Black & Decker yesterday announced two new stick vacs with brawny batteries built to last. Available online starting in December, the $300 Black & Decker 36V Max Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology and the $240 24V Max Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology both include a removable handheld and claim 40 air watts of max power along with a 12 air cyclone system designed to help pick up dirt across a variety of surfaces while avoiding clogs. UK availability is set for the first half of 2015, though exact pricing has yet to be determined.
Of course, battery quality is critical to a stick vac's performance, and in Black & Decker's case, both the 24V and 36V model promise no loss of suction over the course of the battery's run time. In addition, Black & Decker packed its new models with plenty of other promising capabilities designed to close the gap between the convenience of a cordless stick vac and the power of a full sized upright.
You'll be able to purchase both vacuums, and all of the fancy specs they promise, from Amazon and other online retailers. Aside from the different battery sizes, the two are more or less identical, with a few key exceptions. For instance, the $300 36V version can stand upright on its own -- the $240 24V version can't. Additionally, you'll be able to turn the beater roll off in the head of the more expensive vacuum.
Though you should take vacuum specs with a grain of salt, on paper these vacuums stack up well against the competition. The 40 air watts of suction compare particularly strongly with the $550 Dyson DC59 Motorhead , which uses 28 air watts on regular power, and generates 100 on turbo. In that mode, though, you can only go for about six minutes per charge on the 21.6V battery.
Also, though the Motorhead has the exact same battery as Dyson's previous stick model, the DC59 Animal, it doesn't last as long because of the power diverted to the brushroll. And that's exactly why you can turn off the roll in the 36V Black & Decker. The takeaway here? Battery stats mean little next to how the vacuum uses the power.
The same goes for suction claims. During our vacuum testing, we've never found a direct correlation between that air watts and actual performance on any surface. Performance comes from a variety of factors that are tough to judge until you can actually use the vacuum.
As these vacs promise an interesting package, especially on the battery front, I look forward to seeing how Black & Decker's stats translate to real-world use. When I can get them in my hands, expect full reviews.