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Home l Central Vacuum Terms
When shopping for a central vacuum system, or simply trying to learn more about them, you may come across some wording you don't fully understand. These central vacuum definitions will help you better understand some of the terminology used in the central vacuum industry.

Central Vacuum Terms
Learn about some of the terminology you will find when shopping for a central vacuum.

ABS Plastic
A high impact plastic polymer made of Acrylonitrile, Butadiene and Styrene. This combination provides a high gloss finish that incorporates manmade rubber to provide many, many years of maintenance free use. It also dampens the natural sound made by an electric central vacuum motor. Most brands that feature ABS have a long lasting or lifetime warranty on the vacuum's canister.

Airflow
When a central vacuum cleaner is started, it creates a vacuum or an area of low pressure. Outside air rushes in to fill this vacuum. This rush of air or "Airflow" is controlled and directed for maximum cleaning efficiency.

Air Watts
Represents the air power delivered by the central vacuum unit at various orifice sizes. The calculation is: Air Watts = Water lift X CFM/ 8.5. Most common way to judge the suction power of a central vacuum.

Amperage (Amps)
Represents the amount of electrical current used by the central vacuum motor during use. Ampere is to electricity, as gallon is to water; a measure of quantity.

Armature
The part of the central vacuum motor that rotates, and on the end of which vacuum fans are mounted. A quality armature is mounted on ball bearings, and protected from incoming vacuum air that has been heated and dirtied.

Bypass Cooling
A separate stream of air that cools the central vacuum's motor; different from the air that draws dirt from the home.

CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute)
A common unit of the measure of air moved by the vacuum fans.

Cyclonic Action
Cyclonic action describes the natural action found in a tornado. In a central vacuum with cyclonic filtration, the air carrying the dust and debris moves through a tornado action. The air swirls downward in a cone-shaped pattern. At the bottom of the cone, it starts swirling upward again, inside the downward cone. Thus this is sometimes called a 'reverse' tornado action or 'dual cyclonic action'. The vast majority of the debris separates from the air steam as air reaches the bottom of the swirl, and is deposited in the dirt container. Only a small fraction remains in the air,
to be removed by the secondary, cartridge-type filter or other filter type

Fan
The fan is the combination of blades that spin around to create the airflow to produce the vacuuming action. A central vacuum motor with two fans is called a 'two-stage' motor; if it has three fans it's 'three-stage' motor.

HEPA
HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particle Arrestor, used to reduce the number of contaminants in indoor air. A HEPA filter will arrest or stop 99.97% of all particles .3 microns or larger.

Motor Brushes
The sliding contacts that provide electrical power between the stationary stator and the rotating armature of an electrical motor. Brushes are the most wearable part of an electric central vacuum motor, and should be replaced every few hundred hours or few years of operation.

Stage
This indicates the number of sets of fan blades in a central vacuum motor. Each fan - set of blades - increases the vacuum, or speed at which air is drawn through the system. The first fan starts air movement; the second increases it, and if there is a third fan it increases airflow still more.

Volts
A measure of the electrical potential employed by a central vacuum motor. Typically, motors require common household current; 110-120 in North America; 240 volts in other parts of the world. Voltage is to electricity as pressure is to water; a measure of potential or driving force.



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