Oreck Vacuum Buyer's Guide

Published: 04th June 2008
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The goal of this article is to cut through the confusing "sales pitches" to give you an honest, no-nonsense, pitch-free examination of the Oreck upright 8lb vacuums, to help you choose the right vacuum cleaner for your needs.



There are four different models that vary greatly in price and features. All of this can get confusing when the only person you can talk to is a commission salesman who wants to sell you the most expensive product. So let's cut through that and get to the facts:



THE OVERALL DESIGN



All of the upright Oreck vacuums weigh within one pound of each other (8lb or 9lbs). The genius of having such a light vacuum is obvious, but what makes them so special is that there are so few parts to an Oreck. I have serviced nearly every make and model and most of them don't last because they have more than one hundred little parts, all made of cheap materials. The Oreck Vacuum has less than 30 parts in all. They are made of the same plastic materials that other vacuums are made of, but put simply, they have less parts to break, so they do last longer. This is not to say the Oreck product line is not without its flaws. We will cover those in detail later on.



BAGLESS VS BAG SYSTEM



The bagless vacuum is the latest fad in the vacuum industry. But it is a fad that is dying as quick as it started, because the bagless vacuums require you to handle all of the dust and muck that you collected in your vacuum bags. Cleaning out the dust and grime is no fun. The Oreck vacuum bag system is great because when you go to remove the bag it seals itself off. I will warn you however, that the bags are not cheap. A pack of eight bags is over $20, but they are very big bags that last a long time and that pack of eight will last a small family around a year. So all in all, it is worth it, not to have all of the dust mites you collect re-exposed to the air, each time you have to clean out the bagless canister.



THE WATTAGE/VOLTAGE GAME



Many vacuum manufacturers try to hype the power of their vacuums by displaying how much wattage they use. This is merely a ploy by the vacuum industry and has nothing to do with a vacuum's performance. So many companies will purposefully up the wattage that a vacuum motor takes from the wall, just to make theirs seem more powerful. The problem with that is the extra energy just gets trapped in the motor, makes it run too hot and burns out motors fast. David Oreck was wise in avoiding this sales trap. David Oreck's vacuums are actually more energy efficient because of Oreck's decision not to worry about wattage. In fact, Mr. Oreck 's most powerful motor takes less watts to run than his smaller motor.



WHAT ARE THE TANGIBLE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE ORECK XL MODELS?



The four Oreck upright vacuums are as follows:



ONE SPEED MODELS:

CLASSIC Model - Sells for $299

DELUXE Model - Sells for $399

TWO SPEED MODELS:

ULTRA Model - Sells for $549

XL21 (Also sometimes called the Titanium Series) - Sells for $749



TWO SPEED VS ONE SPEED



Let me start off my dispelling a myth. There is functionally NO REAL DIFFERENCE between having one speed or two speeds on your Oreck Vacuum. I don't care what they tell you, I have used both types on all surfaces and the speeds don't make a lick of difference! None of the Oreck vacuums adjust for different carpet types, but unless you have the really long shag style of carpet you don't need adjustments to your vacuum. They are merely extra parts that will break in time.



COMPARING THE THREE ORECK SWEEPERS WITH THE SAME MOTOR



Let me also reveal something they won't tell you: The Classic, Deluxe, and Ultra models all use THE EXACT SAME MOTOR! Only the XL21 uses a different motor. So let's first focus on the three models that use the same motor.



The three Oreck vacuums that use the "armatek 3-in-1" motor range in price from $299-$549! So surely there are differences, right? Well, yes and no. There are differences, but when you compare them to the prices, you have to assess whether the differences are worth the extra money.



Since they use the same motor and the speeds don't matter, you might be tempted just to buy the cheapest model. I would advise against that in this case. The reason is simple, THERE IS NO FILTRATION ON THE CLASSIC MODEL. This is important. With no filtration, you'll get some nasty odors when you vacuum and the vacuum won't trap the dust mites and bacteria. Plus, the handle on the classic model isn't very comfortable. So for the $100 difference, it is worth moving up to the Deluxe model.



The differences between the Deluxe and Ultra model aren't worth the extra investment. Yes, you get a 10 year warranty. The tune-ups are really a waste of time. They change a few seals, put a new belt on and polish the armature of the motor, but nothing all that important. However, the Oreck vacuum like all vacuums will break. So if warranty is important to you (and it should be, since Oreck does stand behind it's vacuums), then read the next section comparing the Deluxe to the XL21.



THE XL21...IS IT REALLY WORTH $750???



Functionally and value for the dollar, we've already established that the Deluxe model is the best model to go with between the lower three vacuums, if money is your greatest concern in buying an Oreck. So is the XL21 really worth the extra cost?? Well, let me tell you the differences between the models and you can decide; based on your needs and your pocketbook.



Oreck came out with his first vacuum over 40 years ago. It is the same design that he has been using all these years. The three models we previously discussed all use the same basic design. The XL21 is the first major redesign in over 40 years. So, what did they redesign:



1) The original (or let's call it the deluxe) model of Oreck vacuum has a metal tube running from the base to the handle. These handles break over time. They keep a good supply on hand in the back, because they know they will have to repair them pretty often. The new XL21 has a redesigned round tube that doesn't break.



2) The Deluxe model uses the standard motor. The XL21 uses a new motor that is far more powerful. The XL21 also has a larger fan and intake tube. So it sucks with far more power. Plus, the new motor is more energy efficient, so it takes less money to run.



3) The rollerbrush on the XL21 is also redesigned with shorter and firmer bristles. This makes the XL21 MORE EFFICIENT IN PICKING UP PET HAIR!



4) All of these improvements add up to the biggest improvement: self-propelling. The XL21 is a self-propelled model. Vacuums that have self-propelling all have a second motor in them to propel them. That causes them to be around 30lbs. The XL21 mimics the same propelling by utilizing the more powerful motor and firmer roller brush. I actually like the way Oreck's "self-assisting" feature works, compared to the actual self-propelling vacuums, because the self-assisting feel doesn't fight you like the other vacuums do. However, to maintain the self-assistance of the Oreck XL21, you need to keep a tight, fresh belt on your vacuum, which means you should change the belt on it every six months. This sounds expensive and difficult, but actually, the XL21 comes with 21 annual tune-ups. So they change the belt on the vacuum once a year and they are supposed to put a new belt on the bottom holder for you to change out the other six month period.



SUMMARY



The Deluxe model has a five year warranty and costs $400. So roughly, you are paying $80 per year for vacuuming peace. The XL21 costs $750 for 21 years of warranty and service. So that is only $35 per year. No vacuum will last 21 years and the motors on these vacuums certainly wont last that long. But I can tell you from personal experience, Oreck DOES back up its warranties. The local stores have no problem putting new parts on your warranted vacuums because they get fully reimbursed by the Corporation. So if you can afford the initial investment, I do believe that in the long run, you are saving money by buying a vacuum that also performs much better. But not everyone can afford that much for a vacuum, I know I can't, so if the XL21 is out of your budget, then the Deluxe model is the best value for the price.



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Matthew Freeman is a former store manager of an Oreck Vacuum Home Care Center. He recommends the following resources: Edenpure Heaters and Tooth Whitening.


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