MOTOR: Don’t get confused by cleaners that advertise high amps (which indicate the vacuum’s electricity consumption). Instead of a cleaner carpet, you might just wind up with a larger electric bill.
FILTERS: Sealed HEPA filters are the most effective at trapping allergens. They cost about $25 and provide the same filtration as many pricey anti-allergenic machines.
NOZZLE/SUCTION: Intelligence is expensive. A special sensor on the Sebo Automatic X4 vacuum ($679) automatically adjusts the machine to the appropriate cleaning height for each surface (like hardwood or carpeting). For $100, you can get the Hoover WindTunnel with a manual dial that does exactly the same thing.
CANISTER: Cheaper bagged cleaners like the Dirt Devil Breeze Lightweight ($70) are actually more dependable than fancier bagless models. The bag protects the motor from large particles that would otherwise circulate freely inside the machine, damage the motor, and diminish its life span.
POWER CABLE: Dyson engineers unwind and rewind a cleaner’s cable 6,400 times to make sure it won’t kink or break.
BUMPER: The S 8990 UniQ canister vacuum cleaner from Miele takes its design (and price) cues from luxury cars: Features like a velvet bumper, mahogany-colored metallic finish, and underbody lights for cleaning in dark areas will cost you $1,500.