Thread Number: 36242  /  Tag: Brand New Vacuum Cleaners
Central vac vs Portable vac.
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Post# 388659   3/21/2018 at 11:48 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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My question are central vacs more powerful than a portable vac? Do they pick up more dirt?

Post# 388668 , Reply# 1   3/21/2018 at 14:05 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
power of a central vac

In general, yes, a central vacuum is more powerful than a portable vacuum. Since a central vacuum unit is not designed to be moved around, larger motors are used, thus increasing the airflow and water lift. Also, since a central vacuum is used through piping, you need a stronger motor to overcome the resistance in the pipes. If you want the best of both worlds, you can use a central vacuum unit without pipes. Some units have a utility valve built in and for those that don't, you can simply attach a utility valve to the intake, then connect the central vacuum hose to it, the cleaning power with this set up is awesome, you get the convenience of just moving the hose around and since there are no pipes, you get the full power of the machine.

Post# 388669 , Reply# 2   3/21/2018 at 14:10 by crazykirbydude (Lexington, KY)        

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I would not use a central vac right next to me. My grandmother has an Aerus Electrolux SuperLux and it is deafening!

Post# 388670 , Reply# 3   3/21/2018 at 14:10 by vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I fitted my central vac in a cupboard in my home. I just have 3 ft of pipe going to each of two valves. I find it very powerful.

But some say it loses so much airflow through the piping and hose that theres less power at the end of the hose than a portable vac. I haven't noticed this.

Post# 388671 , Reply# 4   3/21/2018 at 14:11 by vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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The MD silentmasters are quiet I find :)

Post# 388689 , Reply# 5   3/21/2018 at 17:48 by blackheart (North Dakota)        

Unless you have a very powerful Unit I disagree. I've had multiple Central units and usually find their airflow to be weaker than a strong portable.

The Units in Question are

An unknown Broan, Motor specs (115334) CFM @ 2-In. Orifice 102.7; Vacuum (H2O Sealed) 110.0. It was a filtered cyclonic unit the maximum baird reading at the end of a 1 3/8 Hanmi Hose was about 3.5
Broan CV40B, It used two motors in series 1 5.7 peripheral bypass followed by a 5.7 tangential bypass. Max reading on the same Hanmi Hose 5.5
Drainvac Viper It used a 2 stage flow through motor it's the most powerful unit i've owned. 144 CFM, 151 Waterlift 7.5 on the baird meter with the Hanmi

Fast forward a few years: I now have a 30' Plastiflex 13/8 hose
Beam 2100A 3 stage 5.7 tangential bypass motor CFM 95 Water lift 136" Baird 3.5
MD Silentmaster S4 3 stage 5.7 peripheral bypass CFM 101 Waterlift 139" it ran somewhere around a 4.5 on the Baird meter.

I have Seen a Beam SC375 also pull a 7.5 but this may be due to the worn out baird meter we have. It's motor specs are 124 for both CFM and lift.

So assuming the shop's Baird meter was off the most powerful unit I've gauged was the Drainvac Viper scoring 7.5.
There are a few portables capable of matching this. I've kinda been disappointed with centrals really.

Post# 388695 , Reply# 6   3/21/2018 at 19:59 by kenkart (Mocksville, NC)        
You should try

The 1929 Spencer in the Fox theatre, it has more power than any small vacuum I have ever seen.

Post# 388705 , Reply# 7   3/22/2018 at 00:56 by vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Devin is this with the hose plugged directly into the power unit or with a lot of piping?

Post# 388708 , Reply# 8   3/22/2018 at 01:59 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I did a test this morning. My central vac vs my Miele S8 2200w motor.

I put rice particles in my hardfloor. The central vac hose was plugged directly into the power unit.

I put equal amounts of rice in front of both hoses. The hoses and equal distance away from the rice particles and moved both hoses towards the rice to see which pulled the rice in first.

It was a tie both pulled the rice in from the same distance away.

Ok not scientific but it convinced me that my central vac is as powerful as what I consider to be a very powerful portable bagged cleaner. 😁

Post# 388713 , Reply# 9   3/22/2018 at 04:13 by blackheart (North Dakota)        

These figured were taken with the hoses plugged directly into the unit. No piping.

Post# 388714 , Reply# 10   3/22/2018 at 04:19 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Oh I see. That is quite disappointing then.

I've always thought my central vac was very powerful, I can feel the floorhead sucking down on the carpet but it seems I was wrong. 😞

Post# 388716 , Reply# 11   3/22/2018 at 06:25 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I learn a lot on vacuumland

I spent £250 on a V8 only to learn that the airflow is shit.

I spend a fortune on a central vac then learn that the airflow is not as good as a portable vac.

I love vacuumland haha 😁

Post# 388724 , Reply# 12   3/22/2018 at 09:11 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
central vacuum sound and airflow

Some central vacuums are louder than others. I have 8 central vacuum units throughout my apartment, the loudest one by far is my Beam 275, even with a muffler, it's hard to stand next to it, without the muffler it will literally hurt your ears, it's unbareable. I do have a vac that uses the same motor as the Drainvac Viper, the Purvac Barracuda, very nice machine, very quiet and very powerful. The hose lets you go pretty far from the actual unit, so you're not next to it when cleaning.
I'm quite impressed with the power my central vac units have, I use my portable canisters as well, I don't have any uprights, but I really do enjoy cleaning with my central vacs, and my backpacks as well for that matter.

Post# 388738 , Reply# 13   3/22/2018 at 13:11 by HonestJoe68 (Mansfield, Ohio)        

Hey Mark,

I think you got a great deal on your Dyson V8 and you will continue to love it. Heck, all the science aside.. I am STILL amazed and somewhat grossed out by all the fine powdery dust and dirt and hair my V8 picks up. Also, I have never owned a central vacuum, but if your test with the rice seemed a tie, you probably have a great vacuum in your central system too.

I know you were joking and being funny with you comment, but I donít think you should regret your vacuum purchases. What works really well for me, might not work as well for you as there are SO many different things to consider.

Just wanted to add my two cents and say I too appreciate all the information learned here at But if I took all of it into consideration, Iíd have a headache and probably second guess every single vacuum purchase. 😂

Have a great day! Thanks too Mark for your humor in different threads.. I think I sometimes get too passionate and excited about Vacuum talk that I forget itís just a simple discussion.. so your humor is appreciated.

Thanks to everyone, I appreciate all the facts and videos and statistics.. itís part of what makes this site so fun and enjoyable.

Post# 388739 , Reply# 14   3/22/2018 at 13:32 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I agree with you Patrick.

I think my V8 does a very decent job but apparently my eyes are deceiving me I'm just being taken in by Dyson marketing hype. 🙈

I enjoy using my central vac too. I think they have many benefits.

But like you said what works for me might not work for someone else 😁

Post# 388745 , Reply# 15   3/22/2018 at 15:54 by blackheart (North Dakota)        

Is both a blessing and a curse. All this testing has kinda killed my interest in vacs. As i begin to learn what works and what doesn't I'm viewing my vacuums quite differently.

Either way I know centrals usually have more lift than a portable but airflow is another story. Granted a strong enough Unit can match them but I think it's safe to say the majority of centrals are not capable of matching a strong portable

Post# 388831 , Reply# 16   3/23/2018 at 15:06 by vacuumdevil (Denver)        

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@Vacfan1982 generally Central vacs are two to four times more powerful then a portable vacuum even after it goes through the pipe you must understand that the pipes installation needs properly be done but most of the time it is.

@crazykirbydude sounds like the central vac either is undersized or not working properly. A modern Central Vac should easily clean better than even the best portable vacuum.


Post# 388832 , Reply# 17   3/23/2018 at 15:12 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I agree with Alex I can feel the floor nozzle sucking down on the carpet. It feels like it is deep cleaning to me.

There are benefits to using a central vac.

It has become my favourite but I still like using my portable vacs too.

Post# 388852 , Reply# 18   3/23/2018 at 19:15 by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
Suction Equals Pressure And Airflow Equals Speed

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Central vacuums aren't as powerful (airflow wise) as dirty air portables. Not by a long shot. For your inspection: a Lamb Ametek 8.4" double stage vacuum motor.

If we're talking about what can be safely plugged into a 15 Amp, 120V circuit, this 675 peak airwatt monster cannot deliver the CFM of a fan-first machine. Even though it starts out at 142 CFM (2" diameter), airflow plummets to 106 CFM when a typical 1.125" hose is connected. Then subtract at least 20-30 CFM more for connection losses, hose length losses and power nozzle u-joint losses.

What's available at the power nozzle? Typically 76-86 CFM. Oh, it's backed up with maybe 120" of lift, giving that "suck the paint off the walls feel", but high CFM? Nope.

If you want to move the dirt, you have to move the air. Want to lift things? Then get lots of suction (think of a suction cup, no air hope).

Now if you have something more powerful than 1600 Watts, sure, you could have more airflow, but what happens when you put 140 CFM through a typical 12" nozzle? Answer: you can't push it. That's why Kirby has a 14" nozzle and a tech drive.


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Post# 388891 , Reply# 19   3/24/2018 at 02:43 by vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Silent master has two 5.7 bypass motors with 208 cfm at the unit.

Put that together with a very nice power nozzle.

Are you saying this isn't enough to deep clean your carpets?

Post# 388892 , Reply# 20   3/24/2018 at 02:47 by vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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The Silentmaster S900r has 140 inches of waterlift and 191 CFM at the unit.

Personally I think that is more than enough power to clean any home :)

Post# 388894 , Reply# 21   3/24/2018 at 03:13 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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These ratings don't look so special.

As Roger said the noise level exceeds the EU rating so they won't be able to be sold here unless they can get the noise level down to 80 db.

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Post# 388908 , Reply# 22   3/24/2018 at 05:22 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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We all know the good points of the Kirby and we also know the bad points. It is far from perfect as much as some like to think it is 👍

Post# 388915 , Reply# 23   3/24/2018 at 10:02 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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And Bill the hose is 35mm not 32mm so more airflow.😉

Post# 388921 , Reply# 24   3/24/2018 at 10:37 by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
Mark, I Can See You've Reposted A Fake Kirby Label

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A Kirby Avalir does not score a "C" rating on carpet. BUT, feel free to generate any EU label you like as they have an online label generator here.

And just for laughs, I made one up for the "new" Shark NV1000 (fake of course).

I have to wonder, how much power does your dual 5.7" fan central vac use? 3000 watts? 4000 watts? Does the new EU regs apply to central vacs (I haven't looked at this yet)?


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Post# 388926 , Reply# 25   3/24/2018 at 10:55 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Mine uses 1800w but I'm sure there are central vacs that use more than that 😁

Btw that is not a fake label Roger found it on the Kirby website. They tried hard to hide it though 😊

Post# 388927 , Reply# 26   3/24/2018 at 10:58 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Post# 388929 , Reply# 27   3/24/2018 at 11:07 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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There is one MD Central vac that uses 3000 watts. 😱

Post# 388939 , Reply# 28   3/24/2018 at 11:44 by Sensotronic (Englandshire)        

I do not post fake EU labels. Here is the whole page and a link to the online instruction book. If it's not viewable in the USA I hope a UK member using an ipad will be able to verify it for me. As you can see, you have to skip through to page 64 to find it.


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This post was last edited 03/24/2018 at 17:04
Post# 388940 , Reply# 29   3/24/2018 at 11:55 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Naughty Bill I should put you over my knee and spank you for that! 👋

I don't actually agree with a C rating on carpet I would have thought it would be an A. Maybe Kirby UK should ask for a retest and ask to be present when it's done. I did actually speak to the MD of Kirby UK about this and he was far from happy. His words to me were "Even a bloody Sebo got better ratings" Haha I slapped him down for that remark being a Sebo fan 😁

Post# 388948 , Reply# 30   3/24/2018 at 12:13 by Rolls_rapide (Scotland)        

Exactly how are these EU tests conducted?

You would think that an upright would remove more dirt per pass than a suction only machine.

Some of the El Cheapo machines on sale in Tesco had very poor pick up ratings for carpet. What is going on?

Post# 388951 , Reply# 31   3/24/2018 at 12:19 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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The carpet test in done on a Wilton carpet. An A rating removes 91% of dust a B rating 87% and so on....

I think they need to improve the procedure. Some manufacturers do their own rests. Kirby had there's done in a test centre. I think there should be designated test centres and to use the highest standard of testing possible and test on different thickness of pile, and test for pet hair too.

Post# 388955 , Reply# 32   3/24/2018 at 13:19 by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
I am in shock then Roger...

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that a machine over in the USA, rated by CRI as "gold" and highly by Consumer Reports for years and years does very poorly on European "wilton" carpet. That carpet must not be anywhere close to the typical USA medium pile carpet. If that's the case, then you would need different carpet cleaning machines for European households.

If that label is accurate, a Kirby would:

1) spew out so much dust ("F" rating) that it should make most people sick or at least cough/sneeze when running.

2) Not be worth more than $100-something Euros, because don't you have similarly priced machines that also score a "C" rating for carpet?

Here's a link to CRI's certified vacuums page. Top listing? Kirby Avalir.

Again, if the EU's testing methodologies are to be believed, there would be no point in buying one because most inexpensive cheap plastic vacs would meet or beat a Kirby. We all that's simply not true.

Oh, and the KirbyWHQ website is now down. For UK Kirby browsing, go to


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Post# 388957 , Reply# 33   3/24/2018 at 13:27 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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The poor rating for dust emissions is carbon dust from the motor.

The Sebo X4 had a similar rating because the HEPA or S class filter is before the motor so it doesn't filter the carbon dust very well.

But like I said Kirby has good points and bad points like any vacuum cleaner.

It does get slightly annoying when Kirby fans keep bleating on about how superior they and everything else it a load of 💩

Post# 388959 , Reply# 34   3/24/2018 at 13:56 by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
Silent Master 900R2 240V Specs

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The Silent Master 900R2 (240V) uses 3288 Watts (1644 Watts per motor)

If you want to say that a car with TWO engines is faster than just one engine, go right ahead. My comparison was specifically with a central vac with ONE motor using no more than 1600 Watts.

BTW, the 120V version uses 3336 Watts (1668 Watts per motor).


Post# 388961 , Reply# 35   3/24/2018 at 14:19 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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Yes I did say previously there was one model that uses 3000w. That is a lot of electricity!

All I'm saying is that not only a Kirby is capable of cleaning well there are plenty of other vacs that are capable of keeping your home clean 👍

Post# 388965 , Reply# 36   3/24/2018 at 15:07 by Mike811 (Finland)        

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Central vacuums are powerhouses, but after all the piping and hoses it really needs to be. I was surprised that some portable clean air vacuums can be more powerful than some central vacs.

My personal measurement from one 2200 watt canister vacuum cleaner.
baird 9 = 108 cfm
suction 2800 mm H2O = 110 Inches Of Water
(suction release valve cut the suction)
500 airwatts*

*Suction power tested in accordance with international standard IEC 60312-1, tested by external test institute SLG PrŁf- und Zertifizierungs GmbH (Philips Consumer LifeStyle B.V., August 2012)

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Post# 389187 , Reply# 37   3/27/2018 at 10:40 by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        
It basically depends

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If they are lower end models, maybe not. But central vacuums over the years have improved the performances on the motors they've used. If they are top of the line models, it can easily out clean almost any portable vacuum there is on the market. It's true that Kirby is a good vacuum, but there are so many advantages why I rather use a central vacuum anyday over a Kirby. Easier and faster to use, quieter, better filtration and generally holds more dirt than a Kirby bag, and a better guarantee. With the Vacuflo MaxAir or the Aqua-Air 258 for example with it's two motors, you can actually have two people vacuuming with it at once. Since the Volt powerhead was recently updated with improvements, in the future it could actually out-clean any portable direct air vacuum on the market when Tacony masters it, especially the Royal which I think is the best vacuum when it comes to cleaning carpets.

Post# 389189 , Reply# 38   3/27/2018 at 10:47 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I agree Alex. With the Tandem air volt it must clean extremely well. And yes it's definitely easier to use providing you don't get caught in the hose and go arse over tit 😂

Post# 389250 , Reply# 39   3/27/2018 at 22:03 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
volt improvements

Is there a new volt model? What did they improve on it?

Post# 389609 , Reply# 40   4/2/2018 at 06:17 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I did another experiment today that I saw on Vaclabs channel.

I put a plastic cup on my hardfloors.

I move my Miele C3 towards the cup and measured the point it grabbed the cup. It was 4.5cm away.

Then I did the same with my MD Central grabbed the cup 4cm away.

So the Miele won.

A central vac will have more power at the unit but after it has travelled through a 30ft hose a lot of that power is lost. Claims that a central vac has 3 to 4 times the power of a portable vac is not true at the end of the hose!

Post# 389610 , Reply# 41   4/2/2018 at 06:21 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

The experiment would be due to the loss in the air plumbing in the house or building going to the central machine.Collectors that don't have their units connected by building air plumbing-they just use the hose on the machines utility inlet or put a hose inlet on the machine that doesn't have a utility inlet should get more power than the portable unit.For mine--15A dual stage motor vs 9-10a motor in a portable machine.My units -I just use the 35ft hose with them-awesome power!!!BEATS ANY portable vacuum!

Post# 389611 , Reply# 42   4/2/2018 at 06:25 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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The hose was plugged directly into the unit. And the unit is supposed to have over 700 airwatts.

The Silentmasters that has dual 3 stage motor might have more power but it uses over 3000w of electricity.

So I still like my central vac but it's not quite as powerful as I expected.

Post# 389618 , Reply# 43   4/2/2018 at 10:04 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
that does not sound right

If you are connecting your hose directly to your central vac unit it should definitely be more powerful than most portable machines. I'm wondering if something is not sealed properly. With all of my central vac units, which I use without pipes, it is definitely more powerful than my portable canisters.

Post# 389619 , Reply# 44   4/2/2018 at 10:08 by Vacfan1982 (Cardiff)        

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I don't know. I can't hear any air leaking noises.

Can you try the same experiment with your Miele and MD Central vac?

Post# 389685 , Reply# 45   4/3/2018 at 00:52 by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

My Silentmaster machine has a single motor-the dual motor units run from 220-240V.Mine is for 120V-15A.

Post# 396143 , Reply# 46   8/3/2018 at 18:04 by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

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My current unit is a Riccar RPU-C10. I have a thing for machines with two motors in parallel, I think this offers the best end of hose performance. Although honestly, I've seen and used lots of units that didn't have any more power than a very powerful portable machine, such as a Tri-Star or my bra late 80's Kenmore canister. Even at that I still feel there's advantages over a drag around tragedy. Mostly being that none of the air and filth is blowing back into the room, and you don't hear or schlep the thing around. 


All that being said, my unit won't pull less than a 7 through the 30ft hose! if you straighten the hose out it'll get a solid 9. Sadly one of the boards is going flaky and will leave one of the motors running for a bit after its supposed to stop! So I'm taking the occasion to install a different unit, a bagged one this time. I'm getting an MD Modern Day M965h2, two motors each having 137in of water lift, and 95CFM. I'm also ordering two motors at the same time, from another single motor unit... Two  motors, identical in size and shape, but have 111 CFM and 155in. of water lift... This should be fun, buy a brand new unit and then dick around with it literally the moment it comes out of the box! I have yet to see a portable machine clean better than my Riccar, so this new one will be absolutely nuts!

Post# 396179 , Reply# 47   8/4/2018 at 13:14 by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
cleaning better

In theory a central vac should clean better because the motor is more powerful, especially if you connect the hose directly to the unit, I have 8 central vacuum units here and use them all free standing, no pipes, the power is awesome.
The two motor set up is interesting. If you have two motors in series, it increases the suction or water lift, and two motors in parallel increases the CFM or airflow although in that case, only so much air can go through the hose so I would think the series set up would be better. If I had a 240 volt outlet in my apartment I would probably get one of those.

Post# 396190 , Reply# 48   8/4/2018 at 14:59 by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

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The loss of suction in the pipe system should be absolutely none, airflow loss is very minimal, as the pipe is smooth inside, and if the proper fittings are used, the bends are too. But to me the elaborate plumbing system is part of the draw of a central vac me anyway... But I've put both the Baird indicator and the working vacuum gage "test fixture" at both the farthest inlet from the unit and the utility valve right next to the machine, no difference. The Baird immediately snaps to 10 with a loud whack! And I get about 90 inches of working vacuum at all the inlets. Sealed suction measures about 110, and the slightest drop in flow will be very noticeable on the working vacuum measurement, as it measures the suction with a (I think) 3/4in opening open, the idea being the greater the volume, the better it can hold the vacuum with the open hole. 

Post# 396620 , Reply# 49   8/11/2018 at 16:15 by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        
I'm with Reggie

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I also don't notice any difference in the performance with or without any pipes, unless you have two people vacuumingwith it at once.

Plus, I'd rather have the unit in the garage, basement, or storage room for obvious reasons. I don't have to hear the noise of the unit, just the suction and powerhead itself. All of the dirt and carbon dust can be exhausted out of the house. I've always hated dragging and carrying the canister unit around the house, it would be a nightmare doing the same with the central unit. And it would be so much easier doing maintenance if the unit was hung at the wall.

There are some units with two motors that can run on 120 volts, but they would usually come with a different plug.

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