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Choosing the Best Type of Vacuum for Your Needs

A Look at Vacuum Types and Function


Since a vacuum is an essential home appliance, it's not deciding whether you need one that is the challenge, but more what type of vacuum is best for your particular need. While there are many types of vacuums on the market, it can be difficult to grasp the function or best use of each type before making that vacuum purchase. When it comes to buying a secondary vacuum, exploring vacuum types becomes even more important to ensure the function meets the precise need. Prices are also influenced by vacuum type and this can be an important vacuum buying decision.

Before You Buy a Vacuum
How to Buy a Vacuum - Video
Read Vacuum Reviews

Hand-Held Vacuums:

Usually small and portable in design, hand-held vacuums have different functions. There are lightweight and cordless models that are designed for small clean-up jobs such as picking up lint or dirt from a sofa, or a dry cereal mess from the floor. They are also very handy in craft rooms or home shops. Dirt is accumulated in a small removable receptacle and the unit sits on a charger ready for use when needed. The most practical units have wet and dry capabilities.

A little heavier in design are portable electric hand-held vacuums. With more suction power and a larger dirt receptacle, these are very handy for vacuuming the car, boat, stairs or furniture. Keep in mind that it can become tiring trying to vacuum several items with a hand-held vacuum and it's best to keep this type for occasional use.

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Stick Vacuums and Sweepers:

Sweepers are much like the old carpet sweepers used decades ago, with the benefit of cordless convenience. Some models have a certain amount of suction making them ideal for either carpet or bare floors, while others operate solely on a brush-roll technology that scoops the dirt from a carpet into a small tray-like receptacle. Stick vacuums vary in function, power and suction capabilities and features. While most are best suited for hard floors, others can be used to do a quick cleaning of small carpet areas before guests arrive. Since they clean a small path, stick vacuums are impractical for large carpeted areas but will glide more easily over large areas of bare floors.

The general function of sweepers and stick vacuums is to provide a light-duty cleaning. If you don't like to sweep with a broom or want a small, easy-to-store cleaning tool to do a quick clean-up, an economical stick vacuum or sweeper would be ideal. These are not adequate for a deep-down carpet cleaning, but can be very practical for secondary vacuums and are compact to keep handy. They are also ideal for small apartments when a quick touch-up is needed between regular cleaning and where storage is limited.

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Compare Prices of Sweepers

Robotic Vacuums:

With a hands-free and battery power technology, robotic vacuums have gained popularity especially with those that need time-saving appliances. You can generally program robot vacuums to clean even while you're away or busy doing something else. They're not cheap though, a good robotic vacuum can cost around the $200 mark or over, which is considerable for a sweeper.

Vacuum power is limited to sweeping and gathering surface dust and dirt. Mobility can be hampered by area rugs, obstacles or trailing curtain ties. Basically, before sending out a robot vacuum, you need to make sure the area is clear of slippers, newspapers, toys or anything that can be lying around on the floor. If you don't mind the prep work and if you have a larger functional vacuum for regular deep cleaning, a robot model is ideal for in-between unattended light cleaning or floor dusting.

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Robotic Vacuum Buying Tips

Upright Vacuums:

Upright vacuums were once designed for carpets only, but most upright models now have all-floor features. They're easier on the back to operate because there is less bending, and they can usually perform most vacuum tasks with adequate suction power. When it comes to budget, upright vacuums are often more economical than canister vacuums. Most popular are the bagless models.

However, an upright can be more difficult due to the design to transfer to another level of the home, and vacuuming curtains, stairs or the car may be a problem unless the model has a comfortable wand with an extended reach and cord. When choosing an upright for bare floors, look for features that denote soft brush bristles to reduce the risk of scratching bare floors. There are many upright models that include improved performance for pet hair removal as well as filtration features. Look for on-board accessories such as crevice tool, dusting and wand attachments.

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Upright vs Canister Vacuums

Canister Vacuums:

Canister vacuums are generally the most practical and functional type of vacuum for either carpets or bare floors. However, performance is greatly improved on carpets if the canister unit has a power bar attachment. Canister vacuums come a wide range of prices from under one to several hundreds of dollars. They're available in bag or bagless models with features that might include filtration enhancements and air purification technology. Manufacturers have been quick to meet the demand for more compact, easy to carry canister models.

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Canister Power Head Basics

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