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Is a Canister Vacuum Better Than Upright Vacuums?

It can be confusing to choose a vacuum cleaner. There is a deluge of designs on the market, each with a different shape, dust capacity and vacuum motor size. With so many makes and models these days, how does one begin to choose which vacuum will work best on a given area?

The first thing to do is to assess the area to be cleaned. Is there carpeting or hard-flooring? Are there hard-to-reach areas under office furniture or overhead like cobweb-strewn corners? Answering some of these kinds of questions can really narrow down the search for the perfect vacuum cleaner. The luxury of choosing the bells and whistles (kinds of accessories, or the size of the actual vacuum motor) can wait until the overall shape of the vacuum is decided.

Take, for example, an area that is comprised of mainly carpeting. Cleaning carpeting requires a vacuum cleaner that has faster airflow because the airflow determines how well dirt gets sucked out of carpet fibers. One would assume that suction, rather than airflow, is the determining factor for sucking dirt out, but suction comes into play more for accessories like hand tools than it does for broader area cleaning. Therefore, if you are looking at cleaning carpet and a lot of it, an upright machine with a strong vacuum motor will clean much better than a canister vacuum ever could. The other thing that uprights have in their favor when it comes to carpet cleaning is that the cleaning path is usually much larger than the floor tools found as attachments on canister vacs, allowing the operator to clean a wider area in fewer passes and therefore, in less time.

Canister vacuums certainly have their advantages in other areas though. If you are looking at cleaning hard-to-reach areas or things like upholstery where hand-tools are required, nothing beats the sheer suction power of a canister vacuum. The vacuum motors of canisters create such pull over a much smaller width that they are preferable for accessories like upholstery or crevice tools. These extra attachments can be found on upright vacuums too, but the suction from uprights is less than what the canisters have to offer. At the same time, canisters can also have powered floor tools that mimic the beater-brush action that uprights offer, but the extra motor in the powered floor tool can add up to an added expense that isn't justified given the inferior carpet-cleaning capacity of the canister.

The other thing to consider is how comfortable the operator is with either pushing an upright or pulling a canister vac. Depending on the model and heaviness of the vacuum motor, an upright can be tough to push. Likewise, a canister can literally be a drag-particularly if the vacuum motor is huge. Canisters can be very handy, but if the wheels aren't well-designed, the whole unit can flop over and be a nuisance. Longer hoses can help with this problem, but even hoses will give out with too much stretching over time if the machine they are attached to is heavy. Upright vacuum cleaners often have a self-propelling system where the machine actually moves on its own with relative ease, relieving the operator of some of the heavy work involved with pushing a unit back and forth.

In conclusion, the very first consideration to make before you decide to choose a vacuum cleaner should be to look carefully at the area that needs cleaning. If more than 50% of the area is carpeting, by all means choose an upright. If there are a lot of nooks and crannies that require hand tools, opt for the canister. Taking these things into consideration will ensure choosing the right machine for the job every time.

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