What you see is what you get.

Because of its 11 pound weight and well-built frame, the Oreck XL Element had no problems gliding on hardwood or long carpet. A 32-foot power cord gave plenty of leeway, and the HEPA dirt bag also serves as the machine’s filter. The bag can be easily removed by pulling its cardboard tab forward, lifting it out of the blue plastic holder.

The XL Element lacks comprehensive controls or external cleaning tools. This is obviously a trade-off for a light canister.

Our biggest gripe was that the Oreck XL Element lacks comprehensive controls or external cleaning tools. This is obviously a trade-off for a light canister, but we'd like to at least be able to turn the powered brushroll off or change between “high” and “low” floor settings.

Oreck's answer to that complaint is the XL Element Vacuum Cleaner Power Team, which sells for a $299.99 MSRP. This package includes the Element vacuum and a handheld vac with a HEPA filter, hose, telescoping extension wand, dusting brush, crevice tool, upholstery tool, large floor tool, and a two-setting shoulder strap.

Doesn't sweat the small stuff...which is a problem for a vacuum cleaner.

It's among the loudest vacuums we've tested.

While the Oreck XL Element had some issues on high pile carpet, it turned in acceptable performances in almost all of our other tests. Other vacuums have done better, however. One area where it did excel was debris pickup, as well as getting out pet hair. If you've got a real mess on your floor, this Oreck should be able to do a lot of the heavy lifting.

A big knock against the Oreck XL Element is the amount of noise that it creates. In fact, it's among the loudest vacuums we've tested. That said, it does manage to be quite energy efficient.

Light and inexpensive, but not ideal for all uses.

The Oreck XL Element isn’t without its flaws, such as a lack of tools and controls. But if all you’re worried about is on-floor cleaning performance on a variety of surfaces, this vacuum isn’t a bad choice. It performed well above average on short carpet and hardwood, just below on high pile, and did very well in our debris tests. For an extra $100, you have the option of getting a handheld vac and cleaning tools along with the Oreck XL Element.

This classic upright turned in an acceptable performance in our tests, though you may need to purchase a supplemental canister vacuum for maneuverability.

Alright on hardwoods and short carpet.

As is the case with even the most heavy-duty of vacuums, the Oreck XL Element didn’t perform nearly as well on long carpet as it did other areas. However, its 39% dirt pickup rate on high pile is still a lot better than even some of the high-priced vacuums that we’ve tested. With just more than 80% of short pile dirt sucked up, the Oreck XL Element proved it can be a reliable option for office use, as well.

The Oreck XL Element was even better on hardwood, picking up 82.9% of dirt in our tests. Other vacuums’ power brushes often blow dirt to the side, making this surprisingly solid performance when you take the Element’s thick-bristled brush into consideration. You should also take note that this brush cannot be turned off and may damage wood flooring in the long-term.

The most surprising results of our tests with the Oreck XL Element were in debris pickup. A solid 75% of debris was picked up on our wood floor, pulling in all of the macaroni and rice while leaving about half of the pennies and dimes. There wasn’t too much of a drop-off on high carpet as the Oreck XL Element brought in 71% of the debris and even sucked up four out of five pennies in the test.

You'll definitely know when it's on.

Don’t expect to hear anything other than the high-pitched, shrill noise of vacuuming during use. At more than 80 decibels, the Oreck XL Element is one of the loudest vacuums we’ve tested. At least it uses considerably less energy than other larger vacuums, requiring only 438 watts.

Meet the tester

Patrick Ouellette

Patrick Ouellette

Staff Writer

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Patrick Ouellette is a valued contributor to the Reviewed.com family of sites.

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