Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Lift
- Two removable batteries that can be swapped for increase run-time
- Versatile design that's suitable for above floor cleaning
- No motorised tool for the extendable hose
- Average cleaning performance and struggles on hard floors
- Poor edge cleaning
With a unique design and a long 60 minute run-time, the Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Lift is an attractive model – at least on paper. It also has Vax’s WindTunnel3 technology, which the company claims improves suction power and cleaning performance.
But does the vacuum provide enough suction to rival the best cordless vacuum cleaners? And is it worth the money? Keep reading our Vax U85-ACLG-B review to find out.
Overview of Vax U85-ACLG-BA Air Lift
The U85-ACLG-B is a decent cordless vacuum. It’s great if you want a cordless with a long battery life or that mimics the design of an upright. The lift-out cylinder also helps with above floor cleaning and it has a large capacity. Unfortunately, it’s let down by its cleaning performance, so we don’t recommend it as a replacement for a corded vacuum.
Features and Performance
Appearance and Design
Unlike many other cordless models, the U85-ACLG-B is more like a traditional upright than a stick vacuum (even more so than the AirRam Mk2). It’s clearly meant to provide the same quick floor cleaning as a corded model, but with the convenience of cord-free design.
One of the standout features is the lift-out cylinder. As you can see from the photo above, this allows you to detach the cylinder to increase mobility. The cylinder is detached with a single click, which makes it easy to clean areas that would be tricky with a traditional upright vacuum.
The Vax weighs 5.5kg. This is quite heavy for a cordless vacuum, and makes it less suited to quick cleaning than models such as the Dyson V6 Fluffy. The weight is reduced by a couple of kilograms when you lift out the cylinder though, which makes it much more portable.
A great feature of the Vax is the large 1 litre capacity. This is one of the biggest dust containers we’ve seen on a cordless vacuum and means you won’t need to empty it as often. For comparison, we’ve reviewed models with as little as 300ml dust capacity.
Like other Vax vacuums, the U85-ACLG-B is built with steerable technology. This is effectively a joint between the cleaner head and body of the vacuum, allowing you greater control when cleaning around obstacles. While it’s not quite as effective as Dyson’s Ball technology, it does a similar job.
An interesting feature is the LED lights on the front of the vacuum. These light up the floor, allowing you to see more dirt. The lights also increase visibility when you’re trying to clean under furniture and other tight places. While the lights are clearly a gimmick, they do have some practical use.
Additionally, the vacuum comes with a flexible hose. This is another feature that’s common on corded uprights but rare on cordless vacuums. When combined with the lift-out cylinder, the hose makes this a highly versatile vacuum that can clean anything from carpeted floors to stairs or cars.
Suction Power and Performance
Vax claims that the WindTunnel3 technology helps to improve suction. This is achieved by creating three separate suction channels across the floor head, which leads to greater cleaning performance without drawing significantly more power.
As you would expect from a cordless in this price range, the Vax also has a boost mode. This greatly decreases battery life, but provides more suction for pet hair and other stubborn debris.
Unfortunately, the vacuum doesn’t provide the cleaning power we’ve come to expect from modern cordless vacuums. It’s not terrible at cleaning carpets, nor is it the worst we’ve reviewed, but it struggles on hard floors. For this reason, we don’t recommend it to people with lots of hard floors or who have pets.
It’s also relatively loud for a cordless vacuum. If you want to clean without waking the baby or vacuum at night, it’s probably not a good option.
On a positive note, the lift out cylinder makes the vacuum perfect for stair cleaning. Once detached, the lightweight cylinder is easy to carry up and down stairs, and the extendable hose makes quick work of steps. We just wish that it came with a motorised tool to attach to the hose, as this would improve cleaning on carpeted stairs.
The Air Lift comes with two lithium-ion batteries. In combination, these provide an impressive 60 minutes of cleaning time – which is much longer than the majority of cordless vacuums. We like how Vax have included the second battery and made them easy to replace, as this is a feature that’s missing from many competitors.
An added benefit of lithium-ion batteries is that the suction power shouldn’t decrease as the battery runs down. This is a common problem with non-lithium batteries.
Charging is also relatively quick. Each battery can be fully charged in around three hours, so you won’t need to wait long to start cleaning again. The charger also stops drawing power once the battery is full.
As we mentioned earlier, it WindTunnel3 technology to increase suction. In practice, this means air is pulled through three channels in the floor head.
While this is an interesting feature, it’s difficult to judge how much it affects the suction of the device. The floor head does have a motorised brush bar though, which helps to increase carpet pickup. A downside is that the floor head doesn’t provide particularly good edge cleaning, although it’s easy to whip along walls and skirting boards with the extendable hose.
The Vax comes with a washable filter, so you don’t need to worry about buying replacements. As with all vacuums, it’s important to wash this regularly otherwise the suction of the machine will start to drop.
While it isn’t terrible for filtration, it’s also not great at removing fine dust from exhaust air. For this reason, we wouldn’t recommend it for people with allergies.
With an RRP of £300 at the time of writing, the U85-ACLG-B isn’t a cheap cordless. At this price, we don’t recommend it, as there are much better options for similar money.
However, the vacuum is often available for a lot less than this. We’ve seen it being sold for as little as £160 (although prices change all the time). At this price, it’s a much more attractive option – especially if you need a cordless with a long battery life.
- The two batteries are easy to swap if you need to continue cleaning.
- A docking station is included for charging the batteries.
- As the U85-ACLG-B has an upright design, it can stand on its own when stored.
- Indicator lights show when the batteries are charged.
- The lift out cylinder has small feet so it can stand when not connected to the floor head.
- There are small side brushes that help with edge cleaning, although these are not as effective as we would like.
- There is a switch to change between carpet and hard floor modes.
A 2-in-1 crevice tool is included with the U85-ACLG-B. This attaches to the hose and is great for cleaning awkward locations.
We would have liked a motorised tool to attach to the hose. Without one, the vacuum relies entirely on its suction to remove dirt when the cylinder has been detached, which makes it less effective at cleaning carpets on stairs and upholstery.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Vax U85-ACLG-B suitable for people with bad backs?
When the cylinder is detached, it’s a reasonably lightweight vacuum, although it still requires two hands to use. In upright mode it’s a relatively heavy cordless though, so it may not be the best choice for people with bad backs. It also doesn’t have the best suction power of cordless vacs, so you may need to go over patches of floor twice.
Can it handle pet hair?
As we mentioned in our review, the vacuum does a decent job on carpets and it’s adequate at removing pet hair when in upright mode. The boost mode also helps for particularly stubborn hair.
It doesn’t have a motorised pet hair tool though, so it isn’t great at removing pet hair on stairs, upholstery or in your car.
The Vax U85-ACLG-B Air Lift is a difficult vacuum to review. On the one hand, it has a fantastic upright design and we love the versatility of the detachable cylinder. It also has a large capacity and one of the longest run-times of any cordless vacuum (if you use both batteries). But it’s let down by its cleaning power and lack of motorised tool.
For these reasons, the U85-ACLG-B is great if you want a portable vacuum for cleaning your home between corded vacuum sessions. It doesn’t quite have the suction power to replace your full vacuum though, despite having some excellent features.