How to choose the best Dyson
By Matthew Knight
Sir James Dyson invented the first cyclonic bagless vacuum cleaner almost 30 years ago, and today people who are looking to buy a Dyson vacuum can choose from a wide range of models.
Dyson vacuum cleaners are among the most popular vacuum cleaners sold in the UK - and the majority of Which? members who own an upright or bagless vacuum cleaner own a Dyson. But if you're in the market for a new dust-busting appliance and you're considering going for a Dyson, what should you be checking and are there other cheaper options available?
Read on for our advice on what to consider when choosing a Dyson - or click to jump to our independent Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.
Dyson vacuums: the basics
All Dyson vacuum cleaners are bagless and make use of cyclone technology. That means that all the air sucked into the vacuum, carrying the dust and dirt from your floor, is channeled through the cones visible at the top of the vacuum cleaner's dust canister. In each cone the air spirals, generating huge amounts of centrifugal force and flinging out the dust and dirt into the surrounding bin.
Over the years, the cyclone technology has been developed and refined. The more recent models now have two tiers of cyclones, with one row positioned above another. Dyson says this should help to separate out more smaller microscopic particles from the air than before, increasing the amount of dirt that ends up in the canister. But do Dyson vacs pick up more dust and dirt than models from other manufacturers? That's what our impartial reveal.
Cordless vacuum cleaners
Not content with pushing the envelope when it came to bagless vacuum cleaners, Dyson was also quick off the mark with cordless vacuum cleaners.
Cordless vacuum cleaners tend to be more lightweight and can be easier to use than their corded equivalents, but they do come with the drawback of limited battery life.
All Dyson cordless vacuum cleaners come with detachable handheld vacuum cleaners that can be very versatile and easy to use on stairs, in the car or in other hard-to-reach places. You can read full and independent reviews of Dyson's latest V6 range of cordless vacuum cleaners by looking at our cordless vacuum cleaner reviews.
We have also tested handheld vacuum cleaners, including the Dyson DC58 and the Dyson DC34, to see how they shape up against the competition. For the full details, take a look at our handheld vacuum cleaner reviews.
Dyson vacuums tend to combine high suction with small-capacity canisters - as small as 0.6 litres on some models.
This may help to keep down the overall weight of the vacuum, but it means you might be making a lot of trips to the bin to empty the dust canister.
Bagless pros and cons
The dust-collecting canisters inside Dysons are transparent, so you can see how much dirt has been collected and when it's time to empty them. The drawback to bagless vacuum cleaners is that the dust is not neatly contained in a bag that you pull out and throw away. Emptying bagless vacuums can be a messy job, presenting a potential hazard for those with very sensitive allergies.
The advantage is that you do not have to spend money buying replacement bags, and you do not have the hassle of removing and fitting a new bag every time the vac has filled up. For more information, see our advice on buying a bagless vacuum cleaner.
Dyson believes that fixed wheels make vacs hard to manoeuvre, which is why it introduced the 'Ball' technology. Dyson Ball vacuums ride on a single large ball and supporting castors instead of wheels. The ball pivots around itself so you can change direction more easily. Dyson claims that vacuum cleaners running on the Ball are easier to move around than other models.
Dyson first introduced the Ball with its DC15 upright vacuum cleaner. While the Ball was originally only available on Dyson's upright vacuums, in 2012 the company introduced it to its range of cylinder models, starting with the DC39 Multi Floor cylinder vac.
At the same time, it started using the Ball to house the motor and other components to help make the vacuum quieter, while also lowering the centre of gravity to make the vacuum cleaner more stable. Models produced since 2012 have this technology.
Dyson uprights vs Dyson cylinders
When it comes to upright vacuum cleaners, Dyson vacs are extremely popular with Which? members. Dyson also has an extensive cylinder range, but currently Dyson is the second most-bought brand of cylinder vacuums by Which? members, behind Miele.
Advantages of upright vacuums over cylinders:
- Easier to store, as no trailing hose
- Tend to be better for covering large floor areas
- Generally better at picking up pet hairs
- Often have larger capacities
Advantages of cylinder vacuums over uprights:
- Tend to be lighter
- Often easier to manoeuvre
- Better suited to sitting on stairs
- Often quieter
Animal and Multi-Floor vacuum cleaners
Dyson vacuum cleaners currently come in two main guises, Multi-Floor and Animal, but they can share a model number, i.e. the DC39 Animal and DC39 Multi-Floor.
Typically in these cases the basic vacuum cleaner is the same - both the Multi-Floor and Animal versions will normally have the same capacity, motor and reach (the distance away from the plug socket that you can clean).
The difference is what comes with the vacuum; typically there are different floor heads (the main part of the vacuum cleaner that picks up dust and dirt), and different nozzles and attachments (the small tools that you would attach directly to the hose).
The DC39 Animal also comes with a separate floor head for hard floors. Whenever we test a vacuum cleaner that comes with different full-size floor heads, we use them all and tell you which floor head is best suited to each floor surface.
We have often found that, when it comes removing dust from hard floors, the standard floor head does a better job than a floor head designed especially for hard floors. So it's always worth reading our reviews - especially as these extra floor heads can add to the cost of the vac and may not offer any actual benefit.
Tangle-free Turbine and turbo tools
Dyson Animal vacuums have mini-turbo tools supplied with them. A mini-turbo tool is a small attachment with a rotating brush bar inside. The rotating bar has bristles that help to pick up pet hair.
In 2012, Dyson introduced the 'Tangle-free Turbine' tool which has replaced the typical turbo tool on models produced since then. It looks very different, but aims to do the same job of sucking up hair, with the additional promise from Dyson that hair sucked up by this tool, whether long human hair or short pet hair, will not wrap or tangle around the tool, as it commonly would around a rotating brush bar.
We tested this tool out, and give a verdict in our Dyson vacuum cleaner reviews.
Weight and noise
Two complaints that Which? members make to us about Dysons, other than their cost, is how heavy they are and the amount of noise they make.
To guide you to the quietest vacuum cleaners, we test noise in our lab tests by taking decibel measurements from two specially prepared sound chambers and compounding this result with a subjective assessment from a panel of experts.We then report the results for each model via a star rating in our individual vacuum cleaner reviews. Some of the noisiest vacs we've heard reach a harsh 90 decibels - that's equivalent to standing near to a busy roadway and hearing a truck go past.
Some Dyson vacs produced in the last few years have reached 86dB, which is still very noisy, while others are 79dB - comparatively quieter. That's a big difference, so before buying your Dyson, have look at how we've rated your chosen models for noise.
The heaviest Dyson we've encountered weighs in at a whopping 10.9kg. That is going to make it a fair challenge for many to haul it up and down stairs. When we say how much a vacuum weighs in our online reviews, we include the weight of the vac with the tube and hose, and any attachments designed to be stored on the vac. This is the realistic weight you'll experience when using a vac, and the reason why the weight measurements shown on our site may differ from the often stripped-down vac weights shown on manufacturer websites.
Top tips for buying a Dyson
Heavy vacuums and small dust capacities are typical traits of Dyson vacuum cleaners. So before buying a vacuum you can't stand, or just isn't suitable, look at the 'Technical specifications' page of our reviews to find out how heavy the vacuum is and how much dust you'll be able to fit into the canister.
Dyson vacuum cleaners can be noisy - but not all of them are deafening. To find a quiet vacuum, take a look at the noise rating in our .
Are you sure a vacuum called an 'Animal' will be suitable for cleaning up after your pets? Names can be misleading, so it's always worth checking our star rating for pet-hair pick-up to make sure you buy a vacuum that has no problem clearing up after the fluffier members of your family.
Whether you choose to buy a Dyson or a vacuum cleaner from another brand, make sure it is one of our Best Buy vacuum cleaners.