Compared with the Light Ball Multi Floor – the other, more affordable upright Dyson available – this upright vacuum is designed for multi-surface cleaning, across carpets and hard floors and (yes, you guessed it) for tackling serious build-ups of pet fluff.
Both upright vacuums also have a pull-out hose and wand, which attach to included tools. Like the Light Ball Multi Floor, the Ball Animal 2 comes with a stair tool and combination tool for narrow spaces and dusting. The Ball Animal 2 also offers a carbon fibre turbine head for cleaning low spaces, such as under furniture, and a tangle-free turbine tool for removing hair from carpets and upholstery.
Although it’s heavier than the Light Ball Multi Floor, the Ball Animal 2 is around the same size and has a bigger bin. Designed to steer around furniture with ease, both models move on a large ball. Their main bodies connect to ‘epicyclic’ cleaner heads and have similar suction power.
Like all Dysons, the Ball Animal 2 features a hygienic one-click bin emptying system, with no vacuum bags needed, and the Dyson’s patented cyclone technology claims to capture dust and allergens.
Design and features
The Ball Animal 2 has some snazzy design touches. The red hose is matched with red detailing on the ball and some of the buttons, and the rest of the body is finished in the familiar Dyson silvery-grey plastic, while the 1.8-litre bin is transparent.
Compared with cordless Dysons, though, the Ball Animal 2 is an altogether bulkier beast. It weighs in at a chunky 7.34kg – 0.4kg heavier than the Light Ball Multi Floor – but this goes hand-in-hand with sturdy-feeling build quality.
For such a large machine, the Ball Animal 2 is surprisingly compact: three of the four additional tools can be stored on the main body of the vacuum. Handy silver plastic clips lock them in place and pictorial instructions in the operating manual take you through putting them in place. The only exception here seems to be the carbon fibre turbine head, which is too big to store on the vacuum. There are also hooks provided for keeping the 10.8m power cord neatly coiled away.
The wand folds into the hose and is stored upright at the back of the machine. The operating radius of the wand and hose together is just over 4.5m and both can be rotated 360 degrees to reach the trickiest nooks and crannies.
The vacuum comes with washable lifetime filters that are easy to remove and clean. The instructions recommend washing these at least once a month with cold water, leaving them to air dry for 24 hours.
The epicyclic cleaner head features a slide button for adjusting the suction power. There are three different suction settings: ‘+’ for intense suction on thicker carpets, medium for regular surfaces and ‘-’ for hard flooring. The Ball Animal 2 has maximum suction power of 90AW (air Watts), which is a lot more than the cordless V8 Animal’s 28AW in Powerful mode – but significantly less than the stick vacuum’s 115AW at MAX mode.
Performance and usability
Dab the red power button and the Ball Animal 2 whirrs into life. When the vacuum is completely upright, only the hose-and-wand suction can be used. However, when you slide the vacuum forward, the two castors unlock and move up the ball, activating the epicyclic cleaner head.
Despite seeming heavy at first, the Ball Animal 2 is easy to steer at a flick of the wrist once the castors are up. However, when you are done cleaning, it’s important to make sure those castors are firmly on the ground again – as the vacuum may topple over otherwise.
A grey button next to the power switch allows you to turn off the revolving brush bar of the cleaner head for suction-only mode – which is useful when vacuuming delicate hard floors.
I started by using the Ball Animal 2 on a tiled kitchen floor to vacuum up a mix of garden dirt and toast crumbs, some of it embedded in the grouting. This took very little effort and all the muck was gone in a matter of seconds.
Next up, I scattered the same dirt on the living room rug, already covered with pet and human hair, plus a good helping of random strands of hay from the pet rabbit’s cage. The Ball Animal 2 delivered excellent results here, with half the dirt gone in one powerful stroke. I then vacuumed the other half using the V8 Animal on MAX mode. While the V8 delivered an almost similar result, it struggled with bigger pieces of garden dirt and hay, nudging these along without picking them up. The power and the size of the Ball Animal 2’s epicyclic cleaner head proved essential here.
In terms of noise levels, the Ball Animal 2 is a lot noisier than the V8 Animal in standard mode, but ever-so-slightly quieter than the latter in MAX mode – which is perhaps less than surprising given the quoted differences in suction power.
When I used the Ball Animal 2’s wand and hose, a problem presented itself. While I could keep part of the extremely long cord coiled on the back of the vacuum in upright mode, all of it had to be released for accessing the wand and the hose. Stretched out or heaped, a cable of this length can prove a liability in any household, should any pets, children or clumsy partners stumble across it. A retractable power cord would come in handy here – although understandably the mechanism required for that would make this upright vacuum even bulkier.
The carbon fibre turbine head is one of the big advantages of the Ball Animal 2 over the Light Ball Multi Floor. This tool came in extremely handy for getting under the sofa, and while the stair tool can technically be used for this purpose, its smaller cleaner head doesn’t have a motorised brush bar and is better suited for narrower spaces.
The combination tool, attached straight to the hose, was perfect for removing cobwebs from a low-hanging ceiling light. The hose had a good reach and it retracted easily when released.
Pet hair is no match for the tangle-free turbine tool. Where cordless vacuums such as the V8 Animal have struggled to remove pet hair from my fleecy sofa fabric even on MAX mode, the combination of the Ball Animal 2’s power and counter-rotating brush heads made light work of it. It took just five seconds to remove a good layer of the pet fluff, and 30 seconds to eliminate it completely.
As the name suggests, the Dyson Ball Animal 2 isn’t for everyone. If you don’t have pets or furniture with large narrow spaces underneath, you may want to consider the cheaper Light Ball Multi Floor, and smaller, carpet-free homes should consider a nimbler Dyson cordless stick vacuum instead.
If your house fits the bill, however, the Ball Animal 2 is a versatile, refined vacuum that’ll tackle the biggest jobs. It’ll meet any challenge you put to it – whether it’s pet hair, everyday detritus, or ground-in dirt – and it’ll get the job done quickly. That’s well worth paying a premium for.