Karcher of Stuttgart, Germany, is a world leader when it comes to steam cleaners, high pressure washers, vacuum cleaners for sucking up rocks and liquids and professional grade equipment for keeping factories, offices and streets clean. What it's not been much known for, previous to today, is cordless vacuum cleaners, of the Dyson-esque variety. However, armed with no fewer than four new vacs and a batch of moderately quirky press images, Karcher is now moving out of its various specialist niches and into the mainstream with the VC4 Cordless, VC4 Cordless Premium, VC6 Cordless and – oh yes – VC6 Cordless Premium. All the models are bagless as well as cordless. The pricing, as you shall see in due course, once you've read all my opinions on the matter, is very reasonable.
Perhaps wisely, Karcher is offering the option of plain, white versions of each of these. However all four are also proudly resplendent in the brand's trademark yellow, as seen in the following, preposterously skewed image. Karcher may be German, but they are not afraid of using some Dutch angles, seemingly…
It is going to be extremely hard for Karcher to stand out in the best cordless vacuum market. As well as the long-time market leader Dyson, it'll be taking on all the many, many fine products from Shark, Vax, Samsung, Miele, Hoover and a host of challenger brands from the UK, China and elsewhere. However, Karcher has a deserved reputation for delivering quality cleaning at reasonable prices, and it's certainly going for it with the promotional images here.
Rather than trying to innovate/reinvent the wheel, they've gone down the classic Dyson cordless stick vac route. So a battery-powered motor unit can have either a smaller cleaning head attached, so it works as handheld vacuum cleaner, or an extension tube with a larger head on the end, so it works as, well, a vacuum cleaner.
The VC range is described by Karcher as 'powerful, durable, and lightweight,' which is again not a novel idea in this particular market. But then if a design idea isn't broke, why fix it? Having scoured the press release and spec sheets I can't find anything that jumps out as a killer feature that no other vac else has got, but it's all very solid on paper and I'm pretty confident the products will be more than solid on floors.
There are adjustable power settings, including the boost mode that, let's face it, most people use all the time with these things. The posher VC6 and VC6 Premium also have headlights, so you can see exactly how gross your floors are as you clean them. As with all this style of cordless stick vac, the VC range can easily get into confined spaces and under sofas, beds, tables and so on. They can then be stored on a wall mount, which doubles as a charger.
Speaking of charging, battery life is 'up to 30 minutes' on the VC4 models and 'up to 50 minutes' on the VC6, although the VC6 Premium comes with a second battery, so you can double that. As ever your run time in the more powerful cleaning modes will be less than the maximum figure. No doubt you'll have the option to purchase a back-up battery for the other models in due course as well.
Karcher has deliberately limited the number of attachments the VC range comes with, which might come as a relief to anyone who's used some of the more high-end Dysons, which come with about 58 cleaning heads and accessories. The main cleaning head can go from hard floors to carpet without complaints, and there's also a dusting brush and crevice tool for handheld use and… that's your lot.
The main differences between the models seem to be a metal tube and HEPA filter on the VC6, as opposed to a plastic tube and no HEPA filter on the VC4 models. The Premium versions of the vacs feature a two-part filter as opposed to a single-part filter on the air intake.
Possibly the most potent weapon in Karcher's VC arsenal is that the pricing is very keen indeed – in particular, £299 for the VC6 Premium, a cordless vac with 2 batteries, is highly attractive in these cash-strapped times. It's hard to evaluate how well these vacs will clean, but in my experience, Karcher doesn't make many clunkers, and these will probably turn out to be very proficient vacuum cleaners. Whether that is enough to help them stand out in what is a very over-subscribed part of the homewares shop remains to be seen.
Karcher VC cordless vacuum range: price and availability
The vacs are available now, direct from Karcher and cost from £199 for the basic VC4 to £299 for the range-topping VC6 Premium. In the USA, the slightly different Karcher VC4s is available for $320. In Australia, there are seemingly NO cordless vacs from Karcher at present. Sorry, Australia.