Canister Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Smaller than uprights, canister vacuum cleaners are well suited to an urban environment such as apartments and studio suites. They aren’t bulky neither are they too heavy to carry around. Subsequently, the determining factors to take into account vary when purchasing a canister cleaner. Factor in your personal preference and you have many things to consider all at once to make an informed choice.

Use the following guidelines to choose an efficient canister model, adapted to your specific needs.

Buyer’s Guide Table of Contents:


Quite frankly the initial starting point in any product research, your budget mostly determines what features or technology you can use. If you aren’t willing to go expensive then obviously you can’t look at a few features but thankfully it has been seen time and again that price doesn’t exactly determine the quality of a canister vacuum cleaner. Nevertheless, fix a price range before so that you don’t end up spending more than what you envisioned.

Remember that a good and reliable canister cleaner will probably fall between $100 and $400 with a few HEPA cleaners costing more. Fixing a budget is purely a personal choice and should not be done taking various products into perspective.


Performance of a canister vacuum cleaner, or for that matter of fact, any vacuum cleaner is decided by how many passes one has to make over the same area. Hence, the very first indicator of performance is the suction strength, which is best measured in terms of Watts. Usually, higher the motor rating, greater is the suction power. However, between two cleaners with the same wattage, suction power depends a lot on the design and technology used. Usually greener models use less power and provide greater performance.

Flow rate and depression are two terms that best determine the performance of a vacuum cleaner. Now you won’t always find these two data as manufacturers like hiding them but if you can then it will help you understand the ability of a canister vacuum, especially with carpets. The flow rate shows how effective it is with hard floors.

Power Selector

Not all canister vacuum cleaners come with a power regulator. However, the ability to select the power lets you reduce power consumption when not required or increase it if necessary to prevent multiple passes. It basically regulates the suction force and consequently the wattage and noise levels.

Bag or Bagless

Regardless of the type of vacuum cleaner, you always have a choice between bag and bagless variations. Bagged canister vacuum cleaners are better at filtration and are silent. They are also cheaper and are probably the oldest designs available in the market. The only extra expenditure over a couple of years is with respect to bag replacements.

Bagless versions are a more recent innovation with fixed compartments that separate dirt and dust from air without using bags. The initial cost of acquisition is higher and they are usually noisier but the maintenance cost is lower.

Regardless of what variant you select, always get something with a large compartment or bag that can cover an entire room before it needs emptying. The minimum size you get with canister cleaners is about 2.5 quart capacity.

Ease Of Use

Vacuum cleaners must be simple and easy to use to avoid getting tired quick, wasting time and back pains. Quite naturally you want to have larger wheels on the canister to help move over thick carpets plus a lighter weight that reduces the energy spent in lugging them behind you. Also factor in the steps you have to cover throughout your house. If it is a single floor apartment then a heavy and powerful canister cleaner won’t matter. Having certain ergonomic features such as a handle, retractable power cord, telescopic wand, protective rubber casing for the canister and so on is important.

Filtration System

Canister cleaners usually use some sort of filtration. In fact, bagged variants are naturally got at filtration but for cleaner air HEPA filters are the best. They are efficient in eliminating dust, pollens and any kind of allergens from the air. For folks with asthma or allergies, it is always recommended to use cleaners with HEPA filters.


What is the threshold of tolerance? For a canister vacuum cleaner the figures usually fall around 60 to 65 dB for a silent cleaner while 80dB for loud cleaners. Try and refrain from cleaners that go past 80 dB.

An important factor to consider here is that some manufacturers actually limit the wattage of their engines to reduce noise instead of using sound insulation for the canister. This is usually seen in cheaper models.


All canister vacuum cleaners will come with an assortment of attachments such as floor tool, rocker switch, crevice nozzle, upholstery brush and dusting brush. Some offer more options others are limited to the bare essentials. Understand what you will use and what you won’t before deciding which attachments are essential for your home.

Warranty And Durability

The warranty usually varies depending on the brand, price and model. However, the longer and fuller the warranty, the more reliable the vacuum cleaner is. Some manufacturers provide less than 1 year warranty while others give out 5 year warranties such as Dyson. Miele for some machines does offer a long 7 year warranty.