Central Vacuums Offer Convenience and Power
Updated: 2021-10-20
By Paul Bianchina
Inman News

If you're tired of lugging a vacuum cleaner around the house and have been thinking about some type of alternative, you might want to give some consideration to a central vacuum system. For many homes, central vacuum systems can offer not only additional convenience, but also less noise, less dust and more power.

The typical central vacuum system has a large canister vacuum motor mounted in the garage or basement. Because of its wall-mounted, remote location outside the home's living space, central vacuum system motors can be larger and heavier than what is inside a standard vacuum cleaner, thereby offering more power. Also, since the motor is located out in the garage, the vacuum cleaner operates with considerably less noise inside the house and without any of the re-circulated dust that's common with most standard vacuum cleaners.

From the canister, 2-inch PVC pipe and low-voltage wire is routed to each vacuum outlet inside the house. The outlet is similar in size and appearance to a standard electrical outlet and consists of a cover plate and a connection port for the vacuum cleaner hose. Plugging in the hose is all that's needed to activate the remote vacuum motor. At the end of the hose is a power brush, which contains a rotating bar and brushes similar to a conventional vacuum. The brush head can be quickly replaced with other tools for vacuuming drapes, bare floors, and hard-to-reach crevices.

For a typical house, you will need one vacuum outlet for each 500 to 600 square feet. When considering the number of outlets, bear in mind that you will have about 25 to 30 feet of hose, and you'll want to position the outlets to have an adequate number in convenient locations so that you can reach every area in the house.

The ideal time for installing vacuum pipe is while your home is under construction - you can even pre-pipe the house during construction and then install the actual vacuum system at a later date. For existing homes, you can utilize the crawl space, attic and areas such as closets, pantries or soffits to simplify installation of the piping.
Selecting Your System

There are several manufacturers of central vacuum systems, and each offers a variety of models and accessories to choose from. This adds up to quite a list of potential choices. There are, however still only a few basic choices that you'll need to make, and your dealer can help you with the pros and cons of each as they pertain to your particular application.

Standard Versus Cyclonic

A standard central vacuum canister works on the same principle as a conventional cleaner. A powerful motor creates a vacuum within the unit, drawing air towards it. The air stream carries the dirt with it to be trapped inside a disposable paper bag, while finer dust is trapped in a filter. With a cyclonic system - which is similar to the large sawdust collectors used in mills and woodshops - a rotating "cyclone" of air inside the unit allows larger dirt and dust particles to fall into a dirt canister that is separate from the motor unit, while finer dust is simply exhausted to the outside of the house. This eliminates any filters, and allows the motor to work at full power with no clogging from the dust particles.

Electric Versus Air-powered Brush

The electric brush utilizes 110 volt power to operate the roller bar for more power-brushing action and has greater power for large carpet areas or for carpets that are fairly thick. Traditional electric brush heads have a power cord strapped to the vacuum hose and are plugged into an electrical outlet at the same time the hose is connected to the vacuum outlet. Newer models have both high- and low-voltage wiring incorporated into the hose. Simply plug in the hose and all of the electrical connections are made as well, which offers a lot of additional convenience.

Air-powered heads have a "turbo" action inside the head that is created by the movement of air. They require no 110-volt connection and are less expensive to purchase, but often lack the cleaning power of their electric counterparts.

The central vacuum motor unit, hose, head and accessories will range in cost from around $700 to $1200, plus installation. They are available from many vacuum cleaner dealers and from specialized central vacuum system contractors.
Copyright 2007 Paul Bianchina

More similar articles are available in Household Appliances

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