There are more vacuum cleaners out there than ever before, from innovative robot vacuums and new bagless designs through to conventional bagged vacuums. One of the best ways to categorize vacuum cleaners is whether they feature a bagged or bagless design.
Bagged vacuum cleaners use a replaceable bag as a filter to trap dirt and fine dust particles, with this method offering a number of distinct advantages over bagless vacuum products. Before buying a vacuum cleaner, it’s important to understand the different features and specifications used by bagged vacuums so you can make the right decision for your home.
Advantages of bagged vacuum cleaners
Bagged vacuum cleaners are the traditional vacuum cleaner design. Instead of filling up an empty dust canister like modern bagless vacuums, bagged vacuum cleaners utilize a replaceable bag that can be thrown away when it’s full. There’s a number of advantages to this approach, both in terms of performance and ease of use.
Depending on the product in question, bagged vacuum cleaners may have higher suction, less dust re-emission, and a greater ability to filter allergens and fine dust particles from your home. Bagged vacuums are also less messy to empty than dust canisters, with most bags coming with their own sliding shutters to prevent dust from spilling out. While the bags themselves aren’t always recyclable, many of them are biodegradable and all of them can be put into the rubbish bin once full.
It’s important to realize that when you replace a vacuum bag, you’re actually changing a significant part of the filter system. This allows the vacuum to keep functioning at optimal capacity clean after clean. While bagged vacuums often provide better suction power than bagless designs, due to advances in cyclonic vacuums, this is not always the case.
The overall cleaning ability of a bagged vacuum cleaner can be measured in many ways. Important specifications to look at include the power rating of the motor, the measured performance on different types of surfaces, the capacity of the bag, and the cleaning tools and accessories included. While most of these features are important, it’s critical to compare and contrast different models based on the things that matter the most to you.
For example, you’re unlikely to care about the carpet cleaning performance of a vacuum if your entire house consists of hard wood floors. A number of industry standards can act as guidelines when you’re making a purchase, helping you to compare models based on quantitative data rather than make subjective decisions.
For example, each bagged vacuum is measured for energy efficiency, carpet cleaning performance class, hard floor cleaning performance class, power rating, Air Watts, and dust re-emission class. A class structure is generally employed, with class A representing the best performing models. Along with these measures, some vacuums also specialize in cleaning pet hair and ultra-fine dust particles.
Power and suction
The power and associated suction capacity of a vacuum cleaner is one of the most important factors that contribute to its cleaning ability. Unfortunately, there is no single standard or rating that identifies the suction capacity of a vacuum cleaner in relation to the power usage and motor size. While some people compare the motor size or power rating, this is not enough in isolation.
For example, the input power of a vacuum cleaner is measured in watts, and the maximum amount of electrical current used by the vacuum cleaner is measured in amps. While both of these measures can be valuable, the best way to measure the overall suction ability of a vacuum cleaner is with the Water Lift or Air Watts rating.
The sealed section of a bagged vacuum cleaner can be measured in inches of water lift, which refers to the number of inches that the motor will lift a one-inch column of water. A good lift rating indicates high performance under resistance and high performance under load. The Air Watts rating can also be a useful way to measure the overall power or suction capacity of a vacuum cleaner.
While useful, many of these specifications may not be available from the manufacturer. Generally speaking, traditional bagged vacuum cleaners perform well in terms of suction, with the sealed bag design preventing air and dust from escaping into the atmosphere. There is a lot of variation between brands and models, however, with consumers always advised to do their homework before making a purchase.
Filters and dust performance
Bagged vacuum cleaners utilize conventional replaceable bags to filter dust and dirt from your floors. A number of different filter designs can be used in vacuum cleaners, all of which have an impact on how well the vacuum functions. Bagged vacuums use several different technologies, with the filter system employed being one of the main factors that contribute to the overall cost.
Some filters work better for things like pet hair, fine dust particles and allergens, so it’s always important to do your homework. The cleaning ability of the filter is also related to the size of the dust bag and how full or empty it is during operation. While cheap vacuum cleaners are likely to lose power as they get full, this can be avoided in more expensive models by making certain design decisions.
The HEPA standard
Modern bagged vacuum cleaners are rated for their dust re-emission performance, with the most advanced models equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration unit. It’s important to realize that a HEPA vacuum is measured according to a performance standard rather than a type of construction. Vacuum cleaners designed for HEPA performance can feature either a bagged or bagless design.
HEPA filters are designed to trap a large amount of very small particles, including the ultra-fine dust and allergens that other vacuums leave or allow to recirculate back into your home. HEPA technology is the equivalent of European S-class filters, which are much more efficient than standard filter designs. In order to be a HEPA vacuum, each model needs to be tested to trap 99.7% of all emissions down to a tiny 0.3 microns in size.
To offer a comparison, standard non-HEPA filters trap an average 96% of emissions. While this might not seem like a huge difference, it’s often the smallest particles that create the biggest problems for people with allergies and asthma. Along with true or absolute HEPA filters, some designs are labeled as HEPA-type filters. While these vacuums will normally be less expensive than real HEPA filters, they will trap fewer particles and bigger particles.
The size of 0.3 microns is the testing standard used around the world because most household allergens are 0.3 microns or larger and most filters will perform better with both smaller and larger particles. Vacuums that don’t use HEPA filters may use replaceable electrostatic filters or durable double-walled bags as an alternative.
Accessories and functionality
Bagged vacuum cleaners feature a wide range of different accessories, with different brushes, nozzles, and tools all affecting the overall functionality. A wide range of accessories can be included in a vacuum cleaner package, including telescopic extensions, hard floor and carpet tools, vacuum bags, and various nozzles and brushes to clean different types of upholstery and surfaces. These accessories will have an impact on the performance of the vacuum cleaner and how easy it is to operate in different situations.
Along with performance, there’s a number of ergonomic and aesthetic features that should also be analyzed before making a vacuum cleaner purchase. The operating radius of the vacuum is one important consideration, as is the weight, the operating height, the level of suction control, the color, and the materials used in construction. The sound of a vacuum cleaner can also have a significant effect on your cleaning experience, with many modern bagged vacuum cleaners made with silent or almost silent motors.