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Release Date: 02/07/2012

Latest Top-Rated Vacuums Clean Up On Performance and Value

Tests reveal nine picks under $200 and an expensive upright that could be a lifetime vacuum

March 2012 CoverYONKERS, NY — When it comes to vacuums, shoppers don’t have to spend top dollar to get top performance.  Consumer Reports’ latest tests of 100 models identified nine picks that cost less than $200 and whisked away pet hair, including a bagless upright priced at only $50.  The full report and Ratings of upright and canister vacuums is featured in the March issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org.

In Consumer Reports’ tests, Hoover’s WindTunnel T-Series UH30300, $140, and Pet UH30310, $150, both whisked away embedded grit and pet hair, and are two additions to a long list of picks that include models priced at $200 or less. For those who prefer a canister, Kenmore’s Progressive 21614, $300, did well on carpets and is among the lower-priced bagged models that scored high in Consumer Reports’ Ratings.

For those willing to invest in  the possibility of never having to buy another vacuum in their lifetime, Consumer Reports recommends the Kirby Sentria, $1,350—an upright, bagged model that was a top-performer in tests and comes from a brand that scored high in Consumer Reports’ brand-repair survey.

“Vacuums are one of many products we test where it often pays to pay less,” said Bob Markovich, Home and Yard Editor at Consumer Reports. “You could spend upwards of $1,000 on a model and it may not last as long or clean as well as some of the $200 or $300 models we tested. That’s why it’s critical to check our performance ratings and brand-reliability data so you know when it may make sense to spend more as well as which model to spend it on.”

Consumer Reports reminds shoppers to be wary of manufacturers’ claims as they may not tell the whole story. “Never loses suction” is the promise for Eureka’s $80 bagless Endeavor NLS 5400A upright. But while suction for tools was strong, this low-priced model also scored among the lowest for carpet cleaning, a vacuum’s toughest task. And while Oreck’s limited lifetime warranty for its Forever Series uprights, the $600 Edge and Pilot, sounds impressive, like most, it covers only defects, which usually show up in the first couple of years. What’s more, good as those models were in Consumer Reports’ cleaning and handling tests, the Edge was subpar in tool-airflow tests while and the Pilot doesn’t accept tools.

Consumer Reports testers spent months vacuuming up a total of 55 pounds of sand and talc and measuring the airflow critical for tools and discovered that some of the lighter-weight vacuums may also be light on performance. Two bagged uprights from Oreck, the Graphite, $350, and the XL Element Professional Series, $200, each weigh less than 12 pounds yet offer only mediocre carpet-cleaning performance. The new, light Dyson canister, the DC26 City Multi Floor, $400, suffered from poor carpet cleaning and airflow for tools.

Choosing a Vacuum
 
Before deciding on a specific model, Consumer Reports advises consumers to choose the type of vacuum that will work best for their needs.  According to Consumer Reports’ tests, uprights do better overall on carpets, while canisters are easier to maneuver, especially on stairs. Here are some other points to keep in mind when shopping: 

  • Check the features. Look for a brush on/off switch to safeguard bare floors and prevent scattered debris. Another major feature to look for is a motorized brush, rather than suction alone.  Manual pile-height adjustment is also a plus, as is suction control for drapes and edge tools for corners. 

  • Consider bagless carefully. Bagless vacuums eliminate the expense of buying bags but still require filters, which require maintenance and regular replacement. For those with asthma or allergies, the dust and mess of emptying their bins is an added concern.

  • Try it out. Even shoppers who plan to buy their vacuum online should visit a store to push, pull, turn, and lift the models they are considering and check out the model’s controls and features. Also, it’s worth asking whether or not the store is willing to meet or beat the lowest online price.

In addition to the full Ratings of upright and canister vacuums, consumers can also find the results from Consumer Reports’ latest vacuum reliability survey in the March issue of Consumer Reports and at www.ConsumerReports.org. The reliability survey asked almost 96,000 readers who bought a vacuum between 2007 and 2011 about their experiences. 

Consumer Reports is the world’s largest independent product-testing organization. Using its more than 50 labs, auto test center, and survey research center, the nonprofit rates thousands of products and services annually. Founded in 1936, Consumer Reports has over 8 million subscribers to its magazine, website and other publications.  Its advocacy division, Consumers Union, works for health reform, product safety, financial reform, and other consumer issues in Washington, D.C., the states, and in the marketplace.

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