Choosing A Vacuum

When shopping for vacuum cleaners, many consumers are overwhelmed by the variety of vacuums offered and the features they carry. It can be difficult to walk into a store, look at ten different machines, and purchase the cleaner that is ideal for your cleaning needs. The key to deciding what is right for you requires an understanding of your home environment and your own personal preferences.

This section addresses the types of vacuum cleaners offered and helps you determine which vacuum is right for you. Despite the many claims from manufacturers, there is no one vacuum cleaner that is right for everybody. Each home environment is different and some machines are simply better suited for specific situations. For example:
Is your home mostly carpet, hardwood floors, or both?

Do you have stairs or a second floor to clean?
Does someone in your home suffer from allergies or asthma?
Are you looking for something built to last or just to get you by?

As you can see, there are many issues to consider before making a purchasing decision. Let’s a look at the different types of vacuum cleaners and under what conditions they are ideal.

Ideal for homes with a lot of wall-to-wall carpeting, upright vacuum cleaners are by far the most popular type of vacuum cleaner in the United States. In recent years, many features have been added to uprights that make them better at cleaning hard floor surfaces as well as above-floor cleaning (i.e. drapes, stairs).

Uprights are available with a variety of tool configurations — from no tools to a complete set of on-board tools. On-board tools will make an upright heavier but they eliminate the need to own a separate vacuum for above floor cleaning.

Some uprights have a feature which turns off the brushroll. This is beneficial when using attachments or tools for above-floor cleaning. This feature also allows the upright to clean hardwood floors. With the brushroll turned off, dirt and debris are not scattered.

An upright is easier to use than a canister vacuum, but is not as light. Uprights tend to be less expensive than canisters and are easier to store. Most uprights offer excellent filtration (electrostatic or HEPA type).

In recent years, canisters have become more popular as non-carpeted floors (i.e. tile, wood, linoleum) have become more popular. Canisters are versatile cleaners that can address a variety of cleaning applications. Canisters with powered brush rolls offer cleaning performance similar to that of uprights.

Canisters are excellent at above-floor / tool cleaning.

With smaller nozzles, canisters can reach far under furniture and all around furniture legs.

Canisters generally have more suction and greater airflow than uprights, but can be cumbersome to carry and store.

Though lighter to the touch when cleaning (just a hose and cleaning wand), canisters must be carried around. Most canisters offer excellent filtration (electrostatic or HEPA type)

Ultra lightweight vacuums, or ULW’s, are upright vacuums that weigh in the 8-pound category. ULW’s are ideal for homeowners strictly concerned about vacuum weight. They can only be used on carpet (no tool or attachment cleaning available). They generally do a good job cleaning but don’t offer the filtration performance of full size uprights or canisters.

Excellent lightweight feel for using or carrying.

Filtration performance limited to filter bag performance (no electrostatic or HEPA filtration).

No on-board tools–requires compact canisters for tool, or above floor, cleaning.

Used mainly as secondary vacuums, power brooms are generally quick and easy to use for hardwood floors.

Power brooms are generally weak in suction power and cannot be used on carpets.

Power brooms are strictly limited to bare floor cleaning. Power brooms are low in cost, durability, and power.

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