Posted: 28 Feb 2010 03:31 AM PST
Miele have launched a ‘hybrid’ vacuum cleaner. No, it doesn’t have a gasoline engine but earns its ‘hybrid’ label because, like your laptop, it can be powered either by the mains or by a lithium-ion battery — and switches seamlessly between the two.
I was introduced to the Miele S4812 vacuum cleaner at the new Miele Gallery in West London which is a promotional venue for the company where the Miele vacuum cleaner was put through its paces on an assault course of dirty carpets, food-covered car seats and a stair-case covered in a variety of small household objects.
First, the hybrid label is nothing to do with the S4812’s ‘eco’-credentials. It’s not about saving electricity as you vacuum your home by switching power sources. The ‘hybrid’ nature of the Miele cleaner is to provide convenience for the user: extending range and allowing the cleaner to be used where no power supply is available or just to prevent power leads from being trailed across the house as you clean.
The Meile S4812 is therefore able to replace conventional full-sized vacuum cleaners as well as miniature ‘dust-devil’-like portable models.
Where the S4812 can claim to be environmentally-friendly is in the newly designed vacuum head which has been optimized for low-wattage cleaning, and a variable suction control so you only use as much power as you need for each floor surface.
The Miele S4812 is base on the S4 vacuum cleaner but with the addition of lithium-ion batteries that can run the cleaner at 600W for up to twenty minutes (compared to 1800W normal operation). This allows you to pull the chord out of the AC supply and carry on cleaning beyond the range of the mains lead (9m). When the cleaner is plugged in again the battery recharges and the user can switch between power sources any time the mains lead is plugged in.
The batteries are made to last about ten years and charge in about three hours. Recharging is automatic and there is no need for an external charger. This function is assumed by the so-called AutoLoad function: As soon as mains power is reapplied, the electronic controls check whether the battery is fully charged and, where necessary, begins recharging. A charge indicator provides information on the recharging progress. The battery power remaining is indicated by a series of lights.
Lithium ion batteries are not prone to the memory effect we all know and love on mobile phone batteries so that batteries can be recharged at any time and are always ready for use.
The casing of the Miele S4812 is of ABS plastic and is said to be able to withstand a load of 100Kg. This was demonstrated to me by a sales representative standing on the casing with no ill effects (although she didn’t look anything like 100Kg!).
The hose is made of a memory material that even after severe stress (see video above) returns to its original form afterwards and does not split even after knotting.
The underside of the hose handle has an integrated metallic strip which is in direct contact with the hand when cleaning. This is an anti-static strip which prevents the user from receiving static shock from charges that build up from moving the cleaning head back and forth across a carpet.
Cleaning is initiated by pressing the power button on the casing which is large enough to be operated by foot. If the cleaner is plugged in to an AC mains supply the S4812 will operate at 1800W. If it is being run off the battery, 600W. If pushing the head over the floor becomes difficult because of the suction this can be dialled down by rotating a simple control on the back of the casing.
The head of the S4812 has a foot-operated switch which deploys a brush for use on hard floors. This lifts the metallic parts of the head above the floor to prevent scratching. The brushes themselves have a ‘castellated’ profile to allow air to pass under the head and into the cleaner and prevents the cleaner from sucking itself rigidly to the floor!
When you’re done cleaning and un-plug the mains a button on the casing quickly reels in the power lead.
The Meile S4812 hybrid vacuum cleaner comes with the following attachments:
The Miele hybrid is filtered courtesy of AirClean’s latest generation of HEPA filters. Theses filters have 9 layers of filtering material to minimize amount of dust and pollutants that pass through the system and back out into the room.
The bags are FJM and have an integrated mesh that protects the bag material from sharp objects and prevents splitting.
If that wasn’t enough the bags also incorporate air flow guides so ensure that air and dust reaches all four corners of the bag so you don’t have to change them so often!
Miele recommends changing the filter once for every five bag changes.
Maximum sound levels are 77 dB and 69 dB for AC and battery operations respectively.
The Meile S4812 will go on sale in March 2010 and is expected to sell at prices from £499, € 770.
The Miele hybrid is based on the Miele S4 vacuum cleaner and inherits the S4’s compact design and relatively low weight. Thanks to hybrid battery and switching technology, Miele’s hybrid is a fully fledged vacuum cleaner when connected to the mains supply but also offers all the freedom of a battery-powered unit in one package. The duration of battery operation depends on the power setting and offers a maximum of 20 minutes of vacuum cleaning.
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