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Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet review: Transforming upright vacuum

Richard Easton
13 May 2016
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Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet lead
Our Rating 
Price when reviewed 
120
inc VAT (as of 13th of May)

The Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet is an incredibly versatile upright vacuum and great value

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Specifications

Dimensions (HxWxD): 1,120x300x240mm, Weight: 6.2kg, Bin capacity: 1.5l, Vacuum Type: Upright, Bagless?: Yes, Vacuum power - stated (W): 800w

Upright vacuums certainly have their benefits. They’re typically more nimble than their cylinder-based cousins and also take up considerably less space when in storage. But on the other hand, they also have their limitations where it comes to vacuuming anything that isn’t at floor-level. In that regard, the Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet is almost the best of both worlds through a clever transformation.

Design

In its standard guise, it’s as conventional an upright as you’re going to see. The Air Lift measures 1.1m in height with a handle at the top to manoeuvre it around, the head pivots and tilts allowing you to get around corners easily but vacuuming under low objects can be a little tricky as the brush head doesn’t extend very far forwards, meaning the cylinder quickly obstructs how far under your furniture you can reach.

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That’s where the Air Lift’s stretch hose will come in handy. You can detach it from the main brush head and attach one of the accessories, such as the crevice tool, to reach otherwise unreachable areas. The extendable hose stretches about 1.5m. The release is located at about ankle-height on the main unit, meaning transitioning isn’t the most seamless and you’ll have to bend down to unclip it. Additionally, the handle grip can also be detached from the upright unit and reattached to the hose to provide a better grip and additional, extendible, reach. 

Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet hose

Not enough reach still? Then remove the cylinder altogether to use as a corded handheld vacuum cleaner. Trying to hold the cylinder in one hand and the hose in the other can be a little tricky, especially as the cylinder isn’t light. It’s fine for quickly cleaning areas such as ceilings or staircases, however, and helps to make the Air Lift far more versatile. Changing between vacuuming modes can be a little fiddly - with all manner of clips and buttons - but once you get the hang of them, the additional modes are very welcome.

Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet handheld

The Air Lift Steerable Pet includes a 3-in-1 tool, which has a brush, crevice and upholstery head. Conveniently, this clips to the side of the Air Lift when not in use, meaning it’s easily accessible. A Turbo Tool is also included, which is a bear-claw like head designed for getting-up more heavily embedded mess such as pet hair. The rubbery claws do well at digging into upholstery to release stubborn dirt.

As the Air Lift isn’t cordless, you do have to contend with the power cable. This measures 10m, so it at least gives you plenty of reach before you have to find another outlet. Disappointingly, there’s no automatic cord rewinder. Instead, you have to manually wind the cable around hooks on the side of the cylinder, which is time-consuming and not particularly elegant. In use, there’s at least a small clip near where you grip the handle in order to get the cable out of your way.

Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet cord

Bin emptying

Emptying the bin is a simple affair. You just lift the cylinder out and then release a clip on the bottom of the bin, which then pops open dropping out the contents of the bin. However, if you happen to pick up a lot of fibre or meshed together hair, you might find these get stuck down the sides and trapped against the filter. I had to manually pluck a lot out, which became a messy affair.

Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet bin

In fairness, doing so isn’t too difficult as the bin disassembles easily, giving you access to the separator and filters. The pre-motor filter can be washed while the post-motor filter should be replaced when it becomes heavily discoloured. A filter kit including both is available for £20 direct from Vax. The bin has a 1.5l capacity, which isn't as large as other (non-detachable) uprights, but as you're meant to be able to also carry the cylinder you probably don't want it to be too large.

Performance

The Air Lift uses multi-cyclonic technology, which ensures there’s no loss of suction regardless of the contents of the bin. Using our suction meter, I found that the Air Lift had 19.5kPa of suction when empty and indeed this was maintained when the bin was at capacity. It’s not the highest score we’ve seen, especially from a corded vacuum but, in testing, it proved more than adequate.

You’re able to toggle on the revolving brush head depending on the surface you’re cleaning. It should be off for hard surfaces and on for carpet. There’s also a sliding mechanism on the head that opens an air vent to reduce the suction when used on high piled carpets. With the brush head engaged and the air vent cover closed, carpet cleaning was excellent, picking up all manner of spills without a problem.

Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet brush head

Particularly pleasing was the fact that our cat litter spill wasn’t sprayed in every direction. With large particle spills, such as cat litter, you’ll want to make sure the air vent is closed, however, as with it open they can and will escape back out. Hard surface cleaning was likewise excellent, with our fine powder spill left practically spotless after just one pass, as usual, some was left down the cracks, but a quick pass with the brush tool cleared this up. Used in conjunction with the included accessories, cleaning bookshelves and ceilings was also easy thanks to the extendable hose.

Conclusion

The Vax Air Lift Steerable Pet might not be the most attractive, nor elegant, vacuum cleaner out there but it’s incredibly versatile and great value for money, too. Ideally, it would be a little lighter, as at 6.2kg you do get a bit of a workout in use and I would argue it's not quite as steerable as its name suggests, but its performance was excellent and you also get Vax’s six-year guarantee with it, so it gets our Recommended award.

Hardware
Dimensions (HxWxD)1,120x300x240mm
Weight6.2kg
Noise - Stated85dB
Cable length10m
Maximum reach12m
Bin capacity1.5l
Vacuum TypeUpright
Bagless?Yes
Floor typesCarpet, hard floors, upholstery
Telescopic tube?Yes
Auto Cord Rewinder?No
AccessoriesTurbo tool, 3-in-1 tool (crevice, brush, upholstery)
Power and capacity
Vacuum power - stated (W)800w
Suction - empty (kPa)19.5
Suction - half full (kPa)19.5
Suction - full (kPa)19.5
Buying information
WarrantySix year RTB
Detailswww.vax.co.uk

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