Dyson V11 vs. V15: Is the V15 worth the upgrade?
After a month of testing, I determined the Dyson V15 Detect is the best stick vacuum because it includes a special cleaner head for hard surfaces, along with the all-purpose head.
However, the Dyson V11 Torque Drive and V11 Animal are great options for those with mostly carpeting who want to save a few bucks.
Want to learn how I reached this conclusion? Read on to see the detailed breakdown of carpet performance, hard floor performance, and overall design functionality.
The V11 comes with a High Torque cleaner head that has an adjustable front gate. I tend to leave the gate closed because it goes deeper on carpets, but it’s hard to push at times due to the suction force. If you have spills or bigger objects that need to be picked up, just open the gate to allow them in.
The V11’s max mode has 185 Airwatts of suction, which makes it one of the most powerful cordless vacuums on the market. The only problem with the max mode is that the runtime is only about 8 minutes.
Because of the short runtime with the max mode, it’s best for high traffic or spill areas to go extra deep. For routine vacuuming, the medium mode is the perfect amount of suction and offers a 43-minute runtime.
The V11 has a low suction mode with a 66-minute runtime, but it’s not enough power for cleaning carpets.
The V15 comes with an almost identical High Torque cleaner head compared to the V11.
The V15’s max mode offers an extra minute of runtime and has 230 Airwatts of suction compared to the 185 Airwatts on V11, which is about 20% more power. The extra suction power is nice, but it’s hard to notice a substantial difference during real-life usage.
The V15’s low and medium suction power have similar runtimes while on carpets compared to the V11. You’ll get 45 minutes on medium or 65 minutes on low suction. Just like the V11, the low suction mode isn’t enough power for a reliable cleaning on carpets.
The V15 might be a better bet for those with allergies due to the combination of the on-screen particle reader and the more powerful suction max suction mode.
If you want the deepest clean possible with a cordless vacuum, the V15 is great, but the V11 is still rock solid too. Assuming you can find the V11 for at least $100 less than the V15, the V11 is great for those with lots of carpeting.
The V11 comes with just one roller: the High Torque cleaner head. The good news? You never have to think about switching rollers. Just vacuum and let the cleaner head do its job. As you move from hard floors to a carpet (or the other way around), the head automatically adjusts.
The V11 has the same runtime on hard floors as carpets: 66 minutes on low suction power or 43 minutes on medium mode. Usually, the low mode is fine on hard floors, but I use medium suction power most of the time. You’ll never need the max suction mode on hard surfaces because it’s overkill.
Overall, I have no complaints about the V11 while vacuuming on hard floors.
The V15 has the same auto adjustment when switching floor surfaces, but it makes adjustments based on the particles that it detects too. If the objects appear heavier, it’ll add in some extra suction power. However, it can be a bit annoying to the ears when the vacuum frequency switches mode.
The V15’s all-purpose High Torque cleaner head works great on carpets and hard floors, but it’s not perfect for hard floors. The V15 takes things to the next level on hard surfaces by including a second roller, called the Laser Slim Fluffy Roller.
Previous models, like the Dyson V10 Absolute, came with two cleaner heads too. But Dyson didn’t include the Fluffy Roller with any V11 variants sold in the US. I’m glad the Fluffy Roller made a comeback this year because it’s essential for those with lots of hard floors.
The Laser Slim Fluffy Roller is amazing for dust for a few reasons:
The main reason vacuums struggle with fine dust is because of static electricity, so the Fluffy Roller has carbon fiber filaments inside to help counteract the static electricity.
The second feature is a green laser, which has never been featured on a Dyson Soft roller. Before buying the V15, I thought the laser would be a gimmick because vacuums have had lights on them for years.
But I was wrong.
The green light perfectly lights up the dust, which helps to guide where you need to vacuum. With the green laser on, it’s almost impossible to miss areas with debris. It’s great for getting under furniture, like the bed.
The only downside? It exposes my terrible vacuuming skills and puts my messy house on display. Things look clean to my eyes, but once the laser turns on, my house looks messy.
The laser isn’t ideal in a bright room. But I turn off the lights to provide the perfect amount of visibility during the day.
The third feature is better handling. The Fluffy Roller is lighter than the High Torque head making it easier to maneuver.
If I use the High Torque, then Fluffy head right afterward, you can still hear it pick up debris. You’ll eventually get all the debris on the floor with the High Torque head by cranking up the suction power or by going over the area multiple times, but the Fluffy head picks up more per swipe and is more efficient.
The Fluffy head does a better job with objects like rice and cereal compared to the High Torque. When testing both Dyson models on hardwood, it was clear that the roller used is way more important than which model was used. The Fluffy head on the V11 is a better bet than the High Torque on the V15 while on hard surfaces.
Interestingly, the V15’s Fluffy head doesn’t do as well as previous iterations. The V10 Absolute does a better job with big objects like popcorn kernels, while the V15’s Fluffy tended to kick it. But the V15’s head is still amazing with dust and small objects.
The downside to having multiple rollers is that the Fluffy head doesn’t work on carpets, so you’ll need to swap out rollers as you move throughout the house.
How about runtime?
The V15’s battery runtime on hard floors is similar to the V11. You’ll get 65 minutes on low and 45 minutes with medium suction with the Fluffy Roller. You could theoretically get 15 minutes with the max mode, but you’d never need that much power.
The Dyson V11 and V15 have almost identical designs. They weigh the same and have the same size dustbin with the same removal mechanism. You rarely have to get your hands dirty when emptying the bin, but you may occasionally grab some hair that gets stuck.
They come with the same cleaning tools. The only difference is that the mini motorized brush is slightly angled on the V15 version, which helps hair get tangled less often.
Neither is ideal for cleaning areas above your head because it’s tiring on the wrist, but they’re great as a handheld for furniture and cars with the mini motorized brush.
Both batteries are 3600 mAh and take 4.5 hours to recharge, and they come with a docking station for charging.
The V11 battery can’t be removed, while the V15 has a removable battery. People have been asking Dyson for removable batteries for years. Overall, it’s probably not useful to have a spare battery because you won’t be cleaning for longer than 40 minutes at a time. But because Lithium-Ion batteries only have a certain amount of cycles before they lose capacity, the V15 will always have the easy option to change out the old battery for a fresh one.
All of the Dyson V11 variations have a screen, but Animal only shows you which mode you’re in, while the Torque Drive displays a runtime timer.
The V11 Torque Drive and V15 have similar screens with a dynamic runtime timer that adjusts as you switch attachments and suction power. You’ll get error messages when the filters are misaligned or there’s a clog too. But the V15 takes things a step further and shows the number of dust particles being sucked up.
I hardly looked at the screen on either model because I have a small house and don’t worry about runtime. And I didn’t find the dust particles shown on the V15 useful.
Finally, I tested the decibels for both models at each different suction mode and there wasn’t a huge difference. The V11 is slightly louder in its max mode, but the V15 is slightly louder in the low and medium suction modes.
My decibel readings:
V15 Low: 79db
V11 Low: 78db
V15 Med: 84db
V11 Med: 81db
V15 High: 93db
V11 High: 96db
Which is best for you?
Dyson V15 Detect
- Carpet (A+)
- Hard Floors (A+)
- Design (A+)
Get the Dyson V15 Detect if you want the deepest clean on carpet or want the best special Fluffy Roller for hard floors. As long as you don’t mind switching rollers, as you move to different surfaces, it’s the best overall vacuum.
Dyson V11 Torque Drive
- Carpet (A)
- Hard Floors (B+)
- Design (A-)
Get the Dyson V11 if you have mostly carpets in your house and want to save a little bit of money. The V11 only comes with the High Torque head, which works well on all surfaces, but it’s not as efficient as the Fluffy roller on hard surfaces.
If you already own a V11 or V10 and want the Laser Fluffy roller from the V15, it can be bought separately for $119 and work with older Dyson models because it has the same power requirements.
Another great option for hard floor owners is the Dyson V10 Absolute, which comes with a Fluffy Soft roller. I did a video about the V10 last year and still stand by everything said in that video. It’s a great option and might be a great way to save a couple of hundred dollars.
January 2023 Update: If you're considering a Dyson stick vacuum, and you have mostly hard floors, read my latest post comparing the V12 to the V15 before making any decisions. The V12 is now my favorite Dyson of all time.
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