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Dyson Ball Animal 3 Review

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Avg. consumer rating = 93/100 

The Dyson Ball Animal 3 is the latest upright vacuum cleaner in the Dyson stable. The term “Animal” denotes that this machine is designed for households with pets. This vacuum is hugely powerful and also a bit of a handful to wield. In our opinion the Animal 3 is something of a brute. It does a fantastic job of pulling up almost everything you throw at it - both carpet and hard floors - and it has the added convenience of a no-tangle cleaner head (no more pulling/cutting hair off the brushroll). However, it is on the heavy side and it takes some effort to move it around, despite the maneuverabiity of “Ball Technology”.

 
Green Check Mark s Very powerful   Red Cross s Heavy
Green Check Mark s Great pickup on carpet & hard floors   Red Cross s Can be an effort to push/pull
Green Check Mark s HEPA level air filtration   Red Cross s Hose difficult to fully extend
Green Check Mark s Long power cord   Red Cross s Struggles with large debris in some instances
Green Check Mark s Long hose      
Green Check Mark s Brushroll on/off controls      
Green Check Mark s Hair de-tangle technology works      
Green Check Mark s Very good edge cleaning      
Green Check Mark s Large dust canister      
Green Check Mark s Rinsable and reusable filters      
Green Check Mark s Suction settings      
 
Quick Specs
Type Upright
Bagged/Bagless Bagless
Best for... Carpet & Hard Floors
Pet Hair Features Yes
Approx. Weight 17.3 lbs
Power Cord Length 35 ft
Motor Driven Brushbar Yes
Warranty 5 years
 
Disclosure: We approached Dyson and requested the Ball Animal 3 so we could do a review. They agreed and sent one over. Please note that this in no way affects our review.
 

Dyson Ball Animal 3 CompleteMODELS

United States
There are currently three models of the Dyson Ball Animal 3 available at Dyson USA:
(Prices are approximate and at the time of this writing)

1) Dyson Ball Animal 3 – base model, silver cyclones, two tools, one accessory ($400USD)
2) Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra – copper cyclones, four tools, one accessory ($500USD)
3) Dyson Ball Animal Complete – gold cyclones, nine tools, two accessories ($550USD)

All of the above models are essentially the same vacuum cleaner, but with different color schemes and tool/accessory sets.

Canada
There is currently only one model available at Dyson Canada:

1) Dyson Ball Animal 3 Complete – gold cyclones, nine tools, two accessories ($750CAD)
Note: This is the model we have - see image to right.

CONSUMER RATINGS
The Animal 3 is a recent vacuum and as such owner ratings are currently limited. But given the popularity of Dyson machines we expect the number of ratings to grow rapidly.

Owner ratings found at several popular online retailers are recorded in the table below. We applied a weighted average to the figures and got a score of 93/100. This is an excellent score and it places the Animal 3 near the top of upright vacuums that we have reviewed over the years. We would caution however that the score is based on a small sample set (71 ratings) and it could change over the coming months.

Source Consumer Rating # Ratings
Best Buy 4.5 stars out of 5 31
Target 4.8 stars out of 5 18
Bed, Bath & Beyond 4.7 stars out of 5 15
Abt 5.0 stars out of 5 7
 

To view all of our vacuum reviews and scores please see the vacuum cleaner finder interactive page.

WHAT’S INCLUDED?
- Dyson Ball Animal 3 upright vacuum cleaner (with filters)
- Nine tools
- Vacuum mounted tool holder
- Tool bag
- Assembly and registration guide

We were also pleasantly surprised to find that there was absolutely no plastic used in the Animal 3 boxing and packaging.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 packaging no plastic

Note: A manual is not provided but it can be found online. For convenience you can also find it at the bottom of this review.

TOOLS & ACCESSORIES
The Animal 3 Complete includes a host of tools and accessories.

- Articulating hard floor tool
- Mattress tool

Dyson Ball Animal 3 tools 1

- Tangle-free turbine tool
- Carbon fibre soft dusting brush
  Note that you may get a different looking carbon fibre soft dusting brush.
- Quick release groom tool

Dyson Ball Animal 3 tools 2

- Multi-angle brush tool
- Stair tool

Dyson Ball Animal 3 Tools 3

- Combination tool
- Reach under tool

Dyson Ball Animal 3 Tools 4

There are also two accessories.

- Tool holder (clips onto vacuum, holds 2 tools))
- Tool bag

Dyson Ball Animal 3 accessories

WHAT ARE OWNERS SAYING?
In this section we include our own experiences as well as those of other owners.

Almost everyone reports that the Animal 3 has very powerful suction. You can feel the power of this vacuum when you turn it on and start moving. The strong suction is very effective at pulling up all manner of dust/dirt/debris, and owners generally sing the vacuum’s praise when it comes to pickup. However all that suction does come with a downside. It can be a little difficult to push on some carpets. Fortunately you can adjust the suction under the cleaner head which helps to some extent with movement.

Owners also feel that the vacuum is an excellent choice for homes with pets. The de-tangle technology, large dust canister, long hose, high level of filtration, and (depending on your model) pet related tools, all help to make this an effective pet vacuum. The "Complete” model even has a pet grooming tool.

Most folks like the dust canister and find it large enough that they don’t have to stop to empty it too frequently. It is also easy to empty.

Owners report that the cleaning reach is excellent. The power cord and the hose are very long, providing the ability to do large rooms without having to search for the next power outlet. There are a few comments about the extension hose and wand being awkward to use. We found that using them can indeed be a little tricky – the wand is a bit long and the extension hose can be hard to pull out (it pulls back on you). However, we find the extra reach it provides worth these drawbacks.

Some people report that they feel the Animal 3 is a little on the heavy side. We typically find uprights today weigh in the 13-16 lbs range but the Animal 3 is just over 17 lbs. You can feel the vacuum’s weight when moving it around. We don’t mind it but some owners report that they find the machine a bit cumbersome.

DYSON BALL ANIMAL 3 VS DYSON BALL ANIMAL 2
The two vacuums are very similar but there are some distinct differences.

Narrower Cleaner Head: The cleaner head on the Animal 3 (left in the image below) is about 11 inches wide while on the Animal 2 it is 13.25 inches wide

DBA3 vs DBA2 cleaner heads

Hair De-tangle Technology: The brushroll on the Animal 3 has a much larger diameter, shorter bristles and the ability to limit hair tangle. This is coupled with de-tangle vanes built into the cleaner head which help to remove hair from the brushroll. The Animal 2 has a smaller diameter brushroll with longer bristles and no de-tangle technology.

More Power: The Dyson website states that the Animal 3 has 290 air watts of suction while the Animal 2 has 227 air watts of suction. We have seen the Animal 2 rated at 270 watts in previous literature and are not sure why we are now seeing 227 air watts. In either case the new Animal 3 is still the more powerful of the two vacuums.

Suction Settings: The Animal 3 has suction settings on the front of the cleaner head. The Animal 2 does not.

Longer Power Cord: The Animal 3 has a 35 ft power cord. The Animal 2 has a 30 ft power cord.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 main controls

CONTROLS
The main controls on the vacuum are very simple. You have a large red power on/off button on the front of the machine just below the handle. It is easily reached from the upright vacuuming position. Beside the power button is a brushroll on/off button. This is handy as you may wish to turn the brushroll off when cleaning hard floors or certain delicate types of flooring.

USING WAND/HOSE/TOOLS
Dyson states that the hose has a length of 15 ft when fully extended. We always measure a hose as the length it can be extended before the vacuum tips over or is pulled along the floor – this is essentially the practical length of the hose. Using this definition we measured the Animal 3 hose and wand at 13 ft 4 inches in length. Despite being short of the stated 15 ft, a 13+ ft hose and wand is very long and makes it easy to do overhead cleaning or do a set of stairs for example. Our vacuum is also new and the extension hose may stretch out more over time.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 hose and wand

While the hose, wand and tools provide a lot of cleaning versatility for an upright, they are not without their difficulties. The wand feels a little long and unwieldy at times and the stretch hose will fight to collapse (you have to keep pulling on it to keep it stretched out). The system isn’t perfect but this is, to some extent, due to the effort made in keeping it all tucked away to help streamline the upright – note that when you view a picture of this vacuum you usually do not even see a hose or wand.

CLEANER HEAD
The new Animal 3 cleaner head, known officially as the Motorbar™ cleaner head, is not as wide as the Animal 2 cleaner head (11 inches compared to 13.25 inches). A narrow cleaner head is typically more agile and will more easily get into cramped areas, but it will not cover as much area in a pass.

The brushroll in the Animal 3 cleaner head is a kind of brushroll that we have not seen in a Dyson upright before. It is specially designed to help limit hair tangle as it cleans. We removed the brushroll from the cleaner head and you can see it below:

Dyson Ball Animal 3 motorbar brushroll

The brushroll can be very easily removed by pressing a red button on the side of the cleaner head and simply pulling it out. It goes back in and locks into places just as easily. Dyson has made this a very simple process which is handy if you have to do any brushroll maintenance or even get inside the cleaner head.

We’ve also noticed that the inside of the cleaner head has de-tangling vanes that strip the hair from the brushroll. You can see the vanes in the image below (where we have removed the brushroll from the cleaner head)

In addition, the cleaner head has a red slider on the front which allows you to adjust the suction under the cleaner head. This is something we first saw on the Dyson V10 cordless and has become a mainstay on the new cordless units.

The suction slider controls two small red gates on the front bottom of the cleaner head and two grilled inlets on the front top of the cleaner head. The gates go up/down and the grilled inlets open/close depending on where you set the slider.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 suction settings

The slider has three suction settings:
1) Left: best for medium and deep pile carpet, and for rugs and delicate flooring
2) Middle: best for low pile carpet and for picking up larger debris
3) Right: best for hard flooring and if you are dealing with ground-in dirt

The “Left” setting results in the least amount of suction under the cleaner head and as such it is also a good setting to use if you are finding the vacuum hard to push. On our low pile carpet we did notice significant differences in the effort to push the vacuum depending on the suction setting.

POWER
The Dyson website states that the Dyson Ball Animal 3 generates 290 air watts of suction. This is a lot of suction and is a level of power we don’t often see.

NOISE
We used a digital noise level meter in our noise level test. The meter was placed 3 ft in front of the vacuum cleaner head on low pile carpet and the vacuum was turned on with the brushroll spinning. Peak decibels were determined over a 10 second period. We have performed this test on many vacuums so comparisons can easily be made between machines. A sample of upright vacuum noise levels is provided in the table below.

Vacuum Model
Peak Noise Level (decibels)
Shark Pet Pro ZU62 74.7
Shark TruePet NV752 75.2
Dyson Ball Animal 3 75.7
Shark APEX AZ1002 76.1
Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Animal 76.2
Shark Navigator ZU561 77.6
Dyson Ball Animal 2 78.1
Hoover ONEPWR Evolve (in Max power) 78.3
 

The Animal 3 was not as loud as we expected.  Having said that don't expect that this is a quiet machine.  It is not, and it is not the kind of machine where you can have a phone conversation while someone is vacuuming the same room for example. But it is at least a little less loud than the Animal 2.  Also, the vacuum feels louder when it is in the upright position (brushroll is off) as the suction is redirected through the top of the handle.  The top of the handle has a narrow opening and, being the highest point on the vacuum, is closer to your ears. This is not a comfortable position for long periods.

CLEANING TESTS

Carpet Test – low pile
In this test we created debris made of ground cheerios, chili flakes, flax seeds, and split green peas. This mimics fine/small/medium size household debris. The debris was placed in a 5ft long line on low pile carpet and the vacuum was passed over it (one forward pass) in about 10 seconds. The suction slider was set in the middle position.

 

In this test we often determine the percentage of debris picked up (we measure debris very carefully with a sensitive scale). However in this case weighing debris was unnecessary as it was clear that virtually everything was picked up. We feel comfortable saying pickup was in the order of 99+ percent. This is a very good result.

Large Debris Test
We also decided to test the machine on larger debris - in this case fruit loops.

 

As you can see the Animal 3 had a tendency to push some of the larger debris in front of the cleaner head. This is due to the low front of the cleaner head and the strong suction that pulls the cleaner head down onto the carpet.

Carpet Test– deep pile
We were a little concerned that the cleaner head may make movement on deep pile carpet difficult. In this test we used a 1 inch deep pile white carpet and sprinkled black rice on it. We set the suction slider on the front of the cleaner head to the far left (best for deep pile carpet).

 

We were surprised at how well the Animal 3 moved on the deep pile carpet. It was really quite easy to move back and forth and it did pick up the black rice.

Hard Floor Test – tile
In the hard floor test we turned the brushroll off, set the suction slider to the right, and ran the machine over the same kind of debris we used in the low pile carpet test.

 

Again, the results were very good. Almost no debris was left on our tile flooring.

Hair Test
We placed long black human hair and short white pet hair on low pile carpet and ran the vacuum over it. After the test we removed the brushroll from the cleaner head to see how well the de-tangle technology worked.

 

These were very good results. There were a few strands left on the brushroll but they were loose and could easily be pulled off. Also, they would likely have been removed and sent to the dust canister had we continued vacuuming. In short, the de-tangle technology works (at least with the kinds of hair we used in this test).

Edge Cleaning Test
This is an important test as we’ve seen many vacuums that just won’t clean along an edge and this can result in lots of extra work (forcing one to go back and redo edges using the hose and tools for example). In this test we placed chili flakes against a baseboard and ran the cleaner head up tight along the baseboard.

 

This is an excellent result and there was virtually nothing left. We have occasionally seen this level of edge cleaning but not often.

WEIGHT & MOVEMENT
At 17.3 lbs this is a hefty machine (about the same as the Animal 2 which was 17.4 lbs). You will notice the weight as soon as you start moving it around. The extent to which this vacuum feels heavy may depend on what you are used to. Those who use corded uprights may not feel it is too out of the ordinary, while those who are used to smaller (or even cordless) units will notice the heft right away.

The Ball Technology helps with turning (you turn the vacuum mostly by twisting your wrist) and makes up for some of the weight.

We did test movement of the Animal 3 side-by-side with the Animal 2 and we would have to say that the newer machine is actually harder to move and turn than its predecessor.  We are not sure why this is but it feels like it has to do with the cleaner head.  The Animal 3 cleaner head seems to have more drag than the Animal 2 cleaner head.  In short, this is not a lightweight upright and it does require some muscle when vacuuming.

FILTRATION
The vacuum has two filters that are easy to access and are rinsable in water. Dyson calls them lifetime filters which means they should last the lifetime of the vacuum cleaner.  There is a pre-motor filter (found in the top of the dust canister) and a post-motor filter (found in the ball mechanism).

Dyson Ball Animal 3 filters

The post-motor filter is HEPA grade and is capable of removing 99.97% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or more.  A HEPA filter is capable of capturing many allergens – very useful in households with pets. The HEPA filter is shown inside the ball mechanism below.

Dyson Ball Animal HEPA filter

Dyson also refers to the vacuum as having whole machine filtration which means that unfiltered air does not escape through poor seals or cracks in the vacuum body. All of the air that enters the vacuum is passed through the filters, so only clean air is expelled back into your home.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 dust canisterDUST CANISTER
The dust canister (image to right) is a good size at 0.55 gallons. It is easy to detach and reattach. To empty it you simply press the red button on the top and it opens the bottom door.  Like many bagless vacuums you may find that you have to reach into the dust canister to remove dust/hair/etc that gets stuck inside.

WARRANTY
The Dyson Ball Animal 3 sports a lengthy 5-year manufacturer's parts and labor warranty.

SUMMARY
This is a worthy successor to the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and the extra features are very useful, especially in homes with pets. We were impressed with the unit's cleaning abilities and were very pleased to see how well the anti-tangle technology worked. This could be a boon for homes with lots of pet hair.

The unit does most things very well and also provides excellent cleaning reach with a long power cord and hose. However, it did struggle some with larger debris on our low pile carpet and some folks may find it a little heavy or difficult to push. It also is not cheap and, depending on the model, it can set you back a few dollars.

In summary, if you don’t mind the price and a little heft, this vacuum will tackle most of what you throw at it and will be an essential item in households with pets and pet hair.

DYSON BALL ANIMAL 3 MANUAL
The manual is full of illustrations which can be quite helpful.  You will find information on what comes with your vacuum cleaner, a rundown of the tools, details on how to assemble the unit, and explanations of the vacuum’s controls and features. There is also information on emptying the dust canister, using tools/hose/wand, understanding the cleaner head, suction settings, and maintenance.  You can see the owner’s manual here: Dyson Ball Animal 3 User Manual

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About Me

Hello!

I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer originally from the west coast of Canada.  I love to review vacuums and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I make every effort to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide average consumer ratings for each and every vacuum cleaner I investigate.  My ultimate goal is to ensure you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.