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Bagless Facts and Fiction
on April 4, 2013
I'm on my second Hoover as of two days ago... first one is still operational after 20 years... but I wanted some upgrades. My greatest desire..? I wanted to be released from the vac bag. But even though that has been accomplished... I'm(we're) still not free from some vac maintenance chores... and the occasional filter purchase. One step forward, two steps back maybe?
First, some perspective. A bagless vacuum is nothing more than a
glorified and highly stylized shop vac. All this crap about "wind tunnel and "cyclonic technology" and other such buzz word descriptors accompanied by dubious conceptual design claims, is just a bunch of advertising hooey meant to distract any buyer from a problem that is NOT preventable in any vacuum.. eventual loss of suction. If this isn't true you wouldn't find elaborate instructions with every model imploring you to clean filters frequently and to empty the dust cup often. If they don't get cleaned in the prescribed manner... loss of suction occurs... or complete plug-ups. So much for the "no loss of suction" claim. Most models have either mechanical or electric flow indicators that tell you exactly what isn't supposed to happen, is happening: loss of suction. So, with this in mind... it becomes a quest to find that vac that has enough obstacles built-in to the vac canister that will delay the loss of suction for as long as possible. That's the reason why the canister(most) is so jacked-up with multiple tubes, fins, screens and irregular shapes... to catch or divert the misc vacuumed up garbage away from the foam filter, and eventually the hepa filter. Things that a certain percentage of dust always manages to evade on its trip to the first filter. Shop vacs are bagless and will plug up sooner or later and so will house bagless vacs.. depending on what it is you're sucking up. They're designed on the same principles. If you can get past the claimed "no loss of suction" baloney... you can make a more informed decision.
Observations on my purchase. I forked over 153 smackers for the Hoover "Windtunnel 3 Pro Whole House" vac. This came after reading a couple of hundred reviews on Amazon of all the leading bagless vacs out there... and on what my vac needs really are. I'm not a compulsive vacuumer... just occasionally... and I have a small two bedroom house. After vacuuming almost the whole house for the first time this is what I noticed: I emptied the dust cup twice, so what? Just means there was plenty to get up... and there was. I don't think it picks anymore than my old bagged Hoover. How do I know? Because with the bagged I would occasionally run out of the bags... and I would reuse the old one... by unfolding one end of it, shaking it out, folding it back up and then stapling. Works well. I saw that same nastiness come out of the bag that comes out of the dust cup.
Next, the dust cup empties easily, hinged bottom opens up. But even after emptying and tapping on the dust cup canister to loosen all that didn't release right away... there was still plenty of fine dust stuck to the innards of that windtunnel canister. All the canister obstacles did their job; dust was either captured or stuck to them, and you can't shake it out. This fine dust sticks because of the moisture in it and that static electrical charge on the surface of the objects in the canister and the interior walls of the canister itself. The book recommends washing out the canister... I just took it outside of the garage and blew it out with an air hose. Faster and easier. And a bunch of that really fine dust went flyin'.
Next: I inspected the second to the last line of defense; the foam filter at the top of the canister. I was impressed, because only minimal dust reached that filter... I know this because I blew it out with air as well. The instructions say to wash this and let it air dry for 48hrs... ridiculous and boring. Use air.
Next: I inspected the Hepa filter... the last defense before the exhaust exits the vacuum. I detected no dust. Most impressive. And because no dust exits the vacuum... you don't get the vacuum cleaner stink in the room air... something I always get from the way less filtered bagged Hoover.
Overall observations: Here are the things that I dig; the bare floor agitator shut off, both when you set the vac to upright position and the foot button that shuts it off. The cleaning accessories, they all worked well... the stretchy hose, which was quite adequate... the headlight, the sturdy wheels that also have a soft surface for hard surface traction, the easy release of the cyclonic canister and dust cup... the most excellent suction and the overall sturdiness of the unit. And, the auto cord rewind is a kick and a hoot, but this feature really doesn't get you out of anything; you're either bending over to wind the cord up(no auto rewind) or bending over to pull the cord out(auto rewind). By comparison, this unit is supposedly on the heavy side, but I didn't notice... as long as the surface height adjustment is in the right place... it glided over everything I've got. It's been my experience in life that the heavier something is, usually means it's made of more durable materials and in copious quantities... something to keep in mind even when it comes to vacuums. Another bonus is that it's only half as noisy as the old Hoover. Best of all, no vacuum stink in the room air when you're done. Just so you know... I'm big on good design and construction... when I went to look at the vacs I checked out all the leading machines and passed many by because of shabby design and obvious weaknesses. This unit passed all my pickiness. As far as complaints go... for what I paid and how it performs and how well it's made... I have none. A year or two from now... I might have something to offer up here... I'll let you know. In the mean time... Hoover and I will leave the light on for yah. ;-)