Are Dysons worth it vs. knockoffs?
May 13, 2024 7:56 AM   Subscribe

The Great Enshittification of Everything means I can't trust internet reviews any more. Real humans: will a half-cost Dyson knock-off cordless vac meet our needs?

We're two adults, three cats, 2.5-storey house. Presently we don't vacuum very often and sweep periodically. Our biggest challenges are dusting and cat hair accumulating on area rugs. I'm seeing Dyson "equivalents" on sale for $200 vs. Dyson at $600 or so.

I'm okay with a shorter battery life, or 80% the sucking power, but I don't want to buy absolute shit. But I don't trust reviews online any more. If you have direct feedback on Dyson vs. off-brand, I'd appreciate your input.
posted by Shepherd to Home & Garden (25 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Consumer reports has just done a Pet Hair vs vacuum cleaner review, you may have access to this via your local public library. In summary, though, in stick vacs the cordless Miele Triflex HX2 and the corded Shark Vertex HZ2002 (half the price) were the two cheapest recommended vacs. I'm sure either would be fine. (A $1K Samsung was the top pick but I will never buy a Samsung product, and I cannot imagine it's worth the upcharge in any case.)

(We own a Miele C2 hard floor canister vac and don't have much in the way of rugs; it came with a turbine powered beater bar we use on our small assortment of pile surfaces. I love this vacuum to death, but I am willing to actually hold it in one hand while I use the nozzles in the other and very few people would be willing to do that. I otherwise would not use a canister vac because I hate dragging shit around. )

Personally I'd get the Miele rather than the Shark because I have a bit more faith in the longevity of the Miele, and I have a much smaller space than you and no worries about battery running out -- but at half the price and corded for a decent motor and no battery rundown, the Shark is going to be pretty great price vs performance. That'd be my recommendation for you.

As far as Dyson goes, their reputation has slid a bit as far as longevity goes. I probably would not pay the Dyson price these days when I could get a Miele for about the same outlay. NB check Dyson's website for refurb deals if you want a somewhat more attractive price. Miele's refurbs are often available at Best Buy and I would be fine with either.
posted by seanmpuckett at 8:11 AM on May 13 [3 favorites]

I wrote a longer response to a similar question a while back, but IMO cordless vacs all suck at sucking, but are great because you'll actually use them several times a week to keep down dust and hair. I recommend buying a cheap-ish one that is an actual name brand with a two or three year warranty, and then getting a cheap corded canister with a powerful motor to do deep cleaning and upholstery once or twice a month.
posted by nanny's striped stocking at 8:23 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

We got a Tineco Pure One S11 a few years ago, and it's great. Having a cordless vac is so convenient, and I find it does a good job of picking up the dust, cat hair, etc. It was $300, which was much less than the equivalent Dyson.
posted by Winnie the Proust at 8:35 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Medium-helpful-at-best anecdata: I have a standard corded Dyson floor vacuum that did not, even when brand new, wow me. It's.. fine I guess. I truly feel that the markup is about the brand's (very successful) marketing, i.e. they jack up the cost to heighten the impression that it must be better, but I can't imagine it's significantly better than other main brands. I have a handheld cordless Bissell that has been a champ.

I've also seen people on Reddit (in a Dyson subreddit, maybe?) losing their minds about the difficulties they've had trying to get their vacuums serviced under warranty, so bear that in mind as well.
posted by wormtales at 8:39 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Anecdata as well - we have a Dyson which we bought from Costco and we love it. Easily user serviceable (e.g. on the very rare occasions it clogs, we pop the filter out and unclog it, we can wash the filter by hand so not adding more plastic waste, etc). I don't mind paying a little extra for the amazing customer service from Costco (as well as the fact they treat their employees well). I haven't had a non Dyson for a few years, but when we did (and it was a plug in version) my husband complained relentlessly about how it sucked because it didn't suck (haha).
posted by arnicae at 8:45 AM on May 13 [4 favorites]

My Dyson can barely handle human hair, you’ll be cleaning it every time you use it…
posted by sixswitch at 8:54 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I had a Dyson Animal Ball, it was not durable (the ball coverings parts fell off), it didn't clean particularly well, but the cord was long and the detachable hose design was pretty decent. It is 'user serviceable' in that it clogs often and you have to take it apart to unclog it. The brush spinner also died relatively early in its life. So because of this, I'd never buy another Dyson vacuum cleaner.

We got the Animal because we had 2 cats a dog - to handle animal hair and had almost no carpet - mostly hardsurface floors.

It finally mostly died and we replaced it with a cheapo black Friday Bissell vaccuum - it's better in nearly every way, except the cord is shorter and the accessory/detachable hose design is terrible.

I also have a cordless floor steamer - the battery life on it is not good, but it works fine. Just have to plan floor steaming for multiple days to allow time to charge.

So accessory usability and battery life are things you can maybe narrow your search down to, to see if it would be worth it to you.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:01 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

I purchased a refurb Dyson canister for use in the basement (where the dusty cat litter lives), replacing an ancient Panasonic bagged upright.

It's OK. Lightweight and the suction's good. Emptying it out/cleaning it is a nuisance, and it shuts off due to overheating after about ten minutes of use.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 10:03 AM on May 13

I got one of the seemingly infinite Amazon off-brand brands and it works pretty well (vs cat hair) but the battery life is really not good. I haven't been discontent enough to fork over for a different one but if I were doing it over, I think I'd aim slightly higher than [checking Amazon history] a $120 Whall cordless.
posted by less-of-course at 11:15 AM on May 13

I found the Vacuum Wars channel on YouTube to be helpful when making a decision about the right balance between cost and performance for us. It's never just Dyson vs. Non-Dyson, it's also models and accessories that could be hundreds of dollars different in price!
posted by Gable Oak at 11:31 AM on May 13

Plug for an actual Dyson here: We have two long haired cats, hardwood floors with area rugs on them, a maintenance schedule that sounds like yours, and a Dyson V12 Detect Slim. We absolutely love the Dyson. We got it on sale around the holidays for about $450 at Best Buy, and it looks like they're on sale there for about $500 now if that's in your budget.

- The attachments. One of the heads has a greenish light on it (some sort of diffused laser? I think?) that illuminates the stuff on the floor that is in front of the vacuum, so you can see what needs to be picked up, which is fantastic for finding things like tracked-around cat litter on our light-wood hardwood floors. Another of the attachments is really good on the area rugs, and picks up the hair of the aforementioned long-haired cats with no problems.
- The fact that it can be used as a full stick vacuum or as a hand vac, without the full stick. Makes it super easy to vacuum in tighter spots.
- We have never had a mechanical problem with the unit, and have had it for almost two years.

- Our 1500SF place and the two long haired cats means multiple emptyings of the smallish dust cup if we're vacuuming the entire place at once. Not the end of the world, certainly, but kind of annoying because cat fur can be hard to pry out of the dust cup (it will auto-eject a lot of things, but cat fur often has to be dug out with two fingers).
- Battery life...isn't phenomenal? I want to say that at full strength (power is adjustable) you can get about 30 min out of a charge. Which is good, but it's also easy to forget to charge the thing between uses and then run out of charge the next time you use it
- Literally every single time we use it, it tells us "CLEAN FILTER". The filter is clean. It's never not been clean, we clean it every couple of uses. I don't understand why it keeps insisting the filter needs cleaning. Again, not the end of the world, a minor irritant at worst.

Overall, the Dyson is a great vacuum that does the job of keeping our place as cat-fur free as possible pretty well.
posted by pdb at 11:36 AM on May 13 [2 favorites]

I do not have a Dyson.

A late friend of mine worked several years for a sew-and-vac store. She told me her first thought when customers came in for repairs or warranty issues and said "I have a Dyson" was "I'm sorry!" Of course she did not say this aloud.

She swore by the Riccar brand, and she was not flush with cash by any means.
posted by jgirl at 11:51 AM on May 13 [1 favorite]

i have the dyson v8 animal stick and have had it for 4 years. i love it. i have replaced the battery once 2 years ago (i was using it improperly, which i didn't know, and the battery life went to shit). it is the best vacuum i've had. it being cordless means i use it more. i can vacuum my whole apt on one charge and i store it on the charger when not in use. will buy another if this dies.

also, cause there are lots of accessories, i bought this, which is on the wall above the charger, and is quite handy.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:00 PM on May 13 [1 favorite]

Another plug for the Dyson. I bought a refurbished one for ~$300, about 6 years ago. I bought it because we needed something with a beater bar for our area rugs. We have a separate backpack vacuum for the tile/hardwood floors. We have 2 dogs. The Dyson works great on picking up the pet hair from the rugs and the cloth furniture. I have only needed to replace the battery once in that time. We vacuum weekly and I am still amazed by it's suction powers and am still horrified by the amount of dust and pet hair that it picks up. Caveat: we do have to empty the canister before moving to the second floor; and yes, the dog hair does wedge itself up into the canister, but I just pry it out with a butter knife.
posted by sarajane at 12:12 PM on May 13

My favorite youtube review channel, Project Farm, did a recent review of plugged in vacuums which includes something that approximates hair and includes the Dyson Ball Animal 3. It's only one of two more expensive vacuums, but it fares quite well. They also have an older review of cordless vacuums.

Anecdotally, our household which includes 2 cats, 2 shedding dogs, and two women with long thick hair has been well served by an older Dyson Animal model. Other than occasionally clearing out wrapped long hair it has worked well and been trouble free.

When I'm too lazy to grab the large vacuum we do use a cordless dyson which has been serving us well for small spots, including carpet, over the ~5 years we have had it. I did have to replace the batteries in it which ended up being easier than I expected.
posted by Quack at 12:41 PM on May 13

We have a corded Dyson and, not coincidentally, a cat who refuses to be brushed on pain of death. The Dyson works great and sucks up a ridiculous amount of cat hair along with the usual dust, etc. It clearly doesn't have the durability of our late-1950s Electrolux Model AF canister vacuum, which is practically made of solid metal, but seems durable enough. We've had ours around a half-dozen years with no worries. In my experience eBay has the best deals on new Dysons.
posted by slkinsey at 1:37 PM on May 13

I have a Dyson V15 Detect. Absolutely adore it. It has a green laser thing (mentioned above) and you will find _all_ of the cat hair that is places you had no idea it could be... It is a couple of years old now and holding up well. About once a year we pull it all apart and pull my hair and the cats' hair out of all the parts.

It is light, on a stand, already assembled, so I can just grab it and vacuum quickly.

I also have a Miele canister vacuum for the "real vacuuming" but I don't often use it since we got the Dyson. I love the little design touches on the Miele and it has held up amazingly well over a decade. But to use it, I need to go fetch it, plug it in, and carry it around, so I prefer the Dyson.

That said, before the Dyson V15, I had a V10. It was good, but not amazing. We use it on another level of the house now since I cannot manage the vacuums up and down the stairs.

More anecdata, I absolutely hated my Mom's original Dyson Animal. I felt it was hard to manuever and not nearly as good as the Miele canister.
posted by miscbuff at 2:30 PM on May 13

I have had this Greenworks stick vacuum for 2 years and I like it.
posted by terrapin at 5:10 AM on May 14

I can highly second the recommendation for a Tineco Pure One S11, this is the best and most functional vacuum cleaner I've ever used. I do not use it with pets, though, so I can't address that.

a half-cost Dyson knock-off cordless vac

I think it's worth recognizing the effectiveness of dyson marketing here. The Dyson cordless stick vacuum was introduced in 2006, nearly 20 years ago, and its first "cyclonic" vacuum in 1983 (that patent has long expired and the tech is used by essentially all manufacturers). I do have a previous corded dyson vacuum and it was pretty good (not perfect), but at least given my personal experience with the higher end brands (like dyson, shark, tineco) I no longer believe that dyson really has special status in this market at its stage. (Reminds me of bose as a speaker company in this way.)
posted by advil at 7:45 AM on May 14 [2 favorites]

We have one of the higher-end cordless Shark stick vacuums (which I think was in the $200-300 range) and it does a great job cleaning the floors of our two dog household. You don't need to pay Dyson prices to get a quality vacuum.
posted by gnutron at 11:44 AM on May 14

We bought a Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal about 10 years ago and have been absolutely happy with it. It's still going strong and working as well as ever (had to replace the brush roller in the 'turbine' head once). But. We failed to heed the warning about not using it to suck up building waste or plaster and did so many times during our renovation. This blocked the paper filter hidden way inside it and I had to pull the machine apart and clean it out with compressed air - I can't find replacement filters anywhere. So, the whole 'no filter to clean' thing is a complete lie - they just tell you not to use it for anything that won't be trapped by the canister.

We also bought a second-hand v10 stick Dyson and, after replacing the dead battery, have been pretty pleased with it. It only just does our house on a battery charge, though and a more thorough than usual clean won't work on a charge. It's great for a quick go-over to pick up the voluminous dog hair that gets everywhere, because it hangs on the wall beside the fridge and is easy to just grab and do a quick clean.
posted by dg at 9:57 PM on May 14

I am of the own a stick vac with bag canister tribe. I have had multiple Dyson and Miele vacuums through the years. Go for a Miele because dumping the Dyson several times is painful though it is cool seeing so much cat hair in the canister . I have also found that you can get a Miele serviced more easily than Dyson (so many fiddly plastic pieces). I have the Dyson V15 and it is fine but you can go cheaper with the stick as long as you have the canister for serious cleaning.
posted by jadepearl at 9:38 PM on May 15

My litmus for a vacuum is whether it can pick up the dry cat food that falls around their bowls. Both cordless Dysons I’ve used just shot the food out. Dyson says you need to swap heads to the floor attachment, which is too much of a PITA. The ergonomics of Dyson also makes them painful to hold.

Got a Shark cordless Detect Pro that uses a single multi-floor head which makes ALL the difference. Works great transitioning between hard surface and carpet, and does a great job with cat hair and the cat food test.
posted by homesickness at 1:52 PM on May 16

was just looking at these myself, ended up with the Miele Triflex HX1 Cat & Dog - it's been good so far!

my mom has a Dyson and loves it but had two warranty battery replacements and paid for a third so I'd say their batteries aren't great.
posted by euphoria066 at 2:56 PM on May 16

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