best vacuum for the money

Best Value Vacuums for the Money

Last update: August 2019

Want the vacuum that’s the best bang for your buck?

This article will appeal to practical vacuum shoppers. The people who want quality but don’t want to overpay. In other words, these are the best value  vacuums for the money.

Two of the picks were just under $100 at the time of writing and the other is right around the $200 range. But all of these perform like vacuums $100-200 more than their sticker price.

Here are the winners (more on the differences on each below):

Best overall 

2nd place

3rd Place

 

How I chose the best bang for your buck vacuums

Basically, I look at a graph of my top 25 vacuums, and then looked for the ones that were significantly cheaper than the rest of the top 25. Here’s a little more detail:

I’ve reviewed over 100 vacuums. I’ve rated the vacuums on important qualities like cleaning ability, pet hair pickup, maneuverability, and accessories. This helps me determine the best performers, but I needed to include price to figure out which were the best value. Here was my process:

  1. Start a spreadsheet that lists the top 25 performing vacuums in order
  2. Graph the price of the top 25 performers (vacuums on the x-axis, price on the y-axis)
  3. Analyze the graph for any “dips” aka an outlier in how cheap it is for its performance

How I choose the best vacuums for the money

 

Top 3 value vacuums for the money


Captain’s notice! When I recommend a vacuum, there is a link to a product page (usually Amazon), and I may receive a small commission if you purchase after clicking it. This does not change what you pay or what I recommend. It does help fund the research I put into the site, and I’m grateful for any support!

#1 Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional

This Shark vacuum is revolutionary because it is one of the top performers of all vacuums, but when you take into account it’s less than $250 price tag, it’s a huge value for a vacuum!

If you need a vacuum under $100, you can move on to my next recommendations, but this is my favorite vacuum for the money and here’s why:

  • powerful suction comparable to $400 vacuums
  • works great on deep cleaning carpet but also not damaging hardwood
  • completely sealed HEPA system (“completely sealed” is key in vacuums for allergies… HEPA isn’t as important)
  • versatile and can convert to canister to clean about anything in your home

Get pricing and more info on Amazon – click here

#2 Hoover WindTunnel T-Series 

If our top pick was a little out of budget, this is our next pick for best bang for your buck vacuum, and it can be purchased for about a hundred bucks.

Here are the top features:

  • HEPA filter
  • good set of attachments to clean furniture
  • suction not as good as our top pick but still effective on carpet and definitely hardwood
  • manual floor height adjustment (many higher-end models auto-adjust but some vacuums don’t adjust at all)

Get pricing and more info on Amazon – click here

#3 Dirt Devil Razor Bagless Multi-floor

This Dirt Devil vacuum is a near tie with our #2 option, but it has some pros and cons that put it on the list. Basically, I’d go with the Hoover if you’re an allergy sufferer. But if a HEPA filter isn’t a big deal (it is to many people), I find this one a little easier to maneuver and just as effective at cleaning.

Here’s a breakdown:

  • effective at cleaning both carpet and hardwood (although not nearly as powerful as our #1 Shark)
  • easiest to handle and maneuver on this list (and easier than most all vacuums)
  • effective pet hair tool
  • con: no HEPA filter like our top 2 choices

Get pricing and more info on Amazon – click here

Finding a vacuum that gets you the best bang for your buck

So what if you don’t see any of the recommendations I gave above at the store? How do you find the best vacuum for your money on your own? Here are a few tips I came across when doing my research (some go against what you might think):

Are expensive vacuums worth it?

Expensive vacuums sometimes come with higher suction or easier to use features. These can be well worth it, but sometimes our testing shows you’re paying more for nothing.

The price “sweet spot”

I’ve found that there are 3 tiers with vacuum pricing:

  • Under $100: This is the cheap tier. People looking for a vacuum in this price range just want the cheapest thing with suction. Price is much more important for performance, so manufacturers don’t invest in the quality or technology of these vacuums–they just race to the bottom on price
  • Over $250: This is the high-performance tier. In fairness, there’s a huge range in this tier, but I’ve found that when you get over $250 you start getting the people who are willing to pay for the top product. They are willing to shell out the money to get the top-performing vacuums, or in some cases, a vacuum that has specific features they want (made of metal, completely sealed HEPA system, etc).
  • $125 to $225: This is what I call the vacuum sweet spot. Manufacturers know the majority of shoppers are on a budget but are still willing to invest in a high-quality vacuum because it’s an investment that makes their lives easier for many years. To respond to these shoppers, popular brand name vacuums make “economy” classes of their high-end vacuums. These affordable versions often just sacrifice a few features you may not even use. You also find less-marketed brands that produce some of their best products for this price category.

Be a little picky

The best overall vacuums may be “excellent” in all categories: suction, allergies, pet hair, hardwood, extra features, and so on. The best vacuums for the money might be “excellent” in 8 out of 10 categories but “fair” to “good” in the other 2. It allows them to be significantly cheaper, but still nearly as high performing. The key is to figure out which vacuums are more affordable because they are “fair” in performance qualities that don’t matter as much to you. That why you’ll notice in our top 3 vacuums I highlighted what each vacuum excels at.

Should you avoid brand names?

Big brand names tend to spend big money on marketing. This extra marketing spending has to be made up somewhere, and it’s often in the cost of their top models.

So does this mean you should look for vacuums only in lesser known brands?

Not necessarily. Brand names tend to create a few affordable vacuums. They know many shoppers have a budget, and it’s not a market they want to miss. The great news for value shoppers is many times these “affordable” vacuums are nearly identical to higher-end version. They might just be missing a few add-ons so the company can justify the lower price.

What about refurbished?

Many refurbished vacuums are reduced $100-200 off the retail price. This can bring a top performing vacuum down into a more affordable range that makes it a steal.

There are some risks. Refurbished vacuums usually come with shorter warranties. From my experience, refurbished products tend to end up working out great. Often there was an initial defect (cosmetic or performance), the company fixes the problem and the vacuum is the same as new.

Captain’s parting words!

There’s some people who want the latest and greatest, but I think most just want the best bang for their buck.

After all, you work hard for your money. Hopefully, this article helps you get the most value for your money when it comes to a vacuum. I think all 3 of these vacuums will serve you well.

If you have carpet and aren’t on a super-strict budget, I’d go with my top pick. If you only need surface cleaning like hardwood floors and/or money is really tight, my #2 and #3 options should be a good fit.

Any other questions on the best vacuum for the money? Let me know in the comments below.

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Barb

What are your thoughts on a Kirby?