How Vacuum Cleaner Suction Power is Determined? [Shocking Result]

What does the suction power of a vacuum cleaner indicate? How is it determined? Is a vacuum with low suction better or high suction? These were the few questions that came to my mind when I thought about getting a new vacuum cleaner with strong suction for my home.

Watt (W) is the unit of measurement used to determine a machine’s suction power, and it generally falls between 250 W and 450 W for those with one motor. To accurately measure the suction power, do it at the end of the complete vacuum cleaner tube – including hose and filters – but not nozzle.

While low-suction power vacuum cleaners may be able to remove the transparent dust film, they may not get rid of the deeper, more seated layer of dirt.

Thus, you have a greater chance of eliminating harsh particles if the suction power of your vacuum is not strong.

In this article, I have shed light on what suction power means and the factors that determine it.

What is Suction Power?

how powerful the suction force is

Suction power measures the amount of air that can be drawn in by a vacuum cleaner or another suction device.

It describes how powerful the suction force is and how effectively it will pick up dirt and debris from surfaces.

The higher the suction power, the more efficient the device will be in terms of cleaning.

The suction power is measured in Watts (W) and ranges from 250 W to 450 W for vacuum cleaners with a single motor. 

What Determines Vacuum Suction Power?

The amount of suction a vacuum produces is determined by the power of its motor, as well as other factors such as airflow, vacuum nozzle design, and filtration efficiency. 

The higher the wattage rating on a motor, the more powerful the suction it will have. Vacuums with multiple motors can generate even more suction power.

The airflow of a vacuum is also important, as it determines how much dirt and debris it can suck up in one pass. 

Vacuums with higher airflows will have more suction power than those with lower levels. 

Vacuum nozzle design also plays a role in the amount of suction power produced. Some designs are better at picking up dirt and debris than others. 

A vacuum’s filtration efficiency also affects its ability to remove dust and allergens from your home.

Vacuums with advanced filtration systems are often rated as more powerful than models without such features. With these factors in mind, you can determine which vacuum is best for your needs.

How is Suction Power Determined in Vacuums?

The manufacturer assigns the actual suction power of a particular vacuum. Each company has its standard procedure and tests that the product undergoes to receive a rating. 

In the next section, I have listed the measurement units used to denote the vacuum’s suction power.

How Suction Power is Measured in Vacuums?

measuring vacuum cleaner suction power

According to manufacturer specifications, suction power can be delivered in various ways and by different units: Watts, Amps, CFM (cubic feet per minute), or AW (Air Watts). 

Check out each of these measurements and how it affects the suction power.

Airflow (CFM)

While the airflow rating of a vacuum cleaner is not an exact measurement of its suction power, it can provide some indication of how powerful that motor’s suction capabilities are. This value is usually listed in Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM).

To identify the airflow rating, we measure how much air passes through the power unit while constricted by a 2″ opening. This simulates what resistance to airflow would actually be like in real-life conditions.

The amount of air flowing through the system is determined by how much suction power is created from the motor, and it decreases when there are obstructions to airflow.

There are various factors that cause airflow in a system to fluctuate, and these elements cannot be accurately portrayed by the airflow rating alone.

Not only does the power unit offer resistance, but external elements such as air turbulence in hoses and tubing, restriction at the nozzle point of contact with the floor surface, and a decrease in filtering performance due to dirt accumulation all present additional hindrances.

Accordingly, it is essential to evaluate the sealed suction power in addition to airflow when comparing canister vacuums, upright vacuums, and central vacuum systems.

The greater the airflow, the greater the capacity to transport dirt from the nozzle to the dust canister.

Air Watts (AW)

Air Watts is calculated by multiplying Air Flow (Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM)) and Vacuum (Inches of water lift). 

To find the amount of Air Watts, simply use this equation: (Air Flow * Vacuum)/8.5 = Air Watts.

In an effort to assess the vacuum cleaner’s output rather than input power, central vacuum producers and certain other vacuum cleaner manufacturers have begun adopting the air watts criteria. 

Water Lift (Inches of H20)

We use a straightforward test to determine the inches of water lift, or H20, of a vacuum motor. The sealed-up device is tasked to raise up a column of one inch in height, and the distance it can move this column is used as an indicator of its performance. 

A vacuum cleaner’s ability to “lift” or pick up dirt from the floor is due to the action of a water lift, which is subsequently followed by airflow that transports the particles to the dust bag. A vacuum cleaner’s sealed suction is expressed in inches of water lift.

Dust and other heavy dirt from carpeting and floorboards are easier to remove with vacuum cleaners that have more inches of water lift. This is crucial in HEPA or high-filtration vacuum cleaners since they have higher resistance because the air must travel through more filters.


The amperage rating indicates the maximum electrical current that flows through the vacuum cleaner electrical parts.

The vacuum motor is usually the largest user of electrical current; however, the amperage rating covers all electrical parts, such as the light bulb, power nozzle motor, and vacuum motor.


These ratings, sometimes called “Peak Horsepower,” are acquired by taking the fans off the vacuum motor and putting it under the greatest load it can withstand before burning out. The Peak Horsepower rating is then calculated using a complicated procedure.

This rating was mainly used for advertising previously and has little to no bearing on how well vacuum cleaners performed in actual use. It is no longer a common need for vacuum cleaners.

How Much Suction Power is Enough?

Your requirements are the single factor that determines the amount of suction power needed in a vacuum cleaner. Using smaller motors save energy, while large motors are more powerful and deliver more. 

A normal canister with a modest suction strength would be a decent option if you’re searching for a vacuum cleaner to keep your home or small office area clean and dust-free. 

A bulky vacuum such as an upright kind that can handle heavy debris effectively and in a shorter amount of time, will be required if you are looking at heavy cleaning tasks for an industrial space or a large shop, for example.

If you’re searching for specific figures, let’s simply state that an upright should work well with 180–200 AW, a cordless should work well with 80–100 AW, and a canister should work well with 300–AW.

Can I Affect The Suction Power Myself?

Suction power reduces with time as the vacuum system components go through wear and tear. 

Vacuum cleaner filters, nozzles, brushes, and motors eventually become dirty, clogged, and less efficient in their operation. 

By keeping the vacuum cleaner clean and ensuring it is maintained regularly, you can slow down the reduction in the vacuum cleaner’s suction power. Emptying the dust-collecting bag is one of the simplest methods to improve vacuum suction. 

Dust containers must have sufficient room for ventilation to avoid becoming clogged and losing suction power. 

Monitor your dust compartment frequently, and when it’s already 70–80% filled, remove it or replace it.

What is a Good Suction Power for a Vacuum Cleaner?

If you are someone who needs a vacuum for heavy usage, a deep cleaning vacuum is the one suitable for you. 

A deep-cleaning vacuum usually has a more powerful motor, ranging from 1300 to 1800 watts. They use more energy than smaller options and sometimes make more noise. 

But, if you need one for irregular use and purchase a handheld one, suction power in the range of 450 and 500 watts is good enough.


Suction power is an important factor to look for in a vacuum cleaner, and it affects its performance. Generally, the more powerful the suction power of a vacuum cleaner is, the better it cleans.

Factors such as wattage and amperage ratings should be taken into consideration when selecting a unit, as these are two indicators of how much suction power a vacuum cleaner has.

Additionally, features such as size and mobility should also be taken into account when selecting a unit. By considering all these factors, you can choose the best vacuum cleaner for your needs.

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