Electrolux are fast becoming one of the biggest leaders in the floor care industry thanks to the fact that they are launching new products alongside older products such as the more traditional bagged vacuum cleaner at lower prices and cheaper build quality. Now whilst Hoover are trying to re-write their image with new and more expensive products such as their recently launched Freemotion, Freespace and Xarion series, Electrolux are quietly going about their business supplying traders and high street white goods shops with models such as the Electrolux Powerplus series which has been on sale for the last couple of years as a budget larger sized cylinder/pull along vacuum cleaner with acres of suction and no-fuss design. However they have recently updated their entire Powerplus range and the Z4412 is the more basic of models not to have a variable suction control and offering fixed suction thanks to 1700 watts and basic filtration. Two years from the last basic Powerplus model I had, have things moved on?
Well from the exterior Electrolux have tried to make quality a little better even though the pedals for switching on and cord rewind are both slightly bigger, they still react with a soft touch and the bag indicator is still as small as the last time; i.e. you'll have to bend down close to look for the green wall to appear when the same large 4 litre dust bag gets full rather than being able to tell from afar like on a Miele vacuum or similarly priced one at the premium end of the market. Talking of which at £30-30 the Powerplus Z4412 is comparatively cheaper than anything else on the market with a mass well known and reputable name. But does the Powerplus get by on this merit alone? For a start the bags cost £5-99 for a pack of 5 and each pack should come with a free filter - just like many Electrolux bags these days that help the consumer rather than being forced to order other parts at extra cost.
Performance wise, the Powerplus has acres of suction and a large bag destined to last a month and bit through average use but with it comes a rather noisy motor that is boomy and has a high whine even though Electrolux have retained a slow start motor to keep it ticking over long term. The hose for this model is also quite short at less than a meter coupled with a rather cheap feeling handle that is ribbed on one side for extra hand grips and the same lousy air outlet hole that allows suction to slightly decrease making the floor head easier to manage on hard and soft flooring textures. I thought it was me when I had to stoop to use this model with its short hose. You don't buy this model for anything other than to vacuum around homes that have different textures or on the pretence that with its large motor it will suck up everything; without a moving brush bar, or turbo brush, the Powerplus excels at a good pace but struggles when threads and hairs are abundant and the Powerplus stumbles forcing the owner to keep pushing and pulling the floor head across the carpet until the threads get sucked up. The smaller tools however has their own hidey hole - just like before - with a pull down recess at the front of this vacuum cleaner and there are only two tools which is frankly disappointing for the price. At this point in the market budget brands from Argos have three tools and it is here one starts to realise the extent of Electrolux's thinking; a small crevice tool is supplied with a snap on brush that fits over the mouth of the tool making two tools in one but in use, the crevice tool is noisy and adds more noise to the full proposition even at a stretch, being suitable for most dust pick up uses, Electrolux also give the owner a flat upholstery tool and whilst it is simply designed it too provides too much noise when used in conjunction with the cheap feeling handle. At £30 to £40 you should also be able to find metal tubes but the Z4412 makes do with just a pair of cheap feeling plastic tubes that feel like they're going to snap off when in use.
However the largest downside of the Electrolux Powerplus "base" model (Z4412) is the lack of several features that could be taken for granted on a vacuum cleaner in this day and age. Take for example, travelling around with the Powerplus; it should have a long power cord; yet it still languishes with a 4.5 metre power cord and that is far too short unless you live in a small home and have plenty of electrical sockets on hand. Electrolux have wisely continued to add coloured rings onto the black cord to show when the final amount is allowed; but this isn't very practical when more length of cord is needed rather than the coloured rings. Therefore I appreciate the fact that the Powerplus has a large carry handle and it is very lightweight at nearly 6kg, however acres of black plastic due to the floor head and pipes reveal that this vacuum has been made to a budget. What is slightly worse is that this cylinder mirrors the smaller Powerlite vacuum on design; when sited in the upright position, the user manual warns not to place the vacuum cleaner on carpeted stairs because the main exhaust is on the back and thus can burn the floor! Most people who consider cylinder vacuums buy for the very reason that the design employs a far greater versatility for stair cleaning for example.
Whilst changing the filters (both are washable but must be fully dried) and bags are no problem, Electrolux haven't done much to improve the robustness of the Powerplus. Once the bin door is released it is possible to find rough edges inside whilst the bag holder is cheap feeling and doesn't look or feel like it will last. Given that Electrolux also produce the slightly smaller bag capacity Powerlite cylinder vacuum at the same price on the high street, it comes with a larger amount of cable at half the dirt capacity of this larger cylinder vacuum cleaner - and at the cost of losing space to accommodate this rather large machine, it really makes no sense whatsoever to consider this outdated vacuum despite a lovely look, curved angles but a quality of plastic that bends at the slightest exertion. Both the Powerlite and Powerplus models come with reuseable washable material dust bags when bought brand new and two spare paper dust bags to keep you tied over - but if you buy this model from EBay, the sellers keep the material bags and reconditioned models are only supplied with paper bags forcing the new owner to splash out more money.
On face value then Electrolux Powerplus Z4412 may look new but it has not improved since its last model change; it still suffers impracticalities because Electrolux are too stingy to fit a decent amount of cord and features for the price not to mention moving the exhaust channel away from the rear, fitting a quieter motor and updating the basic micro-filtration filter that copes with keeping back obvious odours until you start to pick up pet hair or spices left on the kitchen floor. As a brand leader in the floor care market, Electrolux can no longer survive on tarting up an old vacuum cleaner - no matter how shiny the white paintwork has received. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2008
(product code 4482861)
Short name: Electrolux Z4412