I have been using my Dyson Animal for a few months now and it’s about time I wrap up my series comparing the Dyson Animal with the Kirby Ultmiate G.
So far I talked about assembly, function and aesthetics, my initial impressions upon my first few uses, dirt collection methods and brush/roll bar cleaning. While there are a few things that I could talk about still, the one most important thing is performance or pickup.
I put together a video showing you what happens when I vacuum my floor with the Kirby, and then go over them with the Dyson. I admit I was surprised with the results. Take a look:
I honestly expected the Dyson dirt canister to be full of dirt and hair. I tried about 3 more times in different areas of the house and got the same results. My 6 year old Kirby still picks up almost as well as the Dyson.
So what does this mean?
Overall it shows that where it counts, both are quality vacuums. But when considering which one to buy, you still have to take a number of other things into account.
The Kirby comes with a whole plethora of accessories for vacuuming. They even have their own carrier. I never take them out, in fact I have no idea where they are. The Dyson has few accessories, but the the ones it does have, attach to the body of the vaccum so you always have them with you. The mini turbine head does not attach to it, which is the one oversight I have found with the Dyson. If the mini-turbine head attached to the vacuum, it would be near perfect! The Kirby has a hose that you can attach to it to allow you to reach places like stairs and walls and things but it too is stored with the accessories and I never use it. The Dyson hose for walls and stairs is brilliantly built into the vacuum and is so easy to use and access and then put right back into the vaccum. Every time I use it, I am in awe with the creativity that went into designing it.
The Kirby is designed also to allow it to turn into a hand-held vacuum so you can use it on your couch or bed or stairs, but the problem is the thing is so heavy it really isn’t very practical.
The Kirby is big and heavy and bulky and not easy to move around furniture and in tight spaces. The Dyson Animal with its ball technology is so easy to use and maneuver that I actually enjoy using it. It literally does turn on a dime and makes quick work of tight spaces without giving you an upper body workout!
The Kirby requires typical vacuum bags and belts where the Dyson is bagless and beltless and therefore you do not have the costs associated with buying bags and belts but also the effort involved in changing them. The Dyson does have some routine cleaning of the canister and the filter in order to keep it functioning properly, but it is fairly quick and easy to do and is only required roughly every 3 months.
The bagless feature does cause some extra time when vacuuming because I do have to empty the canister 3-4 times when I vacuum my house but I much prefer that over the cost of bags.
The Kirby actually is designed to be a carpet shampooer as well as a vacuum. It came with attachments that convert the front of it so you can shampoo your carpets. And it works pretty well from a cleaning perspective. The design is cumbersome, setting it up is a pain and emptying the shampooer while still using it is a royal pain. But, without having a whole separate machine to take up room it did clean the floors very well. Ours no longer seems to work, however, so even though the vacuum still works, the shampooer attachments do not. The Dyson is just a vacuum.
Another aspect of versatility is the different types of floor surfaces. Both machines can be used on both carpet and hard floors but the Kirby requires you to release the belt in order to stop the roller from spinning on the hard surfaces. It is not overly convenient. The Dyson has a simple button next to the power switch that stops the roller from spinning.
As you saw in the video above, both vaccums are almost equal in terms of performance and dirt/hair pickup. Even after 6 years, the Kirby still has great power and suction. The Kirby seems to pick up stuff that is right along the edge of the wall a lot better than than the Dyson does, especially from the sides.
The Kirby warranty was something like 3 or 5 years but I think only the motor is guaranteed for the 5 years and it has a “lifetime rebuild” option where they will rebuild your Kirby for a few hundred dollars. The Dyson Animal warranty is 5 years full parts and labor.
Our Kirby cost us $1,500 in 2003. We couldn’t buy a Kirby at a store, so we had to deal with in-home sales people and their price had actually started at $2,000. I’ve heard of people paying anywhere from $1,000-$2,000 for a Kirby. Bags will run roughly, $2.50 apiece so for us it was costing at least $60/yr. Belts are roughly $3.50 apiece and we seem to be going through them at least every other month so $21/yr. For the first 3 or 4 years we did not need routine maintenance but now we need a yearly tune-up and cleaning at around $75/yr. So all of that adds up to $156/yr. Not to mention brush replacement…which I have been doing every year.
The Dyson retails for $549.99. There are no costs associated with bags or belts or filters.
So in the first 5 years – the length of the warranties, the Kirby cost us roughly $1900, a Dyson would cost $550. Each subsequent year thereafter with the Kirby would cost another $156/yr. If I am lucky enough to have the Kirby last 20 years without needing to be rebuilt, I could still have bought a new Dyson over 7 times in that 20 years because the Kirby costs would add up to at least $4240 in that 20 years. With a 5 year parts and labor warranty, the most I would replace the Dyson would be 4 times at a cost of $2,200 over 20 years.
With the cost of maintenance, belts and bags every year plus the inevitable need to refurbish the Kirby, you could buy a new Dyson every 5 years and still never exceed the life-cycle costs of the Kirby. And with the money you save, you can buy a new shampooer that actually works and is easier to use and you’ll probably still have money left over.
The Bottom Line:
After we bought the Kirby I really thought I’d never buy another vacuum. I was convinced that nothing could measure up because in the past no other vacuum had the power and pickup without getting clogged with pet hair.
Now, after using the Dyson DC25 Animal, I doubt I will ever use that Kirby again. Even when the Kirby is sitting in front of me, I go out of my way to go downstairs and find the Dyson. It is easily half the weight of the Kirby and all of its other features make it easier and more pleasant to use.
We bought the Kirby under the sales tactic of “never buy another vacuum again” and while that technically may be true, it’s not a valid argument if it costs twice as much, even over a “lifetime” of use.
Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, feature for feature, in my Kirby vs. Dyson comparison, Dyson wins hands down. Walter and I will be vacuuming together for many years to come.