Lightweight upright vacuums have long been lauded for the advantages their low weight provides: end users appreciate the maneuverability of the vacuums and the ease of carrying the machines from one floor to the next as it helps reduce worker fatigue, is safer and enhances productivity. Most of these single-motor vacuums weigh between eight to 10 pounds compared to traditional vacuums, which weigh anywhere from between 15 to 20 pounds.

The knock on these vacuums has always been their cleaning power compared to the traditional dual-motor upright vacuums. However, certain technological advancements have narrowed the power gap between lightweight vacuums and their traditional counterparts.

Why Uprights?

End users don’t purchase lightweight upright vacuums for their suction power or their durability. The main selling point remains how light the vacuum is.

Traditional uprights are heavy, bulky machines. Continually lifting a vacuum on and off a cleaning cart and vacuuming more than a dozen hotel rooms in a shift can be tiring for janitors of any age, but especially exhausting for the elderly, a demographic increasingly making up housekeeping staffs. However, lightweight upright vacuums allow end users to clean without getting fatigued so easily.

Lightweight vacuums are also ergonomically friendly. The design and weight of traditional machines makes it difficult to lift them, especially with one hand. But lightweight vacuums often feature a center-based carrying handle — with a comfortable grip — that allows users to easily lift them and transport them from one room to the next.

Worker productivity can benefit from the switch to lighter machines. Some lightweight uprights feature a power cord that automatically recoils into the vacuum when a user unplugs it from the wall rather than needing to wrap the cord around the machine. While it may seem minor, this helps reduce downtime between cleaning duties, making employees a little more productive.

Lightweight vacuums clean the surface of the carpet very well, picking up large, noticeable debris. The sweeping power is sufficient for workers that are concerned about the appearance of their carpet rather than a daily deep clean.

When more cleaning power is needed, users can easily change out various pieces of equipment and attachments in lightweight uprights to use in the heavy-duty commercial machines and vice versa. Maintenance between the machines is easy to do because most of the lightweight uprights do not require any tools to change out the parts of the machine.

Lightweight uprights have improved their cleaning capability during the past few years, especially when it comes to cleaning for health. Most lightweight vacuums now feature HEPA filtration systems. HEPA systems capture 99.97 percent of airborne allergens for improved indoor air quality, an important feature for many facilities that have an emphasis on green cleaning.

Other green aspects of the machines are their improved dust containment and soil removal — two criteria needed to achieve the Carpet and Rug Institute’s (CRI) Seal of Approval.

The vacuums’ internal systems have also become more resistant to metal objects. In the past, lightweight uprights were built with inexpensive plastics and other materials, leaving them prone to damage from items such as pennies or paperclips when sucked into the vacuum. Now, the vacuums are composed of aluminum and magnesium, which are light in weight, but provide stronger resistance to metallic objects. Thus, the vacuums can pick up metallic objects without being as susceptible to internal damage.

Big In Hospitality

While there is some interest in lightweight machines in facilities such as restaurants, hospitality customers are the most common purchasers.

Housekeepers need to easily transport vacuums from room to room and because the vacuums are light in weight, they allow housekeepers greater maneuverability than other uprights.

In a hotel, workers have to move quickly from one area to the next. Heavy, dual-motor upright vacuums are cumbersome and are difficult for workers to continually pick up to place on housekeeping carts. By using the lightweight uprights, workers can pick up the vacuums with much more ease, place them on the cleaning cart and go onto the next room for a hassle free shift.

The housekeeping staff also needs to clean some tight and tough spots. Vacuuming between and under furniture in confined spaces can be difficult to do with the wider, heavier machines. With the lightweight vacuums, staff can maneuver easily and get into the hard-to-reach spots. In fact, the flat-to-floor positioning feature allows the user to vacuum with the handle parallel to the floor so the long handle on the vacuum does not bump into any furniture.

Another benefit of lightweight machines is their affordability. Hotels need to have many vacuums on hand because of the number of rooms that have to be cleaned in a short amount of time. Also, in the event a lightweight upright breaks, a hotel should have another one at their immediate disposal.

Areas To Improve

Even with the recent advancements made to lightweight upright vacuums, they still have some catching up to do compared to their dual-motor counterparts.

The most glaring difference between the machines is in durability. The traditional uprights have two motors— one to run the beater bar, the other to run the vacuum itself. Because lightweight uprights only have a single motor to run the entire vacuum, it is prone to break down or burn out much faster.

Though the lightweights have smaller motors, they can create a noise disturbance that traditional uprights do not. Traditional uprights have a plastic covering, encasing the loud noise created from running a vacuum. The lightweight uprights, however, only have an external bag, which does not muffle noise as well. For day cleaning in office buildings and other commercial facilities, the noise from lightweight uprights can often create a distraction for workers in the building.

Advancements made to lightweight upright vacuums, such as HEPA filtration have helped improve the cleaning ability of the machines. However, these uprights still do not clean as well as their counterparts. The dual motor machines also deep clean carpet, picking up dust mites and small particulates.

The advancements in lightweight upright vacuums have already made the machines more productive compared to lightweight uprights manufactured in the past. However, if the machines can improve their deep-cleaning capability, lightweight vacuums should be able to gain popularity in other markets.


The following companies contributed to this article:



Minuteman Int’l,



Pullman Holt Corp.,

Rubbermaid Commercial Products,

Tacony Corp.,

Tornado Industries,

Windsor Industries,