How a Vacuum Cleaner Works

There are two major types of vacuum cleaners, the upright and the canister. The difference is not just in how they look but how they work. Both, of course, rely on suction. They do this by creating a vacuum.

Impeller Fan Creating Vacuum

Generally, there will be a disk shaped area next to the motor. Within this disk will be several fans or impellers that spin at high rates of speed. The blades push air to the outside of the disk. The inside of the disk is then left without air and the outside air pressure "pushes" air through in to the disk to replace it. What is so amazing about this process is that the vacuum is not so much sucking air as the outside air is being pushed into the vacuum by the ambient air pressure.

The upright vacuum is sometimes refered to as the "dirty air design". This is because the fan comes before the vacuum cleaner bag or "filter" which is in the handle. Uprights also generally come equipped with a rug beater which churns up the dust. This design makes them better floor cleaners than the cannister models. However, they are not as good at handling attachments. Because the cannister models are not open to a wider area and can run at higher rpms they can create higher suction at the head of a hose.

The cannisters usually place the filter or bag in front of the fans or impellers. This insures that the dirt is taken out before it passes through the blades. As you might imagine, this makes cannisters less liable to wear and tear.

Historical Tidbits:

The first vacuum may have been manufactured in Chicago in 1865. It was called the Whirlwind.

An early design was created by a janitor named Murray Spangler in Canton Ohio. He sold his idea to his cousin who owned the Hoover Hanrness and Leather Goods, Co.

Destinations:

Read our review of iRobot's Roomba automatic Vacuum Cleaner!

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