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Dyson vs Henry: Which is better?

A close up of a Dyson V8 power switch next to a close up image of a Numatic Henry vacuum

Dyson and Henry have been battling it out for decades but which British vacuum cleaner is best? We compare two design classics

When you buy your next vacuum cleaner, you can justifiably expect it to last. However, that also means that you’re probably going to have to live with your choice for years to come. With such a long-term investment, you want to make sure that you’re buying the best vacuum for your needs. But how do you choose?

One way is to look at the big brands. Dyson has a huge and deserved reputation in vacuum cleaning, but its cordless sticks can be expensive. Numatic, on the other hand, makes simple but effective corded barrel vacuum cleaners – the affordable powerhouses of the vacuuming industry.

Because Numatic’s classic Henry is an inexpensive vacuum cleaner, we’re comparing it here to Dyson’s most affordable cordless stick, the Dyson V8. To a certain extent, this is comparing apples to oranges but if you’re not sure whether you want a corded or cordless device, it’s a good starting point.

Of course, if you want a cordless vacuum from Numatic or a corded model from Dyson, you can get those too. However, in terms of being both (reasonably) affordable and iconic, a duel between the V8 and the Henry is a real crunch point between the two companies, as their most affordably-priced models go head to head.

READ NEXT: Best cordless vacuum cleaners

Dyson V8 vs Numatic Henry: Price

Let’s start with the question of price because if you’re interested in getting a Numatic Henry you’re probably looking for something affordable. Numatic’s recommended price for a Henry is £160, though it was available for £130 at the time of writing. That puts it firmly into the camp of being one of the most affordable vacuum cleaners you can buy.

Image of a Henry Hoover being leant up against a garden wall

Dyson has never had a reputation for affordability and the cheapest Dyson V8 at the time of writing was £280. That’s more than twice the current price of the Henry model.

Winner: Numatic Henry

There’s no contest here. If you want to spend the least amount of money, we would never point you towards a Dyson, even at its most affordable. However, it’s worth reading on to see whether the benefits of owning a Dyson can make it worth the extra money.

Check price of Henry

Dyson V8 vs Numatic Henry: Cleaning power

When it comes to actually picking dirt up off the floor, both vacuums are masters. However, some differences in the way they clean have an impact on our cleaning tests.

The basic suction floor head that comes with the Numatic Henry offers a lot of suction power but doesn’t agitate the carpet, relying on suction alone to pick up dirt. That’s decent enough on small particles on carpet, but it doesn’t perform particularly well with larger particles (such as Cheerios), which are better tackled by removing the floor head and just pointing the end of the hose at them.

Close up image of the Henry Hoover suction head

The Dyson V8’s Motorbar floor head has a rotating roller that’s lined with bristles. This flicks particles out of carpet and sweeps the hard floor as it sucks. It’s a double-action that offers a better all-round clean than Henry’s basic floor head can manage. It also has gaps at the front that can be opened to let larger particles through, so it’s better with spills like dry Cheerios.

Close up image of the Dyson V8 suction heads

If you have a lot of hard floor, it might be worth opting for the Dyson V8 Absolute. This comes with a bunch of extra attachments and includes a second “Fluffy” floor head. This is specifically designed for hard floors and is excellent at picking up all sorts of mess from dust to larger particles.

Winner: Dyson

While the Numatic Henry is a powerful cleaner, it struggles to beat the versatility of the Dyson V8. Henry’s basic floor head and hose are excellent at sucking up small particles from short pile carpet, but not as good with larger particles or more varied surfaces.

Check price of Dyson V8

Dyson V8 vs Numatic Henry: Convenience

All of Dyson’s cordless stick vacuum cleaners are designed to be ready for action. If you use the included wall mount to store and charge the Dyson V8, it’s ready at a moment’s notice – you just lift the V8 off the wall and hold down the trigger to start cleaning.

Arguably, the Henry is more of a faff. Here you need to remove the vacuum from storage (it’s large and bright red, so will probably be kept in a cupboard), unwind the cord and plug it into a wall socket. A switch on the top of the barrel unit is used to turn it on and off again.

Although the cord is long at 10m and the hose is 2.4m, it’s still not going to get you all around most houses without switching wall sockets. Carrying the Henry around is a two-handed affair, with one hand on the barrel and the other on the hose. The Dyson V8 is easier to carry and quickly breaks down into a handheld device by removing the extension wand.

The Numatic Henry is also less convenient to empty. It uses a bag system, and you have to unclip and remove the lid of the vacuum (Henry’s black bowler hat), then lift the bag out to dispose of it. The Dyson V8 only needs holding over a dustbin and the trap door releasing, so the dirt can drop out into the bin.

Image of the Dyson V8 resting on a sofa next to its accessories

However, while that makes the Dyson a more convenient empty, it doesn’t take two key factors into account. Firstly, the Numatic Henry has an enormous 6l capacity, compared with the 0.54l of the V8. That means you’ll need to empty the Dyson 11 times before you would need to touch the inside of the Henry.

The other factor is that Henry’s bag is neater and less messy to empty than Dyson’s. Lifting a bag full of dust out and dumping it into an outside bin leaves barely a trace of dust behind. Dyson’s, on the other hand, are notorious for leaving a cloud of dust behind when depositing their contents into a household bin.

Winner: Dyson

The ever-ready nature of the Dyson V8 is the real winner here. It’s truly convenient, whether you’re looking to perform a spot clean or cover your whole house. The Numatic Henry misses out because it isn’t cordless and it’s bulkier to carry around.

If you don’t like bagless emptying in Dyson’s cordless sticks, Numatic has a solution in the Henry Quick, which is a cordless stick that uses a bag. It’s not as good a cleaner as the Dyson V8 but its bag keeps the device cleaner and avoids the dust cloud problem.

Check price of Dyson V8

Dyson V8 vs Numatic Henry: Verdict

Overall, the Dyson V8 wins out over the Numatic Henry in most respects. With a Dyson, you’ll spend less time cleaning simply because it’s quicker to get started and finish with the device, especially if you’ve gone to the trouble of wall mounting it. It charges while you rest and is relatively straightforward to empty and maintain.

However, if price is your primary motivator, then the Numatic Henry is affordable to buy and run. It’s also easily fixable if things go wrong. Dysons are more expensive, and even the V8, the most affordable cordless stick in the range, is significantly more expensive than rivals such as Henry. If you have the budget, though, opt for a Dyson.

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