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Help with choosing a new vacuum cleaner, often referred to as a hoover from appliance experts that offer you great advice on how to choose a new vacuum cleaner.

With opinion and advice from the people that see vacuum cleaners when they break down and need repaired, so we know what breaks and what doesn't.


 

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Robotic vacuum cleanerRobotic vacuum cleaners, taking away a chore that many people despise and some love to do or at least, that’s what the companies that make them will tell you but is there any truth in the claims?

We’ve tested a few robotic cleaners now, we ignored the first round of them the old Electrolux Trilobite but we did get out hands on an original Roomba from iRobot and we’ve had a couple of version of them now on test.

We’ve also seen the LG and others in action now and should you not want to read any further the bottom line is, they have their place but that place is limited and, it’s expensive to get the limited performnce.

Read on to find out why.

  Performance

The thing with robotic vacs is that they just cannot compete with a corded vacuum cleaner in performance terms and, we’d argue that all vacs that operate from a battery suffer the same thing some to a lesser or greater degree. So from the outset the results are not going to be as good as you’d get by getting the old fashioned vac out the cupboard, plugging it in and getting busy with it.

What a robotic one will do is clean up light stuff fairly well for the most part and they are pretty good at getting under furniture.

Heavy soiled areas or pet hair etc they start to struggle with.

For a single person or a couple in a home this may not be a big issue and a robot vacuum cleaner whirring away while you’re out just giving the main rooms in your house the once over might be just what your’e looking for and, they are pretty good at that.

There are issues however.

Robotic vacs struggle with corners and getting tight into objects, the don’t have the power to pull the dirt out of those areas as you would have with a normal vac or, you can stick on a crevice tool and get into the areas that way doing it manually. A robot vac cannot do that.

There will always be areas that it can’t reach or, can’t do a satisfactory job on.

For that reason alone, you can’t rely solely on a robotic vacuum cleaner in our view. You will also need a “proper” cleaner to go over the areas it missed on occasion.

You won’t have to vac as much but, you will still need to do it.

Of course every generation of them improves and we have little doubt that over time that the performance will improve if the robotic vac stays with us. However this is likely to be incremental and small improvements and enhancements over time, not a revolution.

  Cost

Although there’s a number of cheaper options now available, most of which are really not worth bothering with and the main reason we can say that, a halfway decent robotic vacuum cleaner is going to cost you more than a decent Sebo will.

If you were thinking on buying a robot vac and you were done we would advise you to rethink.

It is an expensive add on, it won’t replace a normal vacuum cleaner.

For our money, we would spend on a decent vac in the first instance as that will likely prove a better investment certainly in terms of both performance and value for money.

And whilst robotic vacs do not usually need bags, they will normally have small trays that you can remove to tip out the collected dust etc, they do go through batteries which are not cheap. Normally a replacement batter will cost you anything from £20 to over £50, how often you need one will vary depending on use and so on but count on one every couple of years.

Added to the high initial buy in price and the performance issue this makes a robotic vac hard to recommend to most people and for family use, we would not recommend them.

  Connected Vacuum Cleaners

The trend has been (mainly from the Koreans) to stick on camera, wifi and goodness knows what else so you can remotely control your cleaner.

Like most of these whizz bang features, after you initially set it up and play with it for a while it is very unlikely that you will use it. Or, if you do, you are one of the few that does.

It’s a lot of money for something that is unlikely to be used and, let’s face it, has a limited functionality.

All most people care about is that the floor gets a vac, that’s it. So we would view these kinds of features as being largely of no use an not worth paying for.

Things like remote controls are, well useless really.

  Should You Buy A Robot Vac

Really that’s a question only you will be able to answer for yourself. the cheap ones though are really not worth bothering with, they're pretty rubbish mostly.

If you don’t need or want the performance and the way you live suits that then they will keep the place reasonably tidy for the most part but within the limitations that we talked about.

If you are thinking on this being a replacement for your normal vac so you don’t have ever do it then, no it’s not a solution to that.

In either event it is a lot of outlay for a limited performance and what is essentially a cool toy but, not much more than that.

Don't be surprised if it ends up resigned to a cupboard unused after a while, especially when the second or third battery pack dies.

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  Vaccum Cleaner Advice

It is hard to be objective when buying a vacuum cleaner or, as they are commonly referred to, a Hoover as Hoover were the original dirt suckers. People commonly refer to vacuuming the carpets or floors as "hoovering" which is just brilliant for Hoover from a marketing perspective.

However the vacuum cleaner market changed in the late eighties and early nineties with the introduction of the cheap plastic vacuum cleaners that we see so many of today. Most of these were being made in low-cost labour countries and continue to be so today. The quality of the plastics was reduced, the motors and the switchgear in an effort to reduce the retail prices and, at one point, they went into total free fall. Today we still have many vacuum cleaners that retail for under £50 but, in general, they will be coming from China and they won't be very good.

The big change and, possibly the only thing that saved a lot of cleaner brands, was the arrival of two things, the carpet cleaners from Vax, primarily the highly successful old Vax 121 and the arrival of Dyson on the cleaner scene which, to be fair to Dyson, pretty much revitalised and revolutionised the vacuum cleaner market.

  How Long Will It Last

In all of this what seemed to be forgotten was the quality names that are out there and the short of it is that if you are going to buy a vacuum cleaner there's really two choices, either buy the best that you can or you may as well buy the cheapest pile of rubbish you can.

The reason that we'd say this is that there is little middle ground when it comes to vacs, it's either good, well built and will last or it's going to fall apart in a few years. It is not uncommon for some of the cheap machines to have spare parts, bags and filters unavailable after a mere eighteen months!

In short the cheap vacuum cleaners are, in our opinion, a false economy as you get poorer performance and you get a product that will be unlikely to see three years out before falling apart, burning out or becoming obsolete.

The two names that stand out here are Miele and Sebo, both German and both very good.

  Cylinder Or Upright Vacuum Cleaner

Quite simply we like cylinder vacuum cleaners and the reason is very simple, they don't break as often as they tend to be far more robust than upright cleaners.

They also tend to be far less prone to blockages and the suction is far superior as a general rule in practice in our experience. This means that the motors tend to last longer as well.

Lots of people look to an upright cleaner as being easier to use and move as it's all in the one "box" if you like, seeing a cylinder vac as being fussy with the hose and various tools that come with them, but in actual fact we find the cylinder vacuum cleaners more manoeuvrable and far more flexible than the uprights. Most cylinder cleaners these days are designed to sit on stairs for example, uprights have a nasty habit of having to be held or they will tip over.

It's also worth noting that in almost all commercial applications cylinder cleaners are used, you now don't have to wonder why that is, it's simply because they are more robust and perform better.

  Bagged Or Baggless Cleaner, Brush Roll Or Not?

There's been raging debates and some have even gone to court over this, mainly due to Dyson and there have been several little spats between various manufacturers and the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) over some of the claims being made about cleaners in general in this area. Normally this is one manufacturer claiming that another isn't telling the truth but we don't care what they fall out over.

Bagless cleaners rely on filtration of the air, that is to say that, just like a cleaner with a bag, you suck in the dirt from the carpet or floor and cleaner air than went is put out. The trick is on how you retain the dirt inside the vacuum cleaner and that comes down, pretty much, to suction power and filtration.

The mechanical action of a beater bar, or brush roll, only serves to "beat" the carpet loosening dirt and picking up small items and, whilst effective on carpet when a good one is used, it is almost worthless and can, in fact be detrimental, on hard floors such as laminate flooring. So, if you're house doesn't have carpets then you don't really want a vacuum cleaner with a brush roll on it as on hard floors all it will do is throw around the floor what you're trying to pick up only making the cleaning harder.

The short of it is this, most appliance engineers will hold the opinion that bagless cleaners are less efficient and more troublesome than bagged ones. Ask many what they have in their own home and you'll find all too often that it's a Sebo or a Miele, both the top quality brands in our opinion and both don't do bagless cleaners. Now you know why, they don't clean properly in our opinion either.

THIS ARTICLE which explains why we don't sell cheap cleaner bags and tells you a bit more about how they work.

  Robotic Vacuum Cleaners

The latest craze is for robotic vacuum cleaners like the Electrolux Trilobite or the much cheaper Roomba cleaner. Well, so far, the jury is out on reliability as they've not been around long enough to make a truly formed opinion.

On performance they're fine for light cleaning duties but, anything remotely hard, like pet hairs or general mess made by kids and you can pretty much forget it as they just can't cope with it. We've not had the chance to test the Electrolux one yet but the Roomba has been and it's okay, but not brilliant by any stretch.

There's also already been some low cost ones starting to creep onto the market, probably from China and we'd expect these to be nothing more than a gimmick or at least, more so than the others seen so far.

In other words, if you want the job done right, for now, don't bother with a robotic cleaner.