EU hoover ban: powerful vacuums outlawed

Sep 1, 2014

EU ban on high-power vacuum cleaners comes into force, hitting five of the seven best-rated products

Bruno Vincent/Getty Images

Sir James Dyson, the creative force behind Dyson vacuum cleaners, is seeking a judicial review of a new EU law that has banned the sale of some of the most powerful vacuums on the market, which are officially outlawed from today.

The new EU energy label prohibits manufacturers from making and importing vacuum cleaners with a motor that exceeds 1,600 watts.

What's the law for?

"The new European rules are part of the EU's energy efficiency directive, designed to help tackle climate change," explains the BBC. And in three years time the maximum wattage will be lowered further to 900 watts.

How much energy does an average vacuum cleaner use?

On average, most cleaners on the market today operate at 1,800 watts, The Guardian says. Models at the top end, draw over 2,000 watts, such as the popular Miele s8330 model which operates at 2,200 watts.

So will UK consumers no longer be able to buy the best?

According to Which? consumer group, many of the best-rated vacuums on the market exceed 1,600 watts, "so if you're in the market for a powerful vacuum, you should act quickly, before all of the models currently available sell out". Of seven "best buy" ratings awarded by Which? vacuum cleaner reviewers, five have a motor of more than 1,600 watts.

What about Dyson cleaners?

Dyson says that its vacuum cleaners perform well in the new EU rating system, and that it has never made a product over 1,600 watts. But the company mounted its challenge because it has "many concerns about flaws in the system that will ultimately be unhelpful for consumers," the Guardian says. Some Dyson machines, such as the 1,300-watt Cinetic DC54 model, will fall foul of the tighter rules planned for 2017. A judgement from the European court of justice is due in December 2015.

How much more do top-end cleaners cost to run?

In the latest issue of its magazine, Which? noted that there is only a small difference in energy use between top models and those that would be allowed by the EU. "A Best Buy 2,200w vac costs around £27 a year to run in electricity – only around £8 more than the best-scoring 1,600w we’ve tested," says Which? Consumer groups note that the new legislation could end up being self-defeating, as lower wattage vacuum cleaners need to be used for longer to achieve the same results.

What about other household products?

The EU is consulting on changes to energy limits for other electrical goods, including hairdryers, kettles and lawnmowers, and will make a decision early next year about whether to ban high-powered models.

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