Best Central Vacuum Unit Review

With Spring cleaning on the horizon, it’s time we answered the age-old question: “What’s the best central vacuum system?” Our phone lines are ringing daily with this very query and we’re more than qualified to answer it.

Our experts start by steering the conversation towards, “What’s the best central vacuum system for you?” Because, while there isn’t necessarily a BEST power unit on the market, there absolutely is a best option for your specific needs. You just need to spend hours and hours researching hundreds of power units, weighing a million factors, until you find that perfect one.

Or…you could just read this blog. Isn’t that convenient?

Top Cyclonic Units

Not sure what “cyclonic” means? Read about true cyclonic filtration and decide if it’s for you below or click HERE.

0057272_imperium-cv7200-power-unitImperium CV7200

-Under $500

  • Home Square Footage – 5000
  • Volts – 120
  • Amps – 13.6
  • Air Watts – 440
  • CFM – 112
  • Sound (Db) – 75
  • Utility Inlet – Included
  • Dirt Capacity – 25 Quarts
  • Dimensions – 37-1/2″ H x 12″ D
  • Motor – 5.7″ Diameter, 2-Stage, Tangential Discharge
  • Warranty – 10 Years


Vacuflo 566Q

-Under $900

  • Square Footage – 8000
  • Water Lift – 135″
  • CFM – 118
  • Air Watts – 535
  • Max Amps- 15.6
  • Voltage – 120
  • Sound (DB) – 60.7
  • Dirt Capacity – 6 Gallons
  • Dimensions – 40 1/4″H x 12 5/8″D
  • Warranty – Limited Lifetime

Top Filtered Units

Wondering if a filtered unit is the best choice? Read about this vacuum type below or click HERE to decide.

Imperium CV3200 Central VacuumImperium CV3200

– Under $500

  • Square footage – 6,000
  • Motors – 5.7″ 2-Stage
  • Muffler – Not Included
  • Voltage – 120
  • Max Amps – 11.3
  • Air Watts – 561
  • CFM – 117
  • Water Lift – 142″
  • Sound db – 58
  • Dirt Capacity – 6.25 gallons
  • Dimensions: 39″ H x 12″ D
  • Warranty – 5 Years


Rhino Vac 700R-LS

– Under $600

  • Home Sq Footage – 12,000
  • Water Lift – 132″
  • Air Flow (CFM) – 139
  • Air watts – 700
  • Voltage – 120
  • Decibels – 59
  • Dirt Capacity – 5 Gallons
  • Utility Inlet – Included
  • Venting Option – Yes
  • Canister Construction – All Steel
  • Warranty – 20 Years
  • Dimensions – 39″ H x 12″ D

Top Bagged Units

To learn the pro and cons of bagged units, JUMP HERE.

0083707_vacumaid-sr14-central-vacuum-power-unitVacuMaid SR14

– Under $750

  • Home Square Footage – 6000
  • Voltage – 120
  • Max Amps – 14.5
  • Air Watts – 740
  • CFM – 138
  • Water Lift – 138″
  • Sound Level – 58 db
  • Motor – 5.7″ Lamb Ametek ULTRA 2 Stage, Flow Thru
  • Filtration – Inverted Bag with Paper Bag Option
  • Dirt Capacity – 6.75 gallons (27 Quarts)
  • Dimensions – 37″H x 12-7/8″D
  • Warranty – 10 Years

0057286_imperium-cv800b-power-unitImperium CV800B

– Under $650

  • Home Square Footage – 10,000
  • Volts – 120
  • Amps – 13.8
  • Air Watts – 713
  • CFM – 141.5
  • Sealed Suction Lift – 146.6″
  • Sound – 68 dB
  • Filtration – H.E.P.A. Bag (replacement paper bag optional)
  • Muffler – Included
  • Utility Inlet – Included
  • Dirt Capacity – 6.75 Gallons
  • Dimensions – 28″ H x 15″ D
  • Warranty – 10 Years

Feel overwhelmed by all the factors to consider when choosing a central vacuum system? Don’t worry. There is a place to start and it’s right here.

What type of filtration do you want?

Central vacuums come in three types of filtration styles. Meaning, there are three ways in which they separate the dirt and air that enters the unit when you vacuum.

True Cyclonic Unit

What is it?

With cyclonic power units, there are no bags or primary filters that restrict suction or require routine maintenance. Pure, cyclonic cleaning action is the most impressive way of filtering dirt. Heavy particles fall to the bottom of the dirt can and all the fine particles and allergens are exhausted outside. No traditional filters to clog or clean; no restriction by dirty cloth, paper or foam filters. You get virtually 100% sustained cleaning power.

Who would need this?

We recommend cyclonic units to ANYONE. These are the most effective central vacuum units. Because they remove even the tiniest particles and exhaust them outside, cyclonic units are especially beneficial to those with allergies, asthma, or other breathing difficulties. They’re a great solution for pet owners because the external exhaust eliminates stinky odors that eventually build up in your unit. Cyclonic units are also virtually maintenance free, minus emptying the canister twice a year. There’s no need to change a bag, remember to buy bags, or clean filters and parts. It’s pretty much an “install it and never think about it” kind of appliance.

What’s the catch?

These units work to their best ability when installed with an exterior exhaust. If your installation does not have access to an exterior wall or you are unable to breach your exterior walls, then you should consider one of the other types. Also, because cyclonic units will feature extremely durable motors, they tend to cost more. Lastly, some folks really like the convenience of just swapping out a paper bag and not having to get involved with dumping an open dirt canister. So if you’re particularly squeamish about the idea of emptying vacuum waste, maybe go with a bagged unit.

What do the pros know?

Professional installers know that the real benefits to owning a central vacuum system are convenience and air quality. Every central vac offers convenience, but for the absolute best air quality, you HAVE to exhaust your unit to the exterior. Otherwise, all the tiniest allergens, odors, and particles are still finding their way back into your home as you vacuum. An externally exhausted, cyclonic unit is the end-all and be-all of cleaning.

Filtered Unit

What is it?

Filtered units feature an internal, inverted bag that is snapped into place between the motor and the dirt canister. When in use, dirt and air will fill the unit and the filter will rise, protecting the motor. When the unit is turned off the weight drops, shaking off excess dirt. Many inverted bag filters are now coated with Teflon, or a similar material, that actual repels dirt and keeps dust from sticking to the filter.

Who would need this?

For someone who is unable to exhaust their unit to the exterior, a filtered unit is a great option. Additionally, they tend to cost less than cyclonic units, so they also are a good fit for anyone looking to trim the budget. Filtered units are readily available and feature extra options, like the ability to be retrofitted to accept paper bags.

What’s the catch?

Filtered central vacuum units will require more maintenance than a cyclonic unit but less than a paper bagged unit. You will lose suction power as the filter begins to collect dirt and debris, requiring you to use a secondary vacuum to clean it. A filtered unit will also be unable to capture ALL the dirt and dust being vacuumed. Inevitably, particles will find their way to the motor and through the exhaust. This may eventually lead to the need to replace the motor, which is pretty simple, but takes time and costs around $100.

What do the pros know?

One trick the professionals know about filtered units is that they are versatile. For a first-time central vacuum user, it’s nice to recommend a filtered unit like this Imperium CV3200, which can accept both paper bags and a dirt canister. You can decide for yourself which type fits your lifestyle as you use it!

Bagged Unit

What is it?

A bagged central vacuum power unit is the original conception. Like a standard vacuum cleaner, dirt is collected in a paper bag. The lining of the paper bag is breathable, so the air is filtered through it and out as you vacuum. Many brands feature a simple latch or connector to make removing and reattaching bags easy. Bagged units will also typically include some type of filter to protect the motor. The vacuum bag will need to be changed once it is about 3/4’s full and the filter will need to be cleaned about twice a year.

Who would need this?

Many people find changing a closed bag of waste much more appealing than an open canister. Think of it like this: you’re either the type of person who puts a bag in your bathroom wastebasket, or you’re not. It’s the same concept. Bags are also an important advantage for anyone with allergies or asthma who will be responsible for maintaining the unit. While dumping a canister unit, the plume of dust and particles could be life threatening, making a bagged unit a much safer choice.

What’s the catch?

Bagged power units can provide less suction, especially as the bag begins to fill. With each vacuum, more debris fills the bag and the suction decreases. Additionally, a bagged unit is more maintenance than a cyclonic or filtered because you will be responsible for buying bags and keeping them on hand. Some folks find this to be more work than they want out of a central vacuum system.

What do the pros know?

The professionals know that there are two sides to the “bag” coin. Some people are really better off with the convenience of swapping out a bag over dumping out a canister full of waste. For some, the ease of changing the bag outweighs the inconvenience of purchasing them. Plus, if the person who will be in charge of this chore battles any kind of allergies, a bag is necessary. The pros also know that there is a middle ground in some filtered units like the VacuMaid SR14. The SR14 accepts plastic liners to give you the benefit of the both. Try it with and without a bag and see which you like best.

Any thoughts?

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