How the test was made
We carry out all of our tests ourselves and test all products in real conditions. We tested multi-purpose vacuum cleaners in a number of different environments that set different types of demand. For example, they have been used to vacuum sawdust from a chicken shed, and to remove sanding dust from electrical tools in a workshop. They have also been used to vacuum out cars and utility rooms. The multi-purpose vacuum cleaners that have extra functions have undergone additional tests. For example, the blowing function has been tested to see whether it is strong enough. Two examples of tests are blowing debris out of the hose and efficiency tests to see how the vacuum performs when we blow debris across a floor surface.
The factors that received the greatest weighting in our assessment of each multi-purpose vacuum cleaner were:
Performance: How strong is the suction? How powerful is the blowing function? How much water can it vacuum up? What types of materials can it cope with? Does the performance vary depending on how coarse or damp the material is?
Work areas: Which tasks can it cope with? How are the nozzles designed and how many are included? How long is the hose?
Ease of use: How easy is easy to switch the multi-purpose vacuum cleaner on and off? How easy is it to change nozzles and functions? Is it easy to clean filters and replace vacuum bags? How well does the multi-purpose vacuum cleaner roll over the floor when you move? How easy is it to suspend the hose, cables and other things on the machine body and then store it away?
Further examples of aspects we have taken into account in our assessment are construction quality, guarantees and noise level. We have scored each multi-purpose vacuum cleaner according to its value for money; in other words how good it is in each area in relation to its price tag. We thus have higher expectations of a more expensive model than a cheaper one, and vice versa.
The Nilfisk Multi II 30 T VSC Inox is our best in test because of its great performance and a number of intelligent solutions that make this multi-purpose vacuum cleaner extremely user-friendly. For example, it has a very good suction ability combined with a relatively flat nozzle. The advantage of the flat nozzle is that you can easily get into narrow spaces. At the same time, it's not so flat that larger bits of debris get stuck or can't fit at all. Another user-friendly solution is the hooks on the side where you can suspend both hose and power cable when you aren't using the multi-purpose vacuum cleaner. Another positive point is that it has variable suction power that can be set both on the machine body and the handle. This means you can choose the desired suction capacity on the machine and then make fine adjustments without having to go back to the machine body again. The Multi II 30 T VSC Inox also has a very long and flexible hose. This enables you to move relatively freely through the room and around objects without having to pull the machine body with you everywhere. The multi-purpose vacuum cleaner also rolls well even when the floor is covered with dirt and debris.
As mentioned above, the Nilfisk Multi II 30 T VSC Inox has very good suction. It happily vacuums up dry debris - everything from sanding dust to sawdust in the chicken shed without any problems. It can also cope with a full 23 litres of water. The filter is located in the bucket itself. This means that it gets wet when you vacuum damp material. However, it dries out relatively quickly and you can remove it and vacuum without. An indicator on the machine body tells you when it's time to clean the filter. This is very simple. All you need to do is to press a button and a small motor starts, which pushes out air which helps to vibrate the filter more. In other words, cleaning is semiautomatic. The only disadvantage that we can see with the filter is that the attachment is made of cardboard, so it's easy to damage it if you remove it and reinsert it. When you want to connect the Multi II 30 T VSC Inox to an electrical tool, you use a cone-shaped adapter. What's good about this is that it fits three different sizes. The adapter doesn't lock in place, however, so if you tug hard the electrical tool comes off. But in practice the adapter is sufficiently well attached for this not to be a problem. Overall, the Nilfisk Multi II 30 T VSC Inox multi-purpose vacuum cleaner is a really good buy. It's suitable both for people with a small workshop and for those who want to use it for multi-purpose vacuuming in and around the home.
The Kärcher WD6 Premium is a user-friendly multi-purpose vacuum cleaner with the filter positioned high up so that it's easy to access and clean. This also means you don't have to wait for it to dry out after vacuuming damp materials or water because it only gets wet if you vacuum a really big quantity of water. The fact that it's so easy to store the vacuum cleaner out of the way also makes it a helpful tool. For example, it has a separate hook for the power cable so that you don't have to bundle the hose and the cable together. There's also an extra hook so that you can suspend the hose on both sides. Not having to struggle with hoses and cables when you're shoving the machine in the cupboard under the stairs is really helpful. And the suction capacity is really good too. It vacuumed up almost everything we asked it to. The universal nozzle is a little bit too big which makes it difficult to get in everywhere. But overall it performs very well.
The Kärcher WD6 Premium has a really intelligent function for emptying it of water. There's a plug in the bottom that you simply open to empty it all out. This means you avoid the fiddly task of undoing the lid and lifting it up, which can be heavy when it's a stainless steel bucket full of liquid. But it's also easy to open the container and empty that when you've been dry vacuuming. The biggest disadvantage of the WD6 Premium is the hose. This is because it's not particularly flexible, but instead hard and rather clumsy. It's also very short. The latter is also a problem when you attach an electrical tool, despite the fact that it includes an extension hose. The advantage of the extension is that it can be locked in place and connected directly to the hose so that you get a bit of distance between the electrical tool and the handle of the multi-purpose vacuum cleaner. The hose is also easier to deal with. The disadvantage is that despite this the distance between you and the machine is still quite small. You often have to drag the entire machine body around with you. If you're going to saw or sand larger objects in a smaller workshop this can feel rather limiting. On the other hand, it has five small neat wheels which roll really well over the floor. The WD6 Premium also runs nicely over uneven workshop floors and is hard to overturn. So if you can live with the slightly too short hose, this is a good buy. Particularly if you want a multi-purpose vacuum cleaner that can cope with a large number of tasks, primarily in a domestic environment. Here, it's particularly useful that it's so easy to hang the hose and cable on it, and that the filter is positioned high up so that it doesn't get damp. This avoids a lot of problems.
The Stihl SE 62 E is a compact and neat multi-purpose vacuum cleaner with a telescopic tube, making it easy to fold away. The telescopic tube together with the relatively large nozzle means that the vacuuming action is a bit like a traditional vacuum cleaner. Unfortunately the large nozzle means that it can be difficult to get in everywhere. At the same time it's very easy to store away. The hose is also long and flexible - when you vacuum you don't have to pull the machine body with you the whole time. For example, you can get all the way round a carpenter's bench, or right into the car. Given that it's so compact, the SE 62 E still copes with vacuuming a good amount of rubbish or water before it's full. The plastic container has the advantage that it's not too heavy, making the container easier to empty. Filter cleaning is also a simple process. You push a button and the filter vibrates the dust off. However, you can't vacuum water without the filter like many other machines. You should actually never do this, so this may be a safety function. It takes a relatively long time for the filter to dry again, and we'd have liked this to be quicker.
It's very simple to connect the Stihl SE 62 E to connect to electrical tools. It has a quick attachment that means you remove the entire handle section which would otherwise get in the way of the electrical tool. Instead you connect the hose directly. And on the nozzle you connect to, you can also control the suction capacity - which you can't do on the machine body itself. The cone on the nozzle is rubber and fits a large number of electrical tools. The entire solution exudes quality and feels well thought out. The suction capacity is good, but there are a couple of work areas where we would have liked it to be better. For example, the multi-purpose vacuum cleaner coped with vacuuming damp sawdust in the chicken shed, but it took a long time to do so. On the other hand, this is a demanding task, and not something most consumers are likely to require. Above all, the SE 62 E is best for the user who needs a multi-purpose vacuum cleaner for vacuuming things like cars, garages and utility rooms.