Upright Vacuum Buying Guide: A Comparison of Shark Rotator vs. Navigator
If you want the best value for money, then you need to check out two of the best Shark vacuums; the Rotator and Navigator. The two models have been very dominant in the market, and it is quite hard for homeowners to choose between the two.
If you are not sure what model to go with, this Shark Rotator vs. Navigator comparison review will help you select the right Shark for the job.
We also put them under our stringent cleaning test to find out if they are really effective in vacuuming.
The brand Shark is part of the larger Euro-Pro group of companies. While Shark is known for the best vacuum cleaners, it has a range of other products to choose from including the famous Shark Ninja juicers.
Since the introduction of Shark to the US market, it has been hell for Dyson, the UK brand that once had the monopoly in vacuuming industry. Shark products are manufactured in China and have an advantage when it comes to the prices.
Today, Shark has 20% market share in the US vacuum cleaner market.
While it is easy to compare other vacuums cleaners, Shark Rotator and Navigator are quite similar, and there exist a few differences between the two. Many websites have tried to compare the two by pointing out some significant differences, but then, they can be 100% correct always.
For example, some websites still mention that Shark Navigators don’t have LED lights. This was true in the past, but now, some Shark Navigators have LED lights.
The idea is that while Shark Navigator and Rotator may be quite different models, their features are more or less the same. They share the same brush roll, HEPA filters, motor, and overall performance.
However, there is very little difference between the two models. Perhaps the only difference we have noted so far is regarding the filter. Shark Rotators come with a cylindrical filter while Navigators come with a flat filter. Another thing, the Rotators tend to be a little heavier than Shark Navigators.
It is imperative to note that most of the differences that many websites describe; for example LED lights, cleaning path, dustbin, warranty and so on vary depending on the actual model number of the vacuum and not whether it is a Shark Rotator or Navigator.
That means, when shopping, you should focus more on the specific model number you are buying; don’t look at either the Rotator or Navigator as a whole.
This is one of the best upright vacuums in the market. Before we go any further, I want to bring to your attention the fact that Shark Navigator is not a specific model.
The Shark Rotator has several models in the market including;
It comes with:
- three attachments;
- a dusting brush,
- 5.5” crevice tool,
- an additional 24” crevice tool.
A 1-year warranty accompanies this vacuum.
This vacuum weighs 12.5lbs. and has a 9.25’’ cleaning path.
The hose and cord length is 5 feet and 25 feet respectively.
But it comes with a wider 11.4’’ cleaning path making it suitable for vacuuming large floors.
This model comes with:
- 4 attachments including a 5.5’’ crevice tool,
- dusting brush,
- pet hair power brush
- a unique under appliance wand.
The hose and cord length remains 5 feet and 25 feet for maximum maneuverability.
This model comes with:
- a noticeably larger dustbin and four attachments;
- hard floor hero,
- dusting brush,
- 8’’ crevice tool
- a pet power brush.
It tags along with a generous lifetime warranty.
It weighs 13.4lbs. and has a wider 11.4’’ cleaning path.
The hose is 5 feet long whereas the power cord is 25 feet so you can get wherever you want without strain.
This vacuum comes with:
- 6 attachments;
- pet multi-tool,
- hard floor attachment,
- duster crevice,
- appliance wand,
- pet-powered brush among others.
It also boasts a lifetime warranty.
It comes with:
- a 5.5’’ crevice tool
- a dusting brush only.
These are just among the many Shark Navigator models in the market.
Remember to precisely ascertain the features each model has, as well as the warranty period.
Just like the Navigator, there are also several variations of the Shark Rotator classified depending on the features and accessories they come with.
There is also a slightly different variation known as Rotator NV502.
The attachments include:
- a 12’’ crevice tool,
- straight nozzle,
- premium pet power brush,
- upholstery tool,
- canister caddy,
- car detail kit, under appliance wand and dust pad.
Accompanying them is a 5-year warranty.
Other notable features include a swivel steering with LED headlights.
So it a challenge to store it since it doesn’t need a lot of space.
The NV683 comes with Dust-Away hard floor attachment and one washable microfiber pad which helps in picking large debris and fine dust from the floor. The dust away pro is used with or without the microfiber pad. The microfiber pad helps in removing the fine dust that is missed by most vacuums.
Shark Rotator Powered Lift-Away Speed also comes with Duster Crevice which is suitable for cleaning into deep and shallow spaces between objects.
It is also ideal for removing cobwebs and dusting sharp corners.
NV683 packs with it home & car detail tool which comes with micro tools used in cleaning the tiniest spaces.
Lastly, this model also comes with canister caddy, used for portable cleaning and pet multi-tool used in picking up pick up pet hair on upholstery, cushions, stairs and hard to reach places.
It is suitable for cleaning surface litter and removing stuck-on debris from the hard floor since it comes with hard floor genie head.
The TruePet motorized brush and pet-multi tool make it most suitable for cleaning pet hair from all surfaces.
It is a 3-in -1 vacuum cleaner, and it comes with canister mode, pod mode or upright mode.
The canister caddy detaches and cleans hard to reach sharp corners and ceiling and still providing enough power to keep brush roll spinning.
These are the most popular Shark Rotator models that we will use in this comparison review. But there are many other models with a few tweaks making them unique, and with different model numbers.
Now, having looked at the major models from Shark Rotator and Shark Navigator, it’s time we compare two of the most popular models from the Rotator Series and Navigator Series.
We decided to compare these two vacuums in light of the important considerations you make before buying a vacuum cleaner.
So, if you are also not sure how to select the best upright vacuum, whether for pets or carpets, this comparison section will also serve as a buying guide. We will first be highlighting particular factors and comparing what each of the two models offers before giving a verdict on the winner.
So, without further ado, let’s get to business.
Dimensions and weight
Vacuuming is something you do on a daily basis, and if you are required to move the vacuum from one place to the other, you will need to consider the dimensions and weight carefully. Well, this is among the areas where the two Shark upright vacuums differ.
So, how does Shark Navigator NV356E compare to Rotator NV501?
Shark Rotator NV501 Dimensions and weight
Here, the dimensions and weight are almost the same only that this model is a bit larger. It measures 45.7 x 12.1 x 12.2 inches and is slightly heavier at 15.5 lbs. The benefit of this model is that the cleaning width stretches to 12-inches.
Winner: Here, we are torn in between ergonomics and efficiency. Shark Navigator NV356E is lightweight making its handling much easier. On the other hand, Shark Rotator NV501 has a wider cleaning head meaning it will make work easier and faster as you can cover more area with each pass.
What’s the design like?
Even though the design doesn’t necessarily impact on the performance of the vacuum, there are several aspects that you need to consider. A good vacuum cleaner should be ergonomic, versatile and very flexible. But is this what the two vacuums offer?
Shark Rotator NV501 Design
Has also boasts a clean bin, onboard accessories, upright cord wrap, and a 2-in-1 design.
That means you can vacuum the floor in the upright mode or transform it into a handheld for your upholstery.
The Rotator NV501 comes with an advanced swivel steering mechanism with full LED headlights.
Winner: No model outshines the other here for any good reason. That said, you can pick any favorite model but trust me, they all look amazing. However, if you fancy the LED lights, then the Shark Rotator NV501 is your best match.
We have two common types of cleaning heads in Shark upright vacuum cleaners. When buying an upright vacuum, make sure the cleaning head is compatible with the type of surface you are going to be using the vacuum on. So, how does the Rotator NV356E vs. Navigator NV501 battle escalate here?
Shark Rotator NV501 Cleaning head
Shark Rotator comes with a hard floor cleaning head. As the name suggests, it is designed for bare floors.
If you have a hard floor; tile or linoleum, make sure to buy the Shark Rotator and not the Navigator. This is because it comes with a hard floor cleaning head and the Navigator doesn’t have the feature.
Winner: Here, it is hard to call a winner because both cleaning heads are designed for specific purposes. It is a matter of choosing the right vacuum for the job.
One of the important functions of a vacuum cleaner is air purification. This is a role that’s vested upon the filtration system. When buying a vacuum cleaner, make sure to go for a model that has the most efficient filtration system. This is especially if you have pets and carpets. Allergy sufferers must also be very keen here.
So, what does Shark offer in these two upright vacuums?
Shark Rotator NV501 Filtration technology
Shark Rotator comes with the sealed vacuum technology and HEPA filters which make it best for allergy sufferers.
The airtight seal makes sure that all the captured allergens don’t sneak back to the atmosphere.
Winner: If you have pets, settle for the Shark Rotator as it can seal the bad odor and prevent it from getting back to the atmosphere. However, if you don’t have pets or any allergy concerns, you can as well buy the Navigator as it has HEPA filters.
When shopping for your next vacuum, make sure to check the bin size. While Shark and Rotator vacuums have almost the same overall size, their bins are quite apart in terms of capacity. So, if you have a lot of dirt to vacuum at a go, make sure to get the largest bin. At least you will cut down the number of times you will be emptying the bin.
So, how does Shark Rotator N356E and Shark Navigator NV501 compare?
Shark Rotator Bin capacity
Shark Rotator comes with an XL-capacity dust cup which ensures that you go for at least a long time before having to empty the bin. It has a capacity or around 3.4L.
Winner: For these two models, there is no winner when it comes to the bin capacity. However, when choosing other model numbers, make sure to check the bin size as some models like Shark Rocket have smaller bins.
Accessories and attachments
Like said in the introduction, the different Shark vacuum models come with various accessories. When you are choosing between the Rotator NV501 and Navigator NV356E, it is essential to know exactly what accessories are provided for each model, and that’s what we want to look at here.
Shark Rotator NV501 Accessories and attachments
The Shark Rotator comes with:
- a hard floor cleaning head,
- HEPA filter,
- 8’’ crevice tool,
- dusting brush,
- pet power brush,
- upholstery tool,
- a 30-foot hose.
The only thing you sacrifice is the dust away genie head.
Winner: As we have seen, the two vacuums share over 80% of the accessories. The difference comes in with the hard floor cleaning head and the dust away genie cleaning head. Shark Rotator comes with a hard floor cleaning head, a feature its counterpart lacks. On the other hand, the Shark Navigator comes with a dust away genie cleaning head. It all depends on your cleaning needs. However, we feel the Shark Rotator deserves recognition for having an upholstery tool which the Navigator lacks.
That way, we can separate the wheat from the chaff by identifying the best vacuums as far as performance is concerned.
We also tested the Rotator and Navigator, and in this segment, we are going to share with you the results.
Shark Rotator NV501 Cleaning
Just before that, I want to tell you about our testing conditions.
We tested these vacuums oh hard floors (hardwood and tile), low pile carpets and high pile carpet. We scattered some of the common dirt that most American homes face on a daily basis. These include rice, sugar, flour, cereal, sand, kitty litter, pet hair and so on.
So, let’s find out the performance of each vacuum on the variety of surfaces.
Hard floors (Hardwood/Tile)
The tests on the hardwood floor and tile floor were very similar.
Shark Rotator NV501 Hard floors
The Rotator was able to vacuum all the dirt that was on its way very effectively.
The 1200W motor provided just enough suction to wipe out everything including the tiny flour particles and kitty litter.
But the most important feature is the Hard Floor Hero tool designed for Even though some pet hair was being blown away, at the end of the day, it was a job well done!
Winner: In as much as both vacuums offer a great performance of hard floors, there is one distinction to guide you. Buy the Rotator if you have a hard floor cleaning head as it is specially designed for hard floors. However, for hardwood floor owners and pet owners as well, you will benefit from the dust away genie cleaning head which is gentle on carpets and unforgiving on pet hair.
The most important thing is to make sure that you weigh your cleaning needs and pick the model that comes with the appropriate cleaning head. Fortunately, you can buy either cleaning head so even if you end up with dust away genie cleaning head instead of the hard floor hero, you can still save yourself.
Low Pile Carpet
Low pile carpet as you understand doesn’t have a very thick fabric and has fewer slots where dirt can hide.
Rotator NV501 Low Pile Carpet
The Shark Rotator delivered excellent vacuum power that was able to capture all the dirt on low pile carpets and rugs. The only problem was the flour that left a few patches after the first pass. But on the second pass, everything vanished.
When it comes to dirt pickup, the Rotator looked more ready for the job courtesy of the dust away genie cleaning head that is designed like a traditional brushroll. It was better in agitating dirt and lifting also.
Winner: First, I want to acknowledge the fact that both vacuum cleaners have what it takes to suck all the dirt from light pile carpets and rugs. But the pickup is not the same in both models because of the cleaning heads included.
High Pile Carpet
On high pile carpet, the difference between the performances of the two vacuums starts to deviate because of the pickup head.
Rotator NV501 High Pile Carpet
Shark Rotator comes with a hard floor cleaning head and as the name suggests it is designed for hard floors. That means the Rotator relies basically on the vacuum power.
This vacuum picked up most of the dirt on its path, save for a few patches of flour here and there, as well as a few pet hair.
Winner: Here, we give credit to the Shark Navigator solely because of the dust away genie cleaning head which can lift dirt more efficiently than the hard floor cleaning head. Otherwise, regarding vacuuming power, they are all equal.
Now, one last thing you should be aware of before settling for either of these vacuums is the usability. I’m sure you want something that’s easy to use. This is especially for the busy homes that need vacuuming on a daily basis.
So, which of the two vacuums offers the best usability?
Shark Rotator comes with a swivel steering and offers the best maneuverability. It can turn 90-degrees, lay flat and more in just any direction. The presence of headlights also means you can vacuum in the dark with no problem.
Winner: The extra headlamps on the Shark Rotator make the difference here. While the swivel steering is a standard feature in both models, the headlights make the Shark Rotator the best in terms of usability.
Definitely, just like all the other cleaning equipment, an upright vacuum will require maintenance. Some have high maintenance requirements while others require very little maintenance.
Before you decide on which Shark to buy, better understand the maintenance requirements of each. You don’t want something that will be taking much of your precious time to change the filters or brushes.
So, let’s find out the winner between Shark NV356E and NV501.
Shark Rotator NV501 Maintenance
The Rotator, on the other hand, comes with washable and replaceable foam and felt filters that are to be replaced after 8-12 months as well.
The HEPA filters and the hard floor cleaning head, on the other hand, will require a replacement after 24 months.
Winner: I wouldn’t say that there is an easier option when it comes to maintenance. You will need to replace the filters or clean the unit depending on your usage. Just to mention, the more wear and tear you put your vacuum through, the more maintenance it will require. Above all, make sure you use your vacuum for the right job. While the Rotator seems to be a great deal because of the extended life of its head, remember your primary concern is the cleaning needs no maintenance.
Most upright vacuums, as well as stick vacuums, come preassembled. Perhaps robot vacuums are the only ones which come with every part assembled.
But then, the assembly varies from one model to the other with vacuums that have lesser parts being the most desirable.
But then, less parts in an upright vacuum is a far-fetched dream because there are a lot of small components that are shipped with these vacuums.
Rotator NV501 Assembly
The Rotator too isn’t very easy to assemble as the parts are so many just like in the Shark Navigator.
But with the usual drill of identifying the parts first, it’s an easy hack. It also comes with a clear installation guide to kick-start the assembly.
Winner: Here, we don’t think there is a winner because both vacuums come with almost the same number of parts. Remember, the more the parts, the higher the chances of having a hard time assembling the unit.
Our verdict: What’s the best choice?
Now, we are almost coming to the end of our Shark Rotator N356E vs. Navigator NV501 comparison review.
By now, you should be able to make the right choice regarding what model you want between the Navigator and Rotator.
But just to help a few who might have got stuck, here are a few recommendations for each model.
Buy Shark Navigator if;
- You have pets: the dust away genie cleaning head is like a traditional brushroll
- You have hardwood floor: The dust away genie cleaning head is gentle
- You are on a budget: at least it saves you a few bucks
Indeed, the Rotator and Navigator are two of the best models from Shark. While they may bear so much resemblance, they are unique in their own way.
But then, when shopping, it’s advisable to watch out for the specific model numbers of each one of them.
Remember, Shark and Rotator have so much in common, but it’s the number of accessories that really make a difference.
The only way to pick your best Shark upright vacuum will be to consider the specific model number and accessories and not just choosing any Rotator or Navigator.