Hoover H-Free C300 Review

A cordless vacuum that promises a long run-time

Verdict

The Hoover H-Free C300 offers solid carpet cleaning as an upright, but poor hard floor results and low suction power limit its appeal.

Pros

  • Decent carpet cleaning
  • Good at pet hairs on carpet
  • Easy to use on hard-flooring
  • Fairly Lightweight
  • Easy to empty bin

Cons

  • Long 6-hour + charge time
  • Very poor suction on Eco mode
  • Poor cleaning on hard floor
  • Reduced suction using hose
  • Not ideal for stairs

Key Specifications

  • Review Price: £179.99
  • 21.6V, up to 60 minutes runtime
  • Carpet/Hard-floor setting
  • 0.5l bin
  • Eco mode
  • Telescopic handle
  • LED head lights
  • On/Off Rotating brush bar
  • Crevice and upholstery tool
  • 1-year guarantee

What is the Hoover H-Free C300?

The Hoover H-Free C300 is a fairly lightweight, simple to use, cordless stick vacuum with a long promised run-time. With carpet, hard-floor and Eco modes, the H-Free boasts up to one-hour of battery life and has three lights on the floor-head for spotting dust and debris in the darkest corners.

Although great at picking up pet hairs from carpet and easy to use on hard-floorings, the Hoover C300 offers limited suction and can feel hard to manoeuvre on carpets. The 3-in-1 tool is a good idea, but didn’t perform well due to decreased suction. Stair cleaning is limited, and the 60-minute run-time is ambitious – even in the ineffectual Eco mode. The C300 isn’t expensive but unless you have a carpeted bungalow, it isn’t the best.

Hoover H-Free C300 – Accessories

The C300 cordless vacuum cleaner from Hoover houses all its workings, including motor, battery and filters, in the floor-head. That really makes it a cordless upright cleaner with no hand-held cleaning option, although you do get a tube, detail tools and a handle that doubles as an extension tube. The accessories clip on-board, and with the telescopic handle fully down, it’s compact and easy to store in low cupboards such as under the sink.

Grey in colour and complemented with the deep-red Hoover logo on the front, the H-Free C300 looks neat and compact for an upright cleaner. With hard-floor, carpet and Eco modes, it promises comprehensive floor cleaning around the home and a super-long run-time – up to an hour on the Eco setting. Buttons are located conveniently on the front, below the telescopic handle that doubles as an extension tube for extra reach when using the detail tool.

To reach those difficult-to-clean areas under chairs and sofas, the Hoover’s handle tilts and reclines very close to the ground, allowing the head to get under low obstacles. Three LEDs on the front light up the pet hair tumbleweed and dust in these darkened areas, although they’re not very bright compared to those on more affluent cordless uprights.

There is a traditional bristle brush bar in the floor-head that rotates quite powerfully on the carpet mode, and is stationary on the hard floor setting. Likewise, the bar doesn’t rotate in Eco mode –which, combined with lower suction power and switching off the LED light, saves power and increases run-time.

A light and fairly small hose clips over the handle for storage. The upper part of the handle offers a six-position height adjustment including slotting completely down into the lower half. To use the hose and detail tools, you have to pop up a slightly awkward clip on the floor-head and press and turn the hose into place.

The tool roster is a 3-in-1 accessory, hose and extension tube in the handle. The 3-in-1 comprise crevice, brush and upholstery tools, and can be stored on the back of the Hoover. The tools should be used on the hard-floor setting, as the brush bar will continue to run if you use carpet mode.

The Hoover has one cylindrical battery that clips firmly into the side of the floor-head. The wall-wart charger has a fly-lead, and the battery can be charged while fitted in the vacuum or loose to save putting the whole cleaner near a plug socket for charging. The battery has three LED charge-level lights and takes a seriously lengthy 6 hours to fully charge.

Opposite the battery is the circular bagless dustbin. Like the battery, this removes with a spring-loaded clip on top and clips back into place securely. Inside the bin, there’s one filter that’s fully washable.

Hoover H-Free C300 – What is it like to use?

Although a relatively simple model, the Hoover was rather finicky to assemble and the graphic-only manual wasn’t the easiest to follow. Fully assembled, the C300 tipped our scales at around 4kg, which is little portlier than the claimed 3.3kg. That’s still manageable, but having all the weight in the head does tend to make steering a little heavy. Thankfully, the free rolling wheels at the back of the head keep it moving along even on deep-pile carpet.

The adjustable handle is a nice touch, providing plenty of height options, and the grip is comfortable. The machine works with the handle fully collapsed into the lower section, making it suitable for the most vertically challenged adult or even a child. The handle reclines very low to the ground, allowing easy access under obstacles such as the sofa. That’s countered to an extent by the bulky floor-head – which, at about 14cm tall from the floor, is going to limit how low an obstacle the vac can get under.

On hard floors the C300 rolls around with ease, and there’s plenty enough suction to pull in light dust and pet hairs. Steering is a little “vague” since the weight of the head tends to make the cleaner want to move forward rather than turn. On carpet, you can feel the weight in the head even more, as you get added suck-down from the vacuum. It keeps rolling, but there’s noticeably more weight in the push-pull action and more resistance to steering in the direction you want it to go.

For darker areas, there are three LED lights on the front of the floor-head although, strangely, they only come on in carpet mode. With the growing trend for hard floors like laminates, this seems an odd way of setting up the lights, particularly as we find LEDs most useful for spotting pet hair on hard floors. Sadly, the lights are pretty dull so their function is more decorative than useful anyway.

There’s no doubt that the 3-in-1 tool is convenient, especially since it handily clips onto the machine, but performance-wise it isn’t great. The soft brush was fine, but the short and wide crevice tool wasn’t likely to go in anything you could describe as a crevice, plus the upholstery tool was basic. The tool was also a bit fiddly when it comes to switching nozzles, making it feel rather cheap.

The same can be said of the hose. Releasing the upper section of the handle to use as an extension tube, push-fitting the hose in the floor-head and handle is a rather flimsy affair. It does give you fairly decent reach, however, and we effectively used the extension tube with the dusting brush to clean above canvas paintings.

However, the narrow bore hose offered tame suction from the cleaner, even on the full power mode, and the fair-sized brush adds up to very little in the way of cleaning power with the tools. It struggled to remove even a tacky cobweb from the top of the painting. Switch to Eco mode and you can barely feel any air flow at the brush at all.

We tried the upholstery tool on our sofas, chairs and hair-covered dog beds, but there simply wasn’t enough suction power to deliver an effective clean. The Eco option does improve run-time, but we found it diminished the pickup power so much that nothing could be sucked up without at least three or four passes. Re-assembling the handle back into the lower section, the plastic tube cover fell off. Build quality isn’t a strong point here.

The dustbin is an okay size for a compact cordless cleaner, although won’t last too long without emptying when using the main floor-head over dirty surfaces. Emptying the bin was easy, with everything falling out  with a couple of taps from the back of our hand. Emitting around 72dB on hard-floor and 74dB on carpets, the C300 is quiet in use too.

Hoover H-Free C300 – How does it clean carpets and hard floors?

Heading out over different carpets and rugs around the home, the Hoover delivered a reasonably good clean, pulling up pet hair and titbits easily. Suction to the floor-head isn’t the strongest, so much of the good cleaning here is due to the effective brush bar and design of the floor-head in concentrating the suction. Either way, the C300 works well as an upright vacuum over the carpet.

Over our red carpet, we sprinkled the usual mix of talc and carpet freshening powder. After one forward and back motion, we were left with fairly good cleaning results. On closer inspection, there was still a fair bit of residue deep in the pile and some in the skirting board groove, too. The Hoover wasn’t particularly great at edge cleaning, and even after a few back and forth motions, carpet powder still remained firmly in the dip at the edge of the carpet.

On hard flooring, the Hoover was easier to use and felt much lighter on the arm. It cleaned relatively well but we did have to go over a couple of areas at least twice before it picked up hairs and crumbs fully.

Our spilt oat test was a slight disaster. In a single pass on hard-floor mode, the Hoover pushed a lot of the oats forward and didn’t really suck much up at all. There were plenty of stragglers left behind and these simply got dragged around on the backstroke. Even after several sweeps, there were still a couple of oats remaining, and we spent a while chasing around particles that were getting pushed around the floor.

Picking up the cleaner to move it to another room caused several of the oats to drop out of the head, leaving a trail as we went. On a Hansel and Gretel mission back to the starting point, we gave up and picked up the remainders with a dustpan and brush.

Hoover H-Free C300 – Charging and run-time

Charging the battery was simple and can be done in the cleaner, or separately if you can store the cleaner near a power socket. The battery simply slots into the side of the floor-head with a positive click and is released with the red button on top.

A full charge took us just over 6 hours, as the manual suggested. That’s a seriously long time and clearly not going to see multiple cleaning sessions in the same day. Then again, if the Hoover does deliver on its promised 60 minutes run-time, that shouldn’t be a problem.

Sadly, it doesn’t. On the Eco mode, we did manage run-times of around 50 minutes, albeit without the brush bar running. That would be impressive if there was enough suction in this mode to pick anything up, but there isn’t. Engaging the brush bar in Eco mode, cleaning is passable on carpet but run-times are 10 minutes or so less.

Switch to the more effective normal/full power mode and run-times are down to around 20 minutes, plus or minus a few minutes either way if you’re using the carpet mode with the brush bar running. While that’s on a par with several other cordless stick-upright cleaners we’ve used, it’s disappointing compared to those headline claims of an hour.

While you can get nearly an hour’s cleaning in Eco mode, the suction is so reduced that is having more run-time worth it if it the cleaner isn’t actually picking anything up? Probably not.

Hoover H-Free C300 – How easy is it to use on stairs?

The C300 doesn’t really profess to have any specific stair-cleaning abilities, so it was no surprise that it was a tricky job. The cleaner proves hugely unwieldy used upright on stairs due to the size and weight of the floor-head. On our turning stairs it clearly wasn’t going to get into the corners, even if we had managed to manoeuvre it.

The hose and tool attachments might be the answer… or so we thought. We clipped the hose onto the floor-head and used the upholstery tool – but it really didn’t work. The hose is way too short, it’s low-down fitting to the floor-head exacerbates the problem, and the suction was minimised to the point where nothing was really being sucked up.

We also used the hose on its own, without extension or tools, to see if this increased the suction power – but it barely improved. Unfortunately, this isn’t a cleaner for stairs.

Hoover H-Free C300 – How does it cope with pet hair?

On full power carpet mode with the brush bar running, the Hoover turned in a great result at sucking up pet hairs from carpets. A couple of swipes over our doggy-trodden rugs in the living room produced excellent results, only leaving a couple of stragglers behind.

The jury was out on the effort required to clean carpet. I didn’t find the C300’s resistance to back and forth movement too onerous on carpet, but our flyweight reviewer Frankie said it was hard work and she ended up with an achy arm after a while.

On hard flooring it was a different story. The Hoover was much easier to move around, thanks to those free-wheeling wheels at the back. However, it didn’t perform very well over our riven tiles in the conservatory. It took at least two or three swipes to pick up all hairs on the floor and pull a few out from the edges. So, the C300 is ‘okay’ for pet hair, as long as you have carpets and can leverage its effective brush bar.

Why buy the Hoover H-Free C300?

The Hoover certainly looks great, is simple to use and relatively affordable compared to some of the higher priced battery upright cleaners available. However, its performance is a bit of a let-down. The battery lasted only a third of the 60-minute suggested time if you use the most effective full power and carpet mode and, even then, it didn’t deliver the best cleaning results, so you’re better off with something on our Best cordless vacuum cleaner list. The brush bar saves the day with effective carpet cleaning, but low suction power overall and the poorly designed hose and tool system left hard floors, stairs and detail cleaning tasks wanting.

On the plus side, it was quiet in use and did a great job at sucking up pet hairs on carpets – but doesn’t deliver great value the asking price might suggest.

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