Whether you run a janitorial service or simply need something to clean the floors of your business, a commercial vacuum cleaner is in order. They are more durable and offer more powerful suction than the average home model.
In this guide, we break down the various types of commercial vacuum cleaners and what features you should pay attention to when choosing one. If you aren’t interested in learning about commercial vacuum cleaners and simply want to know which is the best one, check out the ProTeam Super CoachVac. This powerful backpack model offers a large dust collection bin and features HEPA filtration to ensure no particles wind up circulating back into the air.
Commercial vacuum cleaners come in four main types: backpack, upright, canister and handheld. Choosing which kind to buy should be the first decision you make before moving on to other considerations.
Backpack vacuums offer a high degree of mobility combined with an ergonomically friendly way of carrying the weight. They are usually robust, have substantial dust containers and can be operated with a single hand, leaving the other free to move objects out of the way. They are great for multi-level spaces that lack an elevator or anywhere else that requires you to lift the vacuum off the floor constantly.
Upright vacuums are one of the most popular types due to their reasonable cost and routine operation. Commercial upright models are similar to what many people have been using in their homes for decades, except with more powerful suction. They are often equipped with motorized roller brushes to help loosen stubborn dirt from the carpet, and many have removable wands for upholstery or getting into tight crevices.
Canister vacuums have a vertical or horizontal cylinder that sits atop wheels to allow for easy movement. The design is typical in wet/dry vacs, but some canister models function just like standard vacuum cleaners. While easily maneuverable and convenient for getting underneath and around furniture, the trailing canister can sometimes be inconvenient to tow around large spaces.
Handheld commercial vacuums look very different from handheld consumer models and are carried like a briefcase. They tend to be less powerful than other kinds and usually have small dustbins, which makes them best reserved for cleaning stairs and upholstery rather than entire floors.
After determining what type of commercial vacuum to buy, you’ll have to decide if you prefer a bagged or bagless model. Generally, canister and handheld models will use a bag, but upright and backpack vacuums are available in bagged and bagless options.
Choosing a bagged vacuum means you’ll be adding the extra expense of buying bags periodically, but they are less messy to empty. This is because the dirt is trapped inside the bags, some of which seal themselves automatically when removed.
Bagless vacuums can be more economical over the long run but have filters that need regular cleaning. If not done often, suction power may begin to wane. You must also be careful when emptying bagless models indoors not to release big dust clouds back into the air.
Suction power is rated in cubic feet per minute, sometimes abbreviated to CFM in manufacturer specs. The higher the CFM, the more powerful a vacuum cleaner is. Unfortunately, many companies choose not to provide this information, so your next best option is to rely on user reviews to understand how powerful the suction is on any model you are considering.
The capacity of the dust bin or bag is vital as this dictates how large of an area you can clean before needing to stop and empty the bin or add a new bag. If you have a small business, you may be fine choosing a model with a dust container comparable to what you might find on a home vacuum cleaner. However, if you will regularly be cleaning large spaces, it is best to choose a model with a high capacity.
On bagged models, the bag itself acts as the filter. Bagless models have a separate filter system used to trap dust and dirt so it isn’t circulated back into the air. When looking at filter ratings, you have to consider both the amount of particles it can capture and the size of those particles. A filter capable of catching 99% of particles down to 0.3 microns will be more effective than one capable of catching 99.9% of particles down to 3.0 microns.
Ergonomics applies to many aspects of the vacuum. If choosing a handheld or backpack model, it should be lightweight enough to carry easily without becoming fatigued. On both backpack and canister models, you will want to look at how long the wand is to make sure you can use it comfortably without having to stoop. For an upright vacuum, you should consider how high the handle is.
You can find handhelds and small but powerful shop vacs starting at around $65. Upright and canister models start around $125 and may cost up to $300. Backpacks vacuums are the most expensive, usually costing from $250-$700.
A. HEPA filters must be tested and certified to catch 99.7% of all airborne particles of 0.3 microns or larger. Filters labeled as HEPA-type, HEPA-style or anything similar haven’t been tested and are often not effective.
A. The answer to this depends on your needs. If you expect that you’ll often need to clean up spills or vacuum wet carpet, a wet/dry shop vac may be the best choice. However, these are usually considerably louder than other types of vacuums, which can be annoying and unnecessary if you don’t expect to be cleaning up spills regularly.
What you need to know: With HEPA filtration, a 10-quart canister and a complete set of attachments that includes a crevice tool and upholstery brush, you can effectively clean areas large and small with the Super CoachVac.
What you’ll love: It’s surprisingly quiet and lightweight considering how powerful it is.
What you should consider: The high price tag may make it a non-starter for some.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Staples
What you need to know: The Oreck Upright comes for a budget-friendly price that makes it ideal for anyone on a tight budget. Despite that, it doesn’t sacrifice suction power.
What you’ll love: Its on/off switch is integrated into the handle for convenient thumb control, and the entire thing lays flat for slipping under furniture.
What you should consider: It’s notably loud and some users may require ear protection for comfortable operation.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
What you need to know: Offering five brush height settings, the PowerForce is suitable for hard floors, as well as high and low-pile carpet.
What you’ll love: It features onboard cord management and attachment storage.
What you should consider: Regularly buying bags for it can get expensive over time.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and Overstock
Brett Dvoretz is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.