Shark vacuum cleaners have quickly become mainstays in the home appliance world for their revolutionary upright bagless design. Shark vacuum cleaners have been known to compete with the likes of Dyson and other premium brands at the cost of a budget vacuum cleaner. While the Shark brand has been somewhat quiet when it comes to canister vacuums, they do offer several products that appeal to those who enjoy the effective all-surface cleaning capabilities of a canister model.
In this article we break down the best Shark canister vacuums, discussing both their dedicated canister designs as well as products that can most effectively be used as canister vacuum cleaners. After our overview, we’ll also be going over the unique technology that makes these canister/upright hybrids possible, as well as what you need to know before committing to a canister vacuum from the likes of Shark.
Upright | 30 ft cord | Bagless | HEPA Filtration | 16 lbs | 5 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll (on/off)
Featuring Lift-Away technology with a powerful motorized brush roll, the APEX DuoClean Lift-Away is fully prepared both for upright use as well as handheld canister use. The higher price point and weight can be somewhat off-putting, but provided you’re willing to invest, the APEX DuoClean can certainly bring out the best in your home.
- Powered Lift-Away mode can operate the motorized DuoClean brush roll in canister mode
- DuoClean brush roll can handle hardwood and carpets effectively
- Lots of attachments round out handheld canister mode and make cleaning all above-ground surfaces easier
- Higher price point than most Shark Lift-Aways
- Can be unwieldy to carry in Lift-Away mode
- Smaller bin size means lots of stopping to empty out debris
- DuoClean technology deep cleans carpets and leaves a polished look
- Powered Lift-Away operates the brush roll while detaching from the main unit
- Attachments: Pet Multi-tool, Duster crevice, MultiFlex under appliance wand
- Warranty: 7-year Limited
Dedicated canister vacuum users will love this Shark bagless upright model for its Lift-Away technology, an innovation that is built into many Shark upright vacuum cleaners and allows users to disconnect the bin and motor from the bottom brush roll assembly and utilize the attachments and other features from the included hose.
The Shark APEX DuoClean is one of the few products that comes with a hose that can power a host of motorized features, including Shark’s DuoClean technology. Using both the standard brush roll and one of the soft bristle brushes you’ll be able to use this upright canister as a powerful handheld canister as well. Of course, upright mode provides its own host of maneuverability and portability. The only real problem with the device is the need to stop and empty out the small bin. Otherwise, this unit should be able to tackle floors, upholstery, stairs, and more with relative ease.
Canister | 23 ft cord | Bagless| HEPA Filtration | 10.3 lbs | 5.5 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll (on/off)
This traditional canister vacuum from Shark might be their only product in this category that allows for canister use while still utilizing the Lift-Away technology. The heavier, bulkier design seems to be a flaw that the company has since corrected in newer bagless uprights, but the larger bin and traditional design will appease any purist.
- Traditional canister design makes this the only canister vacuum available from Shark
- Lift-Away technology makes it easy to move around crowded rooms and clean above-ground surfaces
- Lots of accessories and onboard storage to keep any attachment close at hand
- Heavy and bulky design makes it difficult to carry around in Lift-Away mode
- Brush roll can be clogged easily
- Older design makes it difficult to compete with newer Shark products in terms of suction
- LED headlights to better identify debris
- Automatic cord rewind makes it easy to stow away after a cleaning
- Attachments: crevice tool, dust bin brush, pet power brush, dusting brush, straight suction nozzle
- Warranty: 5-year Limited
The Shark Rotator Lift-Away canister vacuum is the only tried-and-true canister vacuum on our list. The canister design and larger wheels make it easy to drag the unit behind you as you head through your home. A motorized brush roll can be turned on and off for carpet, and hardwood flooring, and the pet power brush and other accessories work best for above-ground cleaning.
The built-in Lift-Away technology is perfect for cleaning stairs and corners, but at over twenty pounds, you’re going to be somewhat limited when it comes to cleaning these areas. In addition, the brush roll seems to struggle on high pile carpet and often requires stops to clear out debris. This unit is also one of the oldest in Shark’s product line, so the advanced cyclonic structure isn’t as powerful as newer models. Still, this canister vacuum is formidable in the home and deserves recognition as the only true Shark canister product.
Handheld | 25 ft Cord | Bagless | Sponge Filtration | 6 lbs | 3 ft Hose | X Brush Roll
This small canister handheld operates much like a Lift-Away product in Lift-Away mode, making it easy to clean debris off of countertops and in the car. The lightweight design and simple attachment setup are both handy, but no brush roll or floor cleaning solutions limits this product from being an all-surface cleaning appliance.
- Lightweight and easy to maneuver with a highly flexible hose
- Bin size is large for a handheld and hold lots of debris before needing to be emptied.
- Affordable when compared to other products on our list
- No motorized brush roll or floor nozzle limits cleaning to above-ground only
- More attachments would be useful for taking advantage of the suction power
- Storing the product is somewhat bulky and cumbersome.
- Lifetime filters ensure effective and thorough cleanings for years to come
- Lift Around technology makes it easy and comfortable to keep the product in hand
- Attachments: Dusting brush, crevice tool, upholstery tool
Utilizing the unibody design of their Lift-Away products, the Shark Lift-Around NP317W handheld canister vacuum sacrifices floor cleaning to provide an affordable product that’s great for smaller messes and car cleaning. This model is designed to be as simple to use as possible. Just unravel the hose, pick your attachment, and get to work. At six pounds and featuring a 25-foot cord, you’ll have no issues carrying this product up and down stairs.
As a handheld, there limitations when it comes to floor cleaning. Using the attachments, you’ll be best served by using this product against car dirt, spills on countertops, and possible stairs.The Shark Power Pod, though, seems to provide all of the Shark suction you’ve expected at a price point that you didn’t. For this reason, we’re confident that this handheld canister can handle anything short of your floors.
Upright | 30 ft Cord | Bagless | HEPA Filtration | 13.7 lbs | 5 ft Hose | ✓ Brush Roll (on/off)
This Shark bagless upright with Lift-Away technology is easy to use in handheld canister mode and comes with more than enough attachments to fully clean everything. The lack of a motorized hose, though, means that you’ll have to use this Shark canister as an upright if you’re hoping to deep clean your carpets.
- Lift-Away technology aids above-ground cleaning
- HEPA filtration is great for pet owners and those who suffer from allergies
- Cyclonic suction power is just as effective in upright mode as it is in canister mode
- Hardwood attachment aids bare floor cleaning
- No motorized attachments can be used in Lift-Away mode.
- Smaller design is top-heavy and can be tipped over easily in upright mode
- Brush roll isn’t best for high-pile carpeting
- Lift-Away technology allows for easy cleaning of above-ground surfaces
- Hard Floor Hero picks up surface debris for superior bare floor cleaning
- Attachments: Pet power brush, dusting brush, crevice tool
- Warranty: 1-year Limited
Much like the Shark APEX DuoClean, this Shark Navigator Lift-Away Professional bagless upright is a formidable product no matter which mode you use it in. One of Shark’s flagship vacuums, this model balances strong suction and great strength with a small and lightweight design for effective all-around cleaning.
It’s a little difficult to get this Shark product into the Lift-Away mode, but once you do, the model’s light weight and fantastic features, like the pet power brush, can make this product just as powerful as any dedicated canister vacuum at this price point. Unlike the APEX DuoClean, there’s no way for power attachments to be connected to the hose. This can be a big problem for those who want to use the motorized brush roll on stairs and other hard-to-reach surfaces. For these problems, you’ll just have to settle for the upright mode. Otherwise, the Shark Navigator Professional offers more than enough in its warranty, attachments, and effective suction power to justify its asking price.
As you can see, with only one exception, none of these Shark canister vacuums are truly canister vacuums in the traditional sense. This is why it’s important to have a clear understanding of Shark’s Lift-Away design and attachment ranges before deciding on a purchase. Let’s look at both of these aspects briefly:
Lift-Away & Handheld Canisters
Instead of going for a tried and true canister design that relies on a hose and floor-based canister to hold the debris and the motor, Shark bagless uprights are often built with Lift-Away technology. This capability allows the upper half of the vacuum to be disconnected from the motorized brush head and back frame so that homeowners can carry the vacuum’s motor bin while using the hose and one of the many attachments to clean furniture, curtains, and other above-ground surfaces.
Not all Lift-Away products are created equally; for instance, the APEX DuoClean allows for motorized attachments to be connected to the hose, which means you can use the full power of the vacuum in either mode. This is also true for the Shark Rotator canister vacuum, which lifts out of a carriage to leave behind the floor wheels. For the Shark Navigator Professional, however, you won’t be able to operate the motorized brush roll in Lift-Away mode. That’s why we don’t recommend purchasing any Shark Lift-Away vacuum until you’re fully aware of the operating mode.
Each Shark vacuum is unique, and other features may interest you more depending upon your home’s cleaning needs. If you’re interested in other Lift-Away products and other Shark bagless uprights, then we strongly recommend checking out our Best Shark Vacuum Cleaners review for more information.
Attachments & Power
As with any canister vacuum, attachments are what can make or break a product regardless of how powerful the suction is or how large the included bin may be. When it comes to Shark vacuums, you can be confident that you’ll at least get a brush tool, crevice tool, and upholstery tool.
For some products, like the Navigator Professional, Rotator canister vacuum, and APEX DuoClean, you’ll also get a pet attachment that features a suction-powered brush roll. Only the APEX DuoClean and Rotator canister vacuum can power attachments and brush rolls; other models will need to be used in their upright mode to effectively clean floors, or in the case of the Power Pod, won’t be able to clean floors at all.
Whether or not you need a powered hose will depend on how often you plan to use the vacuum in canister mode. For instance, if canister mode is only to help you clean your above-ground surfaces, it won’t be necessary to spend the extra cash for a powered hose design. However, if you want to clean carpeted stairs or clean floors in canister mode, you’ll want a hose that can provide the power you need to spin the brush roller.
Shark products offer unique spins on canister vacuums, and although many of their products aren’t canisters in the traditional sense, they can still be effectively used as such. That being said, each of these products is designed for a home in mind.
For an all-around product that can clean bare floors, carpets, and above-ground surfaces with a powerful motor and powered hose, then the APEX DuoClean has the greatest versatility and features. For a traditional canister design that still offers handheld canister functionality, then the Shark Rotator canister vacuum may be right for you. Otherwise, the Shark Navigator Professional is great for homeowners who prefer both upright and canister products, while the Shark Power Pod is more affordable and perfect for small apartment and car cleaning.
In either case, Lift-Away technology allows Shark to compete in categories like the canister vacuum without necessarily re-designing their flagship products. If you want to try out canister designs without leaving behind Shark’s classic cyclonic suction, then any of these products should meet your needs.