Last updated on December 3rd, 2018 by Garrick Dee
An upright vacuum is an essential tool in any home that has carpet.
If you want it to last for years and prevent costly repairs, you better be doing your due diligence and clean it regularly.
These machines are great at digging up dirt deep in fibers, not just to keep carpet clean but also the environment inside the home.
So we’ll have a close look at 5 of the best upright vacuums. Some of them have versatility that you wouldn’t expect an upright to have like clean inside your vehicle.
Here are some facts about carpet just to give you an idea how important it is to keep it clean.
Did you know that your home’s carpet acts as a filter?
It’s easily the largest filter inside your home depending on the coverage.
Related: You can also find the best Dyson deals here to get the best price possible on various Dyson products.
It traps allergens such as dust, soil, dead skin, pet hair and all other nasty stuff.
And what do you do to maintain a filter?
Clean them up regularly right?
It can only hold so much allergen, dirt and grime that your family’s health is at risk if you don’t clean it.
And this is a good enough reason if you ask me.
One of the best if not the best tool for the job is an upright vacuum because it combines power and agitation to deep clean carpet.
A good upright vacuum like the Shark Navigator is a great tool to keep carpets clean and prevent costly repairs. What’s great about it is the versatility it brings. It’s also much cheaper than a Dyson the only downside would be the lack of a HEPA filter.
Unlike traditional uprights that are limited to cleaning floors and occasionally some upholstery, you can actually use this like a canister vacuum thanks to the lift away feature.
We’ll feature 5 of the best upright vacuums, some of which have the same versatility as a canister vacuum that may surprise you.
Cool isn’t it?
Can be used on
|Nooks & Crannies|
180 air watts
1.2 dry quarts (up to fill line)
3.0 dry quarts (max)
|Brush roll on/off|
Hard Floor Genie with one microfiber pad
TruePet Mini Motorized Brush
11" Crevice Tool
Pet Upholstery Tool
5" crevice tool
24" crevice tool
Pet hair power brush
Tangle-free turbine tool
Carbon fiber soft dusting brush
Reach under tool
Over the last 5 years or so manufacturers have been actively seeking ways to one-up the other. And have come up with insane features that improve maneuverability and reach. But still retaining cleaning performance one should expect from an upright.
Of course when you think about innovation the first brand that comes to mind would be a Dyson. But surprisingly they have been beaten out by Shark as I’ll explain later as I detail why I ranked the different vacuums as such.
What are the things you should consider?
First and foremost, you should always set a budget because upright vacuums will vary in price point.
You can buy one for as low as $60 to as high as $600 and the features will vary. Once you’ve set a budget, it will be easier for you to settle on a model depending on the features it has.
2. Does Your Home Have Wall to Wall Carpeting?
If your home has wall to wall carpeting, you’ll need to opt for a model that has a motorized brush (along with a separate motor that powers it) because without one, the machine won’t be able to deep clean dirt trapped underneath strands of carpet.
In short, it’ll only be cleaning surface dirt.
3. How Big Is Your Home?
People who live in large homes definitely need an upright because of it’s range and power (if you have carpet).
Make no mistake a cordless still helps but only in cleaning high traffic areas.
If you can afford one consider it a worthwhile investment because these machines are light and easy to move around making it easier to bring out.
Another consideration if you’re busy would be robotic vacuums because these are autonomous. And the latest generations are smart enough to clean multiple rooms.
You’ll need to choose an upright with a long power cord and a long hose and extension wand to clean not just floors but also above the floor surfaces like ceiling vents and ceiling fans.
Owners of small homes may opt for something more sleek and lightweight for easier storage.
4. Do you have any pets?
Pet hair can be tough to keep up with and depending on the number of dogs you have in your home.
You may want to a vacuum with a specialized tool to clean up pet hair not only on floors but also upholstery.
The later will be a few hundred dollars cheaper so choose one that will fit your budget.
The Shark Navigator Powered Lift Away NV752 is perhaps the most versatile upright available right now. It has the Lift feature that morphs this from an upright into a canister. This feature is what makes this unique of all the options available here. The beauty of this feature is that you can use the main cleaning head even in canister mode.
What makes this a good option?
- One of the most versatile upright vacuum available right now
- Gives you the power of an upright with the reach of a canister
- Large capacity dirt bin
- Works best on bare floor
- LED headlights helps with visibility
- Does not work as well on carpet as it does on bare floor
- Filtration not as good as a Dyson
I think Shark has produced a winner with the Navigator Powered Lift Away.
Here’s why, not only will this product allow you to convert from an upright to a canister.
But it also gives you the option to use the main powered brush roll.
This feature alone gives it unparalleled versatility in terms of what you can clean.
The powered lift-away feature basically allows users to remove the bulky dirt canister from the main body which frees up a lot of space. So that you can clean tough to reach areas like spaces under furniture or chairs.
Watch this video to see what I mean…
I forgot to mention that it comes with a pod where you can place the bulky pod. And use the extension wand plus the main motorized head to clean carpeted surfaces underneath large furniture like beds.
Great for pet hair
It also comes with a mini-motorized pet hair tool that does great in cleaning stubborn pet hair making this one of the best (bagless) upright vacuums to clean pet hair…
Even with just a few passes the pet tool was able to pick up virtually all the pet hair. This is impressive for a tool powered by air.
This tool was able to pick up all the cat fur in just a few passes. It is very impressive for something powered by air.
One trouble I had with cleaning dust on hard floor surfaces is the lack of visibility.
It has LED lights both on the main tool and also the handle that greatly helps tracking dust bunnies on hardwood or on upholstery.
This is just one of the many reasons why you should consider this as your main home cleaner.
Not as expensive as a Dyson
The great thing with the Shark is that it isn’t as expensive as a Dyson.
You’ll get the same suction power plus a whole lot more versatility for a few hundred dollars less. Have I convinced you already? Well you’ll have to read the whole review to see how this does in detail.
There’s also a new version that came out called the DuoClean Powered Lift Away. Features are similar but this has the DuoClean head that has better agitation.
DuoClean head combines a soft roller bar and bristled brush that pull dirt towards the suction chamber. This design works well on bare floor cleaning larger bits of dirt without plowing. However this technology comes at a premium – a $330 price tag in Amazon.
The Navigator Lift Away was one of the first Shark uprights that integrated the “Lift Away” feature. It isn’t as feature rich as the NV752 but it’s much cheaper. This variant comes with similar versatility but you can use the main cleaning head in canister mode.
What makes this a good option?
- Cheaper than the Shark Navigator Powered Lift Away
- Offers canister vacuum versatility in an upright package
- Long 30 foot power cord lessens the need to constantly plug and unplug
- Works decently well on carpet and bare floor
- Less power than the NV752
- You can use the main cleaning head in canister mode
If the Navigator Powered Lift Away is still too expensive for your taste, here’s another option.
It gives you the same Lift Away feature but minus the option of using the main motorized floor tool so it will not be as versatile as the Powered Lift Away.
Same versatility as the Powered Lift Away
It will give you the same cleaning versatility in terms of the ability to clean stairs. And various types of upholstery with the mini motorized tool attachment.
It still comes with the similar attachments like the crevice and dusting brush to go along with the extension wand and mini-motorized tool.
The bin has HEPA filtration but it is a bagless there’s still exposure to dust and allergens.
Power cord is decent at 25 feet long. But it’s still shorter than a Shark Powered Lift Away at 30 feet.
All this will equate to a price of just under $160 which is a bargain if you ask me because it still comes with the same 5 year warranty.
Pick this up if budget is your primary concern because it still has the same power and offers around 80% of the versatility.
It does not have the latest technology found in the Shark Navigator Powered Lift Away and DuoClean. But it still performs well enough to warranty your consideration.
If you have a smaller home with both hardwood and carpet this upright will do a great job. Plus it comes with the lift away feature that make this capable of cleaning areas traditional uprights won’t reach like car interiors or ceiling vents.
The Kenmore 31150 Elite is one of the best upright vacuums available at the $200 range. There are better cleaning options like the Sebo X5 but that’s much more expensive. If you want something relatively affordable, have a close look at this.
What makes this a good option?
- Great cleaning tool for people with allergies because this is a bagged vacuum
- Capable of deep cleaning carpet
- Large capacity bags means you don’t have to replace it as often
- Long 5 year warranty
- Not as versatile as the Shark uprights I featured above
- This is a heavy and bulky upright reserved only for homes with lots of carpet
If you suffer from a serious case of allergic rhinitis, sniffing dust particles can be a trigger point for non-stop sneezing that can be downright uncomfortable.
Even with the HEPA filter these uprights don’t have a bag so there is exposure to allergens.
The Kenmore Elite is one of the best performing upright vacuums based on consumer reviews. And it comes fitted with a bag that protects users from exposure to allergy triggering allergens.
More power than other uprights
Thanks to its 3D inducer motor, Kenmore claims that this machine produces as much as 3 times more power than other upright cleaners, this technology also eliminates the need for a drive belt.
This allowed the engineers at Kenmore to widen the brush roll and give consumers one less maintenance task (which is belt replacement).
Suction is very good so much so that some folks mentioned that this is unusable on throw rugs because you can’t move it.
I don’t know about you but I’d like my vacuum to have strong suction than weak suction. To address the issue above there is a hack that will allow you to adjust the suction so you can use this on area rugs.
If you’re home has wall to wall carpet, this vacuum will be a great tool for keep those areas clean. It doesn’t matter if it’s low pile or plush, it will be able to do the job thanks to the 4 position height adjustment.
LED helps with visibility
It also comes fitted with LED headlights to help you track dusty areas and helps with general visibility.
The dirt sensor tracks areas with dirt but it doesn’t work as well as advertised.
Since this machine is bulky, you won’t be able to use this to clean deep into areas under furniture.
There is no swivel steering so maneuverability takes a hit.
It does come with a hose, extension wand and a mini-motorized tool so you can use this to clean pet hair off upholstery. But the short 6 foot hose limits the reach.
The biggest issue for me would be the short warranty of just one year.
Whereas other manufacturers offer at least a 5 year warranty for their uprights, Kenmore only offers a one year warranty. This is a bit baffling to me since they are relying on their rock solid reputation for sales.
If you want a great performing bagged upright, look no further than the Kenmore Elite but the short warranty is a big concern.
The Electrolux Precision Brushroll is a great budget option if you don’t want to spend more than $200 for an upright. It won’t beat more expensive uprights with deep cleaning capability but you don’t need to spend as much. Performance is decent enough that it’ll keep your carpet clean and allergens from piling up.
What makes this a good option?
- Great budget option if you don’t want to spend more than $200 for an upright
- Has a feature that cuts off rolled up hair on the brush roll without the need for scissors
- Has a HEPA filter
- Pretty good performance on carpet
- Bulky and lacks has no swivel steering
In the world of uprights, brands like Dyson, Kenmore and Miele dominate the marketing space.
But there is a brands like Shark and Electrolux that produce quality products at competitive price points.
They also back their products up with long warranties to give you extra peace of mind that the dollars you spend will last you years.
The Electrolux Precision Brushroll, is another model that you should have to look at when it comes to upright vacuums.
No more tangled brushes
It has one unique feature that will help away one of the most tedious tasks of owning a brush roll equipped cleaner – cutting off rolled up hair.
Yes, thanks to the brush roll cleaning feature that cuts and then sucks away any hair or debris stuck there, you don’t need to get down on your knees to clean it off yourself.
The height adjustment also allows you to adjust the clearance just in case you want to clean larger bits of debris like crushed biscuits.
Above the floor cleaning
It also comes with a decently long flexible hose along with two attachments – the versatool and brush tool that allows it to clean upholstery, stairs and vents.
The best part about this product is the price, at just a little over $210 (used). You’ll get a versatile vacuum cleaner that will clean bare floor and carpet as well as upholstery. A pretty good deal at the price point, plus you’ll get a long 5 year warranty.
Bargain hunters will love this vacuum because it has features found in high end vacuums. But it won’t cost as much. These features include HEPA filtration and the brush roll cleaning system that saves time.
The Dyson Cinetic Big Ball is the only upright available right now that does not have any pre-motor filter. This means you don’t have to wash any filters throughout the lifetime of this machine. But you will need to replace two post motor filters inside the ball. The biggest downside for me is this variant does not have as much power as the older Dyson Ball Animal 2 that has over 300 air watts. This one only has 195 air watts.
What makes this a good option?
- Good agitation and power for deep cleaning carpet
- Filter-less design takes away the need to clean a pre-motor filter
- Despite its bulk, this upright is easy to move around thanks to the Ball design
- Large dirt capacity
- Has two HEPA filters
Some potential issues
- Has less power than the cheaper Dyson Ball Animal 2 upright
- Some concern long term of the Cinetic system
In terms of innovation it is hard to leave out Sir James Dyson and the Cinetic Big Ball is proof that Dyson is continually pushing the envelope to bring consumers innovative products.
The Cinetic is the latest in Dyson’s upright product line.
No more filters
And the innovation that they are introducing is the cleaning system that doesn’t require a pre-motor filter thanks to the so-called Dyson cinetic science.
Basically cinetic science Dyson’s fancy term they use to describe the oscillating tips that 350 times per second to prevent the buildup of fine dust.
To put it in layman’s terms these tips shake the dust particles as it enters the dirt bin so that it doesn’t build up in one area. Engineers say that this is similar to pouring baking soda over a sieve. When you don’t shake the sieve, there will be buildup of baking soda so you’ll need to shake it in order to dislodge any build up.
But what Dyson didn’t clearly tell you is that this machine has a post motor HEPA filter that you still need to clean on occasion…
Actually there are two of them.
You’ll notice that the part inside the ball is really filthy, and Dyson’s claim of the no loss of suction isn’t really accurate.
When you look at videos on carpet and hardwood test, this machine is capable of cleaning dirt.
Kode1996 may have opened a whole can of worms with this discover and hopefully Dyson address this soon.
I still included this in the top 5 mainly because of the filter-less innovation but it is far from perfect.
In terms of cleaning performance, this vacuum does perform. But the cinetic science filter-less system looks very good on paper but in reality it doesn’t really filter out every last bit of allergen that goes through it.
Based on the video I saw on YouTube, dust particles will stay inside the ball. This is where the HEPA filters and motor are.
So this vacuum really isn’t filter-less as Dyson claims. The high price point makes it hard to rank this any higher.
The high tech cinetic filter-less system is great, cleaning performance rocks. But in reality allergens still get through and will clog the two post motor HEPA filters if you don’t clean them. Dyson could be more transparent with this feature but it is what it is.
Many have tried but failed to deliver. Hoover has made two products that will work for people looking for a high traffic cleaning tool.
Remember that these products will not compare to an upright in terms of power. But it makes up for it with its versatility and maneuverability.
Both the Hoover Air Cordless and Air Cordless Lift ushers in the next generation of cordless stick vacuums. It will have the similar versatility as a Dyson but with a larger dirt bin so don’t need to empty it as often. Take note that these Hoovers will not have as much power as a Dyson.
What makes this a good option?
- Doesn’t have any cords – you can just about bring this anywhere in your home without having to look for a plug
- Good sized bin for a cordless vacuum
- Lift feature transforms this from upright mode to a canister that increases reach
- Two removable batteries decreases downtime
Some potential issues
- Lacks power and will not deep clean carpet
The Air Cordless Lift combines two products. An upright and a canister into one neat package that doesn’t require any cords.
Hoover designed it such that it has a bigger dirt bin compared to a stick vacuum and still retain versatility to clean upholstery, stairs and such.
It has the versatility of a canister vacuum thanks to the “Lift” feature that will allow you to use the main cleaning head to with the body detached.
This makes this variant the more expensive option between the two.
Compared to other cordless vacuums that run between 15 and 30 minutes, this will run longer.
Thanks to the two 20-volt lithium ion batteries this cleaner will give you 50 minutes of run time from the two batteries combined. This is more than enough for any spot cleaning task.
In terms of cleaning performance, it has performed better than the DC44 on carpet…
Other than that it also has a wider cleaning path – this will mean less back and forth passes since it covers more area.
The downside to this though is the suction power. It still will not match their corded counterparts in terms of pure suction power.
Also the limited run time will not allow you to clean a medium to large house, especially if it has wall to wall carpeting.
Another option would be the Hoover Air Cordless. This is similar to the Air Cordless Lift but it doesn’t have the lift feature that converts it to a canister vacuum. Run time and cleaning performance are still the same. This is a cheaper variant compared to the “Lift” because it has less versatility.
Upright vacuums have come a long way since these machines Hoover came into the scene in the early 1900s. These machines are essential inside homes with carpet. But these were heavy and only have one function – to clean floors.
Modern uprights are a testament to the innovative minds behind the biggest brands in this industry.
The most innovative of which would be Shark. They’ve unlocked a treasure chest of features that have turned a once bulky tool into an all around cleaning beast that can nearly everything inside your home.
Why the Shark?
Their engineers developed the so-called “Powered Lift Away” feature that allow users to use the main cleaning head even with the canister detached.
This really extends the reach of these two products to cleaning stairs and deep under furniture. It’s something that the other products in this list isn’t capable of doing.
If those two Sharks are too expensive then look at the Shark Navigator Lift Away that’s way cheaper. It won’t allow you to use the main floor head in Lift Away mode. But it does provide comparable versatility to clean multiple areas above the floor.
Kenmore is a good bagged option
For those of you who prefer a bagged vacuum, the Kenmore Elite is a way cheaper. This hulking upright will deep clean carpet and suck up anything in its path. It has a little versatility with the telescopic aluminum wand but it lacks reach.
Biggest issue would be weight – it weighs around 20 pounds!
Electrolux is another budget option that will perform decently but it only cleans floors.
Don’t sleep on the Dyson
The ability to separate the bin from the body thus allowing you to use it like a canister vacuum. The Air Cordless Lift is more versatile because it’ll allow users to use the main head even with the canister detached. But it’s also more expensive.
Just in case I missed something or you have any suggestions on how I could improve the list here, feel free to comment about it below.