Thread Number: 3057
Kirby Sentria Review and Design Issues...
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Post# 33870   3/2/2008 at 22:49 (5,499 days old) by mattshaver ()        

Now that I've used my Kirby Sentria for a couple days, I want to give you all a amateur review and some of the issues I've run into.

Overall aesthetics: From an amateur view, the handle is the most redesigned piece that I can see. The other handle seems to be more square whereas this handle is more rounded, even where the hand grips the vacuum. It seems a little awkward compared to the G6 but I was told it's more ergonomically designed. I don't know about that, more time will tell. From a design point of view, the handle shape looks like an afterthought. As you approach the bottom of the vacuum, the handle begins to curve outward left to right. This bugs me for some reason. I really like the previous handle as it looks more industrial. But in functionality, it's still a handle. One issue on the handle is the quick-pick up handle. Surrounded in orange and looks much like a smiley face (without the eyes), I picked the Sentria up by that and it appears more curved and easier to actually work with. However, my hands are small for a guy, so I had to hold on somewhat tight. This was not so with the G6. It was much thinner and I guess we'll chalk that up to ergonomics.

Functionality: The functionality of the vacuum is identical to the G6. Everything is pretty much in the same spot. That includes, ON/OFF switch, tech-drive switch and toe-touch control. However there are two things I would have changed:

1. The head light. Instead of a bulb, there are three LED headlights are supposed to brighten the darkest corners. Not so! I like the G6 headlight much better as it seemed to point downward and had more lumens. The three-LED headlights seems to shine OK and it looks like an oncoming BMW, but they don't seem to shine down, just out. I'm a little underwhelmed on that feature. While it's like eye candy to me the functionality factor is relatively low. However, as I continue to use it, that may change.

2. The belt lifter sucks! Ok, granted it has a brand new belt and over a little more usage it will be easier to unlatch. However, this new belt lifter seems to be cheap (a piece of plastic) and it does not have enough length like the G6 to give it sufficient leverage. I thought when I first took the belt off I was going to break the plastic Kirby name-piece. I kept turning and it eventually came off, but it was not easy. However, that might loosen up over time and work a little better. But I sure was scared I would break something.

Overall impression: I don't think it's any more quiet than the G6 and I don't see it cleaning any better than the G6. Overall I'm very pleased with it but there are a couple design issues I would have changed to make it function a little more smooth. However, after all it's not even broke in yet.

Here are some picts to compare the G6 and the Sentria. I'm working on video and editing them in Final Cut. Give me a couple more days on that and I'll share those links with you.

Matt :-)

Post# 33933 , Reply# 1   3/3/2008 at 19:49 (5,498 days old) by vintagehoover ()        
I haven't seen a Sentria in person...

...but from what I've read, it's not entirely an improvement on the model it replaced - one of the reasons I chose the G7 Diamond Edition, rather than spending a little more on the Sentria.

As I understand it, the Sentria has a plastic handle with a thin alumininum front, more as decoration than for strength. I've heard the big-time eBay vacuum sellers are having to take extra care packing Sentrias, since some have had problems with the handles snapping in transit, which I'm sure wouldn't have happened with the old-style handle.

I've heard the complaint about the flimsy plastic belt-lifter before too. This is a genuine flaw in the design. I think it's a shame that Kirby have seen fit to do this - the saving in weight doesn't really make up for the poorer quality, given that I'm sure the use of cheaper parts isn't reflected in the price.

As for the headlamp, I think they're a pretty unnecessary feature on any modern cleaner. When they were introduced in the '30s, there was a genuine reason for adding them, but nowadays, they're just a needless extravagance. If the bulb went on my D.E, I wouldn't bother changing it. I've noticed what you've said about the light-beam not really shining on the carpet with all the Kirbys I've used - I wouldn't say it's just a problem with the Sentria. They're not angled down or anything, they're just stuck on the front. I'd suggest the only reason for Kirby continuing to include them is that if they didn't, it would look like they'd down-graded the machine, making it less 'deluxe' than it's predecessor. They couldn't sell 'now without headlight!' as a feature - although it would save a little weight. I think they should have scrapped the headlight, rather than making the belt-lifter poorer.

The performance figures (as found online) are thus:

Sentria Maximum Airflow = 115 CFM
Ultimate G Maximum Airflow = 109 CFM

Maximum Suction for Sentria = 27.5 Inches of Water
Maximum Suction for Ultimate G = 26 Inches of Water

Maximum Motor Speed Sentria = 13000 RMP
Maximum Motor Speed Ultimate G = 12,400 RPM

So basically, very similar. Added to all this, the brush-roll, transmisson, fan and motor are the same as the G7 D.E, but that machine also has the 2-speed switch, which I do find a useful feature. All things considered, I won't be trading it in for a Sentria any time soon.

Post# 33947 , Reply# 2   3/3/2008 at 22:11 (5,498 days old) by mattshaver ()        
I still like my Sentria...

But I agree, they did take some parts and make them more cost effective. I guess I'm most disappointed in the belt lifter. While the internals are metal, the actual "Kirby" flip part is plastic. The G6's was plastic too, but it had a hook that makes it easier to turn, perhaps due in part it was broken in. But like I said, I honestly thought it was going to snap off any minute. It didn't, glad for that!!

Overall, the dual switch of the Diamond is very cool, but not a useful thing for me. However, I did as the dealer if he had a sealed NIB Diamond G, he said they have been gone for months.

Overall, I believe the Kirby Sentria is better build than my three year old Dyson Animal. To me, the Dyson looks cheap compared to the Kirby, thanks for AL chrome...but it feels more sturdy. Even the redesigned Sentria handle.

I can tell you this about the handle. There is chrome fascia in front and plastic backing, but there a full AL internal handle that is covered by the metal front and plastic back. So there is a full metal handle with the plastic top like the G6. but it seems not only lighter, but like you said not as sturdy. But then again, I'm not dancing with my Sentria, well not yet anyway.

Matt :-)

Post# 33955 , Reply# 3   3/3/2008 at 22:54 (5,498 days old) by swingette ()        
everybody is entitled to my opinion...

count me in the pro-headlamp camp.

i cleaned my parents house just recently and was bothered that the Eureka's bulb was out. my parents are older, and leave things like shoes under their beds. for me, an upright with a headlamp is the only way to clean under a bed.

and for commercial use... the lobby of the hotel i work at uses moody lighting. its very dark under the sofas. unless you wanna constantly clog the vacuum, you need a light.

im obsessive about always doing a thorough cleaning job, and i need a headlight!

Post# 33959 , Reply# 4   3/3/2008 at 23:04 (5,498 days old) by swingette ()        

too bad about the belt lifter. that should be one of the most durable parts on a Kirby. they should plan for rough treatment of the lifter.

looking forward to the vids, matt!

Post# 33983 , Reply# 5   3/4/2008 at 05:21 (5,498 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

I like my Sentria-but I think its correct the beltlifter handle should be stronger.the headlight on the Sentria works well for me--I also like headlights on vacuum floor clean tools.Esp "Hi-end" vacuums such as Kirby,FQ,Rainbow,TriStar.Note how some of those others have dropped headlights-but Kirby still has it.I would like to see other brands have the headlights-The LED ones with the blue tint helps find dust and dirt better on the floor.The LED lights aren't that expensive and can last the life of the vacuum.To be honest would love it if Kirby went back to the tubelar aluminum one peice handles like the Dual 50 on back used.these were lightweight and tough,strong-no worry about breakage there.And with todays technology-the aluminum can be anodized in ANY color!And its a tough finish.

Post# 33987 , Reply# 6   3/4/2008 at 07:32 (5,498 days old) by vintagehoover ()        
Perhaps it's a cultural thing;

I notice a lot of US machines have headlights. Over here, flipping though the current Argos catalogue - Argos being one of our biggest retailers - and there is not a single machine on any of the 25 pages of vacuum cleaners on sale which has a headlight.

British people up and down the country are cleaning their carpets without the aid of a headlamp, and as yet, no fatalities have resulted...

Post# 34020 , Reply# 7   3/4/2008 at 15:40 (5,497 days old) by mattshaver ()        
Hey Vintagehoover???

Would the change in voltage be an issue too? We run 110 to our outlets. Don't you all run a much higher voltage? Not sure, but would that be one of the reasons?

Here is a video and I'll also post it in a different thread for a new topic.

Matt :-)


Post# 34027 , Reply# 8   3/4/2008 at 16:23 (5,497 days old) by vintagehoover ()        
Voltage isn't an issue...

...we have 240v dwarf bulbs available; we had headlamps on most of the TOL and mid-range Hoover cleaners from the 450, 800 and 925 in 1933 until sometime in the 1990s, with the last of the Turbopower 1 cleaners. And Kirbys still have them, of course. It's more that they're seen as gimmicks over here, to be honest! You rarely see older cleaners with lamps still working, because people don't bother changing them when they go. Why? Because they don't miss them enough to fiddle around with tracking the correct one down and replacing them, I'd imagine.

I think after a certain point, they became little more than a cool-looking gimmick to distinguish between the TOL machine, and the lesser models.

Post# 34029 , Reply# 9   3/4/2008 at 16:26 (5,497 days old) by vintagehoover ()        
Forgot to say -

cool video! I do like the styling of the Sentria.

Post# 458204 , Reply# 10   11/27/2022 at 02:48 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

rowdy141's profile picture
I have three Sentria and one Sentria II.

The LED headlights are faulty on three out of four.
Kirby redesigned their modular LED Control Board but this hasn't improved reliability. They still fail after a very short time. They're expensive items here in the UK. £36 per unit. And they require a complete strip-down to replace. Not something your average consumer should expect to do.

The Sentria seems to have been designed entirely with a French Curve. No straight lines using a ruler. Whilst this gives it an ergonomic look, it does little for practicality or comfort. The hand-grip is so sleek it's difficult to hold on to when pulling the machine backwards and maneuvering the machine to crab sideways.

Kirby redesigned the Sentria cloth bag zipper. Going from a staight up & down zip on early Sentrias, it now incorporates curves top and bottom. These zips don't work well going round curves on the soft, flexible bag. You need two hands to get the zip started each time.

The belt-lifter is much too flimsy. As already mentioned. All-plastic with a small metal pin. This needs to be made of aluminium.

Belt-lifters also suffer from cracking around their central screw. Either from normal use or from over-tightening of that torx screw during reassembly. Adding a thin washer front and back make this a better, more durable fit.

Kirby has already discontinued the chrome-finish belt-lifter. Only available in Avalir black from now on.

The mains lead is a fixed length between its two moulded plugs - one at the machine end, the other for the wall outlet. If the lead was half a metre shorter (or half a metre longer) the flex would sit neatly around both cord hooks. Instead it hangs awkwardly, swinging into the machine every time you move the vacuum.

Coloured main flexes look great when our machines are new, but when you need to replace one, there's only ever black or grey. Nothing spoils the look more than a mismatched mains lead.

Precarious 'wing' on the hose-end.
The extended wing that operates the safety switch should have been a more integral design. Its only a matter of time before this snags on furniture and breaks, or is accidentally stepped on.

Tool caddy is still basically an upturned bucket with the side cut away. There's still insufficient space to store all your tools neatly. It could easily have been designed to accommodate each tool individually and to house your interchangeable heads (polisher, shampooer) in the base. This is a legacy design left over from the Heritage I.

Post# 458207 , Reply# 11   11/27/2022 at 09:05 by Kirbyg6 (York)        

kirbyg6's profile picture
My avalir one has gone it looks a right pain to change so I’m not bothering I hope they make it easier on future models

Post# 458232 , Reply# 12   11/27/2022 at 21:41 by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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Personally, I like the Sentria. But not as much as the older Generation models. And honestly if I had to buy a Kirby today to use for myself, at least from the Generation series, it would be the G6. The G6 is much more nostalgic to me, one of my top 3 favorites from the Generation series. I like the looks of it and the design more than the Sentria including the Avalir. I can still buy the matching black colored parts for it as of today since the Avalir is black as well. And I can use paper bags for it. Unfortunately Kirby doesn't sell genuine paper style F bags and I wish they did as I prefer using paper bags for my Kirbys.

Post# 458235 , Reply# 13   11/27/2022 at 22:05 by juju93 (South Georgia)        

Its time for kirby to launch something new. The G-series is freaking 33 at this point. I'm sure somone from the kirby company reads these types of threads and reads what the comsumers, us, want. After sentria 2 in 2012 I got tired of looking at kirby's because theres not much changed to them other than a name changed and a paint job. If avalir 3 (realistically sentria 5) ever comes out then I'm loosing all hope for this company. I mean hey if they keep the G-series then change the look of it that way it doesn't looked like a recolored/renamed sentria from 2006. Change the headlight, change the shape of the belt lifter, something that way it looks different from the past 17 years.

Post# 458237 , Reply# 14   11/27/2022 at 22:56 by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

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Actually I think Kirby is meeting it's fate. Hate to say it because I loved Kirby growing up and still do today. Hopefully not but I wouldn't be surprised if so. I need to ship my vintage 512 in to get rebuilt soon while I have the chance.

Post# 458324 , Reply# 15   11/30/2022 at 17:21 by human (Pines of Carolina)        

human's profile picture
Rowdy141 wrote:
Kirby redesigned the Sentria cloth bag zipper. Going from a staight up & down zip on early Sentrias, it now incorporates curves top and bottom. These zips don't work well going round curves on the soft, flexible bag. You need two hands to get the zip started each time.

I reply:
The curved zipper actually made its debut on the G7 (aka 'Ultimate G').

From the standpoint of functionality, I can't tell a whole lot of difference between any of my G-series Kirbys. They make a few cosmetic changes from model to model, but it's really the same machine. The one I seem to use the most is my G7 Diamond.

I do believe Kirby is in an unwinnable situation—with itself on the second-hand market. Used Kirbys in decent shape go for very little. Thrift shops sell G-series Kirbys for about $50 with accessories and $30 or less without them. And they will last for decades with proper care. I would certainly be sad if Kirby went belly-up, but the second-hand market would continue to be flooded with them for years to come and I've got enough Kirbys to last a lifetime, anyway.

Post# 458371 , Reply# 16   12/2/2022 at 08:40 by texaskirbyguy (Plano, TX)        

Human, you are right. Kirby's biggest competitor is itself - in the second hand world. This is what happens when a good quality, high performing, long-lasting product is made.

The deficiencies of the Sentria look to be the result of engineers fiddling with stuff that works, until it does not. Same thing the windows OS has been doing since XP, but Kirby did not go at that fast a rate thank goodness...

The new headlight was a joke... "But it's LED now - high tech!" Did not matter it it did its job well or not, as long as there was marketing hype about it...
Good headlights on vacuums should be standard equipment. Despite most of us having lights in rooms, why go through the trouble at turning all of them on whenever you vacuum each room? Most of the time there will still be dimly lit areas. Why cause damage and/or repair time from sucking up a foreign object when you can see it before hand and remove it?
My lady friend has dropped small jewelry before that would have been destroyed by the Kirby if I had not seen it first. Even with lights on, there are still dark areas and gold and silver against grey carpet makes them hard to see.
Why risk losing a valuable object due to darkness?

I also have enough vacs to last my lifetime and after I am gone, I hope someone will continue to use the ones I have for their lifetime.

I still cannot forget the Diamond set with all attachments in my friend's thrift store for only 19.95. Worked great - just needed a good cleaning.
Unfortunately most people would not feel comfortable using a pre-owned vacuum in their home. I am that way myself, until I tear them down to the last screw, wash it all, and reassemble and repair as needed. They are 'new' to me then!

Post# 458423 , Reply# 17   12/5/2022 at 10:31 by Rowdy141 (United Kingdom)        

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I agree. Kirby is competing with the Kirby secondhand market.
Amstrad stifled their secondhand market in monitors and printers from day-1. If you upgraded to a colour monitor, you still had to have the old monochrome one connected and powered-up. Same with their printer.
Kirby have redesigned the Emtor, Cloth bag, Paper bag, Hose ends. Brushroll...
If you consider these moves built-in obsolescence, with no backward compatibly, it makes marketing sense.

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