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Kärcher VC 7 review: A dust-detecting but ultimately disappointing vacuum cleaner

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £420
inc VAT

The Kärcher VC 7 does a reasonable job on carpets but can’t hold a candle to similarly-priced vacuum cleaners


  • Adaptive power
  • Performs well on carpet


  • Too expensive
  • Simple floor head
  • Unimpressive attachments

The bright yellow Kärcher branding on this vacuum cleaner gives it the air of a power tool rather than a standard cleaner, but don’t let that fool you – the Kärcher VC 7 cordless vacuum cleaner is designed for the whole house, not just the workshop.

It’s a basic package with a single brush-based floor head and a small handful of attachments. However, it exudes workmanlike power, with a chunky design and a large Boost button on the back that you can hit when you want more suction. Does the vacuum live up to this macho image?

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Kärcher VC 7 review: What do you get for the money?

The Kärcher VC 7 is a mid-range cordless stick vacuum cleaner, costing £420 direct from Kärcher at the time of testing. That puts it in a similar price bracket as the Dyson V11, Shark Stratos IZ400UKT and Hoover HFX. That’s a tough trio of cordless vacuums to line up against, so I was very interested to see what Kärcher could pull out of the bag.

Opening the box knowing what you can get from rival manufacturers at this price left me a tad disappointed. The handheld unit doesn’t look particularly special: it’s bulky and, with its yellow Kärcher branding, looks more like a power tool than a vacuum cleaner.

The extension wand is a light aluminium affair, but the floor head is very basic. It contains a single brush roller, so is instantly trumped by the likes of Shark and Dyson with their addition of specialist hard floor fluffy rollers. Interestingly, you can buy one of these from Kärcher for an additional £80, though it isn’t included in the box and I didn’t get to test it.

The supplied floor head also doesn’t have any ability to remove hair tangles, though it does have a light on the front to help spot dust and dirt.

In terms of attachments, it comes with two brushes – a soft dusting brush and a stiffer upholstery brush, the bristles of which can be removed. It also has a crevice tool and an intriguing-looking filter cleaning tool. There’s a spare filter in the box and a plastic cradle that can be screwed into a wall for storage and charging.

Other vacuum cleaners I’ve reviewed at this kind of price often come with a motorised accessory that’s like a miniature floor head, which is ideal for cleaning stairs and lifting pet hair out of upholstery. The Kärcher doesn’t come with one of these but you can purchase one for an additional £50.

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Kärcher VC 7 review: What’s it like to use?

In its standard stick vacuuming mode, the Kärcher VC 7 is simple to operate. The wand and the floor head click into place and are released again with the push of a button. The vacuum is switched on with a trigger, much like the Dyson V11, but Kärcher kindly adds a catch so you don’t need to hold the trigger down when vacuuming for an extended period.

There’s also a Boost function, which engages the maximum power available to the device. This is switched on using a palm-sized button on the back.

On hard floor, the floor head rolls smoothly around. Most of the weight is up at the handheld end but that’s of little consequence on a smooth surface. On carpet, however, I found the action quite stiff. The floor head is so light that it lifts slightly at the rear as you pull it back, which breaks the seal with the carpet. This means you’re not getting the full power of the vacuum onto the floor when moving in both directions.

My initial fears about the unergonomic design of the handheld unit also played out during extended use. I found that the section that extends out of the top above the handle put pressure on the top of my hand and became uncomfortable over time.

Emptying the collection bin should be easy enough with a button releasing a door on the bottom as you hold it over your dustbin. In practice, however, I found that not everything falls out and you need to get your fingers into the dirty fluff to coax it past the filter skirt. The main filtration unit is easy to remove for a proper cleanout but it’s a bit messy to have to do on every empty.

The air filter is also easy to remove. There’s a spare in the box and the instructions suggest you can either rinse and dry it as normal, or use the cleaning tool that attaches to the vacuum to suck the dust off it.

This has a brush on the inside and by manually rotating the filter while it’s attached to the vacuum cleaner, it brushes the dust off and recaptures it. However, since the dust was already small enough to pass through to the air filter, I can’t quite work out why that wouldn’t mean that it’s just transferring straight back onto the clean air filter you’ve replaced it with.

I didn’t realise how much I’d miss the anti-tangle floor head in rival vacuums until I’d spent five minutes with this model on the carpet of my daughter’s bedroom. With not the slightest nod to helping fight tangles, the brush bar was soon covered in hair.

You need a screwdriver or coin to release the panel that holds the brush bar in place, which isn’t difficult but was quite stiff when I tried it. Scissors are then required to cut the tangle and clear the roller. It’s a fairly unpleasant job that has been rendered increasingly unnecessary in rivals with anti-tangle floor heads.

Battery life is okay but not brilliant. It falls well behind its rivals in Boost mode, only lasting for 8mins 30secs in my battery-draining test. The Hoover HFX can almost double that in its most powerful setting.

In its most efficient mode, it lasted 49mins 39secs, which isn’t bad but is trumped by both the Shark Stratos IZ400UKT and the Dyson V11, as you can see on the chart below.

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Kärcher VC 7 review: How well does it clean?

I started by testing the Kärcher VC 7’s suction. It only has two settings, the basic setting and the Boost setting. However, the basic setting is variable, increasing power when necessary. 

As you can see from the graph below, it held its own against its rivals. With Boost engaged it’s second only to the Dyson V11. It falls behind in its basic mode, particularly when you consider that it doesn’t have an economy setting, but the variable suction will increase this if it encounters more dirt.Kärcher VC 7 review

Superior suction doesn’t always translate into improved cleaning, though. To test a vacuum’s cleaning ability I run it through a series of tests, repeated on both hard floor and carpet. On both surfaces, I test the vacuum with measured quantities of Cheerios, flour and pet hair. By knowing how much I put down and weighing how much is collected on a single pass, I can see how good the vacuum cleaner is. I can also see how it performs against rivals I’ve tested in the past.

In the flour test, the vacuum performed well. It collected the whole lot off hard floor, except for a small amount in the cracks between laminate floor tiles, which was too small an amount to register on my scales. It wasn’t quite as good on carpet, though it still collected 90% of the spill on the first pass. The remainder was a visible white smudge on the floor.

It also handled pet hair reasonably well, collecting the full spillage off both carpet and hard floor. The hard floor test had looked to be a little touch and go, pushing hair ahead of the vacuum in the first half of the pass, even in Boost mode. However, a bit of luck helped it catch something at the last minute that drew the whole lot in.

Cheerios on carpet were gathered well by the adaptable suction. The floor head mounted the Cheerios and rode the wave over the entire spill, picking it all up. On hard floor, however, I found that the floor head just pushed the Cheerios forward, snow ploughing through them and pushing them aside, even when switched to Boost. It didn’t pick a single Cheerio up on hard floor.

As you can see from the chart below, its poor showing on hard floor Cheerios puts it well behind its rivals. Even if you take this tough test out of the equation, its rivals were all better at lifting flour off short pile carpet, giving them better overall results.

Kärcher VC 7 review

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Kärcher VC 7 review: Should you buy it?

The Kärcher VC 7 is a decent enough cordless vacuum cleaner if taken in isolation, but at its launch price, against rivals that cost a similar amount of money, there are other options I’d recommend over it.

Its basic floor head functions OK on hard floor but wasn’t good for larger particles in my tests. I found the device uncomfortable to hold for long periods, and it doesn’t come with key attachments that I’d consider core to the perfect vacuuming experience.

If you want to spend a similar amount of money on a Dyson, you can opt for the Dyson V11. This model will set you back a few more pounds but they’ll be well spent, with a second fluffy roller floor head for hard floor, anti-tangle on the main floor head and a motorised upholstery accessory.

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