European Court dismisses Dyson's legal challengeNo revamp of vacuum cleaner energy label for Dyson

18 November 2015


Vacuum cleaner brand Dyson has lost its challenge to the European Court to make changes to the vacuum cleaners energy label.

The European Court has dismissed Dyson's claim in its entirety stating that Dyson had failed to demonstrate that its dust loading test is more reliable, accurate and reproducible than the current test used in the vacuum cleaners energy label.

One of Dyson's many issues with the energy label is that they claim it favours bagged vacuum cleaners, rather than the bagless machines that Dyson produces. 

To find out if a bagless Dyson is actually better than bagged or bagless alternatives from different brands, take a look at our vacuum cleaner reviews.

The vacuum cleaners energy label - what you need to know

The new EU energy label was introduced in September 2014 and restricted the motor size of vacuum cleaners sold in the EU to 1600W. It included a rating (A-F) for energy, and also gave a rating for dust pick up performance on carpets and hard floors as well as a rating for allergen retention and noise.

In so doing the new vacuum cleaners energy label attempted to do two things. Firstly to reduce the energy consumed by vacuum cleaners across Europe, and secondly to give consumers an indication of how well their vacuum cleaner will perform in their homes compared to other machines. The key reason for including the dust pick up ratings was that a consumer wouldn't want to buy a vacuum cleaner with an A energy rating if it was so poor that it couldn't suck up any dust.

The energy label has undoubtedly reduced the environmental impact of vacuum cleaners by reducing their energy use and consumers have also benefitted from minimum durability standards included in the label. This has all been done while maintaining high standards of cleaning across the industry.

Energy label rating dyson

Where does Dyson come into this?

Dyson is unhappy that the dust pick up tests prescribed in the energy label do not take account of 'dust loading'. This means that the tests take place when the vacuum cleaner is empty and not when the vacuum cleaner is partially loaded with dust, which would better reflect real world use.

The European Court rejected their attempt to include dust loading as part of the testing as they couldn’t demonstrate that including dust loading in the tests would make the label more reliable, accurate or reproducible.

Dyson says: 'It is deplorable that the European Court of Justice endorses tests that don’t attempt to represent in-home use, and we believe this is causing consumers to be misled.'

However, the real issue with the label is that you can't accurately compare one label to another. We've found inconsistencies in the results provided by manufacturers and approved energy label testing facilities when compared to our own large batch tests, which means that it is impossible to use the label as an accurate guide to choosing.

Until it's possible to get to a position where you can stand in a shop and accurately compare the performance of one vacuum cleaner against another using the energy label, then there's limited use in incorporating dust loading into the tests, as we do at Which? in our own independent vacuum cleaner testing.

Manufacturers themselves are aware of the inconsistences and potential for confusion with the current system when comparing one label to another. In October 2014 Bosch successfully achieved an injunction against Dyson in Germany for putting an inaccurate label on one of their vacuum cleaner models, and Dyson has recently made a claim against Bosch, for what they see as an attempt from Bosch to cheat the energy label.

An accurate guide to choosing a vacuum cleaner?

The EU energy label only includes a small number of tests to assess a vacuum cleaner's capabilities. At Which? we think that fine dust pick up and allergen retention is incredibly important, but that there are many other equally important things to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner. That's why our lab tests include tests to see whether each vacuum cleaner can pick up pet hair, how easy it is to use and manoeuvre around the house, as well testing how loud it is and whether it makes any annoying noises.

Furthermore, our tests on carpet take account of how well each vacuum cleaner performs both when empty and when partially filled with dust. We test in large batches, in the same laboratory and under the same stringent conditions so that you can accurately compare the results of one vacuum cleaner to another.

Whether you want a vacuum cleaner that is perfect for pet owners, allergy suffers, or one that will do everything well, you can use our vacuum cleaner reviews to find it and be sure that you have chosen the very best machine for your needs.

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