Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra review: Messy results undermine Electrolux's nicely designed stick vac
I get annoyed when I have to clean up extensively up after a vacuum cleaner. As you might expect, we intentionally dirty our floors when testing vacuums, and some work is required to reset the floor after a test run for any machine. But instead of small touchups, the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra necessitated that I vacuum the testing surfaces all over again with a different machine after every single run across all types of surfaces and all types of dirt.
This Electrolux vac updates the Ergorapido series to mixed results. It now has a more powerful lithium ion battery to go along with the company's standout vacuum feature -- the brushroll clean. It's a simple concept. The brushroll cavity houses a blade that rests out of the way at the top of the compartment. Get hair tangled on the bristles, and you can press a lever while the vacuum's running to lower the blade and slice the hair away.
Given that I recently tested the highly competent Eureka Brushroll Clean with SuctionSeal from the same parent company of Electrolux -- a machine that sold me on the whole brushroll clean concept -- I had high hopes for this Electrolux stick. It has an attractive design, and it maneuvers beautifully. It just won't get your floors clean and the brushroll clean feature isn't as effective on this stick as it was on the Eureka upright. Despite the reasonable $150 price and the solid design, I can't recommend the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra.
Plenty of style
Far and away, the best thing about this vacuum is the maneuverability. The vacuum's head attaches to the body with flexible hosing for the air flow and a pivoting joint that can turn almost a full 180 degrees. As a result, with a turn of the wrist, the vacuum can swivel 90 degrees in either direction and readily navigate any corner.
The Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra weighs just over 5 pounds, so it's easy to lift, though not necessarily more so than the many other stick vacs we've tested. The lithium ion battery holds a charge well, running for over 30 minutes on normal speed and 14 minutes on high speed, though it takes a long 4 hours to regain a full charge.
For comparison, the most competent stick vacs we've tested -- the Hoover Linx and the Dyson V6 series -- each hold a charge for 15 to 20 minutes of work, but fill up after 3 hours of down time. In turbo mode, the Dyson v6 only lasts 6 minutes.
On the front of the Ergorapido, four LEDs help you keep track of the vac's remaining charge while you work, though the display is slightly counterintuitive. The Ergorapido only uses three of the four lights to indicate your charge level. So if your vac has over 75 percent of battery life left, you'll see three orange bars lit. Two light up between 25 and 75 percent charge, one lights with less than that, and that one LED blinks when the battery runs out.
I would have expected the four lights to each represent a quarter of the total charge, and had to use the instruction manual to figure out the Ergorapido's specific code. When I first started using it, I thought the unlit fourth light meant I hadn't fully charged it.
Instead, the fourth light only turns on when there's a problem. It shines red instead of orange -- it's solid red if the engine is overheated, and it blinks if the airflow is clogged.
It didn't take me long to learn the Electrolux's LED system, and having four lights and two colors allows it to relay somewhat specific signals through a simple mechanic. I prefer a simple progress gauge as on the Black & Decker 36v Max Lithium Stick Vacuum with ORA Technology . The lights for those blink when there's a problem as well. The second color on the ErgoRapido feels like overkill and is why the system is counterintuitive, but again, it communicates with more clarity than most once you learn its language.
Above the LEDs is a power button specific to the pull out hand vac. While in place in the stick vac frame, the hand vac juts out slightly. Push a button above it, and it ejects easily. It also snaps back into the main vac securely, so this is a convertible vacuum that converts well. You might think that's a given, but we found on the Bissell Bolt Ion 2-in1 Lightweight Cordless Vacuum that it's not.
You'll need to pull the hand vac free to access the dust bin, which you'll need to empty regularly, since it's a little undersized. With the Dyson V6 vacs, you empty dirt with a single button press. With the Ergorapido, you need to remove the hand vac, remove the bin compartment and lift off the filter. It's a little complicated, but each piece snaps into and out of place easily and securely.
The attachments don't provide that same satisfying snap when you fit them on the end of the hand vac, and the Ergorapido only includes two -- a crevice tool and a brush. Given the brushroll clean feature, the convertible hand vac, and the reasonable $150 price point, I didn't think the Ergorapido too bare bones in terms of features, despite the small number of included attachments.
I also liked the look of it, though its base red coloring reminded me of Dirt Devil 's traditional appearance. The buttons accent the red with silver. In addition to the power button on the hand vac and the button that ejects the hand vac, another power button and a speed control button sit at the top of the stick vac's handle, within reach of your thumb while gripping the machine.
The speed button cycles the vac between high speed and normal. Turn the vac on, and flip it to high speed, and you'll get the most out of the brushroll clean mechanic. With the bristles spinning at high speed, press your foot on the lever at the corner of the vacuum and the brushroll blades will descend and scrape away some tangled pet hair.
You can purchase the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra from the company's website, as well as from Best Buy, Amazon, Home Depot and other major appliance retailers. I reviewed model number EL2081A which costs $150 and is specific to the US, but comparable models are available overseas.
In the UK, the AG3012 costs £229.95. In Australia, you'll find the similar ZB3012 for AU$250. Both the UK and AU models have an 18V Lithium Ion Battery, as opposed to the 14.4 battery in the US version, and both come with an added vacuum stand.
Not much substance
Most of my issues with the design of the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Extra are small and forgivable. Once I got used to what the LEDs meant, my only other annoyance with the design of the vacuum was when that flexible head design resulted in it tipping over after I tried to stand it upright.
That happened a few times, but the issue wasn't as bad on this vac as on similarly designed machines like the Bissell Bolt. With the Ergorapido, you have to be careful to get it to stand up. With the Bissell, you have to hope for a minor miracle to get it to stand.
Once I started using the Ergorapido to try to clean the floors, the annoyances multiplied quickly. The Eureka upright with the same brushroll clean mechanic handles pet hair better than any other vacuum I've tested. The full-sized Eureka sucks up every clump of hair in sight and the brushroll barely ever tangles. I had to find some exceptionally long pet hair just to try out the brushroll clean mechanic. When I did get a few tangles, the blade accessory made short work of them.
With less suction to work with, the Ergorapido's brushroll clean falls well short of the competence of the Eureka's. To start, it doesn't capture pet hair nearly as well, pushing clumps around while only occasionally capturing them. The brush gets readily and badly tangled. I even had to stop a test run in the middle as the red LED was blinking at me to tell me the vac got itself clogged.
Thanks to the brushroll clean, the tangled brushroll shouldn't have added much tedium to the process, but on this vac, it just didn't work all that well. It's a revelation on the Eureka upright. On the Ergorapido, it's finicky at best and useless a large chunk of the time, leaving clumps of hair still tangled on the bristles and sometimes making no noticeable progress in reducing the mess.
The brushroll clean feature also occasionally cause the vac to stop working. The red LED would shine, indicating the vac overheated while unsuccessfully attempting to work away the tangled pet hair.
It's not really fair to compare the Ergorapido to the Eureka vac, as they're in different categories, and battery powered sticks rarely come close to the performance of full-size uprights. It is fair to compare the Ergorapido to other stick vacs, and even among its own kind, on a test where one of its features should give it an advantage, it doesn't stack up.
When testing vacuums, we task them with cleaning pet hair to see how easily they tangle (in the Ergorapido's case, quite easily), then we task them with cleaning Cheerios to see how well the vacs deal with large particles. Can the vac get over the top of the Cheerios? Does it have the suction to grab large particles? Does it fling the Cheerios it doesn't grab and spread the mess? Does it clog when trying to pick up too many Cheerios at once?
On the Fruity Cheerios test, the Ergorapido didn't clog, but it answered every other question badly. It frequently pushed Cheerios, both on carpet and hardwood floors, and failed to get over top of them. When it did get the Cheerios into the brushroll cavity, the Ergorapido sucked most into the dustbin, but it still flung plenty. Between the Cheerios it pushed around, and the Cheerios it flung, the Ergorapido left a mess in its wake.
After untangling pet hair and picking up widely flung Cheerios, I was already fed up with the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra by the time I got to our final and toughest vacuum test -- sand. This is a pure power test that shows how well a vacuum can deep clean your carpets.
On normal speed, the results were underwhelming if inoffensive. At the very least, this test didn't add more work than the typical stick vac.
When I turned the vac to high speed and ran the sand tests again, the Ergorapido actually fared pretty well. It captured 64 percent of the sand off of midpile carpets, 54 percent from low-pile, and 99 percent from hardwood -- sizable increases, especially on carpet.
That said, lots of stick vacs have some sort of turbo speed. Electrolux's makes a distinct difference, but not enough to redeem the otherwise poor performance. Comparing vacs at their default speed, the Ergorapido ranked near the bottom of our reviewed stick vacs on all three performance tests.
If you're a brand loyalist, if you don't have any pets, if you are willing to pick up or sweep up large particles, if you just want something that's easy to run over your carpets every once in a while, and if you're not picky about actual cleanliness, then sure, the Electrolux Ergorapido Lithium Ion Brushroll Clean Xtra is a functional machine that maneuvers well and costs a relatively inexpensive $150.
But that's a lot of "if's" just to make this an OK purchase. You're better off with a different stick vac, particularly the $180 Hoover Linx. The Ergorapido is not a terrible deep cleaner for a stick vac, especially on its high speed, but even so, it's certainly not good enough at deep cleaning to replace your upright. Because it's lightweight, maneuverable, convertible, and packs in the brushroll clean feature, it's designed to be a vac that makes spot cleaning easy, especially when it involves pet hair. In practice, it can't do what it was designed to do.