When you’re shopping online for a vacuum, immediately a question pops up in mind: what kind? Although there are many different types, most people opt between the two: canister vs upright.

Canister vacuums are very familiar, especially to older users. While upright vacuums are relatively newer and more efficient!

When comparing canister vs upright vacuums, you’d know the difference! The main difference is in comfort and mobility. Canister vacuums are easier to move but harder to store. While upright vacuums are portable but heavy! One is good for the back, while the other is good for your mind. One is noisy while the other is as quiet as a mouse.

Regardless of the differences, both vacuums have their benefits and drawbacks. And we’re here to discuss these setbacks and find out the differences.

Read on to understand the benefits of each vacuum. Once you read through, you’ll finally be able to decide which one is suitable between canister vs upright vacuum.

So, without further ado, let’s begin.

Difference between canister and upright vacuum

First, you need to know what a canister vacuum is and what is upright vacuum. The main difference is in appearance and function. In a canister vacuum, the bag/dustbin places behind the user. And the wand and head are pushed in front of the user. The bag and the stick are connected by a hose. Canister vacuums are the oldest types of vacuums and they are familiar with some of the older users.

Upright vacuums, on the other hand, have a wand, head, motor, and dust bag all in the same unit. The entire vacuum needs to push forward by the user. These vacuums are relatively new but not unfamiliar. They are lightweight, so pushing the vacuum isn’t an issue.

Advantages of canister vacuums

  • They reduce back pain and displacement. You won’t need to bend forward to use them or carry a lot of weight. And the canister has wheels, so you only need to drag it.
  • They are more powerful since they don’t have a limit on the size of the engine. The engine can fit with all kinds of mechanisms and motors without reducing usability.
  • Canister vacuums have a lot of noise insulation. They are generally quieter and do not disturb pets and children.
  • These vacuums are more portable and have more maneuverability. Since they have a hose, you can use them to clean the stairs and other crevices.
  • Canister vacuums have more options for accessories. You can equip a crevice tool, mechanized brush, or even a pet multi-tool.

Disadvantages of canister vacuums

  • Not everyone is comfortable with dragging the canister behind them. Depending on the model, the wheels can leave sharp imprints on the floor.
  • Controls are usually on the canister. So, you’ll need to bend down and press the buttons.
  • Storage capabilities are limited. You’ll have to store both the wand and the canister separately.

Advantages of upright vacuums

  • They tend to be way cheaper than their canister counterparts. And they are more readily available in the market. You can easily find an upright for a very moderate price.
  • They use a motorized brush roll. This makes them twice as efficient in picking up dirt. A motorized brush roll is best when cleaning on high-pile carpets and floor mats.
  • Storage is very easy. You only need to store the main unit. Accessories such as wands and hose extensions can be easily put away with the vacuum.
  • Upright vacuums can smoothly transition from bare floor to carpet. They usually have buttons on the wand that let it change suction power on carpets. The multiple power options make it more optimized for your experience.
  • It requires no assembly. Upright vacuums come already assembled and they don’t require any prep. Equipping the accessories is also no big deal.

Disadvantages of upright vacuums

  • Upright vacuums can be very heavy, as much as 20 pounds. With these, you can end up with back pain and constant aching in your joints.
  • They aren't very effecting when cleaning corners or stairwells. They don’t have a hose and even those that do have limited mobility.
  • Produce a lot of noise. No space for noise insulation or additional gadgets. Not good for use around pets, children, and the elderly.


Performance on carpets and hard floors

Let’s find out are canister vacuums better for hardwood floors or carpets? Vacuums with canisters aren’t optimized for use on carpets. Although they have a higher suction power, they don’t have a motorized brush roll. And their cleaning area isn’t that wide either. So they aren’t the best if you have a carpet but works well on a hardwood floor. If you need a vacuum cleaner for tiled floors, you should also consider canister models.

In this regard, upright vacuums take the lead. These vacuums use a motorized brush roll to pick up dirt and debris. The main problem when cleaning on carpets is releasing the dirt from deep within the fibers. This can only be done with a motorized brush roll that thoroughly cleans out the carpet.


Canister vacuum cleaners are recommended for people who experience a lot of back pain and injury. These vacuums reduce the weight on your wrist and back. Since they are very quiet, they are recommended for people with pets and children.


Upright vacuum cleaners are more suited for people who aren’t concerned about back pain. Additionally, these vacuums have buttons on the wand, so you won’t need to bend down. They aren’t recommended for use around pets or children, as they are very loud.


The cost of canister vacuums can range anywhere from $150 to $1,500. This depends on how many features the vacuum has. The price will increase if the vacuum has a HEPA filter, buttons on the wand, and accessories. Canister vacuums are the cheapest types of vacuum cleaners.

Upright vacuums can cost anywhere between $100 and $2,000. The price changes with an increase in features. A HEPA filter, pet multi-tool, hose, and cordless feature will definitely cost more.


Upon a review between canister vs upright vacuum, we found that there is more reliability in the canister as compared to an upright vacuum. This is because canister vacuums have a more powerful engine. Since the canister size doesn’t have any limitations, a powerful motor can easily be fit.

Moreover, canister vacuums are mostly corded. So they give infinite power and cleaning without needing a recharge. They may be old fashioned, but they are always more reliable. Upright vacuums, on the other hand, have shorter battery life. And many require frequent part replacements and filter cleaning.


In canister vs upright vacuums, upright vacuums win the race when it comes to convenience. They are easier to carry and store, and they even have buttons on the wand. Sure, you have to push the entire vacuum. But many upright vacuums aren’t that heavy, to begin with.

These vacuums can be stored in cupboards and cabinets. Some have a collapsible design. Whereas canister vacuums are harder to store! And they require pushing the canister to some extent too. They also have buttons on the canister, so more back pain and discomfort.


Whether you decide on a canister or upright vacuum, filtration is always a concern. Upright vacuums normally use HEPA filters, which remove up to 99.97% of all waste. They clean the air down to a cellular level, removing viruses and bacteria.

Some canister vacuums come with HEPA filtration too. But most use a foam filter. And a lot of them just use the fabric of the bag. Bagged canister vacuums are the worst at cleaning exhaust air. With this regard, upright vacuums are a better option.

Suction power

Canister vacuums are able to provide a higher suction power than upright vacuums. This depends on how canister vacuums work. Upright vacuums need to be as lightweight as possible. So they have certain limitations on motor size. Hence the suction is higher in canister vs upright vacuums. However, the same limits do not apply to canister vacuums. The motor can be as heavy as the manufacturers please.

Most canister vacuums give a suction power between 1,000 and 1,500 watts. While upright ones give a maximum of 1,000 watts. However, 1,000 watts is a high enough suction to pick up dirt. The rest of the work does by the motorized brush roll.

Canister vs upright for pet hair

We recommend buying an upright vacuum if you’re more concerned about pet hair cleaning. Although suction is higher in the canister as compared to the upright vacuums. But they aren’t optimized for pet hair.

Whereas, upright vacuums require more weight pushing. But are optimized for cleaning carpets and picking up pet hair. They have motorized brush rolls that pick up every strand of hair and wipe your carpet clean.

Which is better canister or upright vacuum?

To summarize, both the canister and the upright vacuum will give you benefits. We recommend buying a canister vacuum if you’re more concerned about back pain. You won’t have to handle a lot of weight, and many have controls on the wand. Suction is also higher in canister vs upright vacuums. But they aren’t optimized for use on carpets and pet hair.

On the other hand, upright vacuums require more weight pushing. But they have their controls on the wand, so you won’t have to bend down. They are optimized for cleaning carpets and picking up pet hair. They have motorized brush rolls that pick up every strand of hair and wipe your carpet clean.

We can’t decide which vacuum you should buy. It all depends on your priorities and requirements. We urge you to make the decision as fast as you can and decide on a canister or upright vacuum.

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