What is a good suction power for vacuum cleaner?

To exactly find out what is a good suction power for a vacuum cleaner for all types of floors, we need to know about suction, airflow and air watts of a vacuum cleaner in detail and how one of these factor affects the other.

Air Flow

Air flow is a measure that how much the volume of air expels by the motor of vacuum cleaner in given time. The air flow is measured in cubic feet per minute.


Suction is a measure of pressure difference produce by a motor running in a given input power. The high suction of a vacuum can help maintain high air flow and the suction unit is Pascal.

Air watts

Air power often referred to as air watts. It is the measure of the power of moving air. Dimensionally, Air watt is a function of air flow and suction.

Air Watts= Air flow multiple by suction

Air watts are the measure of above floor cleaning potential and have no direct meaning in the presence of carpet or carpet cleaning.

Carpet is equivalent to a blocking filter and it produces a huge resistance to the air flow. So, the air flow measured at the open hose  for above floor and bare floor cleaning is completely different than the air flow through the carpet. Different carpets allow different air flows to a vacuum cleaner due to difference in pile of carpets.

However, strong suction of a vacuum can overcome the carpet resistance and maintain the high air flow.

The resultant air flow through the carpet pile is very difficult to accurately measured, however the resultant cleaning performance is easy to measure.

Suction and air flow limits within a carpet

If the suction is too low then there is no air flow through the carpet pile that results in poor cleaning performance. Conversely, If suction is too great the larger pressure difference causes the cleaner head clamped excessively on the surface making it difficult to push around on the carpet. Suction is often optimized to provide maximum air flow through the carpet pile avoiding excessive clamping.

The level of suction and thus the air level flow you get through the carpet before excessive clamping starts depends on the type carpet pile and its level of resistance. Thus, increasing the air flow by increasing suction after excessive clamping starts only makes clamping worse and so, there is no point in having vacuums that’s suction too high because you can’t move the vacuum easily.

At this point, we are clear that increasing the suction of vacuum would not ensure deep cleaning of carpets as this can cause other problems like clamping and waste of useful energy. However, pile separation is the single most important factor to achieve good deep cleaning, particular on deeper pile carpet. The separated piles ensure air flow freely deeper down the carpet removing deeper dirt without any obstruction; as a result, we can achieve deep cleaning of carpet with even low suction pressure. Moreover, the efficiently designed wider brush bar helps to get the piles separated without any hassle.

Furthermore, if the cleaner head is not fully sealed to the carpeted floor it gets suction leaks so, it represents open hose situation and most of the air flow goes into the vacuum without taking any active part in cleaning of carpets.


The air flow is lower through carpet as compared to the open hose. The best suction vacuum cleaner achieves deep cleaning performance because their high suction motors maintain good air flow through the carpet pile. However, if the vacuum reaches optimal practical air flow limit through a carpet then adding more suction will only produces excessive clamping. The last thing we need to keep in mind that good pile separation is critical for deep cleaning and separated piles means the air flowing can remove deeper down particles directly with the air flow without obstruction from other fibers.

Therefore, it is a wrong myth that very high suction power is required for deep carpet cleaning. The high performance carpet cleaning can also be achieved by low suction, optimal air flow limit, proper sealing of cleaner head and wider brush bar that helps in pile separation of carpet.

On the other hand for bare floor and above floor cleaning, there is no resistance of air flow and you can get large air flow even with low suction vacuum cleaner.

If you are searching for best cordless vacuum under $100, then you must read this article Cordless vacuum under 100 dollars.

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