Black+Decker 36V MAX Stick Vac

Cordless convenience in a stick and hand vac that does well on low pile carpets and hard floors.

Black+Decker 36V MAX Stick Vac

Black+Decker 36V MAX 2-In-1 Stick Vac

The Black+Decker BDH3600SV  is a light-weight stick vac (just under 8 pounds) that easily converts from a stick vac to a hand vac. It's powered by a 36V lithium-ion battery that provides approximately 20 minutes of run-time.

The BDH3600SV features Black+Decker's ORA (Optimized Runtime + Airflow ) Technology. This refers to the integration of the 36V battery and the 12 cyclone filter configuration to enable the vac to maintain maximum suction capacity throughout the run-time cycle. This means that the vac doesn't loose suction power as the battery discharges. 

The BDH3600SV is rated at 40 'air watts', a term that many of us may not be familiar with. Air watts is a calculation used by the vac industry to measure a vac's performance – that is, its suction power. The calculation is based on the power of the vac's air flow (it's CFM rating) and its sealed suction capacity (water lift measured in inches). The higher the air watts the more efficient the vac. Remember though, you need to compare the air watts rating of vacs with similar configurations. So, you can't compare the air watts of a stick vac with a canister vac, or a HEPA filter vac with a non-HEPA vac. Unfortunately, it seems that many companies don't post air watt figures. One that I could find is the Dyson V6 Slim,  which delivers 26 air watts over 20 minutes of run-time in standard mode (and 100 air watts over 6 minutes in boosted mode). The BDH3600SV doesn't have a boost mode, though in its standard mode provides about 45% more suction power than the Dyson.

Svelte and light

Assembling the BDH3600SV was very quick, requiring me to snap a couple of pieces together and then screw the back plate into the handle. All done within a couple of minutes. It has a slight tendency to flop a bit when you stand it up quickly, and sometimes topples back or forwards. However, when inserted onto it's charging base it's quite stable.

As you can see in the photo above, it's considerably leaner than a conventional upright corded vac, and about half the weight. Of course, you get a narrower brush width on a stick vac – 8-3/4" versus for the BDH3600SV versus 14" for the Bissell. Because of it's smaller size a stick vac makes it easier to vacuum under chairs, tables, and the like, though you still won't be able to reach under most beds, simply because of the location of the motor/dust cannister assembly – I could vacuum about 14" under my bed.

Stored on the charging base

When not in use you place the BDH3600SV on it's charging base. The next time you want to use the vac it'll be ready to go. Charging time is 4 hours, which will only be of concern if you end up having to stop mid-cleaning and wait for the vac to recharge. Which means that this vac is best suited for homes that can be vacuumed within about 20 minutes – from 700 to 900 square feet or so, depending on the speed at which you move the vac across the carpet or floor. 

Battery power status indicator

On the side of the motor housing is a battery status indicator – four LEDs that let you know at a glance how much longer you have before needing to recharge. Each LED represents approximately 25% of battery power. 

Easy thumb accessible controls

There are two buttons on the handle – one to turn the unit on and off, and the other to start and stop the brush from rotating. Generally you'll want to activate the brush for carpets and deactivate it for hardwood and tile floors.

Wide hard of head movement

I really liked the wide range of maneuverability that the BDH3600SV  provides. The head swivels and tilts effortlessly for easy maneuvering in and around furniture. And. the narrow head (10-1/2" overall width) makes it easier to get in between chair and table legs and behind furniture.

Easily removable roller brush

Occasionally you'll need to remove the roller brush to remove hair, dental floss, string, and other bits of debris that get tangled up on the bristles. It's very quick to do. A replacement roller brush is around $32 US.

And we have lift-off

A button on the handle releases the motor/dust cannister assembly, converting the stick vac into a handheld vac, making it much more convenient to vacuum stairs, baseboards, sofas, your car interior, without having to cart the whole unit with you.

Extendible snout

You can pull out the nozzle an extra 4-3/4" to extend your reach, which I find very convenient, and use practically all the time. There is a small brush that fits on the end of the nozzle which I've not found overly useful – it lacks a sufficient number of bristles to be effective. Besides, there's no place to store the brush on the vac, so it's likely to grow feet and do a walk about.

Easily disassembled

You can disassemble the components in a couple of seconds. Press a button on the rear of the handle and the clear plastic dust bin (that houses the cyclone filter) pops out. The door of the dust bin is spring loaded – pop it open to empty the debris or remove the cyclone. This makes for very quick and easy maintenance. 

In the center of the photo above is the cyclone assembly, that consists of 12 mini cyclones. These improve airflow by increasing centrifugal forces in the assembly. As dust laden air enters the cyclone assembly, the heavy debris is spun out into the dust cannister. The air then passes through the 12 mini cyclones creating a fast spinning vortex that forces the finer dust to separate from the air flow and into the dust cannister.

No fuss disposal

It couldn't be easier to dump the debris. I just hold it over the garbage can, open the cannister door, and shake the vac gently. Occasionally I need to pull the debris loose. I was surprised at how tightly packed the dust is inside the cannister. While there was still battery power left after I finished vacuuming the house, there wasn't much more room in the waste cannister.

Once a month I remove the cyclone filter and wash it. Of course, if you are allergic to dust you'll want to wear a suitable respirator when emptying the BDH3600SV – or any bagless vac for that matter. Eventually the cyclone filter will have to be replaced. The cost is pretty reasonable at $17.33 US.

The exhaust filter

On the opposite side of the vac assembly is another plastic panel that pops off to provide access to the exhaust filter, which you should also regularly clean. The exhaust filter is $1.05 US.

Black+Decker recommends cleaning the cyclone and exhaust filters regularly – which makes a lot of sense, and you'll definitely want to do – and replacing the filters every six to nine months. Replacement parts can be ordered online.  Of course, your replacement schedule may vary, depending on how frequently you use the vac, and how well you maintain the filters. Even if you replace both filters twice a year, total maintenance cost is reasonable, at about $37 US.

No cord, lots of suction, easy to maneuver
Our home has roughly 600 square feet of short pile carpeting and another 300 square feet of hard flooring, along with a short hair cat. I vacuum all the floors once a week. Over the two months I've been using the BDH3600SV I've found that it can quite comfortably do all 900 square feet on a single charge. After using it the first couple of times I immediately went over the floor again with our Bissell corded vac to see how much dust the BDH3600SV missed. Not much at all. It does a great job on all the usual debris that collects on floors, including the cat hair. At the end of each month I cleaned the filters, and removed and cleaned the roller brush. 

The BDH3600SV has a lot going for it. There is no power cord to get hung up, and the handheld vac that can be detached for smaller jobs. The battery gives about 20 minutes of run-time, sufficient for up to about 900 square feet of mixed flooring. It's very light, and easy to maneuver. And, the dust cannister is quick and easy to empty. 

On the downside, I don't particularly like the fact that it has a non-replaceable battery. At this price range I would have expected it to have a HEPA filter.
While the vac works well on short pile carpet I have my reservations about using it on deep pile carpets, as the roller brush isn't height adjustable. I also don't expect it to last as long as a conventional corded vac, which might explain why it comes with only a 2 year warranty.

Still, for anyone who wants to cut the power cord, and is looking for a light, easy to maneuver vac with ample suction power, and can live with the 20 minute run-time, then the Black+Decker BDH3600SV is definately worth considering.


  • Power: 36V lithium-ion battery
  • Charging Time: 4 hours
  • Air Watts: 40
  • Run-Time: 17 minutes
  • Waste Capacity: 15.2 oz.
  • Filter: Washable
  • Weight: 7.9 pounds
  • Length: 44-1/2"
  • Warranty: 2 years
  • Includes: Hand vac, storage/charging stand, spare exhaust filter, retractable crevice tool, brush tool

SOURCE:Find a Retailer

Carl Duguay
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