While battery function is important, manufacturers warn buyers not to sacrifice performance for longer runtimes when shopping for a battery-powered vacuum currently on the market. 

“I would look at the performance ratings of the motor,” says Hickman. “We want to make sure we’re not sacrificing suction and vacuum strength just to make the battery run longer.”

Steinberg agrees: “The most important thing you have to look at is cleaning power,” he says. “You want a high CFM. There’s a lot of equipment out there that doesn’t have the ability or power to clean effectively. It might be lighter in weight and smaller in size, but if you sacrifice the equipment’s ability to do the thing you purchased it to do — and that’s clean — you’re wasting your time.” 

Distributors should caution end users not to let battery features overshadow the true performance of the battery-powered vacuum, or lack thereof. 

“We need to develop something that is truly useful to the customer,” says Hyatt. “We could design a battery-operated device that will run for eight hours, but the cleaning performance would be sacrificed and not meet user expectations. It’s important that we don’t sacrifice the cleaning performance of the unit for the sake of saying we have a battery in it.”


May See Battery Tech In Commercial Vacs In Future 

When battery technology improves, commercial vacuum manufacturers say backpack vacuums will be the most likely model to feature the power source. 

“I don’t see batteries being used in upright vacuums,” says Hickman. “It’s more suitable for the backpack. You’re already very efficient with a backpack, and not having a cord is really going to extend your performance and the amount of area you can clean.”

Additionally, backpack vacuums only require a suction motor, says Hyatt, whereas an upright could potentially need a brush roll motor, as well. 

“That would slightly impact your performance because you’d have to add another motor or have a motor large enough to run the suction and the agitator,” he says. 

Even though canister vacuums are a perfect fit for battery power, this model will be the least likely to feature it. The reason has as much to do with the commercial vacuum’s price tag as it has to do with user preference. 

“In the United States people just don’t like [canisters],” says Abrams. “They prefer backpack vacuums.”

Although battery-powered vacuum cleaners have been slow to enter the commercial cleaning industry, manufacturers are optimistic. Those who are not currently selling battery vacuums say that it is just a matter of time before technological improvements make it feasible for them to develop battery-powered versions of their cord electric vacuums. 

“Over time, you’ll get more power and less weight on batteries, and the cost will come down,” says Abrams.

So when can distributors and end users expect to see more battery technology in vacuums? 

“Very soon,” says McDonnell. “The drawing board is crowded.”  


Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, N.C. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance. 


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Technology In Battery-Operated Vacuums Is Improving