Tineco cordless vacuums are becoming more and more popular, and they are big sellers on Amazon. In this review we take a look at their top of the line series, the PURE ONE S12. This vacuum feels more robust than previous Tineco cordless units and it certainly has its share of interesting features. Owners praise the S12 for its strong suction, two batteries, lockable power trigger, low noise, and user-friendly control panel. Our testing showed good cleaning performance on both carpet and smooth flooring. However, the vacuum is fairly expensive and it has a smallish dust canister and heavy handheld unit.
Carpet & Hard Floors
Pet Hair Features
HEPA Level Filtration
Power Cord Length
Motor Driven Brushbar
The Tineco website states that they have been involved in the floor care industry for the past 21 years, so while they don’t have the history of some other floor care companies, they are not entirely new at this either. They launched their first cordless vacuum in 2013. We reviewed the Tineco A10 Hero last year and found that it was a good machine at its price point – which is currently under $200 (see on Amazon). The PURE ONE S12 is quite a bit more expensive at about $550 which places it at a similar price point to the Dyson V11 Animal and perhaps the Dyson V10 Absolute.
Tineco S12 Stick Vac Models
There are currently four S12 models:
- PURE ONE S12 M Lite - PURE ONE S12 M - PURE ONE S12 - PURE ONE S12 PLUS
The “S12 M” models when compared to the “S12” models, have a smaller battery, no LED display, and a manual pre-filter cleaning tool (as opposed to a powered tool). The “S12 M’s” are also slightly shorter and there are a few other differences as well (most notably the PURE ONE S12 M comes with a camera and speaker kit).
We have the “PURE ONE S12” (the focus of our review). If you upgrade to the “PURE ONE S12 PLUS” you will also get a soft roller cleaner head, a multi-angle folding tube, and a flexible extension hose.
To date it appears that Tineco only sells the S12 through Amazon so obtaining owners ratings from multiple online retail outlets is not possible. In the table below we’ve provided data from Amazon, although some ratings we believed to be invalid have been removed. Using this information provides a score for the S12 of 91 out of 100. This is a very competitive score and you can compare it to other stick vacuum scores here: stick vacuum ratings.
4.54 stars out of 5
5 stars out of 5
Pros & Cons
A thorough review of owner comments as well as our own testing and analysis has provided the following S12 pros and cons:
PROS - Comes with 2 batteries - Wall mount can charge 2 batteries simultaneously - Includes a cloth bag for tools - Manual slider allows for fine tuning of suction - Tools/attachments all click securely together - Shows real-time remaining battery charge - Maximum suction is powerful - LED headlights on front of cleaner head - Pre-motor filter cleaning tool works quickly - Quiet vacuum, especially in Low power - Trigger lock for extended vacuuming sessions - Dust canister is easy to empty and easy to clean
CONS - Sometimes debris gets stuck in dust canister - Pre-motor filter needs frequent cleaning - Have to use wall mount to charge battery - Doesn’t turn as tightly on carpet as we’d like
The box is compact and very well packed. In it you will find the following:
- Handheld vacuum unit - Wand - Two pre-motor filters - One post motor filter (HEPA) - Charging unit - Wall mount - Direct-drive LED multi-tasker cleaner head - Mini power brush - 2-in-1 dusting brush - Crevice tool - Soft dusting brush - Flexible long crevice tool - Automatic pre-filter cleaning tool - Hair cleaning tool - Quick start guide - Owner’s manual
The control center of the S12 is the LED display on the top of the handheld unit. It shows the amount of dust in the airflow entering the vacuum (has a special sensor for this), the battery level, the suction power, potential malfunctions, etc. The image below shows the LED display and the features:
We found the controls clear and very easy to operate.
The S12 comes with two batteries. Each battery has the following properties:
- Rechargeable Lithium-Ion - 21.6 V - 2500 mAh - 54 Wh
The batteries slide easily into the back of the handheld unit and they click into place securely. To remove the battery you simply press down on a lever and it slides out. It is easy to do and the system works well.
Because the S12 has completely variable suction we’ve tested run times in its lowest power mode and in its highest power mode. We’ve also compared them to the run times of the Dyson V10 and the Dyson V11 in Low and Max modes. These run time tests were done on medium pile carpet using the motorized cleaner head (torque/direct drive cleaner head) provided with each vacuum. Also, remember that the S12 has two batteries while the Dysons only have one. See table below:
Low x2 Batteries
Max x2 Batteries
24 min 28 sec
8 min 57 sec
48 min 56 sec
17 min 54 sec
40 min 17 sec
7 min 14 sec
55 min 14 sec
12 min 52 sec
You may be thinking that the S12 figures are far short of the 100 minutes you’ve seen highlighted in the marketing materials. But these materials are referring to run time when using a non-motorized tool (50 min with non-motorized tool x 2 batteries).
Battery recharge time, according to the Tineco S12 manual, is somewhere between 3 and 4 hours. We’ve recharged the batteries on several occasions and this time is about right.
We were a little surprised that we had to place the battery in the wall mount to charge it. There does not appear to be any way to plug the charger into the vacuum or directly into the battery. This is a little annoying, especially if you do not intend to use the wall mount, which we don’t.
The cleaner head provided with the PURE ONE S12 is called the “Direct-drive LED multi-tasker cleaner head”. The term “multi-tasker” likely implies that it is designed for both carpet and bare flooring – you only get one cleaner head with this model. This is a motor-driven cleaner head and it has one row of stiff bristles and two rows of very soft bristles. The cleaner head also has a row of LED lights along the front edge which illuminates the cleaning area as you are vacuuming. Quite a few folks report that they like the LED lights on the cleaner head.
This vacuum doesn’t really have power modes such as low, medium or maximum - like we see on Dyson cordless vacuums. Rather, it has a power control slider that you simply run your finger up or down to increase or decrease vacuum power (see short video below). As a result there is a minimum and maximum setting on the slider, but there are many different power settings in-between.
The S12 also has an “AUTO” power setting (as does the Dyson V11). This setting uses a sensor which can detect particles as small as 15 micrometers and it adjusts suction according to how much dust/debris it finds in the airflow (a different approach from the V11 which measures brushroll resistance and as a result adjusts suction depending on the floor surface). The S12 AUTO mode optimizes suction and battery power – you get lots of power when you need it and you don’t waste power when you don’t need it. All-in-all theoretically a good idea.
The S12 has a trigger lock which allows you to lock the power trigger in place so you don’t have to keep it depressed with your finger while you vacuum (see silver device in image below). Having to constantly depress the trigger is an issue that many Dyson cordless owners have raised. Tineco has clearly read some of the Dyson cordless complaints and addressed this one. We occasionally use the trigger lock while we are using our S12 and think it is a handy feature.
We have compared the minimum and peak suction of the S12 (with the suction slider all the way down and all the way up) to that of several Dyson cordless stick vacuums. These figures have been provided by the manufacturers.
Low suction (Air Watts)
Max suction (Air Watts)
As you can see, the S12 suction is very close to that of the V10, but it is less than the V11. However, the S12 has variable suction so it can be set to pretty much any figure between 13 air watts and 150 air watts – which is a nice capability. The Dyson units have fixed power settings - 2 settings with the V7 and V8, and 3 settings with the V10 and V11.
As previously mentioned, the S12 also has an AUTO power mode which varies suction depending on a real-time assessment of dust in the airflow. As a result we cannot indicate exactly what the suction output is in AUTO mode. But we can say that the AUTO mode is a nice feature. When we use the S12 we find ourselves simply leaving the vacuum in this mode and letting it determine what the suction should be.
Cleaning Performance Tests
Our cleaning tests below compared the Tineco PURE ONE S12 with the Dyson V10 Absolute and the Dyson V11 Torque Drive (same performance as V11 Animal).
EDGE CLEANING We did a quick edge cleaning test between the S12 and the V10 and V11. We placed chili flakes up against our baseboards and each vacuum was set at its lowest power. See video below.
The S12 has the least suction at its lowest setting (13 air watts with the suction slider all the way down) but despite this, edge cleaning was pretty similar to that of the V10 and V11.
CARPET CLEANING – LOWEST POWER In this test we carefully weighed a specific amount of flax seeds, chili flakes, and split green peas (small, lightweight, and larger/heavier debris). These were mixed and laid in a 5 foot line on low pile carpet. The vacuums were passed over the debris (one forward pass only) for approximately 10 seconds, and the debris picked up was weighed.
At its lowest setting the S12 picked up 95.5% of the debris, while in Low the V10 and V11 picked up 96.3% and 97.4% respectively. The figures are not too surprising given the suction figures at Low power for the three vacuums. We did notice, however, that the S12 was better at picking up small/light debris (the chili flakes and flax seeds) – you will see this in the video below. It struggled more with the larger, heavier split green peas, several of which got pushed off camera.
Note: The V10 and V11 have adjustable gaps on the front of the cleaner head. Adjusting these gaps was found to have little-to-no effect on pickup in the Low power tests above. The gaps were closed for the tests.
CARPET CLEANING – MAXIMUM POWER The Dysons outperformed the S12 in this test - provided the gaps in the front of the Dyson cleaner heads were open. Dyson V10’s and V11’s have two variable gaps along the bottom front of the cleaner head which can be manually opened or closed. The Dyson cleaner heads have a tendency to clamp down onto the carpet in Max mode – especially with the gaps closed. With the gaps closed pickup actually went down (when compare to Low power pickup) because the larger debris could not get under the cleaner head. So we opened the gaps and pickup went way up. The S12 cleaner head does not have this feature. At Max power the S12 acted more as expected and the pickup increased, however it still did not provide the same pickup as the Dyson’s with the gaps open. See table and video below:
V10 gaps closed
V10 gaps open
V11 gaps closed
V11 gaps open
SMOOTH FLOOR CLEANING The same debris that was used in the carpet testing was also used in the smooth floor testing. Also, in this series of tests the gaps on the Dysons cleaner heads made a very small difference with respect to pickup, so different gaps settings are not included in the results table. The gaps were closed for the tests.
Low Power % Pickup
Max Power % Pickup
However the Dyson V10 Absolute had an ace up its sleeve. The Absolute model comes with two cleaner heads - one direct drive cleaner head and one soft roller cleaner head which is specially designed for bare flooring. When using the soft roller cleaner head pickup went up to 99.5 % in Low power mode.
Both the Tineco and the Dyson V11 can also be found with a soft roller cleaner head but only specific models. To get a soft roller cleaner head you need the Tineco PURE ONE S12 Plus or the Dyson V11 Absolute (which is unfortunately difficult to find in the USA).
CLEANING TEST SUMMARY
Low Power - S12/V10/V11 are similar
Low Power - V10/V11 performed marginally better than the S12 when considering all debris (small, light, heavy/large). However the S12 provided better pickup of small, light debris than V10/V11
Max Power - With gaps set to closed on front of V10/V11 cleaner heads, S12 performed better than V10/V11. With gaps set to open on front of V10/V11 cleaner heads, V10/V11 performed better than S12
Low Power - S12 performed better than V10/V11 on all debris. However the V10 includes a second cleaner head designed for bare floors. With this head the V10 pickup was better than the S12
Max Power - S12 performed better than V10/V11 on all debris. However the V10 includes a second cleaner head designed for bare floors. With this head the V10 pickup was similar to the S12
We tested the noise level with a digital noise level meter. The vacuum was in the upight position on carpet and the meter was 3 feet from the cleaner head. We recorded the following:
Lowest power = 61.1 decibels
Maximum power = 66.7 decibels
This is a very quiet vacuum cleaner. We were impressed with just how quiet it is to work with. It is quieter than the V10 and the V11 in both the lowest power mode and the highest power mode.
Tineco have not scrimped on the tools and the PURE ONE S12 comes with quite a few. Tineco also provides a nice cloth bag in which you can store the tools. Three tools will fit on the wall-mount (if you choose to use it) and the others can be kept in the bag. The tools provided include:
- Mini power brush - 2-in-1 dusting brush - Crevice tool - Soft dusting brush - Flexible long crevice tool - Automatic pre-filter cleaning tool - Hair cleaning tool
These feel sturdy and fairly well put together. A little out of the ordinary are the flexible long crevice tool and the automatic pre-filter cleaning tool. The long crevice tool has a flexible extension and when fully extended the overall reach is about 18 inches – which is very long for a crevice tool. In addition, we find the mini power brush is very handy for doing stairs and for doing tough cleaning in hard-to-reach, cramped areas.
The automatic pre-filter cleaning tool is something we have not seen before. Instead of having to replace or wash the filter when it is dirty, you simply place it in the cleaning tool (which looks like a mini power brush) and attach the tool to the vacuum. The tool is designed to remove the dust and debris from the filter using the vacuum suction. We have a short video of this in the Filter section below.
The tools and attachments fasten securely to the vacuum (“click” together) and can only be removed upon pressing a button. This is good system and is much better than the compression fit approach we see on quite a few other vacuums. Compression fit involves simply pushing the tools/attachments onto the vacuum and pulling them off (relies on friction).
Weight & Maneuverability
We used a sensitive scale to weigh the following three vacuums. We weighed the entire vacuum (handheld component + wand + cleaner head) as well as just the handheld component:
Entire Vacuum (lbs)
Handheld Only (lbs)
The handheld components of the S12 and the V10 weigh almost the same, although the S12 is more compact which does make it easier to work with – especially in more cramped quarters like vehicle interiors. The V11 handheld component is the heaviest by a significant amount – much of this is likely related to the very large battery.
Weights of the entire stick vacuum (handheld component with wand and torque/direct drive cleaner attached) show that the V10 is the lightest of the three and the V11 is the heaviest. This also shows that the wand and cleaner head of the S12 are heavier than those of the Dyson vacs.
In terms of maneuverability we find the Dyson vacuums easier to turn. The swivel head on a Dyson cordless turns with less wrist movement and it follows the path in which the head is pointed. We find the S12 requires more wrist movement to turn and even when turning it on our low pile carpet there is still a tendency for it to slide partly forward and not 100% in the direction the cleaner head is pointed. Oddly we have not read many other owner comments about this – perhaps it is something one gets used to.
Like quite a few of the newer cordless vacuums today, the S12 can also be used as a handheld vacuum. By simply removing the wand you have a handheld unit and all tools/attachments will fit on the end of the wand or on the end of the handheld unit. Fitting tools to the end of the wand is also a great way to tackle overhead cleaning.
The dust canister has a capacity of 0.6 liters. We haven’t seen any complaints about the size but it does seem a little small to us. If we compare it to the Dyson stick vacs we find the following:
You may find yourself emptying the S12 a fair bit if you have a large area to clean.
Emptying the canister is straightforward and you simply open the bottom door and the dust and debris fall out. However, much like many bagless vacuums, if you have lots of hair and dust bunnies you may find that you have to dig into the canister manually to pull them out. Not particularly hygienic but not entirely uncommon.
Fortunately the canister is very easy to remove and to clean. It also reattaches with a satisfying “click”. Some older cordless stick vacs we’ve had can be a bit of a nightmare when it comes to removing and reattaching the canister. Not so with the S12.
The vacuum has two main filters: One pre-motor filter and one post-motor filter. There is also a metal mesh filter that should be wiped cleaned if it gets dirty (see image below).
The pre-motor filter is a rinse-free filter and it does appear to need cleaning frequently – we found that it got dirty quite quickly. Tineco provides a special tool for cleaning the pre-motor filter - see the video below:
This tools work fairly well but it doesn’t appear to be quite as effective as rinsing a filter with water. However a rinsed filter usually requires 24 hours to dry. Tineco’s method allows you to use the filter after just a minute or so.
The post motor filter is HEPA grade which means it is capable of capturing very, very small particles. HEPA filtration is useful in households with folks suffering from asthma or allergies. The HEPA filter on the S12 is easy to remove and it can be rinsed in water - you can't use the filter cleaning tool on this one. This filter does require about 24 hours of drying time before you can place it back in the vacuum.
The PURE ONE S12 also has a fully sealed filtration system. This means that all of the air entering the vacuum gets passed through the filters before it is exhausted from the machine. No unfiltered air leaks out of the vacuum. A sealed system combined with HEPA filtration generally provides very good air purification.
Smart Phone APP
The APP keeps a cleaning record - total mount of dust and total cleaning time. It also shows the status of the pre-filter (how dirty it is) and how many hours since the last filter clean. You can see the battery power percentage and even adjust the vacuum power on the fly. According to Tineco the APP also provides troubleshooting & support issues.
The APP requires IOS 8.0 or later and Android 5.0 or later so if you have an older phone you could have an issue. From our readings some owners don’t bother with the APP, but some do and have reported they like the features. We are not particularly keen on using the APP with our vacuum.
Warranty & Other features
The S12 carries a 2-year limited warranty against original defects in material and workmanship.
Vacuum Cleaner Manual
The manual for this Tineco cordless vacuum is fairly good. It’s also a nice “book/pamphlet” and not just a simple slip of paper with instructions crammed on it. Much like everything else with this machine, they appear to have made an effort. It covers such things as an overview of the digital control panel (or display screen as they call it), a description of all the tools/attachments, how to assemble the vacuum, how to operate the vacuum and accessories, an App user guide, and information on maintenance, troubleshooting, and the warranty. You can view a copy of the document here: Tineco PURE ONE S12 manual
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