A traditional vacuum? Who needs it? We have a central vacuum system nowadays. Sometimes, you may hear them referred to as a whole house vacuum, a power unit, or a built-in vacuum, but they are all the same. The central vacuum system is installed in a basement, garage, or similar area of the home, and it connects to PVC pipes. These go through your house’s walls, and there are inlets that are located throughout the house. Plug a vacuum in the inlet, and it’s quite easy to clean your home without needing a vacuum cleaner that weighs a ton.
A vacuum system is more powerful than what you may refer to as a vacuum, and it’s quiet. It lowers the chance of dust, allergens, and other contaminants recirculating.
If you’re looking to improve your home, central vacuum systems are worth the investment. However, you may wonder what the best ones to choose are. In this post, we will look at several central vac systems and tell you the best ones that your money can buy.
- What Should I Look for When Buying a Central Vacuum System?
- Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Central Vacuum System
- #1: Prolux CV12000 (Best Value – All-Purpose)
- #2: Allegro MU4500 Champion (Best Machine)
- #3: Nadair Large Capacity (Biggest Capacity Central Vacuum System)
- #4: OVO Heavy Duty (Best Low Cost)
- #5: Dirt Devil Central Vacuum System (Best for Mobile Homes)
- On a Budget? Try These:
- How Do You Clean a Central Vacuum System?
- Is a Central Vacuum System Worth it?
- Verdict: Your Best Central Vacuum System
What Should I Look for When Buying a Central Vacuum System?
You may be a little confused when you’re buying a central vacuum system, and we don’t really blame you. There’s a lot to unpack, especially with a unit that’s going to go through your house. Let’s look at several factors you need to consider when you’re shopping for a vac central system.
Is it Even Right for You?
Before you even look for the best central vacuum system, you need to decide if it’s right for you. This is something that is going to go through your walls, after all. Retrofitting your home can be a hassle, which is why some people recommend installing central vacuum systems in a house that’s being built, or if you’re opening your walls for other projects.
This isn’t to say you can’t install a central vac system in a home that’s already been built. Depending on how your house is laid out, it could be easy. If your home has easy access to the areas that you would route the system, installing could be easier.
The best way to decide is to talk to a pro and see if it would be easy to install a central vacuum system. We hope you have good luck finding someone reliable.
One of the most important factors when buying a central vac system is sizing it. Your central vacuum system needs to match up with your house’s power unit. If it’s under powered, then your home may not be strong enough to hold a vacuum. So it’s important to buy a power unit in the appropriate size.
How do you do that? It’s not too difficult, but you may need to do some math. How many square feet is your home? How long do your pipes need to be? How much suction is needed for the central vac to clean as well as it possibly can?
Different manufacturers will have power units of various sizes and strengths. You may read about a system having good suction power, but measuring your home is the best way to see how much suction power it will have. You may notice some specifications talking about water lift. If the rating is 105-120 inches, it should be able to deliver good suction power for a home that is 2,500 square feet in size.
Just like a traditional vacuum cleaner, central vacuum systems may include several accessories with their power unit. We all know the traditional vacuum accessories, such as carpet brushes, dusters, and other heads you can attach to your vacuum system.
Purchasing a central vac system that has a wide variety of accessories can save you some extra time and money compared to buying the accessories manually, and it is worth consideration.
The central vac system is a big investment. In some cases, you may have to retrofit your home. Therefore, you need to perform regular maintenance on it and also consider the warranty of the central vacuum system. A good manufacturer will stand by the central vac system and will offer repair for a long time.
When it comes to selecting a brand, pay particular attention to price, service, and warranty. Look for a company that stands behind its product. Some central vacuum systems have a warranty of up to 10 years, which is quite good.
One of the allures of the central vacuum system is that it doesn’t make as much noise. Therefore, the best central vacuum systems have advanced noise-blocking filters that make sure there is very little noise, yet a lot of suction power. You could watch some videos of the central vacuum systems in action to get an insight into their noise level.
The best central vacuum systems have a filtration system that’s either bagless or bagged. Some have both as an option. It’s similar to a traditional vacuum, where a bag makes disposal easier and is good for people with allergies, but bagless can save some money.
Some bags are extra filtered, and the unit may come with a free bag to allow you to decide if that’s the way you want to dispose of the dirt.
When choosing the best central vacuum systems, you also need to consider the filter itself. A vacuum unit may come with a HEPA filter, for instance. With HEPA filtration, almost all allergens are filtered out. HEPA filtration is great if you’re someone who has allergies or asthma, or you have someone in your house that does. Plus, a HEPA filter gives you the highest quality possible.
With that said, some filters (HEPA filter or not) are self cleaning. With a self cleaning vacuum filter, it will clean itself when you turn it off. This means the filter is permanent and you do not have to worry about performing maintenance on the central vacuum unit.
Some air filters are washable, and some even allow you to do so via machine. See what air filter is included and determine if it’s the best one for your situation.
With any vacuum cleaner, you want one that has decent capacity. The idea of having to empty the bag frequently is annoying. The bigger the capacity, the less you have to empty it. However, too big and it can take up too many square feet of your home. So it’s a balancing act.
Another thing to consider is how many air watts the central unit has. What are air watts? Simply put, air watts are what measures a vacuum’s overall performance. The American Society of Testing and Materials says that air watts are the best way to determine how much power a central vacuum unit has.
How are air watts calculated? In order to figure out how many air watts a unit has, multiply suction and airflow. Then, divide by 8.5. This should give you how many air watts the unit has. Obviously, air watts are not the end all, but it’s still worth looking into.
Finally, you want to find the best central vacuum unit for your budget. On one hand, you probably want a powerful central vacuum system. On the other, you may want one that fits within your budget. Some offer a little bit of A and a little bit of B.
Here’s How We’ve Determined the Best Central Vacuum System
We looked at several central vacuums and tried to list a variety of them. From how many square feet it covered to its filtration system, these were just a couple of considerations. Of course, we also looked at reviews and tried to pick central vacuums that had 4 stars or higher.
#1: Prolux CV12000 (Best Value – All-Purpose)
If you’re looking for the best central vacuum, this is one you should look at before any others. It’s a mid-range unit, which means it’s good for most budget types.
This is one of the best central vacuums because it has a powerful 2 stage motor. At 150 CFM (cubic feet per minute), it should be able to clean your home with ease. The 2 stage motor also has a 10 year warranty, giving you some peace of mind when you make the purchase.
It can cover a home up to 12,000 sq. ft., meaning that it should work for most homes. It even has an outlet for your garage so you can hook it up there.
So, what about the filtration system? This uses HEPA filtration, and it is bagless. While some people like using a bag, this filtration system is still quite good, and its view window allows you to see how much dirt is inside before you empty it out.
The filter itself is not self cleaning, but it is permanent and washable. You can also take out the filter, and the filtration system should work well if you don’t have allergies. Taking out the HEPA filtration also means you have more powerful suction to work with.
Finally, the steel body has a 25 year warranty, meaning that you don’t have to worry about it breaking down. This is one of those central vacuums that’s as powerful as it is stylish, and with its 2 stage motor, you will be extremely pleased as you clean up any dirt with its suction.
As of this post, this central vacuum system doesn’t have too many reviews, but all of them are positive, saying that this 2 stage motor central vacuum is easy to install, has great suction power, and is worth purchasing.
Overall, this is the best central vacuum system for most people, but everyone has their own needs, so they may want to look at other central vacuums. Central vacuums come in more varieties than you may think.
#2: Allegro MU4500 Champion (Best Machine)
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Depending on your home, a central vacuum system may be a significant investment if it’s not easy to install. Therefore, you might as well buy a heavy duty, powerful central vacuum system. This is one of the best, being the most expensive on this list, but if you have a high budget or you want to get your home as clean as possible, this is one of the best for that.
This has powerful suction, with 140.8 water lift power and 600 air watts. It has HEPA filtration, and the HEPA filter is self cleaning. You don’t have to worry about replacing or maintaining the filter with this baby. It also has a 5 gallon capacity, meaning that you don’t have to empty it too often.
This has a bypass system as well. What this means is that the fan and motor are built to be separated. This keeps the system cool and keeps it clean, too. Its exhaustion system is clear of any contaminants as well, making this one of the best central vacuum units.
With a 7 year motor warranty guarantee and lifetime corrosion protection, this power unit will give you some peace of mind. You don’t have to worry about it breaking down any time soon.
Finally, this comes with various accessories. It has extension wands, a dust mop, cleaning tools, an exhaust muffler, and so much more. If you’re looking for quality accessories for your central vacuum system, you don’t have to worry with the Allegro.
So as you can see, this is one of the best central vacuum systems for the price. But what do the reviews say? It has rave reviews. As of this post, there are no negative reviews on its Amazon page. There aren’t even any mixed reviews. With a system like this, you would expect someone to get a dud and give it 1 stars, but no.
People say that this is one of the most powerful central vacuum cleaners on the market. They say it has powerful suction, a tough filtration system, and plenty of vacuum power to go around. One four star review said that the accessories were hard to remove and weren’t as good as expected, but that was the extent of the criticisms.
Overall, this is one of the most powerful central vacuum cleaners, and if you are wanting a heavy duty unit with a powerful motor, this one will get as much dirt out of your house as possible.
#3: Nadair Large Capacity (Biggest Capacity Central Vacuum System)
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When it comes to your central vacuum cleaner, people love large capacity. Central vacuums that have this mean that you don’t have to empty the bag of dirt any time soon. Of course, some central vacuums have more capacity, and this has the largest we could find.
You can buy this central vacuum cleaner with some accessories, or just buy the unit by itself. We are here to discuss just the unit.
First, we should probably talk about its capacity. It can hold about 5.8 gallons, though the product seems to imply there is also an 8.5 gallon version on the market. Not only can it hold a lot, but it covers homes up to 7,000 sq. ft., meaning it’s quite the powerhouse. It has the option to use a bag, or not use a bag, giving you some choice.
As for the filtration system, the filter is not self cleaning. However, it’s permanent and you can wash it in a machine, which is a plus. With its LED indicator, you should be aware of its status.
It’s one of the most durable central vacuums, being made from spun aluminum that does not rust. It has a soft start and stop system, which means that it adds a little more life expectancy. Your average 15 amp circuit breaker should work well on it as well.
Finally, this central vacuum system has a 25 year warranty. For a quarter of a century, you can have some peace of mind with this unit.
As of this post, there is only one review of this central vacuum system. The review says this system “sucks”. Being this is a vacuum, that is meant to be positive. The reviewers say that it’s indeed a heavy duty central vacuum that can get the job done. With plenty of suction power and covering lots of square feet, the reviewer said they didn’t regret the purchase. If you’re looking for a central vacuum system with power and storage, this unit may be worth checking out.
#4: OVO Heavy Duty (Best Low Cost)
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If you’re looking for a central vacuum that’s under $400, this is for you. Don’t let the low cost fool you; this central vacuum has some great suction power and a nice 2 stage motor.
It has a decent range, working with homes up to 9,000 sq. ft. The filtration system uses hybrid filtration, which means you can use it with or without a bag. It does come with a triple-layer bag if you want to use it and see if the bag option is for you.
Besides that, it works well for most needs, managing to be silent, tough, and giving you the most cleaning power you expect from a budget unit. You don’t have to worry about dirty air with this baby.
Reviews of this central vacuum have been positive. Most people say that this is a tough central vacuum unit for the price, with plenty of power, suction, and dirt filtration. People say it’s easy to install and should fit most homes.
Most negative reviews center around people who got duds or missing parts. One reviewer did have some connection issues, but people like that were in the minority.
#5: Dirt Devil Central Vacuum System (Best for Mobile Homes)
When you think of Dirt Devil, you tend to imagine cheaper, yet quality vacuums. This vacuum system is no exception. With that said, this central vacuum cleaner is not meant for heavy duty cleaning or for bigger homes. This is good if you have a camper or a motor home that needs cleaning.
It’s nothing too fancy. It has a 1 gallon capacity and at 14 pounds, it’s quite light. This comes with all the accessories you need to clean your home, and it even has a 5 year warranty. It’s tough, small, and can increase the resale value of your RV should you need to sell it.
Reviews have been quite positive. Most people say that it’s a powerful central vacuum cleaner if you need to remove the dirt from your RV. It left people’s motorhomes spotless. One criticism said that they didn’t like how the switch worked. Besides that, there is only one negative review, and it’s someone who got their unit with missing parts, which is a rare occurrence.
Overall, this is good for your mobile house. It doesn’t have the most powerful motor or vacuum power, but if you’re on the road and you want some clean spaces, the Dirt Devil can deliver that for you.
On a Budget? Try These:
A central vacuum unit is an investment, but it is possible to find a cheap unit with decent cleaning, suction, and power. Let’s look at several.
#1 Budget: OVO 595 AW
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This is not a true central vacuum, but instead, it delivers a similar experience in a portable fashion; no pipes required. This is an interesting decision for sure. Being portable, it doesn’t have the same power or coverage a traditional unit will have, but it’s good if you’re in a pinch, or if you have a small home.
Reviews are a little mixed. Unlike the main OVO product we have in this article, some people had more problems. However, others said it’s worth it. At this price, it may be worth it to take the risk and see if it’s for you.
#2 Budget: Ultra Clean Renewed
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Ultra Clean is a budget line of central vacuums, but the cost of a main unit is still expensive. If you want to buy a cheapie, then your best bet is to get the Renewed version. Simply put, a product that is “Renewed” means that it is used, but works and looks new. It also has a quality guarantee that’s better than most used product guarantees.
The actual unit is highly rated with a dual filtration system, plenty of air watts, and powerful suction.
Other than that, there aren’t too many cheapie units. This is because a central vac isn’t something that’s meant for all budgets or homes. With that said, you may get lucky and find a working unit at a thrift shop, or have someone sell one to you via Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist. With used systems, tread lightly, as some of them may not work.
How Do You Clean a Central Vacuum System?
Most central vacuum systems are self cleaning, but in order to give it the most power and suction, you do want to clean it regularly. If you don’t know how cleaning the vacuum works, here is how it’s done.
First, empty it of any dirt. Take out the bag, or empty a bagless canister, before you start cleaning. Then, use the hose and attach it reversed to the canister. Doing this should clean out any clogs or dirt that the hose has. In order to have the most suction, cleaning out the hose is always recommended, as dirt can build up.
After you do that, clean the dirt from the tubing. To do this, attach the hose to each part of the container. When the hose is inside the receptacle, your hand should be over the hose’s opening. This will create some air pressure in the hose. Pull away your hand, and the air pressure should clean everything.
Also, don’t forget to clean the hose while the vacuum is running. There are some cleaning cloths you can use. You can suck it through the hose, and the cloth should do its magic. Follow the directions and cleaning your hose should be a cinch.
Finally, clean the filter. Some are machine washable, and others can be cleaned with a little bit of soapy water.
There you have it. Cleaning your unit is easy, and depending on which one you get, you might not have to do it too often to maintain power and suction.
Is a Central Vacuum System Worth it?
Being an article about the top central vacuum systems, we, of course, are going to say that it is worth it. However, a central vacuum unit is admittedly not for everyone. Let’s look at some reasons why it may be worth it and some reasons why it may not be.
Worth: If You Have Day Sleepers in Your House
Whether it’s a baby or family member who sleeps during the day due to a job, it’s difficult vacuuming the house without waking everyone else. However, cleaning with a central vacuum is much quieter – all without sacrificing any power.
Not Worth: If your House is Small
Homes that are small may not benefit too much. By small, we mean under 1,200 sq. ft. Houses that are small usually mean that the relative price for a unit is too much. Not only that, but there may not be room to put the power unit, so that can deter some of its usefulness. With that said, a central vac system designed to clean an RV could be a good alternative.
Worth: If Anyone in the Home Has Bad Allergies
If you or a loved one has bad allergies, a central vacuum may benefit them. This is because the cleaning power is quite good, and a central vacuum stores the dirt and allergens in an area that’s usually not occupied for too long. Because of this, it’s better for allergies overall.
Not Worth: If Your Home Lacks Carpets
Cleaning with a central vacuum works best if you have carpets where dirt can get in deep. For a home that’s mostly wood or tile, a central vacuum is probably not worth it. Instead, you may be better off getting a powerful steam mop.
Worth: For Shedding Pets
We all love our pets, but unless you have a hairless cat, they probably shed a lot. A regular vacuum is decent for cleaning up the fur, but a central vacuum is much more powerful, being able to handle shedding with ease.
Not Worth: If Your Budget is Tight
You can find good central units for cheap, but you also have to think about installation costs and whatnot. If there’s not much room in your budget, a normal vacuum cleaner may be your best bet, especially if you get yourself a higher end one.
Worth: If You’re Building Your Home
If you’re building a new home already, a central vacuum can definitely be worth it. Since the walls are already exposed, it’s something that doesn’t cost too much in extra effort. Retrofitting it may not be hard as well, depending on your situation.
Not Worth: If You’re Trying to Conserve Power
One disadvantage of a central vac system is that it does take up a bit more power than your average vacuum. For those who are trying to conserve power, be aware that this is going to take up more power than usual. It won’t make you gasp at how expensive the electric bill is, but it’s still worth knowing. Of course, newer units are going to be better with energy conservation.
Overall, it all depends. We do believe a central vacuum system is worth it in many cases, but that case may not necessarily be yours. If you decide it’s worth it for you, then invest in one.
In conclusion, you need to make sure it works for you and your home. If you are still unsure, then think about it some more and then decide. After all, a vacuum, central or not, is an investment.
Verdict: Your Best Central Vacuum System
There we go. We sucked through all of the vacuum units avilable and found the top 5 central vacuums for every occasion. Now, let’s discuss the top 5 once again.
First, we have the Prolux CV12000. This is a good mid-range unit, having great cleaning power, the ability to use a bag or not, and a powerful filter to boot. It’s the first one that you should check out if you’re looking for a powerful unit.
Second, we have the Allegro MU4500. This is a higher budget unit, but for that much, you get even more cleaning power. It also comes with quite a few accessories for you to try out – not to mention a self cleaning filter. You can’t go wrong with this one.
Third, there’s the Nadair Large Capacity. This is a huge unit, being able to store dirt and other pollutants without you having to empty the bag too much. Besides that, it’s a great unit overall.
Fourth, we have the OVO Heavy Duty. This is a cheaper one, but it still is quite powerful. You don’t have to worry about getting what you pay for with this one.
Finally, the Dirt Devil. This one is meant for RVs or other mobile homes. It’s great for that, all without the cost of a traditional central vacuum, delivering suction power for your mobile home.
Those are the five. A central vac is a little more of a complex decision than a traditional vacuum cleaner. With a traditional vac, you can take it for a spin, and then return it if you don’t care for it. However, the central vacuum is a commitment. Because of this, take all the time you need in deciding which one is for you. You may want to do a little more digging if you want to find just the right central unit but none of these are tickling your fancy.
A central vacuum system is a convenient way to clean the home, and it can be a great investment. Decide if it’s for you, then buy one that works.