Pros: Great suction; canister lifts off; washable filters; easy to empty dirt cup
Cons: Pet TurboBrush works okay, but isn't impressive
I love my pets, but I hate the hair they leave behind! My two-year-old Hoover Wind-Tunnel Bagless was no longer cutting it. Not only did it leave a lot of dirt and pet hair behind, the dirt container was difficult to empty without making a mess, the main filter was expensive, and it smelled like pets. After putting up with it for far too long, I decided to upgrade.
I shopped around, read reviews and settled on the Bissell Lift-Off Revolution Pet Bagless Upright Vacuum (yes, that's the full name) because it seemed like it would fit my needs and the price was right! I paid $144 at Kohl’s for the vacuum and got a free spot carpet cleaner plus $30 to spend at the store at a later date. This vacuum typically retails for $169 to $189 depending on the store.
I chose this model not only because it was in my price range of $150 to $175, but because it had the power and features I was looking for. I wanted a bagless vacuum with a 12 amp vacuum motor for good suction that remain strong beyond the first month of use. I wasn’t willing to spend $400 or $500 for a Dyson or something similar--just too expensive for me. I liked the idea of a model specifically designed for cleaning pet hair. Anything to help pick up hair from my old, long-haired cat that constantly sheds, and my black lab mix (looks like a lab but has a Chow Chow grandparent--which means thick fur!) that sheds huge amounts of hair a few times a year! The Bissell LIft-Off Revolution Pet Vacuum seemed like vacuum with the most useful features I found in my price range.
My Initial Impression
The assembly was simple (the handle needed to be attached with two screws and the attachments needed to be snapped into place). This machine looked very high-tech for a vacuum with its modern styling and its silver body and aqua-blue dirt container. I was then off to clean my carpets. Like anyone testing out a new vacuum, I first vacuumed my house (not a large house, but mostly carpeted) thoroughly with my old Hoover Wind Tunnel (overrated if you ask me!) to see how much more crud the new vacuum would pick up. I then vacuumed with my new Bissell Lift-Off. The first thing I noticed was how easily it moved across the floor. It’s not self-propelled, and not all that light weight, but it was very easy to maneuver. This vacuum sucked up all sorts of dirt and pet hair that my old vacuum left behind. I had to empty the dirt cup after just two rooms! It was also easy to get under beds and chairs because the handle tilted all the way back to the floor. I also noticed how smoothly it rolled over thresholds. The large rear wheels made it easy for the vacuum to move over bumps. Wow! I was happy with it after just 10 minutes! I only hoped that it would continue to work this great!
That was about 4 months ago, and I remain happy with my Bissell Lift-Off. The Bissell Lift-Off is well-built and well designed. Most of its features work really well and make the task of vacuuming almost pleasant. The suction is still excellent. I realize it has only been four months, but with previous vacuum, suction loss was noticeable after only a month. The suction on this Bissel is still just as good as it was on day one. This is obviously the most important factor of any vacuum. I believe that because the Bissel has washable foam filters, it is easy to keep them clean, and therefore the suction can continue to function properly.
General Information about the Vacuum
The Bissel Lift-Off has 12 amps of power that make for great suction. This vacuum converts into a canister vacuum by pressing a button and lifting up on the handle. There are two power switches, one for the power and one for the rotating brush. The rotating brush can be turned off when cleaning hard floors if desired. This brush automatically turns off when the vacuum is in the upright position. At 15 in. wide (with a bright headlight), the footpath is small enough to maneuver, yet it cleans a good amount of floor at a time. This vacuum comes with four on-board attachments: a telescoping extension tube, a crevice tool, a brush tool, and the TurboPet brush (attachment with rubber combs and a rotating brush). The dirt cup detaches easily for easy emptying, and the pre- and post-motor filters are made of washable foam. In addition, It also has a filter cleaning indicator that changes color when a dirty filter affects the suction power. A hepa filter also helps contain pet dander and allergens.
This vacuum works well and has some noteworthy features. There are many things I like about this vacuum, and only one that I feel could use improvement. Bear with me, the list is a little long!
Lift-Off Canister This is by far my favorite feature. With just the push of a button, the central part of the vacuum lifts off of its upright base to become a canister-style vacuum for using with the attachments. This is great for vacuuming stairs or other awkward places. The canister has a built-in handle and is comfortable to carry. I attach the extension tube to the hose, along with an attachment, usually the Pet TurboBrush, and I am able to vacuum my stairs while carrying the canister. Some other models in the Lift-Off series include a shoulder strap, but I didn’t learn this until I read the manual. Even without a shoulder strap, using the Lift-Off Canister sure beats lugging an upright up the stairs!
I haven’t used the canister to vacuum my car yet, but I have found the Lift-Off canister useful for vacuuming our boat. It is a small fishing boat, but the outdoor carpet on the floor of the boat needs cleaning every so often. It is so easy to grab the Lift Off canister and plug it in outside. I can easily climb into the boat while carrying the vacuum. I chose this vacuum partly because of the feature, and I am glad I did because it is more useful than I had expected.
Dirt Cup This vacuum has a dirt cup that is easy to empty. This was an extremely important feature to me. My previous vacuum’s dirt container was dual chambered meaning that the accordion-style filter was housed on one side, and the dirt collected in the other. Emptying it was very messy because the filter would sometimes come loose and fall into the waste basket, and excess dirt from the filter went all over. I almost chose a traditional bagged vacuum because I hated the mess so much. The nice thing about the Bissel Lift-Off is that to empty the dirt cup, I simply move a lever and pull out the cup with one hand. Because it is has a simple design and slides in and out easily, there is virtually no mess. Every so often I wash the container with dish washing liquid and warm water so that the plastic doesn’t absorb pet odors.
Washable Filters The pre- and post-motor filters are made of foam and are washable. This is great for a few reasons. First of all, unwashable filters can be very expensive. The filter for my old vacuum cost $26! They were supposed to be changed every six months, but I found that they were disgustingly dirty after only a month or two. This leads me to my next reason for liking washable filters on my Bissel. If the filters get dirty causing the suction to be reduced, I simply wash them. I then dry them with a paper towel to absorb most of the water and let air dry for a few minutes. It only takes a few minutes for them to dry and I can continue vacuuming. Cleaning the filters regularly also helps reduce the pet odor that comes from the vacuum cleaner!
Clean Filter Indicator This is a simple, yet useful feature. Within a small window on the front of the vacuum is a mechanical (not electronic) gauge that gradually turns from green to red when the suction is reduced. When red is showing in the window, the filters need to be cleaned to restore suction. I wish it was located in a place that was more visible while vacuuming, but I can live with it.
Attachments The attachments, for the most part are thoughtfully designed as well. The Bissell Lift-Off comes with the an extension tube, crevice tool, upholstery tool, as well as the Pet TurboBrush tool. All attachments are stored on the vacuum. The extension tube telescopes from about 14 inches to about 26 inches long and locks into place. I like being able to vary the length of the hose by simply twisting it. The upholstery tool is double-sided with a brush on one side and a hard edge on the other. I like this tool because both tools are right at my fingertips. I don’t have to remove one to use the other. The crevice tool is great for cleaning small, hard-to-reach places like under the stove or furniture.
Pet TurboBrush The tool specifically meant for cleaning pet hair, the Pet TurboBrush is the least impressive. The only pet hair specific part on this vacuum is the small, rotating brush attachment. It has a rubber comb-like edge that helps grab pet hair from carpet or upholstery. It does pull up more pet hair from surfaces fairly well, and for the most part this attachment works fine. I use it to clean my stairs with the Lift-Off canister as well as my sofas and chairs. The brush stops rotating, however, if too much hair gets wrapped around the brush or belt. This brush is powered only by the force of the suction, so it stops turning as soon as something gets tangled too tightly. After using this attachment to clean our stairs a few times, the brush stopped rotating. Simply unscrewing the plastic housing and removing the hair fixed the problem, but since this particular attachment was designed for cleaning up pet hair, I expected it to be able to handle the pet hair! This problem has come up twice, and I find it inconvenient to have to dismantle a part that was specifically designed for this purpose. On the flip side, at least the pet hair is getting picked up!
I am happy with my Bissell Lift-Off. It cleans my carpets beautifully and the Lift-Off feature makes it easy to clean awkward places like stairs. This vacuum works well which saves me time from vacuuming repeatedly, and it saves me money because I don’t have to buy expensive filters (or bags). The suction is excellent, the dirt cup is easy to empty, and the filters are easy to clean. Despite the lackluster Pet Hair TurboBrush, this vacuum is great and I would recommend the BISSELL Lift-Off Revolution Pet Bagless Upright. I would love to give it 5 stars, but because the Pet TurboBrush is only mediocre and it is supposed to be a "pet vacuum", I have to knock off a star, 4 stars.