Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
If you want a straightforward cordless vacuum, the IR101 is one of the best options on the market.

As much as we’d like to live in a world where robots clean our homes as well as we do, we realize we’re probably a few decades away from such technology (and the ability to afford it on non-Wall Street salaries). It’s true that robotic vacuums and mops can do more than ever before, and if you’re simply sick of vacuuming and mopping, they’ll do a far better job than not cleaning at all. But if you want to deal with stairs, sofas, countertops, car interiors, and pretty much anywhere besides bare floors and carpets, you’re going to need a vacuum you can push around.

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
The IR101 is almost as powerful as the IF251 and IF201 but hundreds of dollars cheaper.

Fortunately, between Shark and Dyson, there’s a solution for just about every vacuuming philosophy and budget. If you’re looking for as much power as possible in an upright vacuum, the two best on the market are the Shark APEX DuoClean AX951 and the Dyson Ball Animal 2. But if you want more portability than what you’ll find with a full-sized vacuum and more power than what you’ll get from a handheld like the V7 Car+Boat, you’re going to want a stick vacuum. Dyson’s flagship is the V8 Absolute. It’s amazing, but it’s also expensive. Shark’s top ultralight, the Shark IONFlex 2x DuoClean IF251, is every bit as good and substantially cheaper, but still more than many are willing to spend. Besides that, you can get the same features minus the battery by buying the Shark IONFlex IF201 instead.

Today we’re going to review an even cheaper cordless Shark, the Shark ION Rocket Ultra-Light IR101 Vacuum, and see how it compares to the IF201 in power and value. If you’re short on time, our thoughts in ten seconds are to buy the IF201 for more power, better brush heads, and the flexible extension hose, and to buy the IR101 if you simply want a straightforward, yet capable, cordless vacuum. Our full review is below and you can buy the IR101 here.

Where does the Shark ION Rocket IR101 stand compared to other Shark cordless vacuums?

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
The IR101 is a mid-level Shark cordless vacuum and offers 30 minutes of battery life.

The ION Rocket IR101 is part of a veritable feeding frenzy of Shark ultralights and cordless vacuums. While it’s hard to pin down just how many closely-named and featured vacuums Shark has put on the market in recent years, here’s how the Rocket IR101 compares to its fellow high-end ultralights.

The highest-ranking Shark ultralight is the IONFlex 2x DuoClean IF251, followed by the IONFlex DuoClean IF201. IONFlex is Shark-speak for a cordless vacuum with a hose that can bend for easy cleaning beneath furniture and bedding; DuoClean is what they call their double brushroll cleaning heads. The ION Rocket IR101 includes a Lithium-ion battery but does not have a flex hose or dual brush heads, although you can turn the motorized head off and use it in suction mode. There are also corded ultralights that flex and don’t flex like the FLEX HV391, HV382, and HV322. Overall, we’d call it a mid-range ultralight offering by the company that offers a good balance between price and performance.

Pros, cons, and key features of the Shark ION Rocket IR101 Vacuum

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
The IR101 can be charged by wall outlet, but you can also pull the battery and charge it separately.

Key features of the ION Rocket IR101 include its 30 minute runtime from the included Lithium-ion battery and the fact that you can swap the battery to keep cleaning when you run out of juice–or in the long term when the battery’s capacity decreases. By comparing it to the V8 Absolute and V6 Absolute, we estimate the IR101 generates up to 100 airwatts of suction at maximum power. The IR101 can clean bare floors, upholstery, and low-pile carpeting, and features a motorized head that can be turned on and off for more aggressive or gentler cleaning modes.

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Controls on the vacuum are intuitive, but you can always refer to the quick start guide included in the box.

The IR101  includes LED lights for cleaning visibility, weighs 7.2 pounds on our scale, is 45.6 inches tall, and has a cleaning path 10.3 inches wide. The dirt cup has a .07 gallon capacity when full. The IR101 includes three cleaning tools: a duster crevice tool, an anti-allergen dust brush, and a pet multi-tool. In the box, you’ll also find a user manual, quick start guide, and the papers documenting Shark’s 5 year vacuum and 2 year battery warranties. The battery itself recharges in 3 hours, and can be charged by being plugged into the vacuum or by direct connection to an outlet.

What’s the difference between the Shark ION Rocket IR101 and the IONFlex IF201?

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Both the IF201 and IR101 ship with a Lithium-ion battery that delivers 30 minutes of runtime on low power and takes 3 hours to charge.

The main differences between the ION Rocket IR101 and the IONFlex DuoClean IF201 involve suction, brush heads, and extension hose flexibility–all of which are better on the IF201. Specifically, the IF201 appeared to have greater suction, which was noticeable when pulling pet hair and dirt out of sofas and carpeted stairs. However, because the vacuums have different heads and the DuoClean head on the IF251 is also a better designed one than the regular motorized head on the IR101, it’s possible that the suction differences weren’t due to different levels of power between the vacuums but due to a more efficient cleaning head in the IF251. At any rate, we needed fewer passes to clean carpets using the IF251 than with the IR101; we did not notice a difference on bare floors, which makes sense since bare floors have far less resistance and surface area than carpets. That said, we found both vacuums plenty strong for most tasks.

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Both vacuums also feature a handheld mode that’s useful for cleaning out nooks and crannies throughout your home.

The extension hose was the third significant difference. As noted above, the IF201 includes a flexible head while the IR101 does not. The flexible head made a world of difference when cleaning beneath beds, sofas, and tables, as it allowed us to clean without stooping, bending, or kneeling, and our backs and knees were thankful. That said, if you’re willing and flexible enough to bend or strong enough to move furniture about to clean beneath them, this isn’t a notable advantage. But if you’re buying a stick vacuum for convenience, this is a major convenience you get with the IF201 that you don’t with the IR101.

How well will the Shark ION Rocket IR101 keep a home, apartment, or townhouse clean?

Shark ION Rocket IR101 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Overall, the IR101 is a fine vacuum, and can be your primary or even only vacuum if you can live with its limitations.

Despite the greater power and convenience of the IF201, we want to emphasize that the ION Rocket IR101 is a perfectly capable vacuum in its own right and is still one of the best ultralights Shark has yet brought to the market. It’s not a Dyson, but it’s just as powerful as one and includes a rather nifty feature that you won’t find in any–the ability to change batteries to keep cleaning. And clean it will; bare floors (e.g., hardwood, vinyl, ceramic tiles, marble, bamboo, etc) and most residential carpets (e.g., Saxonies, berbers, and cut and loops) will be within your reach, as will dirt, dust, pet hair, and grime everywhere, and that includes in car interiors and kids’ car seats. We’d just recommend considering the IF201 to take advantage of the boosts in suction, cleaning head efficiency, and, most importantly, hose flexibility. Your body might not appreciate the difference now, but as you move from your 20s into 30s into 40s and beyond, it might.

You can buy the Shark IONFlex IF201 vacuum here on Amazon. If you don’t need the additional power and flexibility, you can buy the ION Rocket IR101 here.

Canadians can buy the Shark IONFlex IF201 or IF201C vacuum here on Amazon or skip the extra features and save some money with the ION Rocket IR101 here instead.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can follow our efforts to keep maniacally reviewing home cleaning tools by shopping through our links above. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.

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Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
If you like the look of hardwood but not the price or water vulnerability, you might want to consider engineered wood. here’s what’s most important to know about it.

Whether you’re buying a new home and want the charm of an old one you’re simply remodeling an antique property, there’s a good chance you’re going to want hardwood floors over more modern alternatives like tile, laminate, vinyl, or concrete. As much as we enjoy working with carpets, we’ll be the first to admit that there’s nothing like real wood for warmth, charm, and grace in a home.

That said, it’s hard to install solid hardwood by yourself; you’re typically going to budget for professional hardwood floor installers. And as durable as hardwood floors can be, they’re also vulnerable to a lot of threats synthetic floors aren’t, including to moisture and rot. Unfortunately, there are a lot of wood substitutes, including luxury vinyl and laminate floors, that promise real wood looks but don’t deliver. Today we’re going to look at engineered wood flooring as a viable alternative to solid wood floors to see if they’re worth installing in your home.

How does engineered wood flooring differ from solid woods and laminates?

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
Hardwood is wood from top to bottom; engineered wood is wood too, but it’s not the same wood throughout its interior.

While you might have heard that engineered wood isn’t actually “real” wood, the truth is that is real wood. The sticky part comes when you try to define real wood.

Every engineered wood floor is made from two main parts: what you see and what you don’t. The part you see is a veneer wood that’s sourced from whatever hardwood the floors are imitating. It’s typically between 1/16″ and 1/8″ inches thick. Beneath it is the second part that you ideally never see: high-quality plywood.

Solid hardwood, in contrast, uses the same wood throughout the dimensions of the plank; you’re essentially buying strips of a tree cut to size.

A laminate, in contrast, is a composite of plastic and a wood chip composite. The plastic layer is the part you see; a photo is printed onto it, and the plastic is glued to the wood chip base. Technically, you’re still dealing with wood, but there’s a lot of resin mixed into it. It’s sort of like calling plastic an organic material since it technically begins with oil, which came from animals that died a long time ago.

How does engineered wood stand up to moisture and flooding?

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
No wood floor is a good choice for a bathroom installation, no matter what a retailer promises you.

One of the primary advantages of engineered wood over hardwood is that the plywood base is stronger than solid hardwood due to its construction. Plywood is also much more water-resistant after flooding and immersion; hardwood will almost always bow, or cup, once it has been damaged by water.

That said, engineered wood isn’t ever going to be waterproof or even highly water-resistant; there are far better choices for basement, kitchen, and bathroom installations. You can make engineered wood work in full bathrooms if you combine it with accommodations like solid shower doors and waterproof mats. However, children aren’t going to be nearly as careful as adults, and you’ll be better off looking to tile, vinyl, and concrete if you want floors that will work in flood-prone areas.

What are the disadvantages of engineered wood compared to hardwood?

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
Keep your money in mind when deciding on engineered flooring for the long haul.

The primary cons of using engineered wood over hardwood are tied to long-term maintenance and resale value.

Regarding maintenance, engineered wood is better than laminate flooring because you can sand out scratches, dents, and dings to some degree with engineered wood, while you can’t do that at all with laminate (since there isn’t any wood involved whatsoever at the surface). However, it’s important to know that you can usually get only 1-3 sanding sessions out of an engineered floor before you’re done–permanently.

This is due to the fact that you aren’t sanding the same wood top to bottom, but a veener, as we mentioned earlier. The thinner the finish, the fewer times you can bring your engineered wood back to like-new condition. And on top of that, you’re better off hiring a professional to sand your floors, because if you slip by a fraction of an inch, you’re going to see plywood for the rest of the time you own that floor. A hardwood floor, in contrast, will continue to look like a hardwood floor for as long as you own it.

Keep resale value in mind when deciding on an engineered floor investment

Aside from the limited ability to maintain engineered floors compared to hardwood floors, it’s important to note that you’re going to get less money for such flooring when you sell your home than what you’d have gotten with hardwood flooring. You’ll get more than you would with laminate, but in the end, people looking for solid floors aren’t going to pay quite as much for the engineered experience as they would for the real thing.

Which vacuums do you recommend for homes with engineered woods, solid woods, and carpets?

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
A Parquet head is our tool of choice for wooden floors.

Whether you have engineered wood, hardwood, or a mixture of both, you can easily clean both with the same vacuum. However, we typically recommend vacuums capable of cleaning both bare floors (whether engineered wood, hardwood, or something else) and carpets, as many homeowners will buy at least an area rug or two even if they don’t have a portion of their homes carpeted.

Hybrid Engineered Wood Floors: Pros, Cons, Comparisons
A full-sized vacuum like the Miele Cat & Dog is an essential part of the war on dirt, fur, and disorder.

Beyond that, we also recommend specific cleaning heads: a Parquet head will help you clean bare floors efficiently by sucking up dirt instead of simply pushing it around due to the reduced friction compared to carpeted floors. In contrast, a powered electric brush head will give you the suction and agitation necessary to pull dirt from carpets of any pile and style. Two vacuums that fit both of these requirements are the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog (reviewed here and here) and Miele Compact C2 Electro+ (reviewed here and here).

You  can buy the Miele Complete C3 Cat & Dog here on Amazon or buy the Miele Compact C2 Electro+ here.

Canadians can buy the Miele C3 Cat & Dog here or buy the Compact Electro+ here.

If you find our research on PMC helpful, you can follow our efforts to keep maniacally reviewing home cleaning tools by shopping through our links above. We promise to keep fighting the good fight against every horror children, animals, and grown, yet messy humans can inflict upon a clean home.

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Discussing the latest trends in carpets, bare floors, and cleaning appliances for homes with little feet.