When it comes to vacuuming the house, few people would say that they look forward to it. The traditional, upright vacuuming systems are bulky and carrying them around just to blast off the dust from each corner of your house is understandably a daunting chore.
Lucky for you, there is an alternative: central vacuum systems!
They are essentially built to extract dirt from your house in a way that will preserve your indoor air quality.
Unlike the upright vacuum types that tend to stir up dust and contaminate the air, central vacuums direct all the debris (via PVC tubing) to an out-of-the way canister and power unit, preferably located in the basement or in the garage. In place of a large and bulky vacuuming unit, you only need to carry a very light power brush linked to a retractable hose that allows you to easily dust off every nook in your house.
If you are looking to buy a central system but are unsure about terminology and features, you came to the right place. We’ve put together reviews to make it easy for you to compare the most important features.
Our review focusses on the North American market - specifically Canada and the US - since product availability varies greatly between the two countries.
Top Central Vacuums available in the United States:
self cleaning HEPA
Micron and HEPA
Top Central Vacuums available in Canada:
Permanent self cleaning HEPA
microtex cloth filter
permanent cloth filter
The 4 Main Components of a Central Vacuum System
A central vacuum system is made up of different parts each playing an essential role in ensuring maximum performance. Below are the four key parts that make up a central vacuum system:
The Power Unit
The power unit is essentially the heart of the central vacuum system. When buying a central vacuum cleaning system, you want to look out for a power unit driven by a powerful motor to ensure strong suction, deep cleaning and efficient filtration of debris.
The power unit is typically installed in an out-of-the-way location for example in the basement. A vacuum unit can be made of ABS Polyethylene injected plastic or metal, and even a combination of both. Strong and durable materials ensure your central vacuum unit's performance and longevity when factoring in weather conditions, scratching, rust or denting.
The motor located within the power unit is responsible for providing suction which pulls air and debris through the pipes and hose leaving the indoor air clean. The dirty air is usually vented outside.
More Information on Motors
A well functioning central vacuum unit requires a strong and durable motor that can create enough suction in order to remove dust and dirt. Central vacuum motors can work with different voltages and can come in different sizes, each compatible with a specific type of appliance.
Since repair or replacement of vacuum motors can be tricky in some instances, the motor needs to be both, powerful and durable.
Some brands stand out from the crowd when it comes to efficiency, safety and build quality. Lamb Ametek motors, for example, are amongst the most used motors by manufacturers throughout the U.S. The brand offers 3 types of motors:
Ideally, the filtration system, which is also contained within the power unit should allow for the filter to be replaced at least twice a year.
The options for power unit specifications include:
There are two types of central vacuum hoses i.e. traditional and hidden. The traditional hose has one of its two ends fitted into one of the ports in the house. Some of these hoses start immediately when fitted into the port while others come with an on/off switch on the hose handle.
As the name suggests, the hidden hose is buried in the pipes of the cleaning system and is pulled out when you need to use it. At the end of the vacuuming session, the hose is returned back into the pipes through the suction power.
Hoses come in the following options:
Pipes and Ports
The central vacuum system pipe links the power unit to the ports or inlet valves in the wall. The ports are connected to the hose and control the suction needed to clean any surface. Central vacuums typically feature a 2-inch diameter plastic pipe, which is connect to the power unit and splits to different locations in the house.
The pipe goes through a wall and connects to an inlet. Inlets have a low voltage wire that aids in turning the suction on off. Some inlets come with 100 volts for deep cleaning.
Lastly, central vacuum systems come with a variety of cleaning tools that make it easy to clean different surfaces. Connecting the cleaning tools to the vacuum hose enables hassle-free deep cleaning. While there are numerous cleaning accessories, the two most common ones are the electric and air-driven carpet brush heads.
The electric brush head features a motor that automatically turns the brush for greater suction and deeper cleaning. The air driven carpet brush is powered by suction, which spins the motor and in turn spins the brush.
Other accessories that can either be attached to the hose or to extension wands include mopping accessories, accessories for cleaning home and car upholstery, accessories for cleaning windows and hidden corners, and more. We've also compiled a list of available accessories for our recommended central vacuum units behind this link.
Options for cleaning accessories for central vacuums include:
When planning to buy a central vacuum system, be sure to zero in on the options or features of a power unit, hose, tubing and fittings, and accessories that best suit your specific cleaning needs.
Overview of our recommended Central Vacuums systems for 2018
There are numerous systems on the market, from the high-end household names, to other less known brands. We are using 5 industry criteria to rank the different types in our review.
These criteria include:
- Air watts
- Filtration system
- Dirt capacity
- Noise level
- Suction power
Details for the best Central Vacuums available in the United States:
PowerStar is a staple in the industry; it is known for its sturdiness and high performance. The PowerStar PS705 is one of this brand’s 5th generation central vacuums and it has certainly exceeded the high standards already set by previous generations of vacuum systems.
The PowerStar PS705 is ideal for homes up to 7,000 square feet in size. This cleaning system utilizes an Ametek motor, which provides incredible suction power, enough to guarantee thorough and convenient cleaning of different surfaces in large-sized homes.
With a foam dome lid, dense foam insulation and deafening muffler, the PowerStar central vacuum model PS705 has taken adequate steps to ensure quiet operation with noise levels at 76 decibels.
This vacuum cleaner also comes with an inbuilt utility inlet valve strategically placed on the front of the vacuum to make cleaning your car or garage completely hassle-free. The PS705 meets and exceeds HEPA filtration requirements to protect your family from the effects of allergens and dirt.
Electrolux PU3650 QuietClean
The Electrolux PU3650 QuietClean is built for convenience, performance and peace of mind. With up to 600 air watts of cleaning power, this central vacuum is suitable for removing dust and allergens from homes as large as 8,000 square foot.
If you hate changing filters, the Electrolux QuietClean PU3650 is one vacuum you certainly do not want to miss out on. It comes with a self-cleaning filter that does not require any changing at all. While this is indeed a powerful central vacuum, you do not have to worry about noise as the vacuum is built with sound-resistant technology.
The Electrolux CS3000 central vacuum accessory kit allows you to thoroughly clean even the most hidden areas of any room with its 35 volt crushproof hose, dusting brush, crevice tool, 38 inch telescopic wand, hose hanger and upholstery tool.
One of the best features of this Electrolux model is its LCD display, which lets you track the system’s performance and alerts you when you need to empty the dirt canister. The Electrolux QuietClean Model PU3650 features a utility inlet located on the front of the unit, allowing you the convenience of cleaning your car and garage without a fuss.
A small window on the dirt canister allows you to keep an eye on the dirt level. For that added peace of mind, the PU3650 comes with a 10 year warranty.
Are you looking for a tried and tested central vacuum cleaner for a large home or commercial space? There is a good reason why the Prolux CV12000 is considered one of the most powerful vacuuming systems in the industry—from utilizing the best motor to boasting a powder-coated steel body, this is certainly a worthwhile investment.
With a 2-stage motor by Ametek, the Prolux CV12000 is able to produce impressive suction power rated at 150 CFM. The best part is that this powerful motor is protected by a 10 year warranty to give you peace of mind.
This central vacuum comes equipped with an outlet that allows you to plug a hose directly to the vacuum so you can easily clean up your garage or car. It also utilizes three levels of filtration i.e. a washable Micron filter, a washable HEPA filter and a bagless dirt receptacle, ensuring that all fine dust and allergens are filtered out.
What’s more, you can conveniently monitor the level of dirt using the clear window located on the receptacle.The Prolux CV12000 is built using the industry’s best steel with a powder coat and scratch resistant paint finish. This justifies the amazing 25 year warranty offered on all steel body parts.
It is not common to find a central vacuum system that will give you the right specs at just the right price. However, the Imperium CV300 does just that—few vacuum cleaners come close to this one in terms of performance and price. Whatever your home layout, this paper bagged central vacuum system guarantees quick installation while its HEP filtration preserves the quality of your indoor air by ensuring it is free of dirt and allergens.
The CV300 boasts an all-steel construction made from galvannealed steel. This type of steel comes from combining the annealing and galvanization process to produce a super fine matte finish that is rust proof. On top of the matte finish is a powder-coated finish which double proofs the unit from rust, and wear and tear to guarantee high quality service for years to come.
The Imperium Power Unit CV300 model utilizes a flo-thru motor by Ametek-lamb, who are the leading manufacturers of central vacuum motors. It also comes with 740 of air watts enough to clean up a home measuring up to 6,000 square feet in size. This central vacuum is proudly made in America by a manufacturer with more than 50 years’ experience.
For absolute peace of mind, the Imperium central vacuum comes with a 10 year warranty. Few central vacuum systems will offer you such value for money and power all at the same time.
AVR24000 AirVac Red Series
The AVR24000 AirVac Red series is ideal for both small and medium sized houses. While the Platinum AirVac vacuum comes with bags, this Red Series is a bag-less cleaning system. Nevertheless, this vac is ideal if you are looking for something that is easy to handle and store, thanks to its modular shape.
Installing the AVR24000 AirVac is pretty easy as you can connect the exhaust and the intake outlets from either side. Also the electrical port is placed at the front of the hose, making it super easy for you to connect the hose to the main power unit as you clean your house.
What makes the AVR24000 AirVac so efficient in maintaining indoor quality is the fabric filtration that is permanently attached. The filter can sequester debris as small as 0.1 micron. The dirt receptacle can hold about 6 gallons of dirt but you will find that emptying the canister is quite easy due to the effortlessly detachable latches that hold the receptacle to the power unit.
This system guarantees a lower noise level as it comes with mufflers that can be installed within the walls during the tubing process. These will significantly minimize the level of noise when your vacuum is switched on.
Details for the best Central Vacuums available in Canada:
Broan BQ3 Central Vacuum with 650 Air Watts
If you are looking for the best central vacuum for larger spaces, the Broan BQ3 would be a great choice. This high efficiency cleaning system was designed for spaces as large as 9,000 sq. ft.
With its 1-stage Ametek Lamb motor, the BQ3 delivers powerful performance while also maintaining quiet operations with its ULTRA Silent technology.
The Broan BQ3 features permanent, self-cleaning HEPA filtration, which helps with indoor air quality and guards against respiratory problems and allergies from exhaust air.
This central vacuum comes with a sturdy yet lightweight power unit built from steel. It also features a large 22.7L dirt receptacle that only needs to be empties after six months.
Other impressive features of the BQ3 central vacuum include the wall-mount bracket that makes installation a complete breeze and a six foot power cord that offers additional convenience when cleaning your home.
Hoover SH80730DS Central Vacuum
The Hoover SH80730DS was built with convenience and user-friendliness in mind. The cleaning wand is designed to swivel easily so you can clean hard-to-reach places without breaking a sweat.
This central vacuum comes with a compact power unit built from corrosion and rust-resistant steel so you can be sure you will use your central vacuum system for many years.
To deliver superior cleaning performance, this central vacuum features a host of useful tools including a 30-ft crushproof hose, telescopic wand, dusting brush, floor brush, a crevice tool and many more.
With a powerful 3-stage motor by Ametek Lamb, this Hoover central vacuum delivers impressive end-hose efficiency. An external muffler keeps the noise to a minimum when the central vacuum is in operation.
The Hoover SH80730DS features a micro-tex filter with 95 percent efficient to deliver the best in indoor air quality.
Allegro Central Vacuum MU4100 3,000 sq. ft. Unit, Electric Powerhead Hose Package
The Allegro Central Vacuum unit comes with an electric power head and a hose package for superior cleaning of up to 3,000 square foot spaces.
Whether you are looking to clean a hard floor or carpet, Allegro comes equipped with the right tools for the job. Some of these include a high efficiency 30-ft low crush-proof hose, a swivel neck cleaning wand and an easy-switch foot pedal that lets you choose different cleaning modes. Other cool tools that will make cleaning a breeze include a dusting brush upholstery tool and a squeegee floor tool.
This central vacuum is powered by the sturdy 2-stage 5.7’’ Ametek Lamb motor. The power unit itself is constructed from heavy duty steel for longevity while the 20L dirt pail means you would only need to empty it only twice a year!
The Allegro central vacuum comes with a self-cleaning Fibro-Tex filtration system that allows for outside venting for the best in indoor air quality.
Broan VXKIT300A Standard Central Vacuum Kit with VX3000C, VX3000C Power Unit, 475 Air Watts
The Broan VXKIT300A standard central vacuum kit with power unit is a popular cleaning system for all the right reasons—it not only comes with numerous tools that take the fuss out of cleaning; it also guarantees superior cleaning for many years.
This central vacuum system comes with a slim-fit, lightweight power unit that will fit in small, out of the way spaces. The right hand and left-hand intake ports also add to the convenience of cleaning with this central vacuum.
This Broan central vacuum system also comes with a host of cleaning tools that deliver impressive results every time. These include a 32-foot crushproof hose, floor tools and a powerful air-driven brush.
It comes with an internal muffling system that keeps noise to a minimum while still delivering superior cleaning performance. What’s more, this cleaning system comes with a low-maintenance filtration system that makes it easy to collect dirt and debris in an out of the way receptacle.
Electrolux 4B-H403 Honeywell Central Vacuum System Power Unit – Corded
The Electrolux 4B-H403 by Honeywell is a robust cleaning system built to offer superior cleaning and the best in indoor air quality.
It comes with a corded power unit built from heavy duty steel for longevity while its self-cleaning HEPA filtration ensures that indoor air quality is upheld to keep your family free from allergies.
Other than the compactness of the power unit, the filtration system is one of the best features of this central vacuum. Not only is the filtration low-maintenance, it also allows for outside venting, eliminating allergens and debris from the atmosphere in your house.
The Electrolux 4B-H403 is designed for homes of up to 3,000 square foot. With its sound-muffling technology, this central vacuum offers impressively quiet but powerful operation.