Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Quest for the Ultimate Vacuum

ears ago, say 1990-something, a friend of mine paid a ton of money for a state-of-the-art vacuum made by Electrolux.  It looked a lot like this one on the left.  It had a handle with on/off and power controls, a powered arm, and a powered head for floors with a separate one for couches and pillows and such.

It lasted YEARS, and proved to be a generally decent vacuum.  But in it's last few years, an electrical short in the hose would disable the vacuum for minutes at a time.  The replacement hose was no longer available, and it was time for a new vacuum.  So which one to get?

The new version of the old vacuum.
 Electrolux was a good name in vacuum cleaners until it's brand was sold off.  The original vacuum company continued under Aerus with it's new brand "Lux".  At right is a photo of one of the current Lux vacuums, retailing at over $1000.  Do you notice much of a difference?  Nope, neither do I.  It's essentially the same design and engineering as the one from the 1990s.  With the modern advances in vaccum technology, this is a vitual dinosaur.  This will not do.

So the quest was on.  Bagless or bags?  Upright or canister?  Power brush or floor cleaner?  The brands were just as overwhelming as the options with Hoover, Dirt Devil, Panasonic, Dyson, Bissell, Oreck, etc.  There were new robotic ones too like Roomba.  It had to be narrowed down.  I started with two decisions: canister style vac with power brush.

I scoured around and found an interesting YouTube video on Miele vacuums made by a crazy guy (Jerry Rubin) from a company called KillDirt in NJ.  He tested a few vacuums with a particle analyzer to measure how much crap was being spewed through the exhaust vent.  The results were stunning.  Then he proceeded to open each vac and look at the amount of dust behind the bag.  Why would this matter?  Because if the vacuum bag doesn't capture the dust, then there's nothing else to do the job.  His notes on how the filters are made and who they're made by was fascinating as well.  This system of old worked out well, so why change?
Miele S5 Earth - The Final Choice

That's all well and good, but there's also the question of whether the Miele vacuums will last.  They're light, their plastic, they sound like they'd fall apart in a year or two.  There were lots of good ratings from Amazon customers, but they typically add their reviews early after their purchase, so you're not getting the 10-year read on how well the product will hold up.

Back to YouTube, and a 4.5 minute video on Miele's  vacuum testing regimen (complete with relaxing, ambient music) which, if nothing else, proves that Germans know a lot about how to build machines to break machines.  It was really impressive (and relaxing).  I was sold.  Now it was down to the model, which is really more of a personal preference and based upon individual needs.  I chose the Miele Earth, and purchased it from KillDirt in NJ.  I have not yet been disappointed.

--A

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