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ARTICLE: Ratings 101
Vacuum Cleaner Ratings
Now that you've educated yourself, you'll find the ratings as follows:
POWER: Given as C.F.M's, higher is better
FILTER TYPE: listed as Sealed HEPA (best), or Other (prepare for disappointment)
BELT TYPE: A 'geared' belt is best, as it will generally last for many years. 'Flat' belts will stretch, causing you to lose efficiency, and are prone to breakage. (Geared is better).
WARRANTY: Manufacturer's motor warranty, in years.
PRICE RANGE: Advertised price range of these machines.
BRAND Power Filtration Belt Type Warranty Price Range
200 Series
119 (See Note) Geared 7 Yr. $575

NOTES: Miele's 200 series tend to give quality on a budget. The 200 Series Miele Plus does not have a HEPA filter, but because the machine design, even the standard filter tends to do better than junky brands which 'pretend' to have HEPA filtration (If you've read our filtration article, you already know this!). If you don't suffer from allergies, you'll get a nice machine with a seven year warranty at an affordable price.
500 and S5
131-140 Sealed HEPA Geared 7 Yr. $700 and up

NOTES: Miele's top models are Sealed HEPA capable, and they have models in every price range from the $699 Miele Solaris Electro to the $1200 Miele Capricorn, depending on which bells and whistles you want. One great thing about their product line (although it does get confusing) is the number of different floor attachments available, meaning you can get the perfect setup for almost any home layout. If you don't have a lot of carpet, less expensive models than those listed are available.
85 Sealed HEPA Flat 4 Yr. $1800+

NOTES: Water doesn't catch all the dust (in fact, their instruction manual warns against picking up fireplace soot, Carpet fresh, talcum powder, drywall dust, etc. It does have a good quality HEPA filter, however, the price is very high in relation to the actual power and performance of machines. Another consideration is the amount of work it takes to disassemble and clean the machine after each and every use (according to the manufacturer recommendations) - failure to do so can lead to some VERY expensive (and non-warrantied) repairs.

Still, some people swear by water filtration, and if this is what you want, there are companies that offer reconditioned Rainbow vacuums.

100 (See Note) Flat 3 Yr. $1600+

NOTES: Another door to door brand, these machines use a series of specialized filters (non HEPA) to do an adequate filtration job. They are overall well built, but better filtration and performance can be found for less money elsewhere.
100 Sealed HEPA Geared 25 Yr. $1600+

NOTES: Company has recently changed name to 'Aerus'. High quality, but very expensive. The Guardian ranks with Miele as the best filtering machine, but be aware that the replacment filter cost is also very high (about $70 annually). While the 25 year motor warranty is impressive, keep in mind that over that span you'll be forced to spend about $2000 on replacement filters!

Note also that cheaper Electrolux models are available, but have only average filtration (a.k.a. - they are not sealed), in which case better choices are available.

100 (See Note) Geared 5 Yr. $1600+

NOTES: Only sold by in-home dealers, this company now also owns Electrolux, and shares the same powerhead design. The canister is metal and of high quality, but steep in price, and suffers from very high filter costs (about $70 bucks a pop!).
Dirt Devil
70-90 Varies Flat 1 Yr. $200-$400
NOTES: We've grouped these common brands together, because power and filtration are virtually identical. These companies are better at advertising than in building machines, and for the educated consumer, there are much better choices available (such as Samsung or Miele) in the same price range.
113 (See Note) Flat 1 Yr. $270-$350

NOTES: Excellent power for it's price range. Uses a 3M Filtrete final filter, which does an above average job in filtration. A good choice for those who do not suffer from allergies.
Varies Varies Varies Varies $1600
NOTES: These brands are all 'water trap' vacuums similar in design to the Rainbow'. We've grouped these together because these are all brands which are sold by in-home demonstrations. While any of these are decent machines, better units (such as Miele) are available for about half the price. Also, these brands have a very small market share, so if your local distributor goes out of business, you may not be able to find anyone to service your machine. Our advice: avoid them.

BRAND Power Filtration Belt Type Warranty Price Range
89+ Sealed HEPA Geared 3 Yr. $450

NOTES: Sebo has features such as a geared belt and a circuit breaker (which are not generally found in uprights). It gets outstanding power from a very efficient motor, and the filter cost is about half of what other companies charge. An onboard computer even monitors the height adjustment (setting it automatically) and system status at all times. Winner of numerous design awards, it's hard to find much not to like about this machine.
90 Sealed HEPA Geared 2 Yr. $550 and up

NOTES: While we're not crazy about the looks of the machine, it has outstanding quality, great power, and wonderful filtration. One of the best you can buy.

Be advised that they also make a cheaper model (called Aptiva), which cannot be purchased online. The Aptiva models are a large step down in quality, and for the few dollars difference, the Healthcare Pro models are the better buy.

60+ (see notes) Flat 2 Yr. $250-$400

NOTES: Miele's uprights are not as of high quality as their canisters, and do not have sealed HEPA filtration. They are a decent buy in their price range for those who don't suffer from allergies, and you get a 2-year warranty.
70-80 (see note) Flat 1 Yr. $200 and up

NOTES: We've grouped Sharp and Panasonic together because they are similar in design, power, and filtration. While these brands we not have 'real' HEPA filters, they are made of higher quality components than other common 'store brands'. If you are on a tight budget, these are the best machines available in the $200 price range.
Dirt Devil
40-60 Varies Flat 1 Yr. $200-$400
NOTES: We've grouped these common brands together, because power and poor filtration are virtually identical. These companies are better at advertising than in building machines, and for the educated consumer, there are much better choices available (such as Sharp or Panasonic) in the same price range.
Oreck 40 (See Note) Flat 1 Yr. $369-399
NOTES: Once you take away the 'free' canister (which doesn't even have wheels!!) and the 'free' iron (which you can buy anywhere for $19 bucks), you're left with a cheap upright with a tiny motor and poor power when compared to other machines.

It's important to not fool yourself: Lightweight = small motor = low power. An 8-pound machine simply cannot do what a full size upright will do. If you can live with that fact, then an Oreck may be a good choice for you.

Kirby 80 (see note) Flat 3 Yr. $1600+

NOTES: Built like a tank (and weighing almost as much), these are sold by in-home dealers. They don't use a HEPA filter, but the new Kirby HEPA Bag seems to filter well. The entire head of the machine must be removed to attach a hose or attachments, which can get tedious quickly.
60 (See Note) Geared 1 Yr. $500+

NOTES: Using the same 'recycled' design for about 15 years, technology has left their uprights behind, and they do not have a sealed HEPA filter. On the positive side, they do tend to hold up well over time. However, there are better choices (such as Lindhaus or Sebo) in this pricing range.

NOTE: Keep in mind that the Electrolux models you see in retail stores are not the Electrolux of old (that your parents had), but simply rebadged Eurekas, which now own the name.

Fantom 60 (see note) Flat 1 Yr. $250+
NOTES: Fantom has gone out of business, and their assets bought by another company. While you may still find these on store shelves, we suggest avoiding them, as you will probably never find anyone to service your machine.

Filtration was always lacking on these machines - the filters were simply not rated high enough for what the machine was capable of. Avoid them!

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