Dyson V12 Review
Avg. consumer rating = 93/100
Dyson cordless vacuums have become increasingly popular over the past 5 to 6 years, however they’ve also become increasingly heavier. Enter the Dyson V12 Detect Slim. It has all of the features and technology of the top Dyson machines, but it is more compact and lightweight. To achieve this however, Dyson has had to take some shortcuts. In this review we investigate the V12’s features and we run it through a host of tests, including performance on carpet, on hard floor, on hair, and on edges. In addition, we test the run time and noise level.
|Great on carpet & hard floors||Small dust canister|
|HEPA level air filtration||Must remove wand to empty|
|Lightweight||Average edge cleaning|
|Moves well||Only one battery|
|Easy to empty||Expensive|
|Laser feature works well|
|Easily removable brushrolls|
|Hair de-tangle technology works|
|Hair screw tool works well|
|One touch on/off|
|Auto power mode is handy|
|Remaining run time countdown|
|Reasonable battery life|
|Best for...||Carpet & Hard Floors|
|Pet Hair Features||Yes|
|Approx. Weight||5.2 lbs|
|Power Cord Length||Cordless|
|Motor Driven Brushbar||Yes|
We’ve noticed that the models available at Dyson.com change frequently. Dyson currently has two models available:
1) V12 Detect Slim Absolute - 6 tools + wand clip, docking station, and charger
2) V12 Detect Slim Extra - 5 tools + wand clip, docking station, and charger
Elsewhere online you can also find the basic V12:
3) V12 Detect Slim - 3 tools + wand clip, docking station, and charger
We have the basic version of the V12 Detect Slim.
Owner ratings were found at several well-known online retail outlets. See table below. When a weighted average was applied to these ratings, a score of 92.9 out of 100 was determined. This is a very good score and you can compare it to the scores of other stick vacuums in our stick vacuum ratings table. You can also see the scores of all the vacuums we’ve reviewed over the years in the vacuum cleaner finder application.
|Amazon||4.5 stars out of 5||31|
|Target||4.6 stars out of 5||111|
|Abt||4.7 stars out of 5||57|
|Canadian Tire||4.7 stars out of 5||116|
Read more V12 owner reviews on Amazon.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX?
Our V12 Detect Slim came with the following:
- Handheld vacuum unit
- One battery
- Laser Slim Fluffy cleaner head (hard floors)
- Motorbar cleaner head (carpet & hard floors)
- Hair screw tool
- Crevice tool
- Combination tool
- Wand clip
- Docking station (includes mounting kit)
TOOLS & ACCESSORIES
The crevice tool and the combination tool are non-powered tools. The crevice tool provides about 7 to 8 inches of reach which is a decent length. The combination tool has a wide nozzle for cleaning around the home (also good on vehicles) as well as nylon bristles that can be extended for cleaning delicate surfaces. In addition, there is a short red nylon strip (lint picker) on the combination tool that helps lift debris.
The wand clip allows two tools to be carried on the vacuum. This is handy as you don’t have to go back to the cupboard/closet to get the tools you need in the middle of a cleaning job.
The hair screw tool is motorized and is designed to pick up hair without tangling. The brushroll in this tool is can be removed for easy cleaning but it is not rinsable in water.
Following is a short video of the V15 with the hair screw tool attached. It is tackling long black human hair and short white pet hair. The tool does an excellent job and there is no tangling – all the hair was sent to the dust canister for disposal.
Motorbar cleaner head - this cleaner head can be used on both carpet and hard flooring, although it does have bristles so if you have delicate flooring you may not want to use it.
The cleaner head is motorized and the brushroll has a row of soft black bristles and a row of shorter, stiffer red bristles. It also has what Dyson refers to as “hair removal vanes”. We test the ability of this cleaner head to remove or limit hair tangle in the Cleaning Tests section below. The brushroll can be easily removed for cleaning but it cannot be rinsed in water.
Laser Slim Fluffy cleaner head - designed only for hard flooring. You cannot use this cleaner head on carpet.
It has a green laser (slider on top of the cleaner head turns this on/off) which highlights hidden dust/debris on hard flooring. When we first heard of this feature we thought it was more of a gimmick but after testing it we found that it does actually work. Also, most owners report really liking the laser.
The soft brushroll in the Laser Slim Fluffly cleaner head is easily removed and is rinsable in water. When drying the brushroll stand it upright with the closed end facing upwards. Ensure it is completely dry before putting in back in the cleaner head. You can also use a soft, dry, lint-free cloth to wipe the laser lens.
POWER MODES & SUCTION
There are three power modes: ECO, AUTO/MED, BOOST.
ECO produces the least suction and will therefore give you the longest run time.
AUTO/MED requires some explanation. The V12 has a dust sensor (piezo sensor inside the handheld component) and in AUTO mode the vacuum will regulate the suction depending on the amount of dust encountered. This is sometimes refered to as “reactive suction power” by Dyson. More dust = more suction, less dust = less suction.
However AUTO power mode only works for powered tools (like the cleaner heads and the hair screw tool). So if you attach a non-powered tool to the vacuum, like the crevice tool or the combo tool, the vacuum detects this and AUTO mode becomes MED mode. MED stands for medium.
AUTO power mode also optimizes cleaning and run time. It provides just enough suction to do a good job but does not waste battery energy. We usually just leave the vacuum in AUTO mode when we use it.
BOOST generates the most suction and will result in the shortest run times. This is the best power mode to use when dealing with tougher ground-in dirt.
The chart below shows the suction power of many of the popular Dyson cordless vacuums. You can see that the V12 is not as powerful in ECO and MED as the other vacuums. In BOOST mode however it provides about the same suction as the V10, and is more powerful than the V7 and V8.
|ECO/LOW (Air Watts)||AUTO/MED (Air Watts)||BOOST/MAX (Air Watts)|
The LCD control panel sits on the back of the handheld component. It shows particle count information, the cleaning mode selected, remaining run time, and alerts. Particle count information consists of a real time bar chart showing the number of particles of different sizes being encountered in the airflow. It is interesting but I’m not sure what one really does with the data. Remaining run time is in real time and very handy as you have an accurate idea how much time you have left on your battery. Alerts include such things as the airway being blocked, the filter not being sealed, or the filter needing to be cleaned.
There is also a settings menu which allows you to turn particle count on/off (which turns AUTO power off), adjust AUTO power sensitivity, turn machine pulsing on/off (pulses 3 times when battery is very low), etc.
There is no power trigger! This has been a contentious feature for years and this is the first time we’ve reviewed a Dyson cordless with a power button instead of a trigger. Some owners liked the trigger while other hate it, citing aching fingers during longer cleaning sessions.
We never had an issue with the trigger but frankly the button is easier to use. Just press it once and the vacuum is on until you press it again to shut the machine off. No more holding the trigger down to get power. Turning the vacuum on/off is now a two hand job however – hold the vacuum with one hand and press the button with the other. In the past you just pressed the trigger to go.
The battery is “click-in” meaning it can be attached and detached in seconds. It’s a great feature as you can charge it on or off the vacuum and, should you buy a second battery, you can double your run time. With a second battery you just pop it in when the first battery runs down. This is really handy if you are doing large area cleaning and you need more run time.
The battery specifications are:
- 7 cell battery pack
- 25.2 volts
- 2500 mAh
- 63 Wh
RECHARGING THE V12
The battery can be charged while the vacuum is in the wall mount or by connecting the battery charger directly to the battery (with the battery on or off the vacuum). Charging options are fairly flexible which is nice. We’ve seen some cordless units where charging can be a hassle – like the Tineco S11 or Tineco S12 where you can only charge through the wall mount even if you don’t want to use it.
Blue LEDs on both sides of the V12 battery pulse while charging. They stop pulsing when the battery is fully charged. The control panel display will also show 100% charged. A full battery recharge takes about 4 hours.
Official Run Times
We received official run time figures for the V12 from a Dyson representative.
|Motorized cleaner head||35 min||20 min||5|
|Non-motorized cleaner head||60 min||30 min||5|
Tested Run Times
We performed our own tests to see how they compared to the official figures. We only tested with motorized cleaner heads - we did not do non-motorized tool tests. We performed tests in each power mode and on both carpet and hard flooring. The carpet tests were done on medium pile carpet using the Motorbar cleaner head. Low pile carpet figures were estimated using a 9% increase of the medium pile figures. This ratio was found when testing the Dyson V15. Hard floor tests were performed on tile using the Fluffy cleaner head. All tests were done with a fully charged battery and a stopwatch.
|Medium Pile Carpet (Motorbar cleaner head)||32 min 0 seconds||23 min 53 seconds||6 min 47 seconds|
|Low Pile Carpet (estimated) (Motorbar cleaner head)||34 min 53 seconds||26 min 2 seconds||7 min 24 seconds|
|Tile Floor (Fluffy cleaner head)||58 min 43 seconds||36 min 23 seconds||7 min 47 seconds|
Overall we’d say that carpet run times were quite reasonable and were close to and in some cases better than those provided by the manufacturer. There are no official hard floor run times with the fluffy cleaner head but our tests showed some very good numbers with the V12 operating at almost one full hour in ECO mode..
We weighed the vacuum with a sensitive scale.
- Stick vac with Motorbar cleaner head = 5.18 lbs
- Stick vac with Fluffy cleaner head = 4.61 lbs
- Handheld alone = 3.26 lbs
Following is a table showing a sample of cordless vacuum weights (we've reviewed all these vacuums). As you can see the V12 is very lightweight.
|Stick Vacuum||Weight (lbs)|
|Tineco A10 Hero||5.0|
|Dyson V7 (motorhead)||5.5|
|Tineco Pure One S11||5.7|
|Shark WANDVAC System||5.9|
|LG CordZero A9||6.0|
|Tineco Pure One S12||6.6|
|Tineco Pure One S15||6.8|
|Shark Rocket Pro||7.3|
|Shark IONFlex / ION F80||8.7|
|Shark Vertex Cordless||9.0|
Movement is very good. The best moving cordless vacuums we’ve run across to date are the Dysons. They move in a straight line back and forth, they turn very positively (don’t keep sliding forward), and they have a very tight turning radius. Most other cordless units just don’t do this as well as the Dyson vacuums do. The V12 is no exception.
The handheld component of the V12 is small and compact. We weighed it at 3.26 lbs which frankly makes it a pleasure to use. The handheld components of many 2-in-1 cordless stick vacs (both stick vac and handheld vac) have been getting heavier and heavier and it is nice to go back to something that feels more like the earlier V7’s and V8’s. They are just much easier to use, especially for longer handheld cleaning jobs like vehicle interiors.
An extra pound or two on the handheld may not sound like much but it is something you will definitely feel.
|Stick Vacuum||Handheld Component Weight (lbs)|
|Shark Rocket Pro||3.44|
|LG CordZero A9 Kompressor||3.49|
|TIneco Pure One S11||3.49|
|Dyson V10 (Abs / Animal)||3.66|
|Tineco Pure One S12||3.69|
|Tineco Pure One S15||3.94|
|Dyson V11 (Abs / TD / Animal)||4.42|
|Dyson V11 Outsize||5.36|
Carpet test (low pile)
We created a debris from ground cheerios, chili flakes, flax seeds and split green peas. This was designed to mimic fine/small/medium size debris. It was placed in a 5ft long line on low pile carpet and the vacuum was passed over it once. The pass was 10-15 seconds. This test was performed in all three power modes and the percentage pickup was determined. The video below shows the pass in AUTO power mode.
We were frankly surprised at how well the V12 worked given the low suction figures in ECO and AUTO power modes. Pickup in ECO was average but in AUTO and BOOST it was quite good.
|Low Pile Carpet
Hard Floor test (tile)
The same test was performed on a tile floor using the Fluffy cleaner head. The video below shows the test in AUTO power mode.
Results in this hard floor test were excellent and were frankly so good in ECO and AUTO that it was unnecessary to perfrom the BOOST test.
|Hard Floor (tile)
In the hair test we place long black human hair and short white pet hair on low pile carpet. Most machines to a good job of hair pickup but some brushrolls get very tangled and even bogged down.
The V12 did not get bogged down and it picked up everything. There was a small amount of hair on the brushroll after the test but this was easily removed by hand. You can also see that almost all the hair ended up in the dust canister for disposal. We've perfromed this test with vacuums that do not have anti-tangle technology and the brushrolls often get very bound up with hair and it is difficult to remove. We'd have to say that while the anti-tangle technology isn't perfect it helps quite a lot.
The edge cleaning test involves placing chili flakes up tight against a wall or edge and running the vacuum along the wall - one forward pass and one backwards pass. Good edge cleaning will pick up ALL the chili flakes.
In this test the V12 didn't do particularly well. We'd say it has average to below average edge cleaning. If you find yourself in this situation all is not lost. You can simply put the crevice tool on the wand or on the end fo the handheld and run it along the edge. This will clean the edges nicely, but it is extra work.
The dust canister is easy to empty but you must first detach the wand (unlike the V7 and V8 where you did not need to do this). Then you push the red tab forward and the bottom door opens and dust/debris fall out. Like many bagless machines you will likely have to stick your hand into the dust canister and pull out stuck debris (often hair mixed with other debris).
The V12 dust canister is quite small. It has a capacity of 0.1 gallons. A small dust canister results in frequent emptying. We also found that it is a little hard to dig stuck-in debris out of the canister due to its smaller more cramped size.
| Stick Vacuum
||Dust Canister Size (gallons)|
|Tineco Pure One S15||0.12|
|Tineco Pure One S12||0.16|
|Tineco Pure One S11||0.16|
|Dyson V10 (Absolute/Animal)||0.20|
The dust canister is also easy to clean. There is a button under the bin that allows you to slide the canister off the runner (detachng it from the vacuum). The bin can be wiped cleaned with a damp cloth and when it is completely dry it can be put back on the vacuum.
We performed a noise level test with a digital noise level meter. The meter was placed three feet in front of the Motorbar cleaner head on low pile carpet and the vacuum was turned on. Peak decibels over a 10 second period were captured in the three power modes. The V12 is not too loud but it is also not a particularly quiet cordless vacuum. It sits in about the middle of the table below.
ECO - 65.3 dB
AUTO - 66.6 dB
BOOST - 72.0 dB
|Stick Vacuum||Low Power (dB)||Max Power (dB)|
|Tineco Pure One S12||61.1||66.7|
|Tineco Pure One S15||61.7 (Auto power)||67.6|
|LG CordZero A9||63.0||74.4|
|Tineco Pure One S11||63.3 (Auto power)||67.0|
|Shark WANDVAC System||70.3||72.2|
|Shark Vertex Cordless||72.9||72.9|
|Hoover ONEPWR Evolve||73.2||78.3|
|Shark Rocket Pro (cordless)||74.2||75.1|
The vacuum only has one filter and it easily twists off the back of the handheld component. The filter is rinsable in water. You need to wait until the filter is completely dry before you reinstall it – typically 24 hrs.
Dyson states that the V12 is capable of capturing 99.99% of particles with a diameter of 0.3 microns or more. This is effectively HEPA level filtration. Dyson also report that the V12 is fully sealed which means no unfiltered air escapes the vacuum. All the air entering the machine is passed through the filter before being exhausted. The combination of high level filtration and a fully sealed system are key to quality air filtration. You can read more about this in our article “About HEPA Filtration”.
The vacuum comes with a wall mount (Dyson sometimes refers to this as a docking station). If you don’t mind attaching this to your wall, it is probably the easiest way to store the machine. The charger can be attached to the wall mount so the vacuum is charging when in the wall mount.
However some owners don’t want to put holes in their wall so the wall mount isn’t really an option. In this case the vacuum can simply be leaned against a wall in a closet or corner. The vacuum will not stand on its own.
The wall mount also includes an installation kit (screws and drywall anchors).
The V12 Detect Slim cordless vacuum carries a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty.
The V12 is like going back to the lightweight V7 but with all the features of a V15. Dyson has managed to create a light cordless vacuum with decent run times, anti-tangle technology, two specialize brushrolls, an LCD control panel, a click-in battery, and more. The drawbacks mostly relate to size.
In shedding weight, the V12 has a smaller handheld component, smaller dust canister, smaller battery, and thinner wand than the V15. Have these modifications been worth it? I believe the short answer is yes. If you have a smaller space to clean and want a lightweight cordless then you really couldn't do much better than the V12. However, if you have a larger area to clean then the V15 or even the V11 Outsize are perhaps more suitable.
If the V12 is too expensive and you still want lightweight then a Dyson V7 or Dyson V8 should be a consideration. You can also see our article Dyson V7 vs V8.
DYSON V12 DETECT MANUAL
A manual is not provided with the vacuum but you can download one online. You can find a copy of it here: Dyson V12 Detect Slim manual
Nigel Russco has been reviewing and testing vacuums for over 14 years. He is a professional engineer and uses his review platforms to help consumers determine which vacuum cleaners are the best for their cleaning needs. Follow Nigel on facebook or view his vacuum review videos on the Vacuum Cleaner Advisor YouTube Channel.