Choosing Your Vacuum: Upright or Barrel?

Is it time you bought a new vacuum cleaner but can’t decide between an upright or barrel model?  Different types of vacuum cleaners are better suited to different cleaning needs, lifestyles and individual preferences.  Here are some pros and cons about barrel and upright vacuums to help you make your purchasing decision.

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

These type of cleaners consist of a long handle and bag that are attached to a cleaning head in an upright configuration. They remove dirt using a rotating brush-roll or beaters that sweep and vibrate dust from the floor surface before sucking it up into the unit.

Upright Vac Pros

  • Some people find uprights are easier to use because you push them in front of your body rather than towing them around behind you.
  • The brushes of an upright cover a larger cleaning area than a barrel vac head, enabling you to cover more ground with each motion.
  • Since uprights are adjustable to different heights, they are suitable for cleaning all different types of carpets, including delicate pile.
  • Most upright models include accessories that are stored on board the unit.

Upright Vac Cons

  • They tend to have weaker suction power than barrel vacuums.
  • Since upright cleaners are generally bulkier than barrel vacuums they tend to take up more storage space.
  • If you live in a two-storey home, you may find it difficult to carry the heavy unit up and down stairs or to clean the stairs using an upright’s large cleaning head.
  • Uprights tend to be best suited to carpets, with only some models featuring settings to suit hard floors.

Barrel Vacuum Cleaners

Also referred to as canister or cylinder vacuum cleaners, barrel vacs have light, compact wheel-mounted bodies consisting of a motor and dust collection unit that is connected to a long, flexible hose with a cleaner head.

Barrel Vac Pros

  • This type of vacuum cleaner is versatile – different heads can be attached to suit particular tasks, including mechanical beaters similar to those used in upright models.
  • Barrel vacs are lightweight and compact, making them more portable than an upright cleaner.
  • Barrel vacuum cleaners glide smoothly over hard floors, cleaning without scratching.
  • With their flexible cleaning heads, barrel vacs are ideal for handling confined and hard to reach spaces such as under the bed, on top of shelves, stairs or your car’s interior.
  • Barrel vacuums have more powerful suction power and therefore offer a better clean.

Barrel Vac Cons

  • Cylinder vacuums are generally not as effective at removing stubborn pet hair from carpet as the rotating motorised head of an upright.
  • Accessories such as brushes, hoses and rods may be awkward to store since they cannot be housed on the unit itself.
  • The various cleaning tools need to be manually changed over as needed.

If you are still unsure about which type of vacuum cleaner is best for you, don’t be afraid to ask a Bing Lee expert for advice.  While you are there, “test-drive” a few different cleaners to see how easy and effective they are for yourself!

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