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Splurge vs save: The cheaper stick vacs you'll want to consider

Choosing wisely can save you hundreds of dollars, without compromising on performance.

splurge and save stick vacuums dyson cyclone v11 samsung jet 70 pet lead
Last updated: 02 May 2023

Vacuuming is one task that most of us would prefer to be over and done with as quickly as possible. Stick vacuums are a great option to help you stay on top of the vacuuming – without having to bust out your heavy barrel or upright vacuum each time you want to do a quick clean-up. 

Although a stick vac probably won't completely replace your traditional vacuum, if you're going to go for a stick, you'll still want one that performs well so you don't need to use it as frequently. But how much do you need to spend to get a good clean?

We put two expensive stick vacuums up against two cheaper products to show you how to get good suck for your buck, even if you're not buying the most expensive product on the market. 

While these stick vacs aren't recommended by our experts, we'll show you how they compare on some of our tests to illustrate why spending more doesn't always guarantee superior performance. 

Only CHOICE members can access our detailed stick vacuum testing data. If you're not yet a member, join CHOICE to get instant access to all our expert, independent reviews. 

Should you buy a cheap stick vacuum?

You can pick up a stick vacuum for as little as $79 for a basic Kmart model, but should you?

There are certainly some poor-performing but expensive stick vacs on the market, but the models that scored the lowest in our expert stick vacuum reviews tended to be at the cheaper end of the spectrum: see more at Stick vacuums to avoid buying

Almost all of the stick vacuums recommended by our experts cost $800 or more, so if you're on a budget you may need to resign yourself to a lower level of performance – you can't expect a $200 stick vac to give the same results as one of our recommended $1000+ models. 

One of the biggest factors affecting stick vacuum lifespan is the battery. Once it loses its ability to hold charge, it's time to either buy a new stick vac or buy a new battery. Unfortunately with cheaper models, it's often cheaper to buy a new vacuum altogether, and some won't actually have removable batteries so you wouldn't be able to replace them anyway. 

You certainly can find a reasonably-priced stick vacuum that'll do a pretty good job, but shop carefully and keep your expectations in check. 

We've handpicked the best stick vacuums for under $250 to help you find the best budget stick vac for your buck. 

splurge and save stick vacuums dyson cyclone v11 samsung jet 70 pet filler

Dyson V11 vs Samsung Jet 70 Pet.

Splurge vs save: Big-name brand vs cheaper challenger

Dyson is one of the best-known brands on the vacuum market – and it's also well known for its expensive price tag. So do you need to drop all that cash to get the stick vac of your dreams? Not necessarily, if you shop smart. 

"Dyson's market dominance means the brand is often front of mind when buying a new stick vac, but our tests show that some cheaper models can perform surprisingly well," says Kim Gilmour, CHOICE's vacuum expert.

However, there are other Dyson stick vacs that performed well in our review. Before you go shopping, check our expert stick vacuum cleaner reviews to make sure you're buying a solid performer. 

Dyson's market dominance means the brand is often front of mind when buying a new stick vac, but our tests show that some cheaper models can perform surprisingly well

Kim Gilmour, CHOICE vacuum expert

The Samsung actually had the edge over the Dyson on hard floors, and scored about the same for ease of use. However, the Samsung fell behind on carpet, so it's probably better suited to uncarpeted areas of your house. 

Both scored a perfect 100% on pet hair removal, which shows you don't necessarily need to buy a more expensive vacuum to still get good results on removing Fido's and/or Whiskers' loose fur from your home. 

The biggest difference is the running time: the Dyson will give you 13 minutes on full power, while the Samsung only delivers six, so you'd need to hustle to get the vacuuming done. They both have swappable batteries, however, so you can extend your cleaning time by changing to a fresh battery. After that, it's around 3.5 hours' charging time for both models. 

It just goes to show that it doesn't always pay to choose the more expensive model when you're looking for a new stick vacuum.

splurge and save stick vacuums miele triflex hx2 pro sauber technic filler

Miele Triflex HX2 Pro SOML0 vs Sauber Technic Stick Vacuum.

Splurge vs save: The exxy European vs the affordable European

Despite a huge $800 price gap, our lab tests found this Sauber workhorse compared favourably to the high-rolling Miele model on most cleaning tests. 

The Sauber was streets ahead on hard floors, but couldn't keep up on carpets (though the Miele didn't exactly knock it out of the park either when it came to a quick carpet clean). They were neck and neck when it came to cleaning pet hair and running time: 12 minutes for the Miele and 11 for the Sauber. 

"Miele is traditionally known for its reliable bagged vacuums, which remain popular with CHOICE members," says Kim. "But this stick vacuum doesn't blow away the competition, with some other models providing more bang for your buck."

Miele is traditionally known for its reliable bagged vacuums, but some other models provide more bang for your buck

Kim Gilmour, CHOICE vacuum expert

Our expert testers scored both vacuums well for ease of use, which assesses how easy it is to manoeuvre the vacuum, whether the controls and accessories are easy to use, and how easy it is to empty and clean the dirt receptacle. 

However, the Sauber emits an irritating, high-pitched noise, which might put some buyers off – although with the amount you'd save on buying the cheaper stick vac, you could afford to shout yourself a decent pair of noise-cancelling headphones

Both models can be used in handheld mode to reach high areas. But the Miele weighs about a kilogram more than the Sauber, so you may need to factor that in if you anticipate you'll be using your stick vac to clean high-up spaces such as ceilings and curtains.

We care about accuracy. See something that's not quite right in this article? Let us know or read more about fact-checking at CHOICE.

Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.