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Black+Decker Flex Vac BDH2020FL Review

A great all-around vacuum that excels at cleaning hard-to-reach areas and pet hair
Black+Decker Flex Vac BDH2020FL
Editors' Choice Award
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Price:   $125 List | $107.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Great for getting those hard-to-clean areas, good value
Cons:  Lackluster battery life, takes two hands to operate, loud
Manufacturer:   BLACK+DECKER
By Austin Palmer and David Wise  ⋅  Oct 5, 2021
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74
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#1 of 8
  • Dust & Dirt - 20% 8
  • Tough Messes - 20% 6
  • Hard-to-Reach Areas - 20% 9
  • Battery Life - 15% 6
  • Convenience - 15% 7
  • Pet Hair - 10% 8

Our Verdict

The Black+Decker Flex Vac is a solid, all-around vacuum that does an excellent job at getting into all of those difficult-to-clean places. No matter the type of mess in your home or car, this vacuum can likely handle it. On top of that, it is great at cleaning up after your furry friends, collecting pet hair with ease. However, this vacuum usually requires two hands to operate, is quite loud, and has a lackluster battery life, making it a bit more of a hassle to operate than some of the other products in our lineup. Despite these relatively minor drawbacks, it's still a great vacuum, and we highly recommend it to anyone who wants well-rounded performance.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards Editors' Choice Award Top Pick Award Best Buy Award Top Pick Award  
Price $125 List
$107.99 at Amazon
$73 List$50 List
$43.99 at Amazon
$42 List
$41.19 at Amazon
$60 List
$46.72 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros Great for getting those hard-to-clean areas, good valueFantastic at picking up pet hair, great valueGreat for tough messes, inexpensiveVery compact, inexpensiveCheap, good at dusting
Cons Lackluster battery life, takes two hands to operate, loudNot the best for tight spaces, can't clean small gaps or cornersNot great with pet hairStruggles with tough messes and pet hairPoor battery life, difficult to clean pet hair
Bottom Line A great all-around vacuum that excels at cleaning hard-to-reach areas and pet hairThis vac excels at picking up pet dander and is a great choice for those that don't want to spend a tonThis vacuum is impressive with tougher messes and won't break the bank, though it has a few shortcomingsWe think this is a great choice if you are looking for a highly portable or compact option for cleaning up light messesUnless you are only planning on dusting, we would recommend an alternative choice
Rating Categories Black+Decker Flex V... Bissell Pet Hair Er... Black+Decker HHVI32... Bissell AeroSlim Black+Decker HHVI31...
Dust & Dirt (20%)
8.0
7.0
6.0
8.0
8.0
Tough Messes (20%)
6.0
8.0
7.0
4.0
6.0
Hard To Reach Areas (20%)
9.0
5.0
6.0
7.0
4.0
Battery Life (15%)
6.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Convenience (15%)
7.0
7.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
Pet Hair (10%)
8.0
9.0
3.0
3.0
4.0
Specs Black+Decker Flex V... Bissell Pet Hair Er... Black+Decker HHVI32... Bissell AeroSlim Black+Decker HHVI31...
Model Tested BDH2020FL 2390A HHVI320JR02 29869 HHVI315JO42
Measured Weight (no tool) 3 lbs 2.6 lbs 2.4 lbs 1.2 lbs 2.1 lbs
Measured Weight (with heaviest tool) 3.1 lbs 3 lbs N/A 1.3 lbs 2.1 lbs
Usage Type Dry Dry Dry Dry Dry
Dust Capacity 0.5 L 0.73 L 0.61 L 0.1 L 0.94 L
Wet Capacity N/A N/A N/A N/A N/A
Measured Runtime 15 min Without motorized brush: 20 min 42 sec
With motorized brush: 17 min
15 min 24 sec 15 min 23 sec 12 min 20 sec
Charge Time 4 hours 8 hours 13.5 hours 2.75 hours 10 hours
Charging Indicator? Yes Yes No Yes No
Washable Filter? Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Measured Noise (at arms length) 82.5 dBa 71.4 dBa 83 dBa 74 dBa 81.5 dBa

Our Analysis and Test Results

In our quest to find the best handheld vacuum of them all, we compared the specs of tons of different products, then bought the best ones to pit head-to-head. We grouped our tests into six different weighting metrics, with the admirable results of the Flex Vac outlined below.

Performance Comparison


The Black+Decker Flex Vac BDH2020FL is a solid performer.
The Black+Decker Flex Vac BDH2020FL is a solid performer.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Dust & Dirt


Our first testing metric dealt with the kind of messes most commonly encountered: dust and dirt. We scored each vacuum on how long it took to properly clean up fine particles off a statically charged plastic photo screen and accumulated mud and dirt from a hard surface. We also ranked how well each one cleaned dust off a small area and in a corner. The Flex Vac did fairly well in all of these challenges.


The Flex Vac fared well in our dusting test, cleaning a sheet of flour in about 21 seconds with its medium-stiffness bristle brush attachment.

The Flex Vac does fine for dusting.
The Flex Vac does fine for dusting.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Unfortunately, this vacuum didn't do as well with caked-on dirt and mud, taking around 20 seconds to clean it all up in our test — one of the longer times compared to the group, though not by much.

Medium stiff bristles take a little bit longer to work the dirt loose.
Medium stiff bristles take a little bit longer to work the dirt loose.
Credit: Austin Palmer

However, the Flex Vac fully redeemed itself in other areas, easily cleaning the top of a baseboard and a window sill with its bristle brush attachment, even getting all the way into tight corners.

The attached hose makes it easier to reach places.
The attached hose makes it easier to reach places.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Tough Messes


Our next metric looked at how well each of these products cleans up trickier messes from more difficult surfaces, like carpet or upholstery fabric.


Our first challenge for this group was testing out how well each vacuum cleaned up flour from a section of low-pile, automotive-style carpet. We used the nozzle of the nozzle/brush combo for this test, with the Flex Vac doing about average. It left a decent amount of flour behind, but we eventually got it pretty clean with multiple passes.

The Flex Vac's attempt at removing flour.
The Flex Vac's attempt at removing flour.
Credit: Austin Palmer

For our next tests, we crushed up oats and spread them out on both an upholstered cushion and on the same car carpet. Using the same tool, the Flex Vac did a bit better on the cushion, getting the vast majority of the oats and only leaving a bit of dust behind. However, it would occasionally suck down to the fabric, flinging some oats to the side. It didn't fling any oats to the side on the carpet sample, but there were still plenty of leftover oat fragments lodged in the carpet fibers that the Flex Vac couldn't quite extract.

The before and after of picking up oats with the Flex Vac.
The before and after of picking up oats with the Flex Vac.
Credit: Austin Palmer

The Flex Vac finished out the last cleaning test of this metric with a strong showing, sucking up all of the Mini-Wheats cereal we placed before it without any clogging. Lastly, we measured the airspeed each vacuum generated with an anemometer. The Flex Vac did above average in this test, with the anemometer reading 1427 fpm in our testing apparatus. This wasn't the highest reading, but it's above average.

Hard-to-Reach Areas


Moving on, we looked at how effective each of these products is at cleaning deep within cracks, crevices, and other difficult-to-access areas. The Flex Vac did a phenomenal job in this metric.


The Flex Vac got off to a great start in our first evaluation, easily cleaning out the small gap in the track of a window. We filled it with crushed oats, and this vacuum sucked them all out without any signs of struggle using its crevice tool. The Flex continued its excellent performance in our crevice tests, easily reaching 36" into a 3" gap, effectively cleaning the entire way. Basically, if you can fit your hand in the gap, you can fit this vacuum.

Having an integrated hose makes it nice for those hard to reach...
Having an integrated hose makes it nice for those hard to reach places.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Flex Vac finished this metric with a strong showing when we cut the size of the gap down to 1.25". It was only able to reach about 7.5" when using the crevice tool, but this is the furthest any of the products we have tested.

The integrated hose on the Flex Vac requires two-handed operation...
The integrated hose on the Flex Vac requires two-handed operation, but you can reach almost anywhere in your home with it.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Battery Life


Unfortunately, the performance of the Flex Vac took a dip in our battery life metric. The overall runtime of this vacuum is quite mediocre, though still better than some.


This vacuum only has a single cleaning mode, and you can expect it to last for about 15 minutes on a full charge. It then takes about 4 hours to recharge completely, making it difficult to clean larger areas with this product.

The Flex Vac has about 15 minutes of battery.
The Flex Vac has about 15 minutes of battery.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Convenience


Our convenience metric encompasses how easy it is to empty the collection bin, store the various attachments, and the weight of each vacuum, as well as how loud they are.


The Flex Vac is far from the lightest handheld vacuum that we have tested, weighing in at 3 pounds without any tools. That said, all the tools are fairly light, so you won't be adding a ton of weight from there.


The Flex also lost some points by being one of the noisiest handheld vacuums we have tested — definitely too loud to carry on a conversation over. This vacuum would certainly disturb someone working on a computer or watching TV in the same room. However, we appreciate that it is very easy to empty the collection bin and that it is fairly good-sized at 0.5 liters.

You need two hands to operate this vacuum, but its design allows a...
You need two hands to operate this vacuum, but its design allows a lot of flexibility - hence the name.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Flex Vac includes three tools but doesn't really offer a convenient way to store them on the main unit — though it does have places for them on the charging base. The main vacuum has a charging dock to set the vacuum on it to recharge, which is a bit more convenient than having to plug it in each time.

The Flex Vac doesn't have any onboard storage but does hold a couple...
The Flex Vac doesn't have any onboard storage but does hold a couple of attachments on its charging base.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Pet Hair


Our remaining metric assessed how well each vacuum did at picking up pet hair. We graded each vacuum by spreading out pet hair on carpet and cushions and seeing how much each vacuum successfully collected. The Flex Vac did quite well.


This vacuum lacks a powered bristle brush attachment but does have a dedicated pet hair tool with stiff rubber bristles. While we were initially a little skeptical, this tool proved its worth, with the Flex Vac collecting close to 95% of the hair from both test surfaces without too much work.

The pet hair tool on the Flex Vac was surprisingly effective at...
The pet hair tool on the Flex Vac was surprisingly effective at cleaning up pet hair, even though it isn't motorized.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Value


This vacuum is a sold value, coupling an overall great performance with a reasonable price tag. That said, it is pricier than many other options in our lineup, so if the flexibility of a long hose doesn't appeal to you, you can certainly pay less for a design more to your liking.

Conclusion


Overall, the Black+Decker Flex Vac is a great handheld vacuum, and we would recommend it to anyone who doesn't want to make too many sacrifices with regards to performance. It's not the best if you are on the tightest of budgets, but it offers the best balance of performance while costing a bit less than some of the premium products on the market.

Austin Palmer and David Wise

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