Black & Decker SVJ520BFS Review

Pros

  • Powered turbo-brush head
  • Carpet-sensing power
  • Versatile and convenient
  • East to steer and use
  • Great for stairs
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Low suction as upright stick
  • Poor edge cleaning
  • Poor hard-floor cleaning
  • Stiff handheld release clip

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £149.99
  • 2-in1 stick and handheld cleaning
  • Cordless convenience
  • Charging and storage dock
  • Floor sensor technology
  • Battery indicator
  • Blocked filter alert

What is the Black & Decker SVJ520BFS?

The funky blue and grey SVJ520BFS Smart Tech cleaner brings sensor technology to Black & Decker’s dual-purpose stick/handheld Dustbuster range. This cordless, bagless model senses floor type and increases power accordingly, measures and indicates battery charge, and lets you know when the filter needs a clean.

A versatile and lightweight 2-in-1 cleaner with freestanding charge dock, this is a convenient household tool for quick clean-ups. Those looking for mains-like power and deep cleaning should look elsewhere, though.

Related: Best vacuum cleaner round up

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Black & Decker SVJ520BFS – Accessories

At heart the SVJ520BFS is a handheld cleaner in traditional B&D’s Dustbuster style. Combining a small high-powered motor with an 18volt/2.0mAh battery, it delivers serious suction with two power settings.

The thumb switch on the handheld unit requires a soft touch, illuminating a display that shows battery charge remaining over three segments. Press again and a small green LED lights up to indicate that you’re in high-power mode – just in case you didn’t notice the sound of the SVJ520BFS spinning up to jet-engine velocity.

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The bagless bin is a good half-litre in size and houses a removable, washable filter in the centre. This has an outer plastic mesh filter to stop large particles and is supplied in a sealed, perfumed bag. This has the effect of giving the room a fresh fragrance the first few times you use the cleaner.

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This model’s sensor technology detects reduced airflow as the filter becomes clogged, illuminating a further LED near the thumb switch to indicate that it requires cleaning. Since 90% of all bagless cleaner performance issues we encounter are down to users failing to clean out the filter regularly, this is a handy feature.

At just 1.2kg, the SVJ520BFS is nicely light and the large handle offer plenty of grabbing options. The weight feels a little too far forward in the hand, but the cleaner is generally pretty comfortable to use. The business-end nozzle has a telescopic extension that provides a further 15cm of reach into nooks and crannies.

The cleaner is supplied with a single tool: a small and rather stiff-bristled dusting brush. This is ideal for sucking up breadcrumbs from your keyboard, but not so handy for delicately dusting ornaments.

The handheld unit clips satisfyingly into the main upright stick of the body. So firmly, in fact, that in our sample it was a bit of a pain to get out again – until it had loosened up a little in use. On a positive note, the combined weight remains at a lightweight 3kg.

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The main handle replicates the two-step power button, although the indicators remain on the handheld unit. A button below switches the powered brush bar in the floor head on and off.

A third sensor (after battery and filter) detects when the brush bar is on deeper-pile carpet, automatically increasing power in response. It drops back to low power for lighter duties and in this mode offers a longer runtime. It’s an usual feature, but worked remarkably well in practice. The brush bar is easily removed via a single clip for cleaning.

The head is fitted with an excellent pivot-and-tilt neck that allows the cleaner to get down under low obstacles. This locks up when the machine is upright, enabling it to stand up on its own. The whole ensemble drops into B&D’s supplied docking station, keeping it fully charged and ready to go all of the time.

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Black & Decker SVJ520BFS – Battery

Charging the SVJ520BFS’s 2.0mAh battery takes around 4.5-5 hours from completely exhausted, with the three-segment battery indicator flashing until it is full. Run-time is dependent on the power level and, of course, whether or not you have the powered brush bar running. Since the latter over deep-pile carpet will bump up the power to full automatically, it’s a little tricky to determine definitive run-times.

Taking best- and worst-case scenarios, running at high power with the brush bar rotating over deep-pile carpet is result in the shortest run-time. The handheld unit alone on standard power will offer the longest, and all other combinations somewhere in between.

On full power over carpet we regularly achieved just shy of 14 minutes run-time before the Black & Decker cut all power and declared itself in need of charging. With just the handheld unit running on standard power, it ran for just over 21 minutes. More than enough to clean the car, said Jackie.

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Black & Decker SVJ520BFS – How does it clean carpet and hard floors?

Black & Decker’s SVJ520BFS’s handheld unit offers good suction in standard mode and even more on high power.

It’s no dust-whisperer in use, though, measuring a good 81-82dB in low-power mode and a couple more decibels in high with the brush bar running. That’s up there with corded mains cleaners for sound output.

In upright mode, the SVJ520BFS is comfortable in the hand and easy to manoeuvre around the home. There’s very little resistance to back and forth movement, the head turns nicely, and the machine drops down plenty low enough to get under tables and chairs. Yet like the previous generation Dustbuster we tested, the suction power in handheld mode doesn’t translate into great cleaning when spread out over a wide floor head – it simply doesn’t have the required rate of airflow.

On our deep-pile red carpet, the machine effectively went into high-power mode automatically and did a reasonable job of cleaning up most of our cleaning powder and baking soda granule mix. It did take a couple of passes over the same area to clean the carpet effectively, though, and edge cleaning was poor. B&D 7

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This isn’t such an issue with this 2-in-1 model, of course, as you can quickly nip around the edges with the handheld afterwards. This potentially offers a better edge clean than any cordless upright alone could achieve.

The lack of suction with the main floor head really only delivers a surface clean rather than a deep clean on carpet, and that was equally noticeable in our hard-floor test. For example, over softwood floors – without the rotating brush bar running – there wasn’t enough suction alone to sweep up the spilled oats. We had to use the brush bar and full power to get most of the particles up, and even then, plenty remained in the tile grout grooves.

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Emptying the bin is easy enough, but it isn’t the cleanest of operations. The bin slides away sideways; you then have to pull the filter out of the bin and pre-filter cage, and then the cage out of the bin. At some point during that process you’ll end up with dust somewhere other than in your dustbin.

Black & Decker SVJ520BFS – How easy is it to use on stairs?

Cordless cleaners with rotating brush bars always score well for stair cleaning, even if – like this Black & Decker – you have to man-handle the cleaner in upright/stick form to use the brush bar. It’s plenty light enough to use in this manner and we nipped up and down the stairs with ease.

The low suction in upright mode does mean that it won’t get ingrained dirt out of your stair carpets, though. For this we switched to the handheld and tackled some dirtier marks with only the nozzle. There’s no dedicated stair tool, so cleaning a full flight of stairs with the handheld will take time. Yet for quick clean-ups, it works fine.
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Black & Decker SVJ520BFS – How does it cope with pet hair?

Over the main rug where our dogs sit, the Black & Decker did a pretty reasonable job of picking up surface hairs and the light dusting of dried mud that they regularly bring in. The rotating brush bar is key to the performance here, picking up surface hairs with ease. This is made even easier by the SVJ520BFS’s great manoeuvrability.

However, as already mentioned, it just doesn’t have the necessary suction power to deal with more heavy-duty pet-hair cleaning, and that showed up in our standard pet-hair test that has mixed dog hairs rubbed into a tough nylon carpet.

While the brush bar did lift quite a few ingrained hairs, plenty were left behind. It took a while to clean the area – around 20 seconds. While that’s no comparison to a pet-specific upright mains cleaner, it isn’t actually too shoddy for a cordless, and does compare well with a mains-powered cylinder cleaner without a brush bar.

Over hard floors the Black & Decker did struggle to suck up loose furballs. The head would simply push them away, again lacking the airflow to pull them into the brush bar.

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Should I buy the Black & Decker SVJ520BFS?

The SVJ520BFS is a versatile, well designed and very easy to use 2-in-1 cleaner – but, arguably, it works much better as a handheld unit than a stick cleaner.

The relatively low airflow rate is fine through the handheld’s narrow nozzle, but translates into very little actual suction across the wide floorhead. Thankfully, the cleaning performance is lifted by the excellent powered brush bar in stick mode, making this a reasonable choice for a second cleaner in the home.

Verdict

Light, easy to use and versatile – but the Black & Decker SVJ520BFS lacks true cleaning power.

Score


Score in detail

  • Usability 8
  • Cleaning performance 6
  • Features 9
  • Design 8
  • Value 7

Other

Type Cordless