7 Best Upright Vacuum Cleaner Reviews of 2017

Written by James Hall | 0 Comments| Last Updated: November 1, 2017

Upright vacs are versatile and great for home cleaning. Not all models are worth your money though! This article contains our list of the best upright vacuum cleaners in the UK to help you make an informed choice.

Budget
Zanussi ZAN2000A Zanussi ZAN2000A
  • Power: 1100W
  • Dust Capacity: 2 litres
  • Filter: Washable
  • Price: £
  • Very powerful yet available for a budget price.
SEBO Automatic X1.1 SEBO Automatic X1.1 ECO
  • Power: 1100W
  • Dust Capacity: 5.3 litre
  • Filter: S-Class
  • Price: £££
  • Powerful, straightforward and great filtration. Our #1 upright.
Vax U84-Al-Pe Vax U84-Al-Pe
  • Power: 800W
  • Dust Capacity: 1.5 litres
  • Filter: HEPA
  • Price: ££
  • Turbo tool for pet hair and lift-away cylinder for stairs.
Dyson Small Ball Animal Dyson Small Ball Animal
  • Power: 900W
  • Dust Capacity: 0.8 litres
  • Filter: Washable
  • Price: £££
  • The power of a Dyson but with a smaller and lightweight design. Great for pet hair.

 

Upright vacuum cleaners are popular in the UK – and for good reason. They are powerful, versatile and available for very reasonable prices. Uprights also excel at cleaning large areas of floor quickly.

A downside to this popularity is there are literally hundreds of uprights available. This can make it hard to choose the right model for your home.

Many appear to have similar features, yet the prices vary wildly. That’s why we’ve created a list of the best upright vacuum cleaners: to help you make an informed decision depending on your personal requirements and budget.

Who Should (And Shouldn’t) Buy an Upright Vacuum?

So what makes upright vacuums, or upright hoovers as they are known in the UK, so popular? The best uprights combine high suction power with an ability to quickly clean large carpets. They have powerful brushes to stir up and remove dirt and hair from carpets.  Many also have a reasonably large dust capacity (although not as large as cylinders).

In addition, there has been a trend in recent years towards adding advanced features to upright vacuums. Brands such as Dyson, Bosch, Vax and many more have been forced to innovate, largely due to increased competition and new power regulations, by adding settings and features that wouldn’t have been available just a few years ago. These include an off switch for the brush (for cleaning hard floors), dirt sensors and wider cleaning paths.

That doesn’t mean an upright vacuum is always the best choice though. If you need to easily clean stairs and under furniture, the separated nature of a cylinder vacuum is more convenient. Cordless vacuums, many of which are still technically uprights but with reduced power and no cord, also trump standard uprights in terms of convenience and manoeuvrability.

Aside from the type of vacuum, you should consider a variety of other factors, such as the filtration system, included tools and whether the vacuum comes with a warranty. It’s also vital to research the brand before you buy – some are known for high-quality, reliable vacuums. Others are not!

We want to help you find the best upright for your budget, which is why we’ve listed our top seven rated models below. Further down this page you’ll also find a full guide to choosing an upright, including factors such as price, suction power and many more. We also have an entire section of upright vacuum reviews, so if you’ve got your eye on a particular model try searching for it using the search bar above.

Editor’s Note: This section is about the best mains-powered models. If you are looking for a cordless vacuum, check out our cordless section instead.

A Word About the New EU Regulations for Vacuum Cleaners

As you may know, in September 2017 the EU enforced stricter regulations regarding mains-powered vacuum cleaners – including uprights. These state a vacuum must use a maximum of 900W and have a noise output of less than 80dB. Retailers can sell existing stock of vacuums that don’t meet these requirements, but gradually these models will be phased out. We are regularly updating this list of the best upright vacuums to reflect models that are available in the UK.

SpotlessVacuum.co.uk's Top Upright Vacuums

7 Best Uprights of 2017 – Which Models Made Our List?

Listed below are seven of the best upright vacuums on the market at the moment. While the price and features vary, we believe each provides excellent value for money. Make sure you read the reviews to find the right one for your home though.

ImageProduct NamePowerCapacityWeightPrice RangeRead More
Vax U84-Al-Pe Air Lift800W1.5 litres6kg££View Price
Zanussi ZAN2000A AirSpeed Lite1100W2 litres4.1kg£View Price
Dyson Small Ball Animal900W0.8 litres5.5kg£££View Price
SEBO Automatic X1.1 ECO1100W5.3 litres7kg£££View Price
Shark Lift-Away NV680UKT850W1 litre6.3kg££££View Price
Sebo Felix Navy Eco700W3.5 litres7kg£££View Price
Shark Rocket True Pet HV320UKT500W1 litre4.3kg£££View Price

Vax U84-AL-Pe Review1. Vax U84-Al-Pe Air Lift Steerable Pet

The Vax U84-Al-Pe Air Lift Steerable Pet might be a bit of a mouthful to say, but it’s an excellent upright that provides great value for money. It comes with a HEPA filter to prevent dirt and dust escaping into the air, an easy-to-manoeuvre design, and the ability to easily clean both stairs and ceilings via the hose.

One of the best features of the U84-Al-Pe is the Turbo Tool. This is a powerful attachment that combines a fast brush with excellent suction, making it effective at getting rid of pet hair from furniture and other surfaces.

Aside from its turbo brush, the Vax provides excellent suction power. It makes quick work of most jobs – especially considering its relatively low price.

It’s also a versatile vacuum cleaner. The “lift-out” design is great for stairs and above floor cleaning, while the attachments are useful for ceilings and upholstery.

Overall, the U84-Al-Pe is one of the best upright vacuum cleaner models in its price range. While we would have liked to have seen an automatic retracting cord, this is a minor complaint compared to the versatility of the model. Click here to read our full review.

Overview:

  • Price Range: ££
  • Power: 800W
  • Weight: 6kg
  • Dust Capacity: 1.5 litres
  • Filter Type: HEPA

Key Features:

  • Powerful suction means the U84-Al-Pe is great for cleaning pet hair.
  • The lightweight cylinder lifts away from the casing for cleaning stairs or your car.
  • Turbo Tool, complete with motorised brush, for cleaning up pet hair.

View Price

Zanussi ZAN2000A Review2. Zanussi ZAN2000A AirSpeed Lite

The Zanussi ZAN2000A AirSpeed Lite is a popular vacuum cleaner with a 2 litre dust capacity. It’s a relatively cheap upright vacuum compared to the Vax listed above, with an RRP of £69.99, yet has still achieved a B rating for both energy efficiency and carpet dust pick up.

According to Zanussi, the ZAN2000A is built with “multi cyclonic” technology. This stops the filters becoming clogged as often, which means the vacuum can provide greater suction power between cleans. The Zanussi ZAN2000A is also a bagless model for extra convenience.

It’s a surprisingly lightweight upright vacuum that weighs just 4.1kg. If you struggle carrying heavy objects up stairs, it could be a great choice. It also provides excellent suction – although it’s not energy efficient and makes plenty of noise.

If you’re looking for a budget upright with the power to rival more expensive options, the Zanussi ZAN2000A could be an excellent choice. There are some downsides, such as the weaker suction through the hose and worrying reports of damage to vinyl flooring, but for basic carpet cleaning it’s one of the best cheap uprights around. For more information, click for our review of the Zanussi ZAN2000A.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £
  • Power: 1100W
  • Weight: 4.1kg
  • Dust Capacity: 2 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Excellent suction power for such a reasonably priced upright.
  • Washable filter to save money buying new filters.
  • Amongst the best lightweight corded uprights at just 4.1kg.

View Price

3. Dyson Small Ball Animal

The Dyson Small Ball is one of the famous companies latest uprightsDyson is a brand that needs no introduction, and the Small Ball Animal is one of their flagship upright vacuums (replacing the previous DC40 range). It’s a powerful vacuum cleaner that’s lighter and smaller than the DC40, yet can match “full-size” Dyson’s for cleaning performance. It also comes with a tangle-free turbine tool for pet hair.

The major selling point of the Small Ball Animal is that it only weighs 5.5kg. This makes it Dyson’s smallest upright and noticeably lighter than other models. If you’re tired of lugging a heavy upright vacuum upstairs, but don’t want to sacrifice cleaning power, the Small Ball Animal is a great choice. The retractable wand also means it takes up less storage space (see picture to the left).

This is the “Animal” version of the Small Ball range. It comes with a tangle-free turbine tool, which is great for getting rid of pet hair from upholstery, stairs and in your car.

A bonus for pet owners is that the 19 cyclones are relatively effective at removing allergens. There’s also a washable lifetime filter. With that said, we don’t recommend the Small Ball Animal for people with allergies, as it’s not the best at allergen retention and dust can escape when you empty it.

As you would expect from a Dyson, the Small Ball Animal provides excellent suction power. It also has a self-adjusting cleaning head, which changes height depending on whether you’re cleaning hard floors or carpets. Additionally, the brush has finer filaments to help remove small dust particles.

While some innovations in the vacuum market are just gimmicks, the ball design really does improve the mobility of the machine. It allows you to turn without pushing, which is great for getting around furniture, and makes the Small Ball Animal more convenient than other uprights.

The machine isn’t perfect though. We think the handle is surprisingly uncomfortable, which can be annoying during extended cleaning sessions. It also doesn’t come with the hygienic bin emptying system found on Dyson’s latest cordless vacuums.

Another downside of the smaller design is the dust capacity is reduced to just 0.8 litres. This is relatively small for an upright vacuum cleaner, so be prepared to empty the Small Ball Animal regularly.

Even with these issues, the Dyson Small Ball Animal is an excellent upright vacuum cleaner. It’s one of the best upright vacs for hard-floor pickup, in particular, and is easy to manoeuvre around the home. If you want the power of a Dyson upright vacuum but without the heavy and bulky design, the Small Ball Animal is one to consider.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Power: 900W
  • Weight: 5.5kg
  • Dust Capacity: 0.8 litres
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • The power of a Dyson upright but with a lighter and more compact design
  • Pet tool for stairs, upholstery and cars
  • Ball design for extra mobility

View Price

SEBO Automatic X1.1 Review4. SEBO Automatic X1.1 ECO

The SEBO X1.1 ECO might not look as advanced as models such as Dyson Small Ball – but don’t let that fool you. This is a powerful cleaner with excellent filtration.

With its 1100W motor, the SEBO provides excellent suction power. This works in synergy with a system that monitors and adjusts the brush to ensure reliable cleaning results.

Other features include an integrated wand for extra reach, long cable (so you won’t have to keep switching plug sockets) and reliable drive belts that are designed to last the vacuum’s lifetime. It also has an S-Class filter, for greater filtration of small particles, which is important if you suffer from a dust allergy or asthma.

The SEBO Automatic X1.1 isn’t a cheap vacuum cleaner, and it doesn’t come with many advanced features. Despite this, it’s simple to use and provides a reliable, efficient clean. So if you’re looking for a model that takes the complexity out of cleaning, the SEBO could be a great option. Click here to read our full review.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Power: 1100W
  • Weight: 7kg
  • Filter Type: S-Class

Key Features:

  • Simple design with powerful suction.
  • Excellent filtration system for reduced allergens.
  • Computer-monitored brush height for more efficient cleaning

View Price

5. Shark Lift-Away NV680UKT

The Shark is an excellent uprightWe’re big fans of Shark vacuum cleaners at Spotless Vacuum. They are often underrated in the UK,  which is a shame as they manufacture some excellent vacuum cleaners.

The Shark Lift-Away NV680UKT is probably the company’s best upright vacuum cleaner. It’s not cheap, but it’s great for cleaning almost all types of floor (including hardwood floors and carpet). The NV680UKT is also fantastic at removing pet hair.

While the NV680UKT has excellent suction power and provides great cleaning performance, its design and usability are where it really shines. The vacuum is built with an advanced steering system that allows you to “tilt” the vacuum. This makes it easy to manoeuvre around the home. It also comes with a “lift-away” canister. When the canister is detached, it’s much easier to clean stairs and above furniture.

As you would expect from a pet vacuum, the Shark includes a turbo tool for getting rid of pet hair. It also has a combination of washable and HEPA filters, which combine to remove up to 99.9% of allergens.

One of the drawbacks of the Shark NV680UKT is that it has a small dust capacity. The one litre capacity is marginally bigger than the Dyson Small Ball Animal, but not by much. In other words, you’ll need to empty it regularly.

We don’t have many other complaints about the Shark though. It’s one of the best upright vacuums on the market, especially if you own pets. If it’s within your price range, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Shark.

Overview:

  • Price Range: ££££
  • Power: 850W
  • Weight: 6.3kg
  • Filter Type: Washable + HEPA

Key Features:

  • Excellent suction power
  • TurboTool for pet hair
  • “Tilt” design

View Price

6. Sebo Felix Navy Eco

The SEBO Felix Navy has an unusual design but is an excellent uprightIt might have a retro style, but the Sebo Felix Navy Eco is an outstanding modern vacuum. It’s a bagged upright vacuum cleaner from the popular German brand – and it’s capable of cleaning hard floors, carpets and hair with ease. If you’re looking for a top-quality all-rounder, the Sebo is a great choice.

Let’s start with the basics. The Felix has a large 3.5 litre dust bag capacity, so you won’t need to empty it as often as many of the bagless models on this list. It weighs around 7kg, which is average for an upright, and has a 10 metre cleaning radius.

It’s great for cleaning both carpets and hard floors. Unlike many vacuums, it doesn’t struggle to pickup larger debris. It also has the suction power to remove dust trapped in crevices or between floorboards.

An interesting feature is the “L” shaped head. This is designed to clean right to the edge of skirting boards. The floor head also automatically adjusts its height depending on the surface.

The Felix really starts to shine when you tackle pet hair though. It doesn’t have a turbo tool, but the standard floor head makes quick work of both short and long hairs. The S-Class filter and bagged design also make it a great choice for allergy sufferers.

A downside to the Felix is that it can be difficult to clean stairs and above furniture. There is a hose, but it can’t match the Shark Lift-Away series, for example, at above floor cleaning. The relatively heavy design also makes it cumbersome to carry upstairs.

These minor drawbacks shouldn’t take too much away from what is a fantastic vacuum cleaner though. It’s powerful, easy to use and makes quick work of pet hair. Even if you don’t have pets, the Felix is one of best upright vacuum cleaners for carpets and hard floors.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Power: 700W
  • Weight: 7kg
  • Filter Type: S-Class

Key Features:

  • Attractive retro design
  • Great at cleaning pet hair
  • Excellent filtration

View Price

7. Shark Rocket True Pet HV320UKT

The True Pet is a stick/upright vacuum cleanerWe wanted to include a stick upright vacuum on this list, as they provide a bridge between the convenience of cordless vacuums and the power of uprights. Our top pick in this category is the excellent Shark Rocket True Pet, as it’s great for floor cleaning and can also handle pet hair.

One of the best things about the True Pet is its carpet cleaning performance. It’s one of the best upright vacuums for carpets and will also do a great job at removing pet hair. While it isn’t quite as effective on hard floors, it still does a decent job.

The stick can be removed to transform it into a handheld unit. The handheld mode is great for cleaning stairs or other awkward locations. This feature is common amongst cordless vacuums, but there aren’t many uprights with a detachable mode.

Additionally, the HV320UKT comes with a number of tools and accessories. These include a flexi crevice tool, dusting brush and upholstery nozzle. The range of tools, detachable handheld mode and lightweight design make it one of the most versatile vacuum cleaners.

Like most stick vacuums, it struggles with cleaning high locations though. The stick mode is unwieldy when cleaning above floors, which is an area the hose of a typical upright vacuum excels. There’s the option of using the handheld mode, but this reduces the reach considerably.

It’s also a relatively noisy vacuum cleaner. If you’re looking for a quiet vac, we recommend looking at a different model!

The Shark True Pet HV320UKT is a great choice if you want the power of an upright with the convenience of a cordless vacuum. It’s outstanding at cleaning carpets and does a good job on pet hair, so it’s a genuine replacement for a full-size vacuum.

Overview:

  • Price Range: £££
  • Power: 500W
  • Weight: 4.3kg
  • Filter Type: Washable

Key Features:

  • Versatile stick vacuum
  • Great on carpets
  • Can quickly remove pet hair

View Price

How to Choose an Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Listed above are seven vacuum cleaners which, in our opinion, are amongst the best upright vacuum cleaners on the market at the moment. While we don’t believe you can go far wrong with any of these models, it’s always a good idea to understand the underlying features, so you can get the best one for your requirements. Here’s an overview of what you need to look for.

Price and Requirements

At SpotlessVacuum.co.uk, we think there is no such thing as the best upright vacuum. Instead, there are a group of excellent cleaners, but the right choice depends on what you need.

So think carefully about your requirements. Do you have a dog or cat that sheds a lot? Then you should look for a vacuum cleaner with strong suction power and a turbo tool for pet hair. Does your home have low furniture and stairs? A lightweight and manoeuvrable upright, preferably with a low floor head profile, is probably the best option.

Here’s a selection of questions that might help you uncover what you need from your vacuum cleaner:

  • Does you or anyone in your household have difficulty lifting heavy objects?
  • How large is your house?
  • Do you own pets? How much hair do they shed? Are they allowed on the sofas?
  • Does anyone in your home suffer from a dust allergy?
  • How often do you usually vacuum to keep the house looking tidy?
  • Is your home mainly carpet or hard floors? Do you have any vinyl flooring?
  • If you have lots of carpets, how thick is the pile?
  • Is a quiet vacuum cleaner important to you?
  • How much money are you able to spend?

Once you answer to these questions, you’ll be in a much better position to choose the right vacuum cleaner from the list above. We’ve also provided more information below about how to use this information.

But if you’re still not sure what you need after answering these questions – don’t worry! We’ll go into the different decisions shortly.

Similarly, the right vacuum also depends on your budget. Some uprights, such as the Shark Life-Away, have an RRP of over £300 due to their proprietary technology, reliable motors and excellent performance. Others are available for considerably less.

But price is not always an indicator of quality – there are some great upright models available that come close to matching more expensive models, yet for a fraction of the price. On the other hand, cheap upright vacuum cleaners rarely provide the performance required.

Suction Power

The power of a vacuum is how much energy it uses in Watts. This is correlated to suction power, but is not the same. In other words, a higher motor power does not always equal greater suction. This is a common mistake made when buying an upright cleaner.

Suction power is arguably the most important factor when choosing an upright vacuum cleaner. While uprights often have motorised brushes for getting dirt and dust up from carpets, stronger suction power naturally means more dirt is removed (although uprights don’t rely on suction power as much as cylinder vacuums).

You should also be aware that since September 2017, all vacuums imported into the EU must have a maximum power of 900W. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean all newer vacuums have a reduced suction power. Instead, the regulations have forced brands such as Vax and Bosch to innovate when it comes to getting more suction power.

Filtration

Many people suffer from dust allergies. These can be made worse if a vacuum allows particles to leak from its canister or bag. Low quality vacuums often eject allergens via exhaust air if not filtered correctly.

According to Which.co.uk, the best vacuum cleaners, in terms of filtration and dust retention, remove more than 99% of tiny allergens. The worst models only remove 10%, which means a huge amount are released back into the air. Dust retention isn’t solely based on the filter, but a HEPA or S-Class filter will go a long way to preventing allergens escaping. We’ve written an article about HEPA filters here.

It’s also important to check whether an upright’s vacuum filter is washable. Non-washable filters need to be replaced after a certain amount of time, which can add to the lifetime cost of the machine. Cheap upright vacuum cleaners tend to have standard, non-washable filters which can be costly in the long run.

Bagged or Bagless

Most of the best uprights are bagless, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore bagged machines. There really isn’t any difference in cleaning power, so the main differences are related to ease of use. A bagless upright vacuum cleaner is usually more convenient, but dust tends to escape much more easily when emptying. Bagged upright vacuum cleaners, on the other hand, are often cheaper, but lack the convenience and force you to buy new bags.

As a general rule, bagless upright vacuum cleaners should be avoided if someone in your household suffers from a severe dust allergy.

Dust Capacity

The larger the dust capacity, the less often you’ll need to empty the canister or change the bag. For bagless vacuums, this is purely a matter of convenience. But for bagged vacuums, smaller capacities force you to use more bags, which increases the lifetime cost of the machine.

Additionally, some bagged upright vacuums gradually lose suction as their bag fills up. This can make it difficult to use the full capacity of the bag if you want to maximise suction power.

If you have a big house, you’ll probably want to choose a vacuum cleaner with a larger capacity. It can be frustrating to empty a vacuum multiple times in a single cleaning session. This isn’t so important for smaller homes.

Other Considerations

  • Weight. Lugging a heavy upright up and down stairs can be a pain, so it’s important to choose a lightweight model – especially if you struggle with heavy appliances.
  • Pet Hair. Some vacuums excel at picking up pet hair, which is vital if your dog or cat sheds a lot. Many pet vacuums also come with a motorised tool for getting hair off sofas and other furniture, which can save a lot of time.
  • Floor Type. Just because a vacuum is effective at picking up dust and dirt from hard floors doesn’t mean it will cope with carpets (and vice versa). Make sure you choose a vacuum that’s best on the type of floor you have in your home.
  • Size. Closely related to weight is size. A small upright vacuum cleaner may not be able to hold as much dust and dirt, but will be easier to carry around the home.
  • Hose length. The hose is a vital part of an upright – especially for cleaning stairs and other hard-to-reach places.
  • Operating Radius. If you don’t have many plug sockets in your home, or are just fed up of switching every time you change room, the operating radius is important. This is loosely defined as the length of the cord plus the length of the hose. However, the cord length is more important as it sets how much of your home can be properly cleaned from a single socket.
  • Noise. Vacuum cleaners are loud – there’s no getting around that. But some are considerably louder than others. The Bosch BGS5SIL2GB, for example, has a noise rating of just 66dB (although it’s not an upright), while some vacuums are 85dB or more. If you have a baby, pets that are scared of loud noises or just want a quieter cleaning session, a quiet vacuum could be a good option.
  • Accessories. There are a variety of accessories provided with upright vacuums, from turbo heads to upholstery brushes. While most of these aren’t essential, it’s a good idea to think about which accessories would make your cleaning more efficient or less stressful. Powered accessories are especially important when buying upright pet vacuum cleaners, as they are designed to get hair out of upholstery.
  • Warranty. Even the best vacuum cleaners could suffer from technical problems – especially as vacuums become more advanced and computerised. For this reason, look for models with a long warranty for both parts and labour.

Conclusion

Upright vacuum cleaners are a great option for home cleaning – especially if your house or flat has lots of carpeted floor space. They are powerful, easy to use and come with a range of accessories for versatile cleaning.

It’s important to understand your requirements. Factors such as your budget, whether you have pets, the type of flooring in your home and whether you suffer from allergies can all affect the best choice.

If we had to choose a single upright to recommend, a good starting point would be the Sebo Automatic X1.1. It generates a lot of suction power and has a huge capacity, so it’s a great all-rounder. You can view the latest prices and offers here.

A-Z of In-Depth Upright Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

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