Vacuum cleaners buying guide

There are several different types of vacuum cleaners and lots of options and extras to consider. Our buying guide will take you through the differences between the main types of vacuum cleaners available. Once you've made up your mind, take a look at our great range of vacuum cleaners

Upright or Cylinder?

Perhaps the most important question to ask when buying a vacuum cleaner is whether an upright or cylinder model is right for your needs. Upright vacuum cleaners are generally popular, as they are usually easier to use and ideal for large carpeted areas. However cylinder vacuums are generally cheaper and take up less space.

Upright vacuums:

  • Are often easier to store
  • Are generally easier to control
  • Make use of a brush bar, which helps remove dirt trodden into carpets
  • Are ideal for cleaning large areas

Please note that not all carpets are suitable for rigorous cleaning with high speed rotating brushes. Damage may occur. Always check your carpet cleaning instructions.

Cylinder vacuums:

  • Tend to be lighter and take up less space
  • Are Ideal for cleaning stairs, hard floors, upholstery and working between furniture
  • Are generally more affordable
  • Require a higher level of motor power

Key features to look out for

Once you have decided whether a cylinder or upright vacuum cleaner is the right machine for you, you can start looking at the finer details and features of particular models.

How clean is the cleaner?

Filtration is a very important point for allergy sufferers or asthmatics. Filtration determines how many dust particles will escape into the air from the vacuum exhaust. There are several types of vacuum cleaner filtration, some more effective or sophisticated than others:

  • Stage filters: these filters out the dust in a series of stages. Though they vary considerably, a typical filter comprises four stages: a double-skinned bag, a filter between motor and bag and a final filter. There can be anything up to seven stages.
  • Lifetime filters: these will last the entire life-span of the vacuum cleaner, without needing to be changed (filters, like vacuums, normally last between 7 and 10 years).
  • HEPA or S-Class filters: capture even the smallest allergy-causing particles, making them ideal for allergy sufferers.
  • Charcoal filter: particularly handy if you have pets, as they include an extra charcoal layer to help neutralise unpleasant odours.
  • Bag vs. bagless

    Vacuum cleaners with bags are generally cheaper, but continually replacing them can be fiddly. One option is to buy a vacuum cleaner with bags that seal the dust away for easy disposal (essential if you are an allergy sufferer).

    Bagless cleaners tend to be more expensive, but are a good long-term investment, as you won't have to keep buying bags. Some models have anti-bacterial agents to help keep them clean, these are ideal for allergy sufferers.

  • The motor

    How powerful and effective your vacuum cleaner is depends on a number of factors. As a general rule, the higher the wattage the more powerful the cleaner, which is more important on cylinder machines as the dust has further to travel up the tube. It's not just the wattage though: airflow and the design of the machine also help to improve the suction power. On upright cleaners it's the type and quality of brush that can make difference. Many models have variable power - useful for switching between carpets, hard floors, rugs, upholstery and curtains.

    From the 1st September 2014 The European Union’s new regulation requires every machine launched in the market on or after this date to carry an energy label, with ratings based on the vacuum’s performance on multiple attributes.Read More

    For the most efficient vacuum cleaner look for highest rating on Carpet dust pick up and Hard floor dust pick up.

  • Brushes and attachments

    For different types of cleaning, different types of attachment are needed. Most vacuum cleaners come with three attachments: crevice tool, upholstery and dusting brushes. An additional turbo-brush is useful if you have cut-pile carpets or hairy pets. A horsehair or parquet brush is ideal for wooden floors, and some cleaners have an extendable tube, to help clean out odd nooks and crannies.

  • Other useful extras
    • Auto cord rewind: usually found on cylinder cleaners. Great for storage and convenience.
    • Full indicator: a useful warning for when your machine is getting full.
    • Capacity: worth checking your cleaner's dust capacity. Usually between 4 and 6 litres. The higher the capacity, the less time you spend changing the bag or emptying the drum.
    • Weight–Lighter cleaners may be easier to handle and manoeuvre
    • Tools: telescopic extension tubes and stair cleaning hoses are particularly useful.

Other types of vacuum cleaner

Though the majority of vacuum cleaners bought are either cylinder or upright, there are a few other types you may want to consider:

  • Wet and dry cleaners: if you want to avoid an expensive carpet cleaning bill in the future, (due to an unexpected spillage), upgrade to one of these affordable machines – with the addition of carpet shampoo it will wash your carpets, and rescue you from a spillage too.
  • Handheld vacuum cleaners: ideal for the kitchen or car, these time-saving little cleaners can reach into small spaces and pick up crumbs and dirt. Perfect for clearing up messes quickly without you having to spend time and effort wheeling out your main cleaner.
  • Polishers: designed for wooden floors, these machines vacuum and polish.
  • Steam cleaners: these are perfect if you have to do lots of heavy-duty cleaning.

Energy labelling for vacuum cleaners

Would you like to buy a machine that has been specifically designed to have a reduced environmental impact throughout its life cycle? This might include lower running costs due to better performance, improved recyclability and ultimately, savings on your energy bill.

From 1st September 2014 the European Union eco-design stipulates that all new vacuum cleaners launched on or after this date, must show an A-G energy rating label based on the performance of the cleaner, dust re-emission, noise level and power consumption. Additionally, input power must be less than 1600 watt and annual energy consumption less than 62kWH.

These invaluable labels can help you make a discerned buying decision – do you want the highest dust pick performance or the lowest energy usage? The label will guide you.

Vacuums which have already been in the market before the above date, will continue to sell until the stock runs out.

Energy Label Explained:

1.The supplier name or trademark and model identifier will appear at the top of the label.

2.The Energy Efficiency Class ranges from A-G, the A is considered to be the most efficient and G the least efficient.

3. The average annual energy consumption amount will be provided, you will find it has been calculated for an average household with 87sqm and with the frequency of 50 cleaning tasks performed over one year. Naturally the exact amount will vary depending on the actual usage of the appliance and the size of your home.

4. The noise level of the machine is measured in dB (Decibels), for instance if you want a quiet machine, go for the lowest possible dB rating.

5. The hard floor cleaning performance is rated from A-G for your cleaner.

6. The carpet cleaning performance class is rated from A-G (where an A rated cleaner is shown to clean >= 91 % of the dust from carpet, whereas a G rated cleaner will clean 70-71% of the dust from carpet).

7. The dust re-emission class is rated from A-G, this indicates how clean your machine exhaust air will be and depends on the type and quality of the exhaust filter.