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Vacuum Cleaners

Updated on June 23, 2009

History of Vacuum Cleaners

The vacuum cleaner was invented in 1868 by Ives McGaffey. This manually-powered vacuum was named the "whirlwind" because it was lightweight and compact. Unfortunately, it was difficult to operate because it required the user to turn a handcrank while pushing the vacuum across the floor. This primitive vacuum sold for the high price of $25, which in 1868 was a substantial amount of money. The next big innovation came in 1907 when James Spangler invented the first electric vacuum out of a fan, a box, and a pillowcase. Spangler patented the idea in 1908 and sold the patent to his cousins wife, W. H. Hoover. Thus the Hoover vacuum empire was born, in fact, in Europe the name Hoover became synonymous with vacuum.

Types of Vacuums

  • Upright vacuum cleaners consist of a cleaning head attached to a handle and some sort of bag to catch dirt. These upright vacuums use a rotating brushroll or beater bar to remove dirt by either sweeping or vibrating the debris so it can be sucked up easier. There are two general types of upright vacuums: dirty fan(also called direct air) and clean fan(also called indirect air). Dirty fan cleaners which are the older of the two designs employ a large fan mounted close to the opening. Dirt passes directly passed the fan on the way to the bag. This type of vacuum is very efficient for a low amount of power, and is often used as a carpet vac, but the dirty fan lacks suction and efficiency in above floor cleaning because suction power is lost as it travels through a tube. The second type of upright vacuum is the clean fan model which has its motor mounted behind the bag. Dust and debris passes through the bag and usually a filter to stop it from contacted the fan. The fans in the clean fan system are smaller, but with a combination of moving and stationary turbines the power is boosted. The clean fan upright vacuums are good for both carpet and above floor because the suction strength does not significantly diminish over the length of the hose. Unfortunately, this type of vacuum cleaner is a lot less efficient than dirty fan vacuums and requires twice the power to achieve the same result.
  • Canister vacuums contain a motor and containment bag on a separate unit usually mounted on wheels. The motor and bag are connected to the vacuum by a long flexible hose that allows for ease of movement. Testing has proven that upright vacs are more efficient, but due to their maneuverability canister vacuums are very popular.
  • Wet/dry vacs are specially designed to clean up wet spills and messes. They can accommodate both wet and dry debris. Wet/dry vacs can also be equipped with a reverse to help the user clear a clogged hose, and to blow debris into a corner for easy collection and disposal.
  • Robotic vacuums also known as autonomous vacuums clean in a mostly chaotic pattern. Some models of robotic vacuums come back to their dock for charging, and more advanced models dump off their load fo trash before returning to their dock to charge.


Upright Vacuum
Upright Vacuum


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      Anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks for the article, it really helped me in my hunt for a new vacuum.