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Has the EU ban made vacuum cleaners worse?

We reveal the results of our first test of vacuum cleaners since the ban on bigger motors

Our first test of vacuum cleaners since the EU ban on models over 900W reveals that the best vacuum cleaners are as good as ever. But we’ve also found a couple of Don’t Buy vacuums that you’ll want to avoid.

Based on early findings from our latest batch of vacuum cleaners, it’s still possible to deliver high-class cleaning and suction, while sticking to new EU energy label rules that limit motor power to 900W and noise to a maximum of 80dB.

Three vacuum cleaners impressed enough in our tests to be named Best Buys. If you’ve got pets, you’ll be pleased to know we’ve found Best Buys that will blitz fur and fluff. However, one pet vacuum we tested scored an abysmal 32%, making it the worst vacuum cleaner we’ve reviewed in recent years.

To find out which vacuum cleaners clean brilliantly despite a smaller motor – and the models to avoid – check our vacuum cleaner reviews

EU-compliant vacuum cleaners tested

We’ve tested five uprights and seven cylinder vacuums. All have motors smaller than 900W and are compliant with the new energy label rules introduced in September 2017.

To see whether the new rules would have an impact on cleaning standards, we retested three Best Buy vacuum cleaners that were being sold with a 1,200W motor before the ban, and now have a 900W motor. Reassuringly, we found that they still meet our Best Buy standards and clean just as brilliantly as before.

We also tested three new cordless vacuum cleaners. One proved exceptional, jumping straight to the top of the cordless leaderboard with an overall score of 85%. Head to our list of the best cordless vacuum cleaners to find out which one came out on top.

Here’s more on three key models we’ve just tested, with the full list below:

Miele Blizzard CX1 Excellence Powerline, £229*

 

This version of Miele’s flagship bagless vacuum cleaner has all of the mod cons that you would expect from a premium cylinder model, including variable suction control, which is handy if you are regularly switching between floor surfaces. The dust canister is designed to separate fine dust from the rest of the debris, for more hygienic emptying, and the fine dust filter cleans itself.

You get the full sweep of accessories for smaller jobs, and there is on-board storage so they are close to hand when cleaning. Find out if this bagless Miele gets our seal of approval in the full Miele Blizzard CX1 Excellence review.

Shark DuoClean HV380UKT, £180

This Shark is a bagless stick vacuum cleaner that converts into a handheld vacuum for easier cleaning in small areas and on the stairs, which is a really neat feature. You get a dusting brush, crevice tool and a motorised brush tool that is designed for sucking up pet hair. For a corded vacuum cleaner, it’s pretty light, tipping the scales at only 5.2kg.

The floorhead has a dual brush bar and soft roller, designed to pick up more dust and debris. Find out if this Shark can impress against the competition in the full Shark DuoClean review.

Gtech AirRam K9, £249

The chances are you have seen this cordless vacuum cleaner, as it’s one of the most heavily advertised on TV. Cordless vacuum cleaners are unaffected by the new EU energy label, but is the Gtech any good at cleaning?

The K9 is a slim upright cordless cleaner with the motor contained in the floorhead. It doesn’t have a detachable handheld vacuum accessory like some other cordless models, but you can buy it in combination with the Gtech Multi for £300. It weighs 3.9 kg and has a dust capacity of 0.7 litres. That makes it heavier than some cordless machines, but its dust capacity is pretty standard. Find out how it measures up to the competition when it comes to dust-busting in the full Gtech AirRam K9 review.

Does vacuum cleaner motor size matter?

EU ban on 1600W vacuum cleaners

The latest EU ban is a step on from the 2014 energy label, which limited the maximum power of vacuum cleaners to 1,600W as part of a raft of energy-saving measures aimed at household appliances. We’ve been closely monitoring the impact on cleaning performance since 2014, using our historic vacuum cleaner test data. Our research shows that core cleaning performance has remained relatively stable, despite the cut in motor size, and that overall motor size isn’t a good indicator of cleaning ability.

However, we did notice a few side effects, namely that some vacuum cleaners are poor at sucking up large debris or are much more difficult to push – these are both down to floor tool changes aimed at optimising fine dust pick-up for the energy label. As a result, our testing now factors in these issues to ensure you don’t get lumbered with a vacuum that sticks to the floor or leaves larger crumbs behind.

We put each of our vacuum cleaners through more than 60 individual cleaning and ease-of-use tests before we are confident enough to award a Best Buy. To see the models we recommend, head to our list of the best vacuum cleaners.

New vacuum cleaner reviews for 2017

Below you can see all the models we’ve just tested. Click on the links to head straight to the individual reviews.

Cylinder vacuum cleaners

Upright vacuum cleaners

Cordless vacuum cleaners

We’ve recently updated our cordless vacuum cleaner testing to more closely align it with our tests of corded vacuum cleaners, as more people are switching to a cordless model as their primary vacuum cleaner.

While a cordless vacuum cleaner that makes our Best Buy grade will deliver comparable cleaning to a Best Buy corded equivalent, we still find that, more often than we would like, cordless vacuum cleaners disappoint when it comes to cleaning. There were 11 Don’t Buy models in the batch of cordless models we tested prior to this one, so make sure you check the ones to avoid.

*Prices correct as of 11 October 2017

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