We’ve had the pleasure of using and reviewing a range of Shark vacuums in our line of work, including the NV682, NR96, the NV356E, NV361BK, NV361PR, and NV352, and we’ve yet to find one we wouldn’t recommend in at least some respect. However, Shark has consistently suffered from model bloat over the last several years, and with so many different versions of the same vacuum in each line they release, it can be hard to figure out what, if any, are the differences from one vacuum to the next, not to mention find the best value in each line.
We answered this question recently with their lower-end Navigator line (i.e., Which Shark Navigator is Best?), and today we figured we’d tackle this problem head on with the lower half of their higher-end Rotator line. Let’s take a look at the Shark Rotator Professional Lift Away NV510, the NV501GN, the NV501PR, the NV501, and the NV341 to figure out which is the best deal for the money.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away (NV510) + Steam Mop
The NV510 is the most expensive Rotator vacuum we looked at in this comparison, but it’s also the only one of the five to include a steam mop. Shark describes it as three vacuums in one, which refers to an upright mode (i.e., that of a traditional upright vacuum that you push back and forth), a lift-away mode (wherein the Rotator behaves like a canister vacuum), and an above-floor mode (which is basically the canister mode with a different extension to reach corners and cobwebs in the ceiling and curtains). We found all three modes useful and enjoyed using the vacuum in each, even though we tened to spend the most time in upright mode, as we found it the most efficient.
Cleaning abilities were decent and generally what we’d expect from a vacuum of this price once we took into account the inclusion of the steam mop; without the mop, we’d have expected greater levels of suction and control from the vacuum, such as that from the NV682. However, we were reasonably satisfied with how the NV510 tackled typical carpet stains (tea, coffee, apple juice, peanut butter) as well as pet stains. We felt the steam mop did a decent job on tile and laminate floors, but we had concerns about its long term durability; we’ve used several “free” steam mops with other vacuums and found that they invariably clogged at the nozzle heads within a year of moderate use or less with heavy use, and we didn’t see anything in the included steam mop that made us feel it would last longer.
Technically, the NV510 weighed just under 16 pounds, which made it slightly heavier than the Navigators we recently reviewed (they tended to weigh between 13 and 14 pounds). However, unlike the Navigators, which just came with basic swivel steering, the NV510 (and all the Rotators) came with nifty LED lights that lit our cleaning efforts admirably even when poking beneath beds and sofas or in cupboards and dark corners. We also liked the included tools (e.g., the dusting brush, crevice tool, and pet power brush), although we found some of the bonus tools superfluous (e.g., the wide upholstery tool). We measured slightly more than one quart of dust in the canister before needing to empty it, which was less than some of the Navigators but more than that of the higher end NV682. We were impressed by the 30-foot power cord and the overall maneuverability of the NV510. Overall, we liked it and would highly recommend it at its price point if you planned on using the steam mop.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Shark Rotator Professional Lift-Away Upright Vacuum (NV501GN, NV501PR, NV501)
The three NV501s are essentially the same vacuum cleaner as each other and as the NV510; the only differences of note are that none of the NV501s include a steam mop, and each differs from the other by color. The NV501GN is green, the NV501PR is purple, and the NV501 is red.
We observed cleaning power to be identical in all four vacuums on both carpeted and hard surfaces and we were pleased to find a HEPA filter in all four (with a resolution of 99.9% allergen and dust trapping at the .3 micron level). In other words, if you have dust, debris, and allergens in your carpets, these vacuums are going to help ease the burden, and perhaps a lot.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Shark Rotator Slim-Lite Lift-Away (NV341)
Finally, the NV341 was equal to the other Rotators in our books in terms of cleaning power. We liked it more at first because of how light it was; at just over 13 pounds, it was lighter than the other Rotators and slightly easier to push as a result. However, it was also the least stable when we tried to use it in lift-away mode, and was prone to tipping over when we moved from one part of the room to the other.
We’re not sure if the model we received was just particularly off balance, as it only weighed slightly less than the other Rotators and we wouldn’t have expected such a large discrepancy in stability as a result. When using it in upright mode, we had no balance concerns. As noted above, it did a fine job on carpeted and hardwood surfaces alike, just like the rest of the NV Rotator line.
Which is the Beset Vacuum For the Money Between the NV510, NV501GN, NV501PR, NV501, and NV341?
Our favorite Rotator among the five we researched was the NV510, simply because we felt it worked well with the steam mop. If you don’t want the mop or simply want to save money, we’d recommend one of the NV501s, followed by the NV341, which we felt was equal to the rest in cleaning power, but slightly less balanced due to its lighter weight.
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