Cleaning your house can be a pain, and fewer jobs are more inconvenient than vacuuming. This task requires that you purchase an expensive piece of equipment that is relatively large for an appliance. Then, not only must you find a place to store it, you also have to lug it around during use.
However, choosing the right central vac can be a difficult process. With a plethora of specs and features to examine, not to mention plenty of deceptive advertising tactics, it can be easy to get confused.
That is why we have put together a list of the ten best central vacuum systems available. Furthermore, we have provided a convenient and easy buyer’s guide to help you become an informed consumer and choose the right central vac for you.
Best Central Vacuum Systems 2018
|Allegro MU4500 Champion||Self cleaning Fibro-Tex Filtration Systems||15.7||600|
|Purvac Barracuda||1. SilverClear Pre-motor filter|
2. HEPA filter
|HEPA filtration bags||15||740|
|VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional||5-layer HEPA-style bag||15||740|
(Best for the money)
|3 levels of filtration:|
1. Bagless dirt chamber
2. Washable Micron Pre-Filter
3. Washable HEPA Filter
|Electrolux Quiet Clean PU 3900 C||Permanent self-cleaning filter||15||640|
|Honeywell 4B-H803 Quiet Pro||Self-cleaning Triumph HEPA filtration||15||630|
|H-P Products 9880 Dirt Devil||HEPA filtration bags||11.7||500|
|Nutone PP650 PurePower||1. HEPA filter|
2. Exhaust filter for cleanest indoor air
|Ultra Clean SC200||1. Filtration bag |
2 .Micro-fiber permanent filter for enhanced motor reliability
1. Allegro MU4500 Champion – Central Vac Motor with Most Amp
Our first central vac is the Allegro, which has a specific niche in which it excels but is a bit subpar beyond that. One of the best things about the Allegro is its motor. It features a tangential bypass design which allows it to generate a pretty solid suction.
This would be okay, except the Allegro is also one of the more expensive central vacs on our list, which makes its value questionable unless you have a specific type of space for its intended use. Still, the 5.7” drive diameter is nice, though not exceptional, while the 2 stage motor may make it a bit more prone to needing repairs.
While the bagless container with an inverted filter is good, the micro fiber filter will need to be cleaned.
2. Purvac Barracuda – Most Powerful on our list
When you want the most powerful central vac for your house, you should get the Purvac. Of course, the best does not come cheap, and the PurVac is one of the more expensive models we reviewed.
3. Imperium CV300 – Quiet and Excellent Power
While the Purvac is technically the quietest model on our list, the design of the Imperium will actually make it a bit quieter in practical terms. The decibel levels are determined by the motor’s noise, which those two products are only separated by a single decibel. However, the Imperium further smothers the sound of the dirt in movement with a bag that features its own filter.
However, this is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, it muffles the sound of the dirt as it is sucked into the container. On the other hand, it makes the filtration a bit worse than other models which have dedicated filters. Moreover, this means you will need to change the bag – which is a bit more expensive than most due to the filter requirement – more often.
4. VacuMaid GV50PRO Professional – Best Garage Vac
If the Allegro was somewhat limited to its space, the VacuMaid is even more so. In fact, if going by house size, the VacuMaid only covers 5000 sq. ft. However, this central vac was designed for the explicit purpose of being the best shop vac, and if used for that purpose, it is exceptional.
5. Prolux CV12000 – Best Central Vac Warranty
The Prolux can be a bit underwhelming – especially in regards to its power. However, it is also one of the most reliable central vacs, offering a 25-year warranty. That is more than double the next closest competitor. Moreover, the Prolux utilizes a 3 step filtration system which also removes more allergens from the air than most of the other entries on this list.
Considering the Prolux does not offer information on its drive diameter, this feature coupled with the low motor amps is probably responsible for the lower suction rate.
6. Electrolux Quiet Clean PU 3900 C – Best Central Vac Motor
All of this may have something to do with the fact that the Electrolux is rated for a 12000 sq. ft. house, which, while the largest rating, may spread out the Electrolux’s suction power a bit thin.
7. Honeywell 4B-H803 Quiet Pro – Best for a Large House
Our second central vac with a 7.2” drive diameter corrects all the mistakes the Electrolux makes, though its motor is not quite as good. However, both the Electrolux and the Honeywell feature a tangential bypass drive design on a 2 stage system.
The total air watts are pretty much the same as is the water lift at 630 and 135” respectively. The CFM is even an identical 125. However, this central vac is actually quieter than the Electrolux while still being able to service the same gargantuan 12000 sq. ft.
8. H-P Products 9880 All-in-One – Best RV Central Vac
This central vac is less of an individual product and more of a kit. In fact, this product is actually a bundling of the Dirt Devil CV 1500 with an assortment of attachments and additional items, like bags. In fact, that brings us to its first flaw: it only comes in a bagged collection system. However, it does at least use a separate HEPA filtration system.
In that small package, you get a motor whose details are not revealed. What we do know is that it uses 11.7 amps. With the least amount of amps on our list, it is still able to generate a surprising, is low, total air watts of 500. Still, both the CFM and the water lift are either tied for the least or hold that dubious honor all on its own.
9. Nutone PP650 PurePower 650 Air W – Best Small to Mid-Size House Central Vac
The motor may be part of the problem, though it is not genuinely a weakness. The thru drive definitely helps explain some of the water lift issues, but the Nutone at least uses a single stage system, so wear and tear will be minimal.
10. Ultra Clean SC200 – Good and Cheap
Our budget central vac definitely earns its title. While it may be the cheapest product on our list, it is also riddled with power issues–specifically, it cannot generate enough. This made even more troubling by the fact that the Ultra Clean is only rated for a 7500 sq. ft. house, which is more medium-sized than anything else.
Central Vacuum System Buyer’s Guide
Central vacs have a surprising number of features that all form together and coalesce into a suction rating. Of course, there is no actual “suction rating” standard, and we are instead forced to figure out which central vac is better based on an understanding of how these specs work in unison.
Ultimately, CFM, water lift, and drive diameter are the most important for determining the central vac’s suction. The motor type, its number of stages, and its amps will determine the motor’s effectiveness.
Finally, the collection, filtration, and materials all play a part in the cleanup, durability, and cleanliness of the central vac.
Collection is either bagged or bagless. Ultimately, you are going to have to empty both types–even if the central vac features an exhaust system. However, bagless collection does not also require you to continuously purchase replacement bags.
There are numerous types of filtration and none of them have been demonstrated to be appreciably better than the others. Ultimately, this factor will weigh more heavily on if you are expected to replace or clean the filter yourself. Obviously, permanent, self-cleaning filters are preferred.
While steel is the most common and most durable material, some manufacturers will try to cut corners by using metal alloys or metallic composites. Other brands may skip metal altogether and just use some form of plastic composite. Keep in mind, any composite will have a higher chance of mildew due to its porous nature.
The 2 types of motors are bypass and thru flow. Generally, bypass is better because it isolates the motor’s part from the debris. Thru flow, due to its design, can have issues with water lift and wet debris in general.
The drive diameter plays a major function in determining the motor’s suction power. In this regard, the bigger the better. 5.7” is a good rating with anything above that being great. Above 7” is stellar. If a manufacturer uses a drive diameter smaller than 5.7”, they will not advertise it.
Air watts is actually best represented as a general term for suction power. However, since it is actually the combination of 2 different specs, CFM and water lift, it can stay the same while one or the other of its particulate factors differ greatly. It can help get an idea of suction power, but is not the end-all-be-all.
Central vac motor systems come in either 1 or 2 stages. 2 stages may be able to generate a modest amount more power, but they also suffer from more moving parts. The fewer moving parts, the fewer things can go wrong. As such, single-stage motors are generally more durable.
CFM is one of the primary factors that measure a central vac’s airflow. Combined with water lift, CFM will influence the central vac’s total air wattage. Keep in mind, a CFM can be high, but the system design may provide more or less suction depending on its design.
Amps are a good way to measure the raw power of the motor. While they do not determine the central vac’s ultimate suction power, they do give you a good idea of what it can be capable of.
Water lift is the other spec that helps determine total air wattage. This quality defines the central vac’s ability to suck water. However, this rating is determined with a top-down flush arrangement, so be sure to keep that in mind when you are using the central vac.
The size of the house will, in part, determine your central vac’s suction. The larger the house, the more powerful your vac must be or suffer from lost suction due to a diffuse air flow. However, many central vacs are rated for houses bigger than their power may truly serve well.
This is purely a personal taste feature. If you have a small house or the central vac will be located in area where people congregate, the noise level will be more important. If the house is larger and the central vac can be stored in a corner, basement, or somewhere else similar, this should not be a concern.
After a thorough look, we see that not all central vacs are created equally, but that does not necessarily mean one is simply better than the other. All of these central vacs fill a niche, and within that niche they are generally superior.
Of course, it does have some limitation in regards to the size of the house for which it is rated, and it is also one of the more expensive items on our list. Moreover, the engine design is a thru flow instead of a bypass.
Still, this does not prevent that vacs from claiming the top water lift rating, and the single stage engine should prevent too many issues with repair. Moreover, it is whisper quiet and generates the most sheer power.