Launch Slideshow

Beam. The top-of-line Serenity IQS series comes with a 10-year warranty, a self-cleaning Gore-Tex fabric HEPA filter, optional outside venting, and an anti-microbial bucket to stop microbe growth between emptying. An LCD display provides real-time system maintenance alerts. The motor delivers 600 to 640 air watts of power depending on the system size, which can be calibrated for an overall cleaning area from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet. A sound-reduction package includes an anti-vibration mounting system, canister sound insulation, and an optional muffler that reduces overall power unit noise to as low as 65 decibels. 800.369.2326. www.beamvac.com.

Product Review: Bite The Dust

Product Review: Bite The Dust

  • Beam. The top-of-line Serenity IQS series comes with a 10-year warranty, a self-cleaning Gore-Tex fabric HEPA filter, optional outside venting, and an anti-microbial bucket to stop microbe growth between emptying. An LCD display provides real-time system maintenance alerts. The motor delivers 600 to 640 air watts of power depending on the system size, which can be calibrated for an overall cleaning area from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet. A sound-reduction package includes an anti-vibration mounting system, canister sound insulation, and an optional muffler that reduces overall power unit noise to as low as 65 decibels. 800.369.2326. www.beamvac.com.

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    Beam. The top-of-line Serenity IQS series comes with a 10-year warranty, a self-cleaning Gore-Tex fabric HEPA filter, optional outside venting, and an anti-microbial bucket to stop microbe growth between emptying. An LCD display provides real-time system maintenance alerts. The motor delivers 600 to 640 air watts of power depending on the system size, which can be calibrated for an overall cleaning area from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet. A sound-reduction package includes an anti-vibration mounting system, canister sound insulation, and an optional muffler that reduces overall power unit noise to as low as 65 decibels. 800.369.2326. www.beamvac.com.

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    Beam. The top-of-line Serenity IQS series comes with a 10-year warranty, a self-cleaning Gore-Tex fabric HEPA filter, optional outside venting, and an anti-microbial bucket to stop microbe growth between emptying. An LCD display provides real-time system maintenance alerts. The motor delivers 600 to 640 air watts of power depending on the system size, which can be calibrated for an overall cleaning area from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet. A sound-reduction package includes an anti-vibration mounting system, canister sound insulation, and an optional muffler that reduces overall power unit noise to as low as 65 decibels. 800.369.2326. www.beamvac.com.

  • H-P Products. The Element central vacuum systems dual-filtration design incorporates a first-stage cyclonic action to separate most dust and dirt from the air column, followed by a permanent, two-stage filter that never needs replacement to segregate fine dust particles. The manufacturer says the unit does not require outside venting, but provides an optional vent kit. Models range from 520 to 575 air watts of power with 64.7 to 66.7 decibels of noise. A translucent 6-gallon bucket requires emptying three to four times per year. 800.822.8356. www.elementvac.com.

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    H-P Products. The Element central vacuum systems dual-filtration design incorporates a first-stage cyclonic action to separate most dust and dirt from the air column, followed by a permanent, two-stage filter that never needs replacement to segregate fine dust particles. The manufacturer says the unit does not require outside venting, but provides an optional vent kit. Models range from 520 to 575 air watts of power with 64.7 to 66.7 decibels of noise. A translucent 6-gallon bucket requires emptying three to four times per year. 800.822.8356. www.elementvac.com.

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    H-P Products. The Element central vacuum system’s dual-filtration design incorporates a first-stage cyclonic action to separate most dust and dirt from the air column, followed by a permanent, two-stage filter that never needs replacement to segregate fine dust particles. The manufacturer says the unit does not require outside venting, but provides an optional vent kit. Models range from 520 to 575 air watts of power with 64.7 to 66.7 decibels of noise. A translucent 6-gallon bucket requires emptying three to four times per year. 800.822.8356. www.elementvac.com.

  • Hayden. The companys side-opening valve (left) is also available in an electric SuperValve version (right). Like most inlet valves, these valves have two metal contact points in the valve that provide a low-voltage connection, allowing the user to turn the remote vacuum motor on and off with the vacuum tool handle. Inlet valves such as the SuperValve are also available with line voltage to power electric brushes. 888.461.5307. www.haydenvac.com.

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    Hayden. The companys side-opening valve (left) is also available in an electric SuperValve version (right). Like most inlet valves, these valves have two metal contact points in the valve that provide a low-voltage connection, allowing the user to turn the remote vacuum motor on and off with the vacuum tool handle. Inlet valves such as the SuperValve are also available with line voltage to power electric brushes. 888.461.5307. www.haydenvac.com.

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    Hayden. The company’s side-opening valve (left) is also available in an electric SuperValve version (right). Like most inlet valves, these valves have two metal contact points in the valve that provide a low-voltage connection, allowing the user to turn the remote vacuum motor on and off with the vacuum tool handle. Inlet valves such as the SuperValve are also available with line voltage to power electric brushes. 888.461.5307. www.haydenvac.com.

  • M.D. Manufacturing. The SilentMaster vertical bag-type central vacuum boasts a patented noise-reduction system with total output under 62 decibels. The filtration system offers a proprietary, three-ply, disposable media that does not require venting, although optional venting is available. It has a large 12-gallon debris bucket. The line includes four motor sizes, from 458 to 905 air watts, for homes up to 20,000 square feet. It comes with a six-year warranty. 800.997.2278. www.builtinvacuum.com/silent_master.

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    M.D. Manufacturing. The SilentMaster vertical bag-type central vacuum boasts a patented noise-reduction system with total output under 62 decibels. The filtration system offers a proprietary, three-ply, disposable media that does not require venting, although optional venting is available. It has a large 12-gallon debris bucket. The line includes four motor sizes, from 458 to 905 air watts, for homes up to 20,000 square feet. It comes with a six-year warranty. 800.997.2278. www.builtinvacuum.com/silent_master.

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    M.D. Manufacturing. The SilentMaster vertical bag-type central vacuum boasts a patented noise-reduction system with total output under 62 decibels. The filtration system offers a proprietary, three-ply, disposable media that does not require venting, although optional venting is available. It has a large 12-gallon debris bucket. The line includes four motor sizes, from 458 to 905 air watts, for homes up to 20,000 square feet. It comes with a six-year warranty. 800.997.2278. www.builtinvacuum.com/silent_master.

  • Broan-NuTone. Designed for homes 2,400 square feet and smaller, the 400-air-watt NuTone CV400 system offers a small power-unit canister for space conservation, measuring 30 inches tall and 11 inches in diameter. It has a single-stage motor; a HEPA-rated, disposable bag that requires changing twice a year and sequesters particles down to 0.1 micron; outside venting; and a built-in muffler for quieter operation. Other available vacuum systems include one of the industrys most powerful units, the VX1000, which delivers 1,040 air watts. It has a built-in sound suppression system and an anti-microbial, HEPA-rated dual-filtration system, meeting the Carpet and Rug Institutes Indoor Air Quality testing program standards. It is available with optional outside venting. 888.336.3948. www.nutone.com.

    http://www.ecobuildingpulse.com/Images/tmpD9F%2Etmp_tcm131-961891.jpg

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    Broan-NuTone. Designed for homes 2,400 square feet and smaller, the 400-air-watt NuTone CV400 system offers a small power-unit canister for space conservation, measuring 30 inches tall and 11 inches in diameter. It has a single-stage motor; a HEPA-rated, disposable bag that requires changing twice a year and sequesters particles down to 0.1 micron; outside venting; and a built-in muffler for quieter operation. Other available vacuum systems include one of the industrys most powerful units, the VX1000, which delivers 1,040 air watts. It has a built-in sound suppression system and an anti-microbial, HEPA-rated dual-filtration system, meeting the Carpet and Rug Institutes Indoor Air Quality testing program standards. It is available with optional outside venting. 888.336.3948. www.nutone.com.

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    Broan-NuTone. Designed for homes 2,400 square feet and smaller, the 400-air-watt NuTone CV400 system offers a small power-unit canister for space conservation, measuring 30 inches tall and 11 inches in diameter. It has a single-stage motor; a HEPA-rated, disposable bag that requires changing twice a year and sequesters particles down to 0.1 micron; outside venting; and a built-in muffler for quieter operation. Other available vacuum systems include one of the industry’s most powerful units, the VX1000, which delivers 1,040 air watts. It has a built-in sound suppression system and an anti-microbial, HEPA-rated dual-filtration system, meeting the Carpet and Rug Institute’s Indoor Air Quality testing program standards. It is available with optional outside venting. 888.336.3948. www.nutone.com.

  • Central Vacuum Installation 1. Low-voltage wires connect to inlet valve, allowing users to trigger motor using the switch on the tool handle. 2. Main PVC tube. 3. Incoming air and vacuumed debris. 4. A power unit with a cyclonic filtration system is pictured. Some units use a disposable bag.  5. Debris canister.  6. Distance from floor to power unit, per manufacturer minimum, typically about 28 inches. 7. Distance to wall typically 12 inches to allow motor to cool. 8. Motor powered by conventional 15-amp, 120-volt electrical outlet. 9. Optional muffler mounted at the exhaust port quiets the motor (not the hand-held tool). 10. Optional outside-exhaust line. Most green certifications, including NGBS and LEED for Homes, require outside venting for IAQ credits. 11. Vent hood, similar to a dryer vent hood.

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    Central Vacuum Installation 1. Low-voltage wires connect to inlet valve, allowing users to trigger motor using the switch on the tool handle. 2. Main PVC tube. 3. Incoming air and vacuumed debris. 4. A power unit with a cyclonic filtration system is pictured. Some units use a disposable bag. 5. Debris canister. 6. Distance from floor to power unit, per manufacturer minimum, typically about 28 inches. 7. Distance to wall typically 12 inches to allow motor to cool. 8. Motor powered by conventional 15-amp, 120-volt electrical outlet. 9. Optional muffler mounted at the exhaust port quiets the motor (not the hand-held tool). 10. Optional outside-exhaust line. Most green certifications, including NGBS and LEED for Homes, require outside venting for IAQ credits. 11. Vent hood, similar to a dryer vent hood.

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    Illustration: Harry Whitver

    Central Vacuum Installation 1. Low-voltage wires connect to inlet valve, allowing users to trigger motor using the switch on the tool handle. 2. Main PVC tube. 3. Incoming air and vacuumed debris. 4. A power unit with a cyclonic filtration system is pictured. Some units use a disposable bag. 5. Debris canister. 6. Distance from floor to power unit, per manufacturer minimum, typically about 28 inches. 7. Distance to wall typically 12 inches to allow motor to cool. 8. Motor powered by conventional 15-amp, 120-volt electrical outlet. 9. Optional muffler mounted at the exhaust port quiets the motor (not the hand-held tool). 10. Optional outside-exhaust line. Most green certifications, including NGBS and LEED for Homes, require outside venting for IAQ credits. 11. Vent hood, similar to a dryer vent hood.

  • Central vacuum systems are driven by a central power unit that holds the motor and is mounted in an out-of-the-way location such as the garage or utility room. PVC tubing is plumbed through floor joists, attics, or walls to connect valves placed strategically throughout the house. Cleaning tools range from carpet brushes and crevice tools to more exotic attachments.

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    Central vacuum systems are driven by a central power unit that holds the motor and is mounted in an out-of-the-way location such as the garage or utility room. PVC tubing is plumbed through floor joists, attics, or walls to connect valves placed strategically throughout the house. Cleaning tools range from carpet brushes and crevice tools to more exotic attachments.

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    Courtesy Beam

    Central vacuum systems are driven by a central power unit that holds the motor and is mounted in an out-of-the-way location such as the garage or utility room. PVC tubing is plumbed through floor joists, attics, or walls to connect valves placed strategically throughout the house. Cleaning tools range from carpet brushes and crevice tools to more exotic attachments.

If you’re concerned with indoor air quality, you may want to take a first (or second) look at adding a central vacuum system to your IAQ package. In Canada, where windows remain shut for most of the year, these systems come standard in most new homes. Here in the United States, however, many builders still regard the central vac as an amenity and not a green building product. This opinion is changing as more builders become aware of how effective these systems can be in removing airborne irritants and allergens.

In a 2001 study evaluating the health impact of central vacuum systems on patients with house dust allergies, conducted by the University of California at Davis School of Medicine, researchers had two groups of participants use either a conventional or central vacuum system for three months and then switch to the other system. The researchers reported that in all aspects of the evaluation, including sleep, non-nasal symptoms, nasal symptoms, eye symptoms, and even emotions, the use of a central vacuum proved to be “superior,” with reported improvement in allergy symptoms ranging from 40% to 61% when participants used a central vacuum system.

Both the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED for Homes and the ANSI National Green Building Standard (NGBS) recognize the contribution of central vacuum systems to improved indoor air quality. LEED offers one point, while the NGBS provides up to five Indoor Environmental Quality points for installing a central vacuum system vented to the outside.

Built-in Vacuum System Basics

To understand how a built-in vac would improve indoor air quality, reflect on how a conventional vacuum cleaner works. The device sucks dirt and dust off floor surfaces and captures most of that dust in a bag or canister, with the particles too fine for the filter billowing right back into the room. Even if you’re using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, the exhaust air stirs up the dust lying on nearby surfaces, raising a cloud of irritating particles as you vacuum the room. A built-in vacuum, by comparison, captures the dirt and dust and then delivers it to a sealed canister away from the living area.