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Anyone looking for a good vacuum for pet hair and dust allergies has probably come across two brands: Shark and Dyson. These two vacuum behemoths control a large part of the market in the U.S. because they provide long-lasting, high-quality products.
Shark and Dyson have approached the vacuum market in different ways. Shark markets itself as a lower cost yet practical option for cleaning while Dyson is all about engineering high-end technology that looks and works great.
In my search for a vacuum, I looked at both Shark and Dyson vacuums. I evaluated the companies, the designs, and the performance. In particular, the HEPA filtration was important to me because of my allergies to pet dander and dust.
In the sections below we’ll discuss both companies and look at a few of the options they offer. I break the article down into the following sections (feel free to skip ahead):
- Design and Technology
- Product Selection
My Opinion: My bias leans toward Dyson because of their history and ingenuity in the vacuum market. Dyson’s engineers spurred development in the vacuum market which had been stagnant for years.
The main drawback with Dyson is the high price but with anything in life you get what you pay for. You will feel and appreciate the strength of Dyson vacuums and they will likely last longer than other options.
Let’s start our comparison.
Shark vs Dyson: Which Vacuum Is Best?
I’ll be honest, I always thought that the Shark brand was a strange name for a vacuum company and assumed it was based out of China. It’s not!
The Shark Company was created in Montreal, Canada in 1998 and since then it’s relocated to Needham, Massachusetts.
I first saw Shark vacuums on an infomercial. The demonstrations were eye-catching and the vacuums worked well. But as I am with most infomercial products I was skeptical.
Do high-quality brands advertise on late night infomercials? I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Needless to say, Shark products have been a major hit. They’ve captured a significant part of the market and offer some of the best selling vacuums available.
From their early days on television, Shark Ninja now sells in big box stores, websites like Amazon, and to specialty stores worldwide.
Outside of vacuums Shark offers products that include steamers and irons.
Dyson has been building vacuums for decades but they didn’t sell their first vacuum in the U.S. in 2002! The brand, however, is so large that most people think it’s been around forever.
The Dyson company was started by Sir James Dyson, an engineer. Growing up he grew tired of using vacuums with poor suction power and bags that continuously needed to be changed.
Why couldn’t there just be a bagless vacuum to save the hassle?
As a lifelong tinkerer, Sir Dyson created prototypes and intended to license the product to larger companies. He secured a few deals but was also rejected time and time again.
As it turned out, many of the large companies were inspired by his designs and set out to create something similar. After patent lawsuits with companies such as Amway, Sir Dyson decided to do it himself. The Dyson vacuum was born.
These days Dyson is globally recognized as the best vacuum on the market. Dyson uses its premium brand to sell vacuums, air purifiers, hand dryers, lighting, and hair dryers.
Dyson engineers are continually raising the for vacuum suction power, rechargeable batteries, filtration ability, and versatility. Look closely and you’ll notice that most upright vacuums resemble Dyson vacuums and utilize their bagless technology.
Better Company/Brand: Dyson
There’s a saying that goes “in business, reputation is everything”. No clearer can that statement be conveyed than in the vacuum business. A review of the latest vacuums shows there are many similar designs. Are these similarities happenstance or might intellectual theft be occurring?
You probably haven’t noticed but Dyson has slapped patent infringements on numerous companies all over the years. When you’re a leader in technology, companies sometimes feel they have to cheat to catch up.
In 2018 Dyson sued Shark Ninja, claiming false advertising after Shark Ninja advertised that their vacuum outperformed Dyson by nearly 15%. The court awarded Dyson 16 million dollars in damages and had the following statement:
“When the two vacuums are properly tested head-to-head under industry-accepted methods for measuring performance on carpets, Dyson’s proved superior, the company said in court documents (source)”
Also in 2018 Dyson dropped a 4-year design patent lawsuit against Shark Ninja claiming their stick vacuum was derivative. Although they were unable to prove that Shark Ninja copied their design Dyson sent a strong message to back off future design similarities.
For all the positive qualities about Shark Ninja, their vacuums always seem to appear similar to the leading brands. Their selling point is the fact that they undercut the leading brand on price!
If you don’t believe me, take a look at the robotic vacuum market. Shark Ninja has decided to take on IRobot vacuums and they look quite similar. Is it a coincidence? My intuition thinks not.
Better Reputation: Dyson (Strongly)
#2 Design and Technology
The appearance of vacuums has come a long way in recent decades. Vacuums were once bulky and hard to fit in a closet.
These days vacuums are designed to look like sports cars. Companies use bright colors and clear canisters to show off the amount of collected debris.
Upright vacuums are still the most popular on the market, but smaller stick vacuums and cordless vacs are gaining popularity.
Lightweight and flexible vacuums are all the rage. These options have flexible joints and thin profiles that make it easier to vacuum around tables and under couches.
Bagless vacuums, invented by Dyson, are also popular. Most brands, including Shark, have bagless options that make vacuuming an easier task.
Although Dyson and Shark both offer high functioning and nice looking vacuums, one company tends to innovate while the other tends to follow.
Better Design and Technology: Dyson
People with allergies will pay close attention to the filter on a vacuum. Traditional vacuums don’t use HEPA allergy filters and can actually make allergy symptoms worse.
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particular Arrestance. These filters are extremely fine and used in air purifiers as well.
Common filters catch large particulates from the air but rarely capture the finest of allergens like cat dander, dust mites, and pollen. HEPA filters have the ability to filter 99.97% of airborne particulates.
If you have allergies and are looking for a vacuum, the HEPA feature is something to look for.
Both Dyson and Shark use HEPA filters on their higher quality vacuums. HEPA filters can be used with bagless vacs as well. Just look for the “HEPA” acronym
Better Filtration: Both have HEPA
#4 Product Selection
- Handheld (large dustbuster)
- Handheld (large dustbuster)
Better Selection: Both Shark and Dyson have a wide selection
Shark is the clear winner on price. The Shark selling point has always been a solid product at an affordable price.
Shark caters to middle-income families. They know their market well and create products that perform similar to the big brands but at a discounted price.
Shark’s pricing power has allowed it to gain a significant market share in a short amount of time. The robotic vacuum market briefly panicked in 2017 when Shark announced they were entering the robot vacuum space.
The panic was because Shark would undercut the larger, more premium brands just as they had with Dyson.
On average (depending on the model) Shark vacuums are $100-200 cheaper than Dyson’s vacuums. This price difference resonates with consumers, however many families still prefer the premium quality an design of Dyson vacuums.
Sharks upright vacuums range from $100-200 while Dyson upright vacuums range from $200-400.
Thankfully, both companies have plenty of options to choose from and there’s bound to be a vacuum at your budget.
Better Price: Shark
After filters and price, the warranty plays a large role in whether a buy a product. Electric products eventually wear out and a warranty can provide peace of mind.
I love that both companies provided long warranties to their customers.
- 1 year Robotic
- 5-7 year Upright
- 2-5 year Cordless
- 5 year Stick
- 5 year Canister
- 5 year Upright
- 2 year Handheld and Stick
While Shark has a little longer warranty, Dyson offers a superb warranty too. Both of these companies stand by their product.
If you have any reservations about buying either brand, then these warranties will provide more confidence.
Better Warranty: Shark
Shark vs Dyson; So what’s it going to be? Both are solid companies that approach the vacuum market at different angles.
Shark opts for mass appeal at a competitive price, however many of the products and technology appear derivative of their competitor.
Dyson has invested large amounts of time and engineering into their vacuums and has single-handedly evolved the industry. Their products come at a price but rarely will you find an unhappy customer.
Both vacuums will perform and both have the warranties to back their product.
As someone with allergies, I make a point to seek out a HEPA filter on my vacuums. Dyson and Shark both use high-quality filters but double check on the model you choose before making a purchase – the last thing you want is your vacuum blowing around pet dander, pollen, and dust mites.
Thanks for reading another Dust Mite Solutions article. Hopefully, this article helped you decide between Shark vs Dyson.