For those that don't want to read anything at all here it is: Cutting right to the chase, I ended up choosing the Hoover Dual Spin Pet Plus Carpet Cleaner.
If you want to know some thoughts behind my choice, read on...
BACKGROUND: I've owned a Bissell for years that I loved.
It was a Bissell ProHeat 2x Premiere. About 1 1/2 years ago I lent it to a family member and finally (FINALLY) got it back last week after begging and reminding for months. Unfortunately, when I went to use it, I realized the motor ran, but it no longer actually worked.
Although I was a Bissell owner for years, when I started to look at the current options, I found myself comparing both Bissell and Hoover. I went back and forth and back and forth (and back and forth) for a full week of researching for hours. I have papers and note cards filled with notes, charts and comparisons.
Every time I thought I had finally made up my mind for sure... I'd check one more thing, or think of something I hadn't considered before and I'd find myself an hour into more research.
One of the frustrations of researching is you can't find all the information in one place. Even on Hoover and Bissell's own websites! Hoover is AWFUL for trying to find out specifications. They seem to be more concerned about posting the cord length and hose length than they are the width of the cleaning path or the amps!
This is why it takes so long to research! I was all over every site on the internet digging out information so I could compare apples to apples... not oranges.
In the end, I have 4 machines I liked.
Four (4) machines that were in the running and are all good machines but have pros and cons of course.
The thing is, I had to wade through reviews to find out WHY people rated their machine high or low. Someone giving a machine just 1 or 2 stars might have what I feel is a really stupid reason for rating it so low. Someone else may rate it a full 5 stars based on something that was important to them that I actually don't like, don't want or don't feel is important.
WHAT IS IMPORTANT TO YOU?
For me, I was looking for:
- A wide cleaning path
- At least 10 amps
- A trigger to release the cleaning solution
- A large water reservoir
Things I didn't care about as much but many people were rating the machine a 1 or 2 over; the length of the power cord, the length of the hose, having a bunch of accessory hand-held tools, how heavy it was when it was filled with water... etc.
I found most Bissells were only 6.8 amps. (Not counting the Big Green, which is out of my budget!). They used to have a couple options but currently, none available or made any longer. A lot of their machines also have a smaller water tank - which means the machine might be 'lighter' but it's because it's holding less water. This means stopping numerous times and making trips back and forth to the kitchen to empty and refill the tanks.
Hoover had the amps I liked and the size water tanks but two of their models that I really loved (at first) ended up having a lot of reviewers mentioning the cleaning solution area drip down onto the motor and smoking, sparking and ashes were mentioned.
Looking DEEPER into the Hoovers (because I came really really close to buying one of them first) I realized the two very popular models (SmartWash) right now have a couple things that were deal-breakers to me (not counting the leaking issue mentioned above). They both are dummied down so they spray cleaning solution when it moves forward and sucks when it is pulled backwards. There is no trigger to release the cleaning solution when YOU want to.
Having owned a carpet cleaner for the past 10 years, I know this is important to me. I WANT to control when the solution is spraying out. Why? Because when you are cleaning, you will want to pass over some areas twice or even three times to suck out more water. With both the SmartWash versions, every time you move the machine forward to get it in place to pull it back to suction... it squirts more water/cleaning solution! You would literally have to pick it up, move it 2 or 3 feet ahead, put it back and down and then pull it backwards to suction a certain area again.
The purple SmartWash also had a bit selling point of being able to remove the wand to pinpoint spray a spot - which is something I don't need or want. I have a smaller carpet cleaner for pet accidents, little stains, etc. The larger upright carpet cleaners are more for cleaning whole rooms. I don't need or want a removable wand (and that's on top of the leaking issues and the 'no trigger' cleaning solution release).
In the end, the ability to release cleaning solution when and where I want it, as well as the ability to go back over areas two or three times to suck up more water without solution automatically being sprayed, as well as the wider path (13") and the 10 amps of power verses 6.8... I went with the Hoover Dual Spin.
I had to search hard to find the amps and path width (Hoover's site didn't have it listed for this model) but Home Depot did!
HERE IS THE ONE I CHOSE and ORDERED
Hoover's Dual Spin Pet Carpet Cleaner delivers enhanced performance for removing tough pet messes and deeply embedded dirt on carpets. The Dual Spin Power Brushes provide the extra effort you need for a heavy-duty clean while the coated brush roll helps protect the unit from odor-causing bacteria. With the power of HeatForce, you can be back on your carpets even faster. With double the tools, you're equipped for a deep clean on your carpets, upholstery, stairs, and more. Now with the addition of our Clean Complements Odor Eliminator, your carpets can stay fresher for longer.
- Dual Spin Carpet Cleaner Machine, 8 ft. Attachment Hose, Upholstery Tool, 2-in-1 Spot and Stain Tool
- Double the brushes for a deeper clean, our Dual Spin Power Brushes work powerfully against embedded dirt and tough pet messes
- Coated brush roll protects the unit from odor-causing bacteria
- Get back on your carpets faster with the power of HeatForce Technology that applies hot air and suction to speed up drying time
- Dual Tank System keeps clean water and solution separate from dirty water
- Includes the Spot and Stain Upholstery Tool and the 2-in-1 Scrubbing Tool so you can clean upholstery, area rugs, and more
- Easily reach and remove stains under furniture with a low profile design
- 1-Step Removable Nozzle allows for easy release for quick access to the brush rolls
- Transport from room to room without hassle
- 2-year limited warranty
And if you are looking for the manual for it (which really isn't very well done at all - shame on Hoover for that one) it's here: https://tti.a.bigcontent.io/v1/static/FH54020_FH54050_DSP_Manual_lr_trilingual_R0
UPDATE: It was delivered and I like it!
It was ridiculously easy and quick to put together. It was intuitive really. You put the handle in one end, you put that piece into the machine and push until it clicks. You immediately get to fill the tank with water and start cleaning!
The only tiny thing I'd point out is that when you push the long handle into the machine, it will 'click' and you think it's in place but you may need to push harder one more time. Go ahead and try your machine - if it isn't dispensing and sucking the water, just turn it off and push it just a bit harder and it will click a second time - THAT is the click that means it's firmly inserted and now it will work.
I cleaned the family room immediately. It was incredibly easy and fast to wipe out and rinse clean after. ZERO concerns with my machine.
THE OTHERS MENTIONED IN MY POST
Hoover Smartwash Automatic Carpet Cleaner, FH52000, Turquoise - Love this one for the price, availability, water tank size, etc. but it automatically releases cleaning solution when you move it forward and sucks up water when you move it back. Some love that, but I want more control over releasing the solution. It also had a lot of mentions of leaking cleaning solution and water onto the inner motor. Hmmm.
Hoover SmartWash Automatic Carpet Cleaner I gave very, very close to buying this one. It has a nice 12" cleaning path but again, uses a 'triggerless' application which I want more control over.
Bissell ProHeat 2X Revolution Max Clean Pet Pro Full-Size Carpet Cleaner, 1986 - this came very, very close to being the one I bought. The model 1986 and 1964 are basically the same but the 1964 is the Walmart version. The price on this one was a little out of my league and it only has the 6.8 amps verses the 10 I was hoping to find.