REVIEWS / Vacuum Cleaner Reviews

Alexandra Bellamy
Let's not beat about the bush, a lot of people have the same question: is a Dyson really the best vacuum cleaner you can get? Well here are some of its rivals, and it's anything but a foregone conclusion ...

We test how effective each vacuum cleaner is on a range of surfaces (thin carpet, thick carpet, hard floors, wood floors). We also assess how easy each model is to use. Can it be taken apart easily? Are the various parts easy to find, store, attach? Do the filters clog up quickly? Are they washable? Plus, any extra functions like power adjusters and filter use level indicators are also welcome. We then check how sturdy each vac is, both in day-to-day use and with an optional crash-test. Power use and noise levels are also measured.

When you start to look at them in any detail, you realise that people try to sell vacuum cleaners in the same way they push the latest computers, printers and televisions: new technology, more energy efficiency and smaller, quieter, more powerful devices are the mainstay of ads for all these products.

Despite the fact that almost everybody has one, vacuum cleaners are attracting more attention due to advances in technology.  Bags—which were expensive consumables—are largely disappearing, and dust is now squashed to smithereens by powerful cyclonic forces inside. 

While manufacturers were once keen to boast of the power of their vacs with huge numbers of watts, they're now starting to focus on lowering power use for greater efficiency without affecting suction power. HEPA filters are now pretty commonplace as a sign of quality in bagless vacuum cleaners, but don't forget to check how often you'll need to change any filters before you buy, and how easy they are to access. Some manufacturers have stopped bothering trying to make their vacs quieter, especially since most users equate high noise levels with high suction power. However, others are as keen as ever to cut noise for a more comfortable user experience. And while the air flow rate and depression can give some indication of how well a vac does the job, high figures aren't necessarily enough to guarantee good performances. In fact, they can prove counter-productive!

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