vacuums

Kenmore Elite 21814 Vacuum Cleaner Review

Powerful, but not fancy

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Most vacuums have their strengths. Some are powerful, others easy to maneuver. Some have hair removal down to a science, while others suction scum from the carpet with ease. Finding the right vacuum often means choosing which of these factors matters most to you.

But what if you didn't have to choose?

Our testing proved the Kenmore Elite 21814 (MSRP $449) to be a well-rounded bagged vacuum, competent in cleaning everything from dusty corners to high-pile carpets. Plus, the Pet PowerMate attachment is ideal for cleaning up after Mittens takes a catnap on your couch.

And you don't have to spend a fortune. If you're willing to shell out $450, this vacuum could be ideal for your home.

Accessories

The standard lineup

If you've purchased a Kenmore canister in the last decade, none of the 21814's attachments will surprise you. The crevice tool is located on the handle, as is standard with these Kenmore canisters. On board the canister, you'll find the Pet PowerMate brush, a horsehair brush for dusting, and another horsehair brush for cleaning the floor.

For bigger jobs, this vacuum comes with three powered heads. General carpet will require the Crossover head, which is the primary and largest vacuum head included. It also happens to store the other accessory heads inside itself. So when you need to clean bare floors, the bare floor nozzle pops right out by depressing a pedal on the back of the Crossover. For cleaning overhead, there's a ceiling-fan attachment too. Each head has LED lights to illuminate dirt in your home.

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Handling

Attachment issues

The swiveling Crossover lets you turn a corner with ease. You can switch from short carpet to high-pile with tap of a pedal. If you encounter a dirty lamp shade, there's a delicate dusting tool on board the 21814. And with just one button you can release the handle from the brush head, and switch between cleaning tasks without issue.

Power Cord
The power cord can be retracted with a stomp of a button. View Larger

However, if want to use the telescopic wand, the process becomes a convoluted mess: After lots of trial and error, we found the best way was to push the tool release button at the end of the wand, press the release lever on the side of the wand, and pull up. That's a lot of separate motions where one button usually suffices.

Overall, the 21814 is straightforward and simple when you want to switch between carpets and the hose. But if you want the telescopic wand? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Cleaning Performance

An Elite through-and-through

Change Up
It's easy to change between carpet and bare floor cleaning. View Larger

During testing, the 21814 lived up to its "Elite" moniker.

The 21814 earned its strongest results on normal carpet, where it picked up roughly 75% of all the dirt we put out for it. During our test run, it also tackled 83% of all the cat hair we placed on the carpet.

Although the vacuum struggled more with high-pile carpet, its scores still only fell slightly below average. It picked up around 16% of the dirt we gave it to grapple with, only 2% below the 18% average of all the vacuums we've reviewed.

We tend to test vacuums that cost more than $250. In the case of the 21814, you'll get your money's worth. The $449 vacuum will outperform vacuums in lower—and higher—price brackets. Among the Kenmore vacuums we've tested, the 21814 is one of the best.

For in-depth performance information, please visit the Science Page.

Conclusion

Worthy of the Elite brand

The Kenmore Elite 21814 is a fine vacuum cleaner. It combines a few high-end features with lots of powerful suction.

A diverse arsenal of cleaning tools cleaned everything from dusty ceiling fans to fur-covered carpets, although we did find them difficult to attach and remove. It may not be a big problem for those who don't switch tools very often, but others may find it quite an annoyance, especially at this price point. Still, it's nice to know your vacuum can effectively clean so many kinds of debris from normal carpet.

Although the handling was a bit clunky, we can't dismiss the 21814. Vacuum cleaners need good suction, and this one has it in spades. If you're looking for a straightforward, powerful vacuum, the Kenmore Elite 21814 is worth checking out.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.
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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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