We are on the 3rd power switch on our Miele Titan S2181 vacuum cleaner. As an electrical engineer who did a good amount of research work with switches and relays as part of my thesis, I figured that there might be value in summarizing why these switches fail and how they can easily be replaced. I believe that the problem is not necessarily with the quality of the component. These switches are standard components and are in use in many other models by different manufacturers, but more about that later. I believe that the way they are actuated in the S2181 – by stepping on a large wobbly plastic button – is the issue. It is easy to step on the button a bit sideways and not push it down all the way. When the switch is not fully depressed, it draws an arc, overheats, and the contact tab gets pushed down into the soft plastic. Once this happens (look at the right contact in the picture below), the switch no longer closes the circuit when in the On position and needs to be replaced.
A short-term fix is to short the switch by removing it and connecting the two wires directly. I usually cut off one of the switch’s contact tabs and connect one shoe on each end. The vacuum cleaner will then run as soon as it gets plugged in, but at least it is usable until the replacement part arrives.
The Miele Part Mafia
Last year when I needed a replacement switch, it was relatively easy to find. I just googled the vacuum model number along with “power switch”, and the results contained countless inexpensive sources. I ended up ordering from a vacuum cleaner outlet for about $8 and free shipping. This year, I figured I’d go back to the same source. I found the order confirmation email, went to the website, and typed in the SKU. There were no hits, nor were there any hits for my original search that included the Miele model. Google still found the part for me, and it is also available on Amazon, but for around $40-$50 per piece. Clearly, this is inacceptable, and I did not order from any of these sources.
Instead, I called the vendor that I had ordered from the last time. After a bit of back and forth, they said that “this part is no longer available to them”.
Honi soit qui mal y pense. Could it be that Miele is forcing parts suppliers and distributors to no longer sell aftermarket parts for their appliances? I have had a very similar experience with my Miele washing machine not so long ago. I find it remarkable that a single company gets away with this type of arm-twisting in this country today. You should consider that Miele parts will cost 5x-10x of what comparable parts for other appliances cost before you buy one of their products.
I did not want to give up so easily, though. Even though the part Miele Canister Vacuum Cleaner Replacement On / Off Power Switch, Fits Miele Part 04366462 04367102 was no longer sold by this particular vendor, I got lucky when I googled the SKU of the part: 10-9200-05. This returned a number of hits, even on Amazon, for a part that looks amazingly similar to the Miele S48i power switch that sells for $48 on eBay – except that it costs a fraction. It is listed as a Dyson switch, and I even found one that looks much better made (Dyson Switch #DY-910971-01).
This switch has the same overall dimensions but turned out to not be a 100% mechanically compatible replacement. It fits into the space but is not held properly by the clips. The picture clearly shows that the enclosure is molded differently. I had to use a cable tie to fasten it to the plastic cover. Also, the tabs point downwards and not sideways. It is probably ok to carefully bend them once, but they will break off if bent repeatedly.
I was able to use the BÄR switch without bending the tabs. It remains to be seen if it lasts longer – it seems to be very similarly constructed. I cannot fully recommend the 3292 as a replacement for the Miele part, but with the addition of a cable tie it is a workable solution. If it lasts longer, it could be more than that. Out of curiosity I opened one of the 3292s that I ordered. They mechanical principle is the same as in the original – a spring-loaded contact bar creates a connection between two contact points when the button is depressed. The mechanical on/off function is similar to what you find in a ball point pen. The $50 price tag for the OEM part is ridiculous and customers should boycott Miele parts whenever possible, or Miele appliances altogether.