Over the past nine months, the inescapable reality of COVID-19 has set in. This virtually invisible virus still holding the world hostage has caused an ever-present concern about staying healthy, and trying to eliminate the bacteria and viruses in our homes, offices, and vehicles. Disinfectants are certainly an important aspect of that battle, even if spray disinfectants can be difficult to obtain.
The use of UV-C light is considered among the most effective and professional ways to disinfect places the virus might be lurking. The easiest way we have found to keep your home safe is with a line of vacuums from Raycop, a Japanese company founded by Immunologist Dr. Michael Lee in 2005 to help people make their homes healthier and to mitigate allergies. Their new line of UV-C equipped vacuums promise to clean your home and office, as well as kill nasty viruses and bacteria, all without chemicals.
We first met the fine folks of Raycop several years ago at a Pepcom Digital Experience event in New York City, and their product at the time was the Raycop RS2 UV / HEPA Allergen Handheld Vacuum Model RS2-100AWH, a beautifully designed product reminiscent of the famous “Flying Sub” from the “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea” TV series. The RS2-100AWH was created specifically to vacuum fabrics, such as bedding materials, drapes, upholstery, and more. It worked splendidly for us until it encountered the constant cat hair created by our two cats. The RS2 UV-C was a bestseller in Japan, which has a tradition of finer fabrics and pets that don’t seem to shed as much as ours do. We were sent a different brush, which helped with the cat hair, and the UV-C worked beautifully to take care of little undesirables. To be fair, it wasn’t designed to tackle pet hair, but when used for the tasks it was designed for, it worked splendidly.
RS Pro UV+ / Steamless Heat
The recently introduced the RS Pro UV+ / Steamless Heat model is a significant refinement and update of the RS 2 model. Most noteworthy is the addition of dry heat, which at 150 degrees Fahrenheit will kill any dust mites in its way. According to Raycop, “Dust mites eat flakes of shed human skin and other organic detritus. Their feces are the inducers of allergenic reactions. The RS Pro removes close to 100% of dust mites.” Which is a good thing, since humans shed a lot of skin during the day and especially when we sleep, so using the RS Pro in your bed, on the mattress, pillowcases, and sheets is worthwhile. The moment you turn it on, you can feel the unit’s brush rotating at a high rate of speed. As Raycop explains, “Our newly developed UltraPulse pulsating brush performs at least 30,000 pulsations per minute. This vibration loosens allergens trapped within the fabric and suctions them away from your fabrics and cushions.”
One of the design goals for the new model, was better performance with pet hair, which we found was achieved. The RS Pro model lived up to the claims. It tackled both cat and human hair with aplomb, and the washable HEPA filter elements revealed lots of dust upon inspection. The dust container is on the smaller side, but emptying it is easy as pie. When compared it to other manufacturers’ units that have HEPA filters, Raycop trapped more fine dust. The new designs are all made of “Hospital Grade” materials, glossy white and sparkling clear plastic, and the fit and finish are first-rate. The RS Pro UV+ / Steamless Heat vacuum comes Highly Recommended.
New Models for 2019 and 2020
Skip forward to October 2019, with the introduction of the Omni Power UV+ Cordless Vacuum, a completely revamped, refined, and more powerful line of cordless vacuums. Each of the four models we tested were designed for different uses, but there is considerable overlap. The RS-Pro is a small, handheld, vacuum designed for fabrics - the sequel to the RS2-100AWH, as noted above. The RS-Pro is the only model in the Raycop line with heat to kill dust mites.
Omni Air Cordless Stick Vacuum
The Omni Air Cordless Stick Vacuum, introduced in 2020, is a lightweight stick-style unit, designed as a lightweight, portable, flexible vacuum. It ships with multiple heads, nozzles, and UV-C capability. We found that the Omni Air quickly became a favorite model. Its lightweight, easy-to-handle design, meant that we didn’t think twice about carrying it up and down stairs. We have a three-story home, so that portability ends up being more important than you might think. One of the considerate touches is the inclusion of a Rubber Pad on the battery, so that you can lean it up against a wall, and it won’t slip. This is critical, because neither the Omni Air nor the Omni Power UV+ will stand up on their own.
Raycop’s solution to storage was to include a wall mount, which holds each vacuum. But in our house, the question of where to put it impacts how the vacuum will be used. We would love to see a portable floor stand, as well as a future revision that allows the units to stand up on their own. In fact, our Omni Power UV+ suffered a broken latch, when the vacuum toppled over from where we leaned it up against a wall while moving some chairs to vacuum under them. The rubber pads on the Omni Air battery, aren’t included on the full-sized Omni Power UV+ unit, so combined with the added weight, we found it quite delicate to balance, and ended up laying it on furniture or the floor, to keep it safe. Raycop sent out a replacement latch, so a few minutes later all was well, but it reminded us to be vigilant of the need to securely locate the Omni Power UV+ to prevent it from being damaged. So, wish list items for both units are threefold: a stand for the Omni Power UV+ and Omni Air; LEDs on the heads to light the dirt ahead, and rubber pads for the Omni Power UV+ batteries to make it easier to lean against walls.
We really like the Omni Air Cordless Stick Vacuum. Its sleek design, high-quality construction, useful accessories, and easy-to-clean bin, coupled with high vacuum power, made it a favorite and a joy to use. Want to vacuum and sterilize your vehicle? Easy, just connect the UV+ head directly to the unit, leaving the aluminum extension tube out, and you have a lightweight fabric vacuum, that is easily portable, battery powered, and able to get into nooks and crannies. The included attachments, especially the nozzles, are beautifully engineered, and work well. Battery life is reasonable, but we found having an extra battery or two is necessary. One-way to create lighter weight tools, is to reduce battery size and weight, with the result being limited run time. Having a battery or two at the ready lets you finish larger jobs without delays. Extra batteries are highly recommended, as is hearing protection for that high-pitched whine. The Omni Air Cordless Stick Vacuum comes Highly Recommended.
Omni Power UV+ Cordless Vacuum
The Omni Power UV+ Cordless Vacuum is everything that the Omni Air is, but with a much more powerful motor, larger batteries, a heavier-use duty cycle, and UV-C capability. Like the Omni Air, the unit ships with a full complement of accessories, all of which fit and work seamlessly.
One feature of the Omni Power UV+ is a unique and cool, double rotating brush design. The secondary roller head, has a soft fabric roller brush, designed for flooring. When you need to vacuum carpeting, you just step on a small tab, and the second roller pops up and out of the way. Need to use the roller, easy, just push it down with your foot, and it snaps into place.
We found the flooring brush also worked well on smooth rugs, and with cat litter. Due to clay cat litter’s lightweight, most vacuums tend push it aside instead of vacuuming it up. But the Flooring Brush, worked to “sweep” litter into the main rollers, into the vacuum, and off the floor. So, even if the roller wasn’t intended for rugs and cat litter, we found it really helpful for a good clean. Another feature we liked is that the Flooring Brush is easily removable for cleaning. Long hair tends to get wrapped around both roller brushes on the Omni Power and Omni Air, so apart from banning long hair in your space, plan to spend a bit of time unwrapping it. We are a fan of the secondary roller brush, and its ability to clean dusty floors in a snap.
While the Omni Power UV+ has larger batteries, they still lose their charge during longer jobs, so we suggest making sure one or two extra batteries are charged up and waiting. All pieces of the dust collection container are removable for cleaning, and can be easily washed under a running faucet. We found that placing the parts outside in a sunny place was the best way to thoroughly dry them. We tend to shake dust of the two HEPA filters every time we empty the dust canister, which assures you that you won’t discover weak suction. This is also applicable to the Omni Air.
To keep the Omni Air from being too heavy, as the dust collection bin is quite small, be prepared to empty on a regular basis. The Omni Power UV+ has a much larger bin, but still needs to be emptied when you notice it full or if the suction seems to diminish. This is much more important than when using traditional non-HEPA vacuums, which are more tolerant of a filled bag or chamber. But with tools like the Raycop line, their attention to detail and close tolerances requires you to be observant and empty more often. This is a good thing, it means you are getting more dust and bits out of your house, and not spraying them back into the room.
All three vacuums have as primary goals, true HEPA filtering, UV-C capability to kill viruses, bacteria, and in the case of the RS Pro, a heater to kill dust mites. All three boast a sophisticated, understated, design aesthetic; far more refined than other designs we have seen. The quality of fit and finish is uniformly high, and compared to the Black + Decker units we tested, the quality extends to all attachments. The plastic is hospital grade, cleans up easily, and simple to wash. If you are in need of a heavier-duty, rechargeable HEPA vacuum that can handle just about any dirt in your home or office, and has a variety of tools and attachments, the Omni Power UV+ Cordless Vacuum comes highly recommended.
Raycop GO UV+ Ultra-Light Cordless Vacuum
In late 2020, Raycop introduced an entirely new model, the Raycop GO UV+ Ultra-Light Cordless Vacuum, their first “Ultra Portable” vacuum, designed for travel, vehicles, quick cleanups, and more. You can even use it to sterilize your phone, laptop, headphones, earphones, and musical instruments, all without chemicals. Weighing in at less than 2 lbs (1.82), it’s light enough to travel in a small overnight bag. The unit breaks down into several pieces, so it can pack quite easily. It takes 3 hours to fully charge, and has a 30-minute run time with the UV-C only option, without the vacuum on, while we found an average of 15 minutes with it set at full power. For that reason, we suggest purchasing an extra battery, depending on your use cycle. The extra batteries weren’t yet available at press time, and when they are, we’ll test and update this article. The “UV-C only” option is perfect for kitchen counters, refrigerator doors and handles stove top, or bathroom surfaces. In short, if light can reach it, the Raycop GO UV+ can sterilize it.
The vacuum function is quite good, even without a rotating brush. We were amazed at how much it sucked up from cushions that had already been deemed clean. It’s not too loud, but like all the Raycop designs, it emits a high-pitched squeal that necessitates the use of earplugs or hearing protection. We’d love to see that high-frequency (think dentist drill) noise tamed a bit, and some LED lights in the head. The GO UV+ is a wonderful new addition to their product line, and versatile enough for more then the expected use. Lastly, it’s a bargain, priced at just over a hundred dollars, it is clearly a quality product, and exudes an Apple-like design statement, matched with superior materials than competitors.
It’s not specifically designed for floors, but if you are concerned about staying healthy when you travel, or sleep in a strange bed, the GO UV+ is a quick way to calm many travel-related germ anxieties. While most major hotel chains have gone to great trouble to deep clean their facilities, human error can still occur. With many organizations finding it difficult to retain employees due to COVID-19, the assumption that the surfaces you encounter are clean should be reconsidered. The GO UV+ is a quick and painless way to bring you peace of mind, and keep you healthy. We could envision restaurants, hospitals, schools, dorms, offices, banks, and places of worship using one on a regular basis. The Raycop GO UV+ Ultra-Light Cordless Vacuum comes highly recommended.
The entire line of Raycop UV-C vacuums, display a commitment to a finely thought out design, high quality materials, top-of-class HEPA multistage filtration, and the perfect antidote to the pandemic. They are deserving of more attention and care than other more brutish designs typical of competitors. For comparison, the dirt chambers need to be emptied on a more regular basis then other designs, and the HEPA filter, traps more contaminants, and requires more attention. The payoff comes in the level of cleaning the Raycop units offer. No matter how must dust and debris you vacuum, the HEPA filter doesn’t leave even a trace in the air, performing better than any vacuum we have ever tested.
Admittedly, we used them for a few tasks they weren’t designed for. We have been doing some construction in our home and offices, so dust got everywhere, from fine drywall dust coating every surface, fabric, bedding, and objects, to the results of sanding, sawing, and hammering, freeing the thicker dust that loves to clog vacuums. The heavy duty Omni Power UV+ handled that kind of dust the best, and the extra suction sucked the area clean. Using the nozzle attachments, with both the Omni and Omni Air, we were able to clean corners, nooks and crannies, and even the tops of books, bookcases, and electronics and art supplies.
In a time of disposable products, built for short-term use and profits, you can sense that Raycop is realizing Dr. Michael Lee’s dream of cleaner, safer, and healthier homes. Solid projects, beautifully designed and produced. Well done!
Harris Fogel and Nancy Burlan, Posted 9/22/2020, updated 12/2/2020
For more information on the Raycop UV-C line of HEPA vacuums visit: https://raycop.com