I don’t often review vacuum cleaners, although I have published a dozen or so over the years. However, when a vacuum cleaner is at the cutting edge of consumer technology, it grabs my interest. And that’s where the Dyson V11 sits. This is a cordless stick vacuum that converts to a handheld, with 60-minute battery life, a display showing real-time battery life and a slew of other high tech features.
I’ve owned two other Dyson upright vacuums and two previous model Dyson stick vacuums, to compare against. My house hasa mix of hardwood and carpet floors and it'shome to a pair of large and long-haired dogs, two kittens, and three teenagers. I put the Dyson V11 to the test under these rather hardcore conditions, and it performed admirably.
Dyson V11 Unboxing
This is the Canadian V11 Absolute model, which includes an extra power head optimized for hardwood... [+] floors, but all V11 models share the same core unit and come with plenty of accessories.
Dyson offers various versions of its stick vacuums. The core model is always the same — in this case it's the V11 — with the difference in versions primarily being the accessories that are included, and different color paint jobs. I was sent the V11 Absolute (a Canadian model) which compares pretty closely to the $699.99 V11 Torque Drive in the U.S. market. The Absolute includes an additional attachment in a soft roller for hardwood floors, but matches the other accessories and has the same specs as the v11 Torque Drive.
So what do you get? Cracking open the box reveals a generous supply of accessories. In addition to the core V11 vacuum, the V11 Torque Drive includes a high torque cleaning head with a dynamic load sensor, a mini motorized tool, a combination tool, a crevice tool, a mini soft dusting brush, a dirt brush, a wand storage clip, the charger and a docking station.
In other words, the accessories you need to tackle virtually any vacuuming task. In addition, it sports a flashy paint job in a choice of Nickel/Blue or Copper.
The Dyson V10 (bottom) and V11 (top) look similar, but the V11 is a big step up in power and... [+] features.
High Power and a Display That’s Actually Useful
The V11 boasts three significant improvements over the previous generation V10 and the first two are real game changers that also help to make an already great cordless vacuum best-in-class.
To start with, there is abig boost in suction power. The V10 was already solid on this front, able to easily deal with clumps of dog fur, bits of cat litter and sand. But the Dyson V11 — which the company claims is the most powerful cord-free vacuum on the market — uses a powerful motor with 14 concentric cyclones and fan blades that spin at up to 125,000 rpm. That generates 185 Air Watts of suction for a 20% improvement over the V10.
Boost mode delivers a powerful 185 Air Watts of suction, but battery life takes a big hit.Brad Moon
To give some perspective, the competition (Hoover) suggests that 100 Air Watts of suction power makes for an upright vacuum capable of “really effective cleaning.” This vacuum nearly doublesthat number. You only get that maximum power in Boost mode, but there was nothing on the floor of my house or truck that the Dyson V11 wouldn’t pick up.
The other game-changing advance on the V11 is the addition of an LCD display on the end. In that position, it’s always facing you when in use. Not only does it up the high-tech and cool factors, the display is very useful. It has a button that lets you manually cycle through power modes. Most importantly, once a mode is selected it shows you how much battery time is remaining — in minutes and seconds — effectively eliminating battery anxiety. Dyson says the display is updated in real time, with sensors reading 8,000 time per second to ensure accuracy. The display will also show important info like prompts to charge the battery, clean the filter or the location of a blockage. I can confirm the first, but in the time I’ve been using the V11 it hasn’t needed a filter cleaning and I’ve experience no blockages...
The V11's display counts down time remaining for the battery in minutes, in real-time, eliminating... [+] battery anxiety.
Dynamic Load Sensor
If your home has mixed floor surfaces, the new integrated dynamic load sensor on the V11’s high torque cleaning head is really useful. Put the vacuum on Auto mode, and you’ll hear it automatically shift into higher power when you move from a hard floor surface to carpet. This optimizes suction based on the surface and helps to maximize battery life.
It’s Also a Handheld
One of the great things about the design of Dyson cordless stick vacuums has always been their ability to quickly convert to a handheld. This makes them great for tasks like cleaning your car. At 6.68 pounds, the V11 is light enough to easily use with one hand. This also comes in handy when you want to click the wand back in place and use it to clean up cobwebs in ceiling corners.
The Dyson V11 converts to an ultra-powerful hand held portable vacuum.Brad Moon
What About Battery Life and Capacity?
Two issues that have proven a challenge for cordless stick vacuums are battery life and capacity. Both require a balancing act by the manufacturer: bigger batteries weigh more and take up space, while a higher capacity dirt bin makes the vacuum larger and also increases weight as it fills. So both have to be weighed against portability — especially when the device is able to convert into a handheld.
Dyson has released nine different series of cordless stick vacuums now. That’s nine distinct models (not counting all the variations of each), which has given the company plenty of time to iterate its design. With last year’s V10 they pretty much nailed the ideal combination of battery and dirt bin capacity, and the V11 has remained true to that approach. The seven-cell nickel-cobalt-aluminum battery is rated at 60 minutes of use in Eco mode. The inline, point-and-shoot dirt bin has a 0.2 gallon capacity.
How do these translate in real life use? I live in a typical 60s era suburban side split with four levels — and frequent vacuuming required.In my entire time using the Dyson V10 since last year and the V11 during testing, I have never once had to stop vacuuming for a recharge. In typical use, the V11 will show roughly 30 minutes of battery charge remaining after a top to bottom cleaning session. And I’m frequently using Boost mode to tackle jobs like spilled cat litter.
You do have to remember to plug the Dyson vacuum in after each use (the handy wall-mounted docking station really helps there) to ensure it’s always fully charged, but that quickly becomes habit. And it's so worth it giventhe convenience ofcarrying a light, cordless vacuumup and down stairs, with no searchingfor electricaloutlets...
A full charge from empty takes about four to five hours. In case you were wondering, replacement batteries are available for Dyson’s cordless stick vacuums, including third party options.
The dirt bin is another matter. For a quick run around the main floor and kitchen before company comes over, the capacity is fine. And for many households I suspect it would be sufficient for a typical vacuuming session.
However, I have a pair of dogs that shed enough to create a new dog every few days (plus they bring in leaves and twigs from the back yard), we recently added two kittens to the mix and that means cat litter to deal with, and I have three teenagers who are constantly coming and going, tracking in dirt, sand and leaving crumbs from never-ending snacking. A thorough vacuuming of the house when the floors are bad can mean having to empty the dirt bin two or three times. That’s not an end of the world thing — it’s a simple operation that takes seconds — but it is one downside compared to my much higher capacity upright vacuum.
Dyson's V11 is the cordless stick vacuum to beat.Brad Moon
As I mentioned earlier, we’ve owned a small collection of Dyson vacuums in the past. Each has been a strong performer and I’ve been more than happy with the company’s service. In addition, I really appreciate the modular approach to Dyson vacuums that makes it easy to clear blockages and also easy to replace a worn component. We still have an Dyson Animal upright we bought well over a decade ago — it served us well and I keep it around for really big jobs.
The two Dyson stick vacuums we’ve owned previously — the V8 and V10 — each performed very well, showing an evolutionary improvement in power, capacity and battery life. We have these set aside now for our kids to take when they move out...
The Dyson V11 feels like the company has now nailed the cordless stick vacuum. It has the suction power to rival (and in many cases surpass) traditional plug-in upright vacuum cleaners. 60-minutes of battery life is more than enough for most people, even if occasional switching to Boost mode cuts into that, while the integrated display eliminates battery anxiety. The dirt bin could stand to be a little larger, but then again I’m probably a worst case scenario in terms of filling it up, and the current size is optimal for handheld use.
I think it’s safe to say that for most households, the Dyson V11 is the cordless vacuum that will finally relegate the bulky, corded vacuum to the trash heap.
It’s no wonder this one was also featured on Forbes Finds’ list of Best Cordless Stick Vacuums.
Disclosure: Dyson provided a V11 vacuum for evaluation but had no input into this review.