Brexit: will more powerful vacuum cleaners make a comeback?Which? looks at the future for vacuums

21 July 2016

Image of an old-fashioned vacuum cleaner Vacuum cleaners are currently restricted to 1600W

Since 2014, EU energy label rules have meant that manufacturers are unable to make or import vacuums to Europe with a motor that exceeds 1,600 watts. But in the aftermath of the Brexit vote, some publications have predicted that we will see the return of high-powered vacuum cleaners.

While it is theoretically possible that the UK may abandon the principles of the EU’s energy rules in favour of our own system, we think this scenario is unlikely. Vacuum manufacturers are also unlikely to build higher powered models specifically for the UK market.

What’s more, doing so could prove counter-productive, as our tests have shown that vacuum cleaners don’t need to be high-powered to be clean floors effectively.

See our full list of the latest Best Buy vacuum cleaners and cordless vacuum cleaners.

Infographic showing vacuum cleaner energy use vs dust pick up before and after the energy label

EU restrictions on vacuum cleaners?

Our lab tests have uncovered many vacuum cleaners with small motors that leave higher powered vacuums spluttering in their wake when it comes to cleaning. In fact, we’ve analysed data from years of vacuum cleaner testing and found that motor size bears little or no relation to how well a vacuum picks up dust and dirt.

As the infographic, right, shows, the energy restrictions on vacuum cleaners imposed by the EU in September 2014 have been successful in cutting the energy consumption of vacuum cleaners, while maintaining dust pick-up standards.

Will high-powered vacuums make a comeback?

In the short term, no. It will be at least two years until the UK breaks its formal ties with the EU and up until at least that point vacuum cleaners sold in the UK will need to adhere to the current EU energy laws.

Thinking further ahead, what exactly a post-Brexit UK is going to look like remains uncertain. Even in the scenario that the government abandons the principals behind low energy household appliances, then we are still unlikely to see many high powered vacuum cleaners reappearing in the UK.

The EU remains a much larger market than the UK and the major vacuum cleaner manufacturers are still likely to predominantly make models that adhere to European standards, so that they can sell in higher volume to a wider audience.

Buying the best vacuum cleaner

The good news is that there is no need to mourn the loss of high-powered vacuum cleaners. Modern, energy-efficient vacuum cleaners are just as good as, and in many cases better than, older models.

However there is still a big difference between the best and worst vacuum cleaners that we test. Best Buy vacuum cleaners can suck up more than 85% of the fine dust that we embed into thick carpets during our testing, compared to less than half this for the worst vacuum cleaners we have tested. 

To make sure you are getting the best vacuum cleaner when it comes time for a replacement, make sure you take a look at our vacuum cleaner reviews including the latest cordless vacuum cleaners.

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