Dyson is famous for making amazing vacuum cleaners that cost amazing amounts of money. Its latest model, the Dyson Cyclone V10, earned a strong review from Gizmodo. It also cost $700, if you want all the attachments. That’s bananas!
The good news is that the market for Dysons is predictable, much like the market for iPhones. New models come out every year, and the old models get cheaper, even though they all use the same basic technology. The other good news is that Dyson vacuums aren’t as novel as they used to be. There are now a number of decently cheap alternatives to the expensive handheld cyclone from the famous vacuum maker.
Let’s start with the predictable Dyson market. Broadly speaking, Dyson keeps improving its vacuum lineup, but the technology barely changes
It all dates back to the early 90s, when James Dyson sold his first “dual cyclone” vacuum cleaner: the DC01. This upright vacuum pulled dirty air through two cone-shaped containers that created cyclones, pulling particles out of the air and into a tank. Dyson famously went through 5,126 prototypes before landing on the final design for his “bagless vacuum that didn’t lose suction.” Over time, Dyson has improved that original design, however incrementally. The company has added more cones (thus, more cyclones), more powerful motors, and more designs. Recently, its streamlined cordless vacuums have supposedly become as powerful as uprights. These handhelds are also some of the cheapest and most versatile vacuum cleaners on the market.
If you’re thinking about getting a Dyson, the cordless models are a great starting point. They’re based on the same technology as the original upright Dysons, and older models can be super affordable. The secret? Go with a basic model, and get a refurbished unit. Although this sounds obvious, buying a refurbished Dyson can be an especially great deal, given the huge price difference.
Currently, the cheapest Dyson handheld on the market is the Dyson V6. While Dyson sells these cordless vacuums for $300, you can find certified refurbished models for as little as $150. Buying the refurbished unit means you’ll get a six-month limited warranty instead of the standard two- to five-year Dyson warranty. Dyson refurbishes these vacuums in house, and they’re supposed to perform just as well as the regular units. You can drive down the price slightly more if you buy a refurbished Dyson Trigger, which is basically just the vacuum part of the handheld, and then add generic brand accessories, as you need them. And if you can wait another year, you could see Dyson release a new handheld and then the prices of older models will shift down again.
You don’t need a Dyson. They’re great vacuum cleaners, sure, but the technology also isn’t not quite as novel as it was 20 years ago. Dysons also aren’t perfect. The vacuums famously don’t require a filter, but that means that debris can get caught in the air channels, causing clogs. This leads to the dreaded “Dyson pulsing” problem you’ll see people complain about online. Sure, the clogs can be cleared, but it’s evidence that those very expensive Dyson vacuums are not invincible.
Plenty of cheaper handheld vacuums will still suck up the dirt from your floor. While Dyson has fiercely protected—and even successfully sued rivals over—its patents on the dual cyclone technology, other companies now make Dyson lookalikes that offer similar performance at much lower prices. In the cordless arena, these stick vacuums are also bagless, also feature a handheld motor with a wand, and also come with myriad accessories.
If you like the basic setup of a model like the Dyson V6, for instance, you might also like the $100 Dirt Devil Reach Max Multi. This Wirecutter favorite includes useful accessories like a brush roll that digs into carpets as well as a smaller, motorized brush for upholstery. The Devil even feels like a Dyson in how it navigates floors. The Bissell Multi Reach is more expensive at $200, although it almost looks like a Dyson clone with its pistol grip motor and cylindrical tank. Meanwhile, the Hoover React series and the Shark Ion vacuums also offer loads of accessories and suction, although some of these models cost just as much as a Dyson.
At the end of the day, your budget and your preferences will decide which vacuum works best for you. If you’ve always wanted a Dyson, there are ways to get one without spending your lifesavings. If you just want a good versatile vacuum, the Dirt Devil is a decent option. If you can’t really be bothered anyways, brooms are cheap as hell.