If you're in the market for a new vacuum cleaner but you'd like to get the most bang for your buck, read on. We've rounded up the best budget-friendly hoovers we've tested.
Bear in mind that these aren't the cheapest vacuum cleaners on the market. Rather, they represent the best value for £250 or under and are loaded with features that'll make cleaning much easier.
In the following round-up, you'll see that all of the vacuum cleaners are cordless. That's because this is where most manufacturers are focusing their innovation so it's where you'll find the handiest features and best value among new products.
Over the past few years, vacuum cleaner technology has improved to the point that you can dispense with your heavy upright or cylinder cleaner in favour of an appliance that's lighter and more versatile.
Cordless cleaners tend to be modular, which means you can also use them as a handheld to clean everything from upholstery to blinds to car interiors. They also make vacuuming the stairs a much easier job.
They're also lighter, more manoeuvrable and have great extra features.
If you're not sure what specs and features you can expect, have a look at our buying advice after the chart. And if you want to spend a bit more, check out our list of the overall best vacuum cleaners we've tested.
The best budget vacuum cleaners
Shark Anti Hair Wrap Duo Clean IZ201 - Best overall cleaner
It has many of the features of a luxury cleaner but at half the price of the market leaders. It's powerful, it has headlights and its jointed "Flexology" stick makes it easy to vacuum under furniture without stooping or bending.
Its specifications are comparable to the best on the market as well, although, with a maximum cleaning time of 40 minutes compared to rivals' 60 minutes, a second battery would be a useful purchase.
Happily, you can buy a model with a spare battery, and with that in mind, this is a budget-friendly cordless that we're happy to recommend to people with a home of any size.
Halo Capsule - Best design
This is a great product, at a great price, particularly when compared to market-leading brands. Capsule is an independently-designed and produced vacuum cleaner, the creation of an engineer with two decades of industry experience.
Cordless, manoeuvrable and very light at 2.6kg – thanks to its carbon-fibre shell – it has the power of an upright and some very nice design features that set it apart from competitors.
Its specifications are also an improvement on those of rival products. Capsule needs three hours to charge its lithium-ion batteries and after that will run for at least half an hour without a loss of suction. It also has a huge dust-collection capacity of 1.6 litres.
It's also an environmentally-friendly option, with compostable dust bags and a manufacturer that encourages you to bring it in for a service, rather than replacing it. It's simple, streamlined and built to last.
It is recommended for smaller homes, flats or as a versatile handheld.
Read our full Halo Capsule review
Hoover H-Free 500 - Most compact cleaner
For its reasonable price, the Hoover H-Free 500 is a decent little stick vacuum. And we mean little: it's really lightweight and packs away in a cleverly compact, transformer-like way.
Like other vacuum cleaners, it offers a modular system so you can clean in different ways. We found it to be very versatile and reasonably powerful, too.
However, the turbo mode will only give you eight minutes of cleaning and it has an average of 25 minutes across all modes, which is not very long. This, combined with a small dustbin, means it's more suited to flats and small homes. You might want to consider an Energy model, which comes with an extra battery.
Read our full Hoover H-Free 500 review
Roidmi S1 - Cordless with smartphone support
The Roidmi F8 is one of the best cordless vacuums we've seen to date. It is impressively lightweight at only 1.5kg, while still offering great suction and almost an hour of battery life on a single charge, along with a variety of attachments and novel features including smartphone support.
Our biggest gripe is with the small, 0.4 litre bin, which means you'll have to empty it fairly regularly. But beyond that, this is an easy cordless vacuum to recommend, offering performance close to the best from Dyson and Philips, at a significantly lower price.
Read our full Roidmi S1 review
Gtech HyLite - Eco-friendly design
If you’ve got pets in the house (or just some seriously shaggy carpets), then the Gtech HyLite won’t have the power to keep up. Similarly, if you’re lucky enough to live in a mansion, it might not make it all the way around thanks to just 20 minutes of battery life.
But for everyone else, this is an affordable contender, combining an astonishingly compact design with a lightweight modular build, and an eco-friendly design ethos that should help ease your guilt next time you sneak some recycling into the regular rubbish.
This is proof that good things come in small packages.
Read our full Gtech HyLite review
Proscenic P11 - Luxury features on a budget
The Proscenic P11 isn't for everyone, but if you live in a flat and have a fairly minimalistic lifestyle - that is, if you have hard floors, not carpet and don't own a giant shaggy dog - then it could be for you.
The P11 has a lot of high-end features, including LED headlights, a touchscreen that displays battery life, two charging options, a swappable battery and a mop attachment. It's also very light and easy to use as a handheld cleaner.
It's not the most powerful vacuum cleaner (in spite of its impressive on-paper suction), and it's not hugely robust. But if you're looking for an appliance to help you with a bit of light cleaning, it's a pleasure to use.
Read our full Proscenic P11 review
Bissell CrossWave - Dual functionality cleaner
The Bissell CrossWave is a multi-surface cleaner that allows you to vacuum and wash most types of floors in one go, either vacuuming and mopping simultaneously or using the two modes separately. If you have pets or messy kids you'll probably like it, as it allows you to get hairs and mud out of rugs rather efficiently, but it has some limitations.
It's corded, which is an obvious downside, and the bulky body means it struggles to clean under and around furniture, while brush head design struggles to get right up into corners. Those are big problems and mean that as convenient as the CrossWave is for cleaning spills, you'll probably still need another handheld or cordless vacuum to clean those tight spots.
Read our full Bissell CrossWave review
What to look out for when you're buying
If you're buying a cordless, the first thing to think about is battery life. The best budget cordless cleaner will give you 30-40 minutes of cleaning time – and that’s on the lowest setting. Others will only give you 15-20 minutes. Think about how long you normally spend on a cleaning session and you’ll get a good idea of how important battery life is to you.
Some cleaners, like the Shark Anti Hair Wrap Duo Clean IZ201 have a removable battery. You can buy a spare and double your cleaning time.
Weight is also very important as, unlike an upright or cylinder cleaner, you’ll be bearing some of its weight while you clean. However, all of these cleaners will be easier to move around than a heavy, old-fashioned vacuum and will typically weigh 2.5-4kg.
If you're used to a powerful cylinder cleaner, you’ll notice that the suction on a cordless is probably not quite as strong. But cordless suction has improved so much over the past few years that for almost everyone, a cordless cleaner will be enough. In this list, we think the Roidmi, the Shark and the Halo Capsule have the best suction.
What you gain in lightness and versatility, you’ll lose in dustbin capacity. Most of the cleaners in this list have a relatively small dustbin size, from 0.5 litres upwards. The Halo Capsule has the largest dustbin, with a capacity of 1.6 litres.
Most of these cleaners will have a HEPA filter, which is industry standard now. HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters must trap 99.97% of particulates that are 3 microns or larger. For reference, a human hair is 50-70 microns thick. If you have a HEPA filter with a bagless cleaner, don't forget that you'll still have to empty it, which will release some of the dust back into the air. In this list, the Halo Capsule is the only bagged cleaner.
There are other features that might be important to you. One example is lights on the front of your vacuum cleaner, like those on the Shark Anti Hair Wrap Duo Clean IZ201. They make a big difference to spotting dust and fluff in dark corners and under furniture.