It wasn’t so long ago that a vacuum cleaner was an absolute buy-for-life staple of the modern household.
Growing up, I recall many a teenage lie-in being interrupted by my parents’ beast of a vacuum, purchased in 1994. It made a noise like a plane taking off, and hauling its weight up and down the stairs was treacherous business. But for all its shortcomings, it possessed serious suction power.
A few years ago, my parents decided they’d had enough of lugging ol’ faithful around the house. Swayed by the convenience of cordless, they splashed out on a sleek little number that was encumbered by neither a plug nor the equivalent heft of a two-year-old child.
The verdict? Disappointing. The cordless vacuum had feeble suction, tiny bin capacity and a battery life that started out bad and worsened over time. Luckily they kept their old vacuum cleaner, and after 27 years’ service (and one motor change), it’s still going strong to this day.
This experience prompts the question - why has the vacuum cleaner market moved so far away from reliability? And when it comes to combining this with convenience, can we have our cake and eat it too?
The problem with modern vacuum cleaners
In the last decade or so, somewhere around the invention of the cordless stick vac, vacuum cleaners became sexy. They’ve been elevated from stuffy household appliance to desirable consumer tech. Similarly to smartphones, new models are released every year, complete with new innovations that seem on the arbitrary side.
This has gone hand in hand with shorter product life cycles. Cordless stick vacuums are only made to live for about three years before the battery gives out, and when that does happen, a shiny new model awaits. In spite of this, cordless is more popular than ever.
It’s a familiar story when it comes to modern electronics. Longevity is sacrificed for an enhanced user experience, so that more frequent upgrades become normalised. This so happens to be a very profitable business model, incentivising a faster pace of consumption.
Nevertheless, when you compare the ease-of-use of a cordless stick vacuum with a monstrous vintage model, it’s no surprise that the buy-for-life vacuum cleaner seems to be a thing of the past - even if it was a more powerful machine. But if companies actually wanted to design the last cordless vac you’d ever need to buy, they would.
Usually, it takes a nimble startup to make these things happen.
Lupe was founded by two engineers who wanted to do exactly that.
Lucas Horne and Pablo Montero were disillusioned by the excessive culture of consumer tech. Unnecessary upgrades were used to generate profits, leading to ‘innovation for innovation’s sake’. Instead, they wanted to design resilient appliances to stand the test of time, whilst offering exceptional performance.
After five years of crowdfunding and development for their boundary-pushing vacuum cleaner, the Lupe Pure Cordless was born. Boasting some outstanding specs, it takes all the problem points of cordless vacuums and makes them right.
On first impressions, the Lupe vacuum cleaner is quite a funny-looking appliance, resembling a miniature version of a traditional upright model (with a futuristic leaning). But underneath an unassuming exterior is the strongest, most efficient suction of any cordless vacuum cleaner out there. It has a full hour of battery life, three power modes and an innovative 3-in-1 design that takes it from an upright cleaner to a handheld unit.
What’s more, the Lupe is made up of modular parts that can be easily taken apart and replaced. This means it’s not only simple to service, but parts like the battery and motor can be upgraded when technology moves on. It’s a true vacuum cleaner for life.
If you’re familiar with cordless vacuums, you’ll know an hour of battery life combined with really powerful suction is a big deal. Drawing power from a battery instead of the mains limits the amount of raw oomph a vacuum can give, so it has to use energy very efficiently.
In order to maximise suck, the Lupe has been designed with a patented suction intensifier system. It basically creates a highly effective seal around the head, whilst a counter-rotating brush and spongy roller whisk up all sorts of gunk from any surface.
Let's take a closer look:
- High power brush bar, perfect for deep-cleaning hair and embedded dirt
- Patented central inlet and counter rotating design enables optimum pick-up from all surface types, while maintaining high suction
- Patented composite roller with soft inner core conforms to all surfaces and debris
- Airtight tough outer skin prevents unnecessary leaks, and increases suction
This highly innovative system means less power spent, for more efficient suction. But how does it stack up against the competition? Take a look at the figures.
Dust allergy sufferers will note that the Lupe uses a HEPA filter, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Absorbing filter. This represents a very, very high standard of fine dust filtration - the Lupe can capture up to 99.99% of super-fine particles, as small as 0.3 microns. The whole filtration system is washable too, and should never need replacing.
Technical specs and jargon aside, the proof really is in the pudding with a product like this. Since the Lupe’s general release last year, reviews have poured in from around the world to voice astonishment at the amount of dirt it managed to suck out of clean-looking carpets. Our own tests confirmed - this thing is powerful.
The best of both worlds
You may notice that the Lupe looks more like a (albeit small) traditional upright vacuum cleaner than a handheld stick vacuum. In fact, it’s a 3-in-1 design that can switch between upright, hose and handheld mode. Handheld mode keeps the bulk of the vacuum in a carry unit, allowing you to access awkward places with a lightweight 2 metre reach.
These different configurations keep the convenience of cordless vacuuming, but with the weight low to the ground. Those familiar with topheavy stick vacs will appreciate the lessened arm strain during big cleans. Lupe chose not to compromise on battery or bin size, instead opting for a slightly heftier design that you can clean with for longer.
A modular design
Outstanding cleaning aside, this is the part we’re particularly excited about. The Lupe is made of modular parts that are designed to be disassembled, so that you can diagnose any issues and fix them with ease. Instead of disposing of your entire vacuum cleaner when one part goes, such as the battery, you can simply replace the exact component that has failed.
What’s more, Lupe support long-term ownership by offering an open, affordable supply of all spare parts to purchase. Improved parts will be made available as they get developed, so that you can upgrade too. By keeping every single element of the Lupe Pure Cordless easily replaceable, this company are setting you up with a vacuum for life.
Lupe are one of those rare companies who believe that good design goes hand-in-hand with lessening environmental impact. The most important element of that is designing products for long-term ownership. But they go a step further - for each Pure Cordless Vacuum they sell, Lupe will offset the carbon footprint for the product’s entire life cycle. In 2023, they aim to become carbon negative.
We appreciate that Lupe take care to consider the human impact of their product’s production too. The factory they use, Ryder, is a Swiss-owned factory in Shenzhen, China. As well as boasting Swiss precision, Ryder prioritise fair wages, employee development, community welfare and environmental responsibility.
One of our favourite things about the Lupe Pure Cordless is that it demonstrates how forward-thinking design and a great user experience can go hand-in-hand with a buy-for-life mentality. I love that my parents have a vacuum that’s older than me. But plucky startups like Lupe let you make a conscious choice that doesn’t compromise on convenience.
The Lupe philosophy revolves around engineering a cleaner world. They’re of the opinion that we don’t need unnecessary stuff in our lives. This is why Lupe have innovated ‘what we should, not what we could’. They’ve done away with gimmicky add-ons, LCD screens and extra attachments you’ll never use - so you’re just left with a brilliant cordless vacuum you’ll love to keep for life.