A vacuum cleaner that excels at picking up pet hair from carpets and fine dust from hard floors is all well and good, but not when the suction is so powerful it’s impossible to move when it’s switched on.
In the past few months, we’ve tested vacuum cleaners with push forces exceeding 80 newtons.
Put another way, it takes as much force to push some models a single stroke as it does to lift an Olympic-standard shot put or eight bags of sugar.
While improving your physique might be a desirable consequence of vacuuming for some, we think this level of heavy lifting is more suitable for the gym.
Why is this happening?
As far as we can tell, this strange phenomenon is an unwanted consequence of the vacuum cleaner energy label.
Introduced in September 2014, it restricted the motor size of vacuum cleaners to 1600 watts to save energy, and introduced ratings for how well each cleaner sucked up fine dust from carpet and hard floors.
This led to manufacturers racing to optimise their machines for sucking up fine dust in order to get a higher score on their energy labels.
Some manufacturers appear to have done this at the expense of the end user, who might be surprised to get their new machine home only to find it’s almost physically impossible to use when switched on.
What has Which? done about it?
The push and pull force of each model is now integral to how we test vacuum cleaners at Which?.
If a machine’s push force exceeds 45 newtons, we adjust the power setting until it’s acceptably easy to move around. This is then the setting we use to conduct our cleaning tests.
We now also publish the push force of each vacuum cleaner on its most powerful setting, so Which? members can decide themselves whether they want to buy a machine that may be difficult to push around.
Do you have a vacuum cleaner that you have to take a running start at to get it moving over your floors? Can you think of any other products that have become more difficult to use in recent years?