Shark vacuum cleaners are perhaps some of the most popular home vacuum cleaners on the market today. While they might be a newer company than some other long-standing brands, Shark’s innovate bagless upright products have elevated them quickly from newcomer to heavyweight when it comes to home appliances. Shark vacuums are known for their simple operation and a host of unique, patented features that you can’t find from any other maker.
Given the rapid rise in Shark’s popularity, though, it can be a challenge to navigate their complex lineup. You may know that Shark vacuum cleaners have features you’re interested in, but how do you know which products have the right features for you?
This article takes a closer look at Shark as a company, deciphering what we can from their history and products to figure out what makes them so popular. Afterward, we’ll be breaking down five of the top products currently offered from Shark in hopes we can introduce you to a model that may be right for you.
Shark products can be difficult to categorize because the brand’s strategy is to offer products at just about any price point. As a result, their models range from the budget-friendly, like Bissell and Dirt Devil, to the premium, with vacuums that can rival heavyweights like Dyson. This is often why you’ll see comparisons of Shark to Hoover, Bissell, and Dyson products almost equally.
The current product line is dense, but it wasn’t always this way. Shark vacuums is a subsidiary of SharkNinja, a home appliance manufacturer from Montreal. Founded only 20 years ago, Shark is one of the youngest operating vacuum cleaner manufacturers on a mass-market scale. Shark’s focus on marketing and an ever-evolving product line elevated the brand rapidly to a 20 percent share in the U.S. vacuum market. Their influence only continues to grow, and this is due in large part to their allegiance to the bagless upright vacuum cleaner.
Shark also tries to make it easy for consumers by naming each model after its key features. We recommend getting acquainted with these terms to better acclimate yourself to what you’re getting out of the brand. They are:
Shark’s entry-level vacuum model is the Navigator or Navigator Professional, so named for its easy-to-use swiveling brush roller. The next step up from the Navigator is the Rotator, which comes with a digital display to select floor type and LED lights for better debris recognition. Either of these vacuums could have what Shark refers to as Lift-Away technology, which allows the vacuum to be disconnected from the brush roller assembly and carried like a canister or handheld vacuum cleaner. This design is mostly why you won’t find many pure canister vacuums from the company.
The other major feature that can be found from Shark is their DuoClean technology, which puts a major focus on its additional brush roller. This soft roller seems to be designed as a direct response to Dyson’s popular soft brush roller and allows for a deep clean that won’t damage hardwood flooring. Finally, there is the TruePet feature, which typically only refers to the mini-motorized tool being included in the accessory list.
Remember that the DuoClean and Lift-Away technologies are additional features to the main product line, such as the Navigator or Rotator series. If you’re still a little confused, keep the following in mind: the first term after “Shark” in any of these vacuum cleaners will be the series name, like Navigator, Rocket, APEX, and more. The second (and any subsequent) terms will be the features that the specific Shark vacuum carries with it.
We know that it can be a bit confusing at first and that the differences between certain series (particularly between the Navigator and the Rotator) aren’t always clear. Let’s try to summarize this breakdown in the following reference table:
|Navigator||Lift-Away (Not all models)||Swiveling brush roller||Hard Floor Hero, pet power brush, dusting brush, crevice tool|
|Rotator||Lift-Away||Digital display, LED floor lights||Hard floor tool, mini-motorized brush, Pet Multi-tool, duster crevice|
|APEX||DuoClean, Lift-Away||Motorized hose attachments in Lift-Away Mode, LED floor lights, strong suction||Pet Multi-tool, dust tool, brush tool, crevice tool, MultiFlex under appliance wand|
While Shark seems keen on advertising this vacuum as an “ultra-light upright,” it’s clear that this a stick vacuum designed to buck the trend and provide a thorough cleaning experience at a low price. Stick vacuums have gained some serious popularity in recent years for their ease of use around smaller homes and lower cost. The Shark Rocket Ultra-Light checks all of these boxes with a design that makes it easy to clean just about anything.
The lightweight and detachable extension rod mean that you can go from carpet to hardwood to countertops in seconds. The easy-access brush roller control means that there’s no stopping and restarting when using this product. Plus, Shark’s inclusion of a Car Detail Kit is a welcome choice to fully utilize the versatile design. For fans of this product, Shark also offers Rocket vacuums with DuoClean technology and a focus on pet hair. The cost, however, and premium features of this model make the Rocket Ultra-Light one of the best deals on the market today.
Shark’s Navigator line may be their most affordable, particularly considering it includes their Lift-Away technology. Using this technology requires you to reach down and manually disconnect the brush roller from the main canister, however, which can be cumbersome. Once it’s off, though, the Shark Navigator can be used a handheld canister vacuum cleaner. Using the 5-foot hose, you can use the included attachments to efficiently clean stairs, counters, corners, and other crevices in your home.
While the small stature and top-heavy design of the Navigator Lift-Away can be somewhat frustrating, the suction power and excellent filtration more than make up for it. We think the Shark Navigator Lift-Away is perfect for those who want to try out Shark’s innovative features at a price point that won’t intimidate.
If you’re looking for the Shark vacuum that skips the attention-grabbing features and focuses exclusively on flooring, then this may be your best bet. The Shark Navigator Professional is the lowest-cost bagless upright in their current product line that nevertheless maintains the powerful suction and easy-to-use design features one expects from their models.
The extra large bin makes it easy to clean several rooms before needing to stop to empty the container, and since the bin is larger vertically than it is horizontally, there are few issues with bulkiness. Weighing in at over 15 pounds, though, staircases are going to be a bit of a chore to get up and down with.
We think the Shark Navigator Professional is perfect for homeowners that aren’t after features but still want quality. While repairs have been reported to be somewhat difficult on this model, almost all signs point towards few issues and great performance over time.
Much like the name implies, the Shark APEX is the highest-quality series that Shark offers. The Apex DuoClean Lift-Away is no exception, as it comes stocked with all of the brand’s best features.
Unlike the Navigator Lift-Away, the Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away can power the motorized brush roll even when disconnected from the main assembly. The result is that the Shark APEX can transform into a fully-fledged handheld canister vacuum cleaner. While we’re a bit disappointed in the size of the bin and the performance on carpeting, the Shark APEX has a lot to offer. The MultiFlex under appliance wand makes it simple to clean under even the lowest of appliances, and the Pet Multi-tool can make quick work of pet hair and dandruff.
In short, with the Shark APEX DuoClean Lift-Away vacuum, its attachments, and its different modes, you’ll be able to pick up just about anything.
The Dyson V8 may have garnered a reputation for quality cleaning and cordless operation, but Shark’s equally-powerful IONFlex series has a lot to offer at a price that may be more appealing to many. The Shark IONFlex DuoClean Ultra-Light is a cordless stick vacuum cleaner with a unique flexible wand, which can bend nearly 90 degrees for easy vacuum storage. This design feature also allows for easy clearance under furniture and can be removed entirely for handheld use.
Much like other stick vacuum cleaners, the IONFlex DuoClean performs admirably on flooring as well as above-ground surfaces. Shark’s included DuoClean technology allows for powerful floor cleaning that won’t damage sensitive hardwood and won’t require swapping heads like on the V8.
This cordless stick vacuum does tend to burn through its battery life quickly, but with replaceable batteries, you can extend your cleaning time almost indefinitely. We highly recommend this cordless stick vacuum cleaner as an alternative to the V8 or as a means to completely clean smaller homes and apartments from floor to ceiling.
As you can see, Shark vacuum cleaners come with lots of different technologies, variations, and attachments. Their dedication to the bagless model and small, efficient design makes them prime choices for many homeowners, but the model selected will depend on individual cleaning needs.
For an all-around cleaning solution with a fair price, the Shark Rocket series proves that its ready to tackle most problems. The IONFlex is a great cordless stick alternative to Dyson models, and the Navigator Lift-Away allows homeowners the flexibility of a canister vacuum at an introductory price.
The Shark APEX is the perfect all-in-one solution for homeowners who have lots of different areas to clean, and finally, the Navigator Professional is a straightforward, no-frills product that deserves more love than it gets.
Shark vacuum cleaners are popular and highly-sought after for several reasons. Provided you become acclimated with the naming system and uncover what features you need in a vacuum, we’re confident you’ll grow to love Shark’s innovative products.