Dyson DC61 Handheld Vacuum - Canadian Woodworking Magazine

Innovative technology results in the most powerful hand held vacuum on the market.

Dyson DC61 Handheld Vacuum

Dyson DC61 Handheld Vacuum

One of the most distinctive features of Dyson vacuums is it's use of cyclone technology, a process that employs cyclonic separation to remove particulates from air through vortex separation. It's quite similar to the kind of cyclonic dust collectors found in many woodworking shops. Basically, dust laden air flows through one or more cylindrical collectors, and spirals down into a waste bin. The air is then channeled through a filter before being expelled.

Recently Dyson introduced two new improvements to its line of hand held vacuums – a 2-Tier arrangement of cyclones and a beefed-up digital motor.

(L) Dyson DC 34, single tier of cyclones; (R) Dyson DC 61, 2 tiers of cyclones

Probably the most notable visual difference between the older Dyson DC 34 and the new Dyson DC 61 is the arrangement of cyclones. The DC 34 has 6 cyclones, while the DC 61 features 15 cyclones, arranged in two tiers – five at the top and ten at the bottom. To maintain the same compact size as the DC 34 model, Dyson decreased the size of each cyclone. According to the company, this arrangement of cyclones dramatically improves airflow by increasing centrifugal forces.

The Dyson V6 digital motor

The second improvement with the DC 61 isn't overly visible, as it takes place inside the motor housing. Dyson has upgraded its digital brushless motor, now called the V6, to improve its efficiency. The 350 watt V6 motor uses a digital pulse to propel a magnetic rotor up to speeds of around 110,000 RPM. The result is significantly greater power in an incredibly small package. According to Dyson, the V6 operates at 84% efficiency, compared to a conventional motor running at about 40% efficiency.

Charging light goes out when the battery is fully recharged

The V6 motor is powered by a 21.6 Volt, 2.1 Ah lithium-ion battery that delivers 20 minutes of fade free power. In contrast, the DC 34 has a 25 percent shorter run-time. The battery takes around 3-1/2 hours to fully recharge. There is a small charging light that illuminates during recharging – when the light switches off the battery is fully charged. In general it's fine to leave a lithium-ion battery plugged into a charger all the time without shortening the battery life through overcharging.

Boost button increase suction, but reduces run-time

In normal (low power) mode the DC 61 generates 28 air watts of power – enough suction to pick up a wide range of debris on a variety of surfaces. An air watt is a better way of measuring the performance of a vacuum because it measures the suction power rather than the motor power. It's calculated by a formula that multiples air flow (CFMs) by suction (inches of water lift).

If there are situations where you need more power, you can depress the 'MAX' button on the back of the motor housing (you have to depress the MAX button while pressing the power trigger. In this 'boost' mode the vacuum increases suction by three and a half fold, to a remarkable 100 air watts of power – enough suction to pick up the largest household dirt and debris.

In MAX mode the DC 61 delivers about 6 minutes of run-time, which means you don't want to be using it all the time. While it's a handy feature to have, I find that the DC 61 picks up just about everything in low power mode.
A great accessory pack: mini motorized brush (top), crevice tool (bottom), combination tool (right)

Without decent accessories any hand held vacuum is not going to be very useful The DC 61 comes with three very good accessories. Rather than being held onto the vacuum with friction fit they latch into place – I find this provides a much more secure fit. The crevice tool is great for getting into small nooks and crannies. The combo tool is a general purpose brush that has both a wide angled mouth that works well on hard, flat surfaces, and when extended, a soft brush mouth that you can use on fabric, upholstered material, car seats, and venetian type window blinds.

Mini motorized brush (side cover removed)

My favourite accessory tool is the mini motorized brush. As the name implies, it has it's own internal motor that's powered by the lithium-ion battery. It does an excellent job on carpets, rugs, and the like. I find it particularly useful for cleaning carpeted stairs. The mouth pivots a full 180 degrees so that it never loses contact with the surface that you're cleaning. The bristles look to be made of nylon, and they penetrate carpet fibers and loosen dirt, helping to clean very thoroughly. With the motorized brush attached, the DC 61 has about a 17 minute run-time.
Brush is easily removed for cleaning
The roller brush in the motorized head can be easily removed when it gets clogged with hair, threads, or other debris. 
Easy one-finger opening and canister removal

The waste canister empties with a simple push down on the red button in the middle of the handle. It's easy to do whether you're right or left handed. Having the debris expelled directly into a waste bin rather than into a disposal bag makes means you save money on dust bags. 

The clear canister means that you can easily see when the it needs to be emptied. Good thing, as the canister only has a 0.4 L capacity, and needs to be emptied fairly often, particularly if you're picking up a lot of pet hair.

Pushing the red button further down enables you to remove the canister completely. A rubber gasket runs around the top of the canister, providing a very tight seal.

The important thing to note is that because there is no bag to clog up with dust and dirt, the DC 61 always sucks with maximum power, even when the canister is filled with debris.
Pet hair tends to stay in the waster canister

I have a long hair cat who sheds like crazy, and there always seems to be clumps of hair all over the place. While the DC 61 does a stellar job at picking up the hair, most of it stays inside the canister when the lid is opened. This necessitates reaching into the canister and pulling the hair out. I don't mind doing this, but if you do suffer from dust allergies you might want to wear a dust mask when emptying the canister.

Filter simply lifts out

The filter on any vacuum needs to be regularly cleaned for optimal performance. On the DC 61 the filter needs to be cleaned once a month. You just pull it out and rinse with water – no disassembly is required.
Lightweight, versatile, powerful, and efficient

I used the DC 61 to clean a variety of surfaces – tile, wood, carpet, upholstery, and PVC blinds. I also tested it on cat hair, potting soil, confetti, rice, flour, dried beans, and cherry pits. Without exception, the DC 61 did a fantastic job, picking up everything in one pass on the normal (low power) setting. There weren't any occasions where I felt I had to use the power boost mode. 

You can use the DC 61 for it's full 20 minute run-time without straining your wrist. The unit is light in weight and very well balanced. The D-style (or gun-style) handle is comfortable in use, and you barely have to touch the trigger for it to power on. 
The DC 61 has more than enough power to tackle any job for which you would use a hand held vacuum, it delivers good run-time, comes with a set of very useful cleaning accessories.

My only gripe is the two year warranty, which for a premium tool I find to be somewhat meager. A longer warranty period would also go a long way to validating the hefty purchase price.


  • Digital motor V6
  • 2 Tier arrangement of 15 cyclones
  • Lithium-ion (nickel manganese cobalt) battery
  • 20 minutes of suction (6 minutes in boost mode)
  • One finger bin opening
  • Weighs 3.5 pounds
  • Includes: Crevice tool, combination tool, mini motorized tool
  • 2 year warranty

MADE IN:Malaysia
SOURCE:Where to Buy
July 2014
Carl Duguay
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