Canister vs Upright Vacuum – What’s the Difference?

Canister or Upright?

While canister vacuums are known for their maneuverability, upright cleaners are easy to store. Where the former provides more suction power, the latter has more capacity to store dust. And while canister vacuums come with more attachments, their upright counterparts are more competitively priced.

In other words, both of them have features to sway your heart.

To help you decide which one might fit the bill for you, we have compared both these vacuum cleaners. Go through this article, and by the time you’re finished reading this, you should be in a position to make an informed decision.

Canister Vs Upright Vacuum Cleaners – Features

To help make the final decision easy for you, let’s check out the stand-out features of both these vacuum cleaners.

Why You Should Choose a Canister Vacuum?

Why You Should Choose a Canister Vacuum
Why You Should Choose a Canister Vacuum

They are more lightweight

Without going into technicalities, here’s what you need to know: the even weight distribution which their peculiar design allows them makes canister vacuums lightweight.

Therefore, if you’re looking for a vacuum which is a cinch to move around, canister vacuum cleaners might be worth a shot. As even some of the best canister vacuums weigh less than 10 pounds.

They are easy to maneuver

As long as you don’t compare them with robotic vacuums, canister vacuums are a cinch to maneuver. Why? Because their manufacturer supplies long wands in the package.

With wands on their front, you don’t have to move the entire canister. Just move the wand, and the unit (supported by wheels) will effortlessly follow suit.

They operate quietly

Ask any expert, and they might tell that canister vacuums have a compartmentalized design.

Their manufacturers use the extra space provided by the compartments to provide these models with built-in noise insulation. Hence the reason why these models are mostly super-quiet.

In addition to this, some canister vacuums come with special technologies which keep their noise at a bare minimum. That means that you can use them without waking up the whole neighborhood.

They have more suction power

Juxtapose both the canister and upright vacuums, and you’d notice that the former are bulkier. On paper, this feature might make them look ugly. On the floor, it provides them with more power.

How? The extra space allowed by this design allows the manufacturers of canister vacuums to provide them with a more powerful motor. That, in turn, allows these vacuums to boost more suction power.

Why You Should Choose an Upright Vacuum?

Why You Should Choose an Upright Vacuum
Why You Should Choose an Upright Vacuum

They generally cost less

In contrast to what you might believe, it is neither the lack of features nor the outdatedness of technology which makes upright vacuums relatively cheap in comparison with canister vacuums.

Instead, uprights cost less because they don’t generally provide many attachments. So if you think you could do without specific attachments, upright vacuums might be worthy of your money.

They are relatively easy to store

Canisters, to their discredit, are a pain to store. That’s because you’d have to completely dismantle all the parts of a canister vacuum before storing it away. Luckily, the opposite is true with upright cleaners.

With no attachments to dismount and no parts to disconnect, you can store upright vacuum cleaners the moment you’re done with the cleaning. No need to spend an extra second than what is necessary.

They have a wider cleaning path

Cleaning path, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is the area a vacuum’s head will clean in one sweep. So the wider it is, the more cleaning work you’ll be able to do in less time.

And in case you’re wondering, it is their heavy weight which provides the uprights with a wider cleaning path. This feature of theirs comes incredibly handy if/when you’re dealing with paved floors.

Their dirt-cups have bigger capacity

Granted, their heavy weight does end up making upright vacuum cleaners incredibly difficult to carry. On the plus side, it also allows them to house an extra-large dirt cup.

In other words, while canister vacuums require frequent emptying of their dirtbags, the opposite is true with uprights. So you’d have to take fewer breaks midway through the cleaning to empty their dirtbags.

Canister Vs Upright Vacuum Cleaners – Cleaning Surfaces

Which of these two carpets perform better when it comes to hardwood floors? Should you choose a canister or an upright when cleaning carpets? What about stairs, won’t they need a specific model too? To answer these questions, this section comes into play.

Canister Vacuums perform better on stairs

Canister Vacuums perform better on stairs
Canister Vacuums perform better on stairs

Since stairs have a unique geometry, they make life hell for upright vacuums because of their heavy weight. Canisters, on the contrary, could clean stairs in a heartbeat.

Why? In addition to being lightweight, canisters are easy to maneuver and generally come with more attachments – like crevice tools – which are specifically designed to clean stairs.

Upright Cleaners clean carpets more effectively

Upright Cleaners clean carpets more effectively
Upright Cleaners clean carpets more effectively

To be honest, none of these two vacuums have any built-in feature which makes them better at cleaning carpets.

Rather, it is an attachment – a beater bar which agitates on a carpet to force out deep-embedded dirt for the vacuum to easily suck it up – which makes any vacuum a must-have for carpets.

That said, while only a small minority of canisters comes have this attachment, most uprights have a beater bar in their package. That is what makes them our preferred choice for cleaning carpets.

Canister Vacuums do better on hardwood floors

Canister Vacuums do better on hardwood floors
Canister Vacuums do better on hardwood floors

For a vacuum to be the best at cleaning hardwood floors, it needs to have three features. First, it shouldn’t disperse dust before sucking it up.

Second, its wheels should be padded to ensure no scratches on the surface below. And finally, the model should come with attachments which are specifically designed to clean bare floors.

On all these three counts, canister vacuums outperform the uprights. In addition, to having a narrow cleaning path, they have rubber padded wheels and come with a bare floor brush. Hence the reason why we recommend using them for cleaning hardwood floors.

Canister Vs Upright Vacuum Cleaners – Final Verdict

Having gone through the comparison of canister vs upright vacuum cleaners, you’re now aware of the areas where both these models excel.

If you want a model which cleans carpets and rugs more effectively, won’t cost a fortune and lets you clean a bigger area in less time, go for an upright vacuum cleaner.

Conversely, if your daily routine involves cleaning hardwood floors and stairs – and you want a model which operates quietly and offers a large number of attachments in its package, then canister vacuum cleaners deserve your money.