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EU rules cut vacuum cleaner power

How will the new EU regulations impact you?

Woman vacuum cleaning

Buy now if you’re looking for a powerful vacuum cleaner, as new rules about to come into force will soon restrict the motor sizes available.

From 1 September 2014, a new EU energy label for vacuum cleaners means manufacturers will not be able to make or import vacuums with a motor that exceeds 1,600 watts. 

Many Which? Best Buy-recommended models have motor sizes that exceed this – so if you’re in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly before all of the models currently available sell out. 

Despite what is being widely reported by some other media outlets, a large motor size does not guarantee impressive suction. Our independent testing has found many Best Buy vacuums under 1600w, proving that clever engineering and a well-designed floorhead are equally, if not more important, than a powerful motor. 

View our exclusive list of all current Best Buy vacuum cleaners.

Energy label from a vacuum cleaner

New vacuum cleaner energy label

But this isn’t to say that the new energy label won’t change the market – it will. For starters, from 2017 the maximum decibel level of a vacuum cleaner will be restricted to 80db. If this restriction came in tomorrow, it would wipe out more than 90% of the upright vacuum cleaner market. It will be interesting to see if manufacturers can adapt their upright models in time.

For the first time, the labels will give vacuum cleaners A to G ratings for energy use, cleaning performance on hard floors and carpets, dust emission and noise. The label also requires a minimum level of performance for the vacuum to be sold in the EU, which is great news and will hopefully cut some of the very poor models from the market.

If you vacuum a 100 metre squared house once a week, a Best Buy 2,200w vac will cost around £27 a year to run in electricity – around £8 more than the best 1,600w we have tested.

Which? says

Each EU country has a market surveillance authority to check that models comply with the EU tests and are capable of the ratings that the manufacturers have applied. At Which?, we will be awaiting the results of this independent testing with interest.

We have already seen manufacturers that have traditionally fared poorly in our testing out-scoring manufacturers that have achieved many Best Buy recommendations over the years. 

As well as this, and unlike our own testing, the performance ratings in the new label do not take account of ‘dust loading’. Many vacuum cleaners lose suction as they pick up dust in their bag or container. The new label does not take account of this and only requires manufacturers to rate their model when it is brand new and completely free of dust.

Have some previously lower scoring manufacturers suddenly come across a winning suction formula? We are looking forward to getting the next batch of vacuum cleaners to our test lab to find out.

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