Which Vacuum Has The Most USABLE Suction?


In this video, I talk about a new way I am testing the suction on vacuum cleaners. It’s called an unsealed suction test, or a “usable suction” test, and I put about 46 of my vacuums and cordless vacuums through it.

Here is a list of our favorite vacuums
Our favorite upright vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/38Uvhhg
Our favorite budget upright vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2X0Ks39
Our favorite robot vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3b0F0Fq
Our favorite mid-level robot vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2JA8qyT
Our favorite budget robot vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2MpFiLY
Our favorite cordless stick vacuum on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2Mqjm3j
Our favorite carpet cleaner on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3o1zVjX
Our favorite mid-level carpet cleaner on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3ojOakt

The “star” of this show turned out to be the LUPE cordless vacuum. So I should mention that I was sent a LUPE cordless vacuum for free to do the initial review, which you can see here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFbkGM9Lm18 Also, the link to the LUPE website as well as the links to Amazon are all affiliate links.

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Hey everybody welcome to vacuum wars, where I usually put vacuums through all kinds of tests to do reviews to help you make informed decisions about your vacuum and robot vacuum purchases. Well, today, I’m really excited because I was recently introduced to a new way to test a vacuum section that to me makes a lot more sense than the previous ways. I’ve been doing it and it will certainly impact how I grade and review vacuums in the future.

So I put every upright and cordless vacuum that I have on hand to this test, which is about 46 or so vacuums and the results and the winners were pretty interesting. At least I think so. This video is for all you nerds out there, because It’s about to get pretty technical, so links in the description and, let’s get started. Let me first describe the problem with the current suction testing methods. I use I test airflow and suction, with every vacuum. I review in most of the official testing guidelines. They require a sealed suction test. Typically, this is done at the hose of the vacuum or on a cordless. You could do it at the wand or at the base.

I usually do both. There are also guidelines on sealed tests at the cleaner head, which I also do at least with airflow. A sealed, suction test is good for determining the raw or potential power of a vacuum, and, while those things can translate to the actual vacuum’s performance, it can also be more or less meaningless. The reason is because the actual performance of the vacuum depends as much or more on the design of the floor head, the business end of the vacuum. If you will look at 100 different vacuums and you’ll, see 100 different designs of floor heads they’re all trying to find the perfect balance between debris, pickup and a good seal.

It’s basically about efficiency, how best to use that power without wasting too much of it. And It’s a double-edged sword if you make a cleaner head with too good of a seal with no air holes. I call these air holes gates that vacuum will be great for sucking up debris from cracks and hard floors, and it will do great with deep down dirt and carpets, but as a kind of trade-off for having such a good seal.

That same vacuum will usually be basically useless for hard floors and even on carpets, it won’t pick up large debris. It’ll just push it around something we call snow plowing, so vacuum manufacturers have all been trying to figure out a way to have the best of both worlds, to minimize the loss of suction, by making the gates smaller or fewer in number, but also large enough to Be able to pick up larger debris and It’s really hard to have both anyway, a few weeks ago, I was reviewing a new cordless vacuum called the loop, and I saw that they were using a measurement from a test.

They called an unsealed suction test, which was interesting to me for reasons I’ll get into in a minute, but to make a long story short, I more or less duplicated their testing rig. Basically, It’s a flat surface with a hole with a tube which is perfectly sealed to that hole and running to a manometer, which is a digital, suction meter. The reason I liked this unsealed, suction or usable suction test is that It’s a way to judge the floor. Head’s design, as well as the motor’s power, in other words It’s taking into account the number and size of the gates and the seals like squeegees, etc, as well as the motor’s output.

So It’s a much better quantifier of a vacuum’s performance. Let’s talk a little bit about methodology. First, when testing a vacuum, I would spend a lot of time trying to find the best place on the vacuum head to test. For example, many vacuums have their air hose right down the middle, meaning that the strongest suction would be dead center in the vacuum’s head, but others have the hose to one side or another, in which case I made sure to test its max suction number from there.

I also tested their low and high power numbers when applicable or if they had an option to turn the brush roll on and off. I tested it in both ways, which usually made a big difference, though not always for the same reasons. Some vacuums got multiple entries. For example, some of the newer dyson cordless vacuums have adjustable gates which, when closed, are absolutely amazing on this test, since they basically have a perfect seal but as you might guess, they’re pretty useless for hard floors or large debris in that mode.

So I also tested them with the gates open, which is the way most people will use them in their homes and, as you can see, there is a big difference. Similarly, a lot of cordless vacuums come with multiple types of heads, one with small gates made for carpets and one with a soft roller for large debris and a great seal. So again I tested them. Both some vacuums use a height adjustment for them. I just tested them in their lowest possible setting, but not in their highest because, basically on their highest setting, it would be a score of zero, since it basically loses all of its seal.

That way, besides, there really were only a few vacuums I tested that had a height adjustment. Finally, before I get to the test results, I want to hit something that’s crucially important and one of the reasons I did this test in the first place because of the popularity of cordless vacuums, It’s become really important to make vacuums more efficient in order to get The best performance for the longest amount of battery life, for example, some cordless vacuums, claim to be as powerful as upright vacuums, but often that’s only with the cordless vacuum in its max power mode, which it can only sustain for 6 to 10 minutes.

At best. Some of the cordless vacuums can last 30 to 60 minutes or more, but that’s only in their lowest power setting, which is nowhere near as powerful as an upright. So, in order for cordless vacuums to ever really compete with an upright, they will need to be very efficient. They will need to find a way to equal the usable, suction performance of an upright, while using as little power as possible to be able to sustain battery life, and that is all about the head design, which this test will highlight. Moving on to the test results – and I will, for the moment, cover up the number one spot, so we can reveal it and talk about it later, because there is a lot to say.

The first few results are kind of what you would expect, for example, notice that the three dyson cordless models that come with the torque drive head, which had those adjustable gates, were in the top five. When the gates were in their totally sealed positions. You can see that they dropped down to the middle of the road when those gates were open, which is still impressive. You will also see that some of the particularly powerful vacuums that came with a soft roller are up here as well.

Remember that the soft roller basically creates a perfect seal, but because It’s soft it can allow larger debris in too, which is why I usually recommend a soft roller. If you have 100 hard floors in your home, the downside is that soft rollers don’t agitate carpet. So they’re basically useless for deep cleaning carpets, which is why vacuums usually come with another head for carpets in the package, but it can be kind of a pain to change them back and forth.

As you clean your house. In my opinion, I should mention that the commercial sanitaire, which is in the number three slot, is the only vacuum on this list with a direct air motor and since I tested it on its lowest height setting, it was right on the floor, basically a perfect seal. So not very practical for most situations even on carpet. that’s just a little too low, especially considering it doesn’t have a hose for larger debris. One notable vacuum was the dyson multi-floor II, which has a technology unique to dyson, called an adjustable base plate which adjusts to the height level of the floor, making a great seal when it needs it, but it will adjust up automatically when it encounters larger debris.

It’s not amazing for hard floors or larger debris in general, but much better than most vacuums that have such a good seal. So It’s a bit more impressive than the others on this list. So far, some vacuums like the shark duo cleans, which have a soft roller up front and a regular roller for carpet agitation in the back kind of bridged. The gap and both the cordless and corded duo cleans did better than average at this test, especially if you take into account debris and surface versatility.

Moving on to the winner, It’s probably not a surprise that it was the loop cordless vacuum since they are the ones. I got the idea from this test from in the first place, but look at these numbers and let me take a second to explain how interesting this is. So, as you can see it absolutely crushed the competition like It’s not even close, it’s even more impressive when you realize that it has those high numbers and it can pick up large debris as well and not just a little like It’s one of the best on this list period for large debris, pickup and because the loop has a regular brush roll for carpet cleaning, as well as a soft roller and because of the seal which we’ve been talking about.

It can clean carpets as good or better than the corded vacuums, even on low power, which is why, in the review of the loop, the thumbnail says quote this changes. Everything, as I mentioned. Other vacuums have to be on max power to deep clean, carpets perfectly which reduces their battery life significantly. Cordless vacuum manufacturers have been compensating for this by adding extra batteries or adding automatic suction adjustment features which only use high power for carpets and bring that power back down for hard floors to save battery life, but look at the loop’s low power, unsealed suction number.

It’s five times more powerful with usable, suction and low power than its closest competitor and almost 30 times more powerful than the worst cordless on this list in low power, you can use a cordless vacuum in low power, so you can vacuum for like 30 to 60 Minutes and actually get a really deep cleaned carpet. All in all, this test is pretty interesting and it really helps me at the very least, to put into context some of the other data points I get during the tests of vacuums, and I will be incorporating it into every vacuum review from here on out.

Maybe even robot vacuums as well, but I haven’t figured out a way to do that just yet. I feel like I should mention that the original review I did of the loop was sponsored in the sense that they sent me a free unit and the links to loop, as well as to the other vacuums in the description, are affiliate links. So I would understand if you thought this video was biased, but as always, while the tests that I do may not be perfect, they are my best attempts at being accurate and consistent and I’m reasonably confident that they could be duplicated by anyone who wanted to try.

Jason Smith

Former Marine, IT Guy & Builder of Websites.  I have 5 US states left to visit. I enjoy hot springs, adventures, hiking, photography, sci-fi, wine, coffee & whiskey.  I am fluent in sarcasm, name that tune, & speak in movie quotes.  I spend most of my time building websites, fixing computers, metal detecting, magnet fishing and gaming occasionally.

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