As you know, we’re hugely obsessed with vacuum cleaners and are always searching for the best vacuum cleaner around. In our research, we came across two very popular brands and decided to compare them in this post: Kirby Vs Dyson. We’ll look at the Dyson Ball Animal and the Kirby Avalir.
A brief history of Kirby
Kirby, like Riccar and other American made vacuums, have been in the vacuum business for a long time: over 100 years in this case.
Unlike Dyson, which you’ll find in big box stores, Kirby can only be found in very limited outlets. Initially, they would only direct-sell by doing in-home demonstrations. The classical door to door salesman pitch comes to mind here!
Most of these American-made vacuums pride themselves on being very high quality. Kirby is no different, and you’ll find that most of their vacuums are made of higher durability materials like metal instead of plastic.
Additionally, they have a Lifetime Factory Rebuild program where you can always get your vacuum repaired.
There’s no doubt that Dyson is one of the most innovative vacuum brands of today. Dyson is now becoming very popular for their cordless stick vacuums, which actually can hold their own against corded upright vacuums, but since the Kirby is an upright cleaning system, it would be like comparing apples to oranges.
For this reason, we’ll compare the Dyson Ball Animal, an upright model against the Kirby.
Kirby Avalir 2
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The Kirby Avalir 2 is a super powerful cleaning suite that can handle everything from pet hair, hard floors, carpets, and anything else you can throw at it.
You can also use it for shampooing carpets and mopping hard floors. Although it is very expensive, you’re getting a full cleaning suite that can handle pretty much everything.
Dyson Ball Animal II
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Dyson has exploded on the vacuum and personal care scene with some of the coolest concepts of products seen in recent memory. The Ball Animal II is no different.
It uses a cyclonic system to generate a lot of suction and comes with a variety of tools that are more than enough to handle most of your everyday household cleaning needs.
Kirby vs Dyson: motor and suction
In some of our other posts, we’ve discussed direct air and clean air motors. Basically, direct air motors have a lot more suction but they don’t have a filter between the motor and the brush. Clean air motors have slightly less suction power but there is a filter between the brush and the motor.
Direct air machines (such as the Kirby) have much better airflow and more powerful suction. Clean air machines like the Dyson have reduced airflow. It’s basically because the fan is closer to the brush on the Kirby than it is on the Dyson.
The Dyson uses a cyclonic suction system. It’s very powerful and it’s one of the reasons that Dyson vacuums are so popular. Almost any kind of debris you throw its way(cereal, dust, dirt, kitty litter) will be picked up without much effort.
The cyclonic system keeps everything moving, so there’s always room for air to flow easily.
Interestingly enough, if you’re using the hose, the Kirby and Dyson are almost the same again, because the fan is now far on the Kirby as well.
The motor powering the Kirby is an extremely powerful piece of equipment. When it comes to dislodging dirt and sucking it out of your carpet, the Kirby does a fantastic job.
The process of dislodging dirt is called agitation, and the process of pulling it up is called suction. Agitation is accomplished with the brushroll – it generally has thick bristles to dig into the fibers of the carpet and pull dirt out.
You can adjust the suction power up and down on the Kirby Avalir.
As far as airflow goes, the Kirby Avalir is almost unmatched. The motor design enables a lot of airflow and suction and in terms of raw power, the Kirby is a superior vacuum to the Dyson.
Dyson vs Kirby: filters
Both the Kirby and the Dyson use HEPA filters in their vacuums. The only difference, like you saw above, is where the filter is positioned.
Just because the Kirby uses a direct air motor does not mean that the air exhausted is any less cleaner. In fact, the Kirby is a very well built, sealed machine that makes sure no air or dust particles escape anywhere.
The Kirby uses a bag filter which remains sealed, so you just remove the bag and throw it out.
The Dyson uses a dirt cup instead of a bag. You don’t have to keep replacing a bag in this case, and the dirt cup is quite high capacity, so you won’t need to empty it that often, either.
The Kirby and Dyson are pretty much on par when it comes to filtering, and even if you have allergies or asthma(like I do), you should be okay with either of these models.
Weight, height adjustment, and cord length
Weight, height, and cord length may seem like trivial specs compared to motor power and filtering but they’re just as important. After all, you’re going to be pushing the vacuum around, and if any of these three are not ideal, your vacuuming experience will be severely compromised.
The Kirby Avalir is a heavy vacuum, coming it at 24 pounds. It’s very easy to maneuver thanks to the swivel head, but it’s still heavy.
The Dyson Ball Animal, on the other hand, weighs 17 pounds, much less than the Kirby, and the ball system makes it slide around like butter.
The Kirby Avalir has a 29 foot power cord. There’s no automatic winding, so you’ll have to manually wrap it yourself. Wrapping up a 29 foot cord every time can be a bit of a hassle, I think.
The Dyson Ball Animal has a long power cord and it is self-retracting. One thing to be careful of with self retracting power cords is that they tend to shoot into the vacuum at a high speed so if it hits someone on the way back it may leave a mark!
Brush adjustment and height
The Dyson has automatic brush height adjustment. This means that as you vacuum and move from on floor type to the next(carpet to thick carpet, or carpet to hardwood/tile), the brush height will automatically adjust itself for the best vacuuming performance.
The brush head on the Dyson permanently runs and does not stop.
On the Kirby Avalir 2, the brush is very very good at agitating carpet fibers and releasing dirt. Unlike the Dyson, you have the option to turn the roller on for agitating carpets, or turn it off to avoid scuffing hardwood floors.
The Kirby vacuum is self propelled, which means you don’t have to make an effort to push it – it just moves by itself. How cool is that!
The Dyson is not self propelled, and you’ll have to push it using your own energy(it’s not that hard to push).
Dyson and Kirby: tools
The Dyson Ball Animal comes with a nicely sized hose that you can use to reach hard-to-reach spots. There’s a stair tool, a dirt brush, a hardwood floor tool, a pet hair tool, and a Groom tool as well.
The Kirby comes with a LOT more tools:
- 2 extension wands
- a crevice tool with a scrubber for serious agitation
- a floor tool
- a massage cup(similar to Dyson’s pet hair tool)
- an inflator tool you can use for air beds and the like
- a duster brush
- an upholstery tool
- a wall and ceiling brush
Additionally, since the Kirby is a shampooer as well, you get:
A carpet shampoo system that you can use instead of a regular carpet shampooer to make your carpets almost as good as new.
A floor care system that can be used to polish hardwood floors with wax and make them nice and shiny again.
A set of extra accessories such as a sander, a buffer, a tool for cleaning grout, and a tool for massaging surfaces.
A Zipp Brush which is an upholstery tool with a motor built in, great for stairs and pet hair.
Since the Kirby is a full featured home cleaning suite, it is significantly more expensive than the Dyson. You’re looking at around double the price!
Kirby vacuums are sold through very select outlets and as a result, pricing may vary from outlet to outlet. Even though there is room for bargaining at times, be prepared to shell out $1000 or more for a Kirby Avalir. The $1000 will last you a long time, though, as the warranty is superb and Kirby will always be able to repair the vacuum for you.
Consumer Reports has the price listed at around $1600, which can be considered fair market value.
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Conclusion: Who wins between Dyson and Kirby?
So this was a pretty interesting comparison, right? Both vacuums really hold their own in their respective categories, but which one comes out at the top?
- In terms of airflow and raw power, the Kirby vacuum is far superior than the Dyson
- Even when the bag/dust cup has a lot of dirt in it, the Kirby still maintains better suction than the Dyson
- In terms of the amount of dirt the vacuums are able to pick up, the Kirby wins again
- The Kirby also has less of a tendency to clog than the Dyson
- The Kirby is much more durable than the Dyson, too
- The Dyson is much more maneuverable than the Kirby vacuum
- The Dyson looks much cooler and is more widely available than the Kirby
As you can see, the Kirby vacuum outperforms the Dyson by a mile.
However, there are two limiting factors that may push you towards the Dyson instead…
- The Kirby is quite expensive. Unless you plan on regularly shampooing your carpet, you can get away with spending $1000 less and getting a Dyson which still does a pretty decent job
- The Kirby is not very readily available. If you can’t find it where you live, you’ll definitely be able to order a Dyson online or find it at your local mall.
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