Vacuums

Vacuums
top canister Kenmore’s Intuition 28014, $600, lets you leave the brushes behind for bare floors.
Vacuums
Our tests show several standouts
and some big names to skip
U
pright vacuums might clean
up in sales, but the latest canis­
ters are rivaling them in per­
formance. You’ll also find good
smaller vacs for smaller messes. But some
versions of Dirt Devil’s handheld Kone make
some everyday cleaning risky, and we’ve
judged them Not Acceptable as a result.
Our latest tests show that Kenmore’s
new Intuition 28014 has edged out the
Electrolux Oxygen EL6988 as our topscoring canister. Impressive carpet clean­
ing and the ability to simply lift the wand
34
out of the power head for bare floors helped
it clinch the top spot in our Ratings. A
cage that keeps the bag from blocking the
exhaust port is also a plus. But at $600 and
26 pounds, it’s pricey and heavy.
Stick vacs, sweepers, and handheld
models offer easier carrying and storage
for less money. Most we tested weigh un­
der 5 pounds and cost less than $100.
Sweepers, which use motorized brushes
without suction, and handheld vacuums
were also relatively good at whisking away
cereal and other spills too small to warrant
con s um er r ep o rt s oc to b e r 2 0 0 8
hauling out your full-sized vac. But most
flubbed at least one of our rigorous tests.
Our tests found problems with some
versions of Dirt Devil’s best-selling hand­
held Kone M0213, $45, and the similar Kone
M0212, $43. Test samples spewed sand and
broken glass out of their exhaust ports and
toward the faces and eyes of our testers.
(See Safety Alert on facing page.)
Some upright and canister brands are
touting easier handling and versatility.
You’ll also find robotic vacs that promise
to do your cleaning for you, along with
models aimed specifically at bare floors or
pet hair. But our tests of more than 80
models sucked the air out of some of those
promises. Here are the details:
Designs that trump performance.
Dyson’s DC24 upright, $400, is a smaller
update of its swiveling-ball design. Twist­
ing the handle steers the ball-mounted
power head for easy maneuvering. But
carpet cleaning was mediocre, and airflow
for tools proved meager. Eureka’s Capture+
upright, $170, has a brush that extends to
the sides for cleaning edges, though it
didn’t stand out on bare floors. And while
Bissel’s Pet Hair Eraser upright, $150, de­
livers the pet-hair pickup it suggests, it
was less impressive at other tasks.
Hybrids that disappoint. Kenmore’s
Premalite upright, $400, has a handle
that detaches and doubles as a tool wand.
But the clip that holds it arrived broken on
two models and cracked on a third during
testing. That can reduce airflow and make
the handle release too easily. A removable
handle also gives the $60 Shark Trans­
former stick vac a handheld mode that ex­
celled at carpet cleaning. But it was only
fair on carpets with the handle attached
and poor at controlling dust emissions.
“Conveniences” that aren’t. Dirt
Devil promotes its Kruz stick vacuum,
$100, for cleaning bare floors, but it
wasn’t very good at that task and was
poor at cleaning edges. The Electrolux
Twin Clean canister, $500, had unim­
pressive airflow despite its spare onboard
filter. Hoover’s handheld Sidewinder,
$40, has a rotating brush, but was only
fair at cleaning carpets and bare floors.
A robot that rebels. Opt for the $350
Roomba 560 and you get a vacuum that
roves on its own for 35 to 45 minutes be­
fore returning to its charger. But it was
among the worst in our tests at cleaning
edges and corners, and sometimes ven­
tured beyond the electronic borders we
set up to contain it within rooms.
Michael smith
lab tests
BY THE NUMBERS 81 models tested 2 miles of carpet cleaned 290 bags used
How to choose
Full-sized vacuums are still your first
choice for most cleaning. While many
small vacs can clean a carpet’s surface,
none can deep-clean imbedded dirt like
larger models can. Here’s what to
consider:
Prioritize your cleaning. Uprights
are still better overall on carpets, a vacu­
um’s toughest job. But canisters remain
tops for cleaning bare floors, stairs,
drapes, and upholstery. Some also did
well in our carpet tests.
Be picky about features. Uprights
and canisters with a bag hold more dirt
than bagless vacs and spread less dust
when emptied, a concern if you have al­
lergies or respiratory problems. Manual
pile-height adjustment lets you raise or
lower the brush for carpets and bare
floors, while a brush on/off switch helps
prevent scratching floors and scattering
debris. Vacs with a bag and brush switch
are shown in the Ratings on page 36.
Choose a cord for bigger jobs. While
cordless sweepers ran up to 49 minutes per
charge, most small cordless vacs ranged
from 6 to 15 minutes. While that might be
fine for most small spills, you’ll probably
prefer a corded vacuum for larger ones.
5 safety alert
2 Dirt Devil Kone models Not Acceptable
Dirt Devil calls its best-selling, handheld
Kone M0213, $45, and similar M0212, $43, “an
elegant, sculptural form that can be left on
display.” Our tests suggest some Kone owners
should do precisely that.
Four of the M0213 and two of the M0212 models
threw some of the sand they picked up out of
their exhaust ports at testers’ faces and eyes,
something we didn’t find with other hand vacs.
We used fine, uniform silica sand as we do with all
vacuums to test carpet and floor cleaning. To
better assess the models’ real-world risks, we
also used sand found in many backyards and
glass from broken lightbulbs—common
cleaning messes. Both models released small
particles of each in the same way.
We notified the Consumer Product Safety
Commission and TTI Floor Care, which
owns the Dirt Devil brand. TTI confirmed
that both models share the same design
and subsequently did its own tests with
silica sand. The company then told us
its tests showed “blow-by” in certain
units and linked it to an undersized
filter adapter on some Kones with an
“L” on the unit and box (see photos).
The M0213 models with a “J” are from
a different plant and have a
better-sealing adapter; the part fits
all “L” versions, including the M0212,
TTI said. The company told us it had
received no injury reports and believes the
“blow-by” does not pose an issue but would
send the newer part free of cost to owners who
asked for it.
Our tests show that newer, “J” units and older, “L”
versions we retrofitted with the newer filter
adapter kept fine silica sand contained. But our
earlier findings remain troubling given that
roughly 1 million Kones were produced and that
L-code units were still in stores at press time.
Because using a handheld vac typically puts your
face and eyes near the machine, we believe the
L-code Dirt Devil Kone M0213 and all M0212
models pose a safety risk and we have judged
them Not Acceptable.
We believe owners of L-code models should
get the improved adapter without having to
ask, and that TTI should pub­licize its fix and
send it to all registered owners. We’ve asked
the CPSC to open an investigation. If you
own an L-code M0213 or any M0212, don’t
use it until you install the improved
adapter. Call 800-321-1134 for the part.
Choose an upright or canister for most cleaning and a small vac as a backup
UPRIGHTS
Best for deep-cleaning
carpets. They’re lower- priced
and easier to store than
canisters overall.
But you must push and pull
the entire machine for most
floor cleaning. Uprights are
also less stable than canisters
when cleaning on stairs.
Price $70 to $1,350.
CANISTERS
STICK VACS
Best for bare floors, stairs,
drapes, and upholstery. More
stable on stairs. The power
head fits better under
furniture.
But canister vacs tend
to be bulkier, pricier,
and harder to store
than upright models.
But most were unimpressive
at even surface carpet
cleaning. Some are priced as
high as upright vacuums.
Price $170 to $1,900.
Price $20 to $120.
HANDHELD VACS
SWEEPERS/BROOMS
Best for small, localized
spills. Many did well at
light carpet, floor, and edge
cleaning.
Best for light surface
cleaning without stooping.
A suctionless revolving
brush makes some
relatively quiet.
But cordless vacs have
limited run and long recharge
times. All require stooping and
put you close to dust and debris.
Price $15 to $200.
Best for cleaning small messes
from surfaces without
stooping. Many use suction
only, though some have a
revolving brush.
But stick vacs tend to be
better on floors, handhelds
on carpets and edges.
Brooms require effort.
Price $10 to $100.
ROBOTIC VACS
Best for minimal effort
between vacuuming
with a regular vac in
uncluttered rooms.
But they’re pricey as
a group and are
time-consuming to set
up. Most missed edges
and corners in our tests.
Price $130 to $1,800.
octob e r 2008 w w w.C o n su m e r R e p o rt s. o rg
35
lab tests Vacuums
b Recommended
These are high-performing models that
stand out for the reasons below.
Best uprights for most:
A1 Kenmore $350 CR Best Buy
A2 Kenmore $350 CR Best Buy
A3Eureka $150 CR Best Buy
A7Eureka $140
Both Kenmores are tops for all-around
cleaning and pet hair. A1 is quieter and better
on carpets; A2 is bagless. The Eurekas
trade some versatility for a lower price.
Between them, A3 offers better bare-floor
performance; A7 is better on carpets and
has a bit more airflow.
■
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$ 350 75
3
Kenmore (Sears) Progressive
35922 35923
Kenmore (Sears) Progressive
36932 36933
Eureka Boss Smart Vac 4870[ ]
4
5
Kirby Sentria ⁄
Riccar SupraLite RSL3
6
7
8
Hoover Tempo Widepath
U5140-900
Eureka Boss 4D 5893[ ]
Riccar Brilliance Premium
9
Dyson DC17 Absolute Animal
Simplicity F3500
Simplicity Synchrony Premium
B1 and B2 are tops for all major cleaning.
Between B5 and B6, pick the Kenmore for its
easier handling and pet-hair performance,
the Hoover for its higher airflow for tools.
B15 is among the least-expensive canisters
sold, though you pay a price in carpet
cleaning and handling.
con sum er r ep o rt s o c tob e r 2 0 0 8
Bag
Pet hair
Handling
Noise
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15 Hoover Mach5 U5194-900
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‹
DC14 Animal, All Floors
B6 Hoover $250 CR Best Buy
B15 Hoover $170
Features
Emissions
UPRIGHTS These tend to be better for carpets and are easier to store.
2
Weight Test results
(lb.)
Bare floors
A
U5265-900, U5269-900
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Overall score
Carpet
Similar models, in small type,
are comparable to tested model.
1
Price
Simplicity F3600
Best canisters for most:
B1 Kenmore $600
B2 Electrolux $400
B5 Kenmore $300 CR Best Buy
36
Brand & model
5990, 5770-H
If less weight is worth some
trade-offs:
A5 Riccar $350
A19Bissell $120
Both of these upright vacuums weigh less
than 20 pounds. The A5 is very light but
doesn’t accept tools. Also consider the A14 for
its carpet cleaning. Choose the bagless A19
for its ability to accept tools, its quieter
running, and its low price. The Hoover A6 and
A16 look attractive, but there are morereliable brands of uprights.
Brush on/off switch
These models offer the best combination of
performance and price. All are Recommended.
Tool airflow
a CR Best Buy
In performance order, within types. (Types designated A, B, etc.)
Rank
Top uprights and canisters tend to do best
on carpets, the toughest and most common
cleaning. Most are also on the heavy side,
though you’ll find some lighter alternatives.
Ratings Vacuums
Recommendation
Overview
5 Excellent
4 Very good
3 Good
2 Fair
1 Poor
82G72, 82G7H
Dyson DC07 All Floors DC07 Animal
Dyson DC18 Slim
Dyson DC24 Ball All Floors
Bissell Lift-Off Revolution Turbo
3760-1 3760-2, 3760-3, 3760-4, 6860-H,
4220-9
24 Eureka Capture+ 8851[ ] 8853[ ]
25 Kenmore (Sears) Premalite
37060
26 Bissell Velocity 75B21
27 Dirt Devil Ultra Vision Turbo
M087305
28 Dirt Devil i M130000
29 Hoover WindTunnel Cyclonic
U5780-900
30 Panasonic AeroSpin MC-UL675
31 Oreck XL Deluxe U3760HH
32 Hoover Elite Rewind U5507-900
33 Halo UVX
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Brush on/off switch
Bag
Pet hair
Handling
Features
Emissions
Weight Test results
(lb.)
UPRIGHTS continued
34 Hoover Fold Away Widepath
$ 80
U5175-900 ‹
35 Dirt Devil Reaction M110000 › 150
270
36 Koblenz U-610
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Overall score
Noise
Price
B2 Electrolux
Tool airflow
Rank
Brand & model
A5 Riccar
Carpet
A3 Eureka
Bare floors
Recommendation
A1 Kenmore
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CANISTERS These tend to be easier to use with tools and are more stable on stairs.
Kenmore (Sears) Intuition
$ 600 73
28014 28015
Electrolux Oxygen EL6988[ ]
400 71
Electrolux Oxygen3 Ultra
500 68
EL7020[ ]
Kenmore ( Sears) Progressive
500 68
27914 27915
Kenmore (Sears) Progressive
300 67
27514 27515, 28614, 28615
Hoover WindTunnel Bagless
250 66
S3765-040 S3755
Miele Callisto S5280 S5281
880 66
SEBO air belt C3.1
970 66
Bosch Formula Electro Duo
500 66
Hepa BSG71360UC
Riccar 1700 Simplicity S36
900 65
Miele Plus S251
600 65
Oreck Dutch Tech DTX1400B
900 65
Electrolux Twin Clean EL7055[ ] 500 63
Miele Direct Connect S514
700 62
Hoover Duros S3590
170 61
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20
Aerus Lux Guardian C154E
Dyson DC21 Stowaway ‹
Electrolux Harmony EL6985[ ]
Rainbow e-series E2
Metropolitan Professionals
ADM-4PNHSF
21 Aerus Lux Legacy C153C
22 Hoover Constellation S3345
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Most and least reliable
Kirby has been among the more reliable
brands of upright vacuums. In general,
canisters have been more repair-prone
than uprights. That’s what we found when
we asked 135,000 readers who bought a
vacuum between 2003 and 2007 about
their experiences. The graph below shows
the percentage of vacuum brands that
needed a repair or had a serious problem.
(Belt replacement isn’t included because
it’s usually an inexpensive fix.) Differences
of less than 3 points aren’t meaningful,
and we’ve adjusted the data to eliminate
differences linked solely to age and use.
Models within a brand may vary, and
design or manufacture changes may affect
future reliability. Still, choosing a brand
with a good repair history can improve
your odds of getting a reliable model.
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⁄ Self-propelled. € Does not accept tools. ‹ Folds for storage. › This model’s Turbo Tool accessory (date codes J7060 through
J7365) was recalled because pieces inside can break and be ejected, posing a laceration hazard. Recall does not affect the vacuum.
B6 Hoover
VACUUMS
Fewer
repairs
More
repairs
4
Kirby
6
Dyson
Eureka
Bissell
Dirt Devil
Kenmore (Sears)
Riccar
Oreck
Electrolux
Panasonic
Simplicity
Hoover
7
8
8
8
10
10
10
11
12
13
10
11
11
12
Miele
Electrolux
Kenmore (Sears)
Hoover
0%
5%
UPRIGHTS
10%
15%
20%
CANISTERS
Guide to the Ratings
Overall score mainly reflects cleaning, airflow, handling, noise, and emissions.
Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed by precise overall score. Scores
for previously tested models may vary from past tests due to testing or scoring
changes. Carpet gauges lifting embedded talc and sand from medium-pile
carpet. Bare floors denotes vacuuming sand without dispersing. Tool airflow
measures airflow through hose, starting with empty bag or bin, with increasing
amounts of dust-simulating wood flour. Noise reflects decibel-meter results;
models scored poor mandate hearing protection. Emissions is release of small
particles with motor on, with and without vacuuming. Handling is ease of
pushing, pulling, carrying. Pet hair is pickup on medium-pile carpet. Weight is
vacuum and onboard tools. Price is approximate retail. Under brand & model,
brackets denote availability of different colors and/or retailer exclusivity.
octob e r 2008 w w w.C o n su m e r R e p o rt s. org
37
lab tests Vacuums
Ratings Small vacuums
5 Excellent
4 Very good
3 Good
2 Fair
1 Poor
In performance order, within types. (Types designated A, B, etc.)
Like uprights and canisters, the best small
vacs tend to be best at tougher carpet
cleaning. But none can deep-clean carpets
like their larger cousins, so think of them as
backup vacs.
■
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d
Overall score
Weight Test results
(lb.)
These models offer the best combination of
performance and price. All are Recommended.
3
4
5
6
d Recommended
7
Dirt Devil Power Stick
M084100
Shark Transformer EP602
Dirt Devil KRUZ M0313SLV
Eureka Quick-Up 96D
Electrolux Ergorapido
EL1005
Electrolux Pronto EL1000[ ]
These are high-performing models that
stand out for the reasons below.
B
HAND VACS These are best for spot-cleaning small spaces. c CR Best Buy
Best stick vacs for most:
A1 Hoover $40
A2 Dirt Devil $40
Stick vacs save you the hassle of bending or
kneeling, though none was flawless. The
corded A1 and A2 were best on both carpets
and pet hair—two especially tough cleaning
tasks. The Hoover offers fine edge cleaning
with lots of dust emissions; the Dirt Devil
trades edge cleaning for carpet performance.
Best hand vacs for most:
B1Black & Decker $60
B3Black & Decker $30
B7 Dirt Devil $50
These cordless cleaners ran 17 to 49 minutes
per charge in our tests. Strong carpet and
pet-hair cleaning make the C1 our top choice,
though it’s hardest to use because you hold
and wield this motorized broom like the
old-fashioned kind. Using the lighter,
wheeled C2 is easier, though you give up
some performance overall.
38
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SWEEPERS/BROOMS These are best for quieter cleaning without a cord.
2
3
4
Dirt Devil Broom Vac
MBV2030[ ]
Swivel Sweeper
Bissell Perfect Sweep Turbo
2880
Shark Cordless VX3
Noise
na &X &Z &B &X &X &B &Z
na
12
11
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
■
d
■
d
Pet hair na
8
5
4
■
d
1
Ease of use
7
60 56
100 48
40 45
3
2
Edges
40 67
Black & Decker Pivot
PHV1800
Electrolux Ergorapido
EL1005 ⁄
Black & Decker Pet Series
Retriever HV9010P
Shark Transformer EP602 ⁄
Electrolux Pronto EL1000[ ] ⁄
Dyson Root 6 DC16 All Floors
Dirt Devil Kurv M0216
DirtTamer Ultima V2510
Shark Cordless SV736
Hoover Sidewinder S1156[ ]
■
d
All weigh 4 pounds or less. Between the
cordless B1 and B7, choose the Black &
Decker for its pet-hair pickup, the Dirt Devil
for its lighter weight and fine all-around
performance. The corded B3 offers unlimited
run time, though it emitted some of what it
picked up into the air. Also consider the
pricey B6 if pet hair is an issue.
Best sweepers and brooms for most:
C1 Dirt Devil $50
C2Swivel Sweeper $35
1
Carpet
STICK VACS These corded and cordless vacs are fine for short-pile carpets and floors.
Hoover Flair S2200
$ 40 68
7
na na &C &Z &X &X &B &C &Z
1
2
Bare floors
A
Charge time (hr.)
Similar models, in small type,
are comparable to tested model.
Run time (min.)
Overview
Price
Rank
B3 Black
& Decker
Recommendation
Brand & model
Emissions
A1 Hoover
60 82
4
10
16 &Z &Z &Z &C &Z &C &Z
100 81
3
12
15 &Z &Z &Z &C &Z &C &V
30 81
4
na
na &Z &Z &Z &X &B &V &V
7
2
3
2
3
3
4
na
12
6
15
9
14
na
na
12
3
16
10
16
na
60
100
150
50
70
40
40
77
77
76
74
68
65
53
&Z
&X
&Z
&Z
&Z
&C
&V
&Z
&Z
&Z
&X
&X
&X
&V
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&X
&X
&C
&C
&C
&C
&C
&C
&B
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&Z
&V
&C
&V
&C
&V
&V
&V
&C
&C
&Z
&X
&X
&X
&Z
50 67
4
17
16 &Z &X &X &V &Z &V &Z
35 67
2
28
6
40 65
4
49
12 &X &Z &B &C na &Z &C
80 61
5
23
12 &X &X &B &X na &X &V
&C &X &X &X na &X &C
NOT ACCEPTABLE Handheld Dirt Devil Kone M0213 (L-code only) and similar M0212. These models threw particles
of picked-up sand and glass out of their exhaust ports, posing a safety risk to testers’ faces and eyes. See Safety Alert on
page 35 for more details.
⁄ Comes as part of tested stick vac.
Guide to the Ratings
Overall score mainly reflects surface and edge cleaning, ease of use, emissions, noise, and run and charge
times. Displayed scores are rounded; models are listed by precise overall score. Scores for previously tested
models may vary from past tests due to testing or scoring changes. Carpet is how well models removed
surface debris from medium-pile carpet. Bare floors denotes removal of surface debris from tile set in
grout. Edges is how well units picked up debris from where floor meets walls. Ease of use is bag capacity,
operating effort, and clearance under furniture. Emissions is release of small particles with motor on, with
and without vacuuming. Noise reflects decibel-meter results; models scored poor mandate hearing
protection. Pet hair is pickup on medium-pile carpet. Weight is rounded to nearest pound, with batteries
(cordless models). Run time is average per charge (cordless). Charge time (cordless) is time to reach full
charge, according to manufacturers. Price is approximate retail. Under brand & model, brackets denote
color availability and/or retailer exclusivity.
co n s um er r ep o rt s oc to b e r 2 0 0 8
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