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Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
The HV391 is one of Shark’s best ultralights, as long as you’re fine plugging it in.

We’re still waiting for a Jetsons’-like world where robots do our cleaning for us. Until then, we’re not selling our vacuums any time soon. Yes, you can buy a robotic vacuum or mop if you’re really sick of cleaning, and it’ll do a far better job than training your pets to walk around with wet wipes beneath their paws, but you’re not going to get a thorough job done with a robot. They won’t clean stairs, sofas, countertops, car interiors, or pretty much anywhere else that doesn’t involve bare floors or carpets. So what’s a busy grown-up to do?

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Like the IF251 or IF201, it includes DuoClean and Flex functionality.

Well, if you’re Shark or Dyson, the answer is to make a vacuum that makes cleaning more tolerable, efficient, and, if you’re lucky, enjoyable. If you prioritize power and suction over anything else, the strongest uprights on the market right now are the Shark APEX DuoClean AX951 and the Dyson Ball Animal 2. But if you want a middle-ground between the portability of a handheld like the V7 Car+Boat and the power of a full-sized upright, you’ll probably want to buy a stick vacuum.

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
It will also transition seamlessly from stick to handheld mode.

The best two on the market are the Dyson V8 Absolute and the Shark IONFlex 2x DuoClean IF251, while the V8 Animal and IONFlex DuoClean IF201 are right on their heels. But if you want stick convenience but don’t mind using a power cord, or specifically want to be able to clean without worrying about battery life, you’ll want to consider what we’re going to review today: the Shark Flex DuoClean Corded Ultra-Light HV391 Upright. Our ten second summary is to buy the IONFlex IF201 if you value portability and to buy the Flex HV391 if you don’t want to deal with batteries; the vacuums are essentially the same otherwise. Our full review is below, and you can buy the Flex HV391 here.

How does the Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 rank compared to other Shark cordless vacuums?

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Physically and ergonomically, it’s identical to the IONFlex DuoClean models except for the use of a power cord instead of batteries.

The Flex DuoClean HV391 is one of about two dozen ultralights, both corded and cordless, that Shark has flooded the market with in recent years to unseat Dyson from its long-held position of dominance. We won’t try to review them all; we’re not even sure Shark is keeping track. Here’s where the HV391 stands compared to its fellow Shark ultralights.

Shark has some brand-specific jargon to be aware of. ION means the vacuum is powered by a Lithium-ion battery. Flex means the vacuum can bend in the extension hose to make it easier to reach beneath beds and furniture while saving your back and knees. DuoClean means the vacuum includes a dual brushroll system (unlike Dyson’s multiple head system, such as in the V8 Absolute) for greater efficiency.

The Flex DuoClean HV391 is the company’s highest-end corded ultralight. It’s basically the IONFlex 2x DuoClean IF251 or IONFlex DuoClean IF201 with a power cord instead of with batteries. Close relatives include the HV382 and HV322, which are corded but don’t flex, and the ION Rocket IR101, which lacks flex  and DuoClean but is cordless.

Pros, cons, and key features of the Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Vacuum

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
And like the IONFlexes, it can fold into a standing position.

Key features of the Flex HV391 include its flex and dual brush systems outlined above and an estimated 115 airwatts of maximum suction based on our comparing it to the V8 Absolute. It can clean bare floors, low-pile carpeting, and upholstery, and features an adjustable cleaning head. When folded, it stands independently. It is 49 inches tall, weighs 9 pounds on our scale, and has a 10.2 inch wide cleaning path. Its reach is just over 40 feet with a 30 foot power cord and the dirt cup holds .07 gallons at full capacity. It also includes LED lights to help find dirt when vacuuming beneath furniture. It ships with three cleaning tools: a duster crevice tool, multiflex under appliance wand, and pet multi tool. Inside the box, you’ll also find a user manual and quick start guide as well as Shark’s 5 year limited vacuum warranty.

What’s the difference between the Shark Flex HV391 and the IONFlex IF201?

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
The only significant difference between the HV391 and IF251 and IF201 is where they source their electricity.

The only meaningful difference between the Flex HV391 and the IONFlex IF201 is the fact that the Flex runs on AC power and the IONFlex runs on a 30-minute Lithium-ion battery. You can swap the IONFlex’s battery with additional batteries to have a theoretically unlimited runtime, but it ships with one battery by default.

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
While the accessories are slightly different, they aren’t enough to give either vacuum an advantage over the other.

It’s also worth noting that you get slightly different accessories with both vacuums; while both include the duster crevice tool, the HV391 then adds an under appliance wand and pet multi tool while the IF201 adds a dusting brush, wide upholstery tool, and anti-allergen dust brush. Practically speaking, you won’t use any of them nearly as much as the main cleaning head for the vast majority of your cleaning jobs and the handheld mode for spot cleaning here and there. Both vacuums are already highly functional out of the box; it’s just a question of whether you want a cord or batteries.

How thorough is the Shark Flex HV391 when cleaning floors, furniture, and pet hair?

Shark Flex DuoClean HV391 Review, IONFlex IF201 Comparison
Overall, which Flex or IONFlex works best for you will depend on whether you want AC or battery power, and how much.

To summarize our thoughts and conclude our review, the Flex HV391 is every bit as powerful as the IF251 and IF201, which says a lot when the IF251 is the best ultralight vacuum Shark has made so far. We’re not saying the HV391 is a perfect vacuum; the fact that it’s corded will be a deal-breaker for many, especially anyone comparing it to a Dyson ultralight like the V8 Animal.

That said, the HV391 is as powerful as any Dyson cordless and offers the foolproof assurance of never running out of battery life or dealing with diminished runtimes due to battery decay over time. It’ll easily take care of bare floors (e.g., hardwood, vinyl, ceramic tiles, marble, bamboo, etc) or most residential carpets (e.g., Saxonies, berbers, and cut and loops). It’ll also have the flexibility to clean in both stick and handheld mode, which means you’ll be able to handle dirt, grime, pet hair, and dust throughout your home and life, including in your car and kids’ car seats, which seem to become magnets for crumbs over time. Our main recommendation would be to buy the IF201 if you know you don’t want to deal with a power cord and to stick with the HV391 if you don’t want to deal with a battery.

You can buy the Shark IONFlex IF201 vacuum here on Amazon. If you don’t need cord-free portability, you can buy the Flex HV391 here.

Canadians can buy the Shark IONFlex IF201 or IF201C vacuum here on Amazon or skip the battery and embrace corded reliability with the Flex HV391 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.

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.