How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | The Light Lab

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use?

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? series, 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?

In our sample, nearly all vacuums run around 1,000 watts, which if used over the course of an hour becomes 1,000 watt-hours or one kilowatt-hour (kWh). Vacuuming with a-12 amp vacuum converts to 1440 watts, or 1.44 kWh.

How Much Energy Does My Vacuum Cleaner Use? | The Light Lab

How Much Does It Cost to Run My Vacuum Cleaner?

Power ratings are listed below in the manufacturers’ rate watts. A rough vacuum cleaner energy consumption amount is listed as watt/hours assuming the vacuum is used continuously for one hour. 

Uprights

Canisters

  • Panasonic MC-CL943 is a mid-range canister. Its manual rates it as 12 amps or or 1,440 watts/hour (that’s 1.44 kWh).

Using these models and a price per kilowatt-hour of 10 cents, it costs 10 cents to run a 1,000-watt vacuum for one hour and 14.4 cents to run a 1,440-watt vacuum for an hour.

At that rate, if you vacuum using the 1,440-watt vacuum for one hour every week for a year, it comes to $7.49 for the whole year. That’s not a lot of money to stay dust free, and it will make a difference in your family’s health.

Elements of Vacuum Cleaners

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. Let’s investigate the two most common types of vacuum cleaners – uprights and canisters – to see how much power they suck from your wall outlet.

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 filter 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? | The Light Lab

Vacuum Cleaner Energy Usage Requirements

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.

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

The Last Word

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 

Vernon Trollinger is a writer with a background in home improvement, electronics, fiction writing, and archaeology. He now writes about green energy technology, home energy efficiency, the natural gas industry, and the electrical grid.