How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use?

By Vernon Trollinger, October 12, 2016, Energy Efficiency

Saving energy (and money) is always easier when you know how much you’re using. But because many of the convenient smaller appliances we use seem to draw little amounts of power, we all too often discount how their use really does impact our electricity bills. With our How Much Energy Does This Appliance Use?, we’ll examine what’s watt in small appliances to see approximately how much they use. To help you understand very basic electrical consumption calculations, you’ll need to keep a simple equation in mind: Volts (V) x Amperes (I) = Watts (W). What you’ll discover is how just how small appliances can contribute to your home’s energy usage and how these little conveniences can make big differences on your bill.

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use?

Whether it’s a stick, robot, upright, or canister model, when it comes to making a clean sweep of housework, nothing compares to a good vacuum cleaner. In our final installment of this series, we will investigate the two most common types of vacuum cleaners – uprights and canisters – to see how much power they suck from your wall outlet.

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

I will always advocate using your vacuum cleaner wand as your air guitar.

Now that the bad puns are out of the way, it’s important to realize that vacuum cleaners are simple systems.

  • There’s a motor with a fan attached to it.
  • The motor spins the fan at high revolutions (anywhere from 10,000 to 30,000 rpms, depending on the motor type) to create airflow that exhausts out the back of the machine.
  • At the front end, the airflow causes powerful suction that picks up dust, dirt, pet fur, and other sneeze-inducing stuff.
  • As the air winds its way through the vacuum, it passes through a HEPA air filters and into bags or bins that collect the dust and dirt.

Most upright vacuums use a rubber belt that attaches to the motor shaft, and this drives the floor sweeper. This rotating brush beats dirt and dust loose from the carpet, allowing it to get caught by the suction. Canister vacuums often come with these as a separate motorized attachment. Trendy lift-away vacuums offer features of both canister and upright vacuums and can have two motors as well.

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Yes – you really DO need to move the furniture to clean under it effectively.

What Does All This Mean in Terms of Energy Usage?

One important design element about vacuum cleaners is that they need to pull less than 12 amps in order for them to be used reliably in the home. Why? Because the average home circuit breaker is rated at 15 amps, or 1800 watts (15A x 120V). However, in order for the breaker to operate safely for a continuous load (for over 3 hours) the breaker is limited to 80% of the peak load to prevent overheating and burning out. And 80% of 15 amps is about 12 amps.

If we plug in 120 volts and 12 amps to the simple equation Volts (V) x Amperes (I) = Watts (W), that works out to 1440 watts. And this is why if you’re vacuuming and running some other appliance on the same circuit at the same time, there’s a good chance you’ll trip the circuit breaker.

How Much Does It Cost Me to Run My Vacuum Cleaner?

Power ratings are listed below in the manufacturers’ rate watts. A rough consumption amount is listed as watt/hours assuming the vacuum is used continuously for one hour. Besides, if you’re running your vacuum cleaner for more than 1 hour at a time, you either have a big house, a big mess, or a problem with compulsive cleaning.

Uprights

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

Just your average upright vacuum cleaner.

Canisters

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

And here’s an example of a canister vacuum cleaner.

In this sample, nearly all vacuums run at or near to 1,000 watts, which if used over the course of an hour becomes 1,000 watt hours or 1 kWh. And vacuuming with a 12 amp vacuum converts to 1440 watts or 1.44 kWh. If the price per kilowatt-hour of electricity is 10¢, then it costs 14.4¢ to run your vacuum for an hour.

If you vacuum for one hour every week for a year (that’s 52 times), it comes to $7.49 for the year. That’s not a lot of money to stay dust free, and it will make a difference in your family’s health.

The Last Word

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | Bounce Energy Blog

While your average vacuum cleaner won’t cost you much energy, it’s better to have a durable model so you’re not spending money on a new appliance every few years.

 

While motor strength is a good indication of cleaning suction power, it’s not the last word in how good a job the vacuum does. A vacuum can have the most powerful motor of its class, but if the vacuum cleaner is poorly designed and has leaks, then the machine is going to perform poorly and may even leak dust and dirt all over what you’ve just cleaned.

As with many motorized things in life, you want power, but not too much of it, as efficiency is often better than pure strength.

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About 

A native of Wyomissing Hills, PA, Vernon Trollinger studied writing and film at the University of Iowa, later earning his MA in writing there as well. Following a decade of digging in CRM archaeology, he now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, DIY projects, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.

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