I have noticed over the past few years that it is popular to now be "green" because people are now making money by selling "green" products and hoping on the band wagon. This is not an attempt to do that but to educate you on concepts of green vacuums. I have always felt strongly about conserving our natural limited resources and being wise about such things and I really hope this guide will make a difference.
OK first lets talk concepts. I promise you that most of these concepts you have not even considered. I bet if you were to ask the question "Which is the best Green Vacuum" 9 out of 10 people would think a bagless vacuum and consider the use of paper bags a killer of that. The use of paper bags is down the list quite a ways and not one of the most important things. Most of the information in this article is IMHO and I will list the concepts of a Green Vacuum in order of importance IMHO.
#1 - Longevity of a Vacuum Cleaner. How many resources does it take to make a vacuum cleaner? What energy is consumed in making and molding plastic? How about melting and molding metal? How about the man hours in creating a new vacuum? Most vacuums you find at your local super store are made in China and shipped to the US for use. How much fuel was used in transporting millions of vacuums a year to the US? A lot. This is the #1 thing to consider and it kind of puts the use of paper bags in its place.
Here is where we need to show you two type of vacuums. Disposable vacuums and High End Vacuums. The makers of these vacuums sold in the super stores have learned that it is much more profitable to sell you a new vacuum every 2 to 3 years but only charge you say 150 to 200 dollars on average. People buy vacuums based on looks and like to have the newest thing anyway and so so think about it how long have these vacuums lasted on average ? 2 , 3, 4 years maybe? So think about it say you spend 200 dollars every 3 years. In a 30 year period you would go through 10 vacuums at an average cost of 200 dollars is 2000 dollars. However you are not considering inflation. At a low rate of 4% inflation in 30 years that 200 dollar vacuum would now sell for 907.29 for just one of them. So I don't know the exact number but once you consider inflation in that 30 year period I would bet you would pay over 5000 dollars in vacuum cleaners. Then another thing is models are always changing on the disposable vacuums and over time you would have to buy new styles of bags and filters. Don't believe me on the disposable vacuums? Check out the pictures below. Ebay does not let me upload the full size but if you would like the full sized pictures send me a email and I will email them to you. The picture below is your disposable vacuums that end up in a repair shop and they all get thrown away. They are un-sellable. Several years ago I took the step of contacting the makers of these vacuums to see if we could recycle them. Most of the motors were still good. The plastic could be remelted. The answers I got back from the ones who responded were they were not interested. So now these disposable super store vacuums fill up our landfills by the millions.
Now lets talk high end vacuums. This is what we sell. We dont sell disposable vacuums because we don't believe in them. Not only do the disposable ones break easy but they don't vacuum as well compared to high end vacuums. A high end vacuum you can expect to cost more upfront but you can expect to get a good return on your money. Once you get a high end vacuum you can never go back. In fact the average person who buys a high end vacuum from us has owned on average 4 disposable vacuums and they realize they are throwing their money away and upgrade to a high end one. Now off the top of my head I can think of 5 different brands of high end vacuums that last on average 30 years or more if taken care of. So think about that, most of these vacuums you can buy new for around 1500 dollars and for less online. Think about the thousands of dollars you would be saving and the good you would be doing the planet to have 1 vacuum over the next 30 years vs. 10 vacuums over the next 30 years. I have seen tons (literally) of high end vacuums that are 50 years old and still working great.
#2 - Electricity Consumption - This is very important. We are at such a low level of Electricity now that I am hearing talk of building nuclear reactors to produce electricity. 10 years ago we would never have considered this but people start changing there minds when you have scheduled outages and you are sitting in your living room on a Saturday night in the dark. I think the key is to build appliances that use low levels of electricity. If you want to see good use of electricity check out a RV. They are designed to last a couple days with appliances and lighting on one battery. So how does this affect vacuum cleaners? There is a marketing trick that makers of vacuum cleaners have been doing for years that I even fell for when I bought my first vacuum. Myth #1 - THE MORE AMPS A VACUUM HAS THE MORE POWERFUL A CLEANER IT IS. It is the standard that a vacuum has a 12 amp motor or it does not clean as well. The most powerful deep cleaning vacuum I have ever seen is the Kirby Vacuum. It has a 7 amp motor and blows away all those 12 amp motor vacuums. Why? Because it has a smaller motor but HUGE vacuum fans and tubing (almost twice as big as other vacuums). The other vacuums have HUGE motors and smaller fans and hoses (costs less to produce). Most high end vacuums that vacuum better have smaller motors than the disposable vacuums. So send a message to makers of vacuum cleaners that you want a vacuum that is powerful with low energy consumption.
#3 - Bags and Filters. Here we go (finally). This is what most people think about. Most people think a bagless vacuum would be better. However not true. A lot of bagless vacuums have to have their filters changed out every year. Most people go through 3 to 5 bags in that year but it cost more resources to make the filter than it does those bags. So I suggest if your are going to buy a bagless vacuum buy one with a washable filter and not a disposable filter.
#4 - Batteries. Very bad. I am going to make some people mad here but I was talking to the sales reps of a popular battery operated robotic vacuum and he was trying to sell me some factory refurbs of them. I asked him how many he had in stock in his branch. He said he had over 10,000! Another vacuum maker (non robotic) was trying to sell me factory refurbs and I asked him how many he had. He said he had 100. The second vacuum rep sales a lot more too. The problem with the robotic vacuums is the batteries end up dying so much that people get sick of them and return them within the first year. So the factory has to put a new battery in to resell them. This uses a lot of resources and is not efficient at all. I have also seen vacuums come out with a battery powered head and it seems those need replaced about once a year. Not a suggestion. I think batteries have their place but they need to be more efficient than they are now.
OK so those are the concepts of the Green Vacuum. Now I am going to give you my top ten suggestions on the Green Vacuums and I will tell you why.
TOP 10 BEST GREEN VACUUMS-
#1- Rainbow Vacuum - This one wins for several reasons. First it uses water to filter with. Some of the newer models have a HEPA filter as well but most of them are washable. It does not use bags. They last a really long time. If well taken care of I would say 30 years on average. My Grandpa has a 1942 rainbow that runs perfect. Good use of electricity. If you have hardwood you don't have to use the power nozzle.
#2 - Kirby Vacuum - But it uses bags. Yes it does but this is why I ranked it second. First it is the most dependable vacuum made. Consumer Reports wrote a article this year on vacuum cleaners and surveyed thousands of consumers and the Kirby vacuum came back of all vacuums as the #1 most reliable vacuum. Even without that report I could have told you that. If taken care they will last 30 plus years on average and even last longer than the Rainbow. They only have a 7 amp motor in the vacuum (very good) but are a powerful cleaner. The outer bag acts as part of the HEPA filtration and those can be washed. It does use paper bags but they are larger now so you don't have to use as many.
#3 - Hyla Vacuum - Like a Rainbow this uses water to filter with (good). The reason I ranked it third is is has not been around for 20 or 30 years so we don't know how long they will last. From what I have seen they are lasting good so far. Really similar to the rainbow.
#4 Sanitaire Bagless Model - Sanitaire makes a model that is bagless. It has a outer cloth bag and then the bottom of that is a dirt cup that you dump out. It is a very powerful vacuum, does not use bags, has a low amp motor and can take a lot of abuse. Most people that buy Sanitaire vacuums buy them to abuse them but you still see them last around 10 years. For normal household cleaning I think you would see them lasting much longer.
#5 Tristar Vacuum - This used to be called Compact, and again lasts 30 plus years. Uses paper bags, but newer models are very lightweight and use a smaller motor.
#6 Filter Queen Vacuum - Again will last 30 plus years. Great usage of electricity. The only downside is it uses a lot of filters which are non washable.
#7 Electrolux Aerus Vacuums - Another long lasting vacuum (decades). Good use of electricity but uses bags and Filters that are disposable. These are not sold as Electrolux new now ( a few years ago they sold the Electrolux name to Eureka and changed their name to Aerus). So the new ones will be called Aerus but the ones a few years ago will be called Electrolux.
#8 Miele Vacuum - These don't last as long as the above vacuums but one thing I do like about them is they seem to last about 10 to 15 years and on most of them they have a switch to use more or less power and electricity. They use bags and filters that are disposable.
#9 Dyson Vacuum - The good part of this is SOME of the Filters are washable and it is bagless. The other Filters they call "lifetime" but when we were refurbing some of them we have seen some of those other "lifetime" filters that were pretty dirty that had to be replaced. The biggest mark against the Dyson vacuum is its use of cheap plastic. We have seen no problems with the motors so far but I would be surprised if you see your average Dyson last over 10 years. When we ship them we have to wrap them really really well. When you vacuum with them you can hear the plastic "creak". Another bad mark it got was its 12 amp motor.
#10 Delphin Vacuum - This would have actually been rated in the top 4 except they have 2 models of Delphin. One with a battey powered head (very common) and one with the electrical head (uncommon). The electrical head is rare but will be more common in future models. The good news is it uses water to filter with and it has not been around as long as the rainbow but so far is lasting good.
So that's my top 10. As far as my bottom 10 I would suggest to stay away from most disposable vacuums sold at the super stores. Some of them would be good but they just don't last. If you are unsure of the perfect vacuum for your needs feel free to drop me an email. Tell me whats important to you. Things like green vacuum, pets, stairs, if you have a bad back, allergies etc. Our advice is free.
Dustin Chaffin, Manager GreatVacs.com