* Prices may differ from that shown
It's time to say goodbye to a faithful friend; our 14-year-old full size Sebo X1 Automatic upright vacuum is now being moved on. Since my parents have installed new carpeting more furniture has arrived and as such the floor space in our home is getting smaller which means there is no need to have such a big upright vacuum cleaner taking pride of place. In spite of its excellent suction and massive dust bags, getting around all various types of furniture is also starting to become difficult with the X1 and preference has now bowed down to the cylinder/pull along type vacuums because of their long hoses and smaller tools. An upright like the compact Sebo Dart however is welcomed because of its patented swivel neck and electronic separately powered motor head.
Therefore if you are confused about the Sebo Felix and Sebo Dart models, they are one in the same with the same look and similar specifications. The Felix is for the domestic customer, and the Dart is for the commercial customer, ideal perhaps for small business owners who don't like using Henry commercial vacs but want something smaller for the carpets in their business premises.
The Dart 1 additionally refers to its 175 electric powered floor head and 31cm width compared to the Dart 2 which has a bigger 37cm floor head size and a 200 watt electric brush motor. This is a long review.
** Weight, Capacity & Price **
The weight of this upright "combo" vacuum cleaner reveals that it is much lighter than the bigger X range, (6.7kg versus 9kg) even though the Felix/Dart has a much smaller dirt bag capacity of 3.5 litres as opposed to 5.5/6 litres. I noticed the difference straight away after the initial three week break in period, only ever checking the bag's capacity a couple of times which revealed one quarter of the bag already full. For the owner who wants everything in one machine; the Felix seems to be able to fit most needs for compact homes or flats even though the Dart lacks many small cleaning tools, only a crevice tool and clamp comes supplied with the Dart which seems a bit silly compared to the domestic Felix which offers two smaller cleaning tools; the basic Felix model starts at £223 for example at John Lewis stores. The Dart however is slightly lower at £200 to £203 from online stockists.
Like the X upright range then, the Dart uses a similar principle of having an electronic adjustment wheel on the base of its separately motor powered floor head - I find that the "turbo" air brushes supported only by the vacuum strength start to slow down on carpet surfaces which weakens its agitation compared to an electronic separate motor. Whilst this is a welcomed addition to the overall steering capability of the entire vacuum, it is not without its compromises. The X model has an automatic sensor - the Dart however confuses the issue and has to be manually selected by its easy to turn rotary dial on the floor head, which offers 4 selections of height. You'll be corrected by a green light showing the correct setting whilst a warning exclamation marked icon in orange lights up to indicate that the floor head is at the incorrect height. It all seems like a bit of a waste of design thought in what really should be an automatic choice made by the electronics built into the floor head anyway without the user checking; this is something which Sebo X owners will happily recognise and appreciate.
In reality the Dart reveals that the weight of the gliding action eases up by setting selection 4 depending on the thickness of your carpet. When the Dart is put into the upright position, the Dart's revolving brush will stop but when vacuuming with the handle down the floor head lacks the all important stop function button engineered into the warning icon. This is a feature standard on the Felix domestic model but strangely not the Dart 1. And despite its dark grey colour, the Dart looks quite boring against the colourful Felix. On both the Felix and Dart irrespectively, there is a long 9.5 metre power cord which can either be wrapped around the quick release hooks as needed or completely taken off.
In terms of gliding around carpets and mixed flooring however, the Dart has a similar light weight feel factor to our old X1 upright although its swivel neck on the bottom of the floor heads ensures that the Dart can be angled and turned more easily around corners which mimics the larger ball idea seen on Dyson's ball uprights let alone the Slim model by Dyson which is slightly larger than the Dart. In contrast to bigger Dyson uprights, the Dart is a remarkable little mover because of the way the neck pivots and allows the whole body of the machine to move at angles and allows the floor head to move through low furniture much more easily than the traditional action on an upright vacuum. From left to right for example I find the Dart takes up less floor space than the more traditional sawing effect of moving an upright vacuum up and down a carpet; getting around the corners of furniture is a breeze never mind the legs of various tables, chairs and our grand piano. Like the X range the Dart also lies flat and the floor head always touches the carpet but thanks to that retro design of the bigger surface bin area, the thickness of the bin prevents true under low furniture design cleaning compared to our old X1. It does however defy logic in using this vacuum although Sebo could improve the handle by putting a Looped design rather than its open handle to suggest improved steering on its already comfortable handle.
** Power and Noise **
At 1300 watts fixed power (the Felix has a 300 watt to 1300 watt variable suction control slider - whereas the Dart has fixed power) I found the Dart to be surprisingly quiet following the 1000 watts of our old X1 although I would have preferred to have the option of a variable slider control rather than the full power all the time. The decibel level is rated at 67, which is much lower than Hoover models at 71 or more. Located at the top of the handle the power slider allows the Dart to emerge with its fixed 1300 watt power with the only additional noise being applied when the bottom release hose (which curves around the body from the top to the bottom) is taken out. In this instance, the Dart then reveals a very small ribbed design on the actual handle of the hose, and whilst it will not reach up to a standard stair case, the smaller hose is a typical downside to any of the Sebo uprights on offer unless you use an optional cost applied 6 metre extension hose. If you don't have one however you can buy an extension hose at the cost of £9-99 but it begs the question of why this is not a permanent option that would give the Dart increased versatility for the commercial market.
In terms of variable power generally you can keep an eye on the emissions of your environmental footprint from wattage as low as 300 to 1000 watts for capable and efficient suction; and on the Felix I trialled at John Lewis, the lowest power on the variable suction dial revealed a whisper quiet motor. But even at 1300 watts fixed power, the Dart isn't the most power hungry either or on noise either, although Sebo could have fitted a three selection dial of pre-set suction speeds rather than all or nothing here.
Unlike the Felix, which has an adjustable height controllable handle, the handle on the Dart cannot be adjusted for height or lowered into the body and storing the Dart is therefore compromised for compacting into tight spaces. If you are 6ft the height on the Dart is sufficient however with minimal bending needed if only having to change the floor selection once in a while.
** Changing Over to Hand Held Cleaner **
When the floor head is removed, the body of the hose holder at the side of the Dart acts as a long secondary handle, which turns the Dart into a hand, held cylinder cleaner. It is a pity however that Sebo have not included a total removable mechanism on the handle. When the floor head is removed and the hose is taken out, the whole size of the Dart becomes evident with the handle sprouting out the back and the front of the cleaner being used in use for above the floor cleaning. This is all very well if you just need it to clean on short clean ups, but the handle can get in the way bumping itself off furniture because it can't be compacted into the body of the main vacuum if used for longer applications. The one advantage of the hand held status that is revealed is the weight of the body once the floor head is removed. It doesn't feel like 7kg in use but rather 2 or 3kg because the fuller weight on the floor head when connected adds in the missing weight. It is rather a large hand held unit however but it is helpful to have this option if say, cleaning out shelves or anything above the floor line.
** Manoeuvrability **
Unlike the X1 however the Dart has edge cleaning sides on both sides of the floor head. The floor head is also considerable lower in height than the X1's main hood which means more access to under low furniture - but again the bigger, rounded bin gets in the way for successful all the way under low furniture cleaning whereas our X1 can be pushed all the way under open spaced bed platforms. And if you don't want to use the powered floor brush you can purchase an optional set of various floor heads such as a Parquet brush as well as a 2 way universal floor brush which is perfect for hard flooring where the user doesn't want to use the agitator brush. I have a delicate floor roller brush which we use with our X1 as normal and the both models use the same components, so its only a matter of swapping roller brushes over since they can be used in each model. Just like the X range, the Felix/Dart will stop its brush if anything gets caught. Whilst steering the Dart is no problem and a welcome change to traditional uprights, the Dart's top hose can be used to cleaning above the floor line and the main body slumps forward due to an anti tipping design built in. This only works if you use the hose to the sides rather than behind the back of the vacuum,
** More Skimping On Spec **
However Sebo has also skimped on details that make the K1 and X1 a more trustworthy decision based purely on its electronics. Whilst the brush may well have a separate motor which in theory should mean constant power despite the bag filling, it is unforgivable that Sebo put a cheap mechanical dust bag full indicator located at the top of the Dart's bin lid as opposed to more reliable LED's on their X and K range of vacuums.
Another issue is the heat of the motor which comes out the front and sides of the Dart. It won't burn you but it can be felt the moment the total suction is switched on.
** Removing Blockages **
Luckily as the floor head mimics other electric powered motor heads which fit via the push button lock mechanism and additional power socket engineered into the base of the Dart, the floor head has a similar floor head to the X range; the same trapdoor is fitted which means blockages are easy to inspect and remove; whilst an additional easy to unlock mechanism at the side of that L shaped floor head means the brush is also able to be slid out and removed without ever worrying about fishing out screwdrivers to remove the entire assembly. The hose is also completely removable whilst the feeder channel from floor head to the bottom of the hose is also viewable and easy to clear of any obstructions.
** Filtration **
One of the other reasons to why I like the Dart's design however is the simple filtration factors and design of locating them. Two filters are prevalent on the Dart and they need to be replaced after 16 to 37 bags are used; the first filter is quite an ingenious wrap around electrostatic filter that is both S Class and HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) identifiable and therefore traps allergens and odours. This wrap around sheet fixes via two lockable rings, top and bottom which hold and lock the sheet in and a secondary bonded plastic set of two strips on the sheets themselves which are locked into a holder set on the Dart's main body itself. There are quite a few changeable covers which Sebo have gone to the trouble of producing but on the Felix range which is highly more covetable and coloured, the Dart's basic commercial colour of grey and black here is slightly disappointing and crude against what Sebo offer to the domestic consumer.
A downside to this main filter is that it does remain warm due to its motor filter design but is a lot less billowy compared to other upright vacuums.
This aside the filter does a great job of keeping back what it should whilst a secondary lift out filter at the bottom of the bin inside protects the motor. That cartridge has a simple fold down lift out handle that offers simple installing and taking out whenever it needs to be replaced - or when it gets or accumulates so much dust. Then there is the bag design - being the newest of Sebo's models means that the 3.5 layered dust bag which has a fold over permanently fitted seal hat on one side ensures you don't have to go hunting for the seal caps on other Sebo bags. The simplest procedure of fitting a bag means you simply unhook the top of the bin lid and literally drop a bag in, only ensuring that the sides lock in at the top. Nothing could be simpler for installing or taking out a bag on the Felix/Dart and the lid won't close down properly unless the bag is properly aligned with its fixings.
** The cost of Bags **
Having worked in an industry where floors have to kept continuously clean, bagless commercial uprights do save the cost of buying bags, but I'm still on the Jury and belief through actual experience that when the canister is emptied, there's always dirt flying out and naturally goes into another bag anyway.
Sebo bags can be purchased singularly in boxes comprising of 10 bags at the cost of £7-95 whilst the motor filter replacement costs £4-95 on average with the further electrostatic sheet replacement at the cost of £16-95. Generally with so many different filters in place, its no wonder that the Felix/Dart has been accredited with the seal of Approval by the British Allergy Foundation - just like the K, C and X series before it.
Generally I find the bag is like that of the K1. It will last a month on average of the dust collected.
** Conclusion **
To conclude, it seems owning a Felix for your home could well the answer if you want user-friendly details as opposed to the "less added, less to go wrong" commercial Dart upright. It is a very well engineered upright vacuum which has many cost optional accessories available if you want to extend the Dart's cleaning capability whilst the swivel neck has the best steering capability, which makes cleaning effortless and quick. Then there's the removable electronic floor head and with its excellent filtration factors, self-sealing bags and the fact that at 67dbl with an equal 6.7kg weight, it is relatively quiet and lightweight. The Dart is also well built and very robust and seems to live up to its name in terms of a compact lightweight upright vacuum. Effectively though its not as versatile or as easy to use as its bigger X range upright cousin, and for many who wish to downchange from the X1, X1.1 and X4, the biggest hurdle is getting over Sebo's capped specification and price.
However! If weight isn't an issue and you're in the market for the horrible Oreck, the Dart wins it hands down. In this respect the Felix is the outright winner but for the Dart against the rest of Sebo's excellent range of vacuums, it gets 4 stars, which for a Sebo is one less rating than average. Thanks for reading. ©Nar 2007
Video of Felix:
The DART extends the SEBO range, offering professional performance in a lightweight, versatile and easy to manoeuvre machine. The SEBO DART is designed to be agile, user-friendly and to achieve superb cleaning results quickly, easily and economically. With a 31cm brush width, the DART 1 is ideal for small to medium sized areas.