Pros: All automatic functions controlled from the handle, long dust bags, very compact, good suction.
Cons: Expensive, older power head far too heavy, hose handle a bit small, Problem electrics.
Powered motorised electric beater bar heads (or "power heads" as they are more known in the U.S) on cylinder vacuum cleaners are largely unheard of in the UK with only a few brands able to offer customers the facility of permanent rolling deep cleaning power as opposed to air driven floor heads that start to lose momentum due to suction or loose carpeting. Miele and Sebo have for some time now offered optional floor heads on many of their cylinder vacuum cleaners but not many buyers may be aware of the options available. This is a long review based on experience!
I love the Sebo company - I own many of their products based on the fact that I'm not only a collector of vacuums but I also have a function for them since I have recommended the vacuums to relatives and family. My mum adores the Sebo Felix upright even though it has a long power cord that can't be automatically rewound and a replacement for our old 14 year old Sebo X1 Automatic now rests in the X1.1, a UK only lower powered basic X4 like upright. The Sebo K series are similar to Bosch and Miele's S4 cylinder vacuums - made with storage and compactibility solutions in mind without sacrificing pick up power and versatile suction needs like lightweight tubes (lighter than Miele) and a triple S Class filtration system that keeps back allergens. I have owned a Sebo K1 Komfort and a basic K1 before so I know what to expect with the top of the range K3.
At 5.5 kg total, all of the K1 series vacuums are extremely light to cart around helped by three smooth castors that pivot themselves over hard surfaces and being rubber-coated means they aren't destructive to floors. This is a vacuum cleaner that has been on the market since 1998 and Dyson has only just brought out a vacuum that is 5.2kg designed to be "lightweight." Quality is a word that Sebo are very good at displaying too. Soft touch plastics, easy to use tubes and a generally easy to dislodge filtration system and high filter 4 layer bags that lock in with a slight push of a finger means maintenance and general use is extremely easy and rewarding. Then there are the safety caps you can fit to seal the bags once and for all for no dust escaping. With a long 6 metre cord on board helped by a just-as-long 1.5 metre hose, the travel of a Sebo K1 compact vacuum really gets around with ease, able to additionally clean up to ceilings because of its lightweight telescopic height adjustable tubing and is lighter than Miele's standard metal tubes. The K3 Vulcano and Premium models have slightly heavier tubes though and an additional swivel neck built into the hose with a plug at the top to counteract the fixed design of the plug-in electric hose on the machine whereas non-electrified hoses on the K1 range have a much better swivel neck hose on the standard machines. Sebo offer an increased amount of hose at 2.1 metres for extra reach though and that swivel at the top of the hose compensates somewhat for the lack of a swivel at the base of the machine.
With all this extra reach the K3 Premium should be an easy vacuum to use. Having the ET-H floorhead on board means complete edge cleaning on each side of the roller brush and a wonderfully easy oiled movement thanks to four wheels on the underside of the floor head means carpet cleaning is extremely efficient. Everything gets picked up with this electric floor head and like the rest of the Sebo range, if you get a clog you lift a flap on the base to get rid of it. If the brush needs cleaning you can press a button on either side of the floor head to remove two sections of the roller brush. In terms of maintenance the ET-H is very easy to fix without the need of screwdrivers. It also has two lights on top to show you when it is powered up and an additional orange light that acts as a warning if something gets clogged. There's also a rotary control that allows the floorhead to move from hard to soft floor coverings that you can manually adjust. It is also quieter than the ET-1 floorhead that comes with my Felix upright so it is a welcomed cleaning component that does what it suggests. If you have to leave the vacuum for a moment, the floor head also allows the hose and tubing to sit locked in an upright position just like an upright vacuum too. Once cleaning is done simply pull the cord at the entrance and the cord automatically rewinds back in. So much quicker than manually pressing a pedal for retraction on other vacuums, here.
In terms of performance, the K3 Premium has fantastic suction and there's 1500 watts to 2100 watts high whine free noise available here! Once the 6-metre cable has been taken out and plugged in, all it takes is a press of the main On button and a green light on top of the machine is shown. This effectively means the K3 Premium is ready to go. Then just slide the suction control on the handle and you're ready to clean. All this takes milliseconds to do and the ET-H starts up instantly. The noise level of the K3 is just as good as the more basic K1 models in the range - very quiet and without hesitation to suppress more suction noise through it's patented and ingenious "cloth bumper," air belt design that also sends cleaner air to the sides of the vacuum rather than up top like standard cylinder vacs. An additional parquet floor tool also comes with the K3 Premium as well as a dusting brush and clamp, a long crevice tool that sits snugly at the rear of the vacuum and an upholstery lint tool that can be slid onto the crevice tool for extra compactness and versatility.
The problem with the K3 Premium however is electrics and handling. It suffers from an inherent weakness where the top plug that clips to the top of the swivel handle can often break the circuitry that sends power to the power head. Replacement cost can be very expensive and the part can break between a few months to a year depending on the use you put your K3 Premium through. For the $700 asking price here on average for the actual vacuum, this isn't a part that should break early on and it's about time Sebo redesign and rectify this part.
The ET-H floor head has been in production since the early 1980's when it was available for the larger and heavier C series cylinder vacs. This means an additional weight of 2kg onto the electrified hose and single telescopic suction tube. Despite retaining a wonderfully light gliding factor on flooring, I've often felt compromised because of the extra weight, not just by pushing the floor head across carpet but simply by having to pull the excess weight of the K3 behind me as I power through carpets. Sebo could make the floor head lighter here to make it easier to pull the K3 along. It isn't as light as Sebo's cheaper K vacs but then again none of them have electronic power heads stubbed onto the end of their pipes. Quite why Sebo don't allow other floor head "options" on this top of the range cylinder vacuum to become standard remains a mystery as the K3 Premium is delightfully lighter with the air driven turbo brush fitted. Whilst the K3 Premium has an undoubtedly excellent electric floor head, it lacks the stop button function that would allow the roller brush to stop spinning for hard floor cleaning. As a result the more modern ET-1 floor head that you get with the Felix upright makes a lot more sense here and changing the height is a lot easier and faster too. You can buy the more modern ET-1 floor head but it will cost you another $200 to $300!
Starting to look expensive doesn't it? Where filters and bags are concerned the outlook is a little brighter. I find that Sebo's box of bags (8 in a box) can almost last me 1 year and a couple of months against Miele's yearly change box of 4 bags and despite Miele's 3.5 litre capacity, the Sebo K series has 3 litres which seems to fill up with more dust and dirt without needing changed until the orange LED light on the Sebo K3 tells me. One bag in my Sebo K3 usually lasts on average up to four months.
The ET-H also has other problems. Even though the actual vacuum cleaner has good swivelling action by its built in swivel at the top of the hose, the actual floor head doesn't turn enough from left to right even though it has the same neck as the Felix upright. In terms of actual weight distribution I find using the Sebo Felix upright a heck of a lot more manageable even though that vacuum weighs 7kg. The handle on the hose is also much smaller than the handle on the more basic K1 range, which is very unexpected. Those with Miele S5 cylinders may pay homage to Sebo here but Miele's handles are far more comfortable to hold onto as well as being a great deal bigger!
The truth behind the Sebo K3 Premium is that despite it's quality and power I don't think it is as good as the rest of the lightweight range even though it has the option of an electric power assisted brush. It is true that whilst the option is there, if Sebo are marketing this as a flagship compact vacuum then they should include all the floor tools as the K1 Komfort model and should also address the weight of the ET-H and the handle design with its inherent electric plug problems. Until then the K3 Premium is compromised and on its very blue print of being a lightweight vacuum cleaner, adding a 2kg electric head onto 5.5kg makes for a very awkward and heavy cleaning proposition especially at its full asking price. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2010