Ultenic may not be a name you recognize, but that is likely to change very soon. Since launching in 2021, the brand has been bringing out new models with prolific frequency, and the Ultenic U12 Vesla is the latest in a mixed bag.
We were not massively impressed by the Ultenic T10 Elite robot but loved the Ultenic AC1 Cordless wet-dry vacuum. So I was interested to find out how this latest cordless vacuum would compare and if it just might be a contender for our coveted best cordless vacuum cleaners nominations.
The Ultenic U12 Vesla’s main USP is its stonking low price, which totally blows the likes of Dyson and Shark out of the water. It also promises decent power, a futuristic design, and just enough bells and whistles to make you feel like you’re getting exceptional value for money, but without needing a science degree to master.
I found the fact that this vacuum can't stand unsupported quite annoying, and it definitely did a better job on my wooden floors than any textile-based flooring, but I've also tested some of the best vacuum cleaners for three times the price that was even worse on the suction score. Read on for my final verdict and to decide if the Ultenic U12 Vesla could suit your home.
Linda Clayton is a freelance interiors journalist specialising in kitchens and has tested all manner of home appliances over the years, including a whole raft of vacuum cleaners! Her four-bedroom family home in Devon is chock full of children, dogs and pony paraphernalia (no actual ponies indoors) and keeping on top of the cleaning is an ongoing mission.
She tested the Ultenic U12 Vesla cordless vacuum for two weeks on a wide array of floor types and soft furnishings, including engineered timber, porcelain tiles, terracotta tiles, carpets, runners and rugs.
Ultenic U12 Vesla: First impressions
The Ultenic U12 Vesla arrived in a surprisingly compact box, inside which everything was Jenga’ed together without a millimeter to spare. If each component wasn’t bagged in plastic, it would have been impressive on the eco front in terms of minimal carbon footprint.
Besides the vacuum itself, which was broken down into three parts, the box contained a spare HEPA filter, a crevice nozzle, a 2-in-1 brush nozzle, a wall storage rack, a battery, and a power adapter. Plus, the instruction manual.
My first thoughts on handling the components were that they felt a bit lightweight and thus cheap. The main vacuum unit feels fairly solid and robust, but the floor brush and telescopic tube are less substantial in look and feel.
Clicking the vacuum together was a little more promising – they pop together with a reassuring click – and loading the battery in place was also a smooth, easy action. The battery had a little juice on arrival, but I popped it on a charge while I glanced through the instruction manual.
As I can’t drill holes in my walls for every vacuum that I test, divorce would be imminent, I couldn’t fit the wall hanger supplied, but the instruction manual informed me it requires just two screws, which are supplied along with expansion tubes. I did slide the vacuum in and out of the wall mount while holding it, and the action seemed easy enough. I also noted that the wall hanger includes mounts for both nozzle attachments, so it will store neatly on the wall, all in one place.
Ultenic U12 Vesla: Key Specification
|Header Cell - Column 0||Header Cell - Column 1|
|Modes||Auto, 60, 90, 120, 150|
|Dust bag capacity||1 Litre|
|Battery life||Up to 45 minutes|
|Battery charging time||5-6 hours|
|Dimensions||H44.4 x W 8.8 x D 9.4 inches|
Ultenic U12 Vesla: Price & availability
The Ultenic U12 Vesla has a list price of $399.99 but has been on offer for $149.99 from Ultenic direct for quite some time now. On Amazon, it costs $199.99, but there was a $40 coupon on offer at the time we tested, so I suspect you’ll always be able to find it for around $150 somewhere.
Its predecessor, the Ultenic FS1, costs $279.99, reduced from $399.99. You do get an automatic emptying base for the extra spends, but the suction power is the same as the U12, so, essentially, you’ll be splashing an extra $130 for the opportunity to be lazy.
Score: 5 / 5
Ultenic U12 Vesla: Design
There’s no denying the Ultenic U12 Vesla is a good-looking vacuum. I stand firm in my opinion that the plastic parts look and feel rather cheap, but, overall, it is stylish enough to stay on view if you don’t have a cupboard to stash it in.
The digital display is particularly striking, not to mention informative and not unlike the panel on a car dashboard. It shows the power ramping up in a similar way as the speedometer moves, and there are little symbols to show the power levels, light indicators, and blockage warnings.
On the handle, there are just three buttons to engage: one for the on/off (I love that you don’t have to keep a button compressed to keep the power on), one to control the power levels, and a third to control the lights. There’s a headlamp in the floor head and lights on the control panel, and this latter button allows you to alternate between the two.
The lights within the control panel are very cool, but they’re not just for futuristic giggles. The LEDs change from green, blue, purple, and red as a visual guide to each power level – they seem to glow stronger when you hit a dirt patch, too, but that might be my imagination!
The display also has a battery countdown, which is good for planning how much time you have left to clean. If you need more time, you can dial down the power. It’s all very space-age and funky, and not unlike a Dyson design, which makes it appear more upmarket than the price tag would suggest.
By removing the telescoping tube and inserting the crevice or brush nozzle directly into the main body, you can turn the Ultenic U12 Vesla into a much more compact machine, which is great for vacuuming the car, sofas, and stairs.
Removing and installing the dust bucket using the dust release button (which is tiny) takes a little practice, but once you’ve established the angle to pull it out, the action becomes second nature. It goes back on very easily once you’ve mastered the right maneuver, too.
Score 3 / 5
Ultenic U12 Vesla: Performance
The Ultenic U12 Vesla claims to have five power settings – 30/60/90/120/150. The vacuum always starts on the second lowest setting, 60, and then you use the button to the left of the on/off switch to adjust the power levels.
The first thing I noticed is that you can’t manually get it onto the 150 setting. It just goes back to 30 after 120. This will be disappointing for those like me, who always go for MAX POWER! According to the manual, the 150 setting, aka Auto mode, is only for dealing with blockages, and the machine does it automatically. I created a fake blockage by putting my hand over the nozzle, and it almost immediately ramped up to 150, nearly sucking my hand inside! I’d have loved to be able to access that power to tackle tricky spills (particularly on carpet).
I began testing the Ultenic U12 Vesla with a quick whizz around the kitchen before the school run, which is normally done by one of the best robot vacuums I’ve owned while I’m out. The kitchen is mostly oak flooring with one area rug (a very flat pile machine washable number by Ruggable – excuse the color; it’s long overdue a wash!).
I didn’t need very much power to lift the dirt and dog hair (so much dog hair) from the wooden floors, and I didn’t have to do more than one pass over any larger debris, like stray porridge oats, either.
The floor head swivels smoothly and has low-level wheels at the joint, which allows me to get very flat and far underneath the island unit. This was also handy for getting right underneath the kitchen sofa, which is on legs. Another great feature when getting underneath furniture and fittings is the LED lamp in the floor head that emits green light, which is designed to show up every last speck of dirt far better than white light. It’s very effective and worth having.
I moved between the power levels and found I could get away with the lowest eco power for the wooden flooring, but even when ramped up to the highest setting, the dog hairs were stubbornly sticking to the rug. When I use my usual cordless vacuum, I have to turn the power down. Otherwise, the rug ruckles under the suction, and it’s hard to move the vacuum along. But there was no hint of ruckling from the Ultenic U12 Vesla, which suggested the suction isn’t brilliant.
To test the suction more thoroughly, I tried two tests. One with caster sugar and the second with flour. For the caster sugar, I needed to use the highest power, but it didn’t clean up very well. Completely gone.
The flour test was less impressive. The first pass (shown below) was rubbish, and it took several attempts to remove the bulk of the white powder. In fact, I had to get my own cordless out to finish the job as there was still visible residue. As you would expect, it coped far better with a flour spill on our wood flooring, and there was no need to call in back-up.
The Ultenic U12 Vesla also coped fine with wood shavings on the terracotta tiles in our boot room, which come off the socks of our pony-mad daughters every single day, not to mention my cabinetmaker husband. Morning and night. It’s exhausting! I did have to put the power up to its highest setting on the terracotta, though, as it is antique, so it is full of dirt-trapping pits and divots. Again, that 150 setting would have been nice.
One benefit that could hold huge appeal is how lightweight the Ultenic U12 Vesla is, at just 4.3lb. I never felt like my arms were getting tired, and it was really easy to lift the floor head up onto the upholstered ottoman and sofa cushions without having to switch to a nozzle attachment or shrink down the telescopic tube (which is very easy to adjust by just holding in a button at the back).
The design and shape of the handle were also very comfortable to use without fatiguing my arms or straining my wrists, as some heavier cordless models have done in the past. This means the Ultenic U12 Vesla vacuum could work well for the elderly, those with limited strength, or anyone with back or joint pain.
One major flaw I discovered a couple of days into testing was how quickly the HEPA filter clogs up. Full disclosure: our house is basically filthy. The downstairs is vacuumed every day, but two very active and very hairy spaniels ensure the dirt, dust, and dog hair levels are off the scale. If I dare to leave the vacuuming for even 48 hours, we go into dust bunny mode, whereby you can see clouds of dog hair swirling around the corners of the room. It really is grim.
However, I did not expect the filter to be so fully packed with dust that the suction fell to nothing and the roller brush stopped rolling after just two cleans. I suppose this could be a good indication of how effective the filter is – being a HEPA filter means it does trap the teeniest of dust particles – but it’s a pain in the rear having to knock the dust out so frequently.
Admittedly, Ultenic has made the filter-cleaning process pretty easy. The filter lifts out with a tab, and you just bang out the dirt over the bin, but I still don’t want to do it every other day. The spare was appreciated for those times when knocking didn’t do the job, and I had to rinse it under the tap, too.
Emptying the bin is another one of those jobs that I don’t love, but the U12 Vesla is easy to empty, and I never found I had to use a stick to dig out stubborn dirt piles as I’ve experienced with some cordless vacuums costing four times the price. The bin clips off, and the full contents drop out in one go, provided you don’t overfill the one-litre container.
The big obsession for many cordless vacuum users is battery life, and rightly so. The 45-60 minutes on offer as the longest possible battery life is quite short compared to the likes of top models such as Dyson Gen5Detect Absolute vs Dyson V15 Detect, which can power on for up to 70 minutes.
As usual, the top battery life given is only achievable on the lowest power setting, too. You’ll only get 15 minutes if you want to vacuum everywhere at full bore. I was easily able to vacuum our four-bedroom family home upstairs and down on one charge, without feeling like I was racing against the clock, but do bear in mind that our ground floor is almost entirely hard floor, so I could use eco mode for at least half of the duration.
According to the countdown power display on the ‘dashboard,’ you can expect to achieve around 60 minutes on the eco mode (30), 37 mins on 60, 26 mins on 90, 15 mins on 120, and eight mins on 150. Don’t forget that the last 150 setting only works when there’s a blockage, and it’s unlikely to take eight minutes to clear a blockage!
The battery clips out so you can charge it anywhere you like, which isn’t as common as you’d think. Not only does this provide more places to store the vacuum (you’re not restricted by socket availability), but it also means you can switch in a spare battery to double up the usage time. If your home is fully carpeted, you may well need that extra battery. It takes around 5-6 hours to charge the battery.
As a predominantly female household, all with long tresses, vacuum floor heads that are clogged with hair have become something of an issue (read: massive annoyance). But not so with the Ultenic U12 Vesla, which has some kind of magic hair-swerving skillset that means after two weeks of daily use, there was barely a strand on the fluffy roller inside the brush head. Should I wish to remove said strand, it just requires one clip to lift the whole roller out for a clear down.
Finally, we come to noisiness, which can bother some people (me) much more than others. Using my sound meter app, I found the noise levels ranged from 49-71 decibels, which was bearable and no louder than what I am used to from other vacuums. Noise levels above 70 decibels may start to damage your hearing, but only after prolonged exposure. As you won’t be using the highest power for any longer than 15 minutes at a time, there is absolutely no need to reach for the ear defenders!
Score: 3 / 5
How does the Ultenic U12 Vesla compare?
The Ultenic U12 Vesla is one of the cheapest cordless vacuums we have tested, and you do get a little more than you pay for in terms of fancy features and slick design. A close competitor in terms of price that is also lightweight and easy to maneuver is the Aspiron Cordless Vacuum Cleaner, but it’s not nearly as pretty.
If you need more power, for example, you have thick pile carpets, the Ultenic U12 Vesla would not be the best choice. Instead, consider investing in the Dyson Gen5detect Absolute, which has ALL the suction you’ll ever need and more. We also really rate the Levoit Vortex IQ for its innovative design, power-saving auto mode, and excellent dust-trapping skills.
Should you buy the Ultenic U12 Vesla?
|Price||Nobody can argue that this vacuum isn't a total bargain.||5/5|
|Design||It's fancy but feels flimsy||3/5|
|Performance||Lots of good features but not enough power.||3/5|
Buy it if...
Weight is an issue
You won’t break a sweat trying to lift this vacuum up the stairs or even overhead to capture those cobwebs.
Every penny counts
The cost-of-living crisis has hit hard so blowing $850+ dollars on a designer vacuum just may not be the wisest move right now.
You don't like surprises
Battery power countdown means you’ll never run out of cleaning time without warning.
Don’t Buy It if…
Shag piles are your thing
If it didn’t perform well on my short wool carpets and whisper-thin rugs, the suction levels just won’t cut it on deep pile floors.
You get ragey about plastic waste
It comes with unnecessary amounts of plastic in the packaging. It may make you furious.
You are power hungry
A 450W 30,000pa motor sounds good on paper, but the best suction is only delivered when there’s a blockage. Frustrating.
How we tested the Ultenic U12 Vesla
I tested the Ultenic U12 Vesla in my four-bedroom house, which is home to two young girls with long hair, two very hairy dogs, one messy budgie, and my completely out-numbered husband, who is a furnituremaker (and permanently covered in wood dust and shavings).
It was the only vacuum I used for two weeks, and I tried out all the features, nozzles, and configurations in that time on all our different floors, up the stairs, cobweb chasing, and sofa cleaning. I also evaluated how easy it was to maneuver, empty, clean the filters, and store them away.
See more about how we test
First reviewed: September 2023