The key factors in evaluating vacuums are:

1. Motor Size:  This is usually measured in amps. The larger the number, the more powerful the motor.  

2. Number of Motors: Upright vacuum can have one motor that drives both the vacuum and the brush, or two motors - one for the vacuum and a separate motor for the brush.  Generally, you will want a two motor step-up.

3. Bag or tank capacity: The more quickly the bag fills, the more frequently it will have to be changed. Keep in mind that, as the bag fills, the efficiency of your vacuuming goes down. Change bags often for top efficiency.

4. Fill location: Uprights can either fill the bag from the top or the bottom. A bottom fill forces the vacuum to push all the debris in the bag up to allow more to enter. A top fill lets it drop down.  A top fill is preferred. The bottom fill puts more strain on the motor.

5. Lift: This is measured in inches of mercury or inches of water lift.  This is particularly important for wet-dry vacuums. Lift will vary depending on where the measurement is taken. The closer to the motor, the higher the measurement. You are interested in lift at the wand.  

6. Air Flow: This will be measured in cubic feet (or centimeters) per minute.  The more air flow, the better. Air flow is what carries the soil up into the bag or container.

7. Construction Material: The housing for the vacuum might be anything from an inexpensive brittle plastic to a polished chrome.  You are interested more in total weight, durability and ease of maintenance than in the appearance.

8. Air Filtration: The cheapest systems have a cloth bag that has to be dumped, cleaned regularly and replaced since it becomes saturated with dust.  Better units will have two to four stage filtration systems with throw away paper filter bags down to .3 micros or less to reduce dust.  

9. Ergonomics: The weight of the machine, handle construction, wheels or rollers if an upright unit, length of cord and maneuverability are all factors that impact the decision for utilizing a unit. A full vacuum cleaner can weigh 20-40 pounds or more causing the user to stress the wrists and arms.  Note that a back pack wand weighs ounces and if used correctly exercises the hips rather than the wrists.

10. Total Cost of Ownership: The real cost of a vacuum cleaner is how fast can the operator perform their tasks effectively? Slower units may cost less initially to purchase but will cost many times more in lost productivity (labor plus benefits) over a 3-5 year period of operation. Durability and reparability are also important factors to consider. 

There are many factors to consider in choosing the best vacuum cleaner for the job at hand. Invest the time to learn the strengths and weaknesses of each unit before committing. 


Your comments and questions are always welcome.  I hope to hear from you soon. Until then, keep it clean…


Mickey Crowe has been involved in the industry for over 35 years. He is a trainer, speaker and consultant. You can reach Mickey at 678.314.2171 or