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Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Which is the best sub-£500 vacuum?

Combined image showing product shots of the Dyson V11 and Shark Stratos IZ400UKT side by side

Which British vacuum cleaner is best? We compare two design classics

If you’re looking for a new vacuum cleaner, with a budget of between £400 and £500, then there are plenty of options available. However, you might find yourself drawn to a model from one of the two biggest brands in cordless stick vacuums: Dyson or Shark.

Dyson’s prices are notoriously high and, at the time of writing, you can pay as much as £850 for the latest Dyson Gen5detect. However, if you’re prepared to compromise on a few of the most advanced features, the latest versions of Dyson’s older models still offer remarkable cleaning power at a significantly more affordable price.

Here, we look at the Dyson V11. The latest iteration – the Dyson V11 Total Clean model – comes with a full selection of Dyson accessories, including both the anti-tangle Motorbar and Fluffy floor heads, and costs £500. Dyson hasn’t changed the exterior design that much since launch, so this model of the V11 is a great opportunity to pick up a more affordable Dyson.

Dyson isn’t the last word in vacuuming, though; Shark has a range of models that undercut Dyson’s prices and undermine its dominance. The Stratos collection sits at the top of Shark’s range of vacuum cleaners, and the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT (the Stratos Anti Hair Wrap Plus Pet Pro Cordless Vacuum, to give it its full name) currently costs £430 when purchased direct from Shark. This model only comes with one floor head, but as you’ll soon learn, this isn’t really an issue.

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Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Floor heads

If we had to pick out one key difference between the cordless stick vacuum cleaners of Dyson and Shark, it would be the floor heads.

All Dysons come with the Motorbar floor head, which has been recently updated with anti-tangle functionality, to stop hair becoming caught up in the roller. This is a carpet expert, with a brush roller that spins rapidly, flicking the dirt out of carpet and catapulting it into the path of the Dyson’s powerful suction.

Close up image of the floor head for the Dyson V11

Some Dysons, including most versions of the V11, also come with its Fluffy floor head. The roller on this option is entirely covered in fine, felt-like hair, interspersed with rows of very fine brush – and it’s brilliant on hard floors.

Both floor heads are superb at what they do. However, when moving between areas of carpet and hard floor, you have to upend the Dyson vacuum cleaner and remove the floor head to replace it with the other one. This isn’t difficult, but it’s a faff.

This is where Shark’s Duo Clean floor head comes into its own. This has both types of roller in a single floor head, so you don’t have to swap them around when you move from carpet to hard floor and back again.

Close up image of the floor head for the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT

The soft roller for hard floors sits at the front of the floor head, so you benefit from the same larger particle collection that you do with Dyson’s Fluffy roller. With a regular roller behind it, however, it also performs well on carpet.

Winner: Shark Stratos IZ400UKT

There’s no denying that Dyson’s system is about as good as floor cleaning gets. In our tests, the V11 picked up a full 100% of the test substances we placed in front of it. However, having to switch between floor heads to get a perfect clean is slightly annoying.

Shark’s Duo Clean system puts both rollers in a single floor head so you don’t have to switch. It’s just as good on hard floors and almost as good on carpet, with this model still clearing 99% of our tests. Bringing this level of cleaning ability to a single floor head is a clear win for Shark.

Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Cleaning power

Okay, we’ve already spoiled it above, but both of these vacuums are superlative cleaners. In our tests, the Dyson V11 proved capable of picking up everything we threw at it. We tested it with flour and Cheerios, on both hard floor and carpet, and it managed to collect everything.

A persons hand uses the Dyson V11 to clean in a living room area

The Shark Stratos IZ400UKT matched the Dyson’s prowess on hard floors, with another literal clean sweep of all the mess we created for it to clean up. On carpet, however, it left behind a very small amount of flour – not enough to worry about, though, as another pass or two of the vacuum cleared the lot.

Winner: Dyson V11

This absolutely went to the wire, but that extra 1% of cleaning power just nudges this category into Dyson’s favour. However, with so little in it, you aren’t going to be disappointed with the cleaning power of Shark’s IZ400UKT.

Check price at John Lewis 

Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Ease of use

Neither of these vacuum cleaners are difficult to use. In the case of the Dyson V11, you simply lift it from its wall-mounted charging station and pull the trigger. You have to keep the trigger depressed to maintain the power, but it means it just stops when you let it go. A button on the end, under the screen, lets you choose between its three power modes.

Close up image of the floor head for the Dyson V11 being used on a carpet

The only problematic element is the need to switch floor heads if you want to move from carpet to hard floor. In my experience, you often won’t bother, choosing instead to tackle sections of hard floor with the Motorbar floor head simply because you can’t be bothered to swap it.

A person demonstrates the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT on a carpeted floor

The Shark is similarly simple. Its control buttons are all accessible from the thumb of the hand that’s holding the vacuum. There’s an on and off switch, so you don’t have to keep your finger on it to maintain power, but you do have to switch it off if you want to put it down.

Shark provides the Stratos with a wall mount that can be hooked up to the charging cable. However, a bit of clever design means there’s also a second storage option. A button on the wand enables the vacuum to bend over itself and balance standing upright on the floor head, which makes it easier to store in an under-stairs cupboard or similar, if you don’t want to wall-mount your vacuum and have it on permanent display.

Winner: Draw

There isn’t much in this. The Duo Clean floor head ensures the Shark is always ready for any surface, but the Dyson V11 is barely more of a fuss. Emptying and maintenance is a similar affair on both vacuums, and it would be pushing things way too far for us to describe either one as more difficult to use than the other. They’re both a cinch to use. This one is a draw.

Check price at John Lewis 

Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Price

Sporting a higher starting price, the Dyson is already on the back foot here. However, it gets worse: the IZ400UKT is one of Shark’s most expensive vacuums, while the V11 is in the middle of Dyson’s range.

Product image of the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT leaning against a wall

As you move further up Dyson’s range you find that it’s the features and specifications that increase, rather than cleaning ability. The suction on the Gen5detect, for example, goes up to 280AW, while the V11 offers only 185AW. The pricier model also offers HEPA filtration and a slew of gadgets and gizmos that do things such as counting the particles that pass through the vacuum’s system. However, the end result is still an excellent vacuum cleaner that picks up most of the stuff you might drop in front of it.

The Shark Stratos IZ400UKT sits proudly at the top of Shark’s cordless stick range. It doesn’t come with quite as many extra features as Dyson’s top-end models, but it tops the V11 for frills, even if it’s mostly just the scent-spreading anti-odour cartridges that can be placed in the floor head.

Winner: Shark IZ400UKT

There isn’t really any contest here: the Shark may not have all the design kudos of the Dyson, but its performance is neck-and-neck. With a significantly more affordable price, the Shark IZ400UKT is a clear winner when it comes to value for money.

Dyson V11 vs Shark Stratos IZ400UKT: Verdict

This proved to be a much tighter contest than you might have expected from a duel between the latest Shark and an older Dyson. However, with the two vacuums sitting much closer together in price than you might expect when a Dyson’s involved, it seems fitting that the results were tight. Dyson’s ability to clean up our test mess has been consistently good for several generations of vacuum cleaner, so there’s really no harm in picking a more affordable model from its back catalogue to hit a lower price point.

However, when it comes to the crunch – for the money, we would opt for the Shark. While cleaning power is similar, the fact that you don’t have to switch out floors heads when moving from carpet to hard floor and back again, means the Shark edges it. Plus, despite the V11 being at the more affordable end of Dyson’s cordless stick range, the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT can still save you a few pounds on the price of the Dyson.

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