How to Compare Air Watts on Vacuum Cleaners

Justine Harrington

Comparing air wattage, or the amount of suction available, on vacuum cleaners is essential if you want to select the best vacuum model for your needs.

How to Compare Air Watts on Vacuum Cleaners

There's no doubt about it: a clean home is a happy home. After all, when you clean your home, you're working to keep it sanitary and free of harmful germs. You're also eliminating potential allergens like pet dander and dust. This is important if people in your home suffer from allergies or asthma. A powerful vacuum cleaner is an essential tool, but what makes a vacuum powerful? In short, a vacuum cleaner's "air watts" help determine the amount of suction power it has.

What Are Air Watts?

Air watts are a specific type of measurement for your vacuum's suction power. This measurement refers to the number of watts used by the machine to carry a unit of air through an opening. Air watts are not the same as electrical watts, and you may see the same electrical watt requirement on models that have different air watt measurements.

Comparing Air Wattage on Vacuum Models

Not only does each vacuum have its own air watt measurement, but vacuum models as a whole have different minimum requirements for adequate air watts. For instance, upright and canister vacuums have different air flow systems and need different amounts of power to collect dust and debris from your carpet. Upright vacuums need less air wattage than canister vacuums to get the job done. Generally, an upright vacuum with at least 100 air watts is recommended; a cylinder vacuum with at least 250 air watts is considered desirable.

Finding Air Watts

A vacuum's air watts are usually listed in the product description. However, you may instead see terms like cubic feet per minute, or CFM, and water lift. If you can find those numbers, divide the value of the water lift by 8.5, and multiply that result by the CFM to get the air watt value.

Choosing the Best Vacuum Cleaner for You

There are other important factors to consider when choosing the best type of vacuum model for your home. The type of cleaning that you typically do is one issue. For instance, a canister vacuum may be ideal if you have lots of stairs or hardwood floors. Or, an upright may be preferable if you have lots of rugs. Hand-held vacuums are great for quick, easy spot cleaning. A vacuum's size, weight and filtration system are all necessary factors to consider. For instance, if your family suffers from allergies, you'll want to select a vacuum with an excellent filtration system. Note that a vacuum with a HEPA filter traps over 99 percent of dust and dander, rendering this a great option for most families.