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Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

The vacuum cleaner evolved from an older invention from the 1860s, the carpet sweeper. Today's vacuum cleaners do much more than sweep carpets. They clean bare floors, upholstery, the air and some even work by themselves. Are you new to vacuum cleaners? Are you looking to buy a new vacuum? This buying guide will introduce you to the various types available to help you narrow down your search.

Types of Vacuum Cleaners

Upright Vacuum Cleaners

Upright vacuums sit in a vertical position making it easier to use if you don't want to bend a lot. The dust collects in either a bag or a bin. The angle of the arm is also adjustable. They are used for cleaning carpets and bare floors. They are also easier to store. However, they usually weigh heavier than other types.

Canister Vacuum Cleaners

Canister Vacuums are more mobile and lighter than Upright vacuums. Because the nozzle is much easier to lift, it is better at cleaning stairs, upholstery, and underneath furniture. However, their long wands can get in the way when vacuuming and they are more cumbersome to store.

Handheld Vacuum Cleaners

Corded or cordless, handheld vacuums are much easier to move around. you can use them on upholstery, for your car or quick cleaning jobs. They lack the cleaning capacities of upright and canister cleaners.

Stick Vacuum Cleaners

A stick vacuum cleaner is like an upright cleaner on a diet. So typically, you need not bend a lot when using these cleaners. Some even run on batteries. This eliminates the need to run wires around when vacuuming. Expectedly, they are less powerful than upright cleaners and are equipped with smaller dirt bins.

Robot Vacuum Cleaners

As the name suggests, Robot vacuum cleaners to the work for you while you take a break. During a cleaning session the robot might return to its docking station intermittently to recharge itself. It is sensor-equipped to enable it map the room and maneuver its way around. Some models can be controlled via a smartphone app. They are however not thorough cleaners as upright or canister cleaners.

Central Vacuum Cleaners

Central (a.k.a. built-in or ducted) vacuum cleaners are canister-like cleaners. It has a motor unit placed in a central location, several pipes are connected to the central motor from several vacuum inlets connected throughout the building. To vacuum, you only need to carry the hose and the cleaning head around and connect to an inlet in that room. Unlike other types, central vacuum cleaners have more cleaning power and are less likely to recirculate quantities of vacuumed dirt back into the room. You would usually need a professional to set it up in your home or office.

Features to look out for in a Vacuum Cleaner

Bag vs. Bagless Cleaners

For upright and canister vacuum you may get torn between getting a bag or bagless bin. Bag vacuum cleaners can hold more dust. Bags are easier to dispose off especially if you want to avoid recirculating the vacuumed dust back in the air. Some bags are also self-sealing. On the downside, bags are not transparent. You have to open the bag to tell how full it is although some vacuums give indicators when the bag is full. Bags need to be replaced when full. They are not reusable. With bagless vacuum cleaners, you need not replace the dustbin. You just empty it and resume cleaning. But you need to regularly clean the filter and occasionally change the filter altogether. The bins are also transparent so they are easier to know how full they are at any time. Emptying the dustbin indoors can be problematic as you are more likely to recirculate the dirt back in the room.

Additional Vacuum Accessories & Tools

Vacuums are sometimes bundled with a variety of accessories and tools like floor heads, specialized brushes (for carpets and bare floor), upholstery nozzles, crevice tools (for cleaning small spaces), etc. Check if a cleaner has the tools you need before making a purchasing decision.

HEPA Filter

HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are expected to remove about 99.97 fine particles like pollen, dust and smoke from the air. Asthma and dust allergy sufferers may fine these filters very useful in a vacuum cleaner.

Other Vacuuming Features

- Convertible vacuum cleaners: Some vacuums can be converted between working as an upright and a canister cleaner, or as a stick and handheld cleaner. - Blower: A vacuum that can blow air out. - Variable suction power: Ability to set appropriate settings for tough carpets and delicate curtains

What’s your Budget

In order of rising cost price, this is typically how vacuum cleaners rank: Handheld, Stick, Upright and Canister. Central vacuum cleaners cost more and installing them is not as straight forward like the other types. Also, bag vacuums cost less to purchase but the cost of replacing the bags can make them more expensive to maintain. For bagless cleaners, the replaceable filter costs more but they are not replaced as frequently. Also, fully HEPA-capable filters vacuum cleaners are expensive. Cheaper HEPA-like vacuum cleaners are less efficient at cleaning air particles and are priced lower.