Shark and Dyson are two giants of the vacuum world. But which produces the best vacs? And which should you buy? Keep reading for our thoughts.
- Upright Comparison: Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor & Ball Animal 2 Vs. Shark Lift-Away NV601UKT & NV681UKT
- Cordless Comparison: Dyson V8 & V10 Vs. Shark DuoClean IF250UKT & IC160UKT
- Handheld Comparison: Dyson V7 Trigger Vs. Shark WV251UK Handheld
Dyson has dominated the UK vacuum market in recent years. And, while Shark has had more success in the US, they are becoming increasingly popular in the UK.
There are good reasons for this popularity. Dyson and Shark produce excellent vacuum cleaners with innovative features, strong suction and reliable designs. They also both make a wide range of cordless, upright and handheld vacuums cleaners.
This competition is great for consumers, but it can also be overwhelming. To help you decide, we’ve compared 10 of the most popular Shark and Dyson vacuums below. The comparisons are split into sections – upright, cordless and handheld – so you can skip to the part that’s most relevant to your needs.
Upright Comparison: Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor & Ball Animal 2 Vs. Shark Lift-Away NV601UKT & NV681UKT
The Quick Pick...
Winner: Dyson Ball Animal 2We compared two Dyson uprights (Light Ball Multi Floor and Ball Animal 2) with two from Shark (NV601UKT and NV681UKT).
Our top pick is the Dyson Ball Animal 2, due to its excellent suction, articulated handle and pet turbo tool. Click to view the Ball Animal 2’s price.
The three others are all excellent upright vacuums though. The Shark NV681UKT, in particular, provides great cleaning performance along with the company’s Powered Lift-Away design. This makes cleaning stairs and other awkward locations easier than with a regular upright. Click here to view the Shark NV681UKT’s price.
A Quick Overview of Shark and Dyson Uprights
Both models stick to the company’s tried-and-tested design. They feature the “Ball” for mobility, cyclone technology to prevent suction loss, and a high reach wand/hose combination.
Shark makes a wider range of uprights. These come in several forms, including traditional uprights and corded stick vacs. Unfortunately, the naming system can be a bit confusing!
Each vac in the Shark upright range is named with a combination of features and product code. The most common features are:
- Lift-Away. Shark’s Lift-Away vacuums have a detachable canister for greater mobility. The brush bar is not powered when using this mode.
- Powered Lift-Away. Powered Lift-Away vacuums also have a detachable canister, but the brush bar does turn when in lift-away mode.
- DuoClean. The DuoClean is a unique floorhead with two powered brush bars. These combine to remove both large debris and small particles more effectively. The DuoClean floorhead can also move between carpets and hard floors without changing tool.
- TruePet. Shark’s TruePet vacuums come with a pet turbo tool for upholstery, stairs and car interiors.
Some of Shark’s most popular models are the Lift-Away NV601UK, DuoClean Powered Lift-Away AX910UKT and Powered Lift-Away NV681UKT. The most expensive model (at the time of writing) is the AX950UKT, which includes all of the above features.
It’s also worth noting that pet versions, which come with a powered pet brush, have a “T” at the end of their model name. For example, the pet version of the NV801UK is the NV801UKT.
Of course, both Dyson and Shark cordless vacuums could also be considered uprights. But in this section we’ll focus on corded uprights – specifically the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor, Ball Animal 2, Lift-Away TruePet NV601UKT and Powered Lift-Away TruePet NV681UKT.
Design and Weight
Both the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor and Ball 2 Animal are built with Cyclone technology to prevent suction loss, Ball for greater mobility, and a high-reach wand/hose. They also include the company’s Epicyclic cleaner head.
While the Ball design has been around for a while, it makes a real difference to the vacuum’s mobility. The Animal 2 also has an articulated handle to make cleaning awkward locations easier, although this isn’t included with the Multi Floor.
The most obvious difference between the Dyson and Shark vacuums is that both the NV601UKT and NV681UKT have a detachable canister. This is useful for cleaning stairs and other high locations, while making the vacuum more mobile. Removing the canister also makes it easier to clean under furniture.
Only the NV681UKT has the Powered Lift-Away design though. The NV601UKT’s brush bar doesn’t turn when in Lift-Away mode. Still, both modes are genuinely useful for cleaning stairs and other locations that traditional uprights struggles with.
While Shark vacuums don’t have the Ball design, they do come with swivel steering. We think the Ball is better for mobility, but the Shark vacuums are still comfortable to push around.
Aside from this, both sets of vacuums have similar features. They are all bagless vacuums with a hose and a noise output of 80dB. They have stretch hoses and are mains-powered.
The Dyson vacuums are the winner when it comes to cleaning radius though. The Light Ball Multi Floor has a 4.41m hose that stretches to 13.8 metres. The Shark hoses are much shorter – 0.8 metres stretching to 1.8 metres, plus they have a shorter power cord.
On the plus side, the Shark cleaners are marginally lighter – 6.3kg compared to 6.9kg and 7.3kg for the Dyson vacs.
Here are the dust capacities for all four vacuums:
- Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor – 1.6 litres
- Dyson Ball Animal 2 – 1.8 litres
- Shark NV601UKT – 1.65 litres
- Shark NV681UKT – 1.1 litres
As you can see, the Shark NV681UKT is the outlier. While the others have a 1.6-1.8 litre capacity, which is around average for a bagless upright, the NV681UKT is considerably smaller. Be prepared to empty it more often.
Cleaning Performance and Suction Power
Both Dyson vacuums are powered by a 700W motor and have Radial Root Cyclone technology. This increases efficiency and prevents suction loss as the bin fills up.
They also come with Dyson’s excellent Epicyclic cleaner head. This has a new gearing system to provide more power to the brush bar.
The Shark vacuum cleaners are powered by a 750W motor. Neither model in this section comes with the DuoClean floorhead. Instead, they have a single powered brush bar.
The Light Ball Multi Floor is excellent at cleaning thick carpets. The combination of strong suction and Epicyclic brush bar does a great job at removing dust, dirt and hair.
It performs equally well on hard floors. The suction is strong enough to suck up debris between floorboards, and the floor head is capable of picking up larger debris (such as cereal).
The Ball Animal 2 has the same floorhead and a similar design, so it’s just as good for floorboards and carpets. The Dyson vacuums can be awkward when cleaning under furniture though.
Both the Shark NV601UKT and Shark NV681UKT do a good job of matching the Dyson vacuums on carpets. They also provide enough suction for cleaning between floorboards, although they struggle more on laminate.
On the plus side, the Lift-Away design is great for cleaning under furniture. The NV681UKT is particularly effective, as the brush bar is powered in lift-away mode.
In short, this section is a tie.
The Light Ball Multi Floor can be a bit awkward to use on stairs due to its size and shape. It makes up for this with the long hose, although it doesn’t come with a mini turbo tool for digging deeper into carpet fibres. It’s also not the easiest to use when cleaning.
It’s not all bad news though. The long wand and hose combination makes cleaning ceilings and lampshades a simple job.
The Ball Animal 2 is a better option for above-floor cleaning. It has an articulated handle that tilts and rotates, making it easier to get into tight spots. It also has a mini turbo tool for stairs, car interiors and upholstery.
Both Shark models are built with a Lift-Away design. This is great for cleaning stairs or other awkward places, making them versatile vacuums. They also both come with the company’s TruePet turbo tool for cleaning stairs and upholstery.
Be aware that the shorter hose greatly reduces the vacuum’s cleaning radius though.
The Light Ball Multi Floor is great at picking up pet hair from carpets. The problem is that it doesn’t come with a pet turbo tool, so it’s not a good choice for removing hair from sofas, stairs or car interiors.
In contrast, the Ball Animal 2 includes Dyson’s mini motorised tool, making it one of the best pet vacuums on the market. It does an outstanding job of removing both short and long pet hair, whether that’s stuck in carpet fibres or on stairs.
Both the NV601UKT and NV681UKT also include a pet turbo tool. They make quick work of pet hair, making them excellent choices for homes with dogs or cats. If you don’t have pets, then the non-TruePet versions (NV602UK and NV681UK) are a cheaper alternative.
The Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor is a similar price to the NV601UKT Lift-Away. Similarly, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 is roughly the same price range as NV681UKT (disclaimer: these prices change all the time).
But which provides the best value?
This depends on what you want. For maximum cleaning performance, the Dyson uprights have a slight edge – although the lack of a pet tool makes the Multi Floor less suitable for pet owners.
If you prefer the extra mobility of the Lift-Away design, or little extras like convenient controls and headlights, then the Shark vacuums are a solid alternative that still provide great cleaning performance.
The upright category is a close call when comparing Shark and Dyson.
Our top pick from either company’s upright range is the Dyson Ball Animal 2. It provides excellent cleaning performance on all surfaces, great filtration, and has a mini motorised tool for above floor cleaning.
There are certainly reasons to buy any of the other three vacuums though. If you don’t have pets, the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor is a cheaper alternative to Ball Animal 2. The Shark NV681UKT is also a highly versatile vacuum, due to its powered Lift-Away design and turbo tool.
Ultimately, both companies produce excellent upright vacuums.
Want to learn more about upright vacuums? Check out our full guide here.
Cordless Comparison: Dyson V8 & V10 Vs. Shark DuoClean IF250UKT & IC160UKT
The Quick Pick...
Winner: Dyson V10 CycloneWe compared two Dyson cordless vacuums (V8 and V10) with two from Shark (DuoClean IF250UKT and DuoClean IC160UKT).
Our favourite is the Dyson V10 Cyclone. It provides upright-standard suction power with a cordless design, and also has a long battery life. Click here to view the V10 Cyclone Absolute price.
If the V10 is outside of your budget, the V8 is still an excellent cordless vacuum. While it can’t quite match the V10 for suction, it performs well on all surfaces and includes a mini-motorised tool. Click here to view the V8 Animal price.
A Quick Overview of Shark and Dyson Cordless Vacs
Both Dyson and Shark currently produce a wide range of cordless vacuums.
Dyson has its popular V series, which includes the V7, V8, V10 and V11 models. These all feature a stick design with detachable handheld and powered brush bar.
Shark has two broad categories of cordless vacuums:
- Powered Lift-Away – These are similar to Shark’s upright vacuums but with a cordless design.
- Flexology – These are stick-style vacuums that are closer to Dyson’s V series. The name comes from the joint in the stick, which decreases storage space and makes it easier to clean under furniture.
In this article, we’ll compare the Dyson V8 and Cyclone V10 with the Shark DuoClean IF250UKT (Flexology) and IC160UKT (Powered Lift-Away).
Note: Where applicable we’re going to focus on the V8 Animal and V10 Cyclone Animal. Most of the points remain the same between versions (Absolute, Total Clean, Animal), as the only real difference is the tools included.
Design and Weight
Let’s start with the Dyson cordless vacuums.
The V8 and V10 are stick vacuums with a detachable handheld mode. This makes them highly versatile, as all tools can either be attached to the stick or handheld.
Both the V8 and V10 are lightweight vacuums. The V8 only weighs 2.61kg, while the V10 is marginally heavier at 2.68kg. They also have powerful motors that rival corded uprights for suction power.
There are a few key differences between the V8 and V10 though. Firstly, the V10’s bin has been rotated in-line with the stick, as this improves efficiency and cleaning power. It also has three power modes and a longer battery life (more on that in a moment).
The Shark IF250UKT DuoClean has a similar design to the Dyson vacs. It’s a stick cordless vacuum with a handheld mode, dust canister in the handle, and a lithium-ion battery. Unlike the Dyson vacuums, the IF250UKT includes Shark’s Flexology feature, so there is a joint in the stick for easier storage and cleaning under furniture.
A downside of the IF250UKT is that it’s heavier than the Dyson vacuums. At 4kg, it’s at the upper end of the typical weight range for cordless vacuums.
The Shark IC160UKT has a different design to the other vacuums in this comparison. It’s effectively an upright vacuum, with the dust canister as part of the main body and a powered floor head. Unlike most uprights, however, it’s powered by a battery.
While there are advantages to this upright design – particularly when cleaning large areas of floor – the IC160UKT weighs 5.8kg. This is almost as much as a regular upright and considerably more than most cordless vacuums. It’s also bulkier to store and less mobile than a stick vacuum.
Cordless vacuums typically have smaller dust capacities than full-size models. The four vacuums in this comparison are no exception.
Here are the dust capacities for each vacuum:
- Dyson V8 – 0.54 litres
- Dyson V10 Cyclone – 0.76 litres (due to the redesigned bin)
- Shark IF250UKT – 0.33 litres
- Shark IV160UKT – 0.6 litres
While none of the vacuums have huge capacities, the V10 Cyclone can hold more dust before needing to be emptied. The Shark IF250UKT, on the other hand, will need to be emptied much more frequently.
On a side note, both the Dyson V8 and V10 are built with the company’s hygienic bin emptying system. Instead of relying on gravity, a silicone collar pushes out dust and dirt. It’s not perfect, but makes emptying easier than the old V6 model.
Cleaning Performance and Suction Power
The Dyson V8 is powered by the company’s V8 motor. It has two power modes, although MAX power greatly reduces run-time. All versions of the V8 include Dyson’s excellent direct-drive cleaner head and a mini-turbo tool.
While the V8 provides strong suction for a cordless, the V10 Cyclone’s motor is even more powerful. Aligning the bin with the motor and cyclone also reduces wasted suction. Like the V8, the V10 comes with the direct-drive cleaner head, although it has three power modes instead of two.
Both the Shark IF250UKT and IV160UKT include the company’s DuoClean floor head. This has two powered brush rolls that work together, improving pickup on both carpets and hard floors.
How do the vacuums perform when cleaning though?
The Dyson V8 provides excellent cleaning performance. It’s brilliant on both hard floors and carpets, due to the direct-drive cleaner head. It also has enough suction to remove dirt between floorboards.
You can also switch on MAX mode when tackling stubborn dirt. This reduces battery run-time to under 10-minutes, and isn’t necessary for most tasks, but is useful for tough jobs.
While the V8 is a great vacuum cleaner, the Dyson V10 is even better. It’s a true upright replacement that’s fantastic for cleaning carpets and hard floors. The downside is the price – but it certainly isn’t a let down when it comes to suction and performance.
Unlike the upright section, the Shark vacuums in this comparison struggle to compete with Dyson’s cordless vacs. While the IF250UKT provides decent performance on hard floors, it’s less effective at cleaning carpets. The same can be said for the IC160UKT.
This is a shame, as they have excellent designs and some useful features. When it comes to floor cleaning, however, the Dyson vacuums are clear winners.
Both Dyson vacuums are great for cleaning upholstery, car interiors and stairs, due to the convenient handheld mode.
The lack of a hose can make it difficult to clean some areas – the rigid tube is often clunky to handle – but there’s almost nowhere the Dyson can’t clean effectively.
The same goes for the Shark IF250UKT. It has a similar stick design and detachable handheld, along with a turbo tool for upholstery and stairs.
Shark has taken a different approach with the IC160UKT. Despite the Lift-Away design, there’s no “true” handheld mode as you always need two hands. Detaching the canister makes it easier to clean stairs and under furniture though. And, as this is a Powered Lift-Away model, the brush bar continues to turn when the canister has been detached.
The IC160UKT also has a hose. The flexibility makes getting into tight spots easier, and you can attach a rigid tube for extra reach. Considering it can function as a regular upright, in lift-away mode with a powered brush bar, with a long hose for high locations, or as a two-handed handheld with small tool attachment, it’s a highly versatile vacuum.
It’s much heavier than other cordless vacs though, so it’s not as portable.
Cleaning pet hair is another category where the Dyson vacuums are clear winners. Both the V8 and V10 Cyclone are great for removing pet hair from carpets, while the mini-motorised tool is useful for stairs and upholstery.
The Shark vacuums are less effective – even though they include a turbo tool. The DuoClean floorhead just doesn’t seem to be that great at removing hair from carpets.
If you have pets, one of the Dyson cordless vacuums is the better choice.
Battery Life and Charging
Here’s a breakdown of the run-times and charging times for each vacuum cleaner in this comparison:
- Dyson V8 – 40-minute run-time with a 5-hour charge time
- Dyson V10 – 60-minute run-time with a 3.5 hour charge time
- Shark IF250UKT – 44-minute run-time with a 3.5 hour charge time
- Shark IC160UKT – 50-minute run-time with a 3.5 hour charge time
It’s worth noting that these run-times are when the vacuum is in standard suction with non-powered tools. You should expect the battery life to drop if you use a powered tool or switch to higher power modes.
In fact, the Dyson vacuums last less than 10-minutes when in their maximum power modes. The Shark vacs last a bit longer – around 20-minutes – but are less effective at cleaning.
An interesting feature of the Shark IF250UKT is that it comes with two lithium-ion batteries, along with a dual charging station. The batteries can be removed and swapped out for charging, which is useful if you don’t want the vacuum on display when recharging.
All four cordless vacuums in this comparison are high-end models. The Shark vacuums have an RRP that’s similar to the V10 Cyclone. The V8 has the cheapest RRP, although prices vary depending on sales and time of year.
When it comes to value for money, the Dyson V8 Animal is a great choice. It provides excellent all-round cleaning performance for considerably less than the V10 Cyclone – although the V10 is the superior vacuum.
We think the Shark cordless vacuums in this comparison are overpriced. They have lots of interesting features and unique technology, but struggle with carpet cleaning.
The Dyson V10 Cyclone is the clear winner in this comparison. It provides outstanding cleaning performance, while also being lightweight and versatile.
That doesn’t mean the V8 series is obsolete though. It’s still an excellent cordless vacuum cleaner – and for a much lower price than the V10.
Should you consider buying Shark cordless vacuums? When it comes to cleaning and suction power, we think the Dyson vacuums are better options. With that said, the IC160UKT is one of the best cordless vacuums with an upright design. If that appeals to you more than a stick vacuum, it could be a good choice.
Want to learn more about cordless vacuums? Check out our full guide here.
What About the Dyson V11?
The Dyson V11 is even more expensive than the V10 Cyclone, but comes with a variety of upgrades. These include a digital display showing remaining cleaning time, longer battery life, automatic suction adjustment, and more cleaning power. The V11 also comes with Dyson’s new Torque floor tool.
While the V11 is an upgrade to the V10, and our #1 pick, it’s simply too expensive for many people. That’s why we chose the V8 and V10 for this comparison.
Handheld Comparison: Dyson V7 Trigger Vs. Shark WV251UK Handheld
The Quick Pick...
Winner: Dyson V7 TriggerWe compared the Dyson V7 Trigger with the Shark WV251UK Handheld.
Shark has created an excellent handheld though. The WV251UK is lightweight, slim-line and easy to use. For spot cleaning and spills it’s arguably a more convenient choice. Click here to view the Shark WV251UK price.
A Quick Overview of Shark and Dyson Handheld Vacs
Dyson only produces the V7 Trigger at the time of writing. This has the same design as the V7 cordless, but without the rigid tube or floor head.
Shark makes two handhelds – the WV200UK and WV251UK – but they are very similar in design. The only real difference is that the WV251UK has dual batteries for a longer run-time.
In this section, we’re going to compare the Shark WV251UK with the Dyson V7 Trigger.
Design and Weight
There are big differences between the V7 Trigger and WV251UK, so it’s important to understand what each vacuums trying to achieve.
The V7 Trigger provides the power of the standard V7, but without the floor tool. This gives it a long run-time and powerful suction. Dyson also includes a mini-motorised tool for stubborn dirt, so it’s great for tackling dirt and pet hair.
In contrast, the Shark handheld vacuum is more suited to quick jobs. It’s small, lightweight and has a relatively short battery run-time, so it isn’t suitable for long cleaning sessions. The slim design is more convenient than the V7 Trigger though.
Both vacuums have lightweight designs. The WV251UK weighs just 1.3kg, while the V7 Trigger is slightly heavier at 1.38kg. The WV251UK has a much smaller dust capacity (0.25 litres), so you’ll need to empty it regularly.
There’s no doubt that the Shark has a sleek and stylish design . It looks great when charging, so you won’t mind having it on display. The thin design also makes it easier to clean tight spots.
Cleaning Performance and Suction Power
The V7 Trigger is powered by a 21.6V battery and Dyson’s V7 motor. These combine to provide excellent suction power for a handheld, so it’s great for cleaning car interiors, stairs and other awkward areas. It also has two power modes and a motorised miniature floor head, so it’s capable of handling tough dirt.
Shark’s handheld is powered by two 10.8V batteries. It can’t match the V7’s suction power, and, although it also comes with a pet tool for cleaning hair, this doesn’t have a motorised brush bar.
Handheld vacuums aren’t designed for cleaning large areas of carpet or floor – they are mainly for spot cleaning.
Even so, both the V7 Trigger and Shark handheld do a great job of cleaning small patches of carpet. They are also useful for stairs.
The V7 Trigger is the more powerful option. If you need a handheld for stubborn dirt, the boost mode is a useful feature.
Cleaning sofas, stairs and car interiors is easy with both the Dyson and Shark.
The Shark is particularly good for cleaning tight spots in cars, due to its slim design. The V7 Trigger is bulkier, but still lightweight and easy to use. Dyson’s handheld also does a better job at cleaning stubborn dirt, due to the V7’s motorised turbo tool.
Battery Life and Charging
The Dyson V7 Trigger is the clear winner when it comes to battery life. It has a maximum run-time of 30-minutes, compared to just 16 minutes for the Shark WV251UK.
As you would expect, the Shark is quicker to charge. It takes around 2.5 hours compared to 3.5 hours for the Dyson.
Both vacuums have a similar price. They are amongst the most expensive handheld vacuums on the market, but provide excellent performance.
There’s also the option of buying the cheaper Shark WV200UK. This is the same as the WV251UK, but only comes with a single battery, which reduces the run-time to 8-minutes. This is short, but could be enough for cleaning spills.
It’s tough to choose between the Shark WV251UK and Dyson V7 Trigger. Both provide excellent handheld cleaning with a lightweight design.
For convenience, the Shark is probably the better option. It has a slim design that looks great when charging, so you won’t need to hide it in a cupboard. Most people only need a handheld for quick spot cleaning, and the Shark is great for this.
The V7 Trigger has more raw power and better cleaning performance though.
Want to learn more about handheld vacuums? Check out our full guide here.
Shark and Dyson are both excellent vacuum manufacturers. It’s impossible to pick a “best” company, as it’s the models that really matter, not the brand.
For this reason, we hope the comparisons above have helped you decide which vacuum best matches your needs. To summarise our comparisons:
- Upright Vacuums (Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor & Ball Animal 2 Vs. Shark Lift-Away NV601UKT & Powered Lift-Away NV681UKT) – Both Dyson and Shark produce excellent upright vacuums. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 is our top pick with this comparison, but the NV681UKT comes close to matching its cleaning performance and with a more mobile Lift-Away design.
- Cordless Vacuums (Dyson V8 & V10 Vs. Shark DuoClean IF250UKT & DuoClean IC160UKT) – While Shark cordless vacuums provide decent performance, we don’t think they can match the Dyson models for all-round cleaning. Our top pick in this comparison is the Dyson V10 Cyclone, but the V8 is also an excellent (and cheaper) vacuum.
- Handheld Vacuums (Dyson V7 Trigger Vs. Shark WV251UK) – This is another close comparison. For convenience, go for the slim-line Shark WV251UK. For maximum cleaning performance, choose the Dyson V7 Trigger.
Do you have any questions about our Shark Vs Dyson article? Please let us know in the comments section below.