Shark ICZ160 & ICZ300 Cordless Upright Vacuum Cleaner

10.0 out of 10
10.0 out of 10

The Shark ICZ160 cordless vacuum cleaner might just be the best hoover that money can buy – bar none, and then Shark introduced the ICZ300 cordless hoover and made it even better than the ICZ160.

I’ve put both the ICZ160 and the ICZ300 vacuum cleaners in the same review because essentially they are the same design with the same features except the difference between them is that Shark has improved the battery life on the ICZ300 so it now does up to 60 minutes on one charge compared to 50 minutes with the ICZ160 and the updated ICZ300 comes with a digital display as well to make it really easy to see remaining battery life, which may be a little thing, but little things like this can really make a big difference!

In addition to the extra battery life, the ICZ300 comes with powerfins which are literally plastic “fins” fitted to the roller that enables Sharks best ever cleaning power from a cordless vacuum cleaner. These fins brush across hard floor and on carpet and they dig right down into the carpet fibre for excellent dirt removal on the first pass.

This short video shows powerfins in action:

When evaluating how good a hoover is we always look at performance and cost combined.

It’s no good having the best vacuum cleaner in the world and it costs £3000 – no one will buy it. Similarly, it’s no good having the cheapest vacuum cleaner in the world, which only costs a few pounds but doesn’t clean, again, no one will buy it.

Actually, I’m probably wrong on both counts here, P.T. Barnum’s quote “one born every minute” probably applies, but in any case, you’d “need your head reading” for buying either in this example, but there are vacuum cleaners which cost what most of us would regard as a silly amount of money for a vacuum cleaner, and there are also vacuum cleaners at “too good to be true” prices, which usually prove this statement to be true.

The Shark ICZ160 & ICZ300, however, we believe are probably the best vacuum cleaners you can buy right now in the UK,  thanks to how well these models combine cost with performance.

They’re not the cheapest hoovers you can buy, some would probably argue that they’re quite a lot of money to spend on a vacuum cleaner, but remembering the phrase “buy right or buy twice”, we think these models are probably the most sensible choice when it comes to price vs performance.

Most folk with medium to large-sized homes with kids and pets will have two brands in mind when it comes to vacuum cleaners: Shark & Dyson, and that’s for good reason.

These two brands have done a great job over the years at firmly embedding themselves at the premium end of the market, and most models that Shark & Dyson offer are capable of tackling everything that life throws at you, and they both produce a wide range of vacuum cleaners so that there’s a perfect Shark or Dyson for everyone.

If you don’t want to get tangled up in cables, thanks to Shark & Dyson, we’ve now entered an era where those who’re prepared to spend a bit more money can benefit from the same kind of power and performance as with heavy, bulky canisters and uprights with lightweight, cordless vacuum cleaners.

In fact, Dyson has decided that the future of vacuum cleaners is cordless, especially where they’re concerned, which has led to them making the bold statement that they’ll never again make a corded vacuum cleaner! While other brands are doing their best to carve out their slice or the cordless vacuum cleaner pie, this market is currently dominated by Dyson & Shark.

What Makes a Good Cordless Vacuum Cleaner?

When you’re evaluating how good a cordless vacuum cleaner might be, there are 6 key elements that I think you need to consider.

Battery Life
An important but often overlooked (and sometimes misrepresented…) feature of any cordless vacuum cleaner is of course the battery life. It’s all well and good having a hoover capable of incredible power, but how useful is that if you can only run it on full power for a few minutes? The reason I say that this is sometimes misrepresented (and I should really say always, not sometimes, but I’m being kind) is that brands like to quote battery life based on the lower power settings, so we always like to share how long any model will last when it’s run on the highest power setting.

Suction Power
It’s probably needless to say that suction power is important, and this is one of the reasons that Shark and Dyson are conquering the cordless market, as they’re continually breaking new frontiers when it comes to innovations to get better suction power from their cordless cleaners which are progressively becoming more powerful, smaller & lighter.

Cleaning Performance
You would be forgiven for making the assumption that cleaning performance and suction power are one and the same, but that’s not necessarily the case. Suction power works in partnership with the rollers & brushes in order to provide the overall cleaning performance, and some models are better than others when it comes to carpets, some are better than others for hard floors, and some are better than others when it comes to being great for all-around performance on all surfaces.

Accessories
While the core vacuum cleaner itself is of prime importance, accessories shouldn’t be underestimated, as they can can enhance vacuum cleaners from being just “normal” hoovers to being able to help you to perform very specific tasks more effectively than ever, for example ridding your carpets and furniture of pesky pet hair & doing a great job of keeping your car lovely & clean despite kids & pets doing their best to achieve the opposite.

Ease Of Use
What’s the point of having a great performing vacuum cleaner which has great battery life, great suction power, great accessories & great overall cleaning performance if you end up launching it out of the window the first time you try to use it? To be a great vacuum cleaner, it has to be easy to use, making all of the features simple and frustration-free to access and operate.

Cost
All of the above is pointless if you need to re-mortgage your home to be able to afford to keep it clean. Some of the best performing vacuum cleaners can sail close to the ludicrously priced territory, and this is something that we tend to find Shark do a better job of when it comes to combining all of the above with an affordable price tag.

In my humble opinion, the Shark ICZ160 & ICZ300 sweep the board as far as all of these 6 categories are concerned, making these models among the best cordless vacuum cleaners on the market at the time of writing.

Features and Benefits

There are 4 different versions of this Shark cordless vacuum cleaner:

ICZ160UK or ICZ300UK  – A single battery without pet tool – ideal if you like to whizz round in 20 minutes and have no pets

ICZ160UKT or ICZ300UKT – A single battery with pet tool – ideal if you don’t spend more than 30 minutes but you do have pets

ICZ160UKBT – Two batteries without pet tool – ideal for larger homes so you don’t need to worry about running out of charge

ICZ160UKTT – Two batteries with pet tool – ideal for larger homes with pets

In my humble opinion, the versions without the pet tool are fine for most people, even pet owners. If you have a number of pets and/or you find pet hair to be a real issue, then you might benefit from the pet tool, but for “normal” pet hair, the suction is so good on these vacuum cleaners that you probably don’t need to spend extra on the version with the pet accessory.

Battery Life.

As I mentioned earlier, brands like to advertise battery life in whichever way sounds the best, so of course they’ll give you average figures or low power figures, and they state that you’ll get up to 50 minutes on the standard-setting with the ICZ160 or 60 minutes with the ICZ300.

What if you’re like the people who drive around constantly in sport mode (like I do when I’m driving my wife’s car, shhh, don’t tell her!) and you like to hoover permanently on the boost setting? Well, in addition to potentially costing you more money over time in having to replace your inevitable threadbare carpets and sofas, this will obviously reduce how much hoovering you’ll get on a single charge, to about 20 minutes.

To be fair, the standard setting gives ample suction power for most situations, I’d recommend only hitting that boost button when you need to delve deeper down into carpet pile or crevices, to retrieve more stubborn dirt. I’d also only recommend sports mode when you need to overtake, and only if it’s safe, and only if my wife is reading this.

If you do this you’ll probably average more like 30 minutes on one battery – plenty for most homes and with powerfins on the the ICZ300 you get the additional deep clean from the plastic fins digging down into your carpet without the need to thwack the nitro boost button.

Its innovations like this that Shark are pulling out of the bag on an ongoing basis to allow them to stay on the leading edge when it comes to cordless vacuum cleaners with the cleaning power of corded.

A great thing about Shark when it comes to batteries is that you can switch them out just like switching out the battery on a cordless drill, there’s no need to break out the tool kit – and they sell extra batteries for £99 so if you have two batteries available then you can keep it in boost permanently and get 40 minutes from 2 batteries.

I expect that practically no one would need to do that, but if you did decide to go for this option then you would have a vacuum cleaner that would clean your home so deeply that it is hard to imagine anything else in the future that would do a better job. On boost mode, this gets rid of everything it comes near and we mean everything, so you may want to put the Hamster back in his cage first!

Suction Power

The suction power is up there with the very best, having been tested independently to deliver almost 36 AirWatts (AW, the units of measurement for suction power) on Eco mode, just under 57AW in standard mode, and a whopping 175 AW in boost mode.

As I touched on earlier, suction power is only part of the equation, the quality of the tools is the other part of this, so suction power alone isn’t the be-all and end-all, but there’s certainly enough suction power here in standard mode to compete with most other vacuum cleaners on the market, and possibly enough power on in boost mode to actually hoover up all of the other vacuum cleaners on the market!

Cleaning Performance

In addition to really impressive suction power for cordless cleaners, Shark produce some really high-quality accessories and are constantly working on innovations to improve them, including the duo clean brush and the power fins, and as a result of the quality of the accessories combined with the great suction power, the overall cleaning performance is incredibly good.

Duo Clean Brush Head

This innovation from shark means that it utilises two brush rolls, and OK I’m sure you could have worked that out for yourself, but it’s more impressive than it may appear. Most cleaners would just use one brush, and if they do have two brushes, what’s important is how they operate both independently and together.

Shark developed the duo clean system so that the two brush rolls work together to make cleaning on various different surfaces just as effective and with minimal faff. While with some brands including some Dysons, you have to mess about changing things over when you go from one surface type to another, you don’t have to do that with this innovation, and it also enables them to do what Shark call “Triple Particle Cleaning”, meaning that they get shot of all of the three types of particles – large particles, small particles, and stuck-on particles.

This system also stops the annoying “snow ploughing” phenomenon that can happen when you’re trying to hoover up larger particles on hard floors. See the video below for a visual explanation:

Anti Hair-Wrap Technology

Another great feature from Shark that these models benefit from, is the Anti-hair wrap, which means that there’s a cutting comb which picks up any hair (human or beast, or otherwise) from the rollers and cuts them up to then be simply be sucked up into the cleaner.

This is another seemingly small feature that actually has quite a large impact, as what it means is you’ll never get hair wrapped around the brush rolls, you’ll never again have to start hacking away at tightly wound hair with scissors, doing your best to not damage the hoover, or yourself.

It also means that the power fins I’m about to discuss, remain as power fins and aren’t rendered useless by tightly wrapped hair cutting into them and turning them into “flaps”, which aren’t going to have the same kind of impact when it comes to digging down for dirt.

In case I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining this neat little feature, just give this video a watch:

Motorised Pet Tool

As I mentioned, if pet hair isn’t a massive issue for you, then you can probably save the money on going for one of the pet versions, but if pet hair is causing you to pull yours out, then going for one of the pet versions will give you this motorised pet tool as part of the bundle.

Not to be confused with a tool for dealing with the hair or motorised pets (and I’m sure someone will invent these someday, but if the inventor has an ounce of common sense, they’ll invent only the hairless type) this is an accessory with a powered brush developed purely for dealing with pet hair & fur.

Ease of use

As with most of the vacuum cleaners from Shark, the ICZ160 & ICZ300 do very well in this regard. With the large, easy to read LED interface on the handle, you’ll always know what the battery percentage is, what suction power you’re on and what floor type is selected.  You can also really easily toggle between the 3 power modes & floor settings, right from this interface.

Switching out and charging the battery is an absolute doddle, and you can charge it on the charging pod or just by plugging the battery in to the charging cable.

When it comes to ease of use from a practicality perspective, though, I think they’ve done a great job of this with the “Powered Lift Away” feature. What this means is that you can easily get to surfaces & areas that would be a challenge for an upright by instantly turning it into a powered cordless portable cleaner by just pressing the “lift-away” button and removing the wand.

The brush head is also extremely flexible and goes easily into corners and sucks up everything right up to the edge of skirting boards eliminating the need to add an accessory tool and cover edges separately.

The lack of unnecessary accessories also helps when it comes to ease of use, some of the Dyson models come with an intimidating number of accessories, and probably only one or two of them that would ever be required.

Another plus for Shark vs Dyson, when it comes to ease of use, is that there’s no trigger to have to continually squeeze with the ICZ160 & ICZ300, instead there’s simply an on/off button, switch it on when you want to use it, switch it off when you’re finished, nice and simple. You do have to hold the boost button if you want to operate in the ultra powered boost mode, but as I mentioned earlier I think the majority of people will only use this mode sparingly, as it’s overkill for most situations and it does zap the battery.

Anti-Allergen Complete Seal

The final feature of note is the Anti-Allergen seal. This is a feature which filters out dust & allergens, traps them inside the cleaner, and stops them from getting back out into the air that you & your family are breathing. While you may think that all vacuum cleaners do this, this isn’t actually the case. Completely preventing very fine dust and allergens from escaping is something that is very difficult to achieve, ant the 99.99% that this seal is effective in retaining, is very impressive, and rare!

Cost

This is among the most expensive options from Shark, but it’s also one of the best, not just from Shark, but possibly the very best cordless upright vacuum cleaner on the market at the time of writing. Given that some of the Dyson models cost around twice the price of this, the value for money here is very good, comparatively speaking.

Verdict

A cordless upright with supreme suction, ace accessories & fab features, the ICZ160 (& ICZ300) is a stroke of genius from Shark that will keep your home spotless for a price tag at under half the price of a comparative Dyson!

No head switching required, just select the floor you’re heading towards from the easy to read LCD interface, and the duo clean brush head will pick up everything in its path, even polishing hard surfaces as you go!

The way that it converts in one click to a portable handheld cleaner with no wires or cables and the same powered accessories is brilliant for stairs and it also becomes a handheld cleaner perfect for the car in just one click as well.

The power, convenience and ease of use combined with a reasonable price for what is simply an outstanding vacuum cleaner makes this the best value for money vacuum cleaner out there.