Our First Canister

Apr 13, 2008
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Suction power, clean and effective ergonomics, ease of use.


The Bottom Line: Power, design, ease-of-use, ... what's not to like?

I have been an aficionado of very simple, powerful upright vacuums. No self-propulsion - a useless, counterproductive feature in my mind; no light; no auto-height selector - - just suction power, baby!

Friends and relatives have gone through various phases, spending mega bucks on fancy uprights and canister vacs from Miele, Electrolux, and other manufacturers, but we've stuck with our tried and true formula. Simple features, upright design, and POWER BABY.

Inexplicably, while trolling the local Lowes, I became enamored with the Electrolux Oxygen 3 "ultra canister". Was it the modern appearing design of the on-canister buttons or it's compact yet robust appearance or it's somewhat racy burnt orange color? Maybe it was the beautifully integrated design of the large canister handle which also, when depressed, is the auto-cord retractor button. Or maybe it was the $100 price reduction ($389 from $489). The canister was very light, yet it appeared to have significant suction; the powerhead was also light but felt substantial enough to track properly on carpet or smooth flooring. So I bought it ...

My wife was more than a bit flabbergasted when I brought it home (was only going to Lowes for light bulbs - but who goes to Lowes for light bulbs and is able to resist a little trolling?). She more than I was a devotee of the "simple, powerful upright" model mentioned above; moreso, she was a devotee of the "why spend $400 on a vacuum when $150 or so will do?" purchasing model - not to mention the "why spend $400 on anything when our $150 Hoover vacuum still works fine?" line-of-thinking so common among people who do not spend impulsively. After trotting out the quickly improvised "well, (our son) needs a vacuum for his apartment at school, so I thought we'd give him our old one and get a new one, eh?", we commenced to trying the Electrolux.

Upon unboxing, my wife was also a bit smitten. The design is fairly sexy for a vacuum. And the operation of the vacuum is quite simple. The three buttons on the wand are easy to operate, and serve to 1) turn power on/off, 2) turn the powerhead on/off, and 3) change the suction power (why, I don't know - we're a FULL power exclusively family). As correctly mentioned in a previous review, the buttons require very firm pressure and sometimes we'd have to press again. A very minor issue IMO if the trade-off is increased reliability/durability of the button - I suppose we'll know over time.

The suction is GREAT. We have two golden retrievers. For those of you who don't know, they are dogs with long, mildly twisty hair that bonds very well with medium pile carpeting, and they shed a bucket-full a week. The Oxygen 3 pulled the hair up from our various surfaces far better than any of our prior vacuums, which is saying something since they did a decent job of it. But instead of repeated passes to achieve the desired result, one slow pass of the powerhead of the Oxygen 3 accomplished the task. And on hardwood/stone/tiled surfaces, the "powerhead off" suction was also more than sufficient to pull any manner of debris from the floor, and from within cracks along the edges of the floor/walls.

The design of the canister has proven to be far more ergonomic than appeared during my rigorous research period while trolling the aisles of Lowes. During normal floor vacuuming, the canister easily stays right behind you, but is not so close that you have to be careful backing up. It is very light, and rolls freely and true. When it does make contact with a wall or piece of furniture, it's "rub rail" makes sure no mark is left (plus, it's light and doesn't have much oomph when it makes contact).

In three months of operation, we've experience none of the squeeking or mechanical problems mentioned in one or two prior reviews. Just as importantly, when vacuuming stairs, the canister lifts almost effortlessly - particularly in comparison to the gyrations necessary to use an upright on the stairs. The cord is very long and allows extended use without unplugging and replugging every 15 to 20 feet (I think it's a 25 or 30 foot cord); and the auto-retract feature so far is very smooth and reliable - it retracts slowly, without the whipping cord effect you get when you just have a powerful spring retraction mechanism without any form of dampening. The canister sets nicely on the stair steps as you climb or descend the stairs, and the powerhead handles carpeted stairs well.

The only issue we've had has been that the powerhead's beater bar clogs with golden retriever hair somewhat frequently; typically once per housecleaning. The hair tends to adhere to the bristles of the beater bar more than with our prior vacuums, and eventually it binds the beater bar to the point the powerhead shuts down. It's a simple matter of pulling a couple handfuls of dog hair from the beater bar, which is a bit difficult on the fingers, as the beater bar doesn't easily give up the hair, and then continuing on with the vacuuming.

Bag changing is a breeze, far easier than uprights - although bag changing in uprights isn't all that difficult either. And Oxygen 3 HEPA bags have significantly dropped in price, to about the same as the cost of Eureka or Hoover upright B or C bags.

We would have been happy continuing with our old upright vacuum (although our son's apartment would be vacuumless). I'm not sure the extra $250 is truly justified from a "just suck up the dust & debris" functional perspective. But the Oxygen 3 DOES accomplish the same tasks with a bit less effort and a bit better results and more than a bit more panache. I'll leave it to you as to whether or not "a bit less effort and a bit better result" is worth $250. As to the "more than a bit more panache", ... if vacuuming panache is what you want, this is where to get it (short of shelling out $1200+ for a less-effective Miele).

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