What is the Vax Air Cordless U86-AL-B?
Review Price: £250
The Vax Cordless Air U86-AL-B is a near full-size cordless vacuum cleaner promising the suction, run-time and cleaning power of a corded cleaner. This bagless upright comes with two high capacity ‘LithiumLife’ batteries and a separate battery-docking charger. It offers multi-floor cleaning of various pile carpets and, at the touch of a button to turn the brush bar off, cleaning of hard floors
The cleaning head itself boasts Vax’s WindTunnel technology that is claimed to lift deep down dirt. For detail dusting and above floor cleaning, the integrated hose and wand comes with a 2-in-1 dusting brush and a crevice tool, one of which can be stored on the body of the cleaner. The bin, although compact, is easy to unclip and empty, and the dust filter is washable to keep down running costs. The cleaner and batteries come with a class-leading six-year guarantee.
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Vax Air Cordless U86-AL-B: What accessories do you get?
Alongside the 2-in-1 crevice/brush tool and softer dusting brush, the handle removes from the cleaner, clips to the hose and becomes the cleaning wand. The hose is fairly short so the reach is rather limited, however.
Key to the Vax Air Cordless’ flexibility is its battery system and charging dock. You get two large Lithium battery packs that take around three hours to charge fully. Each promises some 25 minutes run time with LED charge indicators on each battery.
The charger itself is more like a power tool charger in that it offers a dock for the battery and can be placed anywhere convenient. Other cordless cleaners charge the cleaner itself, meaning their charging gubbins needs to be close to where you store the cleaner.
We really like the Vax’s removable battery system as it also allows you to charge up one battery while you are cleaning using with the other. With the brush bar running and cleaning heavy-pile carpets we got over 26 minutes cleaning out of each battery.
That compares very well with rivals – the Dyson DC59 runs for 20 minutes and while the Bosch Athlet can last up to 90 minutes, that’s only at its lowest power setting. A total of 50 minutes from the two batteries is plenty to get round most homes.
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Vax Air Cordless U86-AL-B: Carpet and Hard Floor Cleaning
The Vax Air Cordless U86-AL-B is a little smaller than a normal upright cleaner and, tipping our scales at just 4.6kg, it’s lighter than most corded models too. That said it’s not quite as light as the Dyson DC59 (2kg), Bosch Athlet (3.3kg) or Gtech AirRam (3.5kg).
The cleaner is very well balanced around the pivoting head, making it a dream to push around. It is incredibly manoeuvrable too, with the head tracking around obstacles with a flick of the wrist.
It has just one setting for power and that gives good carpet cleaning with an effective brush bar and solid amount of suction. OK, it’s not going to compete with kilowatt plus corded models, but it does well and is more than a match for budget mains powered cleaners. It is equally effective on carpet piles from ultra-short weave nylon tiles to deep bedroom carpets and never felt inclined to stick down to the floor through suction.
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Our before and after carpet test shows a clear line of leftover powder along the skirting board
The only failing here is that the Vax Air Cordless U86 struggles to clean right up to the edge – as shown above. Here the likes of the Bosch Athlet and Dyson DC59 perform better. You can, of course, zip round with the crevice tool, but we’d sooner not have to.
Turn off the brush bar by the switch on the handle and the Air Cordless does a fine job with hard floors. Its four free-rolling wheels make it even more manoeuvrable on parquet or laminates. Its soft pad and nylon bristles ensure effective cleaning without scratching the surface. Using the hose on curtains and upholstery produced good cleaning results, but without variable power lighter materials will get sucked to the cleaning tool.
Clearly Vax has designed this model to be a proper alternative to a corded cleaner, not just a ‘second’ cleaner for lighter duties, and it sounds like that too. Creating around 87dB of noise at head height above the cleaner when vacuuming carpets, the running noise is very similar to many corded models too. It’s noticeably louder than the Bosch Athlet, though, which measured just 75dB in the same test.