How Many Watts Does a Vacuum Use? Complete Guide

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While it is not the most energy-demanding household appliance, the vacuum cleaner does draw enough electricity to significantly impact your electric bill.

However, different styles and models of vacuums require different amounts of electricity. Therefore, you will want to know how much energy each unit consumes before you make a purchase.

A regular sized household vacuum cleaner will use between 500 and 3000 watts of energy. However, on average, the best selling model will use around 1400 watts during active use. This power consumption is comparable to other household appliances such as your microwave oven and refrigerator.

Keep in mind that your actual energy consumption will depend on how long you run the vacuum and its model. By reading further, you will learn how a vacuum uses electricity along with ways to reduce energy consumption. You will also learn which vacuum cleaners use the most electricity so you can avoid them.

Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles
Why Robot Vacuum Going in Circles

How Much Power (Watts) Does A Vacuum Cleaner Consume?

Vacuum cleaners are common household appliances that use air pumps to draw and collect dust and dirt from surfaces. Varying in shape, size, and design, these devices range from small portable units to large industrial machines. 

Most models draw power through a standard electrical outlet, with the typical upright design consuming about 450 to 3000 watts. The most common of these models use around 1400 watts or about 1.4 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per hour.

With the average utility rate, you can expect to consume about 11.2 kWh or $1.45 per month for a two-hour vacuuming session.

However, different types of vacuum cleaners consume different amounts of energy depending on their purpose and how long you used them. The following list lists some typical wattages for vacuums.

Vacuum Cleaner Type

Power (Watt)

Cost per Hour

Annual Cost

Cordless and Handheld Vacuum

200

$0.03

$4.86

Upright Vacuum, Canister Vacuum

500

$0.07

$12.15

Upright Vacuum, Canister Vacuum

800

$0.11

$19.43

Upright Vacuum, Canister Vacuum

1200

$0.16

$29.15

Upright Vacuum, Canister Vacuum

1400

$0.19

$34.01

Barrel Vacuum

1600

$0.21

$38.87

Barrel Vacuum

2000

$0.27

$48.59

Barrel Vacuum

2400

$0.32

$58.30

1. Car Vacuum Cleaners

Lightweight and portable, car vacuums run off your car's battery. As such, they are engineered as low-power devices, consuming only 100 watts of eight- to ten-amps electric current. You might see a few higher wattages, but those models often use internal batteries instead of something external. 

2. Home Vacuum Cleaners

Regular-sized household vacuums typically consume only 700 watts for each thirty-minute vacuuming session or 1400 watts per day.

However, the more powerful, high-quality brands will consume more electricity than the average. Though, you will also find a few low-power models which only consume 500 watts per session, which averages out to around 1200 watts per day.

3. Shop Vacuum Cleaners

Industrial vacuums seem similar to home vacuums, but they offer more powerful suction. Because of this, these vacuums require at least 1400 watts of twelve-amp electric current to run.

Some newer models may offer lower energy consumption rates, but you will never find a shop vac that can run with less than 1000 watts. 

4. Cordless Vacuum Cleaners

Cordless vacuum cleaners only consume what their rechargeable batteries can produce. Because of this, most of these models use a low-power design. However, their rechargers are what truly set them apart.

Some rechargers can consume as much energy as a regular-sized vacuum, with larger batteries requiring more electricity than the smaller ones. 

Does Wattage Affect a Vacuum Cleaner's Suction Power?

While retailers and vacuum manufacturers love boasting about the wattages of their products, there is no link between electrical power consumption and vacuum performance.

A 1440-watt vacuum cleaner will consume about 1.44 kWh of electricity, but there is no direct way to know the power output just by reading the label. 

As such, the best way to determine vacuum performance is through airflow and suction power. The suction power is what picks up debris while the airflow moves them through the vacuum to the collection chamber.

However, that does not mean the two quantities are not correlated. Vacuum cleaners with high suction power tend to have stronger, faster motors that require a lot of power to function. Therefore, vacuums with higher wattage are always better but do not be fooled by the marketing hype. 

There are also other factors at play, such as the condition of the filter and nozzle design, that also influences suction power. For instance, a low-power vacuum can have high suction power if its aerodynamic nozzles perfectly match the fittings. As a result, you can often go with a cheap, low-power, 350-watt vacuum if you have no carpets or upholstered furniture.

How to Determine Vacuum Cleaner Performance

Luckily, it is easy to calculate the suction power, or air watts, if you know the airflow through the vacuum. Measured in cubic feet per minute (CFM), airflow tells you the intensity of the suction through the vacuum's debris container. 

A vacuum's airflow comes from the friction in the exhaust and the motor's power and usually falls within the 50 to 100 CFM range. It is related to the suction power by a factor of 0.117254. As such, you can just multiply this number by the airflow in CFM to know how much suction power a vacuum has. 

Factors Required to Calculate the Electricity Consumption of Your Vacuum Cleaner

While the posted wattages are great indicators for energy consumption, they are merely averages gathered under ideal conditions. They can tell you how much energy your vacuum would require if you never shut it off while cleaning the manufacturer's testing chamber.

If you want to know how much electricity your vacuum cleaner uses per day, you must calculate it yourself.

Before you can crunch the numbers, you need the numbers to crunch. A regular household vacuum cleaner has several different factors that contribute to its energy requirement.

Most of these factors come from the design of the vacuum, but your house does define one of them.

1. Line Current

Household vacuum cleaners must safely work in your home. With that said, most home circuit breakers restrict the line current coming into the home to 15 amps or 1800 watts.

This restriction reduces the risk for electrical spikes, surges, and fires and is defined by the local housing regulations. Some newer homes have 20-amp lines, but you will never see more than that. 

To lower the risks even further, most modern breakers normally reduce the wall outlet current to eighty percent of the maximum load to avoid overheating.

Since 12 is 80 percent of 15, all household vacuum cleaner models operate on less than 12 amps of electricity. 

2. Motor and Fan

A vacuum cleaner's motor is the key electricity-consuming component.

It is also how a vacuum cleaner works. The motor drives a fan. In return, the fan drives air through the unit to produce vacuum suction through the nozzle. It is the speed and size of the motor and fan assembly that determine the airflow that picks up the dirt, debris, and other dust particles.

To achieve the right airflow, vacuum cleaner motors typically spin at high speed around 9,000 to 28,000 revolutions per minute (RPM). These high spin rates require between 375 to 525 watts of power, which work out to around 1400 to 1500 watts with the usual 25 to 35 percent motor efficiency. 

3. Type and Number of Filters

The motor is the main consumer of electricity in a vacuum cleaner, but motor power is not the factor at play.

Anything that restricts the airflow through the vacuum can force the motor to work harder, drawing more electricity in the process. The most common form of restriction is the air filters.

HEPA filters keep dirt and dust from gumming up the motor and other mechanical parts. They also prevent pollution and other contaminants from being redistributed back into the air. 

However, this function is the key factor that restricts airflow through them.

Any debris that sticks to them will eventually block the pores that let air through, reducing the airflow. To maintain suction power, the motor has to spin the fan faster, consuming more electricity. 

Cleaning the filter should reduce the effect, but it will not completely remove it as some are due to the filters themselves. Complex filters usually have small pores that often add to the air resistance.

As a result, standard, large-pore filters tend to be more energy-efficient options. 

4. The Size of Your Room and Working Speed

Because you use a vacuum cleaner to clean your living space, you must also consider the size and number of the rooms you are cleaning. It takes longer, and thus more electricity, to clean a large room than a small one. 

A part of this extra electrical use comes from how fast you move while vacuuming. Some people like to vacuum slowly and easily. Others prefer a brisk pace to get the job done as fast as possible.

Both methods have their drawbacks. For instance, slow and steady might take longer, but a brisk pace may require a more powerful, and thus more power-consuming, vacuum setting. 

5. Other Factors

Other important factors include the type of vacuum cleaner you have and the suction level you use.

These are mostly easy to understand. Higher suction levels require faster motor speeds and higher energy consumption. Also, some collection methods require more continuous suction power than others.

Determining the Wattage of a Vacuum Cleaner

With all the factors in place, you can calculate your vacuum cleaner's energy consumption. If you need a quick estimate, you can use your home's line voltage and the maximum current your vacuum will draw.

For a more accurate calculation, you can use the voltage and current ratings on the vacuum's motor. Either way, you calculate the wattage using the same formula: 

Volts (v) * Amperes (I) = Watts (W)

Since the usual line voltage is 120 volts and a normal vacuum draws no more than 12 amps of current, the average vacuum cleaner consumes 1,440 watts.

120 Volts * 12 amperes = 1440 Watts

Because this estimate lies near the wattage limit for most home circuit breakers, you never want to run other appliances on the same breaker powering your vacuum. You can hook your vacuum cleaner to a voltmeter if you want exact numbers, but this is not recommended for safety reasons. 

Calculating Energy Consumption

To get the power consumption for a year in kilowatt-hours (kWh), you can divide the wattage by 1000, then multiply the result by the number of days and hours per day you use the vacuum cleaner. This calculation will work with any wattage you calculate, even the ones the manufacturer reported on the vacuum's label.

For instance, a vacuum labeled for 800 Watts consumes about 41.6 kWh/year if you use it for 1 hour every day.

1 hour x 52 days x (800 Watts /1000) = 41.6 kWh

From there, you can use your utility rate to determine the monetary cost of using your vacuum cleaner. 

Below are common vacuum cleaner utility costs using an average utility cost of 13 cents per kWh:

Vacuum Cleaner Power Rating (Watts)

Cost per Hour

Annual Cost

500

$0.06

$8.64

650

$0.084

$12

700

$0.09

$12.90

800

$0.10

$14.88

1000

$0.13

$18.72

1200

$0.15

$21.60

1300

$0.17

$24.40

1400

$0.18

$26.20

1600

$0.20

$28.80

1800

$0.23

$33.70

2000

$0.26

$37.40

2200

$0.28

$41.20

2400

$0.31

$44.60

How To Consume Less Electricity with Your Vacuum Cleaner

If you are concerned about your utility costs, you can reduce the energy you consume while vacuuming. These methods will make your vacuuming sessions easier as well.

  • Use a more efficient vacuum cleaner: newer vacuum models tend to feature more energy-efficient components. Therefore, replacing an old energy-intensive vacuum will reduce your utility costs
  • Clean or replace the dust filter: A full dust filter prevents air from flowing through your vacuum, forcing the motor to work harder to maintain suction power. Cleaning the filter to restore airflow and normal operations
  • Clean to replace the motor filter: a bad filter may leak dust into the motor clogging up the mechanical parts, increasing energy consumption in the process
  • Change the bag or clean the dust collector regularly: A full collector works similar to a dirty or broken filter. Cleaning the collector will remove any blockages and allow the motor to work efficiently as possible

Conclusion

At around 1.4kW, the average household vacuum cleaner consumes as much electricity as many other household appliances. Though, using a more energy-efficient model will help you save on your utility costs.

However, a vacuum's wattage does not directly relate to its performance, design, or motor strength. 

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