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Central Vacuum Definitions
Learn What Central Vacuum Terms Mean

 

 

ABS

A high impact plastic polymer made of Acylonitile, Butadiene and Styrene. This combination provides a high gloss finish that incorporates manmade rubber to provide many, many years of maintenance free use. It also dampens the natural sound made by an electric motor.

Airflow

When a vacuum cleaner is started, it creates a vacuum or an area of low pressure. Outside air rushes in to fill this vacuum. This rush of air or airflow is controlled and directed for maximum cleaning efficiency.

Air Watts

When a vacuum cleaner is started, it creates a vacuum or an area of low pressure. Outside air rushes in to fill this vacuum. This rush of air or airflow is controlled and directed for maximum cleaning efficiency.

 

Amperage (amps)

Represents the amount of electrical current consumed by the motor during use. Ampere is to electricity, as gallon is to water; a measure of quantity.

Armature

The part of the motor that rotates, and on the end of which vacuum fans are mounted. A quality armature is mounted on ball bearings, and protected from incoming vacuum air that has been heated and dirtied.

Attachments

While the central vacuum unit is the heart of your system, it is the cleaning accessories that not only determine your enjoyment and satisfaction with your system, but are an equal contributor to cleaning performance. Just like an automobile that has a high performance engine but lacks adequate suspension, tires and brakes, so too will your central vacuum performance suffer with cheaper accessories.

Bypass Cooling

A separate stream of air that cools the motor; different from the air that draws dirt from the home.

CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute)

This measures the "volume" of air the motor is capable of moving and works in tandem with "Suction". Airflow can be a bit confusing however, since performance measurements are taken from the motor and do not factor any resistance found in a typical central vacuum system. Filtration, piping, hoses and accessories all restrict and reduce the amount of actual Airflow a system has. While Airflow is important to system performance, Suction or the "pulling of air" maintains the Airflow velocity necessary to sweep dirt and debris away at the hose end where vacuuming takes place. CFM is NOT a true measure of suction, however it is a form of measurement and part of the equation when measuring Air Watts. This is a misleading measurement of suction power. Please note certain companies will lower this number in order to inflate the waterlift. This is done to influence a consumer by making the suction power appear stronger - Wrong!

 

Clogs

This is the number one concern for anyone considering purchasing a central vacuum. The truth is that it is highly unlikely. The hose is 1 1/4" in diameter, and some offer a better airflow at 1 3/8" diameter. The vacuum tubing in the walls is 2" in diameter. Any clogging that does occur is likely to be in the hose or at the valve inlet. A clog that cannot be cleaned manually can usually be vacuumed out by reversing the suction. If necessary, most power units can be lifted off the wall and used like a utility vacuum to suck the clog out of the offending valve.

Cyclonic Action

Cyclonic action describes the natural action found in a tornado. In a vacuum with cyclonic filtration, the air carrying the dust and debris moves through a tornado action. The air swirls downward in a cone-shaped pattern. At the bottom of the cone, it starts swirling upward again, inside the downward cone. Thus this is sometimes called a 'reverse' tornado action or 'dual cyclonic action'. The vast majority of the debris separates from the air steam as air reaches the bottom of the swirl, and is deposited in the dirt container.

Decibels - Sound Level

While decibels are a measurement of a sound volume, the average human ear can perceive a significant difference in volume between 5 decibels.
Manufacturers who offer quiet units will provide a decibel rating for their units indicating how quiet their units are.

The lower the decibels level, the quieter the unit...PERIOD!

Fan

The fan is the combination of blades that spin around to create the airflow to produce the vacuuming action.

HEPA

HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particle Arrestor, used to reduce the number of contaminants in indoor air. A HEPA filter will arrest or stop 99.97% of all particles .3 microns or larger.

This is highly recommended for allergy suffers.

Horsepower

Central vacuums are not rated in horsepower.

Hoses - Crushproof & Wire Reinforced

A central vacuum hose, more than any other component, impacts the overall performance of your central vacuum. The reason for this is friction which occurs inside the length of hose. Crushproof style hoses suffer considerably less performance loss than their wire reinforced counterparts, this is because the interior of a crushproof hose is smooth thus resulting in less turbulence. Therefore choosing a hose which is crushproof over a wire reinforced hose will give you better cleaning power right away. Basically there are two types of hose construction available, crushproof or wire reinforced. Most companies offer the crushproof style hose simply because it has superior benefits such as being light weight, offers better airflow and being that it is "crushproof", it springs back to shape after being stepped on or crushed. Even the diameter of a hose results in performance gain or loss. Choosing a hose which has a diameter of 1-3/8" compared to 1-1/4" results in most cases a 20% improvement in airflow performance. When choosing a hose for your system, make sure that it turns the unit and the power nozzle "on" and "off". In addition, the hose you choose should also be equipped with a 360 degree swivel handle. This reduces hose tangle and wrist strain.

Crushproof Hoses Are Better

Motor Brushes

The sliding contacts that provide electrical power between the stationary stator and the rotating armature of an electrical motor. Brushes are the most wearable part of an electric motor, and should be replaced every few hundred hours or few years of operation.

Paper Bag

With a bag unit, the incoming dirt is separated from the air stream by the bag. Different brands use cloth bags, paper bags or both. The air is filtered before going through the motor thus extending motor life. There is also no need to exhaust the system outside because the exhaust air is relatively clean. This method is the most clean and hygienic way. Paper bags eliminate mold and bacteria from growing. No cleaning of the canister is required. Takes 30 seconds to change a bag. Just that easy.

Polycarbonate

A high performance plastic, engineered to be tough and robust. It is used for strength and durability. Polycarbonate resists scratching, has an attractive sheen, and is the same plastic as the so-called 'bulletproof glass'.

Power Nozzle

Designed to loosen stubborn dirt in carpets, and make it available for removal by the air flow. Power nozzles are optimally designed to remove dirt. The beater bar agitates and vibrates the carpet, to loosen the type of dirt that can get down between carpet fibers, like sand.

Sealed Bearings

Often used in high quality motors to prevent dust and debris from entering the motor bearing area.

Sealed Suction

Measures the maximum suction generated by the motor without airflow.

Stage

This indicates the number of sets of fan blades in a vacuum motor. Each fan - set of blades - increases the vacuum, or speed at which air is drawn through the system. The first fan starts air movement; the second increases it, and if there is a third fan it increases airflow still more. Thus the greater the number of fans the more powerful the vacuum.

Suction

The actual vacuum created by the fans in the vacuum motor.

Teflon

Slippery, non-stick material.

Turbo Nozzles (Air Driven)

Turbo Nozzles run off the airflow of your central vacuum system only. No electrical cords or electricity are required, meaning the is a less powerful nozzle. This is for low pile carpeting and some medium pile carpeting only.

Vacuum

A total vacuum is the absence of everything, even air. Vacuum cleaners actually create a partial
vacuum, or more accurately, an area of reduced air pressure, as air moves outward within the fan. Airflow is created as air with normal air pressure moves toward the area with the reduced air pressure.

Voltage (Volts)

A measure of the electrical potential employed by a vacuum motor. Typically, motors require common household current; 110-120 in North America; 240 volts in other parts of the world. Voltage is to electricity as pressure is to water; a measure of potential or driving force.

Waterlift

This measures the suction strength of a central vacuum motor. Essentially, it tells how much "pull" or "lift" power the motor has. This measurement is always taken at its maximum value, the 0" inch orifice (sealed vacuum) where suction is at it's greatest. Since this measurement is taken from the 0" orifice, it is very misleading. This measurement does not take into account piping, hoses or accessories etc., thus giving a false measurement of power. Often referred to as Inches or Waterlift or Vacuum, Suction is vital to overall system performance since it is the "pull power" that maintains Airflow though the complex network of vacuum pipe, hose and accessories. While Airflow is necessary for a vacuum cleaner to work, suction creates the lift and velocity of air which sweeps dirt away. Waterlift is NOT a true measure of suction, however it is a form of measurement and part of the equation when measuring Air Watts. This is the most misleading measurement of suction power. Please note certain companies will inflate this number to influence a consumer by making the suction power appear stronger - Wrong!