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Brexit & vacuum cleaner labelling

22 February 2017

"Among the countless thousands of pieces of EU legislation that will need to be reconsidered following the UK's vote for Brexit, the energy efficiency and performance labelling of the vacuum cleaner may seem of little consequence," Justin Binks, director of SEBO UK, says.

"In reality, the sooner these regulations are amended or scrapped the better it will be for customers who have been left confused and frustrated ever since their introduction in 2014.

"While the key purposes of the label is to signal energy efficiency, manufacturers are also required to score their vacuum cleaners from A-G on key performance characteristics: dirt pick up from carpets; dirt pick up from hard floors with crevices; dust emissions based on the efficiency of the filtration system; and noise levels in decibels. Ease of use is not part of the tests but, due to the nature of the test, generally the better the pick-up, the harder the vacuum cleaner is to push.

"Unfortunately, the present labelling regulations bear very little relationship to the use of vacuum cleaners in the real word and do not help when comparing how well one machine cleans compared to another. This is especially true when comparing uprights with cylinders, as they work in different ways but are subjected to a ‘one size fits all' test. Naturally anyone purchasing a vacuum cleaner is likely to opt for an A rated model yet there is no guarantee that this will work the way a customer expects and may not be very effective in picking up dirt, as the floor it is used on may not correspond to the test floor. Ironically it might, in fact, be turned on for longer as it will be passed repeatedly over the same area of floor in an attempt to get it clean, consequently using more energy.

"It is worth understanding that, under the current regulations, it is very hard for manufacturers to produce a vacuum cleaner that both performs well in the real world and achieves good ratings. Rather oddly, while most vacuum cleaners are employed to collect fluff, hair and fibre, the hard floor and carpet pick up tests instead require that a special type of sand be used. Even more bizarre is the fact that there is no requirement to clean the surface of the hard floor. Instead, the hard floor test stipulates that the machine must remove dirt from a 10mm deep by 3mm wide crevice. This is resulting in some manufacturers creating vacuum cleaners that are difficult to use because the head sticks to the floor. They also simply shovel surface debris in front of the cleaning head just to achieve an ‘A' rating.

"There is also no differentiation between domestic and commercial machines. The average domestic vacuum cleaner is in use for around 50 hours a year whereas a professional machine can be running for ten hours a day; end users are therefore likely to be looking for widely varying characteristics when making buying decisions.

"A post Brexit world leaves the government with the opportunity to kill the flawed EU label. This does not mean the idea of an energy label should be abandoned - far from it. A well-conceived energy label which is based on sensible testing on various types of hard floor and carpet, and which is not skewed towards continental-style models, must be a good thing. Such a label should be useful, trusted and easily-understood so all customers can make appropriate choices when choosing a vacuum cleaner."

SEBO's vacuum cleaners are backed by a five-year parts and labour guarantee offering total peace of mind