Review: Blitzwolf BW-AR182 2-in-1 Cordless Handheld Vacuum Cleaner
Yes, it's true. Steve Litchfield is now reviewing vacuum cleaners! Well, not generally. But this is something special - a tech/gadget company has branched out to create a flexible rechargeable handheld vacuum. And, spoiler alert, it works extremely well, with just a few caveats along the way.
First up, the price - currently £68 plus a fiver shipping to the EU. I do like to play the price guessing game when kit comes in for review, i.e. I guess the price before looking it up and then see how far 'off' I was. In the case of the Blitzwolf BW-AR182 I guessed £90 and the actual price shows the value for money.
Arriving partially disassembled to get it all in the box, the AR182 is a doddle to snap together.
Essentially you either use it with or without the aluminium tube extension, depending on whether you're working at floor level or not. Either way, you get to choose between a powered rotating-brush cleaner head, a simple brushed upholstery tool or a crevice tool.
Most of the gadget is heavy duty plastic, but the extension has to be metal in order to be strong enough to withstand pressure in every day use and to carry power down from the handheld unit to the brush section - you can see little metal contacts if you look within the plastic connectors.
The motor and collection unit is well balanced and is used 'gun style', with a trigger to turn it all on - and off - again. ducts and a grille on the top show the air entry and exit points - the former is in addition to the main suction point, of course, but you have to have some bypass for when the vacuum point is temporarily blocked, I guess, otherwise the motor would burn out!
The battery clips in the bottom of the main unit and has LEDs to indicate charge, placed so that you can see these at a glance, as shown above. All very well designed.
In testing, I hoovered my entire house. Top to bottom, all carpets, all room wall corners. ("About blooming time!" says the wife!) About 70% using the floor brushes, 30% using the crevice tool. After which the LEDs hadn't dropped in their display but the dust collection bin was full:
Which tells us that either a) I'd been lax in previous cleaning or b) this Blitzwolf cleaner was getting dust up more efficiently than my old mains-powered cleaner. A bit of both, but I was enormously impressed by how the swivel head system for the brush unit allowed me to get into odd corners and how the rotating brushes picked up dirt ahead of the vacuum itself.
The photo above also tells us that after any serious bit of vacuuming you'll need to empty the 'dust cup'. Happily, this is quite easy, with a simple plastic clip immediately releasing its contents:
Into a bin, of course! I did find that fluff collects quickly around the internal metal cylindrical filter and in addition to letting the main contents fall, I had to poke the fluff off with a pencil or (shudder) finger. Not a huge inconvenience, but worth noting.
There's also a HEMA air filter, shown above, which is accessed by detaching the whole dust cap and which you're supposed to wash and dry every once in a while. All very accessible.
The specifications quote 35 minutes working time at 'low speed', the default, and 20 minutes at 'high speed' - there's a toggle button on the back of the main unit. Vacuuming my house took about 15 minutes of actual powered work at 'low speed', so I believe the quoted figures.
Recharging the 2200mAh (at 22V!) battery is quoted at 5 hours from the 26V/500mA charger, but it's irrelevant, since vacuuming is something that you'll surely only do a few times a week at most?
As to why not use 'high speed' all the time, it's about noise, as well as the power drain. The Blitzwolf BW-AR182 is surprisingly quite, just a moderate whir by default, and you can hold a conversation easily over it. Which is a pleasant change for a vacuum. Working at 'high speed', the volume and pitch of the motor rise significantly and you have to shout! In normal use, I'd expect most things to use 'low speed' and then you just kick in the extra power if you need it for something heavily soiled.
Aside from the caveat of having to empty the AR182 after any serious session, there's also the very flimsy rack, designed to clip onto the extension in order to hold the crevice and upholstery tools. This snapped clean off on the very first use, so best avoid this - just keep the unit and all its bits and pieces in the original box (minus the plastic and polystyrene packaging), I suggest.
The mains plug is also European, meaning that I had to find my own Euro-to-UK converter. Just points worth noting.
It's worth browsing the original product page here to see a number of other promo photos, to show all the ways the vacuum can be used. This may sound a little effusive, but my house has never been as clean, since I was able to get into high corners and awkward spots that I simply avoid with my big mains-powered cleaner because 'it's too difficult'.
True, you probably wouldn't want to clean large rooms every week with this, since the floor head is smaller than for a typical mains cleaner, but the AR182 is downright perfect for flats, for anything tricky, for cars and caravans and summer houses. And it's freeingly fun to use, with no power cords always retracting and getting in the way!
Highly recommended. It's a geek's vacuum cleaner and I love it to bits.