The Lupe was designed in Bristol by two floor care experts who wanted to improve on the offering from big brands. Their aim was to make a powerful, future-proofed vacuum cleaner that’ll be kinder to the environment simply by lasting longer.
We put the Lupe to the test.
Design & set up
The Lupe is a design-led vacuum cleaner. The high-quality experience begins the moment you open its box. It’s thoughtfully shipped in plastic-free packaging that’s been designed to fit snugly around the vacuum cleaner.
It’s an unusual looking vac: white with a curved body, black hoses and attachments, and mint green accents. I like the fact that it’s not trying to look the way a home appliance traditionally does. Visually, it has more in common with expensive, ergonomic office tech.
The Lupe is clearly well made: it’s study, solid and all of its parts click together and release easily.
In the box, you’ll get the cleaner itself (which comes in three parts), two spare cleaning attachments, and charging equipment. It also comes with three country-specific plug attachments, so it can be used anywhere in the world. However, for an RRP of almost £700, it doesn’t feel like a lot.
It’s built to last, with components – including the removable battery – that can be swapped out and replaced so that the vacuum cleaner itself should last for years to come.
In one sense, the engineers have nailed their brief. The airflow technology of the Lupe is excellent. Its suction is perhaps the best of the vacuum cleaners we’ve tested. When coupled with its clever roller design (a spongy roller at the front, with a more traditional bristly roller behind it), the Lupe has fantastic pick up of everything from fluff to large and small debris. It won’t scatter larger bits and nothing is left behind.
It’s great on the ground and its only cleaning flaw is that it didn’t do a great job getting pet hair off upholstery.
I also found that there was a bit of a hair wrap problem on the second roller, as well as on the vac’s tiny wheels, which quickly became clogged. But the second roller can quite easily be removed for cleaning, which is a better option than most cleaners provide.
The Lupe also has excellent battery life. It’s about the same as the best cordless vacuum cleaners on the market, which is to say that you’ll get an hour’s cleaning on eco mode, half an hour on the medium setting and 15 minutes on high. What’s different about the Lupe is that you can use its eco setting for most of your cleaning – unlike the majority of other cordless cleaners – so an hour’s battery life really is an hour of cleaning time.
If you have thick carpets and find that your regular vacuum cleaner isn’t doing a good enough job extracting dirt trapped deep in the fibres, the Lupe could be a good option for you.
If you mainly have hard flooring, you’re unlikely to really need the level of suction the Lupe offers and you might find that the appliance’s other negatives outweigh the positives. The problem is that for all of its brilliant specs, it’s just not that easy to use.
The Lupe is a heavy vacuum cleaner. As it bears its own weight, it should feel lighter than some, if not most, stick cleaners but I didn’t find that to be the case. It was hard work pushing it across the floor.
On the other hand, when you pause cleaning, it stands up by itself, so you don’t have to find somewhere to prop it up as you do with a stick cleaner. And when it comes to charging, you just plug it in. There’s no need for a stand or wall mount.
It’s also extremely noisy, with a headache-inducing high-pitched whine. Particularly on the highest setting, it sounds like a jet engine on helium. Luckily, its powerful suction means that you won’t need to use the high setting very often.
And, while the Lupe has an extremely effective HEPA filter and a reasonably sized 1 litre dustbin (by comparison, the Dyson V11 has only a 0.76 litre capacity), the odd shape of the bin means that you can’t just pop it open and empty it. Hair and dust get caught in corners and have to be extracted manually. This means that, in spite of its effective dust pick up and filter, it’s not a good choice for people who are sensitive to dust.
But it’s the handheld cleaning mode that lets the Lupe down. As a handheld, it has a completely different design to the gun-shaped cleaners that prevail at the moment. You have the body of the vac and a flexible hose for cleaning – which means that using it is a two-handed job. Essentially, you carry the (relatively heavy) body of the cleaner around with you in one hand, like a briefcase, while using the hose in the other hand to clean. It’s not ideal and it’s far from the point and vac system offered by most other convertible cordless vacuum cleaners.
Yes, you can set it on a surface as you go, but it stands vertically and the short hose means you’ll probably knock it over. In either case, you won’t have a lot of manoeuvrability – and manoeuvrability is really the whole point of a cordless.
Switching from upright to handheld isn’t instant, either. First, you pop off the main cleaning head. Then you take out the wand. You can either fix the wand onto the hose on the front of the body for cleaning ceilings (with a cleaning tool at the end), or attach a cleaning tool straight into the hose.
It’s just not a great solution and you’ll probably end up wanting a second handheld cleaner for quick spot cleaning, shelves, sofas and upholstery.
Price & availability
The Lupe has an RRP of £699, although it’s currently on sale for £599. This places it squarely in the luxury vacuum cleaner market, at a similar price point to – and competing with – the likes of the Dyson V11, Miele’s TriFlex and Samsung’s Powerstick Jet.
It’s currently only available from the Lupe website, but it can be shipped all over the world.
The Lupe is so good on paper that I still can’t believe I didn’t like it more. But it’s noisy, heavy, a faff to change to its handheld form and a pain to use when in that mode. It’s definitely a cleaner that places performance over comfort and flexibility.
But make no mistake – this is a powerful and sturdy vacuum cleaner. If you’re looking for a cordless to replace your upright, have deep carpets and even deeper pockets, you might still love the Lupe.
To see which vacuum cleaners we rate the most highly, check out our round-up of the best vacuum cleaners we’ve tested.
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