* Prices may differ from that shown
Ten years ago when I first brought our SEBO automatic X1.1 vacuum cleaner I was not aware of the quality of the brand, and had barely heard of them. They are a German company, but do have a manufacturing site in the UK. When the latest in a series of vacuum cleaners failed on us we visited a small reliable independent electrical store in the market town where we live and were advised that if we wanted a quality machine that would last we should consider a SEBO. The available model then was the 1.1 and having looked in the same shop this week when I was purchasing replacement bags, I noticed that the trusty 1.1 model is still for sale there now looking exactly the same, as well as the newer 1.4 model. The 1.1 cost £219 and the 1.4 was £269. On Amazon the costs are £224 and £215 respectively.
The fact that it is still on the market ten years on speaks for itself, but I am hoping that this review will also testify that buying a SEBO vacuum cleaner will be a sound investment.
The X 1.1 is an upright vacuum cleaner. This is my preferred type as I feel that it enables me to clean with my back in a much better posture, preventing strain, and I find it easier to use and more energy efficient. When I was at college we had one of the cylindrical drag along ones and I hated it; it always used to get stuck around corners and I had to put lots of effort into pulling it along. The SEBO is even easier to push as when in forwards motion it glides gently on its own and you just need to push to increase speed and guide direction changes. Pulling back is not assisted but it doesn't require a huge amount of effort.
The base of the vacuum measures 30cm x 30cm which seems a good size to me as it fits into most gaps that I need it to but also covers an average sized room in not too much time. For those gaps where it won't fit, like down the side of out TV cabinet I use the attachments that it comes with. A flexible hose is attached to the top of the vacuum and stretches to 1.2 metres. This has a plastic tube with a handle attached of 54cm length into which two cleaning attachments slot. These are a long thin crevice nozzle which I use to fit in the smallest of gaps and when reaching up to cobwebs and the upholstery nozzle which gives a cleaning surface area of 12cm. This is the attachment that I use the most and I use it to clean under things like our bedside tables and the sides of the toilet where the main vacuum cleaner won't fit and also for my stairs. You can also purchase an additional kit of other attachments of various shapes and sizes but I've never felt the need to do this as I can reach everywhere I want with what I already have. The attachments have recessed slots into which they sit securely in the main frame of the vacuum while not in use, so I have fortunately not lost them. When not using the attachments the main tube is placed back into a slot and the dust sucked up when cleaning regularly travels up this to reach the bag. It's therefore really important to make sure it is securely in place otherwise the dust will just blow back out into the room. My one quibble with my SEBO is that on odd occasions when I try to stretch the hose too far it will pull out of the connection point in its handle, which can be annoying but it is easy to replace and clicks back in. The hose easily retracts back within the handle for storage.
Other features are a long power cable of about 10metres. I find that if I plug in, in my upstairs hall I can reach all four bedrooms, down the stairs and into most downstairs rooms, but annoyingly I have to unplug and move it to reach the furthest parts of my living room. For a smaller house it should reach everywhere needed. The cable coils around 2 strong hooks, one near the top of the push handle and one on the main frame. On a previous vacuum cleaner these were quite weak and it was totally frustrating when one snapped off and I couldn't neatly fold the cable away, so I'm glad this has been built robustly. The handle to lift the machine if also robust and relatively comfortable to hold with a semi circular notch that I hook four fingers into. I'm able to lift the cleaner up and down stairs without too much difficulty, although of course any vacuum cleaner will be cumbersome to a certain extent. It weighs 8kgs, if my scales are accurate.
One feature I really like is the foot operated push down leaver that releases the vacuum from the upright position when in use. It allows the body of the machine to lie completely flat, at 180 degrees to the base. My previous models didn't do this and it was great when I was first able to lower it flat to clean under the beds without having to use attachments. This tilt feature can also be used to ensure that the handle is at the optimum height for each user. I find the angle of the handle comfortable to hold as well.
Bags are probably the next thing to consider and I'm hearing some groans from lovers of the dyson type of appliance. Personally I'd go with a vacuum cleaner with bags any day over one with a see through cylinder. I can't bear seeing the contents of other peoples vacuum cleaners when they're stored in an area where I can see them, and I know for sure that I don't want to be able to see my own gray hair tangled mess! A light will display to alert that the bag needs changing but I can often get away with waiting a few days before doing this. A lever on the front of the machine is raised to remove the outer cover on which the triple layer brown paper bags are mounted. I like these particular bags as they have a green plastic framework at the top which slides onto the fixing points of the cover. Each bag comes with a green cap that securely fits onto the bag to close it when emptying so that you don't have a dusty mess flying everywhere. I do occasionally find it a little confusing to work out how to fit the bag on, as it will only work if the outer release lever is still raised causing me a couple of frustrating episodes before I remembered this.
I buy the bags in a service pack for £21.99 which contains 10 bags and a replacement for each of the filters. The bags seem to last me ages, about six weeks each, so it is rare occurrence to need to buy this pack. I've just brought my latest pack and after using 10 bags my filters well and truly look like they need replacing - they're quite clogged with dust. The main filter, a micro hygiene one, sits alongside the bag and a secondary small exhaust filter lies in its own compartment on the top of the base. They are easy to replace, but it's hard for me to comment on their effectiveness, other than knowing that they trap dust. When buying the latest service kit I checked with the shop owner that nothing had changed as these are for all SEBO models and was told that 'they're still the same as ever'.
We've just needed the one repair. If I remember right it was a replacement roller brush, which we were able to buy from the same shop and my husband refitted. I do find that with two daughters with long hair the brush clogs quite quickly and every month or so I need to get out the scissors and cut the hairs off to free the brush - it was probably not doing this regularly enough that caused the part failure. Looks like a job for now and I notice there's a plimsoll lace wrapped round there too! It does suck very powerfully and will happily try and suck up the bath mat if I get too close and recently chewed off the handle loop from my umbrella that was lying on the floor. So be warned - it can misbehave!
SEBO supply a concise and informative manual with instructions in English and German. I just opened mine for the first time when writing this review, so it obviously has been simple for us to use the product even without written instructions.
Over all I have to say that this is by far the best vacuum cleaner that we have owned. It reliable sucks up everything that I ask of it, although suction power does reduce as the bag becomes fuller. I always notice how much more freely it moves when empty and I can feel a greater strength of suction. We do challenge our machine quite a bit. My daughter regularly leaves a trail of hay and sawdust behind as she carries her guinea pigs through the house, so I do put it to use at least once every day, if not more. It's also had excursions outside to assist with cleaning the cars using the attachments. All this and despite a few scratches to the blue bodywork, it's still working as well as the day it first came to live with us. Long may it continue, but if it does reach the end of its life one day we would only consider replacing it with another SEBO.
Despite Dyson's best efforts to become the best well known brand for vacuums through product design and court infringements, I was shocked to find recently that from latest findings from a rival consumer review website company that the most preferred vacuums on the market all take disposable bags with the Sebo X1.1 at number one and two other X models in the top ten*. Naturally after so many years of not owning a Sebo X1 Automatic and selling my X4 Pet to a friend, I jumped at the chance of purchasing the X1.1 immediately; it has always been the model I've recommended to others over the pricier X4 models. I've had Hoover Purepower uprights, Panasonic bagged uprights and Miele's S7 through my hands, but despite old versus new, the Sebo X range is still far more compact and better thought out. The latter models are too heavy to push, Hoover and Miele too heavy to lift, Hoover and Panasonic hoses on the back have a knack of being ever so short coupled with heavy noisy motors that always makes my ears cringe at the thought; some products aren't worth the £70 asking price and if you have ever owned a Dustmanager which is effectively the bagless Hoover version you'll know what I mean about noise and weight! The Sebo X1.1 may be the "starter" priced Sebo X upright vacuum at £175 to £199 and it may lack extension tools that the X4 come with - but it is no less efficient or incapable of proving why it is number one and most popular since it replaced the old X1 Automatic. Miele's basic S7 starts at £249 so it is easy to see who the cheaper German is! ** This is a long review based on actual usage **
Form and function is very apparent with the Sebo X1.1 dressed in several matt colours (blue/grey or white/yellow or white/grey or red/grey if purchased from Euronics) rather than flashy chrome or painted black plastics. It doesn't whistle, or ring out acting as a secondary piece of stylistic furniture that blends in with your home unless you are a fan of Cubism. Like its predecessor, the X1.1 mimics the automatic functions and block look of the old X1 Automatic and it is good that Sebo haven't messed about with the basic premise. This effectively means a wonderfully welcomed 50% reduction of its 7kg total weight when pushing and pulling the upright across carpets due to the Sebo's electronically adjustable (and hydraulic assisted) floor head as well as a simple but effective 3 metre added hose that fits into an additional straight plastic wand complete with grab handle at the back for quick removal. Add in a long 10 metre power cord, lifetime fitted drive belt and a slim line flat to the floor cleaning design and it is not hard to see why in the United States particularly, the Sebo uprights are by far the most preferred for commercial upright vacuuming or large domestic homes. Infact there isn't another upright I've used where I only need to use the tips of my fingers on the handle to glide across different carpet textures.
For environmentalists, the X1.1 should appeal because there's only 1150 watts total power, deep fill high filtration dust bags with individual seals and if the dust gets missed (it seldom does) then the slide in/slide out on board S Class/HEPA identifiable allergy filter gets the last of it. That is one of the primary reasons to why all Sebo vacuums have won numerous awards such as GHI/Which? and an award/approval from the British Allergy Foundation. Sebo bags are just that, only they offer 3 layers of filtration on top of their hospital grade and recognized micro filter and S Class/HEPA sealed system that puts out cleaner dust free air. The X4, X4 Pet and X5 are not very different save from uprated power and a bigger 14" floorhead on the X5 compared to 12 inches like most standard compact upright vacs on the UK market.
The performance of the X1.1 is particularly apt for most carpet cleaning needs; the brush roll grooms and lifts dirt out of carpets effortlessly. Downsides however consist of the speed in which the electronic sensor adjusts to the carpet and if you're patient you need to give the X a couple of seconds before it can sense the carpet it is required to clean. If you can't be bothered to wait then the vacuum will still sense the carpet and adjust the height accordingly but don't expect it to pick up the dirt the first time you lower the handle and run it over dirty carpet without giving it a couple of seconds to adjust. Normally it will pick up instantly once it has sensed the height of the carpet nap and performance is largely excellent that seems to give carpets a better appearance than uprights with a fixed height setting. Just like the entire X family the electronic guidance system also tells the owner what the vacuum is doing through four different lights: when the floor head is moving onto carpet, when it is rising changing the height of the brush roll automatically to prolong the brush roll and when cleaning hard floors and with its two symmetrical LED colours, two red lights act as warnings; bag full/clog and a brush roll fault respectively. Do you really need to know when the floor head is rising to cope with different floor/carpet nap heights? Not really but the X1.1 benefits the consumer who can feel the slightest change when pushing and pulling this vacuum across the changing floor surfaces and then wonder why, all of a sudden the upright has become lighter when transferring from carpet to hard floor.
Another downside is that due to its electronics and the fact that it has a lifetime belt fitted, one side of the floor head will not clean as well to the edge as the other side. I don't mind this at all since the very lightweight 0.5kg hose and wand is lightweight enough to pull out and use to scoop up dirt without bending for corners. For the price you expect both sides to clean up edges but here's the vital difference between more modern brands; whereas you'll undoubtedly get twin edge cleaning sides, you won't find another upright vacuum cleaner that doesn't need screws to undo the sole plate to get into the brush roll should it get caught up with tight hairs and threads. Because of the Sebo's easy maintenance, a compromise has to be made here and the X1.1 has the same brush roll release button that pops out and the entire brush roll can be removed. Just above the main hood the only other maintenance function is to remove the carbon filter that protects the motor and also prevents carbon dust from entering into the room. Avoid going online if you can to buy the filter as Ebay and other stockists are known to over charge for this simple plastic foam grid and the foam isn't washable. Cost of replacement filter from John Lewis will only set you back £2-55! As for the drive belt; it's an internal lifetime toothed belt that should never need changing.
Have precious wool loop carpet? You can buy a separate brush roll that deals specifically with this kind of carpet and has softer bristles as a result to Sebo's standard brush roll. Then all you do is pull the brush off, clean it and install back in and fit the side door on. No screwdrivers, no impatience and no sweating or swearing. I'm prepared to put up with that than moan about no proper twin edge cleaning aspects! In the X's defence though there are edges built in on the front that seem to pull dirt in when made to go against skirting boards and the base boards underneath kitchen cupboards.
The hose and wand can appear to be clunky particularly if you consider the extension hose for more reach (3 metres) because the standard hose isn't long enough to do a complete flight of say, seven steps. However the whole design element of the hose and wand is spot on, super easy to use and very quick to access. Additional practical design stems from the fact that if I just need the hose, I can simply pull it out of the top part wand. There's also a button release on the wand itself where the hose normally sits inside anyway. There is no need to unwind a hose around a hook and get a slight bruise for accessing tools either. On the X1.1 model, a long noise free crevice tool is supplied and a T shaped upholstery tool with a stiff line of small brushes that can be used quite universally for many cleaning needs. Both pop out at the bottom and top half at the back of the X1.1 whilst the T shaped tool has a removable brush and is ideal for cleaning velour sofas or curtains whilst the brushes when added is great for general shelf dust pick up without fear of scratching due to its design. Naturally the quality of these tools mirrors the quality of build here and although not as organically smooth as the latest Miele S7, the X1.1 has soft feel plastics, metal mixes here and there that withstand scrapes and general abuse. You certainly get your money's worth with the German built engineering that surrounds the X1.1 even though it may not look it!
So what good is the suction on board? In real "layman's," terms, as the bags progressively fill with dust, suction on the Sebo X1.1 doesn't start to weaken unless the dirt has been heavy and towards the end of the bag this is when I find suction starts to weaken but not to the point that suction is completely cut out like other bagged uprights on the market where bags clog. Sebo get around this because the bags and the filter system are electrostatic which maintains suction. I've often checked the heavy dust bag in my X1.1 only to realise that it can still take dirt when the red warning light doesn't show and certainly if there is still space at the top of the bag, it's better to let the Sebo just get on with it.
Now where consumables are concerned, the Sebo X is a good value vacuum cleaner and here is why! This is primarily down to Sebo's "bonus" boxes of bags and filters. The 'Service' box of bags containing 5.5 litre 10 bags and replaceable filters make the Sebo X longer lasting than any other upright vacuum on the market and when I've owned one box of bags, it generally lasts me a year and a half on the basis that their three stage filter paper bag (complete with seals) last me three to five months dependent on the nature of dirt pick up. The Service box costs between £15-95 to £18-95 whilst a box of bags singularly (7) costs £8-95 and single "kitchen roll" S/Class or Microfilter costs £9-99 and £16-95 respectively for the added Charcoal element. That's the prices for genuine parts; you can pick up cheap copy paper bags but I find they don't seal in the odours as well and never come with seal caps. However I find that if the main filter gets dirty it can actually just be brushed clean before installed back in. Effectively then the only cost you'll give yourself is the carbon filter and the bags. All of these prices come from John Lewis where most Sebo consumables are sold but Sebo do sell models both at Comet, Curry's and Euronics. Ebay sellers also sell old stock parts such as bags and filters and you can often get a half price bargain if you scrutinize! Generally if you're fed up ingesting your home dust and dirt every time you reach to empty out a bagless canister or have to clean the filters, Sebo's X upright range does away with cleaning filters when they have to be replaced each time a new box of bags are bought, or when the un-washable filters themselves are looking extremely dirty. Both the bags and filters are easy to fit or take out too.
In terms of why you would buy a Sebo X1.1 it's all down to the fact of whether you want something that will just do the job or have something where you are constantly trying to nurture your vacuum to do something it should do better by its very design.
If there is a clog for example, the Sebo X1.1 will automatically switch off after a couple of seconds. Removing clogs are relatively easy due to a trapdoor on the floor head or by taking off the entire hose and wand for inspection. There aren't any air way inspection tubes to take off here like Dyson and none of the 45 to an hour waiting time for "cooling" the motor down. The Sebo X is double insulated with a protection system built in, so if you do vacuum up a sock and gets caught in the brush roll, the system will shut down immediately to risk damage to the life time belt. Remove the clog and the X1.1 can be switched back on immediately - not bad for a 23 year old design! Even when building or putting it together, the X1.1 has an ingenious build and lock design; the floor head unit comes away from the main dust bin via a main lock whilst the power on button fitted handle and spine also comes off independently from the bin area. Not exactly helpful to anyone unless they are constantly in transit with their vacuum, the assembly instructions also act as procedures for further unclogging.
Improvements have also been made to the actual motor on the Sebo X1.1. Over my X1 Automatic and despite the power increase I find the X1.1 is quieter to use and at just 63 decibels I can hear the phone ring or the door bell! More importantly the X1.1 now has a stepped geared motor that allows the use of the pet hair turbo brush. On the X1 Automatic model the suction was so strong that when the turbo brush was attached, the bag full light would often come on sensing a reduction of suction and switch itself off. On the X1.1 however, Sebo have improved this detection; so whenever I use my pet hair mini brush, the X1.1 just keeps the power going which is a welcome surprise and up to jet engine like sounds, the turbo brush makes more noise than the actual vacuum cleaner.
As with the good, there is often the bad but in the X's case more positives than negatives where I'm concerned. Due to its easy to access top release wand and hose if both are pulled from behind the Sebo can fall over but if you put it flat against a wall, the hose and wand can still be used. Sebo need to consider a stabliser that could in theory stop the X from falling over. Also although the X can clean a hard floor, the brush roll cannot be switched off which could in theory support more of an idea for brush-free hard floor cleaning. Sebo could develop a switch off function like they have done with their smaller Felix uprights. Because the X range is primarily for carpet cleaning only, the X does struggle to clean on unlevel floors or sealed tiled floor, particularly because the central wheel gets confused with the imperfections on the floor - yes it is that sensitive to floor undulations. Other downsides consist of where to put additional tools like a pet hair turbo brush or any other tool you may consider later on such as Sebo's excellent longhaired upholstery triangle brush. Although a clip is available, Sebo would do better to offer the slideable tool mount that is available for the Sebo Felix where two other tools can be stored on the main metal strip just below the handle and can be slid upwards or downwards according to need. You can purchase fixed clips that can be used on the front and back of the main metal strip just below the handle but a slideable tool storer would be so much easier here. Lastly, the hose is short and can only reach to some stairs - for extra length it is better to consider the extra long 3 metre extension hose. It can be fitted to the standard hose for 6 metres total length or slip it into the handle-fitted plastic extension wand for more control without bending. Another downside is that no further straight extension hose is equipped which could effectively add more versatility to the hose and wand. Sebo may well argue that the wand is enough to act as an extension tube but for the price here it wouldn't hurt Sebo to offer another extension pipe for increased reach, particularly given that the top hose and wand with fitted handle is great at getting cobwebs down when sited near to the upright vacuum itself.
Despite some downsides the Sebo X1.1 is an ideal upright vacuum cleaner for a large home or a small flat where carpet care is paramount. Over the price of more expensive uprights on the market, Sebo also offer a 5 years and 2 years additional parts and labour guarantee and with the hose removed, the X1.1 can be turned into a dry cleaning upright with their excellent dry cleaning powder. Their user manuals are also free to download from the company website and are well detailed with good diagrams. Even though it may well be priced £100 more than other "budget" uprights on the market, the Sebo X1.1 isn't a budget vacuum cleaner but it is well worth a look for its simplicity and function - after all, it's only a vacuum cleaner but one that has been designed to be largely trouble free in use with automatic decisions on board without the owner having to be stressed out. Our X1 Automatic lasted more than ten years and I have every confidence that the X1.1 will do exactly the same with little damage. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2009
See a visual demo/user guide to the older X1 Automatic:
I have been going through vacuums as fast as biscuits in the past 12 years as a mum. You can bet, 6 - 12 months down the line something blows, breaks or the kids feed the hamster to it (no mine have never fed the hamster to a vacuum, although when my middle one was 2 he came close.... lucky it was unplugged at the time!!!!)
So I have had a pretty poor run of it. Actually didn't help my ex thought he was handyman of the year and tried to fix them (often making them worse if he actually managed to put the things back together) possibly ruining a few of them.
After my other half moved in his electolux lasted all of.... 4 months before the constant kids playing on it, pulling it, etc finally paid its toll, his daughter stood on the wrong piece and broke the hose to foot connector making it only use-able via the hose. That and her constant leaning on it made it list like the tower at Pisa.
Looking up the Dooyoo lists one name came real apparent - Nar. A friend of mine told me he had recommend a good one for her.... so I sent him a begging, pleading message, hoping he could find me the sherman tank of vacuum cleaners.
He suggested looking at the Sebo X1, and though at the time I thought... that's a little pricey... I lucked out on EBay for one at a price just over £150.
Yes its a baggie vac. and yes.... its hard wearing. So is my consistent screams of "get off the vacuum" and the current ban the kids have got from using my beloved wonderful piece of German engineering.
One of the pinnacle things about this vac is that its hospital grade and often used for such - and I have an asthmatic here so I really need the suck.
The official sebo bags are doubled and come with stoppers for easier, cleaner emptying, although I've not had any problems. There is also a filter inside that looks like a big sock, and a motor filter, so your looking at 4 x filtration... excellent for breathing problematic's.
Parts seem expensive, but are really really long lasting. I've had to replace one belt in my machine, but from the parts guy and anyone whose had one will know... this is like a 1 in 20 year experience unless you stupid enough to vac up lots of thread & string and block the brush up a lot. And I mean a LOT.
Now remembering I have 5 kids... that's 7 people... the bags last me about 3 months each. They come in packs of 10, which means if I but a 10 pack + a service pack (replacement filters, 10 bags) I am basically sorted for well over a year for the price of about £25.
Now you could have this cheaper by buying non branded bags and filters, but I wouldn't recommend it. The non sebo bags tend to not have a double wall so are down on filtration. Also the official bags are really strong and when I say I fill them... they are well rammed. When that little light says bag full/blockage I check the blockage channels first! A full bag when removed feels just like those firm pillows I used to use when doing bobbin lace. (we are talking mega mega firm here)
The vacuum doesn't really loose any suction al the way through the bag filling process. Other than the little light shinning at you you wouldn't know the bag was full!
Normal retailing price of these vacs is usually around the £300 mark. If you get it for any less make sure you get some official sebo stuff and give it a good service as its likely to be well used or underestimated.
Sebo Automatic Bagged Upright Vacuum X1.1 / Sebo Automatic Bagged Upright Vacuum X1.1 To Sebo design is something more than superficial styling / Sebo vacuum cleaners are built to work / Professional users prefer Sebo worldwide / With good reason! Our success is due to our innovative products and our strong focus on quality / Modern technology state-of-the-art design and consistent customer focus are found in all Sebo products / They are easy to maintain and simple to use / The automatic X machines will give exceptional cleaning performance automatically adjusting themselves to the optimum cleaning height / They will switch themselves off automatically if they are jammed blocked or if the bag is full / Once located on the holder the bag will load into the machine automatically simply by your closing the cover / When it comes to upright vacuums the intelligent choice is automatic / An all-round powerful and versatile upright vacuum cleaner 1150 watt motor Computer Control System S-CLASS filtration Anti-allergy design with British Allergy Foundation Approval Can be used for carpet cleaning 5 year parts and 2 year labour domestic use guarantee A range of accessories available Award winning reliability Light and easy to use Excellent for allergy sufferers Ideal for carpet Hard floors and pet hair Weight: 7.3kg / Short name: Sebo X1.1