What We Like
Extra-long power cord
HEPA filter traps dust and allergens
What We Don't Like
Dirt canister gets dislodged
Carpet fluff and fur sticks in canister
When shedding season comes around, the WindTunnel 3 High Performance Pet Upright Vacuum from Hoover is on the front lines. If you’re up against a serious onslaught of fur like we are (three cats and one really stressed out guinea pig), then you’ll know the struggle of trying to maintain a clean home. The fur seems to regenerate overnight.
If you have to keep constant vigil anyway, the best gift you can give yourself is a decent tool to keep it with. Hoover claims the powerful suction and convenient accessories of its popular pet vacuum, the WindTunnel 3, are all you need to keep the dust bunnies and fur tumbleweeds on a short leash. Keep reading to see if it measures up and if our pet puns get any better.
Setup Process: Nothing to it
The setup process for the Hoover WindTunnel 3, so-called for its use of WindTunnel 3 Technology, which includes not one, not two, but three channels of suction (hence the name), was simple enough. Everything arrived very securely packed and mostly assembled. We just had to attach the handle to the vacuum base with one included screw, snap the dirt cup into position, and attach the various onboard tools (Pivoting Dusting Tool, Pet Turbo Tool, Telescoping Extension Wand, and Crevice Tool) to the vacuum base.
Design: Almost industrial
Design-wise, the WindTunnel 3 isn’t quite industrial-strength, but it’s close. The floor brush is a broad 15 inches, the hose is hefty construction, the two filters take up half the vacuum body, and the translucent dirt cup holds 1.42 liters. This all brings the weight up to 18.5 pounds, which is a real bear to push around.
The lid of the dirt cup flips open to reveal the washable, reusable air filter. You can purchase a replacement, but you should make it at least through the five-year warranty without needing to. Hoover suggests that the filter works best if it’s cleaned at least every two months. An additional HEPA filter sits below the dirt cup and traps particles down to about .3 micrometers. HEPA stands for “high-efficiency particulate air” and describes a filter that has been designed to capture even very fine particles from the air—great for nixing airborne dust, pollen, bacteria, and viruses. This should be a major asset to houses with allergy issues.
After using it, our ceiling fans have never been so clean!
One of the selling points of the WindTunnel 3, besides the 12 amps of power it brings to the table, is the extra-long power cord. Most vacuum power cords are between 18 and 30 feet, so 40 feet is a real boon to those who don’t want to keep plugging and unplugging from room to room. We found the extra length a bit heavy and unwieldy, though. There’s a piece on the handle that the loose cord can snap into so you only have to unwind the amount you need, and that worked okay for keeping the extra cord out of our way. While it was nice to be able to move from the main living area to the bedroom without moving the plug, even in a big, open living space, 40 feet was a bit overkill.
There’s an incandescent headlight on the vacuum base. We usually love those for getting into dark corners and under furniture, but this one was unfortunately neither bright enough nor pointed in a very helpful direction—the light illuminated parallel to the floor rather than down. An LED light would’ve been both brighter and physically lighter, and anything this unit can do to lose a little weight is better.
Cleaning Performance: Great, with some hiccups
Up against a house with three cats in shedding season and a new white shag rug with zero interest in keeping it together, the WindTunnel 3 was really being thrown into the fire for this review. Despite all that was stacked up against it, this vacuum really did deliver on the cleaning power. After one cursory run around the house, the 1.42-liter dirt tank was nearly full, and we, as house occupants, were utterly horrified. For that, we can thank the brush roll, which is said to be super effective so as eliminate the need to pass over a rug multiple times, as well as the brand’s Multi-Cyclonic Technology.
The house we tested in has wood floors, but approximately 70 percent of the floor space is covered with area rugs of various weaves and textures. A medium-density synthetic shag rug, a chunky jute loop rug, a handful of flatweave rugs, a low-pile machine-loomed rug, and the aforementioned new fluffy flokati-type shag rug were all treated to the WindTunnel’s massive suction power.
This vacuum really did deliver on the cleaning power.
We quickly learned that we had to be cautious to switch the carpet height positions between rugs. We felt we were constantly getting stuck in a too-low setting on one of the shags, or violently sucking up the edge of a flatweave rug with the aggressive brush roll. There’s a bit of a learning curve here.
The cleaner head has a dial on top with seven height options so you can adjust to various carpet heights. Even still, the highest setting didn’t seem high enough to make vacuuming our shag rugs easy, and the motor audibly struggled with propelling the brush roll when we pulled the vacuum in reverse. The first few times this happened, the headlight dimmed and the machine made a pitiable groan, but everything went back to normal when it started going forward again. Eventually, though, we pulled it in reverse, and the vacuum shut off completely. When we snapped the handle back into the upright position to see what the problem was, the dirt cup very dramatically self-ejected from the vacuum base. It landed on the carpet, and the filter lid clip with the Hoover logo sailed off. Surprising, to say the least!
We suspect the dirt canister had somehow become dislodged from the vacuum base, triggering the brownouts and eventually an automatic shut-off when it was pulled in reverse. The filter compartment clip that sailed off when the canister fell was essential to the function of the vacuum, so we had to sit down for a good 10 minutes and wrestle it back into place. Once we got the clip back on and replaced the dirt canister, making triple-sure it was secured, the malfunction stopped and never repeated for the duration of our review. The dirt canister did jostle out of place a couple more times, though. It’s never very reassuring when a new machine falls apart in your hands during your first use!
The attachments of the WindTunnel 3 were the real bright spot for us. The Pet Turbo Tool hose attachment sounds like a buzz saw and looks roughly that dangerous when it’s spinning, but can really muscle away some fur from upholstery. We used it to clean a dark velvet couch, much beloved by the two white cats in the house, and we were very satisfied with the results. It probably picked up about 75 percent of the pet hair on the first pass. Please note: We strongly recommend that you keep your fingers clear and definitely observe kids when using this.
It’s never very reassuring when a new machine falls apart in your hands during your first use!
The other great accessory included with the WindTunnel 3 is an articulating Dusting Tool. First the bad: Due to some minor design flaw, it kept popping off the vacuum base while we were pushing the upright. Now the good: After using it, our ceiling fans have never been so clean! The wedge-shaped brush clicks securely into either the extension wand or directly into the hose. When attached to the extension wand, it reached easily up to the ceiling fan, and the articulating head is bendable so we could brush and vacuum both sides of the fan blades. We removed the brush and used the Crevice Tool to get into the little nooks and crannies of the light fixture and were very pleased with the results.
Size/Portability: So heavy!
To tell the truth, we were a little bewildered at how heavy the WindTunnel 3 is. At over 18 pounds, it weighed 3 pounds more than any of the other uprights we reviewed, and we felt every single one of those extra pounds acutely when we were using it. Just hauling it out of the box was a challenge! When you put all those extra feet of power cord, extra knobs, “turbo” attachments, an extra-large dirt tank, and 12 amps of sucking power into a little machine, you pay with portability. That’s the thing about amenities—they feel like a bonus at first, but you usually end up paying for them anyway, one way or the other.
We were a little bewildered at how heavy the WindTunnel 3 is.
Fortunately, we didn’t have to contend with stairs in the house where we tested the WindTunnel 3, and we can’t really recommend this vacuum for a house that does contain lots of steps. There’s no good way to transport it unless you’re rolling it, so lifting and carrying it is awkward at best and hazardous at worst. When we needed to pick the unit up, we ended up resorting to either an awkward bear hug or, more often, using both the upright handle and the carry handle on the dirt bin. We’re pretty sure this isn’t a good idea—the latch holding the dirt bin to the vacuum base does not seem sturdy enough to be trusted with all 18 pounds of this vacuum beefcake. There is a hidden “stair cleaning handle” positioned below the HEPA media filter at the bottom front, but that’s not really positioned for transport.
The WindTunnel 3 doesn’t have any forward drive built in, which is surprising for something this heavy. We did get significant forward propulsion when the floor brush roll was at work, though—it’s got quite a forceful spin on it. You can turn the brush roll off and use the suction only by tapping a foot pedal. We loved this quick-change feature’ it saved our rug from being sucked up a few times when we didn’t have the rug height adjusted correctly. It was useful for rugs that had loose, easily damaged weave (like looped jute) and for the edges of flatweave rugs, which the brush roll voraciously, mercilessly consumed.
Noise Level: Kind of noisy
The WindTunnel 3 isn’t exactly quiet. Despite the 12 amps of power, though, the noise level is tolerable. When it sucked up the corner of our flatweave rug, it turned into a screeching banshee, but, barring that, pushing the upright wasn’t too much of an auditory assault. The real noise pollutant, ironically, was the little Pet Turbo Tool. The brush spins so fast, it sounds like you’re dragging a shrieking power tool across your furniture.
Price: Mid-range and reasonable
Priced between $180 and $240, the WindTunnel 3 High Performance Pet Upright Vacuum is about on par with other comparable mid-range vacuums. The attachments, heavyweight materials, and customizable features make that price range seem perfectly reasonable.
Competition: Others rise to the fur challenge
Dyson Ball Multi Floor 2 Upright Vacuum: Even mediocre vacuums can do an acceptable job cleaning a floor. In a house with pets, though, the real measure of a vacuum’s worth is how well it picks up fur from upholstery. The Pet Turbo Tool on the Hoover certainly looked impressive in use, but the soft, long bristles of the duster attachment on the Dyson Ball we also tested actually worked better at picking up fine fur from both velvet and textured-weave sofas.
Bissell Pet Hair Eraser® Turbo Plus Vacuum Cleaner: Comparably priced and accessorized, this Bissell vacuum has one massive design leg up on the WindTunnel: an eject mechanism built into the dirt cup that kicks out fur and carpet fluff, so you don’t have to reach in there with a hand to clear it.
We didn’t feel that the Hoover WindTunnel 3 picked up fine pet hair any better than any of the other vacuums we reviewed, but it gobbled up dust and carpet fluff, and we loved the articulating duster and Pet Turbo Tool (even if it scared us a little). The issues we experienced during use make us a little hesitant to recommend outright, but there’s a five-year warranty.
- Product Name WindTunnel 3 High Performance Pet Upright Vacuum
- Product Brand Hoover
- MPN UH72630PC
- Price $239.99
- Weight 18.5 lbs.
- Product Dimensions 16.5 x 12.5 x 34 in.
- Dirt Cup Capacity 1.42 L
- Warranty 5 years (motor)
- What’s Included Pivoting Dusting Tool, Pet Turbo Tool, Telescoping Extension Wand, Crevice Tool