Smaller, lighter, quieter and comfortably under the new EU maximum power limit, Dyson puts its Ball cleaner concept on a diet. And this is no fad. The future is under 900W, so can a trimmer Dyson show the way forward in the new eco-vacuum world?
Of course. This entry-level Light Ball model offers plenty of suction power, superb engineering and great features. Okay, we missed the high power wattage a little, but not enough to want to turn back the clock to less eco times. The Light Ball Multi Floor is all-Dyson – and at a very appealing price too.
Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor – Design and features
Despite looking like a mini-me of the old Big Ball upright, Dyson’s Light Ball is all-new. This eco and weight-trimmed upright vacuum cleaner complies with the EU’s new sub-900W power limit for vacuum cleaners. It better be good – or we’ll have to protest by leaving the EU. Oh, hang on…
In fact, Dyson’s cleaners have never been mains power-hungry monsters. They’ve often consumed much less energy than rivals anyway. With a 900W power limit to with which to comply, you might think an 899W motor would be the way forward. Not so – the Light Ball has a 700W motor and an annual estimated consumption of just 28kWh. That’s a solid A-rating for efficiency and less than a fiver of electricity per year.
At its heart is Dyson’s proven Radial Root Cyclone bagless technology. Multiple cyclones claim to optimise airflow and capture dust and allergens in the bin, rather than jettisoning them into your room. This eases the strain on the cleaner’s filter system, allowing Dyson to fit just two washable lifetime filters. That is top-spec, A-rated dust emission.
One of the filters is housed in the middle of the Root Cyclone gubbins at the top of the bin. This is much like the main filter on the V-series cordless models, only bigger. The second filter is hidden in one half of the ball. Unscrew the purple plastic ‘nut’ at the wheel hub, remove a half-wheel and rotate the filter to remove. We struggled with this, though.
The indents on the purple nut were just too small for my fingers, which made things a little awkward. Removing the filter itself also proved a challenge. It’s sealed on tight and there’s nothing to grip onto. We suspect this will loosen a little when it’s been off and washed a few times, however.
Removing the bin from the cleaner is via a simple button press. Emptying then involves pushing the same button again to release the flap at the bottom of the bin. This has a chunky rubber seal and is an unusual shape to accommodate some pipework near the ball. The upshot being that the flap needed a little extra help to pull open. This isn’t onerous, but these are unusual design hiccups for Dyson.
As an addendum to that comment, however: a fortnight of use later, we enlisted our resident Octogenarian tester for her opinion on the Light Ball. She loved it; the bin flap opened cleanly for her every time and she had no problem getting the filter off.
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The easy-to-steer ball technology and instant-release wand with ridiculously stretchy hose are great. Add in the superbly lengthy 9.4m power cord and this Dyson offers outstanding cleaning reach. All the tools easily clip securely on and off and you even get a little on-board storage lug. Okay, so you can only store one tool here – but it’s still quite handy.
The floor head is a completely new design for the Light Ball. It uses a noticeably bigger brush-bar roller than previous generations, but is just as easy to remove for cleaning. Simply rotate the end cap and it slides out of the head. A switch on the front offers control over three suction levels.
At its lowest setting, some of the airflow can escape through the top vents, which will stop the head sticking down on deep carpets. The mid-setting sees the vents closed, but little plastic lugs on the floor plate withdraw into the head to reduce stick-down. Max mode has the vents closed and the lugs in place to concentrate all suction power on the floor.
Controls are simple: one button for on/off and one to start/stop the brush bar. The motor itself is claimed to be 40% quieter than previous Dyson models. In use, it certainly is: we measured just 65-66dB vacuuming over carpet. That’s blissfully quiet. Yet the energy label states 80dB. Hmmm.
It took us a while to figure out, but the energy label states the absolute peak noise irrespective of the circumstance. Sure enough, if you power up the Light Ball with the wand removed from the body, and don’t have any tools attached, the super-high airflow howls into the open tube at about 80dB. Stick on a tool and use the cleaner as it’s meant to be used and the Light Ball is a very quiet cleaner indeed.
Despite this model not looking too much smaller than other Dyson models, it weighs far less. Under 7kg, in fact. In addition, the mass is low down in the ball, so it balances easily in the hand while carrying.
One last thing to receive a trim is the price. Currently under £200, the Light Ball Multi Floor is one of Dyson’s most affordable cleaners.
Dyson Light Ball multi Floor – Accessories
The Light Ball aims to be all things to all cleaning duties. It combines the floor-cleaning gumption of an upright with the spot- and detail-cleaning flexibility of a cylinder. Simply pull the wand from the rear of the handle, attach the tool and off you go.
There’s no shortage of reach, either. The wand is 90cm and the hose stretches 3m from the cleaner. Add on a tool and the reach is a genuine 4m – or over 12 feet in old money. Remarkably, the hose coils itself back to its shortest length with ease and the wand slides inside the hose before clipping back to cleaner.
Dyson engineers must have something of a personal issue with crevices. The Light Ball comes with three individual tools for getting into nooks, crannies and other awkward spots. The main crevice tool is ported from other models in the range, is suitably long and has a slide-down soft dusting brush.
The second crevice tool is longer still and has a rubber section that telescopes out. This section is flexible, allowing you to bend the tool around corners and under low objects. Two smaller tools are for use on the end of this part. A small dusting brush is ideal for delicate jobs, and you get an obscure-looking flat tool with suction nozzles all over it.
With its rows of soft bristles to protect walls and furniture, this is a tool purpose-built for cobweb busting down the backs of radiators, behind fridges and under very low obstacles. Brushes on only one side mean you have to orientate the tool before going in, but it worked a treat. Dyson’s standard upholstery brush is also part of the package and it too has impressed us on other models.
All of the clips and attachments are faultless, securing with ease. They feel like they’ll last several lifetimes, despite being largely made of plastic. We opted for the upholstery tool on the storage lug. The combined crevice/dusting brush may work better for homes where pets don’t leap on the sofa as soon as your back is turned.
With no bags and washable lifetime filters, that’s it for accessories. Your only running costs will be electricity – and it doesn’t use much of that.
Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor – How does it clean carpets and hard floors?
The reality of reducing motor power can’t be overcome by good airflow design alone – although Dyson gives it a damn good try. The Light Ball uses close to half the power of Dyson’s Big Ball Cinetic (700W power consumption compared to 1300W) yet gives away only 25% in suction power. It offers 90AW compared to the Cinetic’s 120AW. Impressive indeed.
Both suction and the level of airflow are very good. That translates directly into excellent cleaning on both floor types and when using the tools.
On hard floors, the ball steering is precise and the machine never skids or slides. It does take a fair bit of force to tilt the cleaner into a turn – a little more so than Dyson’s own V-series, for example – yet not onerously so.
Our spilt oats test on riven tiles was passed with impeccable precision. Using the max power setting, the oats were 100% dispatched on the first forward pass. No grains or dust were left behind on the backstroke. The high airflow and gentle brush-bar bristles made hard floor cleaning very effective. A perfect result.
Onto carpet and the ‘+’ symbol max power mode on the floor head meant moving the head was a bit sticky. Only a little, though, and we didn’t have any real issues using extra elbow grease to get it moving. Realistically, you might want to use the mid-setting for an easier run of cleaning duties.
On the max power mode, the main carpet test produced good, if interesting, results. General removal of our talc, baking powder and carpet freshening powder mix was very good in just a single pass. Most impressive was the 100% edge cleaning result. The Light Ball sucked the powder mix clean out of the deep groove where the carpet goes over the gripper and under the skirting.
Yet getting down close and personal with the carpet pile revealed some heavier grains of powder left behind. Not at the edge, where you might expect, but the few inches into the room. Odd. Much crawling around examining the floor head in action ensued.
It seemed that the ‘seal’ around the base plate of the head was channelling much of the airflow to its only unsealed area. That was the dip at the edge of the carpet. It only happened here and out in the room with no skirting dip, heavy particle pick-up was much better.
We repeated the carpet test with the head set to its mid-setting, which reduces the seal of the floor plate against the floor. Sure enough, many more of the heavy grains were picked up with only marginally reduced cleaning at the edge. Given that made cleaning much easier, too, we’d be tempted to leave the floor head on the mid-setting for pretty much all carpet cleaning duties.
Detail tools were, as ever with Dyson, exemplary. The crevice tool head design resists sticking to any surface you touch, and the pull-down dust brush is ideal. The frankly weird ‘reach under tool’, as Dyson calls it, works surprisingly well too. On the flexible telescopic extension, you can get at all manner of places. If you’ve never cleaned behind the fridge, now’s your chance.
Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor – How easy is it to use on stairs?
At 6.9kg, you still wouldn’t want to be doing the cleaning equivalent of hill repeat exercises with the Light Ball. Thankfully, you don’t need to. The stupendously stretchy hose and long wand combined to get to the very top of our stairs – all the more impressive given the rather awkward about-turn in our staircase half way up.
On a straight staircases, getting all the way to the top is even easier. The only caveat to the Light Ball’s usability on stairs is the long wand. You do end up holding the wand a long way from the business end of the cleaning. This simply isn’t as easy as using a handheld cordless cleaner, for example.
Cleaning with the upholstery tool was pretty darn good. The tool design avoids too much stick-down, keeping things relatively easy to manoeuvre. It proved small enough to get into the tight corner turns of our stairs, too. You don’t get any small motorised tools with this basic Multi-Floor version of the Light Ball, so deep-down cleaning is a bit limited. For that you’ll need to look at the more affluent Light Ball Animal version.
Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor – How does it cope with pet hair?
While we’re on the subject of Animals, this basic edition Light Ball is none to shoddy at chasing pet hairs. The high airflow sucks in rolling hair balls over hard floors with ease, and the larger rotating bar drags entwined hairs from carpets as well.
Our carpet-based patch of mixed Collie and Labrador hair was dispatched in fewer than 10 seconds. We’d rate that as a good result for a pet-centric cleaner, so certainly no complaints there.
Issues come when using the detail tools. With no mini-motorised tool, grafting hairs from our stair carpet took a fair bit of elbow grease using the upholstery tool. You had to go over patches a few times to clear the area completely. They did clear though – which is more than some cleaner’s hand tools manage.
Attacking the dog’s beds with the same tool wasn’t as effective, though. Loose fabric was sucked into the tool on pushing hard to dislodge stubborn fluff. The Light Ball Multi Floor is passable, if not outstanding, with pet hairs. For pet-centric homes, the Animal version with the proven Dyson Tangle-Free Turbine tool is likely to be a better bet.
Should I buy the Dyson Light Ball Multi Floor+?
Lighter, quieter and more eco-friendly, the Light Ball Multi Floor is a thoroughly modern upright cleaner, bringing with it some of Dyson’s best engineering and features. The stiff filter release and the sticky bin flap on our sample were loosening after a week on test, so we can’t even gripe about those.
While this basic Multi-Floor version is never going to cope with multi-pet homes, for a singular pooch or tabby it isn’t bad. For outstanding hard floor and excellent carpet cleaning from only 700W of power, we can’t think of any other cleaner that gets close.
Modern, eco-compliant bagless cleaning with outstanding results at a very attractive price.