What Should I Consider When Buying a Vacuum Cleaner?

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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Lindsay D.
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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One important decision to make is whether you prefer an upright or canister design. An upright vacuum cleaner places the powerhouse in the same unit as the agitating brushes. The entire cleaning housing sits on wheels just above floor level and dust is collected in a bag attached to the handle. The handle generally reaches the user's waist level and can be swiveled to extend the reach of the cleaning unit. Some upright models have powered wheels which help to propel the motor and sweeper forward, much like a self-propelled lawn mower. An upright vacuum cleaner may be ideal if you don't need many attachments and want to reduce bending while cleaning. It may have trouble reaching under furniture, however, and maneuverability may be limited.

The other option is a canister vacuum cleaner. This model has a central unit which contains the powerhouse and collection bag. The central unit of this version may be carried manually or allowed to roll on casters or wheels. A hose extends from the motor and various attachments perform specific vacuuming jobs- cleaning crevices, curtains, floors and ceilings. A powered sweeper may also be attached to the hose for general floor vacuuming. A canister vacuum cleaner may be ideal for those who need a generous selection of attachments and are comfortable with the physical demands of vacuuming. It can be bulky to store and attachments may have to be changed frequently while using one.


Another consideration is suctioning power. This appliance's main power source is an industrial electric motor, which means suctioning power should be estimated by amperage (amps). An electric motor pulling 200 amps of electricity is more powerful than one pulling only 100 amps. If we apply this basic principal to vacuum cleaner comparison shopping, the model pulling the most amps should have the most suctioning power. This information on amperage is often promoted as a positive feature, so look on the boxes at the store to determine which models offer the most power. Suctioning power can make the difference between vacuuming once a week and vacuuming every other day.

A further element to consider when buying a vacuum cleaner is bag versus bagless. Some prefer the self-contained aspect of a traditional bag attached to the motor through a filter. The main drawback to a bagged system is making sure replacement bags and filters are available. Different manufacturers and models use different size bags, some of which can be difficult to find outside of the original point of purchase. Bags still have to be handled manually when full, but the contents generally stay out of sight and out of mind.

Newer models may have no bag at all. Dirt and debris are collected in detachable compartments on the handle. The contents of these compartments can be dumped into a garbage can routinely to avoid build-up. Bagless vacuum cleaners eliminate the need for replacement bags and filters, but some people are bothered by the sight of dirt and other substances being in plain view while they clean. Proponents of bagless cleaners say they are more powerful because the motor exhaust is not blocked by a thick bag.

Modern vacuum cleaner technology may have created yet another viable option in the form of a robot. A self-powered vacuuming unit with obstacle-detecting sensors can now be used to clean an entire room without any help from a human. Some models work on the principle of an electronic grid system, while others prefer the less sophisticated 'keep going until you hit something' approach. These robotic cleaners may be ideal for casual housekeepers with large area of open carpeting and few obstacles.


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Post 5

I clean houses for a living and I always prefer the versatility of a canister over the upright style. Uprights can be heavy (push the whole vacuum, pull the whole vacuum), the hose for attachments is next to useless - too short for many uses and suctions itself shorter as you try to use it. A canister with a power head and decent attachments is the best.

I use a dust brush a lot for baseboards, heaters, windowsills, venetian blinds. Using a dusting cloth just spreads the dust around while the vac picks it up with one pass.

I own a Rainbow which pulls the dirt and dust into a water canister instead of a dry filter. While some people may find it gross, I love to see what I have picked up and gotten rid of with each vacuuming session. Hope this helps.

Post 4

I am currently going through buying my first vacuum cleaner for 20 years, and I am totally swamped. So of these three:

a Riccar vacuum cleaner;

a Sebo vacuum cleaner;

a Simplicity vacuum cleaner; or

Sanitaire vacuum cleaner;

which one should I get?

Post 3

What advice would you give someone looking for an industrial or commercial vacuum cleaner? Right now all I've got is one of those Bissell handheld vacuum cleaners, and it's just not cutting it in my office.

Can you help me out?

Post 2

You have totally got it right -- I never knew how hard it was to choose a vacuum cleaner until I had to buy my first one.

Definitely like looking for a needle in a stack of needles.

In the end I went with a HEPA vacuum cleaner, I know, it's more expensive, and I have to invest in vacuum cleaner filters, but it paid off -- when I found out that my daughter had a dust allergy, I would have had to buy a HEPA one anyway, so it turned out for the best.

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