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Five years ago, I bought an Electrolux canister vacuum (model EL 7055A) after agonizing about wanting a Dyson. Dyson seemed to be a lot about marketing and flash, so I was unsure about spending so much money on something that maybe just looks pretty. The Electrolux had very good reviews in allergy/asthma sufferer forums regarding its performance and HEPA filter, so I went with the Electrolux instead.
Fast forward 5 years. I was in need of a new vacuum cleaner. The Electrolux sucked well and has still not lost suction, but the controls were poorly designed and they became non-functional within the first year, so I have not been able to control any of the settings (carpet height adjustor, suction power, etc.). I was also getting tired of its heavy weight. I decided to spend the big bucks on a Dyson.
I looked online and immediately became confused at the differences between all the Dyson models. Just reading the descriptions was not enough for me to discern any huge difference between the models. All I wanted was a vacuum cleaner that sucks well. I wasn't looking for a lot of bells and whistles, so the small differences in the models were lost on me.
So I decided to go to Best Buy and see them out of the box. I'm glad to have looked at the different Dyson models side by side. I was primarily looking at the DC41, DC40, and DC33. Out of the 3 models, I was immediately drawn to the DC40 because of its smaller size and lighter weight compared to the DC41 and DC33.
I've been using it for 2 months now, and I am happy with both performance and maneuverability. After I opened up the Dyson box, I first vacuumed with my Electrolux, then vacuumed again with the DC40. The Dyson did not pick up too much more dust. To be fair, the next time I vacuumed, I started with the Dyson then vacuumed again with the Electrolux. The Electolux also did not pick up too much dust. Both vacuums seem to have good suction. I am neither over- nor underwhelmed with the suction. It does its job.
WHAT I LIKE
It sucks at least as well as (if not better than) my previous Electrolux which has very good suction, so I have no complaints in this department.
2. SIZE AND WEIGHT.
The DC40 is the smallest and lightest of the vacuums I have owned (other than handhelds). I don't dread vacuuming the stairs anymore. It stores very easily and doesn't take up a whole lot of space in the closet, even for an upright.
3. THE BALL.
Although some reviews note that it takes getting used to, I've liked the ball since the very first time I used it. The DC40 swivels nicely and more naturally...I don't have to move my whole body to change the direction of the vacuum. It did not take getting used to at all.
4. LOW CLEARANCE CLEANER HEAD.
Because the cleaner head is on the small side compared to other vacuum cleaners I've owned, it seems to get to corners and edges better. It also gets under cabinets nicely (the ball does not get in the way of cabinets).
5. EASY OF USE ON STAIRS.
I've used the stair tool that comes in the box with the DC40 that attaches to the wand (hose). However, I find that the DC40 is light enough that I can vacuum the stairs without using the stair tool. For me, the swivel of the ball makes it much easier to maneuver on each step. Whether using the main cleaner head or the stair tool, vacuuming the stairs has become much easier. It takes much longer to vacuum with the stair tool because it's much smaller than the main cleaner head.
It works well on carpets, tile, and hardwood flooring.
7. TOOLS / ACCESSORIES.
Unlike many other vacuum cleaners, the DC40 ships with only 2 tools...stair tool and a combination tool. If you don't care for accessories and misplacing them all the time, this is a plus.
WHAT I DISLIKE
1. THE BALL.
Because the ball is quite large, it does not get under my couches and beds. That's the biggest drawback of the DC40 for me. I use my old Electrolux to get under furniture.
Granted my Electrolux QuietClean canister has a reputation for being a relatively quiet machine, so perhaps I'm spoiled, but the DC40 is quite loud in comparison.
3. WAND AND ACCORDION.
The accordion part of the wand is pretty stiff in my experience. Hopefully it gets looser with age...right now, I have to keep tugging at the wand to make it expand and stretch. Plus I wish the accordion/hose was longer. When doing baseboards with the narrow combination tool that attaches to the wand, the vacuum stands too close to me because of the shortness of the hose/wand, and I don't have as much elbow room as I'd like. I wish Dyson would make a longer hose/wand that attaches to the original wand for people that want a little more length.
4. CORD STORAGE.
The cord wraps around vertically behind the canister. For the high price tag and stylish design, I wish they'd find a way to incorporate a retractable cord. The manual-wrap cord is both a little retro (not in a good way) and unsightly. My old Electrolux has a retractable cord which keeps it nicely out of the way and out of sight.
5. TOOLS / ACCESSORIES.
If you like using many different types of tools and attachments with your vacuum cleaner, you will need to buy them separately...and Dyson's accessories can get pretty pricey. Right now I've got my eyes on the multi-angle brush ($35) so I can get to my ceiling fans.
1. GO TO A LOCAL DYSON VENDOR TO COMPARE MODELS.
You can read about all the differences and features between Dyson models online, but it's really best to see the product in person. Hold it and move it around if possible. There are so many national chains that carry Dyson nowadays that it shouldn't be too difficult to find display models. The difference in weight between the models was a lot more noticeable than I expected when I tried them out at Best Buy. Walk around the store with it. Lift it up as you would on the stairs. Release the wand and see how you like the feel.
2. REMEMBER TO WASH THE FILTER!
Don't forget to wash the filter! The user manual recommends washing the filter every month, which I've done so far. This seems to be an important part of Dyson maintenance...I've owned a Dyson handheld for 4 years and the motor blew out after 2 years because I had never washed the filter (For the handheld, filter washing is recommended once every 3-6 months). I hardly ever used the handheld so I didn't think that it would be an issue (the filter was not even that dirty when I took them out). But when I called customer support, they said that not washing the filters basically blew out the motor.
3. EMPTY CANISTER IN A DEEP TRASH CAN.
Empty the canister in a deep, relatively empty trash can. The first time I emptied a bagless vacuum canister into a half-full trash can, I got a puff of dust cloud all around the trash can. This is not unique to the Dyson, it will happen with bagless vacuum cleaners in general. Not fun.
As others have noted, the DC40 has some trouble sucking up large-ish pieces. It tends to "push" these pieces around. I can confirm that it has trouble sucking up Cheerios pieces that my toddler drops on carpet/tile/hardwood. That's not due to the suction which is more than powerful enough to handle Cheerios, but due to the design of the cleaner head. As I don't normally have large pieces on the floor, and I primarily use it to pick up small particles and dust, this has not been an issue for me. I've also found that the Cheerios pieces get picked up when I back the vacuum cleaner up to it rather than pushing at it from the front.
Vacuuming has become a lot more "fun" than before, and I am quite happy with the purchase. I contemplated giving the Dyson DC40 a 4-star rating because of its inability to vacuum under my couches and beds due to the large size of the ball. However, I am giving it 5 stars because despite that flaw, it is still the best vacuum cleaner I've ever owned / used.