What's a vacuum for under £100 like? We put the Beldray Opti
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What's a vacuum for under £100 like? We put the Beldray Opti

Oct 11, 2023

The Beldray Opti-Air cordless vacuum is fine for small jobs - but you ultimately get what you pay for

For under £100, the Beldray Opti-Air cordless vacuum is not an appliance to be sniffed at if you're on a tight budget. OK so it feels pretty plastic-heavy, but its performance in our tests wasn't all bad - just don't expect to be vacuuming up heavy debris without running into issues. It scores bonus points for the subtle gold design too.

Passable performance in smaller tasks

Nice gold accents

Extremely lightweight

LED headlights are a nice touch

Not for heavy-duty jobs - at all

Plastic-y feel

Hair tangles very easily in roller head

Won't suit fully carpeted homes

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Vacuum cleaners under £100 are hard to come by, which is why the Beldray Opti-Air Digital 2-in-1 Multi-Surface Stick & Handheld Vacuum held great potential in my eyes. With an RRP of £96.99, it's one of the most affordable floor care appliances I've ever come across.

Then again, affordable appliances are very much Beldray's niche and something the brand has been doing well for over 150 years. I took the Beldray Opti-Air for a spin at the Future test centre, where it was pitted against big-name options all vying for the title of best vacuum including picks from Dyson, Vax and Sebo to name a few.

I was willing the Beldray Opti-Air cordless vacuum to do well, as actually budget floorcare finds are hard to come by. Here's how I got on with this unbelievably affordable iteration of one of the best cordless vacuums.

Molly is the Ecommerce Editor for Ideal Home covering all things appliance-related. She's tested dozens of vacuums to see if they're worth the investment from all of the major brands. To test the Beldray Opti-Air cordless vacuum she took a trip to the Future test facility in Reading

The Beldray Opti-Air is easy to manage in its box. So easy in fact, that even after an hour-long train journey to reach the test facility and a fifteen-minute walk, I wasn't feeling much of a strain at all. At 3.7kg, this is one lightweight vacuum, and therefore perfect if you need something easy to manoeuvre due to dexterity issues.

There's minimal packaging inside as everything is encased in a cardboard shell. All of the smaller elements such as the additional attachments do come wrapped in plastic, however, making things a bit less sustainable.

The full contents of the box include the vacuum itself, a charger, a crevice/brush tool and an instruction manual. Putting the vacuum together is a doddle - to use it in upright mode all you need to do is attach the three elements (stick, floorhead and controls) together and you're good to go.

Fully assembled, it's hard to get away from the fact that the Beldray Opti-Air cordless vacuum feels something like a child's toy. The lightweight feel and plastic components aren't conducive to the most sturdy build, but at these moments it's good to remember the price tag of this vacuum and adjust your expectations.

Charging was really straightforward with this vacuum, and after about an hour there was enough power to work with to breeze through our rounds of testing. Battery life all in all is only up to 30 minutes, so if your space is expansive you may struggle a little.

We devised a series of tests in order to test the true ability of the vacuums we were testing. Using a series of floor types (kindly provided by Flooring Superstore), we pitted the vacuums against each other when picking up fine dust in the form of flour, large debris in the form of cereal and faux hair (courtesy of some cut-up hair extensions).

Dust pick up The Beldray Opti-Air aced its first test, which was picking up flour spread across lino. The suction was fine here, with the vacuum clearly able to pick up everything on a hard floor in its wake. It was noticeably easy to use the vacuum too, with no strain needed to push the floor head along. So far, so good.

On the carpet, the Opti-Air faired similarly well with picking up the fine flour. There was a bit more tension when it came to manoeuvring the stick, but on the whole, I was impressed. It's no Dyson, but for quick clean-ups and getting rid of dust, it does a fine surface-level job.

Debris pick up It was time to get a little bit harder on the Beldray Opti-Air. Cheerios were used as our debris of choice for this test, and while some were scattered and some were crushed, the Beldray Opti-Air unfortunately struggled either way.

We used wood laminate flooring to see how the floor head would contend with the cereal, thinking it would be a kinder first test compared to the carpet. The Beldray doesn't have the space in its floorhead to suck up these larger pieces of debris, which meant it ended up pushing them along the surface instead.

Only a small amount of the cereal made it to the small dust tank at the top, and when we disassembled the vacuum later on, lots of Cheerios bounded out. For that reason, I'd recommend using your Beldray in conjunction with a dustpan and brush when you're cleaning up big messes, and going back over with this vacuum only for the finer elements.

Hair pick up

If you're planning on using the Beldray Opti-Air to help deal with pet hair troubles, then my advice would be to tread carefully. While this vacuum was fine dealing with small amounts of hair at a time on both carpet and hard floor, it's not enabled with the sort of technology that makes big-name vacuums like the Shark Stratos so fantastic.

Instead, the hair that we laid down got quickly tangled in the floor head, and meant that we had to resort to cutting it away with scissors to get the suction back up and running again. As with the cereal tests, we'd advise treading lightly when it comes to using the Beldray with pet hair, as too much will most definitely lead to a serious clogging problem.

For under £100, I can quickly forgive the Beldray for not having the sort of technology that very expensive competitors do. For small hair pick ups, especially when using the crevice tool as if it were one of the best handheld vacuums, it'll likely be fine for keeping surface level pet hair at bay.

The Beldray Opti-Air has a really tiny dust tank, with just 1.2 litres of pick up space. It quickly filled up in our tests (though we were putting it through its paces quite severely), although emptying it was mostly fine.

Maintenance will be a bit trickier with the Beldray as there aren't features to keep things clean, as with the hair getting stuck in the vacuum head. We'd recommend emptying and doing a check of this vacuum every time you use it, so that you can hang onto it in a working condition for as long as possible.

We tried the Beldray Opti-Air alongside the Dyson V10, Vax Blade 4, Vax Blade 5 and the Bissell Featherweight vacuum.

Side by side with the Dyson V10, the difference in quality was clear to see, but with a £300 price difference, this is to be expected. The Dyson is much easier to use and empty, and the amount it can pick up is quite startling, with the ability to really deep clean carpets.

If budget is not an issue, you can't go far wrong with the Dyson V10, but if you need a vacuum exactly under £100, the Beldray isn't too shabby either.

The other budget option on the day was the Bissell Featherweight, which is even cheaper than the Beldray Opti-Air with an RRP of £55.00. The Beldray faired better in our tests, with the Featherweight more suited to use as a handheld vacuum. For the extra £40ish, you'll have a more reliable cordless vacuum.

Given how fantastic the price is, I wish I could recommend the Beldray Opti-Air as the greatest vacuum out there. As is usually the case however, you get what you pay for - and this vacuum, while it stood up fairly well in our tests isn't a perfect choice.

Picking up larger debris will prove difficult with the Beldray BEL01194, and it's not made for intense cleaning jobs or for dealing with large amounts of hair, human or pet. It is however a passable choice for smaller jobs. It also has plenty of merits for the price, including the lightweight design, the gold accents, LED headlights and the ability to work pretty well on hard floors. If your budget is less than £100, you can't go too far wrong.

In line with our policy on how we test products that we recommend at Ideal Home, Molly tested this vacuum at the Future test facility alongside a range of other brands in order to draw comparisons and come to conclusions in this review.

After writing for all of Future's Homes titles, Molly is now an Ecommerce Editor at Ideal Home, working across a range of shopping content to find the best buys for your space. Previously, she was the Staff Writer at TopTenReviews, another Future site, where she covered home content, which to a US audience is anything from turkey fryers to ride-on lawn mowers. Now, she spends her time writing reviews of appliances she's tested at home and at our testing facility (we're talking air fryers, vacuums, dehumidifiers and more!), as well as curating buying guides.

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