Affiliate Disclosure

Stylized i character

None of our reviews are sponsored. We earn a commission when you purchase items through our links.

The Best Lightweight Vacuum


We spent 20 hours on research and six weeks testing each of the vacuums in a home environment. We chose the Shark – Rocket HV302 as our pick for the best lightweight vacuum. Weighing just 8 pounds (the average vacuum weighs 14 to 17 pounds), it is one of the more powerful vacuums we tested. The Shark possesses agility and suction strong enough to make it feel as though it were self-propelled. If you want a cordless model, we found the Eureka – NEC222 to be the best option. It pulls up an impressive amount of debris and has swivel steering that makes it easy to navigate around furniture.

Our Top Choices

Best Corded


Shark

Rocket HV302

See Price at Amazon

Best Cordless


Eureka

NEC222

See Price at Amazon

Budget Pick


Hoover

SH20030

See Price at Amazon

We spent 20 hours on research and six weeks testing each of the vacuums in a home environment. We chose the Shark – Rocket HV302 as our pick for the best lightweight vacuum. Weighing just 8 pounds (the average vacuum weighs 14 to 17 pounds), it is one of the more powerful vacuums we tested. The Shark possesses agility and suction strong enough to make it feel as though it were self-propelled. If you want a cordless model, we found the Eureka – NEC222 to be the best option. It pulls up an impressive amount of debris and has swivel steering that makes it easy to navigate around furniture.

Table of contents

How we selected finalists to test

Since a vacuum weighing more than 15 pounds can cause arm fatigue when pushed around large spaces or carried up stairs, we limited our scope to vacuums weighing 15 pounds and under. Corded vacuums tends to be more powerful, while cordless ones are more convenient. Keeping this in mind, we searched for the best options in each category.

We’ve tested multiple types of vacuums here at Your Best Digs, as we searched for everything from the best upright vacuum to the best handheld vacuum. These previous experiences have given us a good sense of overall features to consider when also factoring in a lightweight aspect.

For instance, we considered the fact that swivel steering can greatly impact the amount of work it takes to move a vacuum around. If you’re choosing a lightweight vacuum because you want to ease the strain of pushing a heavy vacuum around, this is an important feature to note.

We looked at reputable sources such as Consumer Reports and Wirecutter to gather information about the top lightweight vacuums on the market. Once we narrowed down a list of finalists that had the features we deemed most important, we culled the list further based on Amazon reviews and reports from the Laundry Love & Cleaning Science Facebook group.

Compare the best lightweight vacuums

ProductPriceStyleWeight (lbs)Converts to Handheld
1. Shark - Rocket HV302$$$Corded8.2Yes
2. Eureka - NEC222$$$Cordless6.5Yes
3. Hoover - SH20030$$Corded8.0No
4. Dyson - V10 Absolute$$$$Cordless5.9Yes
5. Oreck - XL2100RHS$$$Corded8.2No
6. Tineco - A11 Hero$$$$Cordless5.5Yes
7. Deik - ZB1516$$$Cordless4.7Yes
8. Bissell - Featherweight 2033$Corded3.0Yes

Important features to consider

  • Lightweight: Vacuums over 15 pounds become tough to move around, an important consideration if you need to cover more square footage or carry it upstairs. The vacuums we tested weighed 3 to 8 pounds.
  • Swivel steering: Maneuverability is key if you’re choosing a vacuum based on its ease of use. Even a lightweight vacuum can cause arm fatigue without swivel steering, since you need to make double the effort to guide it around the room.
  • Corded vs. cordless: Corded vacuums are typically more powerful than cordless vacuums, although some newer cordless models are nearly as powerful as a corded vacuum.
  • Battery life/run time: If you do choose a cordless model, consider how long the battery takes to charge and how long you can run the vacuum before the battery dies.
  • Sealed HEPA filter: If you have allergies or asthma, you’ll want to make sure your vacuum traps dust mites, pet dander and pollen in a tightly sealed system. A vacuum with a sealed HEPA filter must meet the rigorous U.S. HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) standards of removing 99.97 percent of all particles 0.3 microns or larger.
  • Low profile: A vacuum that lies flat is able to fit under furniture, which means you can clean without moving heavy objects around the room.
  • Easy emptying: Whether using a bagged or bagless model, you should be able to empty the vacuum without dirt escaping.
  • Brush roll: A spinning beater brush agitates debris in the carpet for a deeper clean, but on hard floors, it can scratch the surface and fling debris away. A better option for hard flooring is a vacuum that allows you to turn off the beater brush or, better yet, has a soft roller head.
  • Converts into handheld vacuum: A model that converts into a handheld vacuum gives you the most bang for your buck and allows you to use it on multiple cleaning tasks. It’s convenient to have a vacuum that can clean your floors as well as your car. If you’re primarily looking to use your vacuum as a handheld, our article on the best handheld vacuum can guide you in the right direction.
  • Multiple attachments: Attachments such as a soft roller head for hard floors, a crevice tool and a dusting tool allow you to tackle multiple cleaning jobs with one vacuum.
  • Adjustable-height cleaning head: Automatic height adjustment allows you to switch from carpet to hard flooring, although you may want to turn your brush roll off or switch to a soft roller head.

How we tested

ProductManeuverabilityMaximum Sound (dB)Filter Contents (grams of dust, sand, pet hair)Overall Emissions Rating
1. Shark - Rocket HV302☆☆☆☆☆83.55☆☆☆☆☆
2. Eureka - NEC222☆☆☆☆☆71.39☆☆☆☆
3. Hoover - SH20030☆☆☆☆75.92☆☆☆
4. Dyson - V10 Absolute☆☆☆☆85.09☆☆☆☆☆
5. Oreck - XL2100RHS☆☆88.614
6. Tineco - A11 Hero☆☆☆☆☆77.24☆☆☆☆
7. Deik - ZB1516☆☆☆☆☆80.16☆☆☆☆
8. Bissell - Featherweight 2033☆☆☆74.03☆☆

Performance

We tested in a household with three children and three fur babies — two dogs and a domestic shorthair cat — and the carpet was embedded with pet hair. We added sand, baking soda (to mimic fine dust) and cereal (large debris) to the mix. Starting with empty collection containers, we passed each vacuum over the area for 30 seconds. Then we weighed the output in grams to test how much each vacuum collected.

Pet hair is naturally lighter than sand or cereal, so while we measured the contents of each collection container, we visually inspected the carpet to see if there was any debris remaining. The type of debris collected gave us insight into which vacuums picked up more fine debris and which gathered the most pet hair.

Finally, we performed the same test again on hard flooring. We paid attention to whether or not the vacuums snowplowed (pushed forward rather than sucked up) the large debris.

The Oreck, Dyson and Eureka were able to capture the most pet hair, sand and baking soda at the same time without the brush roll or filter becoming clogged. The Shark picked up a large amount of pet hair from the carpet, but the hair wound itself around the filter and created a pressure that caused it to “backfire,” sending larger pieces of debris back onto the carpet.

The Hoover does a good job of picking up surface pet hair and cereal, but it doesn’t do much to pull up ground-in dirt and debris from the carpet. It pulls in cereal without snowplowing it across the floor, even better than some of our more expensive finalists. For example, the Tineco isn’t able to retain larger pieces of debris, leaving them on the floor after you move the vacuum.

Emissions

The best vacuums are able to keep the dirt contained in their collection bag or cylinder, so the dust and debris isn’t spewed back out into the air. This is especially important if you have allergies. To test filter performance, we measured dust kickback with a Dylos air quality monitor.

The laser counter measures air quality in terms of both large particles (PM10) and small particles (PM2.5). Particle pollution can be especially harmful to those with asthma, older adults and babies and children. Smaller particles are more troublesome because they can get into the deep parts of your lungs.

We took a reading before vacuuming, then measured the air quality again after vacuuming a single room for 10 minutes. Some vacuums, such as the Oreck and the Bissell, caused the numbers to jump dramatically. The Shark and the Dyson actually improved the quality of the air, reducing both large and small airborne particles. The Eureka and Deik were relatively neutral, neither spewing dust nor filtering it out of the air.

Usability

Over the course of six weeks, we used these vacuums to vacuum as any consumer would. We vacuumed in multiple rooms on both hard flooring and carpet for approximately 30 minutes at a time.

Since we wanted to find the best lightweight vacuum, key considerations here were arm fatigue and maneuverability. We rated each vacuum on a scale of one to five (five being best) for ease of use, giving the highest ratings to vacuums that didn’t cause arm fatigue.

We maneuvered each vacuum around the room and judged how easy it was to operate. Then we tested its profile by lying it flat and vacuuming under a couch and living-room chairs. We noted features such as button placement and ability to determine what the settings meant without consulting the manual. Finally, we considered how easy it was to change the filter or empty the waste container.

Our five-star finalists for maneuverability were the Shark, Eureka, Tineco and Deik. Despite being only 8.2 pounds, the Oreck was incredibly difficult to push around the room. The stronger the suction, the more difficult it was to push — with the exception of the Shark, which feels as if it is propelling forward without effort. Finalists like the Dyson and Tineco were easy to operate, but we encountered resistance on their Max settings and vacuuming became more labor-intensive.

Noise output

For this test, we measured the sound output in decibels of each vacuum using a sound pressure level meter. The ambient noise level of the room measured at 59.3 decibels, with a fan running and someone cooking in the other room. We held the meter at ear level while running each vacuum to gauge the noise exposure while actually using the vacuum.

The average noise level of our finalists was 79 dBA, when the vacuums were used at their highest setting. Comparatively, it’s the sound of a freight train from 100 feet away. Our loudest vacuum, the Oreck, was closer to the sound levels of a boiler room at 88.6 dBA. The Eureka was the quietest vacuum, measuring 71.3 dBA, or a little louder than classroom chatter. The Shark had a wide range of noise levels, from 83.5 dBA on its max setting to just below the average noise level at 77.2 dBA on its lowest setting.

Best corded: Shark – Rocket HV302

In our tests, we found the vacuums with better suction tended to be harder to move around the floor. The Shark – Rocket HV302 is the exception; the power and the motorized brush roll work together to make it feel as though it is self-propelled. Swivel steering adds even greater agility, making the Shark easy to navigate around furniture. The combination of power and maneuverability made the Shark our top choice for a lightweight vacuum.

The Shark doesn’t snowplow large debris and is excellent at pulling up dirt and debris from along wall edges. The filter is simple to reach and remove using a flip-top lid and the waste canister is easy to empty. It has a 30-foot cord, so it’s easy to reach across the room and even down the hallway, depending on the size of your rooms.

Although it doesn’t have a HEPA filter, the Shark performed on par with the Dyson in terms of emissions (and the Dyson is priced three times higher). It lowered both the large particle count and small particle count in the room after vacuuming. It pulled up sand and fine debris in large amounts, impressing us with how clean the floor looked after vacuuming with the Shark.

Best Maneuverability: Shark - Rocket HV302

The Shark’s power and maneuverability made it stand out from the other finalists. It glides smoothly across carpet and easily navigates around furniture and against wall edges.

The motorized brush roll helps to agitate dirt from carpets, while the included Hard Floor Hero head serves to pick up surface litter and stuck-on food or dirt. So you have the option to adjust the height with a switch and keep vacuuming across different floor types or change out the vacuum head.

This model converts into a hand vacuum with a dusting brush, upholstery brush and crevice tool. It also comes with a car-detail kit with micro tools for detailing your automobile.

Things we didn’t like

As powerful as the Shark is, it didn’t fare well in our pet hair test. For a better option, see our review on vacuums for pet hair. In fact, the power may have been part of the problem. It sucked up so much pet hair at one time that within 30 seconds the filter was too clogged to retain any more debris.

The other downside is that it is one of the heavier finalists we tested. Although it only weighs eight pounds, the majority of the weight is in the handheld portion of the vacuum. It may not be the best choice for you if your wrist is easily strained. Because it is so top heavy, it also doesn’t stand up on its own.

However, you can mount it on the included wall bracket for storage. You can also detach the hand vac from the floor mount and place it on the hook above the floor nozzle for easy storage.

These considerations aside, the Shark has enough pros that we feel comfortable recommending it as our top choice for a corded lightweight vacuum.

Key takeaways:

  • The Shark – Rocket HV302 is easy to use and maneuver, as the combination of strong suction and a motorized brush head reduces the force needed to push the vacuum.
  • Swivel steering makes vacuuming around furniture effortless, and a low profile allows you to reach under couches easily.
  • Our air was cleaner after vacuuming with the Shark, as its tightly sealed system and effective filter trapped fine and larger dust particles while running.
  • This model may not be the best choice for pet owners, as pet hair tends to clog in the filter and reduce efficacy.

Best cordless: Eureka – NEC222

Priced lower than average, especially for a cordless model, the Eureka – NEC222 is well worth the investment of a high-end vacuum. It is quiet but powerful and swivel steering makes it a breeze to move around the room. The low profile makes it a snap to clean underneath furniture, while its agility makes it easy to get around large pieces.

The Eureka aced our performance test, picking up as many grams of dirt as the Dyson and pulling up embedded pet hair without clogging. While it didn’t clean the air in our emissions test, it also retained any large or fine debris it pulled up from the carpet so you don’t have to worry about dust kickback.

It has the brightest front headlights, making it easy to see in low lighting. The waste canister empties at the touch of a button; there’s also a second option to twist off the collection cup.

Quiet but Powerful: Eureka - NEC222

The Eureka’s swivel steering made it easy to navigate, while its suction pulled up more dirt and debris than most of our other contenders. Paired with a quiet but powerful motor, this model handily won our pick for best lightweight cordless.

The things we liked most about this vacuum were its performance on both pet hair and fine dust and its quiet motor. The Eureka is only 6.5 pounds, so despite the motor being located at the handle, it didn’t put any pressure on our wrist.

The vacuum converts into a hand vac and comes with a crevice tool and a two-in-one upholstery tool. It has a solid 30 minutes of run time and charges in four hours.

Things we didn’t like

Our main concern with the Eureka is that the controls aren’t easily decipherable, so it’s hard to determine which symbol means carpet and which means hard floors (without consulting the manual, and let’s face it, we all know those end up in a junk drawer and are rarely consulted).

A secondary issue is that the brush head tends to lift off the ground, so it doesn’t always make full contact with the floor. This could mean it doesn’t pick up as much as it should or that you have to make multiple passes over the same area, unless you are actively ensuring that it fully engages with the carpet or hard flooring.

Key takeaways:

  • The Eureka – NEC222 is reasonably priced for a lightweight cordless vacuum and well worth the expense.
  • If you want a lightweight cordless vacuum that rivals the Dyson in terms of performance and doesn’t kick back any dust, the Eureka is an excellent choice.
  • At 6.5 pounds, it’s so lightweight that the brush head tends to lift off the carpet, but it doesn’t cause any arm fatigue after a long period of vacuuming.
  • Despite being a powerful vacuum, the Eureka is one of the quietest models we tested.

Budget pick: Hoover – SH20030

The Hoover – SH20030 wasn’t the absolute lowest-priced model we tested. However, of our eight finalists, it’s the best performing vacuum on the lower end of the price spectrum. It easily picked up pet hair and cereal in our performance test, and we especially liked that it could pick up debris along the edges of walls (thanks to edge cleaning bristles on the brush roll). It doesn’t deep clean as well as our other top picks, but it would be an excellent second vacuum for a quick pick up.

It runs smoothly on hard floors and doesn’t snowplow large debris, and you can easily transition between flooring types with a flick of the switch. It has a low profile and reaches under furniture with no problem. The swivel steering is useful for navigating around furniture and getting close to the edges.

Great for the Price: Hoover - SH20030

Priced lower than our average across all the lightweight vacuums we tested, the Hoover does a great job cleaning debris from carpets and along wall edges. You may want to opt for a more heavy-duty vacuum to deep clean your carpets occasionally, but the Hoover will keep your room tidy and free of pet hair.

Weighing only eight pounds, the weight is evenly distributed, so it’s easier to handle than our top-heavy cordless vacuums. Its 20-foot cord is long enough to reach across most rooms.

We also like that the Hoover is on the quieter side at only 75.9 dBA, less than our average rating of 79.4 across all models we tested. It’s also slim and stores upright, which makes it convenient to keep close at hand for those quick pick-up jobs.

Things we didn’t like

The Hoover performs better picking up large debris than fine dust. It’s a good choice for a lightweight, everyday vacuum,, but if you’re looking for a vacuum that really deep cleans, you may want to look elsewhere.

It doesn’t spew out fine particles (perhaps because it doesn’t pull them out of the carpet in the first place), but it does have trouble retaining large particles. If you have allergies or breathing issues, you may want to upgrade to a model with a more tightly sealed system.

Key takeaways:

  • The Hoover – SH20030 has a powered brush roll and edge-cleaning bristles, so it performs best on pet hair and along wall edges.
  • At less than half the price of our average for all the lightweight vacuums we tested, the Hoover is the best bang for your buck.
  • Swivel steering and a low profile makes this vacuum incredibly easy to operate, while its upright position makes it trouble-free to pause between tasks.
  • If you have allergies or asthma, you may want to opt for a more expensive model that has fewer emissions.

Other finalists we tested

Dyson – V10 Absolute

If you want a luxury upgrade, we highly recommend the Dyson – V10 Absolute. The price point is more than double the average cost of our vacuums, but every Dyson we have tested (including the V10 Absolute) outperforms the other finalists in terms of performance and air quality.

We didn’t name it our winner simply because it isn’t as easy to maneuver as our top picks, and we considered agility a top priority for a lightweight vacuum. The price point is higher than many consumers are able or willing to spend. Finally, we noted that the hygenic one-touch emptying bin tends to stick, making it more likely to spill the contents. (This wasn’t an issue with other Dyson models we previously tested.)

However, if you have pets or allergies, it may be worth it to invest in a Dyson for its ability to capture and retain both pet hair and dander. Dyson cord-free vacuums have whole machine filtration which captures 99 percent of particles as small as 0.3 microns.

Oreck – XL2100RHS

The Oreck – XL2100RHS is a bagged, corded and commercial model that performs extremely well in terms of pulling up embedded dirt and debris from carpet. It has plenty of power, but it’s also the noisiest vacuum of the models we tested. It also tends to drag along the floor and doesn’t have swivel steering, so alhough it weighs the same as the Shark, it causes arm fatigue, and the Shark doesn’t.

If you want a powerhouse vacuum and your main reason for choosing a lightweight vacuum is the ability to carry it upstairs easily, the Oreck is a good choice. However, if you have allergies or asthma, the trail of dust it leaves behind may make the Oreck a poor choice for you.

Tineco – A11 Hero

If maneuverability is what you prize most, the Tineco – A11 Hero is hands down the most agile vacuum we tested. Unfortunately, it doesn’t possess the suction power to name it as our top cordless pick. It only picked up four grams of dirt in our performance test, and appeared to pick up large debris well (with no snow plowing), but would leave pieces behind after we turned off the suction.

It comes with two lithium-ion batteries and a dual charging dock, so you can run the vacuum for up to 60 minutes without interruption. The waste canister is easy to empty, and it is easy on the wrist at only 5.5 pounds, despite being top heavy.

Deik – ZB1516

The Deik – ZB1516 has swivel steering, but the brush head doesn’t move as easily as our other contenders with swivel steering. Although it’s a top-heavy model like most of our lightweight cordless vacuums, the Deik weighs only 4.7 pounds so you don’t feel strain on the wrist.

It has a HEPA filter, but it tested as one of the neutral models in our emissions test. It doesn’t leave the air cleaner like the Shark or Dyson, but it doesn’t kick back dust either. Our overall impression of the Deik is neutral. At just over half the price of the average cost of our finalists, there isn’t anything negative about this vacuum, but it doesn’t have many standout qualities either.

Bissell – Featherweight 2033

If you need the absolute lightest vacuum for quick pick ups, the Bissell – Featherweight 2033 is a decent option. It lies flat so you can get underneath furniture easily, although the head doesn’t swivel so it doesn’t navigate as well as other finalists. However, at only 3 pounds, maneuverability isn’t as much of an issue as it would be for heavier vacuums.

The short cord could be problematic if you have a larger area room, and the filter clogs easily with pet hair. For the price and weight, these issues may not be deal breakers. The Bissell is the lowest-priced model we tested, and although it doesn’t come with any bells or whistles or have much power, it will make your floor appear cleaner with minimal effort.

The bottom line

When looking for the best lightweight vacuum, we wanted to find a model that was agile as well as lightweight. Whether you’re purchasing a lightweight vacuum because you have a higher area of square footage, multiple floors or a limited range of motion, a vacuum that maneuvers easily will make the task less labor-intensive.

The Shark – Rocket HV302 has tremendous capabilities to capture and retain dust and debris, while still being easy to navigate around the room. For those who prefer a cordless model, the Eureka – NEC222 is another lightweight vacuum that combines power with ease of use.

Shark - Rocket HV302

The combination of powerful suction and motorized brush roll makes this vacuum feel as though it is self-propelled, cutting down on the labor. It navigates easily around furniture and has a low profile to fit neatly under couches and chairs.

More Reviews