Dyson Ball Animal 3 vs Dyson Ball Animal 2


 Many people are asking if they should get the newer Dyson Ball Animal 3 or if they should stick with the tried and true Dyson Ball Animal 2? It’s a good question. The machines are very similar, but there are some key differences that will determine which vacuum is the best for you. In this article we compare the Dyson Ball Animal 3 to the Dyson Ball Animal 2 and help you make the right decision.

First let’s discuss the different models currently available to the potential buyer. We have found these models on the Dyson USA website.

Dyson Ball Animal 3:
There are currently three Dyson Ball Animal 3 models.

1) Dyson Ball Animal 3 – base model, silver cyclones, two tools
2) Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra – copper cyclones, four tools
3) Dyson Ball Animal 3 Complete – gold cyclones, nine tools, one accessory

All of the above models are essentially the same vacuum cleaner, but with different color schemes and tool/accessory sets. For more info on tools/accessories see table at bottom of article.

Dyson Ball Animal 2:
There are currently three Dyson Ball Animal 2 models.

1) Dyson Ball Animal 2 Purple – base model, purple cyclones, three tools
2) Dyson Ball Animal 2 Iron – base model, iron colored cyclones, three tools
3) Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean - blue cyclones, eight tools, one accessory

It appears that the Purple and Iron models are only differentiated by the color (the tool sets are the same).

The cleaner head is probably the most different part of the two vacuums.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 vs Dyson Ball Animal 2 cleaner heads

The cleaner head on the Animal 3 (left in the image above) is about 11 inches wide while the cleaner head on the Animal 2 is 13.25 inches wide. A narrower cleaner head has pros and cons. It is generally easier to maneuver and to get into cramped areas, but it also takes more passes to clean a given area (this is especially noticeable in large open areas).

The Animal 3 cleaner head is about 3 inches high while the Animal 2 cleaner head is about 4.25 inches high. The lower cleaner head is easier to get under low furniture, although you can’t get too far under furniture with either vacuum as you end up bumping into the large ball mechanism.

Active Base Plate
The Animal 2 has an active base plate. This is an accordion-like device (moves up and down) around the perimeter of the cleaner head. It helps reduce suction leakage around the cleaner head. The Animal 3 (on the right in the image below) does not have an active base plate.

Whether or not the active base plate makes a difference is something that perhaps shows up in the movement of the vacuum and the cleaning tests – discussed further down in the article.

Suction Settings
The Animal 3 has suction settings on the front of the cleaner head. The Animal 2 does not. The suction settings control two gates (up or down) and two air inlets (open or closed) on the front of the cleaner head.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 cleaner head

On the Animal 3 cleaner head suction can be set to:

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 dealing with ground-in dirt

Hair De-tangling Technology
The brushroll on the Animal 3 has a large diameter, short bristles and the ability to limit hair tangle. This is coupled with de-tangling 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-tangling technology.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 - underside of cleaner head.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 - brushroll is easily removed.

Dyson Ball Animal 3 brushroll
Dyson Ball Animal 3 - de-tangling vanes (looking into cleaner head with brushroll removed).

Dyson Ball Animal 3 hair removal vanes

Dyson Ball Animal 2 - underside of cleaner head.

Note that the brushroll in the Animal 2 is not easily removed.

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.

We performed several cleaning tests using both vacuums. Bear in mind our Dyson Ball Animal 2 is five years old and our Dyson Ball Animal 3 is new at the time of these tests.

Carpet Test – fine/small/medium size debris
In this test we placed fine, small and medium size debris on low pile carpet. The debris was created using ground cheerios (fine), flax seeds & chili flakes (small), and split green peas (medium). A carefully weighed amount of this debris was placed in a 5ft long line on the carpet and the vacuum was run over it in a 10-15 seconds pass.

The Dyson Ball Animal 2 pickup was calculated at 97.8%. This is good pickup but you could see that the amount of debris being pushed forward by the cleaner head was the reason the pickup figure wasn’t better. The Animal 2 is capable of picking this debris up but you would have to go over it at least a second time (something this test does not do).

The Dyson Ball Animal 3 pickup was better – it did not push as much debris forward – and we determined pickup to be 99+%.

Hard Floor Test - fine/small/medium size debris
We performed the same test on a hard floor (tile).

Both machines picked up almost everything on this test and there was no discernible difference between the two (both did very good jobs). Note that in these hard floor tests the brushrolls are turned off.

Carpet Test – large debris
In this test we placed fruit loops on the low pile carpet and ran both vacuums over them.

Both machines struggled some with the larger debris, but strictly looking at results one would have to say the Dyson Ball Animal 2 performed a little better.

Hair Test
We placed long black human hair and short white pet hair on low pile carpet and ran the vacuums over it.

At the end of each test we looked at the brushroll to see what level of tangling there was. The brushroll in the Dyson Ball Animal 3 is easily removed from the cleaner head so we pulled it out and looked at it. There was a few strands of hair on it but very little. Clearly, in this test, the anti-tangle technology worked. The Dyson Ball Animal 2 brushroll cannot be removed easily so we looked at it while in the cleaner head. This brushroll was heavily tangled and one would have to manually remove the hair.

The hose length of both vacuums appears to be the same, and the flexible hoses stretch out to somewhere between 13 and 14 ft – which is quite long.

However, the power cords are different lengths:
DBA2 = power cord is 30 ft
DBA3 = power cord is 35 ft

So the Dyson Ball Animal 3 has a longer cleaning reach than the Dyson Ball Animal 2.

We’ve noticed the weight of these two vacuums posted on Dyson as anywhere between 17.3, 17.4 and 17.5 lbs. There may be a very slight weight difference between the two vacuums but, if so, it feels negligible.

At 17.3 to 17.5 lbs these are not lightweight uprights. Both are considered somewhat hefty and you will notice it when lifting and moving them.

Movement on hard flooring and deep pile carpet is fairly good and this is the same for both machines. However when we tested movement on our low pile carpet the results were surprisingly different. In our following lengthy video review of the Dyson Ball Animal 3, we discuss movement of the two machines on our low pile carpet (at 22:26).

As mentioned in the above video, the Dyson Ball Animal 3 requires more effort to move and turn on our low pile carpet. It came as a bit of a surprise given than the Animal 3 cleaner head is smaller.

Note: We also tested movement on deep pile carpet (1 inch deep pile).  Both machines moved quite well. However some owners have contacted us saying that they found it difficult to move their vacuum on deep pile carpet (we've had people say this for both the Animal 2 and the Animal 3). You can watch us moving the Dyson Ball Animal 3 on deep pile carpet in the above video at 16:25.

The Animal 3 is quieter than the Animal 2. We placed a digital noise level meter three feet in front of the cleaner head on both vacuums and measured peak decibels over a 10 second period. We’ve done this for a host of vacuums and you can see a sampling 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

While the Animal 3 is not as loud as the Animal 2, do not mistake this for meaning the Animal 2 is a quiet vacuum. It is not.


Dyson Ball Animal 3 (advantages over the Dyson Ball Animal 2)
- Can adjust section level under cleaner head.
- Has hair de-tangling technology (works well).
- Easily removable brushroll.
- More powerful (290 air watts vs 227 air watts)
- Tests showed it was slightly more effective on fine/small/medium size debris on low pile carpet.
- Longer cleaning reach (35 ft power cord vs 30 ft power cord).
- Not as loud as the Dyson Ball Animal 2

Dyson Ball Animal 2 (advantages over the Dyson Ball Animal 3)
- Wider cleaner head so less work to clean large open areas.
- Tests showed it may be marginally more effective on large debris on low pile carpet
- Easier to move on low pile carpet.

Costs vary from retail outlet to retail outlet and typically also go down over time. That said, the current prices we see for the different models are approximately as follows:

Dyson Ball Animal 2 Purple - $500USD
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Iron - $500USD
Dyson Ball Animal 2 Total Clean - $600USD

See Dyson Ball Animal 2 pricing on Amazon

Dyson Ball Animal 3 - $400USD
Dyson Ball Animal 3 Extra - $500USD
Dyson Ball Animal 3 Complete - $550USD

See Dyson Ball Animal 3 pricing on Amazon

While the features, performance and price may sway you one way or the other, it is also important to know what tools and accessories come with each model. See our chart below (where DBA2 = Dyson Ball Animal 2 and DBA3 = Dyson Ball Animal 3).



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About Me


I'm Nigel Russco, a 50 year old professional engineer who loves to review vacuums, and I’ve been doing just that since 2008.  

I strive to write unbiased, intelligent vacuum cleaner reviews and I provide a score for each and every vacuum I investigate.  My goal is to help you find the best vacuum for your cleaning needs.

Also, watch my video reviews on the Vacuum Cleaner Advisor YouTube Channel.

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