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Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite Review

This cheap vacuum isn't terrible, but there are far better options for the same price
Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite
The AirSwivel Lite by Black+Decker.
Credit: BLACK+DECKER
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Price:   $73 List
Pros:  Inexpensive, maneuverable, solid at picking up pet hair
Cons:  Doesn’t clean hard floors or carpet very well
Manufacturer:   BLACK+DECKER
By David Wise and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Nov 21, 2018
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50
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Carpet Cleaning - 35% 3.0
  • Ease of Use - 25% 5.0
  • Handling - 20% 8.0
  • Hard Surface Cleaning - 10% 3.0
  • Pet Hair - 10% 8.0

Our Verdict

Finishing at the bottom, the AirSwivel Lite delivered an overall uninspiring performance. This budget vacuum cleaner is one of the least expensive models we tested, but it was outperformed by some other budget models that we vastly preferred to this economical offering from Black+Decker. It is relatively easy to use and highly maneuverable — even surprising us a bit with its exceptional prowess at picking up pet hair, but it delivered disappointing results in our carpet cleaning and hard floor cleaning tests with other types of debris, severely hurting its score. It sells for a good price, but it is hard to justify spending money on a vacuum that doesn't clean carpet all that 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.

Performance Comparison


Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - the airswivel lite is far from our first choice when it comes to...
The AirSwivel Lite is far from our first choice when it comes to cleaning up messes from carpeted floors.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Carpet Cleaning


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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - there was a fair amount of residual rice left over after the...
There was a fair amount of residual rice left over after the AirSwivel made a cleaning pass.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - we thought this vacuum left behind more flour than it picked up on...
We thought this vacuum left behind more flour than it picked up on the fluffier carpet.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - the clearance on this vacuum is quite low, meaning it tends to push...
The clearance on this vacuum is quite low, meaning it tends to push around larger objects, rather than sucking them up.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - this economical vacuum is fairly convenient and easy to use.
This economical vacuum is fairly convenient and easy to use.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - this vacuum cleaner doesn't have the most impressive reach under...
This vacuum cleaner doesn't have the most impressive reach under furniture.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Handling


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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - the swivel head on the airswivel does make it fairly easy to maneuver.
The swivel head on the AirSwivel does make it fairly easy to maneuver.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - the airswivel delivered a bit of a disappointing performance in our...
The AirSwivel delivered a bit of a disappointing performance in our hard floor cleaning tests as well.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - this vacuum caused an explosion of rice on the hard floor.
This vacuum caused an explosion of rice on the hard floor.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

It did more or less the same thing with oats, leading us to conclude that we would have been better off with a broom.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - there were plenty of oats flung across the room due to this product.
There were plenty of oats flung across the room due to this product.
Credit: Austin Palmer

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.

Pet Hair


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.

Black+Decker AirSwivel Lite vacuum cleaner - this vacuum actually did fairly well at collecting pet hair...
This vacuum actually did fairly well at collecting pet hair, delivering an above average performance.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Value


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.

Conclusion


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
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