The tests behind the Ratings you need to know

The tests behind the Ratings

Overall score is based mainly on cleaning and ease of use. Cleaning on carpet shows how much embedded talc and sand a vac lifted from a medium-pile carpet. Floors shows how well a vac sucked up sand without dispersing it on bare floors. Tools indicates strength of airflow through the hose. Noise is based on measurements in decibels. We used a particle counter to measure emissions of wood flour released while vacuuming. When supplied with the vacuum, a microfiltration dust bag, designed to capture allergens and other small particles, was used in our tests. Ease of use evaluates dirt capacity and ease of pushing, cleaning under furniture, and carrying. Key features: On/off for brush allows the user to disable the rotating brush, which isn’t needed when cleaning bare floors or using tools. Manual pile adjustment provides better control of the power-head height than an automatic adjustment system. Suction control lets you adjust the hose airflow, a useful feature when using tools to clean drapes and fabrics. Evaluate the cost of replacement filters when considering a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air HEPA filter. (Prices are indicated in the Recommendations & Notes on page 30.) In brand and model, a bracketed letter indicates the color code for the model we tested. For most models, price is approximate retail; for #12, it includes both an upright and an accompanying canister, which was not tested. An asterisk * denotes the price we paid.

Recommendations & notes

UPRIGHTS

See the Ratings, page 28, for key distinguishing features: on/off for brush, manual pile-height adjustment, suction control, and HEPA filter. Most have: Disposable microfiltration dust bag. Flexible 5- to 7-foot hose, upholstery tool, crevice tool, and brush, all stowed onboard. A 30- to 35-foot power cord with quick-release wrap-around storage. A blower motor protected from jamming, overheating, or electrical overload. Manual rug pile-height adjustment. At least a 1-yr. warranty on parts and labor. Most were: Excellent or very good at cleaning bare floors. Fair at reaching under furniture. Prone to tipping when hose was extended.

1 Hoover WindTunnel Ultra U6425-900 $300 Very good; shines in all aspects of cleaning. Very easy to push. But may not fit on all stairs.

FEATURES: 21 lb. Bags $1.96 each (3-pack). Selfpropelled. Full-bag indicator. Cord less convenient to wrap than others. SIMILAR: WindTunnel Ultra U6423-900, $300; U6445-900, $419; U6455-900, $429.

2 Kenmore (Sears) Progressive with Direct Drive 39912 $370 Very good. Excels on carpet. Unique beltless motor for brush.

FEATURES: 21 lb. Bags $4 each (2-pack). Separate brush motor also protected from jamming or overheating. Full-bag indicator. Dirt sensor. Telescopic wand.

AVAILABILITY: Discontinued and not available; replaced by Progressive with Direct Drive 30912,$370.

3 Kenmore (Sears) Progressive 38912 $270 Very good.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Bags $4 each (2-pack). Full-bag indicator. Dirt sensor. Telescopic wand. Hose relatively short. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued and not available; replaced by Progressive 30712, $250.

4 Sharp EC-T2860 $230 Very good–notably on carpet–at a good price. But poor clearance under furniture. It may not fit on all stairs.

FEATURES: 18 lb. Bags $2 each (3-pack). Full-bag indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. Dirt sensor. SIMILAR: EC-T2810, $170; EC-T2840, $130; EC-T2850, $145.

5 Kenmore (Sears) Whispertone 38199 $200

Very good and modestly priced.

FEATURES: 18 lb. Bags $1.25 each (8-pack). Telescopic wand. Hard to push. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued and not available; replaced by Whispertone 39189, $150.

6 Kirby Gsix G6D $1,250

Very good–though pricey. Less prone to tip when hose extended. But may not fit on stairs.

FEATURES: 24 lb. Bags $3.17 each (3-pack). Dust bag provides HEPA filtration. Self-propelled. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hard to carry. Tools not stowed onboard. Vulnerable to damage from debris. Hose not onboard.

7 Hoover Breathe Easy U5270-930 $190

Very good. Less prone to tip when hose extended.

FEATURES: 17 lb. Bags $1.96 each (3-pack). Lacks blower-motor protection. Hose relatively long. Dirt sensor. Hard to carry and push. Vulnerable to damage from debris. SIMILAR: Breathe Easy U5250-930, $180; U5252-930, $170; U5253-900, $180; U5255-900, $180. 8 Panasonic Cord Reel MC-V7389 $200

Very good. The only tested upright with a handy retractable cord. Less prone to tip when hose extended.

FEATURES: 18 lb. Bags $2 each (3-pack). Hose relatively long. HEPA filter costs $14.95, change annually. Power cord relatively short. Hard to push. SIMILAR: Cord Reel MC-V7365, $200; MC-V7380, $180; MC-V7390, $200; MC-V7395, $250; MC-V7398, $250; MC-V7399, $350.

9 Simplicity 6550 $300 Good, but may not fit on all stairs.

FEATURES: 17 lb. Bags $1.66 each (3-pack). Telescopic wand. Hose relatively short. SIMILAR: Simplicity 6570, $330.

10 Dirt Devil Swivel Glide Vision with Sensor 089900 $230

A good vacuum, but Dirt Devil has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 20 lb. Plastic dust bin. HEPA filter costs $25, change annually. Hose relatively long. Full-bin indicator. Dirt sensor. Telescopic wand. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hard to push.

11 Sharp Super Charged Twin Energy EC-T5970 $250

Good, but poor clearance under furniture.

FEATURES: 18 lb. Bags $2 each (3-pack). Full-bag indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. Dirt sensor. SIMILAR: Super Charged Twin Energy ECT5965, $250; EC-T5980, $250.

12 Oreck XL Xtended Life XL2600HH $370 Good, but has no hose or tools. Price includes compact canister with hose and tools (not tested).

FEATURES: 9 lb. Bags $2.19 each (8-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hard to carry. Vulnerable to damage from debris. SIMILAR: XL2800H2, $470.

13 Bissell Lift-Off 3554 $170 This vac is a hybrid: a removable canister mounted on an upright frame. It’s a good choice–and relatively stable on stairs.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Bags $4.50 each (2-pack). Lacks blower-motor protection. Hose relatively short.

14 Samsung Quiet Storm VAU-7480[R] $200

A good choice. May not fit on all stairs.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Bags $2 each (2-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Full-bag indicator. Hard to push. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued but available. SIMILAR: Quiet Storm VAU-6400, $249; VAU-7482, $200; VAU-7686, $229; VAU-7884, $249.

15 Hoover Caddy Vac U5132-900 $150 A good choice, and less prone to tip when hose extended.

FEATURES: 16 lb. Bags 83 cents each (3-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hard to carry. Power cord relatively short. Vulnerable to damage from debris. SIMILAR: Caddy Vac U5130-900, $150; U5131-900, $150; U5133-900, $150; U5160-900, $150; U5168-900, $165.

16 Fantom Cyclone XT $270

A good choice. Less prone to tip when hose extended. But it may not fit on all stairs.

FEATURES: 22 lb. Plastic dust bin. HEPA filter costs $69.95, change every 1 12 to 2 yr. Hose relatively long. Full-bin indicator. Telescopic wand. Manufacturer advises against do-it-yourself maintenance.

17 Dirt Devil MVP Swivel Glide 086500 $130

A good choice. Easy to carry. But Dirt Devilhas been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 16 lb. Bags $3.33 each (5-pack). HEPA filter costs $11.95, change annually. Hose relatively long. Full-bag indicator. Telescopic wand. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued but available. SIMILAR: MVP Swivel Glide 086300,$95; 086350,$100; 086420,$130.

18 Kenmore (Sears) 39109 $110

A good choice.

FEATURES: 14 lb. Bags $1.25 each (2-pack). Cord less convenient to wrap than others. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. Lacks upholstery tool. SIMILAR: 39139, $140.

19 Bissell Pure Air Deluxe 3541 $150

Good, and less prone to tip when hose extended. But noisy, and poor clearance under furniture.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Bags $4.50 each (2-pack). Full-bag indicator. Cord less convenient to wrap than others. Vulnerable to damage from debris. Hard to carry.

20 Eureka Bravo II The Boss Plus 7642 $80

Good, with large bag capacity. But Eurekahas been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 13 lb. Bags $3.66 each (3-pack). Lacks blower-motor protection. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. Vulnerable to damage from debris.

21 Hoover Soft & Light Supreme U4266-930 $90

Good. Less prone to tip when hose extended.

FEATURES: 13 lb. Bags 83 cents each (3-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. Vulnerable to damage from debris. Hard to carry. SIMILAR: Soft & Light Supreme U4262-930, $85; U4264-930, $70.

22 Kenmore (Sears) Professional 31012 $350

Good, though pricey.

FEATURES: 18 lb. Bags $1.25 each (8-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Full-bag indicator. Telescopic wand. Hose relatively short. Lacks headlamp.

23 Eureka Smart Vac Dirt Alert 7770 $120

A good vac, but Eureka has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 17 lb. Bags $3.66 each (3-pack). Dirt sensor. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. Vulnerable to damage from debris.

24 Dirt Devil Swivel Glide 086350 $100

A good choice, but Dirt Devil has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 14 lb. Bags $1 each (3-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Telescopic wand. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. Lacks headlamp. SIMILAR: Swivel Glide 086300,$95; 086420, $130; 086500,$130.

25 Dirt Devil Swivel Glide Vision 086910 $200

Good, but may not fit on all stairs. Dirt Devil has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Plastic dust bin. HEPA filter costs $25, change annually. Hose relatively long. Full-bin indicator. Telescopic wand. SIMILAR: Swivel Glide Vision 086900, $175 ; 086925, $200.

26 Goldstar Twin Turbo V-7515T $350

A good choice. Less prone to tip when hose is extended.

FEATURES: 21 lb. Bags $1.33 each (3-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. HEPA filter costs $6, change every 6 mo. Full-bag indicator. Telescopic wand. Hose relatively long. Lacks blower-motor protection. Hard to carry. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued but may be available.

27 Eureka Smart Vac Dirt Alert 4476 $160

A good machine and easy to carry, but Eureka has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 16 lb. Bags $3.33 each (3-pack). HEPA filter costs $29.99, change every 6 mo. Dirt sensor. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short. SIMILAR: Smart Vac Dirt Alert 4460, $120; 4469, $120 ; 4473, $130.

28 Sanyo Dirt Hunter SCB1220 $220

Good, but poor clearance under furniture.

FEATURES:19 lb. Plastic dust bin. Lifetime HEPA filter. Hose relatively long. Full-bin indicator. Lacks blowermotor protection. Cord less convenient to wrap than others.

29 Kenmore (Sears) Bagless Cyclonic System 39259 $260

Good. Less prone to tip when hose extended. But poor clearance under furniture. Dust bin doesn’t hold much.

FEATURES: 21 lb. Plastic dust bin. Washable HEPA filter. Hose relatively long. Full-bin indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. Small rotating brush for stairs. Lacks upholstery tool.

30 Eureka WhirlWind 4480 $170

Good, and easy to carry, but may not fit on all stairs. Poor clearance under furniture. Dust bin doesn’t hold much. Eureka has been among the less reliable brands of uprights.

FEATURES: 19 lb. Plastic dust bin. HEPA filter costs $29.95, change every 6 mo. Full-bin indicator. Cord less convenient to wrap than others. SIMILAR: WhirlWind 4481, $170; 4483, $200; 4485, $230.

CANISTERS

See the Ratings, page 28, for key distinguishing features: on/off for brush, manual rug pile-height adjustment, suction control, and HEPA filter. Most have: Disposable microfiltration dust bag. Flexible 5- to 6-foot hose. Upholstery and crevice tools, and brush. A 20- to 30-foot retractable power cord. Detachable power nozzle. At least 1-yr. warranty on parts and labor. No blower-motor protection. Most were: Excellent at cleaning bare floors. Very good for reaching under furniture. Very convenient.

31 Samsung Quiet Storm VAC-9048[R] $350

Very good overall. A very good choice at cleaning carpets, and quieter than most. But hard to push.

FEATURES: 22 lb. Bags $2 each (2-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Full-bag indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued but available; to be replaced by VAC-9049,$350. SIMILAR: Quiet Storm VAC-9068, $429.

32 Hoover WindTunnel S3630 $300

A very good carpet cleaner; reaches far under furniture. More stable on stairs than most.

FEATURES: 22 lb. Bags $1.96 each (3-pack). Has blower-motor protection. Full-bag indicator. SIMILAR: WindTunnel S3640, $290; S3646, $379; S3655, $400.

33 Electrolux Guardian C134A $1,200

A very good vacuum, though hard to carry. More stable on stairs than most. There are better, less expensive alternatives.

FEATURES:26 lb. Bags $1.66 each (24-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. HEPA filter costs $54.95, change every 6 mo. Has blower-motor protection. Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Hose relatively long. Full-bag indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. Small motorized brush for stairs. Manufacturer advises against do-it-yourself maintenance.

34 Kenmore (Sears) Progressive 29612 $300

A very good vacuum; very good on carpets.

FEATURES:25 lb. Bags $4 each (2-pack). Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Hose relatively long. Full-bag indicator. Small motorized brush for stairs. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued; replaced by 20712,$300. SIMILAR: Progressive 20612, $300.

35 Oreck DutchTech DTX1300[B] $900

A very good vacuum–easy to carry, more stable on stairs and quieter than most. Able to reach far under furniture. But hard to push.

FEATURES:20 lb. Bags $2.79 each (5-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Hose relatively long. Full-bag indicator. Motor control with more than one speed. Telescopic wand. Lacks headlamp. Manufacturer advises against do-it-yourself maintenance.

36 Kenmore (Sears) Whispertone 29412 $240

A very good vacuum.

FEATURES: 23 lb. Bags $1.25 each (8-pack). Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Full-bag indicator. Small rotating brush for stairs. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued and not available; replaced by 20412, $250. SIMILAR: Whispertone 20312, $250.

37 Panasonic MC-V9635 $300

A very good vacuum.

FEATURES: 24 lb. Bags $2 each (3- pack). Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Full-bag indicator. Dirt sensor. Hose relatively short. Power cord relatively short.

38 Hoover PowerMax Deluxe S3610 $230

A good machine, very good at carpet cleaning, and very easy to push. But poor emissions.

FEATURES: 21 lb. Bags $1.96 each (3-pack). Full-bag indicator. AVAILABILITY: Discontinued but still available; to be replaced by S3607, $200. SIMILAR: PowerMax Deluxe, S3601,$190;

39 Fantom Lightning $290

A good machine, and more stable on steps than most, but only fair tool suction.

FEATURES:24 lb. Plastic dust bin. HEPA filter costs $69.95, change every 1 1/2 to 2 yr. Has blower-motor protection. Brush motor shuts off when it jams. Fullbin indicator. Lacks headlamp.

40 Eureka Smart Vac 6865 $200

A good machine and easy to carry, but Eurekahas been among the less reliable brands of canisters.

FEATURES:19 lb. Bags $2.33 each (3-pack). Supplied with standard (not microfiltration) bags. Has blowermotor protection. Hose relatively long. Full-bag indicator. SIMILAR: Smart Vac 6856, $160; 6859, $300; 6870, $300; 6872,$300; 6878, $300.

Repair History

Vacuums

Vacuums are a fairly troublesome product. The graph shows the percentage of full-size uprights and full-size canisters with a power nozzle purchased new between 1995 and 1999 that were ever repaired or that had a serious problem that was not repaired. A brand’s repair history includes many models and can’t anticipate design or manufacturing changes. Still, you should improve your chances of getting a trouble-free vacuum if you buy a brand that has been reliable in the past.

 

Posted in New