Thread Number: 43493  /  Tag: Recent Vacuum Cleaners from past 20 years
Do central vacuums actually deep-clean carpets as good as a portable?
[Down to Last]

Vacuumland's exclusive eBay Watch:
scroll >>> for more items --- [As an eBay Partner, eBay may compensate if you make a purchase using any link to eBay on this page]
Post# 454229   6/30/2022 at 01:55 (603 days old) by ajr2993 (Bakersfield, CA)        

Central vacuums are good for above-the-floor cleaning but do they actually deep-clean carpets, I've heard from one user that the piping creates a lot of air resistance, and only gets about 50 CFM at the nozzle.

Post# 454246 , Reply# 1   6/30/2022 at 14:26 (603 days old) by Bimmer740 (Long Island, New York)        

bimmer740's profile picture
I installed a VacuFlo 566Q in my parents house back in 2006 when I still lived at home and I can say that they most certainly do clean carpets exceptionally well! We've had several different power nozzles over the years, as well as the TurboCat Zoom air driven nozzle for quick pick ups, and all have done a great job. I installed a unit that is rated to be used in a house up to 8,000 sq ft and their house is around 3,00 sq ft with 4 direct connect inlets. I highly recommend an electric power nozzle if you have wall to wall carpeting, pets, children, etc. I don't think the air driven nozzles clean incredibly well, but for quick pick ups they are convenient. You can use an electric power nozzle with almost any set up now even if your don't have direct connect inlets, they have hoses with a pig tail electrical connection, and now they even have battery operated power nozzles available from Wessel-Werks and other manufacturers. There is plenty of information out there about central vacuum systems and endless videos on YouTube, I'd recommend that you double check the information you're getting from this particular source because they don't seem to have their facts straight.

Post# 454247 , Reply# 2   6/30/2022 at 14:42 (603 days old) by Bimmer740 (Long Island, New York)        

bimmer740's profile picture
I forgot to add that if you use a unit that is under powered or just has performance due to how it was engineered, then just like a portable vacuum, the system will not clean well. It's not just the size of the power unit that matters but it does play a large role, as well as how the system was installed in the home. If the piping is not installed correctly you won't be able to utilize the unit's power to its full potential.

Post# 454260 , Reply# 3   6/30/2022 at 19:23 (602 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

panasonicvac's profile picture
With a very powerful TOL unit like the CycloVac 7525 or the Aqua-Air 258 equipped with a Hide-A-Hose CX1000 or the Volt powerhead for example, you're guaranteed to have your carpets deep cleaned.

Post# 454345 , Reply# 4   7/2/2022 at 15:42 (601 days old) by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
yes, absolutely

If the right size unit is used and the pipes are installed correctly, it should clean carpets as good or even better than a portable vacuum. It's always best to get a power unit that is rated for a larger house than what you have, more power cannot hurt, it can only help you. While it's not the only thing to consider, I would suggest getting the largest power unit that your budget will allow. Having said that, the cleaning tools are just as important. If you have carpet, I would not even consider an air driven nozzle for several reasons. First, the sound is awful, they sound like a dentist drill on steroids, second it robs power from the vacuum to spin the turbine, and third, everything vacuumed up goes through the turbine so they are very prone to clogs. There are hoses available with electric cords on them that plug in to a nearby outlet and this will work just as well to power an electric nozzle as a direct connect valve. And if you want to use one of the systems where the hose pulls out of the wall there are battery powered nozzles available that will clean just as well as the plug in electric nozzles, so there is no reason to use turbine nozzles anymore. The installation is also important, if the wrong pipe fittings are used, it will make the system more prone to clogs and may reduce airflow.

Post# 454372 , Reply# 5   7/3/2022 at 13:55 (600 days old) by blueviewlaguna (California)        

Interesting subject, what experience has everyone had in regard to measured Central Vac CFM at the hose end? - best and worst.

Post# 454386 , Reply# 6   7/3/2022 at 20:23 (599 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        

blackheart's profile picture
It's not as easy as portable vs central really. there's such a wide variance in their performance and it's clear they are not all created equal. These are all units I've owned at some point or another stock images used where I couldn't find my own pictures. Each unit had it's flow measurements taken at the hose end with the hose being directly connected to the unit with a very small amount of pipework. and it's still not a great snapshot of their performance as there's really no parallel units in here the one series one i've had was years old and probably nowhere near as strong as a modern unit.

  View Full Size
Post# 454387 , Reply# 7   7/3/2022 at 20:25 (599 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        
oh no!

blackheart's profile picture
That looks terrible lets break them down and try again. I went by chronological order with them not by performance.

  View Full Size
Post# 454388 , Reply# 8   7/3/2022 at 20:26 (599 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        
pt 2

blackheart's profile picture
There now you can actually read them!

  View Full Size
Post# 454400 , Reply# 9   7/4/2022 at 10:28 (599 days old) by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
The Simple Answer is No, They Don't

vaclab's profile picture
I've posted extensively on this subject in the past, but central vacuums can't be as good as the best portable vacs. Let's investigate why...

1) Assume a typical central vac canister (single motor) starts with 140 CFM
2) Add 50 ft. of piping and 35 ft. of hose and it will drop to 100 CFM (typical)
3) Hook up to a power nozzle (wands, u-joint) and the airflow can drop to 80 CFM (typical)

Suction loss at the PN is astronomical as well. Check out Blackheart's YT channel and you'll see for yourself (Go Blackheart!)

Pick any newer Royal, Kirby or Sanitaire and they have around 150 nozzle CFM.

Added portable bonus: much less power usage. Say 1700 watts versus 600 watts.

Since both can use H11 (HEPA) bags, filtration is just as good.

FYI, I've lived in (and parents owned) 4 houses since 1974 that have central vacuums. With typical use, they can clog periodically.

If you need to deep clean pile carpets, appropriate agitation coupled with as much airflow as you can push (Kirby excels here) wins every time.

If you primarily have bare floors, very little is required to clean those well. Witness the explosion of low CFM robot and stick vacs (20 CFM and lower).


  View Full Size
Post# 454433 , Reply# 10   7/5/2022 at 04:45 (598 days old) by cbimmer (USA)        

What are some of you sucking up that could clog the vacuum pipes? Again, every house I've lived in has had a central vacuum and they never clogged. If the debris makes it through the power nozzle/floor brush, vacuum hose, and inlet then there just shouldn't be any reason for a properly installed system to clog. The tools and hose have a smaller diameter than the pipes.

My house would be dirtier with a portable vacuum for the simple reason that it jist wouldn't be used as often. With shorter retractable hoses installed in kitchen, laundry room, and bathrooms you can vacuum high traffic areas in seconds.

Post# 454462 , Reply# 11   7/5/2022 at 20:07 (597 days old) by panasonicvac (Northern Utah)        

panasonicvac's profile picture
I actually agree with the last post. My parent's central vac has only had ONE clog out of 32 years of using it and it was from user neglect. It wasn't the vacuum's or the piping's fault. As long as you don't vacuum up anything that you're not supposed to and if you maintain your piping with wipes like the Tornado Maintenance Cloths, you shouldn't have any clogging issues.

I don't however agree with the other post that high airflow and agitation is what's needed to deep clean carpets. For example. My grandparent's Kirby, one of the tech drive models with strong air flow and agitation, did a horrible job on some of the carpets they had. Not only it struggled picking up sand and cat litter but also ice melt salt that was used for the winter. In fact just after my grandfather's passing a few months ago, we tore up those carpets and there was a BUNCH of sand and dust underneath the carpet and carpet pad that the Kirby should've easily sucked up. That was where I really missed the Dirt Devil Jaguar (Breeze) bagless upright the most that my grandparents used to have. From my experience, the Dirt Devil not only felt like it had as good of agitation and airflow but it definitely had more suction power than the Kirby since it was a bypass machine. In fact, that one did SO MUCH better on those carpets. Not to mention that it was bagless where I can easily see what's coming into the dust bin, it's harder to tell what's coming into the bag on the Kirby. And it's so much easier to use the hose with the attachments. I've ended up doing a much faster and better job on those carpets with the Dirt Devil than with the Kirby. There was absolutely nothing wrong with the Kirby. I would always change the bag and the belt on the Kirby, actually more often than I should've. The fan had been replaced twice. And the brushroll, the motor bearings and the carbon brushes had been changed out. The thing that I've never liked about the Kirby was every time I would vacuum with it, I would always find sand and grit inside the nozzle that should've been easily sucked up had it had more suction power. I'm likely going to be disagreed here but I'm just saying that only high airflow and agitation didn't work for me.

Post# 454512 , Reply# 12   7/6/2022 at 21:30 (596 days old) by vacuumdevil (Vacuum Hell )        

vacuumdevil's profile picture
@ajr2993 I'm not sure where you get your numbers from?
To my knowledge nobody has a laboratory capable of testing CFM accurately. There are a couple people who have measured very wrong with some homemade air boxes for YouTube entertainment. But I wouldn't put any weight behind them.

To answer your question Central Vacuums are the most powerful type of vacuum you can buy. Having a machine run off of 240 volts capable producing 200+CFM there's absolutely no question behind that.

If you're asking this question I'm guessing you don't own a central vacuum or have much experience using one? You can definitely tell the difference. It's hard to go back to portable vacuums after having a central vacuum.

I can't believe you're in Bakersfield California! That's the home of MD aka modern-day manufacturing. If I were you I would call and see if you could arrange a tour of their factory and learn for yourself.

CLICK HERE TO GO TO vacuumdevil's LINK

Post# 454515 , Reply# 13   7/6/2022 at 22:47 (596 days old) by Gmarquez (Central California)        

I second vacuumdevil about trying to stop into the Md factory. Iím from Bakersfield as well, itís right off of 7th standard. Iíve gone there a couple times to pick up parts for my stealth head. Everyone there is super friendly and helpful
As for central vacs performance I know a lot of people in town have the Md silent master and theyíre absolutely incredibly efficient deep cleaners couldnít recommend them highly enough!

Post# 454517 , Reply# 14   7/6/2022 at 22:56 (596 days old) by ajr2993 (Bakersfield, CA)        

@vacuumdevil I already did. I told them a lot about their systems, knowing how they're made, seeing all the attachments, seeing their competitors, and I even got a T-shirt with the MD logo on it.

Post# 454544 , Reply# 15   7/7/2022 at 17:07 (595 days old) by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

ultralux88's profile picture
I guess I'm just at a loss for why people tend to so strongly believe central vacs can't retain their perforce just because of the long distance the air has to flow. Yes, I could conceive of a way to install the plumbing to ensure it loses most of its airflow, just use all tight 90s and sweep Ts. If you use the right fittings, the system will be less restrictive, and also less prone to clogging. If you use a high powered unit (and you should, or you're defeating the point with this...) you will most certainly end up with better performance than any portable. Especially if you use the right hose, the biggest restriction in the whole system should be the hose end tube, or the tool attached to it.

And for clogs, I suck up everything under the sun with my system. Literally if it fits into the hose end it goes. Napkins, receipts, candy wrappers, dryer sheets and just any and every other kind of debris you could imagine, and I have NOT ONCE had to unclog my own system. Again, if the unit is powered properly and the piping was installed correctly, you don't have these problems.

Bill, I'm sorry you've had experience with a system that isn't really up to even the standards of the day. I think, if you actually tried a newer system out, a good one, you'll understand why they are preferable to something like a Kirby.

Post# 454546 , Reply# 16   7/7/2022 at 17:40 (595 days old) by beagledad (Florida)        

I've noticed that some vacuum fans don't like central vacuums for whatever reason and so they come around and make stuff up. The premise of this thread is just absurd.

Post# 454556 , Reply# 17   7/7/2022 at 23:11 (595 days old) by ralph123 (Little Rock, AR)        

central vacs are only as good as the install. Unfortunately some contractors aren't worth much, and the systems are leaky and weak. If installed correctly, they can be wonderfully quiet and powerful.

Post# 454575 , Reply# 18   7/8/2022 at 12:51 (595 days old) by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

ultralux88's profile picture
Really that is it. A crappy install yields a crappy system with a lousy user experience. Also, the same goes for the unit and tool kit. As a side note, when I do an install I make damn good and sure the system performs as I led the customer to expect it would. Unless my work impresses me, I feel I've failed the customer.

Also, I've noticed a tendency for some collators to choose to think negatively towards machines they feel they can't obtain. I see it with things like the high end Euro vacs too.

Post# 454640 , Reply# 19   7/10/2022 at 09:31 (593 days old) by n0oxy (Saint Louis Missouri, United States)        
I love central vacuums

I have several central vacuum units, several canister cleaners and several backpack vacuums. I like them all of course but I find that in most cases, I'm reaching for the central vacuum hose. I use all of my central vacuum units without pipes, attach a utility valve to the in-take if the unit does not have a valve built in, connect the hose and you have a very powerful hose cleaner. I have several dual motor units, some have the motors in series and some are in parallel, it's definitely more noticeable to have the motors in series because the suction at the end of the hose is increased, but for longer pipe runs, many people think that a parallel configuration is better since this provides more airflow. I think either configuration would probably work fine in most cases.

Post# 454641 , Reply# 20   7/10/2022 at 10:06 (593 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        
Dual motors

blackheart's profile picture
So I figured I'd wait to share this until the unit was shipped. I bought a Parallel motor Beam off marketplace. It appears to be comparable to their SC3500 which is their current TOL there's a difference of 45 AW but when you're looking at a range in the 1000 45 isn't that significant. It'll be interesting to see how this does at the end of the hose, And yes I know their inverted filters are not great so bags will be in order. Now all I need is a decently priced powerful series motor unit that and a place to put in a proper install to really get a look at their performance.

Post# 454642 , Reply# 21   7/10/2022 at 10:06 (593 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        

blackheart's profile picture
Forgot the photos!

  Photos...       <              >      Photo 1 of 4         View Full Size
Post# 454645 , Reply# 22   7/10/2022 at 14:01 (593 days old) by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        

vaclab's profile picture
Please everyone remember that your personal experience usually doesn't equate with the typical user experience. Owners that actually care about their machines treat them differently.

I've never clogged reasonably working vacuum under normal circumstances. That being said, I've seen countless people clog all sorts of machines, including central vacs since the 1970's. The last one my parents had installed was in 2004.

Think about what owners are told about such machines when they are installed (suck the paint off the walls, etc.). Now imagine what the typical owner will attempt to suck up. Let's see, how about fireplace ashes, mountains of dog hair, and lots of drywall dust. Oh, and some of that material will also be damp. So all that muck gets progressively stuck in the hose and pipes and Viola! You've got yourself a healthy clog. Simply really.

And Alex, I never cease to be amazed at how little you know about how a vacuum works, especially central vacuums. You quote how powerful the motor is and you should know by now that makes little to no difference.

As I've said countless times, what you start out with is not what you end up with for cleaning power. Check out the chart above and you'll see that the airflow loss drops significantly when reducing the orifice size. And that's at the motor end, not including any piping or hoses. Learn how to read a chart please!

Post# 454649 , Reply# 23   7/10/2022 at 14:37 (593 days old) by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        
Blackheart's Canavac Tests

vaclab's profile picture
Power consumed (no nozzle), about 1556 Watts
Canister Airflow (@ port) = 192 CFM
Canister Suction (@ port) = 134 inches

***With no piping***
Hose airflow = 111 CFM
Hose suction = 130 inches

Hook the above to your favorite wand and power nozzle and you'll see airflow and suction drop much lower.

I don't have anything against any type of vacuum (I like them all to a degree), but what grinds my gears is when people make false claims about any vacuum (or vacuum type). That's why I started my channel.

Useable nozzle CFM from an installed central vacuum is nothing special. The delivery method proves this.

With the average rugplate, a vacuum isn't very push-able on pile carpet with high airflow and/or high suction. Want proof? Try any newer Kirby with the tech drive "off" on thicker carpet and see how far you get.


Post# 454780 , Reply# 24   7/13/2022 at 12:31 (590 days old) by Ultralux88 (Denver, Colorado)        

ultralux88's profile picture
Blackheart, your Beam uses different, arguably better motors, 3 fan 5.7 horned exhaust. A little less CFM than the new one, but more water lift and a lot longer life.

Vaclab I have sucked up everything, aside from the fireplace ashes (and I don't recommend that one), including damp stuff, and definitely mountains of pet hair, kitty litter, pine needles. I've even sucked up small bits of water when cleaning out vacuums at work. A central vac is the vacuum for people who just suck everything up and not care.

As for motor size, power, orifice size and flow reduction etc... I've seen many of those charts, and I am fully aware that a vacuum motor is simply a blower, reducing the orifice size in the flow creates pressure, on the in flow side that's negative pressure, on the outgoing side that's positive pressure. At any orifice size, more water lift will increase the flow. As you add the pipe system, hose, and attachments, it's the suction pressure that keeps the flow strong. The lower the suction, the greater the loss as you restrict the orifice. Coincidentally, this same principal works when the nozzle your'e using comes into contact with carpet. The carpet itself becomes a restriction. A Kirby, with the nozzle off the floor may move more air than my central vac head off the floor, but as soon as they are trying to move air through carpet nap, the flow of air with weaker force behind it will be the most impeded. Same goes for upholstery, set the nozzle on the couch and the machine with more water lift will force more air through the fabric.

All the suction in the world won't get the dirt without movement of air, and all of the CFM in the world does no good if it can't be forced through the places where the dirt needs swept out of.

Post# 454796 , Reply# 25   7/13/2022 at 17:50 (589 days old) by vaclab (Pickerington, Ohio)        

vaclab's profile picture
You stated: "At any orifice size, more water lift will increase the flow."
My Response: Suction does not increase the flow, it ATTEMPS to maintain what you have. Notice I said ATTEMPS. You cannot exceed the base airflow measured at the motor, it's all downhill from there.

Want some actual numbers that show just how much suction maintains actual flow through carpet? Glad you asked! See the chart below but here's a snippet:

Airflow box tests (sealed)
Dyson DC65 (@ nozzle) has 58 CFM and 64"
Kirby Avalir (@nozzle) has 150 CFM and 30"

Airflow through the carpet (brushroll ON)
Dyson DC65 = 26 CFM
Kirby Avalir = 57 CFM

So the Kirby loses about 62% of its airflow and the Dyson loses about 55% of its airflow. Despite the Dyson having more than DOUBLE the sealed nozzle suction, the Kirby still has more than DOUBLE the usable airflow through a medium pile carpet. And to boot, the Kirby uses dramatically less Watts than the bagless Dyson.


  View Full Size
Post# 454797 , Reply# 26   7/13/2022 at 18:03 (589 days old) by beagledad (Florida)        

Thank you Ultralix88 for your informative and polite post. You explained it well in simple terms and I really appreciate that!

Post# 454831 , Reply# 27   7/14/2022 at 05:45 (589 days old) by Blackheart (North Dakota)        
Beam motors

blackheart's profile picture
Reggie, the motors are a 119678 2 stage motor. Found the specs on the vacuum factory's website. I'd assume the lift is less than the 3 stage you mentioned but with greater flow.
Motor Type: Bypass
Discharge: Tangential
Bearings: Double Ball Bearing
Sealed Vacuum: 127.7 inches
Maximum Air Watts: 523
Maximum Air Flow: 115 CFM
Maximum Amps: 7.3
Motor Speed: 28,726 RPM

With you being a central vac guy. Is there a specific type of foam used for sound deadening in them? The half inch thick stuff below the plastic dome was crumbly. I picked up some polyurethane foam from a local hardware store at the suggestion of someone from swiss boy vacuum stores. But it's like I can't help but wonder if I should be using something a little different.

Post# 454843 , Reply# 28   7/14/2022 at 08:08 (589 days old) by gottahaveahoove (Pittston, Pennsylvania, 18640)        
IF I were gutting a home OR

gottahaveahoove's profile picture

building one, I'd certainly install at least the pipes, etc....for a future install.  Sensible idea.


Post# 454875 , Reply# 29   7/15/2022 at 00:54 (588 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

NOTE:Picking up ash,liquids CAN void your vacuums warranty.You CANNOT use the vacuum system as a trashcan.It is just that a VACUUM CLEANER-just like any other.Pick up those things with a vacuum DESIGNED to pick those up.If you pick up ash,liquids-get a shop type vacuum-and EMPTY it each time you do pick up ash with it.

Post# 454882 , Reply# 30   7/15/2022 at 08:30 (588 days old) by kloveland (Tulsa)        

kloveland's profile picture

Iíve been to quite a few estate sales with central vacs and the most of the time (not always) an additional vac or two is in the sale upright or canister. Iíve known at least two other people who have owned/own central vacs and also owned an upright. I find that interesting.

Post# 454884 , Reply# 31   7/15/2022 at 09:08 (588 days old) by dysonman1 (the county)        

dysonman1's profile picture
I probably have one of the most plumbed homes for central vac there is (but look who my friends are - central vac installers). The suction and airflow at the end of any of my hoses is greater than the same on any of my portables. I use different power nozzles on my hoses just to see the difference, and my favorites are the Rainbow PE power nozzle as well as the EBK360. Once a year, at the Vacuum Cleaner Collectors Convention in September, the guys empty my machine. And weigh the bag.

Evan R. taught me to use Viva paper towels, dampen them, and they are the same as Tornado cloths. After I sucked up taco salad (never give a puppy left over taco salad) I used the cloths and they worked like a charm.

  View Full Size
Post# 454922 , Reply# 32   7/16/2022 at 06:43 (587 days old) by tolivac (Greenville,NC)        

Maybe I should try my using the Kirby Avalir 1 or 2 as a "powernozzle" to my MD Silentmaster central vacuum or others in my collection.Newest one is a Riccar machine.

Forum Index:       Other Forums:                      

Comes to the Rescue!

Woops, Time to Check the Bag!!!
Either you need to change your vacuum bag or you forgot to LOG-IN?

Discuss-O-MAT Log-In

New Members
Click Here To Sign Up.

Discuss-o-Mat Forums
Vintage Brochures, Service and Owners Manuals
Fun Vintage Washer Ephemera
See It Wash!
Video Downloads
Audio Downloads
Picture of the Day
Patent of the Day
Photos of our Collections
The Old Aberdeen Farm
Vintage Service Manuals
Vintage washer/dryer/dishwasher to sell?
Technical/service questions?
Looking for Parts?
Website related questions?
Digital Millennium Copyright Act Policy
Our Privacy Policy