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Henry hoover names explained

henry hoover in living room background

Confused by the friendly-looking vacuum range? Here’s how to tell one family member from another

Henry is a fixture of homes and offices nationwide. Designed and built in Britain, the quirky vacuums have a reputation for ease of use, effectiveness and durability, with many still going strong after decades of faithful sweeping. That’s no surprise: according to manufacturer Numatic, every Henry is “designed, tested and engineered to last a whopping 25 years”.

First introduced more than four decades ago, the range has evolved considerably, and although the distinctive red Henry is perhaps the most recognisable member of the expanding family, he’s far from the only option. With varying collection chamber sizes, attachments, motors and tool sets, it’s not always obvious which is the best for your needs.

So, if you’re in the market for a new cleaner and you’re tempted by Henry or one of his siblings, read on, as we pick out the key differences and help you choose the best Henry vacuum for your home.

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Why do Henry vacuums have names?

It started as a joke at a trade show in Lisbon. Henry’s inventor, Chris Duncan, and one of his salesmen dressed up a vacuum on their stand and, according to an interview in The Guardian, “found some chalk and drew a crude smile under the hose outlet, which suddenly looked like a nose, then some eyes. Searching for a nickname that felt suitably British, they settled on Henry.” The decorated vacuum was so popular that the company went on to design a proper face for machines to be sold to the public.

What other names have there been?

You can’t deny there’s a bit of a royal theme running through some of the current names, with Henry, Charles, George and James all having ruled the land at one time or another. (Hetty is a shortened Henrietta, the female equivalent of Henry.)

In years gone by, there have also been a William and a David (also kings), a Bertie (Queen Victoria’s husband) and a Jack, which might not sound very regal, but is short for James. Wendy and Basil would appear to be the odd names out.

Where is Henry made?

Henry is manufactured by Numatic International at a factory in the town of Chard, in Somerset. The company was founded in Crewkerne in 1969, and initially employed just six people who made the first vacuums using oil drums and washing-up bowls. You can still see evidence of this in Henry’s drum-like body and plastic hat. Numatic moved several times over the years, eventually arriving in Chard in 1990.

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How to choose the right Henry vacuum for you

1. Henry: The compact, flexible choice

Price: £160 | Buy now from Amazon

Probably the best-known member of the family, Henry has a six-litre capacity and 620W motor. It has a 10m cable that’s stored in the domed cap and winds away manually, so it won’t snap back when released or fight against you as you move about the house. It also ships with a flexible hose and three-part rigid wand, which means you can get a long way from the socket before you need to unplug and move to another outlet.

Two of the wand parts are straight, but the third has an offset curve and can be attached with the curve towards or away from the Henry body, effectively adjusting the hand-to-floor drop to cater for users of different heights. The wand fits the bundled nozzle, brush, crevice tool and floor tool, the latter of which has a foot-operated switch for carpeted or hard surfaces. Although traditionally red, Henry is also available in blue or green.

Read our full Henry review for more details

2. Henry Pet: The Henry for cat and dog owners

Price: £219 | Buy now from Amazon

Henry Pet has the same 10m cable and 620W motor as the regular Henry, but an increased drum capacity of nine litres compared to the standard Henry, and an additional tool, the EcoBrush, to deal with stubborn pet hairs that can attach themselves to carpets and upholstery. It also has a charcoal-activated filter to reduce odours that may otherwise hang around when air is expelled as part of the regular vacuuming process.

As with the regular Henry, the bundle includes a three-part wand, brush tool, floor tool and crevice tool for directing airflow into tight corners. Henry Pet is also sold as a Harry.

3. Henry XL Plus: The larger, more versatile Henry

Price: £139 | Buy now from Numatic

Henry XL Plus isn’t only big, as its name suggests, it’s also versatile. While it shares a 620W motor with the smaller model, its 15-litre capacity is almost three times that of the regular Henry and, at 12.5m, its cable is 25% longer, allowing you to get even further from the socket before needing to unplug.

It comes with a versatile set of tools, including the combi floor tool, with its switch for hard or carpeted surfaces, and a specialist AiroBrush 140 tool for improved pick-up on a wide variety of floor types. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the Flexi Crevice Tool, which bends when pressed against hard surfaces to simplify the task of reaching otherwise obscured corners. No wonder Numatic bills this as “your ultimate right-hand man for DIY clean-ups, in-car cleans, cleaning out the garage and more”.

4. Henry Quick: The stick-based Henry

Price: £299 | Buy now from Amazon

Henry Quick is one of the new breed of stick-based vacuums, with a one-litre chamber at the handle end, and a detachable wand that should be long enough for most users to reach the floor without bending down. Dust is collected in a Henry Pod rather than a traditional bag, with 26 pods included with your purchase. These are made from 65% recycled material and pop out when full for dust-free changing.

It’s battery powered, so cable length is no issue, and manufacturer Numatic claims a 70-minute runtime on low power and 16 minutes on high power; results that are a whisker away from what we recorded in our testing. The battery recharges to 100% in a claimed 150 minutes.

Henry Quick is available in graphite, pink, and traditional Henry red, and comes with a wall dock for storage when not in use.

Read our full Henry Quick review for more details

5. Henry Xtra: The higher-capacity Henry

Price: £180 | Buy now from Amazon

Henry Xtra costs around £20 more than the regular Henry (at list prices). For that, you get the same 620W motor but a 50% larger collection chamber (at nine litres), and two extra heads: the Hard Floor Tool and the AiroBrush Tool. The Hard Floor tool’s primary use is obvious from its name: in Numatic’s words, it’s “specially designed to provide peak suction performance on laminate, tiles and wood”. In this respect, it’s the perfect complement to the AiroBrush, with its focus on lifting dirt, dust and hairs from carpets.

6. Henry Allergy: The fine filtered Henry

Price: £266 | Buy now from Amazon

With a three-stage HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter capable of capturing particles up to 800 times smaller than the width of a human hair, Henry Allergy has been awarded the British Allergy Foundation’s seal of approval. Manufacturer Numatic claims it reduces exposure to allergens and provides relief from pet allergies, making it a versatile, flexible option for users who might otherwise turn to the Henry Pet.

As with other “regular” Henry vacuums, it has a 10m cable and six-litre dust collection chamber, and it also benefits from an additional tool, the FreeFlo, for more thorough pick-up, which isn’t included with the vanilla vacuum.

7. Henry Eco: It’s Henry, but cheaper to run

Price: £170 | Buy now from Numatic

It looks like a regular Henry, but the Eco variant is packed in 80% recycled materials and uses 30% less energy, courtesy of a 420W-rated motor, which undercuts Henry’s motor by 200W. This should be particularly appealing at a time of rising energy costs.

It has the same six-litre chamber and 10m cable as Henry, but supplements the four-part tool set with an additional head, the EcoBrush, which has an internal brush that spins under the suction from the vacuum to beat the carpet, potentially pulling more dust, dirt and hairs out of the weave.

8. Henry Wash: The cleaner and vacuum in one 

Price: £199 | Buy now from Amazon

The 15-litre chamber in Henry Wash matches that of Henry XL Plus. But where Henry XL Plus is good for sucking up dust and other dry dirt, Henry Wash goes one step further. It has a built-in water and detergent tank, from which it pumps liquid onto the surface to be cleaned, before recovering it – along with the dirt it has captured – using a powerful 1,000W motor.

It has heads for both carpets and hard floors, and can also be used to clean upholstery. Once you’ve finished cleaning, you can remove the domed top and pour the dirty water away, before flushing through the wand and head.

9. Hetty and Hetty Yellow: Henry by another name

Price: £179 | Buy now from Amazon

Colour and eyelashes aside, Hetty and Hetty Yellow are identical to the regular Henry. As such, they have a 620W motor, six-litre collection chamber, 10m cord and the same range of tools. At the time of writing, Henry is on offer at £119, but Hetty and Hetty Yellow cost £179.

Read our full Henry review for more details

10. James: The lighter option

Price: £130 | Buy now from Amazon

At 6kg, James is 20% lighter than Henry, making it easier to transport, yet it has a dust chamber which, at eight litres, is a third larger than Henry’s. Otherwise, the two have much in common, with the same 620W motor and tool set.

One minor difference concerns the cable storage reel, which is enclosed in the Henry but exposed on James, which may explain how James is able to stray just a tiny bit further from the plug for a slightly wider cleaning range.

11. George: The best of all worlds

Price: £248 | Buy now from Amazon

Tall, versatile George features the best parts of several of its siblings. It has a 15-litre chamber like Henry XL Plus, the same liquid-handling features as the Henry Wash, and the 1,060W motor also found in Charles (see below). It can shampoo your carpets, valet the car and unblock the sink, and it’s the first of these – shampooing and valet – that stands it apart from Charles.

While Charles can clean up spills, it isn’t designed for pumping out a cleaning solution, as George has been. At more than 14.5kg, George is almost twice the weight of Henry, and close to a third more than Henry XL Plus, but it’s a very versatile machine that does far more than just vacuum.

Read our full George review for more details

12. Charles: The high-capacity spill cleaner

Price: £215 | Buy now from Amazon

Charles is billed as being built for the tough stuff. It shares George’s 1,060W motor and can mop up spills, but isn’t built as a detergent and water product that can refresh your upholstery. Being able to handle liquids does, however, mean that Charles can be used to unbung blocked-up sinks just as easily as it can to dry damp floors, the latter courtesy of a dedicated wet floor tool that supplements the regular toolset that comes bundled with Henry.

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