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Dyson DC41 Animal - Gray/Purple - Upright Cleaner
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Dyson DC41 Animal - Gray/Purple - Upright Cleaner

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User ReviewRead All Reviews »

10

Dyson dc41 Animal: Your Next Vacuum Cleaner

Pros bagless; strong suction; great engineering; long reach hose/extension; useful included tools disconnect by button press
Cons no light; no automatic electric cord rewind; can't drop to floor to vacuum under bed
Recommended it? Yes
The Bottom Line:  When buying a vacuum, nothing is more important than its ability to quickly clean. This vacuum's impressive technology greatly outweighs it's small deficiencies.
Buying A New Vacuum

I live in a small studio condo in San Francisco. I don't have a lot of space, so I need a vacuum that's vertical, self-contained & doesn't waste floor space. I live close to the San Francisco Bay Bridge, so carbon from the cars on the bridge gets into the carpets. The carpets act as air filters, and can leave black streaks. I need a strong vacuum that can lift this debris away.

I have no previous Dyson experience. This article is written from the standpoint of a regular person looking for a new vacuum cleaner, not an expert in all options that all vacuums could possibly have. I just know what I want, based on what I dislike about previous vacuums I've used & owned.

I appreciate good design. I don't mind paying more for something if it's great, but in return I expect it to last. I appreciate great engineering, and I tend to geek out on how a thing works, and why is it better to justify any additional expense I'm going to make (otherwise, why not buy the cheap one). I appreciate the hard work inventors do, I appreciate their new ways of doing things, and the best way to reward them is to buy their products. Anything to get me to vacuum & keep my place clean faster is worth it to me, because I don't have a lot of time to clean. Is Dyson worth the hype? It is pretty to look at on Dyson's Website. Does this ** $600 ** vacuum cleaner work as advertised?

As you search for a good price on this vacuum, you probably won't find much price difference. Everyone seems to charge about the same. But occasionally the big retailers have 10% discounts on small appliances like this. I saved a few bucks that way. Also, sometimes Dyson gives away some freebies when you buy at their Website. Don't feel bad if you can't find a discount though.



Radial Root Cyclone? Who Is This James Dyson Guy Anyway?

Dyson uses cyclonic separation to clean your house. Think about a cyclone for a moment. A tornado. Dorothy whirled away to Oz. That's a big cyclone. Think about all that energy in swirling wind, that can tear through a home, toss a car like it's a toy, or turn a field of crops to turned-over soil in minutes. Tornados pick up a lot of stuff & toss it around. Now, what if you shrunk that vortex, and directed its energy to do something useful? According to "The Story Of Dyson," a small booklet included with the Dyson dc41 vacuum, James Dyson got the idea from a sawmill. He was intrigued by a conical shaped metal "vacuum" on the roof of the sawmill, which would spin sawdust out of the air that entered the device, collecting it in a chamber. 5,127 prototypes & 5 years later, Dyson knew how it would work. It turns out, cyclones are used in a variety of cleaning systems, everything from oil refineries to wastewater treatment. (Ew.)

In Dyson's Root Cyclone technology, high pressure dirty air is forced into the top, wide end of a cone, spiraling down towards the narrow bottom, then redirected at a sharp angle straight through the center of the cyclone & out the top. By the time dirt particles reach that bottom airflow curve, centrifugal force has accelerated the particles to a force of around 136,000 Gs. If the particles are large enough, their inertia can't be redirected in time to follow the air flow. The particles crash into the bottom of the cone wall, and fall through the small end of the cone into the waste bin.

So what is Radial Root Cyclone? Well, if one cyclone is good, many cyclones must filter the air better, right? I can't find a description by James Dyson directly, I'm just going by what I see on the unit & the animation on Dyson's Website. I believe the key is in the previous paragraph, where I mention that the airflow is redirected up & out of the cone. At this point the big particles have been spun out of the large lower cyclone, but there are still lots of microscopic dirt particles in the air stream. In the animation, you see that the "cleaner" air with these smaller particles is redirected into 1 of 12 smaller cones that circle the top of the larger main cone for large debris (if you're looking at a picture, the little purple cones surround the top of the waste bin). I think this is what they mean by "Radial." Cleaner air enters these tiny cyclones at around 600MPH(!). The smaller the cone, the tighter the bend, and the harder it is for even airborne dust particles to escape the wall. The same process is done with the smaller cones, spinning out even smaller dirt particles into the waste bin. This "very" clean air is passed through a filter before it leaves the vacuum, getting any tiny particles that weren't spun out.

Watch the animation on Dyson's Website.

http://www.dyson.com/vacuums/ball/dc41_upright_vacuum.asp

This Youtube video of a clear cyclone shows you how dirt gets spun out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o850ATauMDM&feature=related

This Dyson commercial on Youtube shows you how a previous model works.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTR_ilnouEA

Here's James Dyson talking about the dc41, dc35, & their new air multiplier fans to Best Buy's corporate office. When he's talking about the digital motor, does it strike anyone else that he should be talking & licensing patents to the car companies to use this motor design in electric & hybrid vehicles?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EacZN2Uw6bw

Initially, James Dyson thought other manufacturers would be excited with his concept, and tried to license the design. Nobody bit, because the market for vacuum cleaner bags at the time was $500 million every year. Initially Dyson found a licensee in Japan & they released the G-Force, a pink cyclonic vacuum, in 1993. Royalties paid were large enough that Dyson invested them in his own company & built the DC01. Over the years Dyson has had to fight many patent infringement lawsuits against companies that use his patented designs without licensing them.

Over the years, Dyson keeps making improvements to his technology. One big innovation is to keep adding more cyclones, and make them different sizes, targeting smaller & smaller dirt & dust. Another innovation is Dyson's digital motor, a brushless, microcontroller driven electric motor which took 12 years to create, spins at 98,000 RPM to pull air & dirt into the vacuum, and is built on its own fully automated manufacturing line. Because of its high speed, the motor can be physically small, allowing it to fit inside the ball. Dyson's digital motor is what powers those "Airblade" hand dryers you find in airports, too. I appreciate this kind of continuous innovation that leads to new products.

If you look at previous Dyson vacuums compared to the dc41, it appears that there are more, smaller cyclone sections with each new model. When you watch the animation on Dyson's Website, it appears that more, smaller cyclones mean smaller particles are centrifuged out of the air. The cyclone technology appears to slam small particles together and clumps them up with fibers, hair, and other things into large clumps that stay together when dumping them into the garbage can.



Animal?

Dyson Animal vacuums are purple; other Dyson vacuums are orange. The Animal series also includes the mini turbine head, which is explained in the Attachments section below. Otherwise, they are the same as the non-Animal versions. The dc41 is currently only sold as an Animal model.



Miele

I'm replacing my Miele vacuum, which I've owned for over 15 years.


What I like about my Miele:

o  dial on front controls beater bar on/off & vacuum motor speed to control suction.

o  light, easier to see in the shadows.

o  button to automatically reel up power cord.

o  most often used tools behind door on front of vacuum, easy to get to.

o  durable


What I dislike about Miele:

o  bag replacement.

o  power cord reel up button pulls cord in most of the way, but always gets hung up near the end; I always have to pull the cord out & try again a couple times before it pulls all the way in.

o  hose broke away from vacuum, my brother glued it back in; works but looks ugly, I don't want to pull on it too much or it might come out again.

o  hose extension requires another hose (not attached, I have to go find it), not quickly available, reach too short for cleaning floor to side of refrigerator, etc. If I use long hose, either it'll pull off from attached hose, or might put too much pressure on attached end of hose, ripping it off again.

Before unpacking the new Dyson, I ran the Miele over a small section of carpet. Surface dirt & dust had already been lifted, which makes the below results all the more astonishing. When I ran my Miele over the carpet, the fabric didn't get hot, but the Miele did clean the surface. The room now has a potpourri scent, due to the last time I used & vacuumed up powdered carpet cleaner. Another great feature of losing bags.



Unpacking The Dyson dc41 Animal

I pulled all parts out of the box, each wrapped in cardboard padding & a plastic bag.

The first thing I noticed was, nearly all packing materials are cardboard, often folded in intricate patterns with locking tabs and no tape to support & protect each part during shipping; there were only a couple small pieces of foam packing material. Obviously Dyson's engineering talent goes into every aspect of their product.

On my dc41, the gray switch that turns the beater bar on/off has a mold line in it. It's not really a crack, but a slight mar to a very expensive vacuum. Molded plastic can just look like that I guess. If you see mold lines anywhere, don't freak out & return your vacuum.



Initial Setup Thoughts:

I used the "Quick Start" brochure, which guides you through plugging each part into the main chassis. Takes a couple minutes.

The vacuum head clicks on at 2 points: with a nozzle to pull in debris beaten out of your carpet with the beater bar; and a rectangular-shaped 2 prong electrical connector, that pivots for the ball. Doesn't seem like a really stable arrangement, but I'm not taking my vacuum off-roading. It's probably fine.

The handle clicks on the chassis. According to the manual, Dyson recommends carrying the dc41 by the handle on the waste bin.

The hose on the back of the vacuum looks & moves like a rubber-wrapped slinky. This is the extension hose you use to vacuum shelves, crevices, & dust blinds. In the same way a slinky jumps back to vertical uncoiled position, this hose does too. The hose rests vertically in a channel on the back of the vacuum.

The extension wand is rigid plastic. You can slide the extension wand inside the hose when not in use, or pull it out to vacuum far away things; it's always with you & doesn't require additional space. The wand clicks into place; a button on the hose connector allows you to remove the extension wand completely if you need to connect an attachment that doesn't require the wand's extended distance. Nice design, simple. The extension wand slides into grooves on top of the handle, making the extension wand almost appear a part of the handle.

When the vacuum is standing upright (unused), the rear wheels drop to the floor to steady the vacuum. There is no foot push button to unlock from vertical; simply pull back when ready to vacuum the floor. This is kinda nice, if someone didn't know to look for the button. The wheels pop up, the vacuum rests on the ball, and you're ready to vacuum. When done, push the handle vertically. The wheels drop. If you let go at this point, the handle will drop to the floor and the wheels will disengage again. You must push up the handle vertically until you hear a soft "click" to let you know that the vacuum is locked vertically. You have to push it forward hard enough to hear the locking click; you wonder if you're stressing any components. And if the vacuum's running and you lock it vertically, you'll hear an odd air pressure sound at the point you'd hear the click, almost like a vacuum cleaner hose being kinked to shut off airflow. I don't think I'm hurting it since this is the design Dyson came up with; I watched a video of him doing it the same way. I wish there was force feedback the vacuum would give beside just the audible click, so when the vacuum is running you'd feel the lock engage in the handle.

The purple color on the root cyclone portion of the disposal bin looks like matte metallic plastic. The whole vacuum looks very high tech. So often you see design flourishes in other products that are meaningless; looking at the Dyson Website & watching their videos on the Radial Root Cyclone technology, you see that the design comes from the underlying technology. There's something endearing in knowing that the shape of a thing isn't esoteric; rather, the innovative way it works shapes the design.

There is no light on the dc41. It's nice to see where you're going in the shadows. In this day & age of long-life, low power LED backlighting on cell phones, worrying about burned-out bulbs is a virtually non-existent problem. This should be easy to implement in a future version.

There is no automatic wind up electrical cord on this vacuum. If the guy can figure out how to make a brushless electric motor, I have no doubt in my mind he can figure out an efficient way to automatically wind up an electrical cord that won't wear out in a year or two. Between the two, I'm glad he spent R&D resources on the digital motor. But that's done, so move on to your next innovation. :) The power cord has two prongs and no ground, good.

One complaint I've read keeps coming up: Dysons are "plastic." But if you think about it, virtually every vacuum cleaner you see on the market, including my Miele which has a huge fan following, has a "plastic" exterior. So what people actually seem to be rallying against is that the Dyson has so much CLEAR plastic. Dyson says this is polypropylene reinforced with glass fibers and PC/ABS polycarbonate. Polycarbonate is used in bulletproof shields, and Apple used polycarbonate for the iMac case, and those cases held up well over time. And if you look at a picture of the dc41, how much clear plastic is there? It's all on the waste bin, and the vacuum head, two places clear is useful because it lets you see if it's time to empty the waste bin, or something is bound up in the vacuum head's beater brush.

The vacuum has 2 lifetime filters for dust particles too small to be centrifuged away by the cyclones, one in the ball, one in the waste bin. These are washed with cold water once every 3 months. Leave for 24 hours to dry before reinstalling.



Attachments

Two tools are included that attach to the vacuum. The stair tool looks like the small T-shaped tool included with virtually any vacuum; it is used for stairs & stair carpets. The combination tool is a combination crevice & brush. The brush slides along the crevice tool, and clicks to engage at the end when you want to use it. Click a button to disengage the brush and slide it back down to use the crevice tool again. One thing I hate with most vacuum cleaners is that tools are attached by simply sliding them on & forcing them down; they often pop off while vacuuming, sometimes in the most hard to reach places. Dyson tools click on the extension wand; you have to hit a button to disconnect them. They're not going to pop off unless you take them off.

An attachment holder slides onto the Dyson's chassis. The stair tool & combination tool slide into the attachment holder & click in place so they're always with the vacuum. A complaint I read is that the stair tool & combination tool, when mounted on their holder on the vacuum, easily fall off. I haven't experienced that yet, including positioning the vacuum in all kinds of ways, including dropping the vertical section to the ground to check airflow into the vacuum head.

While connecting the stair tool, I noticed another mold line on the extension wand button. And as you look around the vacuum to the solid plastic parts, you'll see other plastic mold lines as well. I haven't noticed any mold lines on clear plastic parts. So when you get your Dyson, don't assume the buttons are broken, they probably aren't. There's an easy way to tell: run your fingernail across what you think is a crack. If your fingernail doesn't get stuck in that spot, it's probably not a crack, but a mold line.

The dc41 also includes the mini turbine head. This attachment implies "turbo," it implies it's powered by a motor. It's not powered by an electric motor. It's shaped like a slightly larger stair tool or standard T-shaped vacuum attachment. It has a small spinning brush, similar to the powered one in the cleaner head. If you look down the connector, you see how it works. There is a plastic piece molded inside, that divides the airflow. Half the suction goes to sucking in dirt like any normal attachment. The other half of the suction is pulling air through what is effectively a plastic turbo charger on the side. As the turbo spins, it uses reduction gears to spin the bristle brush. Dyson says this tool is useful for cleaning pet hair off furniture, cleaning car carpets, etc. Putting my hand over the brush with the vacuum on, you can feel a lot of suction, and the bristle brush definitely is applying some force. A nice design on this tool. I haven't used it for those use cases yet, but I imagine it has to be at least as good if not somewhat better than a standard stair tool. This tool, like the rest of Dyson's product, seems well engineered & well built. It has a solid, quality feel in the hand.

The tools that come with the vacuum are useful. But Dyson also sells other shaped tools to help you clean in odd places. You can buy single tools, or buy them bundled into kits. Dyson's Home Cleaning Kit includes a wide soft dusting brush with large soft bristles for use on blinds, fans, TVs, keyboards, etc.; a multi-angle brush that twists into different positions; and a stiff bristle brush for ground-in & stubborn dirt. But the more useful sounding kit to me is Dyson's Asthma & Allergy Kit, which includes the soft dusting brush; a mattress tool, that looks like a wide stair tool; and the flexi crevice tool, that extends & flexes to get into those hard to clean places, like that thin strip of dirty floor between your refrigerator & cabinets. If you're buying more than one tool, the kits are a better deal. See Dyson's Website.



Measurements

The Dyson dc41's measurements are 1'1-1/2" W x 1'2" L x 3'6-1/4" H. At 17.4lbs, this vacuum is easy to lift with one hand. Dyson's Website lists "max reach" as 51.7'. Um, no. I measure max length of the hose & extension wand at 13'7" before the dc41 starts to move toward the pulling. When pulling on the hose, the slinky metal portion of it starts to extend. The hose naturally wants to spin to unwind to full length; it wants to spin to collapse as well. If you are pulling the hose away from the back of the vacuum, back of vacuum facing you, the vacuum will stay upright. It won't tip over, and it doesn't move before the hose is fully extended, but it will move when it hits this length. But the actual length is great, plenty long enough to reach ceilings, shelves, and those tight spaces you can't fit the whole vacuum.



First Vacuum Thoughts:

According to Quick Start, I'm ready to vacuum something.

There are two buttons on the front of the vacuum: a red on/off button, and a silver plastic beater brush engage/disengage button (that has the crack/mold line in it). Dyson says you should turn off the beater brush on easily scratchable surfaces like hardwood floors. Each time you turn the vacuum on, the beater brush is engaged by default. I think this is probably a good idea if you have all carpet or a mix of carpet and solid floors, but I think it would be annoying to have to turn this off every time you use the vacuum if you had hardwood floors. If the beater brush is turned on, it automatically turns off when the vacuum is locked in its full upright position, and the hose on back automatically engages (you can feel suction). As soon as you pull the handle down & the rear wheels come up, the beater brush engages again, and the hose suction is off.

The vacuum makes a good amount of noise, it's not "quiet" as I've read in some reviews. It makes about the same amount of noise as my Miele when vacuuming the floor; even sounds roughly the same. It makes a lot more noise than my Miele when it's upright, because the suction is pulling air through the hose & it's closer to ear height. On the Miele, the hose is normally plugged into the vacuum head, so even when it's upright you don't hear that air rushing noise. I also believe the suction on the Dyson is quite a bit stronger, which also would make more noise. I wouldn't change anything here: it is sometimes useful to have easy access to the full suction of your Dyson without pulling the hose off the back. Maybe you just want to drop a bit of junk directly into the vacuum.

A lot of heat gushes out of the ball assembly. That digital motor is workin'! After running the vacuum over carpet a few times, the carpet feels slightly warm. I'm unsure if the heat is coming from how vigorously the brushes are beating on the carpet, or because the ball is warm and is heating the carpet under & around it.

Almost immediately after running the Dyson across the carpet where I earlier used the Miele, I could see something swirling around in the waste bin. Having a clear dust bin tells you just how much dirt & dust & junk this vacuum is pulling out of your carpet! Wow. The dust sometimes clumps together; sometimes looks fiberous; sometimes it swirls around, suddenly stops, and swirls again. The movement pattern almost looks like cotton candy being made, although it's not pink, but rather the mid gray color of the combination of dirt, hair, & carpet fiber debris being pulled out of your carpet. I was amazed how much stuff was pulled out of my carpet on the small section I was cleaning, that had just been vacuumed by the Miele. The waste bin contains the cyclone technology, so only about 1/2 of the bin is available for dirt. A max fill line is on the waste bin.

The ball is a MASSIVE DESIGN WIN! Almost immediately, I realized how intuitive it is to get the vacuum head to go where I want it to. The head is smaller than my old Miele, so it immediately fits under surfaces I couldn't get to before. But more than that, a gentle lean of the handle & twisting motion from your wrist while you're pushing the ball causes it to turn much more quickly than a normal 4 wheel vacuum can, without the need to pick it up. I also find the single ball easier to roll around than a normal 4 wheel vacuum cleaner, even over irregular height surfaces. The ball turns, and the vacuum head also turns, allowing you to change direction very fast. This allows you to get the head to go where you want with little effort. The motor, some wiring, and part of the air flow ducting is housed within the ball. The ball isn't just a weighted sphere for novely, it is an integral system in the vacuum's design. Ok, so the cutaway on Dyson's Website is a little scarry - looks a bit like the Darth Vader "helmet up" scene in Empire Strikes Back. But it is great design work.

At this point, there's a lot of debris in the waste bin. Dyson recommends you empty the waste bin when the dirt reaches the MAX line (about half way). I don't think it's good to leave the cyclone mechanism sitting in dirt, so I suggest dumping the waste bin when ANY of the dust reaches the MAX line; don't wait until dirt has filled the compartment & surrounds the mechanism. Click the button on the waste bin's handle to remove it from the vacuum. Click it again over a garbage can to open the bottom door of the waste bin, allowing the vacuumed debris to fall into the garbage can. You get a little "dust cloud" when emptying the waste bin, but it's not much more than what you get after removing a vacuum cleaner bag & pushing it into your garbage can. Most of the dirt has been swirling around & crashing into other dirt, merging into larger & larger particles; most falls in large clumps into the trash. Most of it drops out easily, although a little around the door & seals might need your fingers to brush away. Then close the door, and the waste bin easily clicks back onto the vacuum's chassis. No bags to throw out (and go find replacements right when you need to vacuum, of course), no guessing when they might be full, no dust leaking through porous bags during operation filling your room with the dust you just vacuumed, no puffs of dust directed right in your nose & mouth as you replace a bag and then trying to shape the new one to fit your vacuum cleaner's bag cavity.

** NOTE ** : The manual recommends to only vacuum small amounts of very fine powder at a time. If that's your spill, you might want to sweep up the bulk of it, then get the rest with the Dyson.

The dc41 picked up small pieces of paper, and a small piece of plastic from food packaging. It won't pick up large objects; they probably won't fit under the active base plate. The dc41 really scrubs carpet & gets the small stuff, which to me is the important part. (Anything big I can pick up myself.) Almost immediately after running it over carpet, I can see how much carbon was picked up, and you can quickly see results in the waste bin. The cyclone technology whips the small particles around so much that they bind together in the waste bin, making disposal an easy process.

If I turn off the beater brush & stick my fingers under the active base plate, I can't feel much suction. So I don't understand how that works. But if I put the vacuum in the upright position, I can feel a lot of suction through the hose - I'd say more than my Miele, especially since the Dyson's hose & extension wand are much longer than my Miele's puny hose & attachable extension hose. If I put my hand over the end of the hose, the vacuum works full force on my hand for about 1/4 second; then you hear something like a release valve open so the vacuum isn't under too much pressure. If I release my hand, the vacuum goes back to its normal pitch.

The power cord is 35', very long. There's no automatic cord rewind on this vacuum. On the rear of the vacuum, there are two hooks to wind the cord, one on the bottom, and one on the extension wand near the top. If you're vacuuming the floor, you can just unwind a couple loops or the whole cord if you wish. The top hook on the extension wand can turn down, making it easy to release the whole cord without you having to unwind the whole thing if you need to vacuum using the rear hose/wand.

For the first time, I can vacuum the bathroom floor. The Miele's exhaust shot out the front of the vacuum; any normal bathroom floor debris would be blown all over, away from the vacuum's path. The Dyson's exhaust comes out the left side of the ball, solving that problem. This should save time cleaning the house; I won't have to separately sweep the floors anymore. And, the Dyson's maneuverability is so good, and the vacuum head is so low profile, it gets under cabinets where my Miele wouldn't fit. This is good! The active base plate gives a tight seal so the beater brush can get even more dirt. The ball makes the vacuum easy to steer where it needs to go.

The hose is definitely long enough (with wand) to vacuum ceiling light fixtures. The florescent light in the kitchen needs to be worked on. When I was looking at it to figure out how to remove the cover, clumps of dust fell out of it. The dc41 easily reached the ceiling, allowing me to vacuum up the dust.

When moving upright vacuums, it's common to push the handle towards the full vertical position; this engages the lock that keeps the vacuum upright, and won't disengage until you hit a switch somewhere, normally a foot switch at the base of the vacuum. You then pull the handle back towards you, tilting the front of the vacuum head ~45 degrees up; then you drag it around or push it forward on its rear wheels. With the Dyson, you push the handle towards full vertical until you hear a click. If you don't hear a click, the vertical portion of the vacuum isn't locked, even though the wheels have dropped; letting go of the handle will drop the vacuum to the floor. Once locked, you then pull the vacuum back towards you until the head tilts up 45 degrees. Dragging the vacuum backwards on its rear wheels is fine. But pushing the vacuum forward, or even just applying downward force to the handle, you can disengage the lock (since there's no release button). I find that if the cleaner head is <45 degrees off the floor the lock will disengage easily; 45 degrees or more, I can push the vacuum around the floor without easily disengaging the lock. You have to play a game moving the vacuum, applying enough force to push the vacuum forward at the correct angle, without applying enough force to disengage the lock. It's cool design that's mildly annoying. If James Dyson wanted a design suggestion, I'd say the head shouldn't unlock with force applied above 20-25 degrees off the floor, because at that point obviously you want to push it around.

I have a heat lamp w/fan in the bathroom that was caked with dust. The Dyson vacuumed all the dust away using the crevice tool connected to the long rigid wand. It was easy to reach the ceiling. Suction is strong. Instead of seeing a cloud of dust leaking through a normal vacuum cleaner bag, the cyclone technology's centrifugal force removes the dirt from the air & drops it in the waste bin. After vacuuming the ceiling heat lamp & some more floor, I had to dump the canister again.

To vacuum blinds, I used the brush part of the crevice/brush combination tool. Not perfect, but it works, and much faster than washing the blinds. (The best way to really clean Levolor style blinds is to take them in the shower & wash them with liquid soap & a sponge. I didn't have time for all that.) I thought maybe the mini turbine head might do a better job on the blinds; it didn't. The brush really is the best. I wonder how much better the soft dusting brush from the Asthma & Allergy Kit might be for this. Carbon from the Bay Bridge really attaches itself to these blinds, and it's hard to get off.

When was the last time you used a vacuum cleaner to dust? Normally dusting requires a dust cloth & cleaning solution, or an ostrich feather duster that moves dirt & dust all over the place. Or you're using disposable Swiffer dusters & contributing to landfill. Because so little dust makes it past the Dyson's cyclones & filters, and gets dropped into its solid polycarbonate waste bin, I was surprised by how much dusting I did with the vacuum & the brush on the combination tool. Dusting seems more useful when I know that I'm not just moving dust around the room, it's being whirrled out of the air. The hose & extension wand are so long, you can easily reach far away surfaces. I believe you'll not only have a cleaner carpet, but a cleaner home with this vacuum. The room actually smells cleaner & less dusty after vacuuming & dusting with this vacuum. It does a great job around window sills & picture frames. My air cleaner has tiny slots that get full of dust; the Dyson did a great job cleaning those. I used it to vacuum the TV cabinet, including the top & sides of the TV, speakers, and all my stereo & TV components inside the cabinet. The Dyson even does a great job of vacuuming itself if it gets dusty.

I initially thought the mini turbine head was a toy & wouldn't be useful. I found it unexpectedly great in closets & small spaces you can't easily fit the whole dc41; it goes virtually anywhere to vacuum, anywhere you can fit the hose anyway. It doesn't have the beater brush power of the full Dyson; it's more like having an extra "mini" handheld Dyson you can fit virtually anywhere. A surprisingly useful addition.

In writing this review, & to decide whether I would keep the dc41 or not, I did a few searches on complaints about Dyson vacuums. One Youtube video I found shows a person trying to suck up a poster size sheet of posterboard, and the Dyson's vacuum head doesn't appear to have enough power to even hold the posterboard against it. Commentors claim that the Dyson's airflow is weak, and so it is the scrubbing bristle brush of the vacuum head that is ripping up your carpet to make it appear that the Dyson is doing anything, and feeding the detritus to the small airflow. I am sure the vacuum's hose has enough pressure to hold up that sheet, although I agree that I didn't feel a lot of air flow at the vacuum head in my earlier tests. So what's going on here? Is this a sign that the Internet has found some kind of "Dyson scam" going on? Or is it possible that Dyson engineers know a thing or two about picking up dirt that I don't?

I devised a simple test. I ripped up 4 pieces of paper, two small, two large. (I'm not typically trying to vacuum up posterboard, after all.) I put one of each on the carpet, and one of each on the tile floor in the bathroom. I turned off the beater brush, so I wasn't testing the beater brush's ability to "guide" the paper into the vacuum. On the large pieces I had to run the vacuum over them a couple times, but they were indeed all sucked up by the vacuum; I could see them all swirling around in the waste bin. I placed the vertical portion of the Dyson on the floor so I could access the vacuum head. I can certainly feel airflow down there, although it doesn't feel like a lot, certainly not compared to the amount of hot air flying out of the side of the ball. I don't know if there's some kind of interplay between the vacuum head's active base plate making full contact with the surface that increases suction. I don't know how I'd test that without some kind of air flow monitoring equipment. It does work though.

While vacuuming the carpet, I accidentally ran over a shoelace. The shoelace was quickly sucked into the vacuum head, wrapped around the beater brush, and made a bad "motor can't turn" sound. For about 1-2 seconds. Then the brush stopped. I was afraid for a moment - I didn't just break my new vacuum did I? I pulled the shoelace out, which I could see easily unwind off the beater brush through the clear plastic vacuum head cover. The brush didn't turn. I turned off the vacuum, then turned it back on, and the beater brush worked again. In other words, the vacuum is intelligent enough to realize that something got stuck in the beater brush & stopped it from working. It will wait for you to dislodge whatever was stuck in there before it tries to spin it again. Once again, thoughtful, obvious, great design.

The dc41 can get into places other vacuums can't, like that small area between the bed & the wall, or under low shelves & cabinets. The vacuum head has a low profile, and it is separated from the dc41 chassis, allowing it to squeeze into places you can't fit a more monolithic upright vacuum. The chassis can get down to around 25 degrees off the floor before the vacuum head is lifted off the carpet. So it's not like you can drop it to the floor & still vacuum under a bed, but it does get pretty low.



Final Thoughts:

You WILL have to empty the waste bin many times during vacuuming. I am amazed how fast even small sections of carpet can fill it. The dc41 really scrubs all that old junk out of your carpets. Your room will smell fresher after using this vacuum.

I like the idea of having more of Dyson's specialized tools. If I had a dog I'd probably buy the pet groomer immediately, and I really want the flexi crevice tool to clean around the refrigerator. But the included crevice/brush & stair tools are surprisingly useful, and they're always with the vacuum. I don't have to find a place for them or hunt for them. There's something great about that.

James Dyson is an engineer. A builder. A maker of fine things. If his other products all have this level of thought & quality in them, then consider myself a customer. Now if he'd only make a ceiling version of his air multiplier fan, with a light. There's something I need.

Ok, I get it. This is a great product. There are a couple minor deficiencies, but nothing important enough to dissuade you from buying one. Whether you own a pet or not, this is likely one of the finest vacuums you can buy.

- Adam

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Dyson DC41 Animal Upright Vacuum (Refurbished)

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