Buyer’s Guide

INTRODUCTION

Central Vacuums, has any subject been discussed in as much detail with as little understanding?

With the myriad of information available, performance specifications, marketing tactics and misinformation, it is little wonder central vacuums and vacuum cleaners in general are still misunderstood.

Our industry has spawned many schools of thought interspersed with facts, myths and legends of what vacuum systems can accomplish. This buyer’s guide is designed to help you navigate this information maze.

There are many central vacuum manufacturers, many of which make exaggerated performance claims. In addition, there are many ‘marketing’ devices and definitions used which do not accurately indicate true performance, quality or value.

At Cana-Vac, we’ve designed this Buyer’s Guide to help you navigate through this central vacuum information maze.

We’ll guide you through the exercise of purchasing a central vacuum system by offering information and insight that’s accurate, informative, and easily understood. Regardless of whether it’s our brand or someone else’s, you will be able to make an educated buying decision and central vacuum comparison.

introduction-image

Central Vacuum Motors

which-is-the-better-motor

With any central vacuum, it’s all about the motor! It’s the heart of your system and in reality, what you’re paying for.

However, not all vacuum motors are created equal and motor performance specifications are hardly a barometer of whether a motor is good or bad.

Most manufacturers use either Thru-Flow motors and/or a combination of Tangential Bypass and Thru-Flow in their systems. While the Airwatt performance of a Thru-Flow motor is often higher than a Tangential Bypass, the reality is that a Tangential Bypass is a superior motor for reasons we’ll explain later.

Despite this reality, you’d be surprised at how many top brand name central vacuums use these smaller Thru-Flow motors in their high retail priced central vacuums. After all, the consumer is conditioned to shop on Airwatts and rarely asks about the motor type.

In fact, very few manufacturers use the industry’s largest Ametek/Lamb 8.4” Tangential Bypass motor in their premium models even though it’s the biggest motor available and has superior technology that improves life expectancy.

However, with growing pricing pressures, more and more manufacturers are opting for less the expensive Thru-Flow motors and using their high Airwatts as a performance sales feature. After all, Tangential motors can easily cost 4 times more than a Thru-Flow. So, if a manufacturer isn’t telling you what type of motor they’re using, assume it’s a cheaper Thru-Flow motor. Find out for sure by asking to see what’s inside. After all it’s your money and it stands to reason that you’d want to know what motor is in the unit you’re paying for.

Consumers are lead to believe that Airwatts are the true measurement of how powerful a central vacuum is. What they may not understand is that there are other considerations to take into account. For example, suction plays a crucial if not more significant role in the actual cleaning performance of a central vacuum, where it really matters…at the end of the vacuum hose!

Benjamin Franklin once said, “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. At Cana-Vac, we’d like to note that the retail prices of many of the Top Brand name products do not reflect the use of less expensive, lower performance motors. Yes, these higher priced brand name central vacuum units keep their manufacturing costs down by using Thru-Flow motors and yet charge a hefty retail price knowing they it will go unchallenged because the consumer will use Airwatts as a prime indicator of performance and value.

thru-flow-vs-bypass

Don’t get us wrong. Thru-Flow motors aren’t bad. They’re just not as good as a Tangential Bypass motor for a central vacuum application and you should certainly expect to pay less at retail.

Cana-Vac uses Thru-Flow motors in our Ethös line of central vacuums and unlike some competitors, we price them lower than our premium Tangential motors which, of course, they should be. After all, our cost on a huge 8.4” Tangential motor is easily four times higher than the average Thru-Flow.

Thru-Flow motors do offer great performance at an affordable price. If you have a smaller home or condo, don’t have pets or children, and/or aren’t planning on staying in your home for years to come, the lower investment of a Thru-Flow system may be the best choice for your needs.

Now you may notice Thru-Flow powered systems that are rated to clean large homes in excess of 12,000 square feet. Will they? Yes. Should you expect it to last as long as a Tangential Bypass system in a 12,000 square foot home? No.

If you clean frequently, have a larger home, and/or have a growing family with pets or children, we’d recommend a Tangential Bypass motor system because they are designed for a heavier work load and usage frequency.

Why are Tangential Motors the better choice?

1.) A Thru-Flow motor uses vacuumed air to cool itself and does not have a dedicated cooling fan to cool the armature. As such, this motor is using cooling air on average 33% hotter than a Tangential.

A Tangential Bypass motor on the other hand has a dedicated fresh air cooling fan on top of the motor to cool the motor and uses cooling air at the ambient temperature of the room.

2.) A Thru-Flow uses the dirty, albeit filtered vacuumed air, to cool itself. This contaminated air passes directly over the internal working components of the motor.

A Tangential-Bypass motor on the other hand uses a separate fresh clean air fan to cool the armature and dirty vacuum air will ‘Bypass’ and internal motor components and exhaust Tangentially. In other words heated dirty air is never in contact with crucial motor components hence is a lifesaving feature of a Tangential-Bypass motor.

thru-flow-vs-tangential

3.) The motor laminations on a Thru-Flow motor (as seen on the following page ‘Motor Anatomy’) are household rated and are smaller. These smaller laminations, according to Ametek/Lamb are heat intolerant to thermal and mechanical abuse unlike those on a Tangential-Bypass…couple that with hotter cooling air in a Thru-Flow motor and this is quite significant.

Tangential Bypass motors on the other hand use heavy duty laminations.

An Ametek/Lamb 5.7” Tangential motor uses 3 Inch commercial grade laminations and even larger laminations on 7.2” and 8.4” diameter motor.

4.) As with any central vacuum motor, the more you restrict the vacuum air, the faster the motor runs. (You can observe this on the motor bulletins shown on the Airwatts page of this central vacuum buyer’s guide under the column RPM).

What does this mean for a Thru-Flow motor? Well the faster the motor runs the hotter a Thru-Flow motor will get with sealed vacuum being deadly for a Thru-Flow since there isn’t any Airflow to cool the motor.

So why is this important? Well consider the inherent Airflow restrictions of a central vacuum system such as the filter, plumbing etc., but add a restrictive crevice tool or the inevitable ‘kinked’ hose effectively cutting off cooling to a Thru-Flow motor.

Now here is what’s really interesting. Since a Tangential-Bypass motor uses a cooling fan that runs at the same RPM of the armature, when air becomes restricted the Tangential-Bypass motor actually runs cooler!

This is quite a significant feature which prolongs motor life.

There are many more technical reasons why a Tangential Bypass motor is superior to a Thru-Flow motor. However, suffice to say that if you are shopping for a central vacuum and if it is within your budget, Cana-Vac recommends choosing a manufacturer’s Tangential Bypass motor offering.

Comparing Motors

Does size matter?

While there are different types of central vacuum motors, there are also several different motor sizes. At the lower end of the spectrum, Thru-Flow motors are range in size from 4.7 to 5.7 inches in fan diameter. On the other end of the spectrum, you can get a premium Tangential Bypass motor in fan sizes up to 8.4 inches in diameter like that found in a Cana-Vac model XLS-970.

When you’re shopping for a central vacuum and comparing retail costs, take special note of what type of motor it has (a Thru-Flow or Tangential Bypass) and as well as the diameter of the fan. This will help you compare true value since larger motors cost more.

central-vacuum-motor-chart2

Larger motors are designed for the heavier work load of larger homes where a central vacuum system is used for longer periods of time. For example, a 12 thousand square foot home would require more vacuuming for more hours than a 2 thousand square foot home. They’re built to be more robust with a host of engineered characteristics that set them apart from smaller motors. You’ll find more details in our next section, Motor Anatomy.

motor-numbers

Motor Anatomy

This section provides a more detailed analysis of the anatomy of a central vacuum motor. It will help you become familiarized with terms you may encounter when comparing central vacuum systems.

The illustration on the left shows a Thru-Flow motor while the one on the right is a Tangential Bypass motor.

Note: Only the Tangential Bypass has a Motor Cooling Fan (1).

Both motors have the following elements in common:
(2) Motor Carbon Brushes
(3) Field laminations and Armature
(4) Fans. The number of fans stacked equals Stages. A two-stage motor has two fans while a three stage has three fans.

peripheral-bypass

The Peripheral-Bypass Motor

In addition to the Thru-Flow and Tangential Bypass motors, there’s actually a third motor type we really haven’t addressed since it is not commonly used. This is called a Peripheral Bypass motor.

Peripheral Bypass motors share the same benefits as Tangential Bypass motors. They both have dedicated cooling separate from vacuumed air which means both should have a longer life expectancy.

The difference between the two is how they exhaust vacuumed air. The Tangential Bypass has a horn that attaches to PVC plumbing and a muffler to vent away from the motor. The Peripheral Bypass motor vents exhaust air around the motor.

At Cana-Vac, a Tangential Bypass motor is the preferred and most popular choice because heated exhaust air is removed from the motor chamber and vents contaminated exhaust air away from your living environment.

Motor Manufacturers

Ametek/Lamb is generally regarded to be best choice for central vacuum motors. Much like a Briggs and Stratton lawnmower engine, this brand instills confidence. In other words, you know you’re getting quality.

lamb-powered

Ametek/Lamb is the only motor manufacturer with an 8.4 inch diameter motor with Infinity™ brush technology that extends motor carbon brush life. They have a diverse assortment of quality motors and are also the only motor manufacturer with a 6.6 inch diameter motor.

While there are other motor manufacturers available such as Domel (another popular choice), Cana-Vac only uses genuine Ametek/Lamb motors.

Airwatts

Airwatts

Now that we have discussed the motor – the most important part of your central vacuum system, let’s familiarize you with some commonly used industry terms.

The performance numbers you see in a product brochure often mean little in an actual home installation. Unfortunately however, consumers know very little about the differences in central vacuum motors. Instead, they rely on performance numbers such as Airwatts as a basis for their central vacuum comparison.

If there’s anything you take away from our buyer’s guide to help you make the choice on value, you should:

(1) ALWAYS compare motors

(2) NEVER base your buying decision on “AIRWATTS”

In principle, Airwatts measures the “sweet spot” at which Suction and Airflow are at their best at a particular orifice size. It’s calculated using the following mathematical formula: Suction (at orifice) x Airflow (at orifice) divided by 8.5.

However, the problem with relying on this formula is that it’s taken directly at the motor without any restrictions such as filtration, airflow loss due to the PVC plumbing, and pressure losses within a typical central vacuum installation.

In fact, the only way that Airwatts would be an accurate measurement of system performance is if the calculation was made at the end of the vacuum hose!

So, does that mean that a system with higher Airwatts would still perform better than another system with lesser Airwatts? The answer is….it depends on the Suction and Airflow at the “effective working orifice”.

Ametek/Lamb engineers have determined that the “effective working orifice” (the orifice at which a typical central vacuum operates in a ‘typical installation’ and factors in performance robbing restrictions) is on average around the orifice of 5/8 inches (.625 inches).

This revelation changes the Airwatt numbers completely from what you see in a brochure.
For those of you who want even more detail on this subject, the following information is from two Ametek/Lamb motor performance bulletins:

(1) [Figure 1] Is a 5.7” Thru-Flow 2-Stage motor with 700 ‘Peak Airwatts” (The number you would see published in a product brochure).

(2) [Figure 2] Is a premium 1-Stage motor heavy duty commercial rated 8.4” Tangential Bypass motor with 717 ‘Peak Airwatts’ (The brochure number).

Figure 1

airwatts-large-1

Figure 2

aiwatts-part2
airwatts-motors

The first thing you should notice is that Brochure Airwatts vary greatly from Effective Airwatts. In this example, the Thru-Flow motor outperforms the 8.4 inch commercial rated motor. THAT is precisely the point we are trying to emphasize.

Tiny less expensive Thru-Flow motors may have the same performance as their Tangential Bypass counterparts but are not heavy duty motors.

If you placed your hand at the nozzle, you wouldn’t likely notice a difference in air flow performance.

In fact, the quality of the electrical powerhead you choose has a greater impact on carpet cleaning performance than the motor performance at the end of the hose.

Conclusion: Airwatts are the result of a mathematical equation which attempts to assign a performance value between the relationship between Suction and Airflow. Less expensive Thru-Flow motors can outperform even the largest Tangential Bypass motors using this calculation but the trade-off is service life.

Suction and Airflow

vacuum-suction-airflow-cfm

Ok, so we’ve discussed and demonstrated that the Airwatts published in a product brochure are not a good measurement of performance. Instead, the quality and longevity of a motor should be weighed in your cost evaluation along with any performance claims.

There are the two critical performance elements we have yet to discuss that make up the actual performance of a central vacuum system:

(1) Airflow, as expressed in CFM (Cubic Feet per Minute)
(2) Suction also referred to as Vacuum, expressed in Inches of Waterlift.

Imagine that a central vacuum motor is much like a jet engine. Turbine propellers are spinning at thousands of RPM’s (revolutions per minute) generating a tremendous amount of Vacuum and producing a huge amount of Airflow. A central vacuum motor operates along the same principle.

airflow-vacuum

While the Airflow measurement indicates how much air the central vacuum motor can move, the Suction measurement tells us the maximum pull the motor is capable of. This is determined by sucking a 2 inch column of water vertically to its maximum height in inches. Hence, the term “Waterlift”.

The performance curve of a central vacuum motor has an “inverse relationship” meaning that when Airflow is at its maximum, Suction is at its weakest – and vice versa.
The term Airwatts was created to determine the ‘sweet spot’ at which Suction and Airflow co-exist at their most efficient orifice along the performance curve. However, like any brochure performance claim, the maximum value falls outside the typical operating orifice of a working central vacuum system.

The same is true for both Suction and Airflow. A central vacuum does not operate at a 2 inch orifice where Airflow is at its greatest. Nor would you be able to vacuum anything at a 0 inch sealed vacuum orifice when suction is greatest.

Like autumn leaves blowing across an empty parking lot, it’s the movement of air (Airflow) which carries dirt away in your central vacuum system. Just like in nature, it’s the difference in atmospheric pressure (Vacuum) that creates both the movement and velocity of air.

velocity-increase

The amount and speed at which air travels (velocity) has a direct impact on your central vacuum’s ability to move debris. In the case of a gentle ocean breeze versus a tornado or a hurricane, this is the difference between drying your laundry and ripping your house off its foundation.

When you reduce the orifice size of your central vacuum hose by using something like a crevice tool attachment, the result is an increase in airflow velocity as Suction increases. You might compare this to walking between two city skyscrapers on an otherwise calm day. Between the buildings, you will experience a big increase in wind speed. This is also known as the Venturi effect.

A typical bathroom exhaust fan can produce a lot of airflow comparable to the output of a central vacuum motor. However, a bathroom exhaust fan is not capable of generating enough Suction to overcome the resistance found in a typical central vacuum system. In turn, it wouldn’t generate any Airflow at the end of a central vacuum hose.

Earlier, we introduced the term “Effective Orifice or Working Vacuum” which is the orifice Ametek/Lamb engineers determined a central vacuum motor typically operates under load.

To demonstrate why Suction plays the greater role in end of hose performance, an experiment was conducted by Ametek/Lamb engineers using three systems:

System One [Green Line] – A single motor 116765 (Cana-Vac model LS-550). This is our baseline.

end-of-hose-airwatts

System Two [Red Line] – Two motors 119412 used in ‘Series’ which don’t change Airflow but increase Suction by about 70%.

System Three [Blue Line] – Two motors 119412 used in ‘Parallel’ which don’t change Suction but nearly double Airflow.

The results were clear.

The performance gains of the dual motor system which boosted Airflow were negated by the resistances of the central vacuum hose. It had the lowest end of hose Airwatt performance while the performance gains of increasing suction greatly improved end of hose performance. This is shown by the difference between the [Blue line vs Red line].

Let’s consider the above experiment a different way. Imagine your everyday garden hose. The more pressure – the stronger the flow and velocity of water at the end of the hose. Like a central vacuum, the longer the distance from the source and hose nozzle – the less the pressure and flow.

However, have you ever placed your thumb over the end of your garden hose? What happens to the velocity of water? The pressure builds and the velocity of water increases!

The same is true with your central vacuum system. The greater the suction potential (sealed vacuum) of your central vacuum motor – the greater its ability to overcome system restrictions and maintain end of hose airflow and velocity of air to move debris.

garden-hose

Conclusion: While both Suction and Airflow are required in a vacuum system to move debris, systems with higher Vacuum potential (Sealed vacuum) have the greater end of hose performance in a household installation.

This is because motor Airflow performance is largely negated by restrictions found in a typical central vacuum system.

This can be seen in the Ametek/Lamb experiment. At Cana-Vac. We recommend that when you’re looking at performance numbers, also consider the Sealed Vacuum potential. The closer you get to sealed vacuum by using restrictive tools – the greater velocity potential of that system.

Dual Motors

(Figure 2) Product Brochure (At motor specifications) It would appear that the “Parallel” system is the best performer at the 1.25″ nozzle orifice.

(Figure 2) Product Brochure (At motor specifications) It would appear that the “Parallel” system is the best performer at the 1.25″ nozzle orifice.

If one motor is good then two must be better, right? Not necessarily.

Depending on the dual motor system you choose, it‘s quite possible the manufacturer is using lower performance motors in tandem to generate higher performance specifications.

These types of units generally run on 110-120 Volts. If this is the case, you’d be better off asking what the manufacturer has in a larger 7.2 inch or greater Tangential Bypass motor.

If the system requires 220-240 Volts, the system is likely using two high performance motors. They’re probably only 5.7 inch diameter motors but since they’re either Peripheral Bypass or Tangential Bypass motors, it should be a reasonable choice.

If your home is larger than 12,000 square feet or you feel you want optimal performance, Cana-Vac recommends that you install multiple high performance units with larger Tangential motors. These should target separate zones much like what’s done for air conditioning in large homes or buildings.

There are two ways to increase performance using two motors, they are as follows (see Figure 1):

Air Series: In a Series application, one vacuum motor feeds the heated discharge air into the intake of the second motor. This effectively increases vacuum suction (inches of waterlift) by 60-70 percent. This design is not recommended because higher temperatures result in a lower motor life expectancy.

In addition, extra care (particularly with Flow-Thru type and Peripheral bypass motors) must be taken to ensure that the discharge air and motor cooling air are separated. The best dual motor systems utilize two Tangential bypass motors which ensure that heated discharge air and cooling air are kept separate.

(Figure 3) Actual Airwatts (At end of a 30′ hose) Clearly shows how the Airflow gains of the Parallel system resulting in low performance. Both systems with high Suction had better performance and approximately equal performance at the 1.25″ nozzle orifice.

(Figure 3) Actual Airwatts (At end of a 30′ hose) Clearly shows how the Airflow gains of the Parallel system resulting in low performance. Both systems with high Suction had better performance and approximately equal performance at the 1.25″ nozzle orifice.

Air Parallel: While operating vacuum motors in air parallel, two motors draw air from a single plenum chamber. This has the effect of nearly doubling the Airflow (CFM) of the system while the vacuum (inches of waterlift) level remains comparable to a single motor system.

An Ametek/Lamb Product Review noted,“When applying motors in this manner, care must be taken in the design to accommodate the increased airflow. If restrictive tools and hoses are used in a cleaner, the potential air flow advantages gained by the parallel arrangement may be negated.”

This is evident in [Figure 2], where it appears that the Air Parallel system (blue line) has good Airwatt performance when it’s unrestricted at the motor. However, it’s quite different when put it into a central vacuum cleaner with a 30 foot hose [Figure 3]. As you can see, the Air Parallel System (blue line) has a lot less end of hose performance.

This is because an Air Parallel system does not increase suction. Airflow robbing restrictions within a central vacuum installation negate any increases that Airflow gains from adding the additional motor. Conversely, the dual motor system that increased suction maintained high end of hose performance [Figure 3].

Filtration

filtration

Your central vacuum system is more than just a vacuum providing superior suction and cleaning. It’s a built-in appliance that you should have for many years of trouble free service.

Choosing a system with long motor longevity is the key to a trouble free system that will last a long time. But what about maintenance? Like most of us, once installed the central vacuum has been installed out of sight in your garage, basement or utility room, it is an appliance that we forget about.

The only time you might think of your central vacuum system is when you experience a loss in suction which usually means that the dirt canister needs to be emptied or the bag replaced.

However, some systems require maintenance beyond just seasonal emptying to ensure that the system operates at optimal performance.

At Cana-Vac, we believe that the best central vacuum systems should be maintenance free and continue to perform for years of uninterrupted service, after all, who wants the messy task of cleaning or replacing a dirty (and contaminated) filter?

One of the considerations of the central vacuum system you choose should be how easy is it to maintain?

If the unit requires replacing or cleaning filters, you might consider an alternate filtration method, one that does not require maintenance. All the nasty things you vacuum such as bacteria, dust mites, pollens, pet dander are all contained in your central vacuum canister and on the filter…the last thing you want is to have to come in contact with these things.

HEPA-Filter-Magnify

Cana-Vac’s zero maintenance approach works so you don’t have to ever come in contact with these harmful contaminants.

Why do central vacuums need filters if the can be vented outdoors?

The primary function of the filter is to protect the motor from damaging fine dust particles, even the best non-filter cyclonic systems allow fine dust to blow through the motor shortening life expectancy.

The other benefit to having a filter installed in your central vacuum is that if the filter is efficient enough, such as an anti-allergen filter like a HEPA, it allows the ventilation of the central vacuum exhaust indoor or in a place such as a garage without leaving dust all over. Of course the true benefit to any central vacuum is venting outside your living space which is why central vacuums have been clinically proven to reduce allergy symptoms!

Cana-Vac uses a “Hybrid” approach to filtration that is becoming increasingly popular among manufacturers since it offers a bag or bagless solution. A Hybrid allows you to choose the convenience and cleanliness of an Allergen Bag or if you prefer, use a unit without bag option because it’s fitted with a secondary filter.

Cana-Vac uses the Maintenance optional filter in Ethös models and the premium HEPA Membrane Maintenance Free filter in Signature™ series models.

This filtration is also commonly referred to as inverted bag or a self-cleaning filter – although, this isn’t entirely accurate. It’s referred to as self-cleaning because when the unit is running, the bag inverts with the suction of the motor upwards. When the unit is shut off, the bag drops towards the dirt pail and any excess dust falls into the dirt canister. This type of filtration method flexes up and down.

Filter-Magnify-Other

Filtration Efficiency

The illustration on the right shows microscopic images of two filters. You’ll notice that the filtration in the first illustration captures a much finer particle versus the image lower right which is not as efficient. The higher the efficiency in relation to particle size tells us what percentage of particles is filtered. For example, a .1 Micron filter at 95% efficiency means that 95% of particles at a .1 micron size are captured and the remaining 5% pass through the filter. A .1 micron at 99% means that particles of .1 micron in size are captured and 1% passes through the filter.

Why is this important? The more efficient the filter the more protection it offers to both the motor and your living environment. If the unit is vented outside your living space filtration may not be as important as if you were installing the unit in a basement or utility room where the unit vents indoors.

Central Vacuum Filtration Types:

Foam Filtration: This is the least desirable but cheapest option. Typically, this type of filter may also use a Cyclonic action to remove most debris from the air stream to prevent clogging the filter. The small particles not separated cyclonically are captured by the foam filter.

Foam

As the filter loads with dirt, Airflow diminishes and the unpleasant task of removing and washing this filter is required or at some point, replaced. As a result, Cana-Vac rates this type of filtration the least desirable with a rating of 1 out of 5 stars.

Cartridge Filtration: This is a superior option compared to a standard foam filter and should have better Airflow performance.

Like its foam counterpart, it may rely on the cyclonic action to filter most particles from the airstream with the finer particles captured by the Cartridge. This filter must be either washed or replaced. It involves reaching inside a contaminated, dirty central vacuum unit to remove and perform maintenance. Cana-Vac rates this filter type at 2 out of 5 stars.

Semi-Cyclonic (Filter Cyclonic) systems may advertise they are cyclonic but actually implement the use of a foam or cartridge filter (as shown in the illustration on the left). The cyclonic action in this type of unit is designed to separate as much debris from the air stream while the foam or cartridge filter prevents fine particles from entering the motor. In this instance, the increased Airflow performance of a true cyclonic system is negated because a secondary filter is used.

filter

Cyclonic systems with secondary filters still require that the filter be replaced or washed to maintain optimal performance. While this option is better than using cartridge or foam filter only, the fact that the consumer has the unpleasant task of messy maintenance is a deterrent. However, the cyclonic separation means potentially less frequent times between maintenance so we’d give this method of filtration 3 out of 5 stars.

True Cyclonic: Few manufacturers actually produce true “cyclonic only” systems which should say something about the importance of filtration within a central vacuum system.

True Cyclonic systems do not use filters and rely exclusively on the cyclonic action to separate the dirt. Since they offer the least amount of motor protection, more dirt passes through the motor and must be exhausted outdoors. However, despite not having secondary filtration, this doesn’t mean that this type of unit doesn’t require any maintenance.

Inside the unit, there’s a protective screen to prevent larger particles not separated by the cyclonic action from entering the motor. Eventually carpet fibers, hair, or anything not separated by the cyclonic action collects on the protective screen reducing Airflow.

Just like the previous filter types, maintenance involves reaching up inside the dirty unit and cleaning the protective screen when you experience a reduction in Airflow.

semi-cyclonic

When the protective screen is clean however, a True cyclonic system will offer the best Airflow of any filter method. However, these systems also provide the least amount of protection for the motor.

Since this type of filtration still would expose you to potential vacuum contaminants when performing maintenance combined with the fact that it must be vented outdoors, Cana-Vac rates this filtration type at 3 out of 5 stars but would give it the best rating for performance.

Allergen Bag Filtration: Paper bag technology has come a long way from the bags of years past that were dirty and prone to tearing. For the purpose of this summary, Cana-Vac refers to the new cloth-like, multi-layer paper bags that capture most allergens and pollutants. This means that even when full, the bag remains clean on the outside minimizing any contact with the nasty things vacuumed.

Unlike systems that use other filtration types, you’re not exposed to the contaminated dust plume when you empty the dirt canister.

semi-cyclonic

This is the cleanest of all filtration types. When the bag is replaced, you’re starting with a fresh and new filter.

Every Cana-Vac Signature™ unit comes standard equipped with a free 3-Pack of Allergen Bags.

Since exposure to vacuumed contaminants is minimized with this system and aside from replacing the bag, no maintenance is required; Cana-Vac rates this type of filtration 5 out of 5 stars.

Maintenance Optional Filtration

Sometimes referred to as “Inverted Bag” or “Self-Cleaning” filtration, this type of filter flexes upward and downward as the central vacuum turns on and off. Cana-Vac believes that the term “self-cleaning” is somewhat misleading. This filter does not actually “clean” itself, however unlike other filtration methods, the excess dirt which may cling to the fitler is shaken off due to the upward and downward movement of the filter as excess dirt cake collects on the filter surface.

Dirt cake on this filter is normal and actually increases filtration efficiency albeit at the expense of some airflow.

paper-bag

Maintenance is not mandatory with this filter type. However, should you wish to perform maintenance on this filter, you will not come in contact with contaminants. Simply wrap a garbage bag tightly around the unit and then, using the garbage bag, reach up inside and giving the filter a shake. Wait a few moments and remove the garbage bag.

These filters are permanent and last the life of the system. Although, you should check with the manufacturer’s owner’s manual to be sure.

This is one of the most commonly used filtration methods. Since it does not require mandatory maintenance while at the same time, offering good filtration, Cana-Vac rates this type of filtration 4 out of 5 stars.

HEPA Membrane Filtration

Like its cousin the maintenance-optional filter, this filter type is actually maintenance free because it’s treated with a non-stick surface.

maintenance-optional-filtration

This is the preferred choice for those who want a bagless option.

Cana-Vac Signature™ models use these high efficiency HEPA membrane filters. They’re coated with a non-stick coating that prevents dirt cake from adhering to the filter.

Since the material is a HEPA membrane, this filter has a performance rating to effectively capture 99.97% of particles of .3 micron size (the size of most bacteria).

Micron reference:
Pollens: 10 to 1000 microns
Human Hair: 40 to 300 microns
Mold Spores: 10 to 30 microns

self-clean

Be aware that the color of a filter does not indicate what type of filter is being used. Ask the sales person or refer to the product brochure for full product details.

Since this filter does not require any maintenance and offers the best filtration, Cana-Vac rates this filtration type 5 out of 5 stars.

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