Is a Dyson vacuum really worth it? As a product tester, I'm not entirely sold

We've tested all the best vacuums on the market, and Dyson tops the list. However, you can get a deep clean for much less.

A Dyson V8 Vacuum cleaning dirt and hair
(Image credit: Dyson)

I test vacuums for a living, and I promise it's more exciting than it sounds. Each year, I call in some of the best cordless, robot, and upright cleaners to put them through their paces in our standardized test studio. I assess their suction power, dust bin capacity, run time and noise levels. 

Time and again, Dyson vacuums come out on top. Whether you have wooden floors or shaggy carpets, or if you're keen to pick up pet hair or dirt, there's nothing like a Dyson for a quick, deep clean. But even the best vacuum isn't perfect: I've spotted a few design flaws. Plus, they're seriously expensive: some of the latest and greatest Dysons retail for close to $1000.

This Black Friday, you might be tempted to pick up a discounted Dyson just for the sake of the name. Before you shop, I'd encourage you to stop and think about your cleaning needs. If you have some cash to spare, and you want to spend it on a top-quality cleaner, then go ahead and buy the best Dyson vacuum. If you aren't all that bothered about your vacuum cleaner, and you just want a decent machine, you might be better off with one of the best Dyson alternatives

You don't have to take my word for it: I've laid out all the pros and cons of Dyson cleaners to help you decide for yourself. 

Buy it if: You want the best vacuum money can buy

A Dyson V15 Detect using lasers to illuminate hidden dust.

(Image credit: Dyson)

Our best vacuum ranking features three Dyson cleaners, which makes them the most represented manufacturer on the list, clearing Shark and Samsung. Taking pole position, the Dyson V15 Detect is the best of the best.  

This cordless cleaner boasts near-perfect performance on carpet, wood, and linoleum floors to suit all sorts of homes. It's particularly impressive on pet hair, and comes with an anti-tangle screw, so that you don't have to pick out the hairs yourself. 

What I first wrote off as a gimmick is actually the V15's biggest selling point: the laser dust detection. This vacuum casts a bright green light onto wooden floors to illuminate hidden dust for a deeper clean that you can see. There's an LCD screen at the top of the wand that tells you the size of the particles you've picked up in your cleaning session by the micron. You might not need (or want) to know all this information, but it's data that the average vacuum simply can't detect.

Dyson V15 Detect | Was $749.99, now $549.99 at Walmart

Dyson V15 Detect | Was $749.99, now $549.99 at Walmart
This is one of the deepest discounts I've seen on a Dyson this shopping season. You can save $200 on the world's best vacuum when you shop at Walmart. It comes with a fluffy brush roll for a light clean, as well as a high torque head to dig up deep dirt. It boasts incredible suction power that will pick up every hair in your home − and possibly your area rug, as well. 

You can find more detail in our Dyson V15 Detect Cordless Vacuum review

Buy it if: You have a range of floor types in your home

A Dyson vacuum cleaning carpet.

(Image credit: Dyson)

Chances are you have a few different floor types in your home. Maybe you laid down carpet in your living room but decided to stick to wood in the kitchen. To clean your whole home in one fell swoop, you need a vacuum that performs well on all sorts of floors.

Different floors pose particular problems for a vacuum looking to earn its stripes. Linoleum is easy to clean, but it shows dirt quickly, so you'll want a vacuum that can detect microscopic particles. Carpet is a little trickier, as the fibers tend to wrap around dust and dirt particles, embedding them into the floor. To dig up that dirt, you need a vacuum with high suction power. Wood floors might be the worst for cleaning. It's easy for dust and dirt to get trapped between the gaps in the floorboards. You'll need to use a vacuum with a soft brush to get between the gaps and avoid scratching the wood. 

The Dyson Outsize+ is up there with the most consistent cleaners on test. This vacuum can sense and adapt to different floor types, raising or lowering its suction power as appropriate. With a half-a-gallon dustbin capacity, as well as a two-hour run-time, the Outsize+ can clean your whole home in one go. That's why it's the best cordless vacuum for big homes.

It's worth noting that the Outsize+ is the most expensive Dyson on the market. If you don't need a vacuum that performs well on every floor type, just one of them, then you can definitely get a deep clean for less. 

Dyson Outsize+ Cordless Vacuum Cleaner | Was $949.99, now $630.30

Dyson Outsize+ Cordless Vacuum Cleaner | Was $949.99, now $630.30
The most expensive Dyson on the market is selling for just 65% of its RRP, only on Amazon. $630 is still a lot to spend on a vacuum cleaner, but you get what you pay for. This cordless number comes with a half-gallon dust bin that's 150% larger than the V15 Detect. It glides smoothly over carpet, linoleum, and hard wood floors and offers no-fade cleaning power for up to two hours.
You can find more detail in our Dyson Outsize review. It's almost identical to the Outsize+, only missing the Laser Slim Fluffy Cleaner Head.

Buy it if: You have pets

A dog looking at a vacuum cleaning a carpet.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're a pet owner, you know better than most that pets shed hair, dust, dirt, and dander that can clog up your carpets and aggravate your allergies. Instead of the best vacuum, bar none, you might be better off buying the best vacuum for pet hair. Surprise, surprise: it's a Dyson. 

The Dyson V15 Detect boasts the best suction, but it's a cordless model. That means it can't hold as much dust and dirt as a corded vacuum. For pet owners with a whole lot of hair to pick up, I'd recommend the Dyson Ball Animal 2. It's an older model, but uber-powerful. 

The Ball Animal 2 comes with a 35-cord, so that you can cover the whole room without needing to unplug and replug. It isn't as lightweight or easy to maneuver as a cordless cleaner, but it's nimble thanks to Dyson's signature ball design.

Already the cheapest upright Dyson, the Ball Animal 2 is on sale for Black Friday. You can shop it on the Dyson site, or at Walmart, but you'll save the most at Amazon. 

Dyson Ball Animal 2 | Was $499.99, now $417.69 at Amazon

Dyson Ball Animal 2 | Was $499.99, now $417.69 at Amazon
This revamped upright features better suction, bigger reach, and more effective groom tools than the original Dyson Ball Animal. If you're shopping for something to pick up pet hair, dead skin, and dust mites from your floor, look no further. Full disclosure: it's heavy, and you might struggle to store it in shorter cupboards. Still, it's rare to get a Dyson for less than $500, so I'd snap up this deal while it's live. 

Buy it if: You want to take advantage of deep discounts

Dyson V11 cleaning carpet.

(Image credit: Dyson)

I like pretty much everything about Dyson vacuums, apart from the price. I know, I know: if you're shopping for a premium product, you can't be surprised by a premium price tag. Still, it's always good to make a saving, and there are some deep discounts on Dyson vacuums this Black Friday. 

I'm keeping up with all the best Black Friday deals and hand-picking my favorites for our live blog. A few Dysons have made the cut. Now, not every Dyson is discounted, and not all of the deals seem worth it. If you're prepared to spend big on the best vacuum, you won't be too bothered about a $10 discount. 

However, for buyers on a budget, there are a few Dyson deals that are worth considering. I've seen the deepest discount on the Dyson V11. This newer model is fitted with all my favorite features, from the bigger bin to the longer run-time, to help you reach a deeper clean, faster. 

Dyson V11 | Was $569.99, now $349.99 at Walmart

Dyson V11 | Was $569.99, now $349.99 at Walmart
I can't think the last time I saw a cordless Dyson selling for sub-$350, but that's exactly what I've found at Walmart. The V11 is equipped to clean linoleum, carpet, and hardwood floors. With just one click, it converts to a handheld vacuum to clean stairs, upholstery, and all those hard-to-reach areas behind the couch and under the bed. Just bear in mind that it's a little top-heavy, and you might tire of lifting it after a while.

Don't buy it if: You're on a budget

A woman cleaning her carpet with a vacuum.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Looking at the V11 got me thinking: even at a deep discount, Dyson vacuums are seriously expensive. Since I live alone in a studio apartment with wood flooring all the way through, I won't reap the rewards of a Dyson – and I struggle to justify the cost.

If you aren't too fussed about the quality of your clean, and you're just looking for a decent machine to pick up dust and dirt, I'd skip the Dyson and shop for one of the best Dyson alternatives instead.

Without a Dyson, you won't get as quick or as deep a clean. On the plus side, you'll have saved hundreds of dollars that can go on toys, gifts, vacations, concerts, games consoles: all sorts of things that are much more exciting than a vacuum cleaner.

For buyers on a tight budget,  I'd suggest something like the Ultenic U12 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner. We tested it recently and it comes with a lot of the features you'd find on the best Dyson: an anti-tangle brush roll, a laser sensor, and a whole host of cleaning accessories. Sure, it doesn't have the premium feel of a Dyson, but it doesn't have the premium price tag, either. 

Ultenic U12 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner | Was $239.99, now $129.99 at Amazon

Ultenic U12 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner | Was $239.99, now $129.99 at Amazon
This value vacuum is no Dyson, but it performs exceptionally at a much lower price point. It's quick to assemble and easy to use: in fact, the Ultenic has thousands of five-star reviews on Amazon, praising its maneuverability and suction power. Unlike the Dyson, the Ultenic turns on and stays on with a single press of a button. No more holding down the trigger until your finger hurts. If you struggle with motor control, you'll be much better served by an Ultenic. 

Don't buy it if: You want a robot vacuum

A finger switching on a robot vacuum to clean a kitchen floor.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

You might have heard of the Dyson Vis Nav. It's a new robot vacuum that claims to detect the edges of a room and redirect suction through its sides for a thorough clean. While the Vis Nav isn't available for sale in America just yet, we've called it in for testing, and we'll let you know how it performs. 

You might remember another little vacuum, the Dyson 360 Eye. This one of Dyson's other attempts to crack the robot vacuum market. It launched in 2016, but it was quickly recalled. According to Dyson, the 360 Eye was 'ill-suited to US homes'. There was a follow-up, the 360 Heurist, which never even made it to America. Our head of eCommerce, Alex, tested it and wasn't very impressed.  

All this to say, Dyson doesn't have a great track record when it comes to robot vacuums, though maybe the Vis Nav will prove me wrong. If you're shopping for the best robot vacuum, I couldn't recommend a Dyson: I'd suggest a Shark, instead.  

For a little machine, the Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum is remarkably self-sufficient. Once you've set a no-go zone on the smart map, your Shark will steer clear. This vacuum works hard and fast to clean your floors, and itself: it comes with a self-emptying base to hold up to 60 days' worth of dust.

Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum | Was $449, now $249 at Best Buy

Shark AI Ultra 2-in-1 Robot Vacuum | Was $449, now $249 at Best Buy
This was already one of the more affordable robot vacuums on the market. Now that it's listed for $200 less at Best Buy, it's an absolute steal. As a combination mop and vacuum, the Shark AI Ultra can sense and adapt to floor types to offer the ideal clean. This machine incorporates Matrix Clean technology to tackle every room in the house in the most logical order, so that you can make the most of its runtime. 

Black Friday Dyson FAQs

When is Black Friday?

This year, Black Friday falls on November 24. You'll find everything from kitchen gadgets to cooling comforters, washers and dryers to designer dinnerware listed for less. And you don't have to wait until the big day to start shopping: some of the best Black Friday deals are already live. 

Which Dyson vacuum is the best?

We've written an entire article to find the best Dyson vacuum, ranking each vacuum on the basis of battery life, suction power, hair pick-up, dustbin capacity, and the all-important price. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, here are the headlines. 

Not only is the V15 Detect the best Dyson vacuum, it's the best vacuum, period. It comes with a high torque cleaner head to dig up deep dirt, as well as an anti-tangle hair screw to pick up pet fur and human hair. That green laser on the fluffy brush roll isn't a gimmick, either: it illuminates microscopic dust particles, so that you can achieve a deeper clean. 

To clean large homes in one fell swoop, you need a vacuum with a long runtime and a super-sized dustbin capacity. Enter, the Dyson Outsize+. It comes with a broader brush that's 25% wider than any other Dyson cordless for quicker, deeper cleaning. The Outsize+ has a 120-minute runtime, which should be more than enough time to clean your house from top to bottom.

If you're set on a Dyson, but you're on a budget, you should consider shopping for one of the cheapest Dyson vacuum cleaners. Black Friday sales won't last forever: if you don't manage to snap up a deal on the latest Dyson, it's worth considering one of the older models, such as the Dyson V8 or the Ball Animal 3. These aren't the latest and greatest vacuums on the market, but they provide powerful suction and excellent value for money. 

Why are Dyson vacuums so expensive?

The short answer is: because you get what you pay for. Dyson make many of the best household appliances around, and their cleaners consistently top our list for the best vacuums on the market.

When you buy a Dyson, you're paying for streamlined designs and the latest technology. The Dyson V15 Detect, which is the best vacuum on test, comes with laser dust detection for a deeper clean, as well as an LCD screen that displays the size and the number of particulates collected in real time. 

These cutting-edge features might make a difference to clean freaks, but they're not exactly necessary. You can get a deep clean for much less with one of the best Dyson alternatives, such as the Shark Vertex Pro. We've argued for years that a top-of-the-range Shark is almost as good as a Dyson, offering comparable performance for a fraction of the price. 

Do Dyson vacuums have HEPA filters?

Yes. It's important to understand that HEPA isn't a brand of filters, but rather  a certification of a filter's performance. 

There are two organizations at the heart of HEPA testing: the Institute of Environmental Sciences and Technology (IEST), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). According to the IEST, a HEPA filter can capture 99.97% of particulates down to 0.3 microns wide. That's seriously small. The ISO believe that a HEPA filter should capture at least 99.95% of particulates of the most penetrating size. 

Since the Dyson filters meet both of these criteria, they pass the HEPA test with flying colors to protect your home from dust mites and dander, pollutants and pathogens.

Final thoughts

A man using a Dyson vacuum to clean a wooden floor.

(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you've enjoyed this glimpse into our vacuum testing process, and you'd like to learn more, you're in luck: we've written an entire article about how we test vacuums. Spoiler alert: we clean the same square foot of floor, over and over again.

We're keeping track of all the best Black Friday deals on our live blog. We've seen everything from mattresses to major appliances, scented candles to kitchenware selling at cut prices. From the hundreds of thousands of deals that go live every day, we've hand-picked the best products and the deepest discounts. 

Emilia Hitching
Sleep Editor

Emilia is our resident sleep writer. She spends her days tracking down the lowest prices on the best bedding and spends her nights testing it out from the comfort of her own home – it's a dream job. Her quest to learn how to sleep better has taken her all around the world, from mattress factories in Arizona to sleep retreats in Scandinavia. Before she joined Homes & Gardens, Emilia studied English at the University of Oxford. She also worked on the other side of the aisle, writing press releases for regional newspapers and crafting copy for Sky.