Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite Review
Pros: Inexpensive, maneuverable, solid at picking up pet hair
Cons: Doesn’t clean hard floors or carpet very well
Our Analysis and Test Results
This model finished in the lower portion of our group. The AirSwivel is decently easy to maneuver, but doesn't clean carpet all that well. While the price point on this vacuum is tempting, there are better budget models to consider.
The most important set of evaluations when it comes to these products, our carpet cleaning metric is responsible for 35% of the total score for each upright vacuum. We scored each product on how well it could suck up rice, flour, cereal, and oats from both flat and fluffy carpet, and the AirSwivel did quite poorly.
This vacuum cleaner did alright at cleaning up rice from a flatter carpet, getting most of it with 2 passes and all of it with 3 or 4, but it delivered an abysmal performance on fluffy carpet. It failed to collect hardly any of the rice and crushed so much of it up that it practically made a bigger mess than what we started with.
The AirSwivel didn't fare any better with the flour, leaving tons of residual debris behind on both types of carpet, with even more remaining on the low-pile carpet than on the medium-pile carpet.
When tasked with picking up Cheerios, it failed to impress again, being far too low to the carpet to collect any of the cereal and pushing them around instead. Continuing a trend, the AirSwivel also delivered a disappointing performance in our oat collection challenge, leaving tons and tons of fragments behind on both types of soft floor.
Ease of Use
Following our suite of soft floor cleaning evaluations, we moved on to looking at how much of a hassle each of our tested vacuums was to use. We compared how easy it was to switch between hard and soft floors, how close each one could clean along the edges of the room and under furniture, and the maximum reach of each product, as well as the noise level. The AirSwivel did a bit better in this set of evaluations compared to the previous one.
This vacuum does a great job at cleaning right up to a wall and in the corners of the room, though it can leave a little bit of debris if you go straight at the wall, rather than traveling parallel to it. It performs slightly above average at reaching under furniture, able to reach up to 7.5" under our simulated sofa. However, this vacuum doesn't have a terribly impressive reach with only a 20' cord and doesn't offer any way to adjust its clearance for cleaning different floor types.
Next, we moved on to assessing how maneuverable and agile each vacuum is. We rated and score the overall maneuverability of each one, as well as how easy it is to clean a flight of stairs and the effort required to push or pull each vacuum across carpet. The AirSwivel Lite did significantly better in this trio of tests than the prior two.
While the hose on this vacuum can only reach about six stairs, it is one of the lightest upright models we tested, making it fairly easy to carry up or down stairs. This also means it is fairly easy to push or pull across carpet, but the wheels just don't glide quite as nicely as some of the top products. This vacuum has a swivel head but still isn't the most agile, ranking about average in our test group.
Hard Surface Cleaning
Next, we ranked and judged how effective each vacuum was at keeping hard floors clean. We again used rice, flour, oats, and cereal to test each model, with this quartet of tests accounting for 10% of the overall score. Unfortunately, the AirSwivel delivered another disappointing performance.
Starting off with the rice, the AirSwivel did indeed pick up a decent amount — in addition to flinging a fair amount all over the place.
It did more or less the same thing with oats, leading us to conclude that we would have been better off with a broom.
The AirSwivel Lite doesn't have sufficient clearance to pick up Cheerios, perpetually pushing them around instead. However, it did pick up a fair amount of flour, though there was a film left behind after the fact that it failed to pick up.
For the last test, we scored each vacuum on how much pet hair it could collect. The AirSwivel Lite did quite well on medium-pile carpet. We spread out 5 grams of donated dog fur and made our way through the testing zone. This vacuum collected about 89% of the fur, comparing quite favorably to much more expensive vacuums.
While the Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite is on the less expensive side, it's not the best value, as other products offer much more bang for the buck.
All in all, this lackluster vacuum — while economical — didn't really impress us and there are other models that we liked significantly more.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer
Ad-free. Influence-free. Powered by Testing.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.Learn More