Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review: great design and huge suction power make this the best bagless cylinder vac

A top corded vacuum cleaner for pet owners – but with this much suction power, do watch out for that hamster

T3 Platinum Award
Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review

T3 Verdict

For sheer suction power, the bagless Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 is a tough one to beat. Despite the fact it’s attached to a mains cable – and a very long one at that – it’s a doddle to use, extremely efficient and it comes with a genuinely useful set of attachments for all areas of the home. A top choice for any sized dwelling and a godsend for pet owners.

Reasons to buy

  • +

    Massive suction

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    Brilliant for pet hair

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    Excellent bin-emptying method

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    Self righting

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    Long retractable cable

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    Easy to empty

Reasons to avoid

  • -

    Quite heavy to carry

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    Awkward to store

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    Takes effort to push on deep carpets

Even though Dyson has switched over to cordless vacs, the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 not only has an amusing name; it's also an excellent corded model that will remain available for the foreseeable future. It's well worth a punt because it’s so damn good at doing what it’s designed to do – rid the abode of household detritus with maximum effectiveness and consummate ease.

The Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 is a cylinder vacuum cleaner. To help evaluate it, we’ve called in the assistance of our two test labs (labradors, that is) and three hairy cats and asked them, Doctor Dolittle-style, to lounge about on the carpets, the rugs, the wool-covered cushions and the back seat of the car. It didn’t take much persuasion. So, without further ado, let’s dig straight in and see what this Big Baller can do.

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Design and build

The Big Ball 2 is a cylinder-style vac so, while the main unit itself takes up little storage space, the 58-inch hose it comes with is as awkward as wresting with an obstreperous python when putting it to bed. Mind, that’s par for the course with all cylinder vacs. Like the popular Miele, it does have a little housing on the main unit to clip the hose to when in storage but, unlike the Miele, it doesn’t work – the weight of the hose continually twists it out of its overly small housing.

The Big Ball Animal 2 is quite a heavy thing to carry from room to room (7.5kgs) but those two huge ball-shaped wheels and two titchy ones on the rear make it very easy to tow along as you whizz around the house. Rather cleverly, it also self rights itself when tipped over, usually as a result of being yanked round a corner over a door-frame step. Most cylinder vacs fall over from time to time so it’s great to have one that doesn’t require any assistance.

One especially big bonus with this vac is that its cord is a whopping 6.5 metres in length and it recoils into its housing in a thrice, using what must be the strongest return spring in the business. Having a cord of this length allows the user to clean larger areas without having to change plug sockets.

As is the norm, the Big Ball Animal 2 is constructed almost entirely out of plastic but it’s pretty tough stuff that should withstand a lot of abuse. However, the protruding on/off and cable-retractor switches do look susceptible to mistreatment – if the on/off switch should snap off, it could be curtains.

Dyson Ball Animal 2 turbine heads

The Turbine head (left) is a handy alternative for getting under sofas and the Tangle Free Turbine (right) is superb for removing pet hair

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Accessories

This writer wasn’t enamoured of the surfeit of accessories that came with this vac’s upright stablemate. However, in this instance I feel the extra cleaning heads and detail accessories are justified, mostly because the machine itself doesn’t require any Transformer-like converting.

The self-adjusting 10-inch Pneumatic cleaner head is the main do-it-all attachment for all types of flooring, including carpets. It also includes a simple slider switch to change between the two levels of suction power, and there’s a hidden trigger at the handle to reduce suction further. Considering it doesn’t use revolving brushes, this head performed admirably well on carpet and wooden flooring, adjusting its height automatically as it moved from one surface to the other. And at just 3cm tall, it’s brilliant for reaching under even the shallowest of gaps. Like the upright Ball Animal 2 and Gtech AirRam, its suction was too great to clean a thin rug but, then again, most rugs usually require being taken outside and having the living daylights beaten out of them. 

If you find the Pneumatic head is struggling to deal with an especially grubby section of your deep pile carpet, swap over to the smaller eight-inch Turbine head, engage the high-speed rotating brush (there’s a roller switch on the brush unit) and the issue should be well and truly sorted.

Pet lovers will adore the Tangle Free Turbine tool. It’s only five inches in width but its two counter rotating brushes do an amazing job of removing dog and cat hair from their beds. Indeed, it’s the only thing I’ve ever used that has managed to remove most hair from the car’s nylon seats – the worst type of material for attracting pet hair.

The last two accessories – stair tool and combination tool for awkward areas – actually clip onto the hose handle for easy access, so that’s pretty useful.

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review

Bye bye cat hair – this sucker does the job admirably

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Performance

You want massive vacuum power? Look no further because this machine provides enough consistent suction to swallow a small town. For equality, I scattered the same collection of debris I used for the Dyson Ball Animal 2 upright – sugar, crushed cornflakes, dried peas and rice – and the Big Ball simply devoured the lot. Granted, the Pneumatic head did struggle to guzzle the peas but that’s only because the head is designed more towards smaller detritus collection. It had no such problems when using the Turbine head. However, because the suction is so great, it does take a bit of effort to push both heads on deep pile carpets. A quick pull on the suction-reduction finger trigger helps in this respect.

According to Dyson, this machine is equipped with two-tier Radial Cyclones which ‘generate high centrifugal forces to capture microscopic dust and allergens’. I’m not sure what that means but I can vouch that there was no ‘just vacuumed’ smell in the air and none of the cats sneezed.

The Big Ball Animal 2 was surprisingly quiet when used with the larger heads but it made quite a racket with the small Tangle Free Turbine, scattering the cats in the process.

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review

Dyson's brilliant bin emptying system is a highlight

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Emptying the bin

This machine’s dust bin emptying method is utterly brilliant and so easy to use. Simply press the big red button and the large bin pops off its housing. Now carry the whole assembly to the nearest bin and press another red button to eject all the crap it’s collected. Rather cleverly, the bottom half of the container drops down a few inches, releasing the dust hatch in the process. It’s a mostly dust-free procedure and one that I’m sure any user of a bagged vacuum cleaner would greatly appreciate.

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 review

Dyson Big Ball Animal 2: Verdict

In the pantheon of cylinder cleaners, this one is an unequivocal triumph: it’s easy to pull around; it doesn’t topple over that easily and when it does, it rights itself; it comes with an assemblage of very handy attachments; and it sucks like a tornado. For pet owners, especially, it is quite possibly the Holy Grail of vacuum cleaners, especially when used with the groundbreaking Tangle Free Turbine tool. Highly recommended.

•Buy the Dyson Big Ball Animal 2 from John Lewis & Partners