We’ve spent the last several weeks testing canister vacuum cleaners, and among these, the Mieles have consistently been our favorites. We recently reviewed and compared the Compact C2 Electro+, Topaz, Onyx, and Quartz, and were happy to report that some of these vacuums are among the best canisters under $700. However, we just picked up several Complete C3s for a new contracted cleaning project in a condominium under renovation, which means more reviews are on the way.
Today we’ll compare the Complete C3 Alize and the Complete C3 Calima to find the better canister for both hardwood floors and carpeting in this price range ($700). If you’re ready to buy and just need help choosing between them, we recommend the Alize if you want high end functionality and are willing to buy additional accessories in the short or long term and we recommend the Calima if you want an all-in-one vacuum and have both carpets and hardwood floors.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Miele Complete C3 Alize Canister vacuum, Ivory White – Corded (SGJE0)
We’ll cut to the chase: between the Alize and the Calima, the Alize itself is the more advanced vacuum; where the Calima pulls ahead is in its accessories. We’ll get to those later, but first, let’s look at what the Alize brings to the table.
There are about 7 Complete C3 models you can currently readily buy in the United States: in order of price, they are the Alize, Calima, Soft Carpet, Kona, Cat & Dog, Marin, and Brillant. The Alize and the Calima are at the lower end, but because of the way Miele arranged features, the Alize actually contains a number of features common to much higher end models in the C3 line. Each model, including the Alize, includes a 1,200 watt motor, but the Alize is one of only two models to include automatic adjustments of power output to the motor (the other two models being the two most expensive, the Brilliant and Marin). In other words, the Alize provides some functionality only available in $1,000-$1,500 Miele vacuums. We liked this from a value perspective. In practice, we measured slightly less energy use at the wall outlet and we also liked not having to adjust settings when moving from, say, tile to carpets to curtains to upholstery. The machine just whirred a bit more quickly or a bit more quietly, and that was that.
We were also pleased to see a filter change indicator, which alerted us to the periodic need to change the HEPA filter; this feature was only present on the Alize, Brilliant, and Marin. Similarly, an automatic standby adjustment was only present on the aforementioned models; this allowed us to automatically stop the vacuum (for example, to attend to a crying baby) by simply parking the cleaning wand on the back of the canister. Removing the wand reactivated the vacuum.
However, the additional goodies didn’t end there; the Alize also featured two unique features unavailable on any other Complete C3: a spotlight on the ergonomic handle and air-injected tires with shock absorbers (which Miele calls Dynamic Drive). In actual use, the wheels were quieter and we felt they rendered the Alize extrordinarily easy to move. The LED light helped us catch dirt we’d have otherwise missed when cleaning in dark areas. The light stays on for around 30 seconds with the push of a button on the handle. We were pleasantly surprised by the degree to which we appreciated both features and by the fact that neither was available on any other C3.
Beyond that, many of the other features are common to all models in the line, including the expanded 36-foot operating range (compared to 33-feet in the Compact C2 line or under 30 feet in the Compact C1 line), an AirCleaned sealed system with HEPA filtering, the 3 standard accessories (the crevice tool, the upholstery tool, and crevice tool, the oh-so-welcome silent mode, and the ability to clean both hardwood floors and low pile carpeting. However, because of the Alize’s slotting as one of the low end C3s, it lacks the tools out of the box needed to make it capable of handling medium pile carpeting, high pile carpeting, or even delicate hardwood floors as nicely as in all the other C3s.
The issue here is the brush head supplied with the Alize: the SBD650-3 AirTeq floor brush. This is a long way of labeling a combination carpeting/smooth floor brush. Although the AirTeq is more sophisticated than the cheaper combination brushes found in the Compact C2 and C1 lines (it features a smoother air flow to provide a closer contact and better transition between flooring and low pile carpeting), it’s still a combination brush, which makes it a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none affair. We found it just fine for hardwood floors but it wasn’t happy with low pile carpeting even though it did a decent job with them; we sometimes had to push it with gusto to keep moving through carpet, and it was frustrating when we knew what a difference a dedicated head like the Turbo brush could and would make. Similarly, the lack of a Parquet brush meant we spent more time than we’d have liked pushing dirt back and forth on smooth floors instead of actually cleaning them. It’s worth
Overall, we felt in a number of ways that the Alize was the more sophisticated of the two machines and one of the three most sophisticated C3 models. We just wish it had included dedicated brush heads. It’s worth noting that the two specific tools we missed–the Turbo brush and the Parquet brush–can each be bought separately (Turbo here, Parquet here) and added to the Alize. Because the Electro brush can’t be attached, the Alize is not designed for high pile carpeting; you’ll want to look at the Brilliant or Marin for that functionality.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Miele Complete C3 Calima Canister Vacuum, Canary Yellow (SGFE0)
After everything the Alize brought to the table, you might be wondering why anyone might be interested in the Calima. We’ve got a number of reasons, and they’re primarily related to what the Calima did have.
The Calima came out of the box with two dedicated brush heads: the STB205-3 Turbo Comfort Turbo brush and the SBB300-3 Parquet Twister. We’ve sung the praises of these brush heads over and over again in previous reviews of Mieles that feature them, but to summarize our thoughts and experiences, the Turbo brush is a great air-powered brush for powering through hardwood floors, low pile carpeting, and medium pile carpeting. Unlike the combination brush head that came with the Alize, we didn’t feel like we were doing the slightest bit of work when tackling low and medium pile carpets. It’s important to note that the Turbo brush still isn’t designed to tackle high pile carpets; we tried and the head didn’t ever stop, but it started destroying the carpet, so we stopped, and quickly. However, when using it as intended, it performed marvelously. Similarly, the Parquet twister, a hardwood tool, made it child’s play to tackle any kind of smooth flooring without worrying about damaging it; it also gave us the ability to clean without needing to revisit the same areas to pick up dust and dirt the combination head would have blown away at the sides or ahead of the brush head.
Of course, as we noted earlier, there were a number of features in the Alize that were non-existent in the Calima; the feature we missed the most was the automatic suction adjuster, but we also longed for all of the other features we described above once we realized they were missing. Of course, had we never been introduced to them to begin with, it’s unlikely we’d have missed any of them.
Which is the Better Value? The C3 Alize or C3 Calima?
We found this a delightfully difficult question to answer. Out of the box, the Alize was unquestionably the more sophisticated and advanced machine, but the Calima was also the more ready to handle typical cleaning conditions out of the box. We ultimately decided that the Alize was the better choice if you were willing to buy dedicated heads down the line while the Calima was the better choice if you were not and simply wanted to be done with the vacuum search. In either case, you’ll have one of the best canister vacuums under $1,000.
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