When it comes to purchasing a new vacuum cleaner there is so much choice, and trying to work out which one is best for you whilst getting your head around the myriad of technical specifications can seem like a daunting task. Here at Cleva we’ve come to the rescue and have put together a guide to help you understand exactly what all the tech-talk means. So, if you want to know your Watts from your water-lift and your amps from your volts then read on, and choose your next vacuum cleaner with confidence.
Watts measure the power of the motor inside the vacuum cleaner, but not the overall efficiency of the machine. Some manufacturers don’t provide the Watts, and instead give the amps of the vacuum cleaner. You can convert amps to Watts using this simple equation:
No. of Amps x 230 (volts)= No. of Watts
Be careful when doing the conversion, as the amp rating takes into account the electrical consumption of the whole vacuum cleaner, considering features such as the bulb and power head. Watts only rate the power of the motor. A measurement given in watts may seem weaker when converted into amps and compared with another machine.
If you must do the conversion from amps to watts then try to just find the amp rating of the motor alone to make it a fair comparison.
This specification is very commonly given out by manufacturers as it rates the electrical usage of all the components of the vacuum cleaner together. The maximum number of amps than can be used by an electrical appliance in the UK is 13 amps. This is government regulation, so don’t believe any source that advertises a vacuum cleaner as being more powerful than this!
Like Watts, amps measure the power of a vacuum cleaner and not its cleaning ability, it doesn’t take into account the efficiency of the motor. If you aren’t sure of the number of amps in an electrical appliance, you can check the number on the fuse inside the plug (if it’s safe to do so!)
In the UK, the voltage is 230V. This is the standard voltage of electricity outlets, it varies from country to country. The only exception to this in the UK is the specially designed 110V vacuum cleaners that are built for using with the safety current on building sites. They have a two-pin plug as opposed to the standard three-pin and won’t work in your home.
Now that we’ve cleared that up, the main thing you need to know about volts and your vacuum cleaner are these two equations to work out amps and watts:
Watts= Amps x Volts (230)
Amps= Watts/Volts (230)
Vacuum cleaners are put through a water lift test to see how powerful the suction is. The unit is sealed and attached to a tube of water; the test is to see how far the machine can lift the water level. In basic terms, the higher the water lift the better the suction power of the machine.
This is a fairly new measurement designed specifically to compare vacuum cleaners, it measures the power in the airflow produced by the vacuum cleaner during suction. When testing the air watts, the air inlet size is gradually reduced in order to simulate everyday blockages that can occur in vacuum cleaners. The best result is somewhere in the middle range of both categories, where the suction power and airflow are maintained at a good level during the partial blockage.
Depending on what you are using your vacuum cleaner for, filtration is a very important specification. Machines with a higher level of filtration must have a higher power to enable it to pull debris through the complex filter. The higher resistance from the filter can often mean vacuums with a HEPA filter are more expensive, because of the higher level of airflow they demand.
PTO (Power Take Off)
Power Take Off (PTO) is a term used to describe an additional power socket that is fitted onto a vacuum cleaner unit. Most commonly used for plugging in electric power tools, some PTO sockets also feature an integrated switch that synchronises the power switch on the vacuum cleaner to the power switch on the electric tool. This enables an operator to turn the vacuum cleaner on and off from the switch on their tool, cleaning as you work to capture dust, shavings etc. Our best-selling VQ1220PFC Multi 20 is prime example of a vacuum cleaner with PTO.
Capacity is simply the size of the collection tank on your vacuum cleaner. Smaller capacity means you must empty your machine more often to avoid losing suction power. The bigger the capacity, the larger the airflow and cleaning ability. When considering the capacity, you’ll need, think about how often you use your vacuum cleaner and what you’re vacuuming, bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to being economical.
This specification has surprisingly little to do with vacuum cleaners and is mainly used for marketing purposes to suggest a high-power machine with little relation to the cleaning performance. It is measured by removing the fans from the vacuum cleaner motor, then running it to maximum capacity until it burns out. Clearly this is not an accurate measure of the actual cleaning ability. Although the term horsepower is not used very often now, if you do see it, be careful when using it to compare vacuum cleaners as it can be deceiving.
The kPA (kilo Pascal) is the maximum suction pressure during test conditions. This is measured with almost no airflow when the inlet is completely blocked. Remember that this measurement does not represent real-life conditions, as the inlet is not normally fully blocked during everyday use.
Depending on where you want to use your vacuum cleaner, noise can be a deal-breaker. The more power the machine has, naturally it will be louder, but some vacuums are louder than others. It is always worth checking the decibels (dB) of the device.
To give you an idea of what decibels mean, a normal conversation at home is usually rated around 50dB, while a lawn mower is around 90dB, and a car horn is around 110dB. The average vacuum cleaner is around 80dB, but there are models out there that are designed to operate quietly. A quiet vacuum cleaner would operate at around 65-75dB, for example our Vacmaster Quiet operates at 72-74dB.
Don’t leave it there!
Of course, there are a range of other factors that will influence your decision when purchasing a vacuum cleaner. The price, brand, look and specific features to suit your personal needs are all important. We hope that our guide to specifications can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and get the most out of your money.
We hope you have enjoyed this article and found it helpful. If you have any questions don’t hesitate to get in touch by leaving a comment in the section below or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.