Central vacuum cleaners, or whole-house vacuums as they're often referred to, are regarded as the most powerful vacuums available for residential use. These systems consist of a power unit, several inlet valves connected to the power unit by PVC tubing and a 25 to 50 foot hose and accessory package.
The power unit is mounted in the garage, basement or any other remote location in your home with the necessary space for the unit to release exhaust, while several inlet valves are installed throughout the house where your hose is connected.
Central vacuum systems can be installed during the construction of a new home or even in an existing home with a simple installation. Before installing one of these systems, remember that only a licensed electrician should perform any electrically charged valve installations.
What Are The Benefits of Installing a Central Vac?
The most basic and obvious advantage of using one of these systems in your home is that you'll no longer have to carry a heavy upright or canister vacuum up and down flights of stairs.
When you use a central vacuum system, your hose connects to a valve in the wall of your home; the suction of the unit is then turned on by a switch in the handle of the hose. These systems can be used with a power nozzle if you have heavy carpeting or a simple floor brush for hardwood floors.
2 Stage Central Vacuum Motor
Central vacuum cleaners are also more powerful than the traditional household vacuum. This is because the motors in these power units are larger and stronger.
Power units also come in a variety of sizes with larger motors in larger units to accommodate larger homes.
Because these units are larger and more powerful than traditional vacuums, they also use a larger filter.
This allows for highly effective air filtration of your home, eliminating indoor air pollutants.
How Can I Choose The Right Power Unit and Accessories?
There are a large variety of power units on the market today to fit any budget. You can also save some money by installing the system yourself (If you are confident that you are capable of doing the work).
When choosing your central vacuum system, there are a few things to consider: the size of your home in square feet, the amount of floors in your home, and whether you have hardwood floors, carpeting or a combination of the two.
When choosing your central vacuum unit, consider the size of your home. For a larger home, you'll need a larger power unit that is capable of covering the large area.
If you have a small or average sized home, you can use a basic sized power unit.
Electrolux central vacuum power units are a good example when discussing this subject. They offer the PU3650 unit for the basic sized home, but for larger homes, they offer the PU3900.
These two models are almost identical to each other, however the PU3900 is a larger sized unit with a stronger motor to compensate for the larger area.
Once you've decided on a power unit, it's then time to determine how many inlet valves you will need to install. For a smaller house you will typically use one inlet on each floor but larger homes may need multiple inlets on each floor.
You can buy a longer hose to avoid installing multiple inlets, but larger hoses can be a hassle to put away after vacuuming.
When you've chosen a power unit and decided where to install your inlet valves, it's now time to think about what kind of accessory package you'll need.
One thing we suggest is that you don't buy anything before taking the entire installation into consideration.
This is because if you know when purchasing which accessories you'll need, you can save hundreds of dollars by purchasing the accessories in a package with the power unit and hose.
If you have heavy carpeting, you will undoubtedly need a power nozzle with an electrified brush to pick up dirt that has sunken into the carpet.
If you only have hard wood floors in your home, a power nozzle is not necessary but can be helpful. Instead of a power nozzle, on hard floors you can use a 20 inch floor brush that will connect to a wand.
What Does a Central Vacuum Installation Entail?
Standard inlet valve
Central vacuum installation is about as basic as installing a sump pump or washing machine. The unit is first mounted in the garage or basement of your home. Then you'll install your inlets.
There are two types of central vacuum inlets, super valves and standard valves.
Super valves are used with hoses that have electricity running through them to a power nozzle and are also referred to as direct connect valves. Standard valves can be used with or without a power nozzle.
If you have hardwood floors and will not be using a power nozzle, you should install a standard valve.
Super inlet valve
If you decide that you want to use a power nozzle at a later time, you can use a pig tail cord that plugs into a nearby electrical outlet. With that being said, standard valves should always be installed within 6 feet of an electrical outlet.
When you've chosen the locations for your inlet valves you'll use a series of PVC piping to connect your valves to the power unit.
If you're using super valves, only a licensed electrician should perform these installations.
Remember to follow your local building codes and state protocols when performing any installation.
Which Power Unit Is Right For Me?
Two of the most highly recommended brands are Electrolux and Hayden central vacuum systems. Electrolux is most widely known for their canister vacuums which have lasted users over 50 years, and the Electrolux power units are just as dependable.
Central vacuums were very popular in the 1980s and 1990s and many consumers who installed an Electrolux central vac in their home, are still using the same unit. Electrolux has updated these units in the form of the PU3650 and PU3900.
Electrolux QuietClean PU3650 Central Vacuum
The Electrolux QuietClean central vacuum system offers a 4 gallon dust cup capacity that is easy to empty when it does fill. The filter in this unit is actually self cleaning, eliminating yearly filter maintenance.
The Quiet Clean also offers an LED screen that notifies you if it's time to empty the dirt receptacle and let's you know if the machine is running efficiency.
Some great features Include:
- HEPA Filtration that removes 99.97% of all dust, pet dander and allergens.
- Anti-Vibration mounting system
- Covers up to 8000 Square Feet(PU3900 covers up to 12,000 Square feet)
Hayden Premier Central Vacuum
Another great central vacuum system is the Hayden Premier. This unit offers a 12 amp motor that is capable of covering up to 10,000 square feet.
The Hayden central vacuum uses cyclonic and cartridge filtration to remove dust and allergens and offers a 5 gallon dirt receptacle.
While the Hayden Premier unit doesn't offer the high tech LED screen of the PU3650, it does come with a 10 year warranty.
Some great features Include:
- Washable cartridge filter
- Special bypass filtration system that eliminates dust
- 2 Stage motor
There is a central vacuum unit on the market for any household. Remember to take your personal preferences into account before committing to any brand.
Helpful Tips to Remember:
- Always buy more PVC tubing than you think you will need. Running out of PVC pipe can be one of the most frustrating aspects of installing a central vacuum system.
- When choosing where to install your inlets, use a tape measurer with the length adjusted to the length of the hose you prefer to determine if the hose will reach every end of the floor with ease or if you'll need to install additional inlets.
- Try to buy the accessories, power unit and hose together in a builder's package.
Special thanks to Tyler from evacuumstore.com for his expert advice!