Vacuum Cleaner Suction Power

vacuum cleaner suction power

When you buy a vacuum cleaner, you naturally want to get the most powerful vacuum cleaner possible. The higher the suction power, the more dust can be sucked up from, for example, a deep-pile carpet. But, what actually determines the suction power of a vacuum cleaner? And when do we speak of a high suction power? We tell you everything you need to know and have developed a handy vacuum cleaner suction power chart!

Factors that determine the suction power of a vacuum cleaner

There are a number of factors that affect the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. For example, the connection of vacuum cleaner parts to each other is extremely important: if there is false air, the suction power will immediately be less strong.

  • Connecting parts: the better the parts connect to each other, the higher the suction power. Preferably provide parts that the brand produces itself and that belong to your type of vacuum cleaner.
  • Suction nozzles: the narrower the suction nozzle, the stronger the suction power. A turbo nozzle is a narrow nozzle that can easily suck hair from carpets, for example.
  • Applications: A vacuum cleaner can be more powerful on softer floor types than hard floors such as laminate.
  • Maintenance: A blockage in the vacuum cleaner rod or a heavily soiled vacuum cleaner filter makes a vacuum cleaner less powerful. In any case, it is advisable to replace or wash filters in time, since it has a positive effect on how long vacuum cleaners last.
  • Vacuum cleaner bag contents: It is known that a full vacuum cleaner bag results in less suction power. You don't lose suction power with a bagless vacuum cleaner, even if the dust container gets full. Read more about this in my bagless vs bagged vacuum comparison.

I would also like to reflect on a misunderstanding in the world of vacuum cleaners. I often hear around me – still – that you can tell how powerful the vacuum is by the number of watts of a vacuum cleaner. That is no longer the case: vacuum cleaners work more and more efficiently and the components are continuously developed.

The number of watts of a vacuum cleaner says nothing about the suction power of a vacuum cleaner.

As a result, a vacuum cleaner with a lower wattage can be even more powerful than a variant with a higher number of watts. Additionally, our findings from our investigation into the best vacuum cleaners indicate that it is not always the most powerful ones that come out on top.

The energy label has been abolished in Europe: no insight into strength

There has been no energy label for vacuum cleaners since 2019. That is quite unfortunate, given that an energy label provided the following insight:

  • Suction power on hard floors (scale from A/Good to  G/Poor)
  • Suction power on soft floors (scale from A/Good to  G/Poor)
  • Dust emissions (scale from A/Good to  G/Poor)
  • Energy consumption per year (expressed kWh)

The vacuum cleaner energy label was introduced in 2014: vacuum cleaners could no longer be produced with more than 1600 watts. As I mentioned earlier, the label was abolished again 5 years later, as the edits on the label would be negligible.

Old energy label of vacuum cleaners. © vacuumtester

At the moment, vacuum cleaners seem to cheat a bit with the number of watts, since the lack of an energy label makes this less visible. For example, the Consumers' Association recently claimed that Philips would have marketed less efficient vacuum cleaners with a higher number of watts than older models.

Vacuum cleaner suction power chart

After a lot of puzzling, we developed a vacuum cleaner suction power chart at vacuum tester with our team. We looked at the best suction power you can achieve with a suction brush. For this we have made a cross between the dirt size (small or coarse) and the type of surface (soft or hard).

Vacuum Suction Power Chart
Vacuum Suction Power Chart © vacuumtester

As you can see above, the suction power is mainly determined by the type of suction brush. If you are going to buy a vacuum cleaner: always pay close attention to which suction brushes you get. For example, not all vacuum cleaners have a turbo brush, something that is a requirement in our research into the best vacuum cleaner for pet hair.

Example: Dyson V11 suction power

Let's take an example: the Dyson V11. It is arguably one of the best stick vacuums at the moment, known for its high suction power. But, by no means on every surface and for every type of dirt. For example, you have the Dyson V11 Animal: it comes with an animal hair brush, with which the suction power for vacuuming animal hair is better than the standard V11.

How is the suction power measured?

It is good to also consider the measurement of suction power. Because, how is the suction power of a vacuum cleaner actually measured? A ‘Vacuum Test Gauge' is often used when measuring the suction power. This actually measures the displacement of water, which says more about the suction power of a vacuum cleaner. You also speak here about measurement unit Pascal.

Airflow vs Suction

Many vacuum cleaner studies also use a so-called anemometer, also known as an air speed meter. By placing the vacuum cleaner on the air speed meter, you can determine how quickly the air is sucked in. This is also called the Airflow of a vacuum cleaner.

An important tip is not just to focus on suction power, but also to consider the vacuum cleaner's accessories. The attachments that come with a vacuum cleaner often determine its suitability for specific types of flooring. For instance, a parquet brush or a turbo brush can play a significant role. A turbo brush, which is frequently included with a stick vacuum, is great for effectively removing pet hair. Discover the top choices for the best stick vacuum for pet hair.

Robbert Tigchelaar
Robbert Tigchelaar

Robbert Tigchelaar has made testing vacuum cleaners his life's work. He has dedicated himself to conducting fully independent and valuable tests of vacuum cleaners to provide consumers with honest advice. His expertise in vacuum cleaners has been highlighted in The Washington Post and the Daily Express.

  1. I’m looking for a cleaner with enough suction to clean my carpets but not so strong as it becomes difficult to push. It’s only for domestic use and I’m 76 years old. Any suggestions please?

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