When it comes to backpack vacuum options, BSCs also face a choice of whether to purchase battery or corded units. Vacuums without cords remove the chance of trips and falls, especially when cleaning occupied spaces. Cords also tend to crash into personal items on desks and get frayed underneath cubicles and chairs, forcing BSCs to buy more extension cords. Lastly, cord management eats up time compared to vacuuming with a battery-operated machine, especially when cleaning flights of stairs.

“The efficiencies are just astronomical,” says Robarge. “A corded upright cleans around 2,400 to 2,500 square feet per hour. A corded backpack is around 9,000 to 12,000 square feet per hour. I’ve seen numbers from manufacturers of battery-powered backpacks upwards of 26,000 to 30,000 square feet per hour.”

Although impressive, those productivity numbers come at a cost. Corded units are less expensive than their battery counterparts. Even additional or replacement cords cost a few bucks compared to the batteries that can be hundreds of dollars. And the decision on how many batteries will be needed depends on the amount of time the backpack vacuum will be operated in each shift, compared to how long the battery needs to be recharged.

Another advantage to new backpack vacuums compared to a fleet of older model upright vacuums is filtration. The newest backpack vacuums have HEPA filters, which can contain 99.97 percent of allergens, and are much more efficient at capturing and storing dust and debris, Cummings says. This is especially important for BSCs as they face a heightened awareness over indoor air quality and concern over cleanliness with the pandemic.

“You’re putting less dust into the air,” Cummings says. “From a health standpoint, removing that dust removes more germs floating around in the air, giving us cleaner buildings.”

Brendan O’Brien is a freelance writer based in Chicago.

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