Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide

Vacuum cleaners have come a long way lately, with technological innovations making vacuuming easier and faster. This Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guide covers the key things you need to consider to choose the best vacuum for your home.

1. Types of Vacuums

2. Difference in suction

How well a vacuum cleaner cleans comes down to suction power. It's important to consider these three key aspects of suction:

Watts: This tells you how much power goes into the vacuum when you turn it on. It's important to remember that a vacuum can have a higher wattage but worse suction relative to other vacuums if it's inefficient. Cordless vacuums are usually around 20-200 watts and corded vacuums are generally about 1000-2000 watts.

Air Watts: What are air watts? How well a vacuum converts watts into ‘air watts' determines the suction power, with more air watts usually giving you more powerful suction. Other important factors that can affect suction are the filtration and airflow, brush head quality, and the design of the hose and nozzle, so it's worth finding out about these features when comparing different models.

Noise: A bit of noise is inevitable when you vacuum, but some models have been designed to make a lot less noise—think about whether this is important to you if you want to be able to vacuum during nap and TV time.

3. Bagless Vs. Bagged

The great bagless versus bagged vacuum debate ultimately comes down to what matters most to you—price, convenience, avoiding allergens, the environmental impact, or any combination of these.

Baggless Vacuums

Bagless

Bagless vacuum cleaners save you the hassle of buying and changing vacuum bags. You can empty the removable dustbin straight into your compost or rubbish bin, so they're better for the environment, but some of the dust can escape into the air during emptying.

Advantages:

  • You can empty the vacuum bin straight into your compost or rubbish bin
  • No need to keep buying vacuum bags which is better for the environment
  • Easy to see when the bin is full so it can be emptied before it loses suction
  • If you accidentally suck up something you can see it and fish it out easily

Disadvantages:

  • Can expose you to dust and other allergens during emptying and filter cleaning
  • The filter must be cleaned and replaced regularly or performance can suffer
Bagged Vacuums

Bagged

Vacuum cleaners with a bag inside are less messy and a great option for allergy and asthma sufferers because all the dust stays inside the bag during emptying. If the bag is biodegradable it can also go in your compost to reduce the environmental impact.

Advantages:

  • A lot less messy to empty as dust is trapped inside the bag
  • More hygienic and therefore better for allergy sufferers
  • Built-in bag and vacuum filters don't need to be cleaned or replaced
  • If the bag is biodegradable it can go straight into your compost

Disadvantages:

  • The vacuum can lose suction as the bag fills up
  • Hard to see when the bag is full unless there's an indicator light
  • The cost and effort of buying filters and the right bags for warranty validity
  • Frustrating if the bag is full during cleaning and you don't have a new one
  • The environmental impact of manufacturing the bags

4. Allergy Considerations

There are two main types of filters found:

Micro filters: These can be washable or disposable and are found in most basic vacuum cleaners. These filters release particles of dust back into the air so they're not the best choice for asthma or allergy sufferers.

Allergy Vacuums

HEPA filter: A HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter filters the air and traps tiny particles and pollutants in the filter. This removes 99.97 per cent of particles such as pollen and dust mite faeces that are 0.3 micrometres or larger in size, so vacuums with a HEPA filter are the best choice for those with asthma, allergies or dust sensitivity. HEPA filters must be cleaned regularly and replaced every year.

5. Pet Vacuums

Pet Vacuums

For those who love their pets but hate having pet hair everywhere! Pet vacuums have powerful suction that picks up pesky pet hairs from your floor, couch, bed and car, and you can choose the type of pet vacuum that suits your needs best—barrel, upright, handstick, handheld, or a two-in-one handstick and handheld vacuum.

If you have asthma or allergy sufferers in your home go for a pet vacuum with a HEPA filter, and if your pet has long hair look for a rotating, motorised brush head that prevents their hair from getting tangled around the brush head. Some vacuum cleaners even have a special attachment for grooming your pet—as you brush your beloved fur baby any loose hairs are sucked straight into the vacuum so they don't end up everywhere!

6. Cordless Vs. Corded Vacuums

Cordless Vacuums

Cordless

A cordless vacuum gives you the freedom to vacuum without having to plug into the wall and constantly manoeuvre around the cable. They're small and light so they're easy to use and store, and are perfect for a quick vacuum. Cordless vacuums are great as a second vacuum for crumbs and quick cleans without having to haul out and plug in a bigger barrel or upright vacuum.

Advantages:

  • Smaller and lighter than barrel and upright vacuums
  • Vacuuming isn't limited by cord length and power points
  • A handheld cordless vacuum makes vacuuming furniture and the car easy
  • The compact design makes them easy to store if you have limited space

Disadvantages:

  • Battery needs to be recharged (check the battery life—it will be less if on Turbo)
  • Hold less dust than a barrel or upright vacuum—about 0.6litres versus 2-3litres
  • Filter needs cleaning and changing more often than barrel or upright vacuums
  • Most models don't perform as well on heavy carpet as corded vacuums
Corded Vacuums

Corded

Vacuums with a cord generally have more suction power than cordless vacuums, and they don't have battery life limitations so are best for vacuuming the whole house.

Advantages:

  • More suction power than cordless vacuums
  • Don't have a battery so you can vacuum for as long as needed

Disadvantages:

  • Plug into a power point so you have to navigate around the vacuum cord
  • You're limited by cord length and have to unplug and plug in between rooms

7. Additional Considerations

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