What Areas Will You Be CleaningWill it be used just to clean the car, the whole house or the shop? This will dictate whether you need a small light duty, or a larger model that will be sufficient for those areas.
If you are looking for one for the shop, I would suggest that you consider a shop vacuum which can be found in most hardware departments and can better handle those tough jobs.
For now, we'll assume you are looking with the house in mind.
Type - Upright or CanisterUpright vacuums are great if you intend to leave it on one level of the house. They will also make vacuuming easier if you have problems with bending and lifting. However, canister vacuums will give you a little more freedom and ease of handling for those tight spots. If you have a long staircase to consider, the canister type may be more suited, as the upright hose will have its limitations, and balancing an upright on a stair thread is no easy feat.
Bag or BaglessMany upright models are now available with the 'bagless' feature. This is definitely a plus, and will save you money - no bags to buy. It also makes it easier to retrieve those earrings that were 'picked up' accidently.
However, if you do decide on a bag model, I would recommend picking up a package of bags along with your vacuum purchase.
Hepa and Air Quality FeaturesHepa filters remove particles from the air before it is exhausted back into your home, this is a great feature. But they need to be replaced regularly as recommended by the manufacturer, and they are a little pricey. Some canister vacuums now also have this feature, but check how the filter is attached to the vacuum, to ensure trouble free operation. Unfortunately, this is one step I missed altogether on my last purchase; my canister now has a rubber band holding a Hepa bonnet.
Power & PerformanceHere are some of the basics with regard to power: Amps: Amount of electric current flowing through the vacuum. Watts: Amps multiplied by the power voltage drawn. Most upright cleaners are 7 to 12 amps. Many canister models are 12 amps. The maximum allowable amps that can be plugged into a household outlet is 12 amps. So the higher the amps, the better the vacuum? Not necessarily so; other factors also affect efficiency.
Other Factors That Affect Performance
- Air Flow & Filtration: How well the air passes through and is filtered, which includes special filtration filters and dustbag quality.
- Filters: Filters should be cleaned if washable or replaced as per manufacturer recommendations to ensure optimum air flow.
- Suction & Motor: Many vacuums have 2 or 3 (multi) fans working in series, as opposed to only one fan, this improves suction power.
- Power Bar or brushes: Revolving brushes pick up deep down particles and improves operation.
- Hose quality and nozzle design can also affect suction.
Other ConsiderationsThe upright covers a larger cleaning area compared to a power nozzle or floor attachment. A 'bag full' indicator light is a must-have feature, and a built-in headlight is also very nice. And last but not least, take time to check out the warranty. That could just be your decision maker.
Vacuum shopping is not easy with all the models out there, but considering all these things before you start, does help to take some of the load off.
Related ResourcesA CRI Green Label means that the vacuum has been certified by the Carpet and Rug Institute, and it has met stringent performance standards. This certification means the vacuum has low emissions and will help to maintain good air quality in your home. This is certainly worth considering when shopping for a vacuum. Follow the links to read more about the Green Label testing program and what vacuums have been certified.
Learn how to save money and buy a reconditioned or used vacuum. Buying a specially designed vacuum for cleaning pet hair and dander makes sense if you have animals in your home.