Backpack vacuum cleaners are not nearly as popular as they should be. Perhaps this is because it’s mainly used in industrial settings where large piles of dust and debris are accumulated. Sure, you may think your home is dirty, but it’s nothing compared to how dirty manufacturing plants and office buildings can get.
But maybe you’re ready to make the switch from upright or stick vacuums to backpacks. We’d support you wholeheartedly if you decided to do so. There are several reasons why you should consider choosing a backpack vacuum.
Maneuvering a vacuum cleaner around your home is no easy task. Upright models require that you push the vacuum head while canisters need to be towed along with you. Backpack vacuums rest on your back with straps, and they come with super-long power cords – up to 50 feet in length – so cleaning multiple rooms and long hallways are a breeze.
No More Tripping
Have you ever had the thought that vacuum cleaner manufacturers are out to get you? Their vacuum cleaners themselves are a tripping hazard. As you turn, you may end up falling on the canister, or the cord of an upright model may get tangled around your feet. With a backpack, the cord runs from the unit that’s always behind you. Turning around no longer poses a risk of falling a breaking your neck.
The reason why so many companies rely on backpack vacuum cleaners is their portability. Transporting the unit to and from different buildings or rooms is as easy as wearing a pack on your back. Backpack vacuum cleaners are engineered to be lighter on the back so you won’t pull any muscles, and they’re made to be as compact as possible for easy transport and storage.
Most backpack vacuum models are bagless, meaning that you won’t have the ongoing burden of purchasing new bags every so often. Like any bagless vacuum, simply remove the cover, dump the contents out into a large disposable bag, close the cover back up, and you’re ready to get back to work.
So Should I Get a Backpack Vacuum Cleaner?
Hey, we’re just a messenger. The decision to purchase a backpack, upright, canister, or another type of vacuum cleaner is entirely up to you. However, from a practical standpoint, backpack vacuum cleaners are undoubtedly more suitable for industrial settings and large spaces. If you have more than one story in your home, getting a backpack vacuum cleaner could be worth the investment. These babies will pick up more debris in less time due to their powerful suction and easy maneuverability.
Backpack Vacuum Cleaner Buying Guides
If you’ve made it to this point, perhaps you’re seriously considering purchasing a backpack vacuum cleaner. Or perhaps you’re just wondering what sort of things to look out for when shopping for one. Either way, the following guides will satisfy one of your needs. We’ll split into three parts: backpack vacuum cleaners with a powerhead, with a beater bar, and with HEPA filtration.
Backpack Vacuum Cleaner with Powerhead
One of the main components of any modern vacuum cleaner is the powerhead. In this section, we’ll go over what the powerhead is, what sort of cleaning tasks it excels in, and how to find the right backpack vacuum with a powerhead.
What is a Powerhead?
A powerhead is a vacuum cleaner head with a built-in motor. This motor does nothing to improve the suction power of the vacuum head, but rather it serves to power an agitator brush. The agitator brush is a long-bristle brush that pushes embedded dirt and debris from the bottom of carpet fibers. This gives the vacuum cleaner the ability to deep-clean high-pile carpets with ease.
Do I need a Powerhead?
A powerhead would be most appropriate for cleaning deep carpets. This means lifting tangled hair out of rugs – something that pet owners should get. However, for cleaning hardwood, tiled, laminated, or marble floors, the powerhead may be counter-productive to the cleaning process. It’ll push dirt away while possibly leaving scratch marks on your beautiful floors.
Things to Consider
If you’ve decided that your carpets could benefit from having a backpack vacuum with a powerhead, make sure that the vacuum model has the following features and specs.
Powerhead ON/OFF Switch or Button
Without an ON/OFF switch or button, the powerhead will only be suitable for carpets and rugs. This is a major problem seeing as how the powerhead is the tool’s main cleaning attachment. If you wish to transition from carpets to hardwood floors, you’ll have to swap out the powerhead with an airflow brush which can get annoying rather quickly. With the ability to turn the powerhead off, the same vacuum cleaner head can be used on all surfaces.
The powerhead powers an agitator brush at high speed for dislodging dust and hair from high-pile carpets. For obvious reasons, a quicker-spinning agitator brush is ideal for lifting more dust. Typically, powerheads can spin the brush at a rate of 5,000 RPM which is about as much as you’ll need for even the shaggiest of rugs.
As we mentioned earlier, the motor powering the agitator brush does not improve how well the vacuum cleaner sucks. For shaggy rugs, a higher CFM rating is always better. We’d recommend finding a unit that produces at least 150 CFM for carpets.
Since powerheads, with an ON/OFF function, can be used on both carpets and smooth floors, it’s a good idea to find a model that has rubberized wheels or a rubber under-plate. When transitioning from carpets to hardwood, the rubber will protect your floors from scratches as it wheels around.
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Backpack Vacuum Cleaner with Beater Bar
One of the biggest misconceptions about vacuum cleaners is that the beater bar is no different from a powerhead. This could not be farther away from the truth as you’ll find out in the following guide.
What is a Beater Bar?
A beater bar can be considered a type of motor-powered agitator. The purpose of the beater bar is to dislodge pieces of embedded debris from high-pile carpets, allowing the intake to suction it up. This, like the agitator brush, leaves carpets cleaner.
However, it’s a lot harder to find beater bars in vacuum cleaners nowadays. Manufacturers have either made the switch to powerheads or turbo brushes, leaving beater bars in the dust. Beater bars are less effective at deep-cleaning shaggier carpets and leave deeper gashes on hardwood floors.
Benefits of a Beater Bar
Well, in all honesty, there’s nothing that a beater bar can do better than a powerhead. The only situation where a beater bar would be ideal is at lifting hair from carpets, letting the vacuum’s intake to suction it right up. But even that may pose a problem as hair may get tangled in the bar, reducing the speed of the brushes and potentially causing overheating.
Do I need a Beater Bar?
If you plan on vacuuming carpets, then you may want to think twice on whether to get a beater bar vacuum or a powerhead one. Beater bars work on carpets but aren’t particularly “friendly.” They may end up pulling out more fibers than dislodging dust. This could potentially create bald patches on your carpeting. The only time a beater bar should ever be used is on low-pile carpets such as in office spaces, hallways, and theaters.
Things to Consider
If you think a beater bar is what you need, then you may have a difficult time finding the right backpack vacuum with a beater bar since many companies have made the switch to powerheads and turbo brushes. However, there are beater head vacuum cleaner models out there. Make sure you pay close attention to the following features and specs.
Beater Bar Speed
Like powerhead agitator brushes, the beater bar can spin at a rate of over 5,000 RPM. For low-pile carpets, even a low-speed beater bar of around 3,000 RPM would suit be A-OK.
ON/OFF Switch or Button
Since beater bars can cause destruction on your beautiful hardwood flooring, you should find a model that comes with an ON/OFF switch or button. This will increase the versatility of the tool by allowing it to work on any surface without the risk of leaving deep gashes in its wake.
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Backpack Vacuum Cleaner with HEPA Filtration
Let’s talk about one of the most major internal components of vacuum cleaners – the filter. In this section, we’ll go over HEPA filters and why your home may need them. We’ll also discuss the various types of HEPA filters available and in what situations they’ll work best.
What are HEPA Filters?
HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) is a grade of filter that signifies its effectiveness at trapping small particles. Of course, all filters exist to retain dust and prevent them from going airborne, but HEPA takes it to the next level. Their meshes are so fine that they hold onto particles as small as 0.3 microns up to 99.97% of the time.
Do I Need HEPA Filters?
You may or may not need HEPA filters depending on what sort of debris your home is cluttered with. For instance, if pet dander, dust mites, pollen, and mold spores are a problem in your home, the only effective way of removing them from your floors is by using a vacuum cleaner with True HEPA Filters. These are the filters that trap 0.3-micron particles with 99.97% efficiency.
For larger pieces of debris, you may want to consider HEPA-style filters. Their effectiveness is rated at 99% for particles as small as 4 microns. These filters are more suitable for pet hair. The larger holes in the filter allow it to grab onto larger objects, like fur, without clogging. A True HEPA Filter would clog up almost instantly when vacuuming hair.
Things to Consider
There’s no denying that with the right type of HEPA filter, the cleanliness of your floor and home’s indoor air can increase dramatically. But there are things to consider when shopping for a backpack vacuum with HEPA filtration. Let’s talk about these things now.
Reusable vs. Disposable
With great efficiency comes great cost. This is true for most things, including HEPA filters. They’re not so expensive that you’ll need to mortgage your home, but over time, purchasing replacements can accumulate into a sizable sum that you could use to purchase a second vacuum cleaner.
There are washable and reusable HEPA filters out there. They’re made of a spongy material that you run water through. After squeezing and drying, the filter should retain its shape and be ready for the next batch for dust. However, these filters are not going to last forever. Most people find that they need to replace reusable HEPA filters at least once a year.
The MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating was created by ASHRAE (the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers) to rate the efficiency of filters. Vacuum cleaner filters can receive a rating from 1 to 16, where a higher rating indicates better filtration efficiency. Be on the lookout for a HEPA vacuum cleaner with a higher MERV rating.
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Backpack vacuum cleaners are mainly used by professional custodians in professional settings to deep-clean floors, ceilings, and any surface in between. However, this doesn’t mean that using one of these vacuums in your home is overkill. If you need maximum cleaning power, ditch the stick or upright and get a backpack vacuum cleaner.
In this article, we’ve delivered you our take on what you need to be on the lookout for when shopping for a backpack vacuum cleaner. We’ve split our guide into three different sections, each of them talking about powerheads, beater bars, and HEPA filtration.
Finding a backpack vacuum cleaner with a powerhead is not going to be difficult seeing as how most of them come with one. The powerhead serves to help deep-clean high-pile carpets and rugs. However, for use on hardwood floors, make sure that the motorized agitator brush can be turned off to prevent scratching.
Beater bars, on the other hand, are old-school. They’re not as widely used in vacuum cleaners, seeing as how they can create a wide range of problems (scratching smooth floors and tugging on carpet fibers). Like the powerhead, make sure that the beater bar can be switched off when transitioning from carpets to smooth flooring.
The final section talked about HEPA filtration and the benefits it has to offer. If you need to rid your floors of microscopic allergens like dander, pollen, and dust, a True HEPA Filter with 99.97% efficiency on particles as small as 0.3 microns in width would be best. For pet hair, a HEPA-style filter with 99% efficiency on 4-micron particles would work best without clogging. Also, you may want to consider purchasing a model that uses reusable HEPA filters to reduce ongoing costs.