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Tips For Buying A Ducted Vacuum

October 15, 2014
Tips For Buying A Ducted Vacuum

If you are thinking of installing a ducted vacuum system then this article is a must read with top tips and pitfalls to avoid.

We spoke to John Ellem, the Australian distributor for Volta Centravac for over 23 years, and asked for his tips on what you need to know before buying a ducted vacuuming system in your home.

So here are the five key things that you need to understand when working out which system you should buy for your home:

  1. Not too big, not too small, but just right

  2. Is it distance to the furthest point or the entire pipe run that’s more important?

  3. Is all horsepower equal?

  4. What about your warranty fine print?

  5. Every install is different.

Not Too Big, Not Too Small, But Just Right.

Its not just Goldilocks who likes things to be just right, but in the world of ducted vacuuming, not getting the right system size for your home is both costly and frustrating.

Ducted Vacuuming is definitely not an area where the old adage bigger is better applies.

If you are thinking that a bit more horsepower will get you a better result, read on for the reality.

A ducted vacuuming system that is fitted with a bigger motor than is necessary will be difficult to use as the vacuum head will stick to the carpet making it really difficult to push.

At this point, I was thinking that the extra effort in pushing the vac would surely mean a superior clean?

The reality is no.

Even though the motor is working under stress, its not actually cleaning efficiently as there is not enough airflow, and the suction level is just too high.

The end result will be a shorter life for your vacuum motor due to burn out.

So what about if you are tempted to purchase a slightly smaller system?

It might be better for your budget, but how will it perform?

An under specced system will be really easy to push – in fact too easy.

You’ll be pushing the vacuum head back and forth 3 or 4 times to try and pick up dirt, simply because its underpowered.

And the system will be even less productive at its furthest point.

The bottom line is it won’t clean the carpets properly, your motor will be over-revving and shortening its life span.

So John’s advice is, work with a credible supplier and make sure that you get the right system for your home.

Ducted Vacuum

The right system will deliver you a consistent clean, it will be easy to use, and last longer.

Is It Distance To The Furthest Point Or The Entire Pipe Run That’s More Important?

Designing a ducted vacuum system is technical.

Most home owners aren’t experts, so its important to recognise that specifications can be used to confuse a customer as much as inform.

Each of the following is a valid technical aspect of designing a ducted vacuum system:

  • Distance from the furthest suction point back to the motor
  • And, the length of all of the pipes in the system, including the vacuum hose

But neither of them on their own will tell you which system is right for you to buy.

The salesperson should be speaking to you about air watts, or cleaning power.

And this is calculated by looking at the strength of suction multiplied by movement of air, and takes into account a host of other technical factors (like the number of corners!).

Get this calculation right and you get cleaning power.

Get it wrong, and the system is either overpowered or underpowered and either way, your vacuum won’t clean the way you want it to.

Don’t feel pressured to buy the unit on offer because that is the unit that is currently available, or what’s on special.

Instead make sure you get the right unit for you and it will work properly.

Is All Horsepower Equal?

One of the other areas that can lead to confusion is when comparing the wattage or horsepower across systems.

Here are the things you need to know to help you compare:

  • Firstly, when you are looking at the wattage quoted for a motor make sure that it is the wattage when the motor is running, NOT when it is starting. Every motor draws more watts when it is firing up, but doesn’t maintain this wattage when it is operating.

  • Secondly, if someone talks to you about horsepower, don’t be tricked into thinking that two motors will deliver more horsepower than a single motor. For example, 2 motors of 1.5HP each, actually deliver less suction than a single 2.25HP motor.

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Like most warranties, make sure you read the fine print or ask what the warranty conditions are so that you can easily compare.

Some brands will offer a longer warranty period but only if you have it serviced at regular intervals.

If you don’t get it serviced your warranty will lapse.

For some of the major brands there are no servicing requirements to qualify for your warranty.

This means that the cost of operating your system is less.

Reputable ducted vacuuming units are designed to last as long as your home.

At some point they may need repairs, so one of the key bits of advice John gave us was to check that spare parts are available for the model that you choose.

John’s obviously passionate, but for Volta units he keeps parts for units up to 30 years old in stock.

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The Right Design For Your Home

Ducted vacuum systems are a custom installed product. This means that every home is different.

So find a company who you have confidence in. You should always expect a site inspection (where possible!).

Just looking at plans won’t show where the beams have been placed during construction and other access restrictions for piping.

Be wary of a fixed price installation guarantee, as working to a fixed price won’t always get you the same outcome.

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John’s Words Of Ducted Vacuuming Wisdom:

  • How many inlets?

As many as necessary, as few as possible.

  • How long should the hose be?

There is nothing more frustrating than a hose that isn’t long enough.

The average hose length is 11m NOT 4m.

The hose needs to reach every corner of your house, when there is furniture in the rooms!

And John’s Final Tip:

Be wary of the company who wants to upsell you a powered vacuum head to compensate for an underpowered system!

VOLTA Centravac Stockists:

The Team at RenoExchange would like to thank John from Ellems Centravac for his time and terrific tips for our readers when it comes to ducted vacuum systems.

Discover our editors opinion on VOLTA Centravac systems by clicking here