Well… For this Black Friday sales season, the big purchase was a fancy new vacuum to replace my older vac that I have had to glue pieces together on a few times and finally can’t find all the pieces to glue back anymore. Was totally my fault for trying to use tools on the hose that didn’t quite fit fully… but in any case, time for a new vac.
After months, and indeed, almost two years of keeping an eye on vacuum prices and features, I decided that this would be a serious investment and I would go for the newest and fanciest model of Dyson. After getting it home, to my horror, it had very little suction. And while that might work on ideal conditions like flat tile and high quality carpet, it did mildly worse on my troublesome tile than my old Bissel, and barely cleaned the surface of my poor quality carpet. However, the amazing filtration meant I vacuumed all sorts of areas of my house with out a single sneeze! Something truly astounding and redeeming Dyson's good name a bit.
So it was back to the drawing board after two years of research and the faulty assumption that just because it is a Dyson that it would still have the legendary Dyson suction. So I researched more with a heavier weight on suction ratings and finally decided I would have to check out several models to find the one that really fit my needs.
Down in front... Ten... who's litter toting skills make all this serious testing necessary.
Then from left to right: (unshown: Cinetic Animal+Allergy upright), Cinetic Big Ball Animal canister, Animal 2 upright, Big Ball Multifloor canister, old Bissel, battery powered dirt devil whos use is super easy but needs it's filters cleaned by another vacuum.
The big issue in my house is that, besides having low quality carpet that mats down in high traffic areas, my tile is "rustic" terracotta tile with great variations in height and exceptionally deep and wide grout. It has holes, ruts, and height differences that means the best of vacuums have a challenge to create uniform suction and remove little balls of kitty litter that Ten spreads around the house faster than I can vacuum them up.
To spoil the story... my final choice: The “Dyson Cinetic Big Ball” canister style, though some notes on each are at the end of this post.
The newest fanciest upright "Cinetic Animal+Allergy" just didn’t have any suction at all, and the Multifloor Big Ball canister had a ton of suction, but really more than I needed and would need filter washing, and it lost a few points of usability by suctioning down on things a little too much to the point that it became a little hard to move the head at times. The upright Animal 2 also had very good suction and would definitely be my choice if I went with an upright, but would need filter washing and just isn’t as easy to use on my particular house as the canisters seem to be.
Not only did the canister win on getting under things like cabinets and the value of a self-winding cord, it also won on ease of use with the hose that I will often use for dusting. The upright is tidy for storage, but pulls back a lot as you use the hose while the canister stays open and movable. However, the storage footprint of the upright is obviously a bit easier to manage.
Again, the canister won on stairs by simply lifting the head onto them while the upright would need a cleaning tool and the hose to get them.
I vacuumed and tested all over the house, focusing mostly on the performance on my difficult tile and how well they got into the troublesome carpet. And before long my head was swimming with vacuum data. Sorting it out was a lot of trouble until I started getting it into a chart. First listing all the areas of comparison, and then giving each vac a 1 to 10 rating.
However, that still didn't seem to clear things up... because how is my tiny strip of stairs as valuable as the huge areas of tile and carpet? Finally I figured out that I first needed to judge the importance of the categories. For example, I think the most important areas are equal for me in tile and carpet performance, with filter management and ease of use coming next. While the tiny set of stairs to the seldom used loft that I only need to vac now and then only accounts for a tiny portion of a vacuums value.
On the other hand, if my house had main-traffic stairs that were used many times a day and needed cleaning as often as the carpets, the stair performance would probably account for 20% or more of a vacuums value. And further, if I had all hard-wood or tile, the carpet cleaning value would be very low and the tile value much higher.
In any case, my particular house values looked like this:
Filters (clean/replace/lifetime-never-mess-with) 15%
Ease of use (including moving around and the fact that I will be dusting a lot with the vac wand) 12%
Tools 1% (because you can buy tools separately)
Note... the big thing missing from all this is the dollar amount. That is because this is a big investment and I had already decided to spend whatever it cost to have the best vac for my home. Obviously this isn't the case for everyone, and I really admit it hurts my head to really think about how much these run. I have literally spent less for a running car than some of these vacuums cost! The only saving grace is that there are huge discounts on the vacuums all through Black Friday and "Cyber week".
And so, test after test, and finally even doing the one test I really didn't want to do.... dumping potting soil and working it into the carpet.... I had the data I needed.
As an added note, none of the canisters do as well on carpet as the upright Animal 2, though they did better than the upright Cinetic... However, after giving several passes instead of just one on the potting soil, they ended up with close to the same pickup. And lets face it, when are you going to dump potting soil on your carpet and then only make a single pass with a vacuum to clean it up?
Of course, the marginally larger head on the upright would also give it a much greater advantage if you had a house with almost all carpet in it.
While it doesn't have the best suction, the “Dyson Cinetic Big Ball” canister style has adequate suction for my needs, even on the uneven tile and kitty liter test, and needs no filter changing or filter washing at all. It did the worst of my top 3 for soil pickup on a single pass in the carpet, but after 6 total passes of each vac, the difference was almost unnoticeable. The softer long bristles in the air-driven head are probably the culprit in the reduced efficiency on carpet, but a distinct advantage on tile and hard surfaces. Additionally, I am really liking the canister style for my house instead of the uprights I am used to… it moves very well on my difficult tile, and I will be using it a ton for dusting up higher as well as vacuuming, so it’s hose style is easier for that, too, and the base doesn’t fall over when I stretch out the hose and it doesn't fight me to suck back in the whole time I am dusting.
With my choice finally made, and while the edge of the canister vac goes under the couch further than my old one did, I have been planning on adding some small risers to the couch feet for a while now to make cleaning under it a bit easier.
But now….. I already see what will probably be next Black Friday’s big item…… New Couch. I cracked the board on the back of it when roughly trying to tip it over to add the risers. Always the way of things, right? Guess I am getting too rough with all my toys.
I don’t think it will affect things too much right away, since it presses against the wall and doesn't affect the bottom supports, but am guessing between that, the stains/general dingyness that has to be covered with cloth, and the couple places that are sagging some and can’t be fixed…….. probably next year will be time to replace it. Which could be trouble since it is really a pretty nice couch and amazingly fits exactly the space it needs to be in.
I better start planning. But how many couches can I test? LOL
Some notes on the individual vacuums:
Dyson Cinetic Animal (+Allergy) upright: Suction on this model is just miserable. It took as many passes (or more) to remove litter from the tile as my old Bissel, and barely seemed to skim the surface of my poor quality medium-low-pile carpet. The poor performance of this vacuum does not even come close to justifying the incredible price.
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal canister: Bringing some acceptable suction to the never-change-or-wash-filter cinetic technology, this canister vacuum was my all-around choice for my difficult tile and poor carpet. It didn't have as much suction as the Animal 2, and not nearly as much as the Big Ball Multifloor canister, but it's versatility and filter ease made up the difference well for me.
Dyson Animal 2 upright: If I went with an upright, this would have been the one. Great suction, but managed with a head that didn't overpower on hard floors or large throw carpets. You have to wash the filters, but if you are looking for an upright, it beats the upright Cinetic hands down.
Dyson Big Ball Multifloor canister: Could suck the hair off a horse! Seriously. While the added suction was an improvement on carpet and managed smoothly over my varied suction-breaking tile, it actually became difficult to move over smooth surfaces like linoleum, and even when pulling the trigger to reduce the suction/speed, it still stuck a little in certain situations. It would actually get a 12 in the 1 to 10 rating for suction, but after it exceeds my needs, the extra 2 points fail to matter.... and sadly actually cause it to loose a little on Ease of Use. (Often the Multifloor label is easy to miss on the packaging of this model, but should be noted as I am not sure what other models may be similarly named.)
old Bissel Heavy Duty: This beast has gotten me through 8 years of not only house cleaning, but probably vacuuming a whole lot of rough stuff it should have never been subjected to. Like drywall dust, ash, diatomaceous earth, and all kinds of thing. I have washed the pre-filter a few times, and needed to replace the hepa filter twice (from those fine particle things I should not have been using it for). However... it's final failure was in the hose end that I broke when using non-perfect-fit attachments. It was a good vac, but it also did not clean out the air quite like the amazing Dyson filtration. I will still keep this bad boy around for all those things I shouldn't really be vacuuming so I keep my new vac in good condition.
battery powered Dirt Devil Stick: Cute and cleanup is a breeze with the battery power, but the filters don't just tap clean... you have to vac them with another vacuum after each use of any moderate length/area. For a quick sweep-up on a bathroom or kitty area or seldom used guest room, it is ideal, but the filter situation makes it a poor choice for any larger areas on a regular basis. (And yes, after its 15 volt battery failed in about a year, I souped it up to use my 18 volt Ryobi batteries. More power... huy-huy-huy!)