* Prices may differ from that shown
Man alive, that's a painfully obvious title, isn't it? Normally I'd be arsed to come up with something better (or I'd at least go to the trouble of plagiarising someone else's) but I've been out all day, I haven't had my tea yet and I already had the review written, so it'll have to do.
Anyway. Vacuum cleaners. Not a household item that I generally take much interest in, but there does come a point when you sincerely begin to wonder whether the mounds of dust and dog hair that regularly blow through the living room in the manner of tumbleweed may have become so big that it's only a matter of time before they achieve sentient thought.
Amazingly, I currently have three vacuum cleaners. To put this is perspective, I live on my own. Well, I have a small dog and quite a few fish but despite repeated encouragement I've yet to come home from work to find the dog busily hoovering the stairs and the fish cooking my dinner. The reason for the excess of vacuum cleaners is that the dog ate the first one (he really, really wasn't keen on doing the hoovering, you see), I bought the second one from Argos because it looked quite cool and promised to deal effectively with pet hair and I acquired the third one because vacuum cleaner number 2 turned out to be rubbish.
I realise that some of you may be properly dirty, or students, so I shall explain the basic functions of the average vacuum cleaner. Vacuum cleaners suck stuff up. Not big stuff, like chairs and tables (although, in a way, it'd be brilliant if they did); little stuff, like dust and bits of fluff. Handy things to have, then.
In all honesty, I'm already a bit bored of talking about vacuum cleaners in a serious and sincere manner. In an attempt to liven things up a bit I shall separate the review into Which? Magazine-style categories, giving marks out of ten for each one.
For once, it actually looks like the picture. Well, except mine's white (a minor quibble, I grant you, but a quibble nonetheless). It's quite cumbersome, despite being one of those ones you pull along the floor behind you (no doubt there's an actual name for this. People who know/care more about vacuum cleaners than I do will probably not hesitate to inform me what it is). It looks like a vacuum cleaner. What more do you want from me?
EASE OF USE: 7/10
It weighs 4.5kg (although it'll seem like 3 times that when you're trying to lug it out to the car or up and down stairs) and is quite big and awkward, although it does have a 4.5 power cable and an extendable tube thing (again, my ignorance of correct vacuum cleaner terminology lets me down, but you get what I mean). Even so, it's a bugger to clean the stairs with. Case in point: I attempted that very job about an hour ago. I worked from the top down and at the second step from the bottom all 4.5kgs of it came hurtling down the stairs at some speed, walloped me on the back of the legs and caused me to hit the deck, nose first. I gave it a damn good kicking, which placated me somewhat. Once you've mastered pulling the weight of a small donkey behind you and you've learned the hard way that you should do stairs from the bottom up, though, it's pretty straightforward to use.
Admittedly, I have only used mine about 3 times but it bore the brunt of a damn good kicking without complaint and started again afterwards, so all in all, a sound investment.
STUFF YOU GET WITH IT: 8/10
Sadly, this does not include an apron clad man (or woman, depending on your fancy) to do the hoovering. You do get a little crevice cleaner thing and one of those attachments that you're supposed to use to clean your car with but never do. You also get a cloth dustbag. That's about it, I think. You'll never use any of the attachments, anyway.
You can get it for £39.99 in Argos. That's pretty reasonable, given all the hours of vacuuming fun you'll have.
AND NOW TO THE GOOD STUFF: WHAT WILL IT SUCK UP? 10/10
I've tested this rigorously on your behalf because these are the kind of details that manufacturers just don't tell you.
Dust & pet hair: gets rid of the whole shebang, even mega big dustballs that have been lurking behind the sofa for ages and are now threatening to engulf the dog.
Small pieces of cardboard/paper: will have a go at anything smaller than the palm of your hand. Anything bigger than that, though, and you'll have to take it all apart to see what got stuck where.
Spiders and Daddy Longlegses (that's a tricky noun to pluralise): Tackles the first easily and the length of the hose is sufficient that you won't worry about a rogue ninja spider crawling back out to murder you as you sleep. Daddy Longlegses are a bit trickier: even though they always seem to be trailing one gimpy leg behind them, they're surprisingly quick off the mark. The trick is to wait for them to take flight and then hoover them to their doom. It's surprisingly good fun, although a little cruel if you're the kind of person who cares about Daddy Longlegses. I don't, though, so that's alright.
A cup of tea: admittedly, this was an accident, but it drained the entire mug and without electrocuting me in the process. I did have to change the bag after that, mind you.
A bag of popcorn: again, an accident, but it made a satisfying 'whomp-whomp-whomp' noise which more than makes up for the loss of snacky comestibles.
Small dog: I tried valiantly but the dog stayed outside the vacuum cleaner.
A pair of pants: again, something of an accident, as they were a really nice pair of pink silk pants, but they're gone now.
I'm aware that I should probably give you some kind of average score as a neat way of rounding this off, but I was never that good at maths, and I still haven't had my tea. It's probably the best vacuum cleaner you can get for forty quid.
If you're looking to hoover up a small dog, though, you'll probably need to invest in a Dyson.
When hubby was working in Scotland on an extended contract he rented a flat up there and the vacuum cleaner provided was worse than useless so we decided that he should buy a cheap but decent one for the duration and then bring it home with him at the end of the contract.
As it happens it has worked our well because we are currently living in our cottage on the Great Orme in Llandudno but have yet to sell our house down on the West Shore.
Clearly we need a vacuum cleaner at each address - the one up here needs to keep the place clean and, since Mew, the cat, has adopted us this one really needs to be the Miele Cat and Dog TT 5000 that I did an opinion about last year. We also need a vacuum at the empty house so that I can give it the once over whenever anyone decides to come and view the place.
SO WHICH ONE DID HE GO FOR?
He wanted a cylinder vacuum cleaner and after a bit of research on the Internet he decided to go for the Electrolux Powerplus Z4411.
HOW MUCH DID IT COST?
I am afraid that I can't remember how much we paid for it when Dave bought it but it currently retails at £37.99 so it is a t the budget end of the market.
SO WHAT DOES IT LOOK LIKE?
It is a compact cylinder model in Sky Blue with a hose and two plastic extension tubes. The Hose fits into the top of the cylinder at the front and the fitting will rotate though 360 degrees which is very useful when cleaning.
The cleaner itself moves around by means of two wheels - one either side at the back end of the machine - and a ball set at the front of the machine making it easy to change direction when cleaning. The wheels and the ball are set underneath the cylinder - obviously!
It has an onboard container set in the lid which houses the combination crevice nozzle/brush and upholstery nozzle.
There are two foot switches, one of which is the on / off switch and the other is the mains cable rewind to save you having to bend down and wind the cable manually. There is also a release button to open the cleaner for the changing of the dust bag.
There is also a dustbag change indicator light and the dustbag needs changing when this is fully illuminated.
When you stand the cleaner on its end there is a parking slot on the bottom of the cleaner which corresponds with a fitting on the main brush. This means that the cleaner can be stored with the cleaning tubes parked in the base of the cleaner so it is a bit tidier.
It also has a carrying handle so that it can be carried easily a bit like a suitcase. It is quite light although I can't find a note in the instruction leaflet as to the actual weight but it is certainly a lot lighter than the Miele.
WHAT DO YOU GET WITH THE CLEANER?
As I said before there is are two plastic telescopic tubes complete with a standard floorhead, a combination crevice nozzle/brush and an upholstery nozzle. The machine also comes with a couple of spare dust bags.
You also get a full set of easy to follow instructions. These are in English. You may think that this is a funny comment to make but it does annoy me when you have to plough through a huge book of instructions to find the few pages in the relevant language. It makes so much more sense to just supply the instructions in the language pertaining to the country of sale.
SO HOW TO WE GET STARTED THEN?
First you will need to insert the dustbag. This bag is simplicity itself - following the instructions in the booklet you just have to open the lid of the cleaner, take the dust bag which has a cardboard holder, and push it straight down into the plastic tracks. You then close the lid and you are almost ready to go.
Incidentally when the dust bag is full a warning light will show on the cleaner and you will then remove the bag in the same way and replace it with a new one. The dust bag must then be replaced - it cannot be emptied and reused.
By the way the cost of a box of 5 bags currently costs about £3.50 on EBay including postage.
Each bag has a large volume of 4 litres so they don't need changing too often.
The only other thing that you need to do is to insert the hose in the hole on the front of the cylinder and push until the catch clicks in place.
You then insert one or both of the plastic hoses on the end of the tube and a brush or nozzle on the other end and away you go.
THE VACUUM CLEANER ITSELF
I find the whole thing very easy to use and not too noisy either. The telescopic tube has a hole in it with a sliding cover so that the amount of suction can be changed.
It is also a real bonus having the tools on board as I for one couldn't be bothered to go and find them out of the cupboard if I was in the middle of cleaning and would probably use the wrong brush and not get the best results.
As I said earlier I find the cleaner quite light and vacuuming down the stairs is a breeze. I suffer with my back from time to time and find that carrying an upright cleaner upstairs means holding it at an awkward angle whereas this vacuum is carried more like a suitcase and makes it much less of a strain on my back.
When I have finished cleaning I just put my foot on the button at the back of the vacuum and the cord winds itself away - again saving my back!
This bit is pretty obvious really as this vacuum is a standard, budget job so there aren't any fancy bits and pieces. The main brush is the standard floorhead and is used for carpets and floors (not unsurprisingly!) The crevice nozzle and brush is used for getting into awkward corners, crevices or folds. The upholstery brush is used for cleaning upholstered furniture.
I told you it would be obvious!
HOW EFFICIENT IS IT?
Well this is the most important bit isn't it? Does it do the job? The answer is yes.
I have used it in the cottage mainly for cleaning round our new log burner. I just use one of the plastic tubes with no attachment on the end and it gets all the bits of ash etc out of the crevices in the burner as easy as anything.
I also use it in the room where the cat has his litter tray to just pick up the odd bits of the white litter that get scattered on the floor - again dead easy.
I did use it to give the whole cottage a good clean but found that the suction on some of the carpets left a bit to be desired and it was hard work to get them clean.
Now we have Mew we will swap the vacuums as soon as possible so that the Miele is up here as the Electrolux just won't pick up all the cat hairs.
This vacuum cleaner is only for use on dry floors. Do not try and clean up any spills with it.
Do not use to vacuum sharp objects, hot cinders or lit cigarette butts. Would anyone be that daft?
Remember to unplug the cleaner before you change the nozzles, the dust bag or do any other maintenance.
Do not vacuum up fine plaster dust.
THE INSTRUCTION BOOK
The writing in the instruction book is all in English as I have mentioned earlier but it is TINY! I have to wear my spectacles and use a magnifying glass to read it.
It gives the following information:
Accessories and safety
Getting the best results
Replacing the dustbag
Cleaning the motor filter
Cleaning the micro exhaust filter
Cleaning the hose and nozzle
Electrical supply instruction
I haven't gone into the cleaning of all the bits and pieces in this review as I thought the performance of the cleaner was the most important thing and anyway you'd probably loose the will to live! LOL!
I am impressed with this cleaner for what it is - a basic cylinder cleaner. It has done what I have asked of it although sometimes with more effort on my part than I would have liked.
The whole thing is not as robust as other cleaners I have used and I would not expect it to last for years but having said that it is a good little cleaner for the price.
This has also been posted on Ciao.
£19-00 it does seem like an extraordinary bargain that you can buy a cheap cylinder vacuum cleaner just to suck up dirt and there are a few models exclusive to Argos and Tesco which offer bagged collection of dirt but in almost all cases the bag capacity is small or the machine has to be emptied all the time after each use which for anyone like me, I cant be bothered with. These days however Electrolux have waxed clever to the idea of the humble paper bag, which is why you will find most of their current bagged cylinders equipped with a few paper bags to start you off AND a permanent washable textile bag to use instead. Make no mistake if you have a cylinder vacuum cleaner as your back up source and you can't find bags for it, shopping around for bags can be tedious.
** Buying Reconditioned - What's the Catch? **
I paid £19-99 for a reconditioned model from a seller that I trust wholeheartedly on EBay. Being reconditioned you'd expect the odd scratch, the odd tool missing - something externally which is different from the model brand new. Well, whatever they have done with it, being reconditioned with a brand new motor and fittings, my model is shiny, gleaming and looks brand new. I got two paper bags enclosed aswell and the aforementioned textile dirt bag.
** Nar's Quick Skip Product Spec **
Micro filtration dry felt pleated filters - Unwashable
1700 watts low noise motor but high suction power - fixed with no variable suction control dial.
Hose handle has air inlet valve to reduce suction - small but works!
Separate on power pedal - clearly marked.
Auto cord rewind - Pedal activated and clearly marked.
4.5 metres of power cord Far too short for an otherwise larger cylinder vacuum cleaner which has a 4 litre dust capacity.
Plastic pipes - basic, push in and pull out friction type which dont feel as if they will last.
£5-99 extra for bags (pack of 5, Electrolux branded) - cheaper copy bags available thanks to other models in Electrolux company.
Universal dual 2 way floor head with bonded park position.
On board storage; crevice tool with snap on brush and flat upholstery tool. (Disappointing)
Mechanical dust bag indicator (green to bright orange - easier to spot.)
5kg weight with tubing and hose included. (Quite lightweight)
Argos Price: £39-99
My Price (EBay) £11-99 and £8-00 P&P rates. (£19-99)
** Why Choose Electrolux? **
To my mind and in my experience as a vacuum cleaner collector, Electrolux machines are becoming better to source in terms of spares as well as having longer motors and offering more versatile performance than Hoover who are happy to rip of the customer by offering cheaper machines with less thought out features.
Out of all the cylinders I have had from Electrolux, both my Mondo Mk1 and Boss B4111 has been the easiest to maintain and to use. Both cylinders are not compact but both have great suction, easy to remove tubes and easy to source bags and filters with quiet enough motors to match. Both have better quality than previous Hoover cylinders including the Arrianne model and Telios cylinders. So the choice of the Electrolux was purely down to the fact that with experience, I thought I was getting a bargain.
** Price Brand New & Alternatives **
Is the Powerplus worth £39-99 brand new? Against cheaper alternatives such as Bush and Dirt Devil models currently on sale at Argos, the only difference I can see is better quality pipes and permanent washable bags with a deeper capacity. Tie in the high power 1700 watt motor and you may well have a cheap but versatile cylinder vacuum cleaner which ticks all the right boxes for being able to be stored neatly away without taking up too much room.
** Quality & Design **
It's as simple as it gets here but Electrolux have engineered good basic Swedish thinking; in terms of fitting a bag and filters though. The bags are easy to install into a thick plastic holder and access to the motor filter is easy thanks to the pick up and slide out cartridge holder where the filter can be pushed out. Oh if only Hoover applied the same thinking here! At the back of this squarish but curved machine, a recessed handle reveals the pop out exhaust filter which like the motor filter sits in its own grate.
Out of the box, it is really easy to assemble the Powerplus too. It's all about pushing in with friction; the tubes fit together by pushing them in; the hose has a well designed lock which fits at the top of the machine and the floorhead pushes in at the bottom of the floor head channel. Electrolux have kept design to a minimum here - they do have great experience after all. Here the pipes are plastic thanks to the low price and although they have yet to crack, they do bend somewhat between the hose and the floor head.
Moving with the Powerplus is easy too although the machine itself is not as compact as its Mondo Z2305/6 cousin. Coloured in light pastel blue, it's easy to say that scratches would be viewable if this machine is used everyday. Aside from a bonded seal around the whole cleaner, there is no other bumper to withstand bumps and scrapes - but then again it is a cheaply priced bargain basement vacuum cleaner.
** Floor head, Other tools and Design **
A dual purpose floor head is supplied, and just like my Boss model, the floor head moves easily, gliding beautifully and is very lightweight and easy to use. Simple rule of thumb; brushes down for hard flooring, brushes up for general carpet piles and other fabric basic materials. Edge channels assure edge brushing and the floor head here is made of thick grey plastic as opposed to the universal designs you usually find with other company models such as Hoover! Additionally there is a hook on the back of the floor head which allows you to park the hose and head onto the rear of the Powerplus whilst in use. Nothing unusual here but its good to see Electrolux have permanently stuck a thick hook on the back of the floorhead which means less breakage in use...or so I thought.
Three additional cleaning tools are also supplied; a short and stubby crevice tool with a secondary snap on brush to add versatility and an upholstery tool. Both are rather cheap looking though and they don't mirror the same type found on my Boss cleaner. These sit in an easy to find "on board" storage cubby which sits before the hose entrance on the Powerplus. Again you get what you pay for in this respect but its good to see Electrolux putting a hiding flap to keep everything together.
The bag indicator window is small but you don't have to look at it closely; when the bag is full or there's a blockage, the green window goes to bright orange which is viewable from a distance.
Carrying the Powerplus up and down stairs is no problem at all thanks to the fact that the park positions and the elasticity of the lightweight plastic hose sits close to the body. The hose itself including the bonded handle is also lighter than hoses found on past Hoover models. Electrolux quote the figure of 5kg and it is comparative to my Sebo K1 which is 5.5 kg in weight with metal pipes.
** Is it aptly named? **
Yes!! Lots of power and thanks to no variable suction dial, the noise of the motor isn't too loud or whiney to cause offence. There is an air inlet hole on the handle of the cleaner but it doesn't open up very much but it is a much needed device. Opened, the suction is easier to maintain, particularly when moving the floorhead around. The floor head sticks to the carpet and it can be difficult to move unless you open the air inlet valve at the top of the hose handle; once you do this all of the 1700 watts on offer is easier to maintain and control.
** Changing the Bag/Access to Filters **
The bags are easy to fit and take out when full; just slide the bag into the holder, lock and fit the lid down and it snaps into place. If only it was easier on my Hoover Telios, where if misjudged the bag seals itself and you have to open and install another bag - yes it is another example of how Hoover rips off the customer.
The bags can take a maximum of 4 litres which seems to be a market standard for middling to large capacity of dirt in one go
Access to filters is also easy to pick out and replace. Additionally, you can wash both the black or white foam motor filter and exhaust filter located before the bag at the motor (but must be dried before installing again) and at the back of the machine where the exhaust filter is concerned.
** Filtration & Dust Bag Availability**
With the exception of the paper bag, Electrolux have fitted a micro filter to their exhaust and motor channel. Used in the kitchen the odours were kept to a minimum although it's easy to see at the end of the day what I would prefer with my Sebo cleaners and their S Class/ HEPA filters. The filters do a good job of minimising actual dirt odour but it depends very much on what you use your Powerplus for.
Pet owners for example would need to look elsewhere - this is a basic vacuum cleaner after all - so those with allergies or pets would have to consider a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Pet hair (especially dogs and cats) are notoriously oily and easy to sniff out in homes. Although the filters do well at keeping back general emissions, they won't keep out the smell of pet hair.
The exhaust filter would have to be changed after 5 or 10 bags according to the small worded black and white booklet that comes with the Powerplus, but the filters used here are white cloth, black foam and whilst the white filters are washable, in time it would need to be replaced after constant washing and wringing out. Buy a box of bags for this cleaner from Electrolux (still £5-99!) and you would get a free set of cut to size filters free with the bags. The motor filter does not need to be replaced though; it can be washed and dried.
** Costs **
The dust bags have self seal flaps on them which means after you take out the bag, flip the flap over and it sits directly in front of the bag channel and hung under the rubber rim which seals the bag in use. This is not the most ideal seal though in terms of sealing the bag completely but at least they have some kind of sealing protection from dust which becomes airborne.
Generally the cost of the bags are £5-99 for 5 bags which are Electrolux genuine branded bags, but Homespares also do a fantastic copy of the bags, 5 for £1-99 depending on where you shop. Generally Comet, Currys and other high street shops won't carry Homespares bags but you can find them in privately owned, independent shops such as hardware stores and sometimes even thrifty D.I.Y pound style shops.
** Downsides **
However good I have reported this Electrolux to be, it has proved to be disappointing despite the price I paid and with the 6 month guarantee I never thought I would have to actually use the guarantee. After four months and a bit, I was cleaning out a friends house one day and discovered there was no suction coming from the machine. Nothing was clogged due to the lack of a rising motor pitch but there was no suction at all. I looked around and suddenly realised the hose lock on the bin had stayed permanently at its position but the rubber hose above it had tried to turn around, and through my use, the hose had turned and split which obviously pushed the vacuum suction into the room rather than through the hose. I couldnt believe this at the time, but closer inspection reveals that whilst the lock is extremely strong it doesnt quite move in the 360° access Electrolux would have you believe.
Once onto the phone to the seller, they had commented that this was beginning to be a common problem on the same model and luckily because I still had two months left on a guarantee they sent out a free replacement hose which would originally have cost £15.
Secondly whilst the pipes are plastic, easy to remove especially for shortening and getting into tight spaces, I just dont like plastic pipes at all on the account that one day they will crack either at the ends or snap in two with use. They measure 32mm so getting replacement metal tubes are not hard to find, or expensive if you consider EBay. In this respect a cylinder vacuum of this size (because its not that small compared to their smaller micro Powerlite model) should really come with metal tubes as standard.
Thirdly on all websites showing this model, it states 4.5 metres of cord and it is a pity that in reality this statistic appears to be true. I find 4.5 metres of cord far too short from the industry standard of 7 metres and indeed it is a bit of a nonsense having to change plugs every so often because of the lack of distance from the machine to the plug and the lack of power cord which limits overall distance. Electrolux dont fit a longer hose here either, which would somewhat compensate the short power cord.
Lastly despite the new hose, after a year the floor head decided to snap off its complete housing. This was the last straw before I had to pay for a new floor head, an unbranded 2 way floor head which cost £10 and has since yet to break. But that hasn't stopped the plastic on the Electrolux rendering the tool door from snapping at the hinge which means the door is now fixed on with sello tape.
** Conclusion **
The Powerplus uses the same paper bag as the older "Tango," "Bolero" and "Samba," range, as well as their recently updated model the Mega 2000 cylinder and two other cylinder ranges which are still selling in the shops. All models use the same type of filters which carry "scissor cut" signs to cut the filter to shape; so consumables such as bags and filters are always available. Or you can just use the permanent washable textile bag instead to save on the cost of paper bags. I must admit that I'm all in favour of models which can use the same bags - it says a lot for an electrical company who are trying their level best to be good for the environment.
For all that the Powerplus Z4411 has great suction and generally a basic no frills performance with some good points added to its design for maintenance, the quality of the plastic, especially the hose and the tubes themselves have lowered my expectations from Electrolux. Yes, it may well be cheap but theres no excuse that this model should have lesser quality or cheap thought out small cleaning tools when it replaces the Boss Endurotronic B4111 which is slightly larger than this Z4411 but no less capable and has a better quality all around for long term use. So, sadly in my experience the Z4411 has been disappointing, but then again Electrolux are about to replace it with a new model, the Z4413. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
Short name: Electrolux Z4411