A larger dust bin, wider cleaning head, swappable battery and cord-free convenience are big drawcards for the V11 Outsize vacuum cleaner, particularly if you’ve got a larger home. For dirt pick-up it's a decent alternative to a corded vacuum. But it isn’t as zippy to use around the house as other smaller stick vacuums we've recommended, which are still great for vacuuming. It’s more tiring to manoeuvre too, which could be a drawback for less strong or dexterous hands.
In these locked-down times, most of us are staying home more, which means more dirt and dust build-up. Cleaning up is convenient with a cordless stick vacuum, but their tiny bins mean more frequent emptying compared with a traditional barrel or upright vac. Dyson's new V11 Outsize ($1299) is designed for larger Australian homes, claiming to cover more ground in less time thanks to a wider brush head and bigger bin capacity.
To see how effective the Dyson V11 Outsize is, our expert vacuum tester Matthew Tung tried one out while working at home during the COVID-19 lockdown.
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How is the Dyson V11 Outsize different from other Dyson stick vacuums?
There are two major features unique to the Dyson V11 Outsize.
1. Bin size
The V11 Outsize is designed for larger areas, so its bin capacity is visibly larger than others in the range. (We measure it as 1.6L compared with just 0.5L for the V11 Absolute.) This means you'll be emptying it less often.
2. Cleaner head width
The 'high torque XL cleaner head' claims to be 25% wider than other V11s, with the aim of cleaning more surface area in less time. Exactly how much is hard to measure as everyone's home is different, but any noticeable time saving would still depend on factors such as the effectiveness of the vacuum and the suction setting (there's a slider on the head to let you adjust how much you need).
What's new with the Dyson V11 battery?
At long last, Dyson now lets you swap its battery pack over with another pre-charged one by easily clicking it in and out.
But there's a catch – it'll only be sold separately, at $199 for a spare. Swappable batteries are a common feature in a number of rival vacuums such as those from LG and Ryobi (whose battery can be used in other household tools, including drills and lawnmowers).
Dyson finally lets you swap its rechargeable batteries with one click. But you'll pay a cool $199 for the privilege.
It's also a feature that a lot of CHOICE members tell us they like, as they won't have to worry if enough power is there to finish cleaning the home in one session. But with the V11 Outsize already priced at $1299, the extra battery pack means you'll be forking out close to $1500 for a vacuum.
Thankfully, the Dyson V11 features a countdown timer telling you how much battery is left, so you can try it out without the extra battery, and only buy one at a future date if you end up actually needing it.
Thankfully, the Dyson V11 features a countdown timer telling you how much battery is left, so you can try it without the extra battery
Note that the other new V11 in its range – the V11 Absolute Extra ($1199, not tested) – also comes with the swappable battery feature. But its bin and cleaner head are comparable to the previous V11s (which have a screw-in battery and will eventually be phased out).
The V11 Outsize comes with a high torque XL cleaner head which, in 'auto' mode, changes the motor speed depending on the floor type (you can see how much time the battery has left on the LCD screen as you go). Hard floors call for less power and drain the battery more slowly than carpets do. You can also use the slider on the head itself to adjust the amount of suction: maximum is best for hardy floors and heavily soiled carpets and rugs. Minimum is designed for deep-pile carpets, delicate floors and lightly soiled surfaces.
The smaller dust bin of the regular Dyson V11 Absolute Extra (left) compared with the Dyson V11 Outsize (right).
How well does the V11 Outsize pick up debris?
Our conclusion? The V11 Outsize is worth considering as an alternative to a traditional mains-powered vacuum.
But unless you're really keen on the extra bin space, the smaller V10 and V11 vacuums (as well as other stick vacuums we've recommended) are easier to move around and are still attractive options that have great pick-up on hard floors and carpet.
As our tester Matthew doesn't have access during lockdown to our regular test carpet or climate-controlled environment in the CHOICE labs, we can't give exact scores yet. But he did conduct a range of tests at his family home and was able to use an already-tested vacuum as a reference point.
Hard floor performance
Matthew was able to pick up cornflakes on his hard floor surfaces using the appropriate settings on the high torque XL cleaner head – unlike some of the older Dyson heads, which struggled with larger pieces of debris. The Outsize also comes with a dedicated soft roller cleaner head.
The V11 Outsize performs on par with many other mains-powered vacs. Our initial impressions are that even if you're just doing a quick clean around the house, the vacuum's performance is OK. In maximum mode, while the performance on carpet is good, the suction is so strong that Matthew's wife found she needed both hands to get it moving on the carpet! You'd need to reduce the suction to be able to control it more easily.
We've not tested the V11 Outsize on pet hair, but if results from previous Dyson stick vacuums are anything to go by, pickup should be excellent.
How easy is the Dyson V11 Outsize to move around?
True to its name, the Outsize is much bulkier than a regular stick vac. Although the whole unit weighs just 3.4kg (compared with 7-8kg for a regular mains-powered vac), the bigger-than-usual bin is at the top of the vacuum, which will only get heavier as it fills up with dirt.
Like other variants in the V11 and V10 range, the Outsize's motor, bin and wand are designed in a straight line. But, unlike barrel vacuums that you wheel behind you while vacuuming with the wand, you'll need to hold on to the whole unit during operation.
Due to its top-heavy design, it could get tiring to use and vacuuming high places is a challenge – you'll definitely need two hands to get it steady, and those with less strong hands would find it difficult. Because of its long bin, it's definitely one for floors, rather than ceiling corners or even tight spaces such as cars.
We did find it is excellent for reaching under low furniture. Getting into corners and edges using the regular head is good, so you probably don't need to swap it over for the crevice tool quite as often.
How easy is it to empty the bin and clean the filter?
To empty the bin, there's a red release button that slides the bin down using a point and shoot mechanism. This is easy to do into a garbage bag, but you'll need to raise the body higher than you may like (depending on the garbage bin's height and your height) due to the vacuum bin's length. The reusable filter is easy to clean and the LCD screen lets you know when it needs washing (Dyson recommends at least once a month).
How easy to use are the controls?
The V11 Outsize uses the same controls as its V11 Absolute predecessor (and the new V11 Absolute Extra). The on/off controls and variable power speed switches are on the main body and are very easy to use.
How noisy is the Dyson V11 Outsize compared with other vacuums?
It's noisy, but no more than other machines we've tested. On its highest 'boost' mode, we clocked it at 72dB, which is similar to other stick vacuums as well as traditional mains-powered ones. The sound does have a sharp pitch, which can be annoying.
The Dyson V11 Outsize comes with a range of accessories, including a soft roller brush and mini power head.
What tools does the Dyson V11 Outsize come with?
Out of the box, we got the vacuum cleaner, power brush head (the high torque XL cleaning head), soft roller power head, mini power head, combination tool (dusting brush/wide head), upholstery tool with soft brush, hard dusting brush, crevice tool, tool holder, battery charger, and wall mount with screws.
Other accessories sold separately include the extra battery pack ($199) and the free-standing dock that doesn't need wall mounting ($149).
Should you upgrade your Dyson vacuum?
If your current mains-powered vacuum is looking tired, or you don't have one and you're genuinely looking for a cord-free alternative that has a larger bin capacity, it's definitely worth a look.
But if you're already happy with your full-size vac, the smaller, sprightlier stick vacuums we've recommended are still great alternatives. In fact, they may even perform better in many scenarios, such as tight corners in your car or high ceilings.
Once CHOICE has the opportunity to do so, we'll put the Dyson V11 Outsize through the same paces as our traditional mains-powered vacuums to get a better idea of how it compares.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.