Shopping for (and Buying) a New Vacuum Cleaner

This past weekend we had to replace our vacuum cleaner. For the past 6+ years we’ve been living with a Hoover than neither my wife nor I really liked, but it did the job so we dealt with it. However, having survived over six years in a house full of little boys, it was on its last legs and we knew that we’d be replacing it sometime soon.

With all of this in mind, I was thinking of picking up a new vacuum cleaner for Christmas (romantic, I know). But that all changed this past Saturday morning when I awoke to the smell of burning rubber. As it turns out, my wife had gotten up earlier than me and was in the process of cleaning up around the house. Unfortunately, the vacuum seized up and burned out, and all we were left with was a non-functional vacuum and low-hanging cloud of smoke.

Since messes tend to accrue around here rather quickly, we were in a bit of a rush to find a replacement.

We only knew three things:

» We wanted an upright vacuum
» We wanted something that excels on carpet and hard floors
» The name Dyson was burned into our minds from all their advertising

My first step was to hop on over to Consumer Reports to check out their ratings. Here’s a quick rundown of their top 10 (based on performance in a number of categories), complete with model numbers and estimated “street” prices:

1. Sears Kenmore Progressive w/Direct Drive (35922; $300, CR Best Buy)
2. Hoover WindTunnel 2 (U8311-900; $250)
3. Sears Kenmore Progressive w/Direct Drive (bagless version of #1; 36932; $300)
4. Hoover WindTunnel 2 (U8361-900; $320)
5. Eureka Boss Smart Vac Ultra (4870; $150, CR Best Buy)
6. Electrolux Oxygen3 (EL5035A $400)
7. Kirby Sentria ($1350)
8. Riccar SupraLite (RSL3; $350)
9. Hoover Tempo Widepath (U5140-900; $60, CR Best Buy)
10. Bissell Healthy Home (5770; $250)

So what can we learn from all of this? Well, for starters, price isn’t necessarily a good indicator of performance. Second, despite all of the hype surrounding Dyson, their best model (the DC17 Absolute Animal, $550) finished just outside of the top 10 at #11. And you know all those Oreck ads you hear on the radio? Their top rated model (the XL21-700, $750) rounded out the top 12.

In the end, we went Sears Kenmore Porgressive w/Direct Drive for a couple of reasons… First, it was the top performer despite having a mid- to lower-end price tag. Second, we knew exactly where to buy it. Since it’s a Kenmore, it has to come from Sears, and our local store happened to have it in stock. Thus, we didn’t have to chase around town trying to find what we wanted. And to top it all off, they had it was on sale for $249.

Setting it up was a snap, and my wife seems quite happy with it thus far (I still haven’t had a chance to try it out).

30 Responses to “Shopping for (and Buying) a New Vacuum Cleaner”

  1. Anonymous

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  2. Anonymous

    I all the time used to read paragraph in news papers but now as I am a user of web so from now
    I am using net for articles or reviews, thanks to web.

  3. Anonymous

    I am another vote for Oreck. I was lucky enough to be given one and I LOVE it. I am so thankful for it’s light weight every time I have to lug it out of the closet (several times a week).

  4. Anonymous

    Add me to the Dyson lovers. Mine is 4 years old, and the ads are correct when they say it won’t lose suction. It still amazes me. The only complaint I have is that it has so much suction, it’s sometimes difficult to push on our thick carpet. I get a workout AND clean floors. I’ve had a Hoover, a Eureka, and an Electrolux – the Dyson beats them all hands down. Good luck with your new Kenmore.

  5. Anonymous

    Adding another vote for Dyson. I’m a huge fan of Consumer Reports but they must be using different criteria to evaluate their vacuums than I did. I LOVE LOVE LOVE my Dyson DC14 Full Kit and if it ever needs replacing I’ll go straight for another Dyson.

    The long extension rod/hose lets me put the vacuum at the bottom of the stairs and clean all the way to the top. And cleaning under beds, curtain rods, and ceiling fans is a breeze.

    What I love most is the way it works just as excellently on my main-floor hardwood as my basement carpet and front-hall runner.

    Worth every single penny it cost me to buy it for The Husband for Christmas a few years back. He was thrilled to get it (provided he didn’t actually have to use it).

  6. Anonymous

    mapgirl, I know nothing about HEPA filters, but is it something you can put a little water on and then rinse out and let dry later?

    Amy K., I was going to say the same thing. I have too much hair myself. What I want to know is not the best vacuum cleaner for cute little dog hairs but the best vacuum cleaner for long hairs that wrap themselves around, well, everything.

    Actually, I’m likely to end up going with vh’s solution and switching to wood floors.

  7. Anonymous

    I have the Eureka Smart Vac and bought it off of Amazon for less than $100 a couple years ago. It was $125 + free shipping and a deal where you got $25 for spending $100. Nice.

    Anyway I sort of want a Dyson, but my vaccum still works and I’m not complaining.

  8. Anonymous

    Hoover, alas, has evolved from a really good machine to true, unrepentant junk. I’ll never buy another one, no matter what Consumer Reports says. Following CR’s recommends, I was suckered in to buying a later-model Hoover and then, when that promptly crapped out, an expensive Kenmore with all the bells & whistles. Hated it. Ended up returning the thing.

    When last seen, the Kenmore was really just a top-of-the-line Panasonic.

    Since my house is all hard floors with a few dhurrie-style area rugs, after the Kenmore disappointment I took myself to Fry’s Electronics and bought the cheapest Panasonic they had. I don’t need the automatic push-me-pull-you or any other gadgetry for good carpets. The price was so reasonable that if it died in a year or so, I could afford another.

    Well, it hasn’t died. It’s still going strong, and it does a fine job.

    Best thing I ever did was to replace the chronically dirty carpets with hard flooring. It’s easy to keep clean–easy to clean under the beds and furniture–and you never have to rent a carpet cleaner or hire someone with steam-cleaning equipment. If a dog or a kid barfs on it, big deal. Expensive coming out of the gate, but over time it saves you a LOT of money and hassle.

    BTW, now I’m using an iRobot Dirt Dog–a version of the Roomba billed as a “shop vac.” It’s really an electronic broom–doesn’t have a vacuum, and because it has fewer parts to break it’s a lot more durable than the Roomba. It cleans indoor hard floors just as easily as it sweeps the garage floor, does a decent job (even gulps up dog kibble), and the cost is a third to half of a Roomba. And it’s sooo cute! Better than a real dog: you don’t have to take it to the vet. 🙂

  9. Anonymous

    @Kim–which Dyson is the step down from the Animal? I’ve been thinking about Dysons myself. With a golden retriever, pet hair is the number one enemy around here.

    FWIW, I’ve had a Kenmore Progressive canister vac for about 10 years now. It was $200+ when I bought it, and it’s held up reasonably well. The cord is a bit too short, but it’s fairly good on hard floors; I have no carpets. The HEPA filters are outrageously expensive though, and Sears sees you coming when they price the vacuum bags. I’m sure I’ve spent several hundred bucks in bags alone. Now that it’s older, I’m having to replace parts on the thing; a new hose was a $55 investment, because the wires run through it, and in taking apart the handle, my husband broke the power switch, which has to be tinkered with frequently now. The biggest problem with it is jams, though; debris has to make a turn through the handle, and my daughter is very good at leaving bobby pins, small pencil stubs, etc, under furniture…and I find them when I hear a “clink, clink, clink” and the whine of the motor when the hose gets a jam.

    Also FWIW, my parents finally got rid of their Kirby a couple of years ago; it was over 40 years old and still going strong. The vac that wouldn’t die…

  10. Anonymous

    I have the step down from the dyson animal and I love it. It is the best vacuum I have ever owned. It is lightweight and cleans the grooves between my hardwood floor tiles great. I would highly recommend one.

  11. Anonymous

    I agree with #2… I used to use a bagless which seems like a nice idea but those things fill up quick and make more mess than they clean up. Now I use a bag-vacuum!

  12. Amy: I’m sure you’re right, and that’s been my plan… Check the belts, get it working again, and then donate it. We went straight to the replacement since we were already thinking about getting a new one. This just sped the process up a bit.

  13. Anonymous

    I bought a Dyson a couple years back and I have to say it is an awesome vacuum–the best vacuum I have ever had. I have 2 dogs and you will be amazed what the Dyson picks up.

    Usually I listen to Consumer Reports, but they are dead wrong. The Dyson is worth every penny.

  14. Anonymous

    Hmm burned rubber smell = needs a new belt, in my experience. I’ve burned out and replaced 2 belts in my lifetime, both due to too much hair wrapped around the brush, and that was exactly the symptoms. If it still turns on, but doesn’t seem to clean, that’s probably the problem.

    A few bucks and 15 minutes will replace the belt, and though it sounds like you’re happier with the new one, the local Salvation Army or what not would probably appreciate the old one (if fixed).

  15. Anonymous

    4 boys? Including you, that makes *5* boys around the house to make messes!

    FWIW, I have a bagless Hoover I got at Bed Bath and Beyond with one of those 20% off coupons that always come in the mail. My only regrets about it are that 1. I hardly use it. 2. I hardly use it because I hate cleaning the HEPA filter. I should have gotten a bagged vacuum instead.

    They say for asthmatics that HEPA filters are best, but truthfully, unless you are wearing a HEPA dustmask when you are emptying out the vacuum, you’re going to end up with more problems than it solves. I have to clean out the filter every other time I vacuum and I am always worried about the very small dust particles floating in the air as I tap the filter into the trashcan to clean it. I would say it’s very bad for asthmatics unless you have someone else around to clean it. (Thanks World for reminding me again that I’m single!)

  16. Anonymous

    We went through the same adventure a recently. Without consulting CR, I bought a Eureka bagless that turned out to perform terribly–and emptying that dirt cup, which filled up in one room, was a mess! Who the heck thought THAT was a good idea??

    Anyway, after a year we could no longer stand it. I consulted CR, and went with #9, “Hoover Tempo Widepath (U5140-900; $60, CR Best Buy)” It is LOUD, but it performs, and those old-fashioned bags hold a ton and replace cleanly and easily.

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