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When we moved home way back in May we suddenly found ourselves in need of a vacuum cleaner. It's not that we liked having dirty carpets before moving, it's just our previous flat had laminate flooring while we had our new flat carpeted throughout. So our previous method on sweeping and mopping the floors just wasn't going to cut it anymore. While the first vacuum cleaner we bought was of the bagless and cyclone variety, it was a very cheap and not so cheerful model that really didn't like picking up any dirt. So we decided something had to be done, and looked for a new, hopefully better cleaner. Our requirements weren't really that taxing, we don't have any fur shedding pets, so didn't need a vacuum cleaner that was specifically for pets. What we were looking for was a cylinder cleaner, (as I find upright versions too difficult to push as I have mobility problems), that was bagless and preferring from a reputable manufacturer. What we ended up buying was the Russell Hobbs 15200 Pet Cyclonic Bagless Cylinder Vacuum Cleaner (from now on known as the 15200), which we found for half price in Argos, costing just under £60.
Now I normally wouldn't really comment on how a vacuum cleaner looks, after all it does live in the cupboard between uses. But this really is a cute little machine. The main body of the 15200 is white, the trim and wheels are black while the bin is a transparent grey, but what's really cute are the black spots dotted over the body, making it look a little like it's pretending to be a Dalmatian.
While not the lightest vacuum cleaner I've ever owned, it's light enough for me to lift and the wheels make it easy for me to move it from room to room. At 2m the hose is of a good length, I can easily rest it on my shoulder when vacuuming. Rather than being made of plastic, the two extension poles are made of metal, which not only feels more durable but also look far more expensive. Each of these extension poles add another half a meter to the reach and when combined with the 5m power cord the total reach is an impressive 8m (approx 25ft), meaning that I can use the plug in my hall (which is central in my flat) and vacuum the whole flat without needing to change sockets.
There isn't an overabundance of accessories supplied with the 15200, but personally I don't think I really need anymore than supplied. There are two different floor heads, one standard for normal cleaning and a turbo brush for giving the carpet a deep clean. There is also a crevice tool, upholstery tool and small brush but that's it.
==Clean Those Carpets==
Although the Amazon description for the 15200 claims that it is low noise model, that's not something that I would agree with. As soon as the power button is pressed it whirrs into action making a noise that I could only describe as being similar to an aircraft preparing for take-off. After a few seconds this sound intensifies as the motor cranks up a gear and then settles at a level loud enough to drown out the television along with anyone speaking. I certainly can't even hear anyone knocking on the door while this is running, but in a funny way this is quite reassuring as it does give the impression that this is one powerful machine. As well as being easy to push to switch the 15200 on and off with my foot the power button is also adjustable, so that if the full 2000 watts is pulling your carpet up then you can lower the power level.
It's easy to switch the standard head between carpet and hard floor modes and when using the standard head the 15200 does an excellent job of picking up all the dust, dirt and hair on the floor. Although we don't have any fur shedding pets, we do have a budgie that regularly sheds feathers, which this then has no trouble picking up. We also have a baby who is learning to feed himself, and as any parent will tell you, this involves food spread all over the floor. Again the 15200 has now trouble picking this up, whether on hard floors or carpets. Having said self-feeding baby, we do vacuum several times a day, and I find that there is little loss in suction right up to the point when the bin full light comes on.
While the standard head is great for everyday cleaning, the turbo brush is something else. This head can only be used on carpets, and features a deep cleaning brush. It's not recommended that this head is used on every clean, and we tend to use it once a week. Even when used on a carpet that's already been vacuumed with the normal head and looks spotless, the turbo brush still manages to encourage ingrained dirt to surface and be sucked into the bin. The turbo brush also seems to restore the pile in carpets, it really gives the same effect as using a stiff broom, but without all the effort.
The crevice and upholstery tools are pretty standard, the crevice tool fits into most corners and edges without a problem and makes vacuuming spider webs from the ceiling a piece of cake. The upholstery tool, is a reasonable size, being about 10cm in width and the combination of adjustable motor power and standard sliding opening in the elbow means that it can be used on even the most delicate of materials. It really does give even velvet curtains a new lease of life, and the long extension poles mean that even short old me can reach up to the top of the curtains without stretching. As for the small (dusting) brush, I really can't say that I've ever bothered using it, but it's the standard round brush accessory.
I do have a couple of problems with the accessories though, with the first being that if the fit onto the extension tubes can be just a little too firm. I often have trouble changing heads, because my partner has been just a little too enthusiastic in attaching the previous head. My other problem is common to most (but not all) cylinder cleaners, in that there is no onboard storage, meaning that there's a good chance of accessories being lost.
After finishing vacuuming, rather than having to wind the power cord round the cleaner, it's simply a case of pressing in the handle which then causes the lead to self retract at a rate of knots. I will say though that it took me a long time to work out how to get the lead to retract and the instruction manual was rather vague on how it works. So if you're planning to buy this model, remember that all you need to do is push down on the handle, which is something that can be done without even bending, just use your foot. I must say though, that the lead does retract rather fast, which is a good thing as it takes less time, but can also be a bad thing if the plug catches anyone's foot as it whizzes past. What I also like about the power cord is that rather than the only warning that you've pulled out to the fullest being that you can't pull it any further (which is not good for the connections as you try and pull it too far), it has two warning markers on it. A yellow one about a meter from the end and then a red marker about 10cm from the furthest it can be pulled. I find this a great visual aid, but am still trying to convince my partner to keep an eye for them.
The 15200 also features HEPA filtration which should lower the amount of dust that escapes from the cleaner during operation, but to be honest this is a pretty standard feature for most vacuum cleaners nowadays.
==Cleaners Need Cleaning Too==
As with anything, the 15200 does need a little basic maintenance to keep it working efficiently. The most basic of this maintenance is emptying the bin, which is a pretty simple affair, even without referring to the rather basic instruction manual. There's no combination of releasing catches required here, as releasing the bin is as easy as simultaneously pressing two buttons and lifting the bin out. I live in a two bedroom flat, with a medium sized living room and large hall and I find I need to empty the bin once a week. Obviously how often you would need to empty the bin depends on too many factors for me to give you an anywhere need accurate timescale for you. Once the bin is removed all the filters are within easy reach for checking and cleaning if necessary. I find it easy to remove all the filters, they can all washed in soapy water and most importantly are easy to replace once rinsed and dried. The instruction manual didn't really give a time scale for how often this should be done, but we clean the filters once a month and so we've had no problems. Once the filters are replaced and it's been emptied, the bin slides into place even easier than it was removed. So thumbs up for ease of maintenance.
As well as emptying the bin and cleaning the filters there are a couple of other things that do need checking on a regular basis. Until recently I had long hair, used to shed it at a ridiculous rate (a joy of being a new mum that they don't warn you about) and these hairs did get tangled around the brushes in the turbo head. It's actually quite difficult to remove these hairs as although there is a flap to check the head for actual blockages, this doesn't allow access to the actual brushes. Talking of blockages, as with most vacuum cleaners, it's fairly easy to remove blockages from most parts and there's a plastic filter that stops these blockages from getting into the smallest of spaces. The length of the hose does make it hard to remove anything that's managed to get caught in it, but to be honest on the rare occasion that the 15200 has become blocked, we've discovered the culprit in the small plastic filter. (And mostly that problem has been stray hair).
==Price And Availability==
I purchased my 15200 over eight months ago for approximately £60, which was half price at the time. Although this particular model seems to have been superseded by the 18379 (which is identical apart from the power rating which is 2100 Watts), it is still available from Amazon for £89.81 including delivery.
I'm really pleased with the 15200, it may not be a Dyson, but as far I'm concerned it does as good (if not better) a job at keeping my carpets clean. Unlike an upright cleaner, I have no trouble using this to vacuum as the only weight I have to push around is the actual brush. The long extension poles also mean that I do not need to bend, which saves me a lot of backache. Using the standard head, I can vacuum every floor in my two-bed flat in under quarter of an hour, and that's including the stairs leading from my front door. It's also far easier to use on stairs than an upright would be, with the long power cord and hose meaning that it doesn't need to be precariously balanced at the top of the stairs. While using the turbo head does take a little longer, it really does bring my carpets up to like new. Added to this is the fact that it's easy to empty the bin and clean the filters and you have a very reasonable vacuum cleaner for the price. That's not to say it's perfect, because hardly anything is. It is far noisier than any of vacuum that I've owned, and the lack of onboard storage is an inconvenience. But all in all the 15200 deserves a very hearty five stars out of five, simply because it does should a good job of vacuuming my carpets and you don't need to be a genius to work out how to maintain it.
Short name: Russell Hobbs 15200