The Kenmore Elite 31150 seemed heavy and hard to maneuver next to the more modern machines, but it did have pretty good suction on medium carpeting. This vacuum cleaner was almost unbelievably bad at thin carpets and hardwood flooring. It was one of the worst for flinging our test messes away instead of cleaning them. Some of the kitty litter was launched so far away from our testing space, we're not sure we tracked it all down, even after testing was over. But that was on low-pile carpet and hardwood.
It was quite good on the most common type of carpeting – medium-pile – found in most households. It still took more passes than many competing vacuums to clean medium carpeting, but it got the job done. One thing that was noticeably helpful on this unit was the strong self-propulsion. It helped keep this vacuum cleaner in motion with very little effort on our part.
The maneuverability tests did not go well for the Kenmore Elite 31150. Its head lifts early on as it reclines so it will not be helpful for cleaning under beds or other low-slung furniture. You can employ its hose and other tools to clean those areas, but it is nice not to have to change everything around. The lack of a swiveling head also impedes this vacuum cleaner when trying to get around table legs and other obstacles. If you prefer a vacuum with a swiveling head, check out the Dyson Ball Animal 2.
This is not a very portable vacuum either. It weighs over 20 pounds and has just one handle that's not comfortable. Other units had two handles and weigh much less.
This is a bagged unit and comes with the same advantages and disadvantages as all bagged vacuum cleaners. It will cost a bit more in maintenance as you buy bags, but it is better for those with allergies because more dust stays trapped during the cleaning process – especially when it is time to empty.
The Kenmore Elite 31150 was big, bulky and truly bad at cleaning anything besides average-thickness carpets. The relatively wide cleaning path and strong self-propulsion can help you get your carpeted areas clean quickly, but there are better options available.