Central vacuums, are they a dream-system or a pain? Well depending on your preferences you may love them or hate them. 

Whether or not they are a good idea is entirely up to you. A central vacuum installation is no small task, so it is best that you know what you are getting into!

 Below we will go over the pros and cons of  central vacuum ownership which will allow you to make an educated decision based on the question: Should I have a central vacuum installed? 

What is a Central Vacuum Cleaner?

Firstly, let’s talk about what a central vacuum is.

A central vacuum, also known as a built-in, whole-house, or ducted vacuum, is a vacuum system that is semi-permanently installed into a building. With a central system, dust and dirt collects from the vacuum hose and then sent into tubes in the walls of your home and then brought to a dirt collection container usually in a storage room, basement, or garage. The collection container is usually attached to the vacuum power unit. The power unit is the device that powers the vacuum and creates the vacuum “noise”  that we all know and dislike. 

When you use a central vacuum you are essentially working with just a vacuum hose, the floor brush tool, and the handle; which means: no vacuum body or canister to drag, no plug to coil, or tiny bags to replace!

Central vacuum with carpet brush tool plugged into wall inlet

Central vacuum, coiled up with the hardwood floor brush tool.

The Pros and Cons of Central Vacuums

Pros

It's Quiet

The power unit of the central vacuum (the device that causes the vacuum noise) is stored remote from the vacuum itself – usually in the basement, storage room, or garage. As a result you do not have to worry about a loud vacuum following you around the house. All you will hear is the suction sound and a faint distant power-unit noise from the basement (depending on how far it is)

Easy to use, Easy to move

To use the vacuum, simply insert the end of the hose into the wall inlet and turn it on.  Additionally, without a clunky vacuum-body to drag around you are able to easily traverse around furniture and up stairs. This is especially useful for people who have mobility issues.

No Vacuum Body

To elaborate on the last point – there is no vacuum body you need to haul around the house, no cords to tangle in, no extra weight, no bags to change or small canisters to dump. Central vacuums are light, simple in structure, and easy to handle. 

Health Benefits

Central vacuums collect dust and debris to the collection container (attached to the main power unit) in the garage, storage, or basement. This collection container filters the dirty air outside of the house instead of recirculating it back inside. As a result, when you use a central vacuum, you will expose yourself to less allergens. This is especially beneficial to people who have allergies and/or asthma. 

They Are Powerful

Central vacuums can be up to 3 times stronger than their portable counterparts. For this reason you will notice central vacuums are able to achieve a seriously deep clean! 

Lasts Longer

Central vacuums are built to last. Unlike portable vacuums which you will have to replace multiple times, central vacuums can last up to 30 years with proper maintenance! For reference, some high-end portable vacuums will last about 7- 10 years. 

Vac Pans

 If you have a central vacuum system installed, you have the option to add some additional features – such as vac pans! A vac pan is essentially a dust pan that connects to the central vacuum system and attached to the baseboard areas. Vac pans are useful for those smaller kitchen sweeps. With a vac pan you no longer need to bend over to pick up dirt piles, instead just open the vac pan lever with your foot and sweep the dirt pile into the vac pan, the central vacuum system will do the rest of the work.

Cons

The Hose

Central vacuum hoses are long and they can have a mind of their own when it comes to coiling them. It can be tough and frustrating to get a hang of coiling these long vacuums. It is highly recommended that you buy a hose hanger when you install a central vacuum system to make it easier.

The Price

Whole house central vacuum installation and parts can range anywhere from $1000 – $3000 which is quite pricey. Central vacuums are considered an investment and will save money over time but that initial purchase can be stressful and not worth it for some. 

Requires Space

In order to have a central vacuum installed, you will need the space to place the power unit as well as space to coil the vacuum hose. You will also want lots of space to clean in order to make the investment “worth it”.

It’s a Commitment

Central vacuum systems must be installed semi-permanently within the walls, so if you do not like them it is not as easy to just “return them” like portable vacuums.

Should I Get a Central Vacuum?

The last thing we want is for you to install a central vacuum and then realize you don’t like it. If you are still on the fence about central vacuums please read on for further considerations.

Budget

Are you able to spend $1000 – $3000 and commit to a semi-permanent vacuum system? If you are not, maybe a portable vacuum is a better option.

House Size

If you live in a smaller home (less than 1200 sq ft), the investment of a central vacuum will probably not be worth it. If you want a quiet and easy vacuum and you have a small home, then cordless rechargeable vacuums could be a better option. Please note, the rechargeable vacuums are not recommended for larger homes as they lose their charge before the floors are clean!

Sound

How important is a quiet vacuum to you? Maybe you have sleeping toddlers or maybe you are sensitive to sound, whatever it is, if a quiet house is important to you then a central vacuum system can be a great option.

New Residential Construction

Are you building a new home, and is it larger than 1200 sq ft? Pairing a central vacuum installation with new construction will make the installation more seamless and cheaper. A new home is a perfect time to get your central vacuum installed.

In conclusion, whether or not a central vacuum is right for you is highly subjective. Have a good look at your budget, house size, and your wants and needs regarding vacuums ( do you need quiet? Do you need light weight? Long lasting? etc), write yourself a pros and cons list, ask your friends, or ask us! 

At CBS Electrical, we provide both residential and commercial services here in Victoria and Nanaimo BC. We are experts in specialty electrical services like central vacuum installations. Contact us for more information

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