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Cheap Canister Vacuums Buying Guide

Dirt Devil, Hoover, Bissell, Electrolux, and Eureka are the major manufacturers of cheap canister vacuums. Prices at the entry-level end of the market run between $50 and $100 while high-end canister vacuums can cost upwards of $600.

Such upscale models may have power nozzles for deep cleaning and impressive suction power and operate with less noise than their budget counterparts, but they aren't necessarily superior to cheaper canister vacs for daily upkeep.

Canister Vacuum Reviews

We identified the Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G (starting at $57) and Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic Canister Vacuum SD40100 (starting at $59) as the best cheap canister vacuums due to their user-friendly weight, features, and performance. We also like the Eureka ReadyForce Bagged Canister Vacuum 900A (starting at $57) and Panasonic MC-CL310 Bagless Canister Vacuum (starting at $85) because they deliver value for the money. One low-cost model we could leave in the dust is the Dirt Devil Lite Bagless Canister SD40010 EZ (starting at $79), which garners its share of dings for build quality and a tendency to clog.

We compiled a list of critical features and read online user reviews to help you winnow down your options. The first decision you'll have to make is whether to go for a bagged or a bagless canister vacuum. Many users like the simplicity of dumping the cup on a bagless model into the garbage, but others say doing so can unleash a swirl of dust. In general, sealed bags do a better job containing the dirt and are easy to dispose of, although a bagged design requires more effort and a stream of replacement purchases. Among the models on our list, the Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic and Dirt Devil EZ Lite SD40010 and the Panasonic MC-CL310 are bagless while the Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G and Eureka ReadyForce 900A take bags. Another Eureka model worth noting, the Pet Lover Mighty Mite 3684F (starting at $75), collects dirt, hair, and dust in an odor-eliminating bag.

The next decision point concerns filtration. Some consumers consider it vital to have a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. A HEPA filter is supposed to capture more than 99.9% of the tiniest dust, dander, mites, and other particles embedded in floors and furniture and is especially helpful for people with allergies. Of the models we researched, the Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic and EZ Lite SD40010, the Panasonic MC-CL310, and the Eureka Pet Lover Mighty Mite all feature HEPA filters. The Eureka ReadyForce uses a microfiltration system and the Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G relies on a standard filter. Regardless of type, filters should be cleaned or replaced regularly; those on the Mighty Mite 3670G and Dirt Devil Featherlite can be washed. Just a note of caution: Make sure replacement filters are readily available. One post at Target reports that finding replacement filters for the Dirt Devil EZ Lite is a challenge.

Canister vacuums are meant to be more portable and versatile than upright models, so look for lightweight vacuums with long hoses and cords for easy maneuverability. The svelte Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G and its Pet Lover sibling weigh just 8.6 pounds while the heaviest model on our list, the Panasonic MC-CL310, tips the scale at 13 pounds but is still lighter than an upright, which typically weighs more than 14 pounds. Power cords on the models we researched run 16 or 20 feet in length, and hoses are either 5 or 6 feet long; several have wands for a longer reach.

Also check out the accessories to be sure they're meant for the surfaces you'll be vacuuming. A subset of bare-floor brush, dusting brush, crevice tool, soft-brush (upholstery) tool, and telescopic wands come with the cheap canister vacuums we researched. The Eureka Pet Lover Mighty Mite 3684F features a "pet power paw" attachment that's designed specifically to tackle pet hair on carpet and upholstery.

Most budget vacs come with a one-year warranty, although the Dirt Devil EZ Lite SD40010 warranty extends for two years.

Canister Vacuum Reviews

Reviews of budget canister vacuums indicate that users sometimes expect more from this basic home appliance than it is engineered to provide. Two priorities regularly surface -- cleaning ability and ease of use -- and our top picks generally meet these standards. But these little cleaning machines are primarily intended for smooth surfaces, upholstery/drapery, and maybe small area rugs, and a fair number of reviewers express annoyance when they falter on thick carpeting. Others seem to accept their limitations and praise their versatility. We also noticed scattered complaints about build quality (lots of plastic) for all the models we researched. And while the issue of noise arises occasionally in canister vacuum reviews, it rarely impacts the overall assessment.

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Canister Vacuums Cleaning Ability.

Cleaning performance is the most important factor for consumers, according to canister vacuum reviews. The vast majority of posts at Amazon rave about the cleaning chops of the Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G (starting at $57) when pitted against carpeted stairs and deep corners, wood trim and hard surfaces. Some users gripe about weak suction and the superiority of previous Eureka models, but one retorts that the powerful suction has not diminished during four years of service and another says she would pay four times the price because it is that effective.

Equally laudatory comments about the Dirt Devil Featherlite Cyclonic Canister Vacuum SD40100 (starting at $59) appear at Walmart, where one canister vacuum reviewer calls it his best friend. Others report that it picks up short pet hair and cat litter and does a fine job on cushions. A handful of posts assert that this Dirt Devil is ineffective on carpets.

The two second-place canister vacuum picks, the Eureka ReadyForce 900A (starting at $57) and Panasonic MC-CL310 (starting at $85), garner mostly above-average ratings for cleaning proficiency. Users are generally pleased with the Eureka ReadyForce, with comments at sites such as Best Buy extolling the power and effectiveness, particularly on small area rugs and bare surfaces; one review says it beats a broom by a factor of 10. Not surprisingly, some dissenting posts point to inadequate suction, especially when faced with messes wrought by children and pets. Canister vacuum reviews of the Panasonic MC-CL310 are a bit more reserved, with some at Amazon reporting weak suction regardless of surface and finding clumps of pet hair and grit that get trapped in the brush. A majority says this model is sufficient for light-duty tasks given its entry-level price.

Households with pets go for the Eureka Pet Lover Mighty Mite 3684F (starting at $75). As its name suggests, this budget model is adept at pulling up pet hair from every surface, according to reviews at Walmart. And, they add, it transitions cleanly from hard floors to light carpet duty.

Some cheap models disappoint more often than delight. Reviews posted at Amazon contend that the Dirt Devil Lite Bagless Canister SD40010 EZ (starting at $79) simply can't handle hair or fur of any kind. Users share stories of having to unclog the hose with a long, sharp object or their fingers after every use, and others say the clog indicator light often sends false alerts. The EZ Lite also takes heat for failing to clear away surface dust. Still, some users are satisfied with its performance, from sucking up ash from a wood stove that settles on carpets to cleaning a house full of tile floors.

Ease of Use.

A potpourri of features, such as retractable cords, flexible hoses, well-placed handles, and cleaning attachments help make canister vacuums user-friendly. Reviewers appreciate the easy-to-reach attachments on the wand and the multi-angle nozzle in the Panasonic MC-CL310, for example. Ditto for the fingertip controls on the Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G and the foot pedals that control the on/off switch and retract the cord on the Dirt Devil SD40100. A large carry handle facilitates moving the Eureka ReadyForce 900A up and down ladders and stairs, say posts at Best Buy. And canister vacuum reviews at Macy's talk up the virtues of the bottom-empty dirt cup on the Dirt Devil Featherlite.

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And then there are the irritants. Some canister vacuum reviews report that parts don't always stay attached on the Panasonic MC-CL310 and the dirt cup seems a tad small. A few consider the 16-foot power cord on the Eureka ReadyForce 900A too short. The Eureka Mighty Mite 3670G takes heat for a hose that kinks, and a cord that doesn't retract and gets hot quickly. And the Dirt Devil Featherlite gets called out by some reviewers for overheating and not gliding easily over low-pile carpet.



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In this review:
  1. Best Cheap Canister Vacuums
  2. Discount Canister Vacuums Features Comparison Table
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