Honey, I Blew Up the Vacuum Cleaner

blew up shark vacuum cleaner

These days you can buy a vacuum cleaner anywhere in the world. At large international platforms such as Amazon or, for example, from international brands such as Dyson. Although it is super easy to buy a vacuum cleaner outside your country, you still have to pay attention. By not paying attention I had an American Shark vacuum cleaner blown up. And yes, that's an expensive mistake.

Upright versus Canister Vacuum

My story begins shortly after I decided to roll out Vacuumtester.com internationally. Not every type of vacuum cleaner is equally popular in every country. If we look at the United States, for example, the ‘upright vacuum' is extremely popular there, while this model is hardly used in Europe.

Conversely, the canister vacuum cleaner is popular in Europe, while this type of vacuum cleaner is not widely used in households in the United States. It is not for nothing that this model is known in America as a European vacuum cleaner.

A canister vacuum cleaner like this is the most popular type of vacuum cleaner in Europe. © Vacuumtester.com

Shark AZ1002 Apex

Because I research all types of vacuum cleaners at Vacuumtester.com, I decided to buy an upright vacuum cleaner from one of the most popular vacuum cleaner brands in America: Shark. It became the Shark AZ1002 Apex. After a short search I ended up at Amazon's Dutch webshop. “In stock and free delivery to your address within 7 days,” Amazon promised.

Within a few steps I had ordered the vacuum cleaner. Wait and see. Less than a week later, a huge package was delivered by Amazon as agreed. Testing of the popular Shark AZ1002 Apex could begin…

Oops, an American plug

After unpacking the vacuum cleaner – the unboxing is an important part of my vacuum cleaner reviews – nothing seemed to be wrong. Until I wanted to use it: an American plug! That will of course not fit in a European socket.

Fortunately, we had a European plug adapter at our test location, so that we could convert the plug to a European plug.

european to american socket
© Vacuumtester.com

Time for the ultimate moment: I put the plug in the socket and the vacuum cleaner turns on. I am used to some noisy vacuum cleaners, but I immediately notice that this upright vacuum cleaner from Shark makes a lot of noise. Not much later, the loud noise is combined with a strange smell: the vacuum cleaner smells like fire. Not long after that, the vacuum cleaner stops working and won't turn on again.

Voltage difference: 110 volts vs 230 volts

After a short investigation (and with common sense) I conclude that the Shark vacuum cleaner is an American version. This means a different voltage: where in America you connect devices to a voltage of 110V, in the Netherlands we have a voltage of 230V. So I put more than twice as much current through the vacuum cleaner than what it can handle.

Solution: European electrical adapter

If you want to use an electrical device such as a vacuum cleaner in another country, it is very important to pay attention to the correct voltage. If there is a difference in voltage, you can use an electrical adapter (transformer). Such a transformer can convert the current to a lower or higher voltage.

european electric adapter
With an electrical adapter you can transform the current voltage. © Vacuumtester.com

So I should have used a European electrical adapter that converts 230V to 110V so that the Shark AZ1002 APEX wouldn't get too much current.

Call me stupid, but the mistake is easily made

Yes, you can call me stupid. It's a stupid mistake I made. However, I would like to emphasize that this mistake was ‘made quickly' with the arrival of large international webshops where you can buy everything.

In the case of the Shark APEX upright vacuum cleaner at Amazon Netherlands, there was no warning anywhere that it concerned an American product. With a Dutch product description, fast delivery and payment via Dutch payment method, you do not quickly realize that this is an American product.

Always pay attention to the voltage with vacuum cleaners and accessories

The lesson I would like to give you is to always pay close attention to the voltage of the vacuum cleaners. Especially when you purchase a vacuum cleaner through an international webshop such as Amazon. By the way, this is not only important when purchasing a new vacuum cleaner, but also for parts.

Always pay close attention to the voltage of a vacuum cleaner, especially with international web shops

Take, for example, replacing a Dyson battery. You can buy replaceable batteries everywhere, but here too there are different voltages. If you buy the wrong one, your vacuum cleaner may become defective due to a power difference and you will no longer be entitled to the Dyson vacuum warranty. It is therefore always important to pay close attention to which Dyson you have and only then start looking for suitable parts.


Robbert Tigchelaar
Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar has made testing vacuum cleaners his life's work. He has dedicated himself to conducting fully independent and valuable tests of vacuum cleaners to provide consumers with honest advice. His expertise in vacuum cleaners has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Daily Express.

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