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Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly Review

Editors' Choice Award
Price:   $350 List | $199.99 at Amazon
Pros:  Best at cleaning carpet, easy to use, exceptional at picking up pet hair
Cons:  Heavy, hard to handle
Bottom line:  For those with tons of carpet to clean, this is the best of the best
Editors' Rating:   
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Manufacturer:   Kenmore

Our Verdict

Scoring near the top of the pack, the Elite Pet Friendly vacuum cleaner by Kenmore earned our second Editors' Choice award for this category. This model has a solid performance in most metrics, but earned the highest score of the entire group at cleaning carpets. While this bagged vacuum is a little on the larger side and lacks some of the maneuverability of other models, it's a great pick for someone who is primarily interested in cleaning carpets or wants to stick with a traditional bagged collection system.


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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results

Review by:
David Wise and Austin Palmer

Last Updated:
Wednesday
July 12, 2017

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The Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly does an absolutely fantastic job at cleaning carpets. Period. This model is a much more traditional design, relying on bags instead of a reusable collection bin. While this heavier model is a bit on the clunky side and is nowhere near as maneuverable as some of the lighter and more agile models, its unparalleled carpet cleaning, and excellent pet hair collection abilities earned it the Editors' Choice award.

The Kenmore Elite  our top recommendation for carpeted floors.
The Kenmore Elite, our top recommendation for carpeted floors.

Performance Comparison


To rank these products, we conducted a series of tests spread across five weighted metrics. These metrics were Carpet Cleaning, Ease of Use, Handling, Pet Hair, and Hard Surface Cleaning. Each metric had a different set of tests, with the next sections explaining how the Kenmore performed, whether it was good or bad.

The Kenmore Elite was the top performer when it came to cleaning carpets.
The Kenmore Elite was the top performer when it came to cleaning carpets.

Carpet Cleaning


The Kenmore scored 8 out of 10, earning the top spot in this metric and outperforming every other model in the group. This metric is the highest weighted metric of the test, accounting for 35% of the overall score, with the Kenmore's performance here vaulting it to an award. We compared the skill of each vacuum at collecting rice, flour, Cheerios, and oatmeal from both shallow and fluffy carpet to determine the scores, with the chart below showing how the rest of the products fell in behind the Kenmore.


The Kenmore did awesome in our first test: rice collection. This vacuum only required two passes to collect everything on both shallow and fluffy carpet. However, there are some plastic bars on the underside of the vacuum that would inadvertently collect some rice.

The performance of this model did drop in our flour test, with this model tying for third place with a score of 6 out of 10. It did a mediocre job at collecting flour from low-pile carpet — even being bested by the Hoover WindTunnel, a consistently poor performing model. However, the Kenmore did redeem itself on the fluffier, medium-pile carpet, tying for the best cleaning job overall with the both Shark models and the Dyson Ball Animal 2.

The Kenmore struggled slightly with the flour on low-pile carpet  dropping to the middle of the pack.
The Kenmore struggled slightly with the flour on low-pile carpet, dropping to the middle of the pack.

The Kenmore once again did exceptionally well across the board in our cereal collection test, picking up all of the Cheerios with two passes. The bars on the undercarriage would collect Cheerios or press them into the carpet, but the vacuum would usually suck them up on the backstroke.

The Kenmore only left behind a few residual Cheerios.
The Kenmore only left behind a few residual Cheerios.

For the final test of this metric — oatmeal — the Kenmore continued its reign as carpet cleaning champion.

This model did fantastic on the low-pile carpet, once again getting all of the debris with only two passes. It also did the best of the group on the fluffy carpet, taking about six passes to totally clean the carpet, while other models took over 10 to finish.

In addition to a solid cleaning performance  the Kenmore was also exceptionally easy to use.
In addition to a solid cleaning performance, the Kenmore was also exceptionally easy to use.

Ease of Use


Ranking second in weight, the Ease of Use metric made up a quarter of the total score. This metric consisted of evaluating each vacuum's noise level, maximum reach, how easily it transitioned from hard to soft floors, and its ability to clean under furniture and close to edges. The Kenmore did very well, tying for the top spot with the Shark Rotator and Eureka Mighty Mite with its score of 7 out of 10. The following chart shows how the remaining products filled in.


It wasn't the easiest to transition between hard and soft floors, with a knob on the front of the vacuum that would adjust the height of the rollers when adjusted — substantially more difficult than the button built into the handle of models like the Shark Rotator. However, this model does have the option to turn off the rotating brush for hard floors.

This model does clean in extremely close to walls — doing the best of the entire group. We spread rice along an edge and tight corner to test this, with the Kenmore collecting everything in a single pass.

The Kenmore did exceptionally well in this test  leaving practically no debris behind.
The Kenmore did exceptionally well in this test, leaving practically no debris behind.

The Kenmore did slightly above average at cleaning under furniture, reaching 7" under our simulated sofa. This was better than some, but not even close to the 12"+ of the top models, like the Shark Rotator, Oreck XL, and the canister vacuums.

The Kenmore didn't reach particularly far under our test "sofa".
The Kenmore didn't reach particularly far under our test "sofa".

This vacuum had one of the longer reaches, making it 37' away from the outlet when plugged in. It was also one of the quietest models, measuring in at 72.5 dBa on the SPL meter. You can see how this compares to the rest of the pack in the chart below.


In addition to measuring the sound with the meter, we had a panel of judges rate the sound produced. There were no excessively annoying tones produced and the panel felt that it was relatively quiet.

The Kenmore wasn't the easiest to handle  being relatively heavy.
The Kenmore wasn't the easiest to handle, being relatively heavy.

Handling


Ranking next in terms of importance, the Handling metric accounts for 20% of the final score for each vacuum. This metric is comprised of a trio of tests: maneuvering, pushing/pulling effort, and cleaning a flight of stairs. This set of tests proved to be the most difficult for the Kenmore, which consequently received its lowest score of 4 out of 10 and the lowest score of the whole group. The graphic below shows how the other vacuum cleaners in the pack performed.


This model took moderate effort to push or pull, mainly due to the fact that it weighed about 4 lbs more than the next heaviest model in the group and over double the lightest model, the Eureka Mighty Mite.

It was also reasonably difficult to clean a flight of stairs, as this model has a short reach when using the accessory cleaning hose — only about 6.5 stairs. This meant you had to move it more times than other models, an uninviting task due to its weight. However, its weight did make it stable, so at least it wasn't prone to tipping over when using the cleaning hose.

To evaluate maneuverability, we made a small obstacle course for each model and attempted to clean our way through it with each vacuum, making particular note of areas that we weren't able to satisfactorily clean or places that entrapped the vacuum. The Kenmore performed very poorly in this evaluation — the worst of the entire group. We found this vacuum to be big and clunky, taking much more work to maneuver around obstacles and hard to fit in tight space.

The Kenmore did alright on hard floors  though it wasn't amazing.
The Kenmore did alright on hard floors, though it wasn't amazing.

Hard Surface Cleaning


Comprising 10% of the total score, the Hard Surface cleaning metric's tests were conducted in an identical fashion to the carpet cleaning tests. Once again, we spread rice, flour, Cheerios, and oats on a section of hardwood floor, rating the Kenmore on how much it picked up and how long it took. It did reasonably well, earning a 6 out of 10 for its above average overall performance, with the chart below showing how this compared to its peers.


The Kenmore did quite well in our rice test, collecting all of the debris laid out in two passes with the hard floor setting engaged. It would have done it in one pass, but small bumpers on the vacuum pushed rice out of the way on the first pass. The performance dropped when it came to flour, with the Kenmore doing a below average job. It didn't clean the cracks of the floor at all and collected tons of flour on its wheels.

As shown  the Kenmore substantially struggled with this test.
As shown, the Kenmore substantially struggled with this test.

It did a little better at collecting cereal, getting most of it with two passes. The Kenmore did struggle a little with oatmeal, tending to plow and push the debris around, rather than sucking it up — similar to the Miele and other canister vacuums.

Pet Hair


Responsible for the remaining 10% of the score, this metric was one of the better ones for the **Kenmore. It did an excellent job earning a 9 out of 10 for its performance, with the graphic below showing how this compared to the others.


We spread 5 grams of pet hair on the medium-pile carpet, then vacuumed it up, rating each model on the amount collected. The Kenmore collected 90% of the hair, putting it in the top tier of models.However, both Dyson models, the Shark Navigator, and the Miele collected just a little bit more.

Value


The Kenmore is a bit pricey compared to its performance, with other model being better value picks.

Conclusion


The Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly is an all-around great vacuum, with the exception of handling. Its traditional bagged design is a little larger and clunkier than other models, but with its heft comes power. This model does an unparalleled job at cleaning carpets, especially fluffier, medium-pile carpets, making it a great choice for someone with plenty of this flooring in their home. It doesn't maneuver around clutter quite as well as other, but for those with expansive carpeted areas to clean, then this it the perfect vacuum.
David Wise and Austin Palmer

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