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Dyson Ball Animal Complete review: Banish pet hair without clogging your cleaner

Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
430
inc VAT

Dyson’s powerful upright vacuum cleaner tackles pet hair more effectively than ever with its new anti-tangle floor head

Pros 
Plenty of power and capacity
Lots of accessories
No hair tangles
Cons 
Wired
Bulky
Cumbersome in handheld mode
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Dyson’s latest upright, the Dyson Ball Animal, is an update of its previous Ball Animal upright vacuums. There are three in the range now, one that looks almost identical to the original Ball Animal, and two that have the larger body and extra features of the Ball Animal 2.

Look closely, however, and you’ll see that all three models have updated floor heads. These are larger versions of the brush roller detangling system that we first saw on the Dyson V15 Detect. The system has since appeared on the V12 Detect Slim, and is now filtering down into repackaged versions of older V8, V10 and Outsize models. Detangling the brush bar is one of those hidden chores of vacuuming that, in the case of homes with lots of long-haired humans and pets, can sometimes need performing as regularly as emptying the collection bin.

The Dyson Ball Animal Complete (£430) on review here is the most expensive version of the updated Animal 2 and comes with seven accessories. It’s also available as the Dyson Ball Animal Multi-floor (£380), which has five accessories. The basic model (£280) retains the original Dyson Ball Animal name and the original slightly smaller vacuum design. It only comes with three accessories but still gets the new hair-devouring floor head. 

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Dyson Ball Animal Complete review: What do you get for the money?

The Dyson Ball Animal Complete is a hefty upright corded vacuum cleaner. It has dimensions of 280 x 390 x 1,065mm (WDH) and weighs 7.4kg. The collection bin has a 1.8-litre capacity, which should be ample to clean most homes without needing emptying half-way through – unless, that is, it’s been a particularly long time since you last vacuumed.

It has a 10m cable and needs to be kept plugged in at all times. I found that with it plugged into a central hall or landing, it could quite happily reach most of the rooms on each floor of my house, with only one unplugging required to reach the extremities of an extension.

Unlike Dyson’s stick vacuum cleaners, the main vacuuming floor head of the Ball Animal remains permanently attached to the vacuum. This has a brush roller that’s been updated with hair removal veins that comb any collected hairs off the brush roller and into the suction tube. The idea is that it catches and removes hairs before they get tangled up in the roller, and it did a superb job of staying tangle-free during my time testing it.

Although the vacuum itself only has one power setting (it’s either on or off), the strength of the suction at the floor head can be controlled with a three-way switch on the front. This controls how well the cleaner maintains a seal with the floor. In its hard floor setting, for example, it sails smoothly over hard floor but is very difficult to move on carpet. This is because it seals with the pile of the carpet and grips the floor too well. Open its vents a little with the switch, however, and it becomes easier to move.

The other button that’s next to the on/off switch deactivates the brush bar. If you have a lot of hard floor to clean or your floor is prone to scratches, you can rely on the suction alone without engaging the rotating brush.

The handle of the vacuum can be unlocked from the main device and lifted out. It’s connected to a long extension wand that’s stored inside the hose on the back, and turns the handle into a sort of stick vacuum to which you can add the numerous attachments.

It’s a bit fiddly to get out and use, but there are plenty of options here. For example, you can can remove the wand to get a more handheld-like device, or take the handle off completely and simply use the hose. All use the same connector, so you can add the supplied attachments to any combination. The hose itself is 4.2m long but can be stretched out like a concertina, and extended to 8.2m.

Both the Ball Animal Multi-floor and the Ball Animal Complete are resplendent with accessories. To kick off there’s a trio of standard Dyson tools: a combination crevice and dusting tool; a stair tool; and a soft dusting brush.

Slightly more sophisticated is the tangle-free turbine tool. This is used to remove hair and other matter from upholstery. However, it’s a step back from the electrically powered hair screw tool you get on the cordless V15 and V12, because Dyson’s hose can’t power electrical attachments. Instead, it uses a turbine and the air passing through it to rotate two disc-mounted brushes, though the system still does a decent job of staying tangle-free.

Both models also include the flat-out head, which can be attached to the extension wand and has a very low profile that’s ideal for getting under low furniture. In fact, the connection between the wand and the head can be rotated so that it’s almost completely flat, allowing it to get right under anything with enough clearance for the 47mm diameter of the connector.

Go for the Ball Animal Complete and you get two more attachments. The first is a mattress tool, which is essentially a 188mm wide version of the 118mm stair tool. Lastly, there’s the reach-under tool, which is a slimmer, bendy crevice tool. It comes with its own slim dusting brush, for really reaching into hard-to-clean spaces, such as behind radiators or furniture.

In terms of suction, Dyson isn’t quoting specific figures and it’s hard to measure because the engine cuts out if the tubes are blocked. However, using our suction-testing equipment we can see how much suction is produced before the motors stop. In this case, the Ball Animal reached 19.5kPa. This is a little less than we measured on the Dyson Small Ball Allergy (24.4kPa) and a lot less than we saw on the V15 Detect when going at full pelt (31kPa). 

However, it’s worth noting that this corded model only has one suction setting and it will keep going as long as the cleaner is plugged in. The V15 doesn’t last 12 minutes on full power, and its more conservative standard mode sucks at a modest 13.5kPa.

READ NEXT: The best cordless vacuum cleaners to buy

Dyson Ball Animal Complete review: What’s it like to use?

Let’s make no bones about it, the Dyson Ball Animal is a beast to lug around. It’s relatively manoeuvrable for an upright, with its ball joint giving it a certain amount of flexibility when it comes to cornering, but if you’ve spent any time with a cordless stick vacuum cleaner, you’re going to find it large and cumbersome.

I also found both the cable and the hose troublesome. If you use a cabled vacuum cleaner regularly you won’t think twice about the cord management that you have to perform, but it’s a bit of a drag in these days of cordless machines. The hose is even worse, constantly trying to spring back into its storage area behind the main stick of the vacuum. This is handy when you want to put it away but awkward while you’re trying to clean the stairs.

Despite this, using the vacuum in its standard floor cleaning mode is a joy, because it’s just so good. I found it glided around hard floor with the brush bar switched off, drawing visible dirt towards the floor head as it got close. It’s not quite so smooth on carpet, even with the roller switched on and the vents opened. It doesn’t have the easy feel of a cordless, but it did a great job of refreshing the well-trafficked rug that separates my busy kitchen from the rest of the house, and which seems to bear the brunt of our household mess.

Emptying the collection bin is simple. You lift it off the machine, hold it over the bin and press the top button to release a catch that opens the trapdoor at the bottom. With its greater capacity than Dyson’s stick vacuums, the debris should fall out, though I found it needed a bit of a tap at times. It’s better than the waggle and shake you sometimes need to do with Dyson’s stick cleaners, though.

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Dyson Ball Animal Complete review: How well does it clean?

The real value of the Dyson Ball Animal is in its cleaning ability. To find out how good it is, I put it through our usual suite of tricky tests, which involve measured spillages of both Cheerios and plain flour on hard floor and short-pile carpet. By measuring out the spillages in advance, and weighing the collection bin before and after a single pass over each mess, we can establish exactly how good at cleaning a vacuum is, and directly compare it to its rivals and stablemates.

Cheerios are a problem for many vacuums, because they get pushed ahead like a snow plough clearing a road if the floor head doesn’t have enough clearance to get over them. However, the Ball Animal’s front vents can be opened wide enough to let most Cheerios through, leaving minimal ploughing and very little scatter.

On carpet, the Ball Animal Complete collected a full 26g of a 26g spillage. In fact, there were a couple of Cheerios left behind, having hit the brush bar at the wrong angle and flung back out of the floor head, but it was a minor problem to chase them up, and they didn’t add up to a whole gram.

On hard floor it missed about 1g, collecting 25g. Most of this seemed to fall out when I moved the vacuum away from the cleaning zone, so had perhaps got trapped somewhere before making it to the collection bin when I thought the clean was finished. However, it’s still almost perfect, and cleared easily with a second pass.

Flour is a tougher customer, and we test with a 50g spillage. Here the Dyson did particularly well, collecting 49g from hard floor and 48g from carpet. Usually we see some dust residue in these tests but I really couldn’t see the missing flour on the floor in either of these tests. I suspect it was probably trapped in nooks and crannies around the vacuum’s various parts, though it’s nothing that wouldn’t get dislodged by fluff if you went on to give a carpet a good clean afterwards.

READ NEXT: The best handheld vacuum cleaners to buy

Dyson Ball Animal Complete review: Should I buy it?

Anyone looking for Dyson vacuuming power in a large house with hairy pets is going to find the consistent, heavy-duty cleaning prowess of the Dyson Ball Animal a real boon. However, it doesn’t come without its caveats.

For starters, the corded approach is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you can plug this vacuum into the wall and it will keep going, with no loss in power or suction, until you turn it off. In larger properties, cleaning with a battery-powered stick vacuum can sometimes feel like a race against time, and particularly if you need to use the vacuum’s maximum suction settings. The downside, of course, is that it’s tethered by its cord, which is a generous 10m in length but will still need moving when you reach its extremities.

It also isn’t quite as easy to convert into a handheld cleaner for smaller and trickier jobs, such as stairs or taking out to the car. The hose has plenty of reach but it’s cumbersome, despite the wealth of attachments. The Ball Animal really is at its best tackling your floor.

For a cordless Dyson alternative, we’d recommend the V15 Detect, which keeps much of the power but is significantly more flexible and easier to use, largely because of its lack of cord. For larger jobs, the Dyson Outsize has a wider floor head and a greater bin capacity.

To get a decent corded upright without paying Dyson prices, consider the Shark DuoClean with Lift-Away NV702UK. This costs £299, so is a fair bit cheaper, and is also good at removing animal hair without getting clogged up.

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