a handheld one.
It has a stunning power of 35 Air Watts and an airflow of 946 liters per minute, partly thanks to the powerful 2500mAh battery. The autonomy oscillates between 10 and 16 minutes with a recharging time of about 6 hours.
It weighs around a kilogram and the ergonomic grip ensures satisfactory handling.
The biggest fault with this device is the exhaust that points under the device: the result is that the air pushes away and makes a mess of the finer dirt you are trying to collect.
The lance nozzle is integrated into the device and although extendable, it is still too short and wide to reach the narrowest points. The charger consists of a simple wall plug and a cord and it would have been much better if there was a charging base included.
The Black+Decker Dustbuster has great suction power but offers less to no control. It is best for cleaning your car or removing pet hair from the couch.
The Rowenta Extenso is the reinterpretation of the classic model with a retro design that will be greatly appreciated by lovers of vintage style products. It means business though since it is easy to handle, has an ergonomic handle and weighs as much as a feather.
This device also uses a cyclonic suction technology but it is powered by a nickel-metal hydrate (Ni-MH) battery that may be affected by the memory effect.
The battery, on one hand, ensures a good autonomy of 16 minutes, but on the other, it has a recharging time of 16 hours. Luckily it comes with a wall base where you can store the device keeping it in charge at all times.
The Rowenta Extenso is ideal for the kitchen since it lacks the suction power for heavier tasks.