Best Vacuum Cleaners by Suction – Is Suction Power That Crucial?

Think Vacuum Experts can help you assess the suction power of a vacuum cleaner

Assessing the suction power of a vacuum cleaner

Most people find it challenging to differentiate between low and high vacuum suction power. If you want to fast test the vacuum cleaner suction power, try switching the cleaner to "carpet mode." Power on the unit and let it operate on maximum power. Try attaching the floor head to a wall. If you have high suction power equipment, it should stay attached to the wall without external support.

Vacuum suction power may be provided in the manufacturer's specs in several ways. However, various units indicate Watts, Amps, CFM (cubic feet per minute), or AW (Air Watts). Let us see what some of these specs mean.

Airflow (CFM)

It is one of the most essential types of measurements. It represents the power of the airflow, from the surface to the bag (or bin). This measurement implies that the quantity of air sucked by the unit in 1 minute, measured in cubic feet (ft3/min). Although it is important, manufacturers do not always list this measurement. In fact, over 50% do not. If you are lucky and they offer this indicator on the product features list, it is great! 

Air Watts (AW)

Air Watts are another type of measurement for vacuum suction power. This refers to the amount of Watts used by the machine to carry a unit of air through the vacuum's nozzle. This is a favorite measurement for many users because it is more consistent with the reality of what needs to be quantified.


This unit has, in fact, little to do with vacuum cleaners and their effectiveness. This measurement is commonly referred to as "Peak Horsepower" in shop-vacs. This measurement shows the in-rush current, measured in the first milliseconds from powering on the unit inflated by the low motor temperature.

Water Lift (inches of H2O)

For vacuum cleaners, an equipment with a higher suction power is the best

Measurement for vacuum suction power

The seal suction test is another good technique of assessing the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. The unit is completely sealed and connected to a tube that contains water. The higher the vacuum raises the water level, the bigger suction it has. However, normal vacuum cleaners do not deal with this type of situation. Some vacs even have a mechanism that lowers/turns off the power to prevent overheating. 


This is probably the most common value offered by the manufacturer. Watts refers to motor power consumption, not to its performance. Vacuum units with higher watts have more powerful motors and, thus, suck better. However, this is not always accurate, and there is even a public debate running at the moment precisely on this matter. 

References and Resources