What is a Central Vacuum System?

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If you have heard of central vacuum systems, but are not quite sure what they are, you have come to the right place. Central vacuum systems have been around for quite some time, and there is good reason for it. Let’s not waste any time and get to everything you need to know about this type of vacuum system.


Central vacuum systems are certainly quite interesting, and moreover they’re very useful too. Central vacuums are not like a normal vacuum where all of the components are in one little package that you lug around the house with you. It is a semi-permanent fixture that is installed in your home. It is, of course, a vacuum which is used to suck up dirt in your home, just like all other vacuums, but there are some key differences no doubt.

Central Vacuum Cleaner hose and floor nozzle

How does a central vacuum work?

This type of vacuum has the power unit, suction, and dirt collection container located in one fixed area of your home. Many people choose to locate this power unit and dust collector in the basement, garage, or some other area of the home that is readily accessible, but not somewhere like a living room with lots of foot traffic. This power unit and dust collection center is then connected to a series of tubes or ducts which go to various areas of the home, more or less wherever they are needed.

There are then outlets in the wall at various points in your home which you can connect a vacuum hose to. Most hoses will be quite long to ensure optimal reach and versatility throughout your home. In short, the power unit creates suction throughout the ducts, which then creates suction once the vacuum hose is connected, and the dirt then gets sucked in and sent to the aforementioned dust collection area.

Things to be aware of when considering a central vacuum

There are a few key things which you definitely need to consider before you go and install a central vacuum system in your home. Make sure to keep all of these points in mind as they will end up determining how useful your central vacuum system is going to be.

What size of suction power is required? 

You need to consider how strong the power and suction system is in relation to the size your home, the amount of piping involved, and the amount of bends in the pipes or tubes. The bigger your home is, the more piping is required to get to all areas in your home, and the more bends are in the pipe, the stronger your vacuum will need to be. If you do not get a strong enough suction unit, it will not be able to suck up nearly as much dirt and won’t do a good job at cleaning.

Types of Central Vacuum Systems

You need to be aware that there are different kinds of central vacuum systems, especially in relation to dirt and dust collection.

  • There are bag central vacuums with a bag for dust collection where venting particles outside the home is not possible.
  • There is the inverted filter model that needs to be emptied every 6 months.
  • In addition, there is a filtered cyclonic type, which vents smaller particles outside the home and also has a filter chamber that needs to be emptied every couple of months.
  • The other kind is the all cyclonic version, which does not have a filter at all; dust gets vented outside, and larger particles stay in the canister.
Central Vacuum Cleaner Hose Outlet

Electric vs Air Powered Central Vacuum Systems

There are two main types of hose systems for central vacuums: electric powered and air powered.

The electric hose system includes an electrified hose and vacuum brush head, which has an electric motor that spins the brush. This vastly improves the performance of the vacuum providing good agitation of carpets. The electric head is powered separately from the suction of the vacuum, which means more suction and air flow reaches the carpet.

On the other hand, the air powered hose system includes a basic or low voltage hose and an air powered brush head. This type relies on air flow to spin the brush and therefore is not as powerful as an electrified head driven by a motor. This type of central vacuum system may not be strong enough to drive an air powered brush if it has low suction.

Hose Outlets Locations

Consider how many outlets for the vacuum hose you will need. Generally speaking, you will want to have at least 1 hose outlet for every 1,000 square feet of space in your home, if not a little more.

You also need to beware that installing central vacuum systems is much easier when a home is being built or renovated. The tubing is inside of the walls and it runs all throughout a house, so ripping out walls to install those tubes is definitely a challenge. It’s going to cost you a lot more to install one of these systems if the house is not already undergoing construction.

Further Considerations

The other thing to beware of is that unlike a normal vacuum, sucking up bigger things and clogging the tubes can be a huge issue. A normal vacuum is not too hard to unclog, but if the clog is inside of tubes buried in your walls, you will have quite the problem no doubt.

Let’s just quickly go over some of the positive and negative aspects of installing a central vacuum system in your home.


  • They are not as loud as normal vacuums
  • They are easier to operate due to only having to handle a hose
  • They increase the overall value of any home
  • There are more attachments available for central vacuum systems than for regular vacuums
  • You don’t have to deal with a power cord
  • There is a lot less emptying of canisters or bags than with regular vacuums
  • They tend to be more powerful and efficient than normal vacuums
  • They often come with HEPA filters to increase indoor air quality
  • They last much longer than regular vacuums


  • They are usually up to 2 or 3 times more expensive than a regular vacuum, if not more
  • They require extensive construction in terms of installing tubes and ducts
  • If there is a clog in the tubes located in the walls, you will probably have to get a professional to open up the walls and fix the issue, which can be quite problematic and expensive.

The leading brand names

There are a few different brand names and manufacturers of central vacuum systems, some of which are better than others. Here are some of the best central vacuum brand names to keep in mind.


At the end of the day, the decision whether or not to go for a full-blown central vacuum system is totally up to you. They are indeed very useful; they are convenient and efficient, and they also can increase the value of your home. Just be sure to take all of the things we talked about into consideration before making a final purchase.

1 thought on “What is a Central Vacuum System?”

  1. It’s helpful to consider that a central vacuum would be a good selling point that could increase the home’s value if we ever move. My wife and I are planning some extensive renovations this summer and want to make the most of the opportunity. Maybe installing a central vacuum while we’re at it could be a worthwhile investment.


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