Last year, I reviewed the Dyson V8 stick vacuum. I was pretty happy with the performance—both suction power and battery life—and the ability to quickly convert between a stick vacuum and a handheld was especially useful. We upgraded to a V10 later that year when the opportunity arose, won over by a design change that made the dirt bin easier to empty while increasing its capacity. A few months ago, Dyson sent the latest model in the line-up to try out. While the V8 was great and the V10 even better, I have to say that the Dyson V11 has completely won me over.
Convertible, With a Boatload of Accessories
The box for a Dyson stick vacuum may be a little larger than expected, but that’s because the company includes an extremely generous collection of accessories. Exactly what you get will depend on the model (the V11 is currently offered as Torque Drive and Animal models in the U.S., while I was sent a Canadian Absolute model), but you can count on full-size and mini powerheads, various dusting attachments, and a wall mount docking station for charging and storage.
Dyson continues to make this a convertible model. Click in the aluminum tube to use it as an upright (or to reach high spots), remove it and connect a tool directly to the vacuum for handheld mode. Its size makes it larger than most dedicated handheld vacuums, but at 6.68 pounds it’s still light enough to use with one hand.
All the Good Stuff From the V10 But Better
To get a little more detail about Dyson cordless vacuums, check out my V8 review—that model is still available, still a nice option, and available for under $400.
With the V10, the company boosted battery life from 40 minutes to 60 minutes, and switched to an inline configuration that boosted power, gave more dirt bin capacity, and made emptying the dirt bin a “point-and-shoot” operation.
With the V11, Dyson focused on refining the design and eliminating any remaining worries about moving from a plug-in vacuum cleaner to battery power. Battery life remains at 60 minutes, but a new always-visible LCD display shows you exactly how much battery time is remaining, in minutes and seconds. Switch between power levels and you can immediately see the impact on battery life. The display completely eliminates battery anxiety. It also prompts you to charge the battery, and can display useful info such as when it’s time to clean the filter.
Suction power was significantly increased again. The Dyson V11 is powered by a digital motor with 14 concentric cyclones and blades that spin at 125,000 rpm. The vacuum is capable of generating 185 Air Watts of suction, a 20% increase over the V10 and 40% better than the V8. Dyson says it’s the most powerful cordless vacuum on the market, and the suction is enough to put some plug-in uprights to shame…
Leave it in Auto mode, and the V11 has a new trick. Run the cleaner head over mixed floors and the vacuum will automatically adjust the suction power to optimize it for the surface. Switch between carpet and wood and you can hear the motor adjusting. This helps to make sure you get the suction you need, while conserving battery life.
Dyson V11 Hands-On
My house lends itself naturally to being a good real-life test for vacuum cleaners. It’s split across four levels, which is one of the reasons we went cordless in the first place—it’s just so much easier than having to plug into an outlet on every floor. Flooring is largely hardwood, with a carpeted family room and some rugs. We have two large, furry dogs that shed heavily and bring in all sorts of detritus from the back yard. Recently, two kittens were added to the mix. And we have three teenagers. There is a lot of vacuuming to be done…
I didn’t find anything the Dyson V11 couldn’t suck up, although heavy clay cat litter required using the Boost mode. Dog fur was nothing, even though they were shedding to the point where we sometimes have to vacuum twice a day. I never came close to draining the battery, even in a basement to top floor cleaning. At worst, I would have around 30% left, and two hours on the charge dock would have that back up to 100%. I used it in handheld mode to vacuum sand out of my SUV—we live close to beaches, so sand is always an issue.
The only issue that I ran into is dirt bin capacity. It’s better than the V8, but with a 0.2-gallon bin, there’s no avoiding multiple trips to the garbage can. For a quick sweep across a floor, the capacity is fine. For a top to bottom cleaning, I would have to empty the dirt cup two or three times. That’s an easy and quick process that doesn’t bother me—the freedom from cords is well worth the tradeoff—but worth knowing.
If you’re looking to make the switch from a plug-in vacuum cleaner to battery power—or you want a light, battery powered stick/portable vacuum for quick cleanups—Dyson is tough to beat. Any of the company’s recent cordless stick vacuums would make excellent choices, and those previous generation models offer substantial savings. But if you want the best performance and most useful features currently available in a cordless vacuum, the Dyson V11 is the one to beat.
Disclosure: Dyson provided a V11 vacuum for evaluation but had no input into this review.