This bulky vac can be a bit unwieldy, especially on carpet.
The is a bagless, upright vacuum with a removable hose. There's no denying that it's a large, bulky cleaner that feels every one of its 20.66 lbs. While some uprights are light on their wheels and maneuverable, users of the MC-UL915 can skip a trip to the gym after some heavy-duty vacuuming. Despite its heft, it glides smoothly on bare floors, though deep pile carpets counteract the forward propulsion of the power brush.
A single power switch mounted on the body (not the handle) of the vacuum controls the machine. There aren't any options for different speeds or cleaning powers. A foot pedal allows easy, if limited, switching between bare floor and carpet, and the power brush automatically shuts off when the vacuum is stored in the upright position. Panasonic claims the vacuum automatically adjusts for different carpet heights, but we saw no evidence of the vacuum raising or lowering itself. Also, on the base of the vacuum is an overload reset protector button; that button is connected to a clutch that stops the brush motor from trying to spin when it's got a curtain or throw rug caught in it, therefore preventing the brush motor from overheating. Anyone with a fringe-trimmed carpet will appreciate this feature.
There's a black lever that opens the base of the dirt cup, but it's extremely finicky and often hard to push. The two-piece design also comes apart in the middle, which means you'll have to upend the dirt cup to empty it. The hinges on the base of the 's dirt holder are flimsy plastic, and a single vigorous shake of the contraption is enough to dislodge the base from the rest of the receptacle. Putting the dirt holder back can be a challenge too, as it sits on a small tab that can be difficult to find by feel. If it's not aligned, the dirt holder won't snap back into place. It has a hand-washable HEPA filter that Panasonic recommends you clean every three months, which is pretty standard.
Works well for hardwood floors and short pile carpets, but struggles with deep pile carpets
Aside from poor performance lifting fine dirt from long carpet, the vacuumed up an acceptable amount of dirt from short carpet and hardwood floors. It had no problem with pet hair and also did well with debris. It doesn't quite measure up to the best models on the market today, but it does a perfectly acceptable job for the price. The dirt holder has a roughly average capacity—about 0.37 gallons worth of dust and debris—which means you'll probably have to empty it once you've done a full house cleaning.
This Panasonic also comes with four tools that can be used with the extension wand, a device the marketers labeled the "Quick Draw" (Obviously, they've been watching too many Gary Cooper movies). All the tools can be stored on the vacuum itself except the wide floor brush. In addition to the wide nozzle (which is nine inches wide), you get a regular four-inch nozzle, well suited to upholstery, a nine-inch crevice tool, and the pet hair turbine—a portable, miniature version of the cleaning brush.
Since the 35-foot power cord is mounted halfway up the rear of the vacuum, it often trails along right where you just cleaned. That means you might need to bend over and pick up the cord fairly often to keep from running it over. The Panasonic "Quick Draw" hose doubles as an extendable handle and therefore tucks neatly into the top of the cleaner. It'll undoubtedly get a lot of use, since this is such a heavy vac to move around. Released, the wand added 3.5 feet worth of reach for cleaning ceilings and curtains, with the hose sporting a reach of 10.5 feet from the base—about average for an upright.
A decent buy
Found online for less than $150, the is an inexpensive vacuum cleaner with acceptable all-around performance, though it does a poor job lifting fine dirt from high pile carpets.
With many attachments, it's highly customizable for an upright, but an inelegant design could prove frustrating for many users. This Panasonic might be ideal for an office, but if your home is covered in lush, luxuriant deep pile carpets, a vac with better cleaning performance may be a better choice.
A very middling vacuum, the Panasonic was just acceptable. Other models do a better job on one or two areas, but this managed to provide a decent overall package... except when it came to long carpet, that is.
We could easily see this vacuum as an ideal choice for an office that's covered in wall-to-wall berber.
The has some trouble with long pile carpet, only picking up 27.3% of the simulated dirt mixture we put down. Since it did so well with short carpet and wood floors, we think this might have something to do with its automatic carpet height adjustment not accurately accounting for high pile carpets. Luckily, the vacuum does much better on short pile carpet, picking up 81.4% of our simulated dirt, an amount that's on par with other machines in this price range. It did well with bare floors, too, picking up 81.9%—good, but not great, since it means you'll have some grit left behind.
On deep pile carpets, the did a great job picking up debris—it collected 87% of our materials, in fact. Not all of that litter made it into the dirt holder, though, as larger pieces of debris (such as coins) got stuck on a small plastic ridge behind the power brush. The MC-UL915 did exceptionally well picking up the smallest debris—grains of rice—on the hardwood floor test, but didn't pick up a single coin. Hopefully, nobody would be using their vacuum to clean up money, but even if you're not Scrooge McDuck it's a valuable measure of a vacuum's power to clean large, heavy pieces of debris such as dried food or clumps of dirt.
Panasonic advertises this vacuum as being perfect for pet lovers, and they're right. When faced with a carpet covered in cat hair, the performed admirably. It left a few stray bits of fur here and there, especially around the edges, but otherwise did an above average job in our pet hair test. Despite its name, the small Pet Hair Turbine offered up a sub par cleaning performance compared to straight vacuuming. We suspect the main cleaner's better performance is due to its having a brush that's powered by a separate electric motor, as opposed to the air-powered pet hair tool. Unless you're cleaning a tight area such as upholstery or stairs, we'd recommend using the main vacuum.
The won't wake the neighbors or run up your electric bill, but it's slightly louder and more energy hungry than an average upright.
We measured the at 72 decibels in carpet cleaning mode, making all the typical vacuum sounds. That's a hair below average for an upright. We also found that the drew a maximum of 1256 watts while cleaning. That's to be expected from a 1200 watt vacuum with a separate headlight and brush motor, but it's still a lot. Make sure that you're not plugging this into a heavily-loaded circuit.
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