Cordless Vacuum Terms Explained

Why Choose a Cordless handheld vacuum?

A cordless handheld vacuum won’t replace your main house vacuum but it will give you the ultimate convenience for small areas. These small, lightweight cordless vacuums are ideal for everyday spills, for example in your kitchen or even your car. As you are not restricted by a cumbersome power cord you have the freedom to clean everywhere unrestricted. This can make those previously hard to reach areas so much more accessible


Next we will discuss some of the common terms used to describe these handheld vacuums.

1. Battery Run Time

This is one of the most important features of any cordless appliance as they run on battery power alone. How long the appliance runs for on battery power is stated by the manufacturer in ideal circumstances and in the real world many consumers have noted that the run time is significantly less than advertised. The only manufacturer that does provide accurate battery life data is Dyson, for all others you could take off between 10% and 30% for real world values.

Handheld Cordless Vacuums have relatively short run times, typically between 10 minutes and 30 minutes. As previously mentioned, they are not designed to vacuum your entire house, but to be on hand for emergencies and for those hard to reach areas. As with most things, there is a compromise and handheld vacuums cut weight and size by having smaller batteries, and as a result, shorter run times.

2. Charge Time

Charge time refers to how long it takes for a flat battery to be fully charged. Cordless vacuums use one of two battery types. Cheaper models use Nickle Cadmium (Ni-Cal) batteries and more expensive models use Lithium Ion (Li-ion). The latter is far superior but is only found in the more expensive vacuums. Li-Ion batteries require far shorter charging times, typically around 3 to 4 hours compared to Ni-Cal batteries that require upwards of 8 hours. When buying a cordless vacuum you have to consider how often you want to use it, for handheld vacuums the run time is quite often short so opting for a fast charging Li-Ion model is often a good choice that will avoid the frustration of waiting for you appliance to charge.

3. Weight

Handheld vacuums are supported entirely by your arm so you need to be able to easily lift and manoeuvre the vacuum. Weight therefore is an important consideration, especially if you are planning to vacuum hard to reach areas such as book shelves, curtains or other hanging furnishings.

Upright vacuums are supported by the floor and pushed along by the user, therefore weight is a consideration but perhaps not as critical as for handheld vacuums. However, you may still need to carry the vacuum up stairs and to wherever you store it so being able to lift it will still play a part in your decision process.

4. Dirt Collection Capacity

Sometimes referred to as just “capacity” or “bin volume”. This is how much the vacuum can pick up and store without the need for emptying. Handheld cordless vacuums typically have small collection bins of about 0.3 litres volume where as upright and stick type cordless vacuums have larger capacities, up to 1.6 litres.

Most cordless vacuums are designed to be small and light and as a result have small collection bin capacity. This is one of the trade off with having a smaller machine but does mean that you may have to empty the bin after almost every use.

5. Bagless

Modern cordless vacuums are almost all bagless, that is, the collection of dirt is not held in a bag but in a plastic container that you remove from the vacuum and empty into your household refuse. Some people prefer bagged vacuums are the dust is neatly contained and this option can be better for people who suffer from allergies. However, for most people the convenience and simplicity of bagless collection is a major plus point.

6. No Loss of Suction / Cyclone Technology

Some manufacturers advertise that their vacuums do not lose suction power whilst vacuuming. This was invented by Dyson and is what made them the market leaders. Other manufacturers also offer cyclone technology vacuums these days and generally they are just as good. Many bagged vacuums will lose suction power as the collection bag fills during cleaning, this is another reason why most manufacturers now use bagless technology.

7. Boost Mode / Turbo Mode

Some vacuums offer a boost mode.This is an option to increase the suction power but at the expense of battery life, shortening the run time of the appliance. Sometimes you may find the manufacturer has listed the cordless vacuum’s run time with 2 numbers, for example 8/15 minutes. This refers to how long the vacuum will last at either high suction mode or regular.

Continue to PART 2

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