Can this lightweight Oreck stand up to the big boys?
Light on stairs, lighter on attachments
We often hear companies espouse how their new products are going to herald the future or bring back the fondest memories of your past. So it's refreshing to see the Oreck Elevate Conquer (MSPR $599.99) promise neither. As a brand, Oreck stands out from the rest by still offering an up to seven-year warranty and seven free annual tune-ups. But as a vacuum, the Elevate Conquer is hit and miss, neither embracing all the new innovations nor sticking fully to tried-and-true dirt pickup methods.
What the Elevate can Conquer
Like Speed Queen, Oreck products are designed with both commercial and residential uses in mind. Imagine a housekeeper that cleans a hundred rooms in a hotel, what kind of vacuum would that person need?
The Elevate's best selling-point is its light weight. The whole package is just 11 pounds, and thanks to a convenient handle on the back, you can zip up and down stairs and from room to room and never break a sweat. On the ground the Elevate swivels and twists around obstacles at the flick of the wrist, and pulls the whole vacuum along when it's engaged. The front of the Elevate also has LED lights to help illuminate dirt on the floor and under beds.
Speaking of the motor, the Elevate Conquer uses an old school belt-driven system, as opposed to direct drive systems that more modern vacuums use. While belts tend to wear out sooner than direct drives (think two years versus every decade), they're much simpler to replace. Plus, if a direct drive burns out it's usually cheaper just to buy a new vacuum. If you vacuum your carpets every day, there's a good chance your cost of ownership will be lower for an Oreck compared to, say, a Dyson.
In terms of dirt pickup, the Elevate does pretty well for its size. It got about 38% of dirt on regular carpet in a single pass. Two or three passes over a single spot is normal for most people, so this Oreck passes muster. The percentages dropped when we switched to deep-pile carpet–around 14% per pass—but considering this vacuum is half the size of other uprights, it still impressed us.
Any dirt that the Elevate picks up is assuredly trapped. Not even odors can escape the charcoal-lined bag with five layers of HEPA-styled filtration.
What it's missing
Oreck makes a point to advertise how light its vacuums are, but that also means lopping off features you'd find on other vacuums. You might notice that this Oreck lacks a hose, meaning it can't clean curtains or couches.
Acknowledging this gap in the Conquer's repertoire, Oreck suggests you also purchase the Ultimate Handheld (MSRP $149.99). Weighing in at about six pounds with its hose and attachments, the Ultimate does get the job done, but it brings the total cost to $700–$750 if you buy them separately. That's quite a lot, considering you could spend much less and get a vacuum with all that functionality built in. Also, if you lug the Ultimate with you, and you can with the included strap, the total weight is the same as a standard upright.
The Elevate / Ultimate handheld package also falters compared to compacts, like the Dyson Small Ball. The Small Ball is about a pound heavier, but carries accessories for cleaning drapes and cushions onboard. They both pick up around the same amount of dirt, but the Small Ball is several hundred dollars cheaper.
Who should buy one?
You can get more features and suction for less money, so why even bother with the Elevate Conquer? Well, all those other options, weigh more. Anyone who has trouble with mobility will find this vacuum a godsend. When the motor is engaged, the brush literally pulls the unit along, making possible to clean your carpets with just one finger.
Also, given Oreck's numerous retail locations to repair and replace its products, you can purchase this expensive floor cleaner with an eye toward the future. Those who no longer have the strength to lug a 20-pound vacuum around the house anymore should seriously consider the Oreck Elevate Conquer.
Get Our Newsletter
Real advice from real experts. Sign up for our newsletter
Thanks for signing up!