When purchasing a vacuum cleaner, we always look for the most powerful one to guarantee its cleaning capacity. Although power is an important element in the performance of the appliance, it is not everything. There are teams so powerful that they can lift a thick screw. Others barely pick up spilled cereal.
But, if what you need is to raise dust, or vacuum pet hair, what is all that power for?
The power of a vacuum cleaner is defined by the specifications of the equipment. Unfortunately, the brands do not agree on a single classification. In addition, the power parameters differ in the case of cordless and corded vacuum cleaners.
So how do you know if the vacuum cleaner you need has the necessary power?
How is the suction power of a vacuum cleaner measured?
The motor of a vacuum cleaner is connected to a fan that expels the air trapped in the internal chamber, creating a partial vacuum that generates a pressure difference from the outside. As the external pressure is higher, an air passage is created through the vacuum cleaner, that is, suction is induced. Therefore, the suction power refers to the maximum pressure difference that the motor can generate to suck up the particles. It is indicative of suction pressure and can be represented in pascals, or centimeters of water lifted.
There are a series of technical specifications and tests that are done to quantify the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. The UNE-EN 60312-1 standard establishes the general conditions for these tests, at the time of carrying out the measurements, by the manufacturers.
Despite the standardization, when you want to buy a vacuum cleaner you are faced with many different parameters that seek to establish the level of efficiency. Among these specifications we have:
- Pascals (Pa): it is a unit of pressure, it represents the suction power. The KPa (1,000 Pa) measurement of a vacuum cleaner is the pressure differential generated by the equipment. The greater the difference, the greater the suction pressure, or what is the same, the greater the suction power! We had already commented that it could be represented as centimeters/inches of raised water.
- Sealed Suction, or Water Lift – This is a physical test that is performed and measures the level of water that the vacuum is capable of lifting when connected to a sealed, liquid-filled tube. The higher the height, the greater the suction capacity, or the greater the power.
- Watts (Watts, W) – Measures the power supplied to the vacuum cleaner. Of this total, only a fraction is consumed to generate suction power, the rest is occupied by the other functions of the appliance. Therefore, it does not relate to the efficiency of the motor, but the energy that the equipment requires to work.
- Amps (A): is a measure of electrical current intensity; designates the maximum amount of current used by ALL components of the vacuum when it is working. Even confirming that the engine is the largest consumer, it is not a direct measure of its power.
- Air Watts (Air Watts, AW): is the power, represented in watts, of the airflow at the outlet of the vacuum cleaner. It is used by many manufacturers to quantify the suction power taking into account all the internal elements that resist the passage of air. It is a function of airflow and vacuum pressure.
- Air Flow (Cubic Feet Per Minute, CFM) – This is a direct measure of the air that can be moved from a given suction power. The higher the CFM, the higher the suction power and the higher the efficiency. The brands tend to limit this parameter since its increase directly affects the size of the motor, with consequences of greater weight, thicker electrical cables, and greater wear of the parts. Typically, actual values are between 50 to 100 CFM.
Among so many specified parameters, there will always be a doubt when wanting to buy a vacuum cleaner about what is the best choice.
How to know if a vacuum cleaner is powerful?
More than power Efficiency wanted! Component specifications, such as the motor, do not necessarily relate to the overall performance of the vacuum cleaner. They only reflect how good it can be at performing its basic function: vacuuming.
When in doubt about the suction power, when comparing different suction equipment, it is possible to establish a balance between the parameters of two different models, as long as they are available. Let’s see:
- Watts vs Watts, or comparing amperage to quantify the power supplied to the motor. Taking the amperage will only be useful if you know what the motor consumes.
- The value of the sealed suction can be compared, or a practical test can be carried out on the equipment, to determine the water elevation. We already commented that this value is equivalent to the suction pressure.
- Airflow can also be compared, taking into account that it is the parameter that moves dirt from the surface to the vacuum cleaner and directly relates to cleaning capacity.
- Directly compare the suction power of vacuum cleaners.
- As a last measure, compare the air watts, as it shows the suction force at the outlet of the vacuum, overcoming all the restrictions that the airflow can get in the way. It is the most reliable measure of potency!
But the truth is that you not only need a powerful motor that generates enough suction, but you also have to take into account the other elements that the airflow has in its path. We are talking about the bag, or the particle tank, and the filter system, through which this air flow must pass before reaching the outlet.
Other factors, such as the turbulence that can be generated within the hose, or the cleaning tube, also affect efficiency.
Power is not everything: How to choose a vacuum cleaner?
Let’s analyze the following scenario: you paid an exorbitant amount of money for the most powerful vacuum cleaner you found, but you notice that its cleaning capacity is not what you expected. What can happen?
Within the design of vacuum cleaners, some elements can sabotage the investment made. Between these:
- Capacity: as we already mentioned, the dirt storage bag or tank influences the performance of the equipment. Large capacities allow high levels of cleanliness to be maintained. In other words, it maintains a good flow of air, essential for efficiency. In the case of dust bags, the greater the surface area, the better the airflow and the greater the cleaning capacity.
- Filtration System – Anything that gets in the way of the airflow increases resistance inside the vacuum. It is a fact that advanced, high-efficiency filters, such as HEPA, are counterproductive to the free flow of air, but they are necessary! The challenge of maintaining acceptable flow levels in vacuums with HEPA filters is probably the factor that affects their price. Additionally, new materials have been developed to replace dust bags and facilitate the retention of fine particles. It is estimated that a quality HEPA filter can restrict airflow by 30%.
- Appropriate cleaning tools: they are crucial in the efficiency of the suction equipment and must be selected according to the surface and the objective of the cleaning:
- A motorized rotary brush, or turbo brush, is ideal for cleaning carpets and lifting hair from pets.
- Long, flat profile nozzle, perfect for reaching hard-to-reach areas, or under furniture.
- The nozzle, which tapers towards the tip, makes it easier to clean stubborn dirt by concentrating the suction power in a smaller relative area, making it ideal for cleaning between furniture or picking up dirt from the car.
- Cleaning technology: Some vacuum cleaners use cyclonic technology to separate solid particles when they enter the waste tank, which induces the rotation of the airflow causing the larger solids to move and collide with the walls and then settle to the bottom.
- Use of extension tubes: although they can represent an acceptable solution to reach unreachable places, as the distance between the surface to be cleaned and the vacuum cleaner increases, the suction power decreases, so these accessories affect the performance of the appliance Use it only when necessary!
What suction power should a vacuum cleaner have?
At the time of purchase you will find cordless, corded, manual, sled, upright, bagged, or bagless vacuum cleaners. The different types of vacuum cleaners work so differently that a separate analysis is necessary.
Among the factors that affect when choosing a vacuum cleaner we have:
- Type of floor in the home and presence of carpets. Evaluate the accessories for the different types of flooring.
- If you have a pet, you should know that not just any model will work for you, since not all of them are capable of sucking up animal hair without getting stuck. If you want to see examples you can see our article on the best vacuum cleaners for pets.
- Extension of the surface to be cleaned, as well as the presence of stairs and unevenness.
- If there are respiratory pathologies in the family and chronic allergies, the most appropriate thing is to choose a vacuum cleaner for allergy sufferers, since they incorporate HEPA filter systems.
- For occasional cleaning in the children’s room or the car, a manual vacuum cleaner may be sufficient.
- If what you need is help while you dedicate yourself to other things, the best is a robot vacuum cleaner.
As you can see, it all depends on your particular needs. With that said, let’s review the relevant features of different household vacuum cleaners.
Sled vacuum cleaner
Canister vacuum cleaners, due to their design and power supply, generate the highest suction power, they can reach 220 AW.
Average commercial rigs offer between 100 to 150 AW. Due to their great capacity and design, they are indicated for large homes and where there is more than one pet.
Due to the great working power, they can present electronic regulations, to adjust to any need and type of home.
On electrically powered, corded vacuum cleaners, wattage is defined as watts. In commercial equipment, it can vary between 150W and 800W, although there are high-end models that can have much more powerful motors.
They usually have a very long power cable, which can reach 10 meters, giving them a large radius of action.
Battery vacuum cleaner
Stand out the handheld vacuum cleaners and the broom or vertical vacuum cleaners, which adapt to a wide variety of cleaning situations in the home and the car. In cordless equipment, the suction power is generated by the battery. When it begins to discharge, the vacuum cleaner also loses power.
Cordless kits measure their power in volts and their suction power in KPa, or AW.
In cordless upright vacuum cleaners you will find:
- In commercial equipment, the voltage can range from 15 to 25V.
- The best models have motors that work between 100W to 600W, with a measurement of air watts greater than 100AW, and can reach maximum values close to 200AW.
- For domestic models, the suction power is in the order of 20 KPa, but you can find broom vacuum cleaners that generate 26 KPa.
Vacuum cleaner robot
They have become a real option in small homes, with hard floors, mainly due to their autonomy and recharging process.
They can be activated remotely and mapped to cover specific areas. This type of vacuum help keeps cleaning up to date, although a deeper cleaning will always have to be scheduled.
Wireless equipment, which has the less physical capacity (0.3 to 2.5 liters) and suction power than vacuum cleaners without bags, or vertical models. The suction power is expressed as pascals and in the most powerful commercial robots, this is between 1,800 to 2,500 Pa (1.8 – 2.5 KPa). The best robot vacuum cleaners can generate up to 10KPa!
The efficiency of robot vacuum cleaners is enhanced by the design of the brushes and their arrangement, which facilitate the detachment of dirt, increasing cleaning capacity. The most advanced robot vacuum cleaners incorporate rubber rollers that improve effectiveness.
How to increase the power of a vacuum cleaner?
As dust, hair, lint, and particles are sucked up they are trapped in the vacuum cleaner’s dirtbag, or reservoir and filter. As we already mentioned, this affects the passage of air through the appliance, reducing its efficiency.
The maintenance of the vacuum cleaner is part of its performance, so to increase its efficiency you should:
- Empty the dirtbag, or maintain the tank, the type of action will depend on the type of vacuum cleaner:
- – With washable filters, maintain the tank and filter at the same time. Normally its capacity may be limited.
- – On bagless vacuums, you should be able to see the level in the reservoir before you start vacuuming. It is always convenient to start vacuuming with an empty tank.
- – In vacuum cleaners with a bag, it is advisable not to wait for them to be 100% full. Change the bag when its free capacity is one-quarter!! Otherwise, you can run the risk of clogged hoses, loss of suction efficiency, or irreparable damage.
- Choose the appropriate setting of the vacuum cleaner, according to the type of floor. Remember that potency can be affected by separation. A rug needs more suction power, so the height setting will be the lowest.
- Clean all parts of the vacuum cleaner; including hoses and all accessories, which may have hair, lint, or other debris trapped in them, restricting the free flow of air and limiting suction capacity.
- Check the tightness of your vacuum cleaner, mainly ruling out the presence of cracks, twists, or any hole that leads to loss of suction. Why? The suction power must be concentrated in the cleaning tools that are used on the surfaces to be cleaned. If there are other air inlets, they divert the suction power to those points, reducing cleaning efficiency.
What are the most powerful vacuum cleaners on the market?
From conventional business models to high-end ones, there are many alternatives:
- Canister vacuum cleaners: Cecotec Conga can generate 1,400W of maximum power, Einhell TC-VC 1812S, generates 1,250W, and the Kärcher WD 3 Premium, 1,000W. In the special case of the Dyson Cinetic Big Ball Absolute, it generates a suction power of 150AW, with a 150W motor.
- Vertical vacuum cleaners: HONITURE presents its wireless model H9, with a 20-25.9V and 2,600mAh battery, capable of generating a suction power of 20 KPa. The Dyson V11 Absolute, with a 185W motor, can generate 185AW and the Roborock H6, with a 420W motor, generates 150AW.
- Robot vacuum cleaner: The suction power of the Cecotec Conga Excellence 990 is 1,400 Pa, while the high-end model, the Conga 7090 IA, generates 10,000 Pa. The Xiaomi Mi Robot Vacuum 2 and the Roborock S5 Max generate 2,000 Pa.
The types of vacuum cleaners are very varied and many parameters weigh at the time of your choice. To choose a good vacuum cleaner, you should mainly take into account your real needs and especially your budget.
If when making a purchase none of the parameters of interest are available, consider the opinions of the users!! Luck!