Types of Household Vacuums: Below is more information than you probably care to know as to Residential Vacuum Cleaners. The recommendations (suggestions) on Household Vacuums are divided below into two sections based upon either canister or upright types of vacuums and providing brand-specific vacuums (all rendered with aplomb and unassailable logic!). Our most popular vacuums by far are: Miele, Sebo and Lindhaus – all of which make both high-quality canister vacuums and high-quality upright vacuums. Simplicity (USA) also makes good vacuums.
Introduction: Most people use either an upright vacuum or a canister vacuum as the main portable vacuum in their house (if they live in a particular State in New England it is referred to as the “Maine” portable vacuum – ha ha).
The main vacuum, then, is the vacuum primarily responsible for maintaining the “health” of the house. To keep the house healthy, this main vacuum needs to do two things well: (1) it needs to efficiently remove pollutants/allergens from the carpet, upholstery, floors, etc. and (2) it needs to effectively control emissions so that these same pollutants are not spewed back into the air. This requires a considerable degree of precise engineering and meticulous construction and very few manufacturers are interested in producing machines to these standards.
It is a lamentable fact, therefore, that only a handful of manufacturers make vacuums in which the main vacuum housings are airtight. If the housings are not airtight, millions of microscopic contaminants per minute can be forced out through these housing apertures as the machine is vacuuming.
Thus, a sealed system is needed to control emissions – a HEPA filter installed on a vacuum that is leaking dirt elsewhere through the housings only filters the rest of the dirt that reaches the filter – only a very small percentage, therefore, of the total emissions of pollutants is arrested. The simple reality is that a better vacuum will clean better, filter better, last longer and require less maintenance than a “cheaper” vacuum. It is, therefore, a “better” purchase. At the time of this writing most vacuum cleaners are made in China, and they typically last only a few years. Almost all the best vacuum cleaners are made in Italy and Germany.
- Canister Vacuums: We believe that, in most instances, a canister vacuum is a better choice as a main vacuum than an upright vacuum. Our reasons are simple: In most instances a good canister vacuum uses a larger (a bit heavier), more powerful motor than a good upright vacuum The extra weight of the canister motor becomes less important because the canister vacuum is riding on the ground; whereas with an upright vacuum the weight of everything on the machine is significant since the entire vacuum is constantly being pushed and pulled.A canister vacuum absolutely offers more versatility than an upright vacuum The main carpet tool – whether a revolving brush or a traditional rug nozzle – is of a lower profile than the nozzle body on an upright. This allows getting under low furniture and beds much more readily.The hose and the wand(s) are already coupled together and instantly allow longer reach for dusting ceilings, corners and edges. All the cleaning accessories are immediately in reach on the vacuum – not always the case on upright vacuums. There is an accessory for every job:
- Rug tool and/or power brush
An upright vacuum is not normally equipped with a rug tool – the upright vacuum itself is the rug tool. Rug tools are extremely handy for corners and tight spots, as well as for getting under low furniture.
- Bare floor tool
Many upright vacuums are largely unsuitable for bare floor use. Some have switches that allow the brush to stop rotating when used on a bare floor surface. This improves bare floor performance; however, it falls far short of a bare floor brush. On some uprights, it is possible to attach a bare floor brush to the end of extension wands connected to the hose; however, this arrangement can be awkward when being used. A few uprights – Lindhaus & Sebo – are actually designed to be used with a bare floor brush mounted directly to the main vacuum body – a very nice design feature.
- Dusting tool – Upholstery/drapery tool – Crevice tool – Extension wands –
Cars can be readily cleaned with a canister vacuum. Stairs – a problem area – can be readily cleaned with an appropriate canister. Dusting blinds, cleaning crown molding, cleaning baseboards, etc. are all more readily accomplished with a canister than most uprights.With all the above noted, we will cheerfully sell you an upright vacuum if that is your desire; although, we find that most upright owners then regularly buy a small canister for its convenience and versatility for the types of cleaning chores present in the average home or office.
- Canister Vacuum Recommendations:
Miele: While we believe that, as in most aspects of life, there are alternative choices, we absolutely recommend the Miele Canister Vacuum over all others. If you ever had the privilege to take a tour through a Miele factory you would need little more than a few hours spent in the factory to enable you to understand that Miele excels in everything they manufacture. Miele is a 100+ year-old German appliance manufacturer that produces among the finest washing machines, dishwashers, stoves, sanitizing equipment, vacuums (and other appliances) that can be found anywhere in the world. Miele is awesome – very few manufacturers think like they do – they are perfection-driven.Miele makes their own motors on their canister vacuums. The best American motors do not, ultimately, satisfy their standards for quality. Miele makes their own vacuum housings and components. They even make a number of the manufacturing machines that make the Miele machines!Total control of the manufacturing process results in extremely high levels of precision in fitted parts. Precisely engineered and manufactured components fit together perfectly and work better and last longer without breakage. A Miele canister vacuum will likely last 15 – 20 years. Most vacuums today as of this writing are made in China, and most last no more than 1 – 3 years.Miele canister vacuum housings are airtight and a Miele canister with a HEPA filter assures true control of polluting emissions 99.97% down to .3 micron size – .3 microns is bacteria size! The Miele vacuum with the HEPA filter in place rates today at a Class 12 rating (only steps behind a critical filtration industrial vacuum for use in a Nuclear Bio-Hazardous Waste facility rated to a Class 15) and is actually rated at HEPA/ULPA.
A Miele canister vacuum is extremely mobile as it uses 3 – 4 independent, full 360-degree swiveling caster wheels with soft, non-marring rubber wheels. On better model Miele canister vacuums the hose swivels freely 360 degrees for complete ease-of-use. The exhaust air on a Miele exits on top of the vacuum. This prevents millions of bacteria and pollutants already at floor level from being blown into the air as happens with ground level exhaust orifices that are found on many vacuums. It also allows the vacuum to stand on end for ease of vacuuming stairs, etc. as the exhaust air is not shut off (i.e., it doesn’t exhaust out the back) as is the case with other vacuums.
The disposable vacuum bag automatically seals itself as it is slid out from the vacuum – no pollutants puffing back into oneself’s face as the bag is removed. You have to see or use a Miele vacuum to understand how smooth and powerful it is as it operates, and to experience the almost effortless way it glides around the room. There is a 1-year guarantee on everything (except belts) and a 7-year motor guarantee.
There are other choices …..
Lindhaus: Lindhaus is an Italian manufacturer, and makes an excellent canister vacuum. The Lindhaus Aria line is similar in quality and features to what Miele produces. Most of the accolades as to the Miele canister are applicable to the Lindhaus.
Sebo: In like measure, Sebo is a German vacuum manufacturer, and, also, makes an excellent line of canister vacuums. Sebo makes compact canisters (the “K” series) with and without power nozzles (they make an excellent power nozzle in a few different configurations) as well as full-size canisters (the “C” series).
However, the most popular vacuum cleaners in our facility are made by Miele! Please “click” here to connect to our webpage on Miele vacuums.
- Upright Vacuum Recommendations:
We recommend four upright vacuums as meeting our standards for high quality: Miele, Lindhaus, Sebo and Royal all-metal. Please “click” here for Miele upright vacuums, “Click” here for Lindhaus upright vacuums”, “Click”here for Sebo vacuums, and “Click” here for Royal all-metal vacuums. Miele: Miele, in late 2008, debuted their 1st true upright vacuum cleaner lineup – the S7. Upright vacuums have historically faced several challenges relative to canister vacuums. One is that the hose and accessory use is generally awkward at best, and quite limited at worst. Miele has absolutely solved this historic issue, and the hose and accessory use on their S7 upright vacuums is actually easier than on many canister vacuums.
- Another issue has been the manuverability of an upright vacuum. Uprights tend to be a bit cumbersome, and awkward in corners, etc. The S7 Miele upright boasts a design that provides such flexiblity and ease-of-use that Miele graciously refers to it as “power steering”. It works.An overall challenge has typically been that, since canister vacuums (normally used in the USA with motorized nozzles for rug cleaning) routinely use two motors – i.e., one motor for suction and another motor to spin the revolving brush – they have better “division of labor”. Miele uses the same twin motor design – they actually utilize the same motor that is in their top-of-the-line canister vacuums to power the suction in the S7 upright, and also use the same design incorporated into their top-of-the-line power nozzle to make the nozzle portion of the S7.
Of course, these vacuums enjoy the same sealed systems with S-class Hepa filtration to ensure that the air coming out of a Miele S7 upright is totally cleaned – down to bacteria size! “Click” here to connect to our Miele S7 upright webpage.
Lindhaus: Lindhaus is an 30-year+ old Italian manufacturer of motors and equipment for international use. They make some of the finest twin-motor upright vacuums (and canister vacuums) available for residential use (they are also the industry leader in twin-motor commercial upright vacuums). Two motors mean that each motor performs its own task – good division of labor! The main motor has two fans for optimum air flow and suction and provides the cleaning power to enable thorough (deep) cleaning of surfaces of any type. The second motor spins the revolving brush.
The Lindhaus engineers are motor experts. A Lindhaus motor undergoes many more steps in the manufacturing and balancing process than even the best American motors. Without getting too technical, the more windings in the motor and the better it is balanced the less there is vibration and heat – heat and vibration are what kills a motor – and , therefore, the longer it will last. A Lindhaus motor will likely outlast most competitor’s motors by 3 – 5 times! It is likely that Lindhaus motors – and the entire vacuum – will last 20 years. All Lindhaus upright vacuums use bypass systems so that the vacuum motor is protected from coming into contact with what is being vacuumed.
The Lindhaus engineers are plastics experts. All the plastics in the vacuum are carefully selected to be the best possible material for that specific application. The vacuum housings and components are extremely durable and long-lived.
A Lindhaus powerhead (remember, the vacuum has two motors), has a revolving brush that resides in an actual powerhead connected to the main vacuum body. This brush spins at a constant 5,000 rpm. Most revolving brushes spin around 2,000 rpm to 3,000 rpm. It becomes progressively harder to spin a brush at faster speeds because the brush must be perfectly balanced to achieve such high brush speeds without excessive vibration. Vibration both causes brush assemblies to disintegrate and also causes the housing in which the brush sits to wear out rapidly. Vibration also causes the drive belt in a vacuum to “shimmy” while the unit is operating – considerably reducing belt life.
Lindhaus powerheads are intelligently designed with the dirt intake directly in the center of the brush area. Many uprights today have an intake all the way on one end of the brush area. It is considerably more efficient to get the dirt to a central intake than it is to try to get it all the way down to one end.
Lindhaus powerheads use cogged belts; not, rubber belts. Cogged belts are not made of rubber; rather, they are made of a fiberglass-reinforced material much like an automotive timing belt. Essentially, they do not stretch. Rubber belts stretch and constantly must be replaced to keep the brush spinning properly.
Vacuum industry suggestion for belt change intervals on most vacuums is once every 3 – 4 months! Cogged belts do not slip as do rubber belts – they have “teeth” that grab cog gears on both the motor spindle and the revolving brush. Cog belts – as distinct from rubber belts – only need replacement when they finally snap. Lindhaus brushes, belts and motors are so well “tuned” to each other that there is almost no belt vibration. Thus, the belts do not fatigue and prematurely wear out. This feature is also found on both Miele and Sebo brush/belt systems.
A Lindhaus powerhead is designed with a sensor system that instantly turns off the brush motor – thus, halting the action of the brush – if the brush becomes jammed. Thus, the belts (and, the motor or revolving brush) never become unduly stressed. Miele and Sebo also have this feature.
The Lindhaus powerhead has a full height adjustment mechanism. Most upright vacuums today have no height adjustment mechanism (cheaper to make them that way). This “no-adjustment” is euphemistically called “universal adjustment”. An upright vacuum depends heavily upon the revolving brush action. To be able to properly adjust the brush to different types and heights of carpet it is important – if not critical.
The Lindhaus vacuum housing is precisely engineered to be airtight. Thus, no pollutants can escape as with regular vacuums. Most Lindhaus upright vacuums are designed to accept Hepa filters; however, Lindhaus vacuums are equipped with 3M Filtrete filters that have been specifically engineered by the 3M people to fit the Lindhaus and to optimize airflow and filtration. The Hepa filter provides absolute filtration of 99.97% to .3 microns. The 3M Filtrete filter provides filtration of 98% to .3 microns. Both Miele and Sebo vacuums have this same advantage.
There are tools-on-board (TOB) with most Lindhaus upright vacuums. This facilitates cleaning corners, edges, sofas & chairs, tabletops, etc. Additional tools (cleaning accessories) and longer hoses are available, as well. On some Lindhaus upright vacuums the powerhead is removable by simply pushing one button, and a dedicated bare floor tool can be installed in its place. Again, Miele and Sebo offer the same design – although, Miele boasts the best TOB system in the industry.
Lindhaus has an excellent dry carpet-cleaning powerhead that can be attached in place of the regular powerhead. This enables fast, easy, effective dry-cleaning of any carpet anytime.
On some Lindhaus upright vacuums the top handle can be removed by pushing one button. Since the powerhead also is removable, a Lindhaus vacuum instantly converts into a canister-style machine An optional backpak harness is available that further enables the Lindhaus to be used as a backpak vacuum. Very nice, flexible feature!
A Lindhaus vacuum lies completely flat to get under beds and furniture A Lindhaus has a long (35-ft) cord so that once plugged in to a wall socket it can continue to be used in a wide area before it needs to be plugged in to another outlet 1-year guarantee on vacuum proper, 2-year guarantee on motors, 3-year guarantee on belt.
Lindhaus makes a great single-motor upright called the Activa; however, most of our Lindhaus business is still twin-motor uprights. “Click” here to go to our webpage on the Lindhaus upright vacuum.
Sebo: Sebo is a German manufacturer of upright vacuums and carpet cleaning equipment. Many of the same design features found on Lindhaus upright vacuums are found on the Sebo upright vacuum: Precisely balanced motor, brush speed of 3,000 rpm, cogged belt with a safety shut-off sensor system, close-to-center dirt intake in the revolving brush area, full height adjustment.
Sebo has, on the X4/X5 series uprights, a unique, sensor-driven, fully-automatic height adjustment system that is very nice. The vacuum perfectly adjusts itself to every level of carpet or flooring.
Large, S-class filtration filter (99.97% @ .3 microns) for complete allergen control with sealed housing compartments – no emissions! Bypass motor-protective system. Unbelievably quiet at 66 decibels. Commercial-grade 40-ft long cord. High-quality construction materials. On-board tools (TOB) with a great design feature on the X4/X5 series whereby the hose instantly repositions itself automatically back onto the vacuum after it has been used – no bending or groping, etc. to reattach the hose. Additional accessories – including a bare floor brush! – available.
Likely 15 – 20-year life expectancy, 3 year guarantee on unit; 1 year on labor. Sebo also has a revolving brush with a slickly-designed feature that makes it instantly removable by pushing one button. This makes cleaning the brush of hair, thread, etc. extremely easy.
A Sebo upright is an excellent upright vacuum that will completely satisfy the most discriminating user! “Click” here to go to our webpage on the Sebo Auto X series vacuum.
The Sebo Felix upright is a great, two-motor upright that is very popular. It is a bit more compact and lightweight than the Miele S7 series and, while not quite in the class of the S7, fills a very nice niche for someone less interested in tools who likes an upright and has a lot of bare floors.
Like the Sebo X4/X5 series, the Sebo Felix provides a cogged belt system, airtight design, and S-class filtration – making it a world-class vacuum cleaner!
Royal Manufacturing Company is the oldest manufacturer of vacuum cleaners in the world – since 1905. They make a traditional upright vacuum – without tools-on-board (TOB) – that is all-metal (aluminum). It uses an efficient, ball-bearing, convergent revolving brush with the same central dirt intake design as does the Lindhaus.
For those who prefer a traditional style upright vacuum, Royal has no peer. It has a full height adjustment mechanism, a 50-ft long cord, a metal toggle switch, non-marring wide wheels and filtration available down to .1 micron at 98%. It is far and away our largest selling upright vacuum for commercial use: Liz Claiborne has been our biggest, single corporate customer; the State of NJ has bought Royal uprights under contract for schools, hospitals, government agencies, etc.; and, contract cleaners, hotels, bowling alleys and many others use this fine equipment. “Click” here to go to our webpage on the Royal all-metal vacuum.
Suction motors, amps, watts, horsepower, suction, airwatts and cleaning effectiveness:
We should add a note on vacuum cleaner design, motors, suction and airflow as there is much confusion as to horsepower, amperage, watts, cleaning amp effectiveness, etc.
The key to a vacuum cleaner’s performance is the design of the machine. This includes the motor. Better motors are designed to perform better and last longer while using less electricity than inferior quality motors. A motor needs to be “tuned” to the application to which it is being put. It does no good to design a motor with high airflow and low suction to remove sludge from a production pit – it simply won’t budge it – the sludge weighs too much. Conversely, if one is cleaning flour from a bare surface high suction is less important (the flour is lightweight) than good airflow. Design is the key element!
Amperage ratings – as they are bandied about today – are somewhat meaningless. The better a motor is designed, the less amperage it will use. There is a “break-even” point to this statement – if one motor is 2 amps and the other is 10 amps – the 10 amp motor should absolutely be more powerful.
If two, equivalent-amp motors are rated side by side for performance and one motor has one fan and the other motor has two fans – the motor with two fans will move more air. Thus, the number of fans in a motor can become important.
Horsepower is another misused, misunderstood rating Many manufacturers unscrupulously rate their motors on peak horsepower rather than on true VCMA (Vacuum Cleaner Manufacturers Association) ratings. A motor rated on peak horsepower has been rated with the motor out of the vacuum and in a bench vise. It is literally fed more and more electricity until it “explodes” and the last, final “peak” rating is used. Peak horsepower ratings are totally meaningless.
Ratings of watts is somewhat like amperage ratings – it is not going to tell you too much beyond the fact that a motor in a given machine should have at least a base level amperage or wattage rating – otherwise, it will probably be too small.
Suction is a universal format and is measured in waterlift in inches (mbar in Europe) Suction is rated as to how far up a one-inch diameter tube a vacuum (motor) is capable of lifting a column of water. Thus, 80 inches of waterlift means the vacuum (motor) was able to lift the water column up 80 inches. In the residential, portable vacuum category 80 inches of waterlift is good and anything near 100 inches is awesome.
A simple, waterlift reference scale would be: An old Hoover-type Convertible upright when new – about 12 inches, an old (1960 model) Electrolux tank-type vacuum when new – about 60 inches, a Lindhaus upright vacuum – about 80 inches, a Miele Callisto canister vacuum – about 160″.
Airflow is the amount of air – measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM) that a vacuum (motor) can move. CFM is very important to a vacuum’s ability to remove dirt from any surface – especially carpet – and to effectively carry it back to the dirt compartment.
80 cfm and above is good airflow. Better vacuum manufacturers will usually provide CFM and waterlift ratings for their equipment. These ratings are much more important than the amperage ratings, etc. CFM is closely tied to waterlift – i.e., the two are “intertwined”.
It is easy to see from all the above that design is the critical factor in considering vacuum cleaning performance. A motor must provide adequate, balanced amounts of CFM and waterlift to enable the vacuum to do its job properly so that different, varying types of materials may be vacuumed up. And, as importantly, the vacuum must have a totally sealed dirt path from the nozzle all the way back to the dirt compartment so that no cleaning power is lost.
Airwatts is a more recent development in rating a vacuum cleaner – used almost exclusively with Central Vacuum Cleaning Systems. It is a result of a mathematical equation involving both cfm and waterlift, and is an attempt to negate ineffectual and misleading motor amperage ratings in relation to a vacuum cleaner’s efficiencies.
We accept airwatt ratings as being useful; however, we don’t like the fact that an airwatt (only) rating doesn’t provide specific airflow and waterlift figures – only a multiple of the two.
And, don’t forget about filtration and containment of particles – this, latter ability is what most sets apart a good vacuum cleaner from an average/poor vacuum cleaner!
- Rug tool and/or power brush
How to Choose a Good-Quality Vacuum Cleaner
How to Choose a Miele Vacuum Cleaner