Dyson vs Shark: The Ultimate Cordless Vacuum Showdown

Cordless vacuums are taking the cleaning industry by storm. I put 2 top contenders to the test—find out which one sucked up top honors.

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Cordless vacuums have come a long way in the past few years. Battery capacity and runtime have increased, and major manufacturers are constantly improving their models. Dyson and Shark produce some of the best cordless vacuums on the market, so I wondered which would come out on top when I tested two very similar models in a head-to-head competition.

While you can find pricier picks in the Dyson and Shark lineups, the Dyson Outsize and the Shark Stratos are both highly rated and have similar features. I put both to the test on carpeting and hard flooring, rating their suction abilities, weight, noise levels, and convenience. Both turned out to be top performers, but each has some pros and cons you may want to consider before purchasing.

Dyson Outsize Cordless Vacuum: At a Glance

Rating: 4.75/5

The Shark Stratos cordless vacuum leaning against closet doors before head-to-head testing of Dyson vs Shark.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

SPECS

  • Type: Cordless stick vacuum
  • Weight: 7.94 pounds
  • Dustbin capacity: 0.50 gallons
  • Runtime: Up to 60 minutes

PROS

  • Large-capacity dustbin is well suited for large spaces
  • Pet fur doesn’t get stuck in the roller thanks to built-in detangling hair-removal panes
  • Strong motor delivers powerful suction, even on the weakest of the 3 power modes
  • 6-layer filtration system prevents dust and pet dander from reentering air
  • Offers docking station for installing on a wall and charging while storing
  • Comes with a motorized hair screw that quickly removes pet fur from upholstery

CONS

  • Slightly heavier than the Shark Stratos, but not a deal-breaker
  • Takes about 1 hour longer than the Stratos to fully charge

Get the Dyson Outsize cordless vacuum at:

Shark Stratos Cordless Vacuum: At a Glance

Rating: 4.5/5

The Dyson Outsize cordless vacuum leaning against closet doors before head-to-head testing of Dyson vs Shark.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

SPECS

  • Type: Cordless stick vacuum
  • Dustbin capacity: 0.18 gallons (0.72 quarts)
  • Weight: 8.9 pounds
  • Runtime: Up to 60 minutes

PROS

  • As of the time of writing, offers more powerful suction than any other cordless Shark cordless stick vacuum
  • Odor-neutralizer module emits a mild, fresh scent while vacuuming
  • Collapsible wand makes it possible to reach under furniture without bending; especially useful for those with mobility issues

CONS

  • Small dustbin not ideal for larger homes

Get the Shark Stratos cordless vacuum at:

What are the Dyson Outsize and the Shark Stratos? 

The Dyson Outsize is a cordless vacuum with a couple of supersize features, such as its 0.5-gallon dustbin, which holds more debris than the popular Dyson V11. The Outsize’s Motorbar cleaning head is also broader, which means it will pick up a wider swath of debris, reducing cleaning time. It also comes with Dyson’s detangling technology, something I especially appreciated because I have long-hair dogs; I’d rather not spend my time cutting wound-up fur from the roller.

The Outsize also boasts Dyson’s powerful Hyperdymium motor and a six-layer filtration system that traps pesky dust and dander, preventing it from escaping the vacuum and recirculating through your home.

The Shark Stratos has more suction power than any of Shark’s other cordless stick vacuums, largely thanks to Hypervelocity Plus technology. It also has some features I found very handy, including a clog-free roller bar, an odor-neutralizing module that kept the air smelling fresh while I vacuumed, and a flexible wand that allowed me to vacuum under furniture without bending over. Like the Outsize, the Stratos also features a high-end filtration system that prevents dust and pet dander reintroduction into the air.

The Outsize and Stratos are both designed to pick up hair more effectively than earlier models. Both contenders in this vacuum showdown are on the cutting edge of cleaning technology.

Dyson vs Shark boxes next to each other before unboxing and testing.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

The Suction Showdown

When I’m shopping for a vacuum, suction power is my number one consideration. The amount of suction a vacuum delivers tells me how well it will suck up debris on hard flooring as well as how well it will remove ground-in dirt from thick, dense carpeting.

To test the suction ability of each vacuum, I sprinkled rice on a carpet and then noted how many passes the Outsize and Stratos took to clear a swath completely. The results were very close, and both vacuums performed well here, but the Stratos sucked up nearly all the rice in its path with just one back-and-forth pass. The Outsize needed one additional pass (forward only), and that was it. I was impressed with the high level of suction from both vacuums.

Dyson vs Shark vacuums in use cleaning carpeting during testing.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Power and Performance

Two crucial metrics for any cordless vacuum are its runtime on a fully charged battery and how long the battery takes to recharge. Both the Dyson Outsize and the Shark Stratos arrived with some juice in their batteries; the Outsize had 28 percent, and the Stratos had 40 percent. I didn’t start testing, however, until both vacuum batteries were fully charged.

Both the Stratos and the Outsize are advertised as having a runtime of up to 60 minutes, but this varies based on which power setting the vacuum runs at. Each vacuum has three power modes. When I tested the most powerful mode, the Outsize lasted 24 minutes, and the Stratos lasted 26 minutes. On the least powerful modes—still plenty powerful to vacuum dust from hard flooring—the Outsize ran for 48 minutes, and the Stratos ran for 46 minutes. So the results were similar there, too, but neither model ran for 60 minutes.

When both vacuums’ batteries were depleted, I timed how long each took to reach a full charge. The Outsize took about 3.5 hours, and the Stratos fully charged in just over 2.5 hours. The useful tip is to remember to charge the vacuum as soon as you finish cleaning so that you can begin vacuuming with a full charge next time.

The cleaning heads of Dyson vs Shark on a rug next to a measuring tape showing the Dyson head is wider.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Dustbin Size Matters

When it comes to dustbin capacity, the Outsize is the clear winner. It comes with a large 0.5-gallon dustbin, which holds more than any cordless stick vacuum I’ve tested. By comparison, the Stratos dustbin holds just 0.72 quarts, which translates to 0.18 gallons.

Before choosing based solely on dustbin capacity, however, consider that you will probably empty the dustbin after every vacuuming. Even if your vacuum has a small dustbin, unless your home has a lot of dust, debris, or pet fur, you may not need to stop and empty the bin in the middle of your cleaning routine anyway. Even with my four furry friends who shed a lot, I completed an entire carpet and floor cleaning with the Stratos without needing to dump it before I finished.

I vacuum daily. However, those who vacuum less frequently may have different results and dustbin capacity requirements.

A person emptying the Dyson Outsize cordless vacuum dustbin into a small trash can.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Comfort and Convenience

Small variations in weight between vacuum models may not be too noticeable when it comes to basic floor-vacuuming tasks, but they can make a big difference when performing trickier movements, like trying to vacuum cobwebs along the ceiling with a crevice or dusting tool attachment.

The Dyson Outsize weighs 7.94 pounds. That’s in line with many of today’s cordless stick vacuums, and I didn’t find it difficult to hold it up and vacuum upper walls and ceilings for a minute or two at a time. The Stratos weighs a bit more at 8.9 pounds, but it didn’t feel too heavy either. Still, holding either of them up for longer than a few minutes might lead to shoulder or back fatigue.

The dustbins on both stick vacuums empty easily with just the push of a lever. I found that handy and much cleaner than tipping a canister upside down or removing an inner dust bag.

The Shark Stratos has an advantage in terms of comfort: It features a nifty collapsible wand, which allowed me to easily vacuum under furniture at the push of a button. When I needed the vacuum to reach beneath a piece of furniture farther than I comfortably could with the vacuum in straight stick mode, I simply pushed a button on the underside of the wand, and it bent at the center until the portion connected to the roller head was parallel with the floor. Then, it was a snap to vacuum all the way to the far side of the furniture without bending over. This is a feature I hope all stick vacuum manufacturers will consider implementing.

Both vacuums come with a crevice tool and a dusting tool, but the Outsize also includes a hair screw, which is a powered upholstery tool specially designed to loosen and remove stuck-on pet hair from cushions and pillows. This was one of my favorite features since I have pets in my home.

A person using the dusting attachment on the Shark Stratos cordless vacuum to clean a corner of the ceiling.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Which cordless vacuum is right for you, the Shark or the Dyson?

Ultimately, whether you choose the Dyson Outsize or the Shark Stratos, you’ll probably be happy with your choice. Both offer powerful suction and ample runtime to clean most homes if you start from a fully charged battery.

The Outsize has a wall-mounted docking station that conveniently stores the vacuum while charging it. I like this feature, but if you don’t have a spot to install the docking station near an outlet—or you rent and aren’t allowed to install one—that won’t be a consideration.

If you don’t like bending down to use a stick vacuum when cleaning underneath furniture, the Stratos might be the pick for you thanks to its collapsible wand. Plus, it has a useful light on the front, a feature the Outsize lacks.

The Outsize’s dustbin is more than double the capacity of the Stratos, but if you usually empty your vacuum’s dustbin after each cleaning, that might not be a game changer for you either way.

Both were winners, but based on the results of this cordless vacuum battle, if I had to choose only one, I’d pick the Dyson Outsize. The reason? The hair screw tool for upholstery. The motor heads on both vacuums are notable for vacuuming up pet fur, but the Outsize’s hair screw tool sets it apart. Because I have four pets that shed, having a specialized tool that quickly removes hair from cushions and pillows makes sense.

Still, both cordless stick vacuums are so much better than the early models that came out a few years ago, and the foundational technologies are only getting better, so I’m looking forward to what both companies have in store for next year.

Dyson vs Shark cordless vacuum batteries plugged into a wall outlet to charge during testing.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Where to Buy the Dyson Outsize and the Shark Stratos

Get the Dyson Outsize cordless vacuum at:

Get the Shark Stratos cordless vacuum at:

Meet the Tester

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

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