Ever wondered how much power a vacuum cleaner requires? Here’s an overview of vacuum cleaners, wattage, and how it affects performance.
Many people still believe that vacuum cleaner wattage determines a model’s cleaning performance. This isn’t the case, as wattage is just how much power the vacuum consumes, not how much suction it generates.
Even so, it’s still important to know how much energy a vacuum is using. In this article, we’ll discuss wattage, how it’s affected by current and voltage, and whether you should use it to compare vacuum cleaners.
How Many Watts Does a Vacuum Cleaner Use?
Modern vacuum cleaners in the UK typically use between 350 watts to 900 watts. This varies depending on the brand and model.
This range is only for vacuums bought since 2017, as this was when the EU introduced regulations that limited maximum power to 900W. Vacuums manufactured before the new regulations may have a higher power – although this doesn’t necessarily mean they can generate stronger suction.
Does Wattage Vary by Vacuum Type?
There isn’t much difference in average power between corded uprights and cylinders. Many vacuums of both types use the maximum 900W power, although there are plenty of lower powered options too.
Corded handheld vacuums tend to have lower power ratings, as the smaller motors require less power to run. Cordless vacuums also have lower power motors, as they need to run on a battery.
To give you an idea of how much power various vacuums use, here are a few popular corded examples:
- Hoover Breeze Evo Pets (Upright) – 350W
- Numatic Henry (Cylinder) – 620W
- Dyson Ball Animal 2 – 700W
- Shark AZ910UKT (Upright) – 750W
- Miele C1 Compact PowerLine (Cylinder) – 890W
- Miele Complete C3 Pure Red (Cylinder) – 890W
As we’ll discuss later in this article, the watts of a vacuum cleaner should not be used to judge the cleaning performance or suction power of a vacuum. The only thing it’s useful for is estimating the energy cost of running the vacuum – not the performance.
Tip: If you want to find out how much power your vacuum cleaner uses, the easiest way is to find the product page on the manufacturer’s website. This will nearly always list the amount of power required by the vacuum.
What Does Wattage Really Mean?
In technical terms, the wattage is the amount of voltage drawn by the vacuum multiplied by the current. The power tells you how much energy the vacuum motor requires each second to run.
The wattage doesn’t tell you about the performance or cleaning efficiency of the vacuum cleaner though.
An inefficient motor may draw lots of power, but generate relatively weak suction. Conversely, a lower power motor may provide excellent cleaning performance if the vacuum is efficient.
Instead of comparing vacuums using wattage, you should read reviews to find out how the vacuum performs in a real-world setting.
Watts, Amps, and Volts
The various electrical terms can be confusing when you’re buying a new vacuum cleaner. While you don’t need to know the technical details, you should understand the basics:
- Amps – Amps is a measure of electrical current. Corded vacuum cleaners are plugged into mains power outlets, which provides alternating current (AC) rather than direct current (DC.) Cordless vacuum cleaners are powered by batteries which use DC current.
- Volts – Voltage is measured in Volts. All corded appliances run on 230V, as this is what is provided by mains electricity sockets in the UK.
- Watts – Watts is a measure of power. For vacuum cleaners, it is how much power is drawn by the motor, but it doesn’t tell you how efficiently that power is used.
Does a Higher Wattage Mean Better Cleaning Performance?
As we mentioned earlier, wattage is not a useful metric for comparing vacuum cleaners. Just because a vacuum draws more power doesn’t mean it’ll be more effective at cleaning.
This is because wattage is just how much power is drawn by the vacuum’s motor. This can be wasted in multiple ways, including noise, heat, air leakage, and inefficient design.
In other words, the wattage only tells you about consumption. It doesn’t tell you anything about the vacuum’s output.
What About Air Watts?
Air watts is a measure of how much air is flowing from the vacuum cleaner. In other words, air watts attempts to measure the actual suction power of the vacuum after the air resistance provided by bags and filters.
This makes it a much more useful metric for comparing the efficiency of vacuum cleaners. Even air watts has limitations, however, especially as many vacuum manufacturers don’t provide easy access to this metric.
How Did EU Regulations Affect Vacuum Motors?
In the past, many people would assume that a higher vacuum wattage provided stronger cleaning performance.
While more raw power can help with suction, most high-powered vacuum cleaners had inefficient motors and were costly to run. Some manufacturers were also making increasingly loud and power-inefficient motors to make their vacuums more appealing.
That’s why the EU introduced new regulations in 2017 that limited vacuum cleaner wattage to a maximum power of 900W and maximum noise output to a maximum of 80dB.
While this limit was controversial, it forced vacuum manufacturers to focus on the efficiency of their vacuum’s rather than just building bigger, noisier, and pricier motors. The result is some excellent vacuums that are quieter but still provide excellent cleaning performance.
Despite the new rulings, many people still associate a higher wattage with better performance. This is why some vacuum cleaner manufacturers are now reluctant to list their vacuum’s wattage.
Tip: The 900W maximum only applies to dry vacuum cleaners. Wet and dry vacuums don’t have the same limit.
Corded vacuum cleaners typically have a wattage of between 350W to 900W. While the wattage varies depending on the brand and model, EU regulations from 2017 limit dry vacuums to a maximum of 900W.
A vacuum’s wattage is not a good indicator of how it’ll perform. Many high wattage vacuums are beaten by those that use less power, simply because they use energy less efficiently. That’s why we don’t typically mention wattage as a vital factor when choosing the best vacuum – unless you’re looking for the most energy efficient model.
Do you have any questions about how many watts a vacuum cleaner uses? Please let us know in the comments section below.