Vacuum Suction Power Explained

We’ve already looked at how canister vacuums work in a different article, but today we’re going to tackle something a bit broader. Previously, we’ve done an overview of all of the different parts of a vacuum and how they all work together. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at the suction power of a vacuum in particular, so by the end of this page you’ll have vacuum suction power explained to you in an easy-to-follow manner.

Understanding how a vacuum’s suction works is an important part of deciding which one to buy, but not only that. When you know how a vacuum works, you’ll have an easier time identifying problems, which can make it easier to repair your vacuum. There are plenty of types of maintenance and repairs for a vacuum that you can do yourself, but when it comes to electrical stuff or actually opening up the motor, we strongly recommend leaving that up to a professional unless you’re well-versed in motors and electronics, because it can be dangerous.vacuum-suction

Alright, the disclaimer is out of the way. Now, lets’ take a look at how vacuums are able to create enough suction to not only pick up small particles of dust, but also heavier things like pieces of food, stones, and even coins.

Some people take everything in their day to day life for granted, and never even really wonder how it all works. That’s okay, there’s so much going on in the world that we can’t all be interested in everything, but vacuums can be a surprisingly fascinating topic to dig into.

­How to measure suction power

There are some really unique units of measurement out there for just about anything. Everyone knows we’ve got decibels to measure sound, miles to measure larger distances, feet to measure smaller distances, and liters to measure liquids. Those are standard things that we encounter on a daily basis. On top of that, there are things like scoville units. The scoville scale is used to measure the spiciness of foods. That’s all fine and dandy, but what does it have to do with the suction power of vacuums?

Glad you asked. Vacuums, too, have their own unique unit of measurement that they use, which is called and airwatt. Airwatts are used to measure the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. If you’re wondering which vacuum, out of several, will have the best suction power, look at how many airwatts is has.

Now, before we talk any more about airwatts, it’s important to note that there are other factors at play, too. The shape of the vacuum, how well it’s maintained, and the overall quality can also determine how good of a job it’s going to do, it’s not just a matter of picking the higher airwatts, those are just a starting point. Now, with that out of the way…

An airwatt refers to how effective the auction power of a vacuum is, and the amount of power it produces (and uses). There are all sorts of advanced formulas to help you determine the overall efficacy, taking into account the amount of power used to generate said suction power.

The video from ABC Vacuum below goes over the above in the minute video below.

Other factors that determine suction power

The air is sucked in through the intake port, which is either the area near the brush roller that rolls along the floor, or the wand/attachments. The smaller the intake port is, the more auction power you’ll have because it’s more concentrated.

The vacuum’s suction comes from a fan that’s attached to the motor. The fan quickly spins, which creates suction that travels from the fan itself, all the way to the intake port. That air, along with everything your vacuum picks up, then makes its way up through the vacuum, depositing all the debris into the bag. The air keeps moving through the bag, which isn’t air tight otherwise it would explode, and often travels through another filter to grab any dust or particles that were too small to get trapped by the bag.

After this second filter, the air leaves the vacuum through the exhaust port. It’s a fairly simple machine, which really hasn’t changed a whole lot over the years in terms of the basic principle. Small tweaks and advances have been made to make vacuums somewhat more efficient, but overall the vacuums we use today are not all that different than the ones your parents used, at least in terms of general function.

Have you ever thought about what the vacuum of the future may be like? Dyson has some interesting vacuums, they’re often trying to innovate and create better ways to do your household cleaning. Sometimes, their innovations are improvements, whereas other times they’re seen as a bit gimmicky. This doesn’t just apply to Dyson, however, it’s true for any vacuum companies that take chances are try new things.

Expensive vacuums vs cheap ones

There are many factors that determine a high quality vacuum. There’s the overall build-quality, and the quality of the parts. Is it built to last, or is it a cheap vacuum that you’ll have to replace in a couple of years? Higher quality, better-made vacuums will generally have better suction, they’ll be more reliable, sometimes even more energy efficient.

Unfortunately, we can’t cover the nitty-gritty details, but thankfully there are lots of great resources out there. Hopefully this crash course in vacuum suction has been enough to satiate you for the time being. Are you considering purchasing a new vacuum (Or maybe your first?) We’ve put together a ton of resources to help you through the buying process, mostly catered towards canister vacuums, but a lot of the information applies universally.

Take a look around, check out the rest of our resources and buyer’s guides, and you’re bound to learn some new, interesting things about vacuum cleaners and how to choose the correct one for your unique cleaning needs. There’s more to it than you may have guessed, but we’ve broken everything down in the easiest way possible.