Thread Number: 37019  /  Tag: 80s/90s Vacuum Cleaners
Rainbow D4, D2 and E - Opinions Wanted
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Post# 395661   7/27/2018 at 13:16 by bluebonnet (Olympia, WA)        

Hi, all. I've been browsing this oddly addictive place for a few weeks now.

I would really appreciate some input from those of you familiar with Rainbows, please. I have never used one, and am trying to decide which model to get--Newer E, or D4.

I initially dismissed the idea of an E' because I don't want to have to clean/replace an extra filter, and buy additional parts. But maybe this is just worry over something that isn't much of a hassle?

I so hope a Rainbow is just what I'm looking for! I've been dissatisfied with the performance of all the various upright vacs and the fact that I can never get them thoroughly clean after use. I don't like handling the dust and hair, and every vacuum smells bad after such a short time! I have a labrador who lives indoors and also have toddler twins, so extra incentive now to get the place free of fur.

I am totally blind, so can't make use of pictures, and haven't seen these in person. I'd just like a general idea of what they look like. Just a general description of the machine would help; how is the E different from the D4? Shape, size, weight, etc. Is the process the same for accessing the water pan to empty?

For reference and the sake of comparison, I've seen a D2. My mother had one when I was a child. I remember this shiny, sturdy-looking thing in the hall closet (I'm pretty sure she stored the machine on its water pan! Tsk). She's long since gotten rid of it; the basic upkeep was too much effort for her. But she happened to mention it in a conversation recently, and I'd never heard of it before (not by name). I Googled it, and was immediately extremely interested. Based on where she was living when she bought it, it was bought in '73 or a year or two later, so same vintage as me. Too bad it isn't still around; I'd like to see it again, because I was always fascinated by it.

I'm tempted to get a D2 off Ebay. But I do want a machine that's practical and that I can use. D2 appeals to me because it isn't plastic. But I wouldn't be able to do any needed repairs, myself. Surely, a machine 40 years old will need repairing, and that will take time. And I assume a newer model--even ten years newer, must be in some ways easier to operate... ?

Post# 395662 , Reply# 1   7/27/2018 at 13:46 by compactc9guy (Bathurst New Brunswick Canada )        

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if i were you id just get a TRISTAR COMPACT no water pan to empty to hair to touch jsut toss the empty bag in the trash can put a new one in and voila metal construction sturdy reliable strong air flow suction and easy to work on do keep in mind this is MY PERSONAL OPINION ONLY i could be bias i own one

Post# 395663 , Reply# 2   7/27/2018 at 14:00 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
A Rainbow

Is a lot of work, but a D2 is a really well built beautiful machine, the hammertone bronze/brown base and chrome top with brown trim is really stunning, You should have no problems dealing with one, there are a few basic rules, you MUST wash and dry the pan and clean the separator after each use, the water pan has a small raised plastic stem in the center that lets you know when you have enough water in it, since you cant see it will be no problem to fell the top of this post, when 2 quarts are in the pan, the water is right at the top of the stem,and the other really important thing is do not ever store the machine on the water pan, if you do the gasket can hold moisture and cause dampness to get in the motor which causes problems, I personally wouldn't use mine for daily use because they are more aggravation than they are worth, as mentioned above, a good Compact/TriStar is much more user friendle and WAY more powerful.

Post# 395674 , Reply# 3   7/27/2018 at 19:31 by rivstg1 (colorado springs)        
a deeper look at the options...

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You do NOT have to clean the separator every time....but every other to every 4th time, depending on how big a cleaning job you're performing, but yes, the company recommends every other time. I"ve had and used mine since 1999. The idea of 'just throw out the old bag and put in a new one misses the point for a Rainbow's purpose.....and that is so that you don't HAVE to buy bags that clog up and they don't loose airflow...they don't keep all the airflow they had when they were brand new. Cleaning the water basin just requires 5-12 seconds of work....really....not....a big deal. You get a LOT more visual satisfaction when cleaning with a Rainbow b/c you SEE what WAS in your home thats not there doesn't get that from a bagged vacuum.

I"m a big fan of them...have two....but also a big fan of hepa bagged BAG uprights as of recent too(after learning how effective modern HEPA bags are....changed some of my thinking). Rainbow's are the strongest cfm cleaners out there though....and not metal unfortunately.

Post# 395686 , Reply# 4   7/27/2018 at 22:15 by kloveland (Tulsa, OK)        

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I hate to be negative. But I'm not that biggest fan of Rainbows either. To me they are a hassle and not very powerful either. Every Rainbow I've opened up has had dust on the inside. This may be due to the user not emptying the water often enough or they may not filter well to begin with. I'm not sure. I know Rainbows have never received high ratings in consumer reports. But I respect those who like them!I've owned the D2, SE and E series. I've never tried anything newer.

Post# 395687 , Reply# 5   7/27/2018 at 22:36 by Electroluxxxx (Syracuse, NY )        

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Honestly spend the money and get the E2 2 speed which we have an E2 blue complete with warranty at a very good price with free shipping. Separator needs to be cleaned once a month due to design and hepa will last you at least 5 years or more. parts for the D4 are being discontinued with the exception of fans, carbon brushes, air deflector, flange and gaskets. sub assemblies such as the main housing, fan housing which is the lower portion of the motor have been discontinued and the lower portion of the fan housing is a common part to replace when the flange becomes corroded and cannot be broken off without damaging the lower portion of the fan housing. The E series single speeds are coming into my shop left and right with bad motors as they now are approaching 20 years of age and those motors were really meant to be cleaned and if bad replaced. Rexair never made armatures for those machines or spare parts except for carbon brushes and fans and if anyone tries to argue that, ask rexair! After all I do work for a Rainbow office and service ALL models day in and day out. The D2 is a good machine however being about almost 43-50 years of age New parts are NLA however there were 2 types of motors used in these and you would want an earlier run d2 with the through flow motor and power nozzle port NOT the sealed motor. The sealed motors were recalled by rexair due to issues with keeping the motor cool and posed a hazard, again if someone thinks thatís false ask my distributor who has been in the business for 32 years along with his father before that and his grandfather since the model B. As far as cleaning the D2 and D4 the separator needs to be cleaned very often as the gaps in the separator are wider than the new separator and allow fine dust to pass through the machine. Having the completely SEALED hepa filter allows the machine to have an additional filter source other than water as the last place for air to pass through before entering the room, that is what separates this machine from the old machines and ďother water vacsĒ and along with ZERO emissions coming from machine itself it was actually able to qualify for certification through the Asthma and allergy foundation which is a legit thing! The E2 is a very solid machine with a very long life digital motor and in all honesty you really canít go wrong. They are made to be run 24/7 as a certified air cleaner and are pretty energy efficient, not only that but there are plenty of parts made and these just like the old rainbows with the exception of the single speed e series are meant to be repaired and rebuilt.

Hope this helps shed some light 😊

Post# 395696 , Reply# 6   7/28/2018 at 03:53 by pr-21 (Middletown, OH)        

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I have both and prefer my D4 SEPE.  I find it easier to clean and put away, however the

power nozzle on the E2 series with the side edge cleaners is a better power nozzle. It lays flat to

the floor and gets under my low bed with ease. The D4 SEPE tilts 3/4 of the way under the bed

and I have to go around to the other side.....If you are not willing to wash the basin and separator,

which I do every time, you should not get one. Storing on the basin will cause mold and mildew.....

make sure you store the pan on a shelf off the base until you are ready to use again....


One other thing. I use the genuine Rainbow scents in the water and they are much more

fragrant in the D4 SEPE, since they don't have to go through the hepa filter.




Post# 395699 , Reply# 7   7/28/2018 at 06:08 by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

Dirt inside is usually a lack of maintenance. I have several D4s, two single speed E Series and the newest E2 Black. Some of the D4s I donít think the Separator was ever cleaned when I got them (I bought all my machines at thrift stores).

As far as how often to clean the separator itís more a matter of your cleaning habits. I have the large water basins for two of the machines but itís really just how often you change the water, what youíre picking up and how large a cleaning job you do. Iíve cleaned them after a few times after certain cleaning jobs and it really was still unnecessary at that point. For my habits my general need is once every 5 or so uses.

I prefer the powerhead of the newest machine however I prefer the weight and sound (itís less harsh) of the single speed E Series. Though the two speed ones have the brushless motor.

Even if you donít use scents as long as you rinse the basin and donít store it on the machine wet which youíre not supposed to do anyway, theyíre basically smell free vacs. They emit no odor at all which is good if you have pets.

Iíd personally lean towards a newer model just because parts are readily available.

Post# 395712 , Reply# 8   7/28/2018 at 14:04 by bluebonnet (Olympia, WA)        

There's some points to think over, and info here I haven't come across elsewhere. Thank you all! I'm leaning toward getting the D4, and once I have a working vac, then will probably get a D2, later.

Kenkart, lovely description of the D2! And thank you for the tip on the water level for the basin; that is helpful and just the kind of thing I needed to know.

PR-21 mentions the difference in power nozzles. The new pn sounds great, especially for carpet. yes, it's important to be able to get under beds and other furniture--can't do that very well with the attachments on my current Bissell. Is there an adaptor or any way to fit the new pn to a D4? My husband likes fragrances--I could take or leave them--so I may try the scents. I like the idea of a light vanilla or oarange. Which ones do you use?

Eelectroluxxxx, thank you so much for the info on the D4 and D2 separators, and the notes on motor, and what to look for--although Ebay sellers seem not to give or maybe not to know about them, in detail. But at least now I'll be a bit more informed as to what to look for or ask about. So, I think you're saying that some of the D2 machines do not have a power nozzle port? And those are to be avoided, because they have the sealed motor? - I do remember that my mother's D2 got quite warm on top. Do they all, or did this indicate some problem? (Just asking so I'll know what to expect, if I manage to find one.)

Compactc9guy, I'll do some reading about the Tristar, although I'd rather not have to buy bags. I like to see what my vac is picking up, so am pretty set on a self-contained Rainbow. However, I don't intend to let anyone else use it (can't trust anyone else to clean it properly), so I'll keep this one in mind.

Post# 395746 , Reply# 9   7/28/2018 at 21:33 by Electroluxxxx (Syracuse, NY )        

electroluxxxx's profile picture
The earlier and mid d2 machines have a thru flow however the ones with a PN port are odd. The early d2 machines with PN port have a 3 prong PN port the later had a 2. Yes they all get warm on the top. When looking at a D2 in a screen it can be confusing as to which motor it has. If you would like to go through our office we can refurbish a d4-e2 for you and it will come with a warranty and again it will be at a great price. If interested please email me at and Iíll happily provide you with my number and other contact info so I can help you get what you want! Also if you have any questions Iím a text, phone call or email away!


Post# 395752 , Reply# 10   7/28/2018 at 22:31 by Rivstg1 (colorado springs)        

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understandable on the negatives/downsides of Rainbows, but I've read others stating the same thing about finding dust(lots) up in the motor and using that 'evidence' that water doesn't work. Well, I've opened up 7 bagged vacuums ( into the motor) and they ALL had dust as well, so does that mean bags don't 'capture' the dust? Isn't the key more to how much, if at all, goes back into the air?

Post# 395769 , Reply# 11   7/29/2018 at 07:23 by man114 (Buffalo NY)        

I used to sell these with my wife so we got to try all the fragrances. Honestly Pine, spice and Orange are my favorites. Iíd recommend just trying them all to see what you prefer. Berry was the one I enjoyed the least.

Post# 395785 , Reply# 12   7/29/2018 at 13:32 by chris (WV)        

I have the D4SE and the new E-2 2 speed and I use the SE for my everyday vacuuming and the e-2 for weekly dusting/cleaning. I find the SE lighter and easier to use. I find what makes the E-2 hard to pull is the rubber wheels they now use. I spent a lot of money to get a new original D4 dolly with the gold wheels. It pulls across the floor with no effort at all. I do change the water twice per floor and it still only takes a total of 45min to vacuum. As far as replacing the HEPA filter and cleaning the separator, I put the separator in the dishwasher every 3 days and i'm on year 8 with the e-2 and while the HEPA is somewhat dirty I guarantee you its not as dirty as some other vacuums with HEPA filters would be after 8 years. As far as "dust" inside the motor the rainbow pulls cooling air from the top of the SE and the back of the e-2. That air is not filtered though the water so any dust that is in the air is going to collect in the motor. I'm also convinced the "dust" is the exact same "white dust" that collects on the inside of my evaporative humidifier fan blades from the water evaporation process. As for the fragrances, if you have a strong chlorine smell/taste to your water it will drastically alter the smell of those fragrances. I have city water here and it smells like a bleach bottle and I can only use the orange, eucalyptus, lemon, and the Fresh Air concentrate. Any thing else either smells rotten or musty.

Post# 395787 , Reply# 13   7/29/2018 at 15:18 by vacuumlad1650 (Chicago Suburbs)        

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Wow, you've opened up 7 WHOLE vacuums? Somebody get this guy a medal for that kind of work!

I hope you know that was sarcasm.

I've worked on thousands of vacuums and I can attest that the bagged or water filtration machines do the best. There is no way to make a motor come out 100% clean, but there is a significant difference in how dirty the motor is when it is water/bagged vs. Bagless.
But plenty of it balls down to ownership. Was the water vacuum filled and cleaned properly? Did the owner use high quality bags or did they use thin bojacks? Motors in bagless vacuums always have the most dirt inside of the fans.

Post# 395790 , Reply# 14   7/29/2018 at 16:15 by Rivstg1 (colorado springs)        

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Very good point on the 'ownership' factor....can play a HUGE part of the condition of the vacuum. Yeah, I know , only 7 , now 8 , haha, I believe you as well on the diff btwn bagged vs non bagged on the amount of dust in the motor compartment....but, my point, and I still feel is very valid, is that BOTH have dust using the argument that lots of dust in the motor area of a water based vacuum is a spurious argument.

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