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Central Vacuum vs Upright Vacuum

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Updated September 27, 2022

If you’re looking for the best vacuum cleaner, you’ve probably wondered about central vacuums vs upright vacuum models. Both vacuums will help with any carpet cleaning job, but can conventional vacuum cleaners compete with a central vacuum cleaner system? Upright vacuum cleaners and central vacuum systems have apparent design differences, but which is best for your needs? If you’d like to compare traditional vacuums to central vac systems, read our guide for all the details.


  • Central vacuums rely on a series of PVC piping that connects to a central vacuum unit. Plug your vacuum hose into the wall port, and the unit turns on.
  • Upright vacuums operate like a standard home vacuum. The vacuum head sucks dirt and dust from your floor and stores it in a bag or container that needs to be regularly emptied.
  • Central vacuum systems have a much higher initial cost than upright models. That said, combined with retractable hoses, a central unit is convenient and powerful.

Central Vacuums and Upright Vacuums Compared

The difference between a central unit and an upright house vacuum is the size of the unit. Unlike comparing a broom and a standard vacuum, these vacuum cleaner options both use an electric motor. That said, central models have a much more powerful motor than upright models or canister vacuums. Read on if you’d like more details on how a central vacuum kit compares to an upright regular vacuum. But, if you’re ready to start comparing vacuum brands, check out our mashup of the Kirby vs Oreck.

Insider Tip

Regularly check your canister vacuums and the central debris collection container. Dirt and debris from floors will cause a loss in suction power over time due to clogs.

Vacuum Motor Power

Just like comparing corded and cordless vacuums, there’s a clear victor in the electric motor department. Central vac offers much more powerful suction than upright models. For example, a central unit has up to three to five times more power than a regular vacuum and up to ten times a portable unit.

Ease of Use

Central vacuum units are easy to use, similar to using stick vacuums and upright vacuums. Plus, many central vacuum kits include retractable hoses that pull from the wall ports. In addition, most central vacs use a lightweight hose with power attachments that turn on the main motor when plugged in. On the other hand, upright models, like our Soniclean soft carpet upright vacuum cleaner review discusses, are also simple to use if you can find an electrical outlet. That said, most upright vacuums use vacuum bags that need to be regularly changed. It should be noted you can discover bagless vacuums in either a central unit or an upright model.


The powerful cleaning of a centralized vacuum comes at a high cost compared to a regular vacuum. A basic central vacuum installation should cost around $1000. That said, you’ll want a universal central vacuum accessory kit, which comes at an extra cost. As you pick up additional vacuum hoses or repair retractable hoses, the price will go up. That said, proponents of central units argue that the occasional maintenance cost of a leading centralized vacuum costs less over time than replacing several standard models.


Do not use handheld model vacuums or stick models of tough messes. Too much work may overload the power unit and motor.


Do HEPA filters on vacuums help with allergies?

Numerous studies show that standard vacuum cleaners equipped with HEPA filters cut down on dust particles, dust mites, and airborne particles compared to vacuum units without the secondary filter.

Where and When Central Vacuum Systems Became Popular

Central vac systems reached their peak popularity in the 1990s after technological advances. Homes and businesses started to become bigger. In addition, consumers liked the modern appeal of a portable vacuum without the need to lug around a heavy vacuum unit.

How Much is a Dyson Compared to a Central Vacuum?

You should expect to spend between $400 – $850 for a Dyson vacuum. That said, you will only get a small portable vacuum cleaner for the $400 price with Dyson. The initial cost of a central vacuum kit and extra wall ports will run you about $1000 – $3000 on average.

STAT: The Dyson TP04, perhaps unsurprisingly, performs well according to Dyson’s own metrics. (source)

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