Should you buy a commercial or a residential vacuum?

Over the past week, I’ve been doing a lot of commercial cleaning. I’m using powerful chemicals and exceptional hardware, like vacuum cleaners and shop-vacs that are built to endure lots of use. This made me think: should I use commercial cleaning products at home? They’re effective and built to last forever. But are they appropriate for domestic cleaning?

The short answer is no, as commercial cleaners and domestic products are built to perform different jobs in different environments. A perfect illustration of this is the vacuum cleaner.

Should I buy a commercial [insert product you’re considering] for my home?

In the case of a commercial vacuum cleaner, it’s an attractive idea, isn’t it? Commercial vacuums are built to last and take more abuse than their residential counterparts. Let’s attack this question by looking at some pros and cons.

The pros

I struggled with putting cost in the pro vs. con column, but eventually pro won out. Yes, a commercial vacuum is expensive. For example, I’ve been using a Sebo 370 at work, which retails around $870. That’s not cheap, but Dyson makes home models that are in the same range. The idea here is that a commercial model will have a longer life than a residential machine, thereby costing less in the long run.

Readily-available parts. Big-box stores will infrequently stock parts for residential vacuums. If there’s an authorized retailer in your neighborhood you’re in luck (for example, I’m lucky enough to live near a Miele dealer). And you can often pick up parts for commercial units directly from the manufacturer or even a local distributor. So long as you’ve got that brand nearby, it isn’t an issue. If you don’t, this would move to the con column.

As I noted earlier, commercial vacuum cleaners are built to last and withstand abuse. They’re built of high-quality components and often have longer cords and heavier bodies. They’re designed with superior structural integrity to help them endure daily use as well as getting banged around a bit.

Lastly, they’re often more powerful than residential units. The first time I used a commercial machine I was amazed at what it picked up with a single pass.

The cons

They’re less comfortable. The Sebo I use at work is heavy. While it feels substantial and solid while pushing around, just haul it up a flight of stairs a few times and the bloom starts to come off the rose.

In general, home vacuums are designed to be lightweight and comfortable, while commercial units are meant to get a job done. This means a heavier machine, yes, but it also means that convenience items are missing like power control levels, that cool retractable cord, and tools for above-the-floor cleaning.

In addition, many commercial units have a reusable cloth bag instead of the disposable units your home machine has. No fun. You have to clean that bag.

I mentioned the power earlier and that sounds like a good thing, unless you have a delicate carpet. A commercial machine cares not about your precious carpets! It merely wants to get the job done. In fact, it can be too harsh for what you’ve got on the floor. Remember, these are meant for hotels, schools, and restaurants. In other words: industrial carpeting.

Lastly, they’re loud. As in, you turn it on and reflexively say, “Wow, that is loud.” Pets will run, birds will leap from the trees, and bunnies will cover their big, floppy ears.

Ultimately, when deciding between purchasing a commercial unit and a residential unit, it’s worth the time to weigh the actual pros and cons of the item before assuming the commercial unit is better for YOU. It might not actually be what you want, and you can end up creating clutter in your home and wasting money.

7 Comments for “Should you buy a commercial or a residential vacuum?”

  1. posted by Sandra Stephens on

    Being an Independent Floor Covering Inspector for over 10 years, you should consult the manufacturer of your carpet, or the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) website for a list of approved residential vacuum cleaners. If you use a vacuum cleaner that does not have the CRI approval, I.e., Dyson, it could void the warranty on your carpet.

  2. posted by jc on

    We have reclaimed wood floors that don’t fit tightly and a masonry wood heater. We use a medium sized Rigid shop-vac as a household vacuum. It’s louder than regular household vacuums, but it has the necessary power to suck up dirt in those cracks between floorboards as well as any wood chips from firewood. There are several types of accessories available as well as HEPA filters. It’s much cheaper than a powerful regular house vac as well.

  3. posted by laura m. on

    I have a Carpet pro with disposable bags, using it for sometime. Commercial and not real heavy. There are newer comm. vacs. out there one is: Cleanmax-zoom with 35 ft cord. rated high. They have heavier duty motors. I wouldn’t buy anything else for carpets.

  4. posted by Patrick on

    I wouldn’t say ‘no’, but also would not rush to say ‘yes’ ๐Ÿ™‚

    Commercial vacuums do tend to be heavier, stronger and more durable, but personally, one should look for vacuum’s warranty conditions and recommended surfaces and/or available cleaning attachments.

    If the vacuum has 5-year warranty, all required attachments, comes from reputable manufacturer, and similar, why bother if it is rated for home or commercial use?

    Of course, as long as warranty covers intended use ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. posted by selly on

    yo have listen please

  6. posted by Sammy Dolan on

    I agree, just because it is marketed as a commercial vacuum, doesn’t mean that it will be better. A lot of cheaper household vacuums will outperform a commercial one at 2 or 3 times the price.

    Great article ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. posted by Taylor Brown on

    You may not even need a canister vacuum or expensive vacuum. I know grocery stores in the North East rent out Rug Doctor’s for heavy deep cleaning. I’d much rather have to deep clean once every month (at max) and have a side vacuum like a Shark on hand when needed. You never know if you may end up moving to a place with only wooded floors. The investment on the vacuum could be wasted. A combination of what Patrick said above will help pick an all around vacuum.

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