It’s no secret on PMC that when it comes to canister vacuums, we’re smitten by Miele. We’ve used and reviewed their sleek and quiet canisters for years, and swear by them on cleaning jobs. However, when the cheapest Mieles still cost $300 (e.g., the Compact C1 Pure Suction or the Classic C1 Olympus) and the most expensive can run up to $1,500 (e.g., the Complete C3 Brilliant), it’s no surprise that most people hesitate to buy them. Fortunately, there are a number of alternatives that offer varying degrees of quality, even if they don’t offer quite the same experience. Today we’ll look at 3 recent Kenmore canister vacuums: the 81614 400 Series, the 81414 400 Series, and the 81214 200 series vacuums.
Pros, Cons, and Key Features of the Kenmore 81614 600 Series Bagged Canister Vacuum w/Pet PowerMate (Purple)
The Kenmore 81614 is the highest-tier vacuum of the three recent releases, and as a result, it was the machine we expected the most from. Fortunately, we weren’t disappointed. The 81614 was a solid cleaner on carpeted and smooth surfaces. We primarily used the main brush head, but it also included a crevice tool, a bare floor tool, a dusting brush, and a pet-specific head for removing dander from baseboards, furniture, and carpeting. At just under 23 pounds, it wasn’t the lightest canister on the market by a long shot, but it wasn’t too heavy to drag from one part of the house to another, and the 28-foot long cord kept us from having to stop and do the outlet dance every few minutes.
We were particularly pleased with the width of the main brush head; at 14 inches, it was wide enough to cover considerable ground without feeling like we needed to make pass after pass to clean carpets or hardwood floors. Other features we liked included the HEPA filtration for reducing flying allergens. The biggest drawback we noticed was the paltry 1-year warranty; when paying close to $400 for a vacuum, we like to see at least 5 years, and we prefer more. For the money, we’d recommend considering a Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction or a Miele Classic C1 Olympus instead; both come with better warranties and offer significantly greater functionality and cleaning power.
The Kenmore 81414 was the middle child of the three canisters we reviewed; it wasn’t as fully developed as the 81614, but it offered more functionality than the 81214. We judged cleaning power to be slightly less than that in the 81614, but it was still sufficient for cleaning low-pile carpeting and bare floors. However, we noticed a number of features appeared to be deliberately curtailed in comparison to the 81614, and we weren’t particularly pleased with this.
We weren’t surprised to find the Pet Powermate tool missing, as this was exclusively marketed as a special feature of the 81614. however, it wasn’t until we brought out measuring tape that we understood why we were having more trouble reaching cracks and crevices with the 81414 than we had with the 81614: the attachment reach was one foot less in the 81414 at 9.5 feet than 10.5 feet. The power cord length was also truncated at 26 feet instead of 28 feet. We were happy to note that HEPA filtration was still present, however, and that the total weight actually decreased from 23 pounds to just over 19 pounds in the 81414. However, at this price range, we’d still recommend considering the Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction or a Miele Classic C1 Olympus; for slightly more than the 81414 we felt the other two offered far more value for only a few dollars more.
Finally, the Kenmore 81214 was clearly designed to be the model that encouraged you to upgrade to the two higher-end vacuums. The weight remained unchanged, but another 2 feet were lopped off the power cord, trimming it to a dismal 24 feet. The HEPA filter stayed, but the telescopic handle was gone, and Kenmore found a way to chop off another fraction of a foot from the attachment reach. The total number of attachments stayed constant, but the HEPA dirt bag was removed and replaced with a lower quality generic replacement. In a sense, it was almost comical; we felt like Kenmore had started with a fully functional 81614 and then progressively cannibalized parts of it to use them as spares in other 81614s, and had deemed the progressively lesser-equipped 81614s 81414s and 81214s. Of course, it’s arguable that if we hadn’t seen the higher-tier models first, we wouldn’t have known what we were missing by the time we got to the 81214, but it still left a bad taste in our mouths to see such obvious up-selling in place. However, at the price range–under $200–we acknowledge that few canisters will come with a bevy of features here. At the very least, we were least offended with the 1-year warranty when it showed up here; we weren’t expecting the 81214 to last significantly longer based on its crippled design.
Which Kenmore Bagged Canister Vacuum is the Best Deal?
We generally felt the 81614 did the best job cleaning overall, followed by the 81414 and 81214 respectively. To be fair, this was precisely how Kenmore designed the three machines, and their price tags reflect their performance. Any of the vacuums would do a perfectly acceptable job in basic cleaning tasks on low-pile carpeting and hardwood or other smooth flooring, but it was clear that Kenmore started with the 81614 and wanted you to end up there if you considered any of the three vacuums. Depending on your budget, we’d recommend any of the three, but if you’re looking for longevity in this price range, we’d urge you to look further toward the Miele Compact C1 Pure Suction or a Miele Classic C1 Olympus, which we found better designed for the money.
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