Vacuum power is measured in watts, which shows how strong the suction is. Since 2007, the maximum power is 900 W, and although much lower than older vacuums that headed well into the thousands, it’s more than enough to clean effectively.
Typically, people looking for more power need the extra performance for cleaning up after children or pets. Because mud and pet hair can be difficult to remove, it’s a fair assumption that more power would give you more effective cleaning.
However, it’s not always the case, particularly as the older powerful vacuums had a habit of sucking the carpet up rather that than the dirt stuck to it.
The best thing to look for is the carpet performance class. For cleaning up after animals, look for dedicated pet vacuums - they have brushes designed to pick up fur without damaging the carpet.
You can find out more in the sections below.
For most households, carpet cleaning performance is the most important thing to consider. Simply, it’s a rating of how well the vacuum sucks up dirt and dust from the carpet.
You’ll find the carpet cleaning rating on the bottom left of the energy label.
Vacuums with an A-rating on carpeted floors are quite rare at the moment, so look for C and above for reliable carpet cleaning. Don’t worry if it seems low, a C-graded vacuum will clean perfectly well.
Hard floor performance is relevant when you're cleaning kitchens, bathrooms, and anywhere else with vinyl, wood, or stone floors.
You’ll find the hard floor cleaning class above the carpet rating.
If you have more carpet than hard flooring in your home, it's not worth paying much attention to, as a vacuum with good carpet performance will typically perform better on a hard surface.
The energy label always shows the vacuum’s operating volume. Some can be quite loud, so it’s worth bearing in mind if you do the housework while children sleep or you live with someone that works unsociable hours.
You'll find the noise level on the EU energy label.
For reference, a washing machine is around 80db and a food blender is around 88db. Anything above that will be uncomfortable to be around.
Wireless vacuums are great for quickly cleaning anywhere in your home, but if you vacuum regularly or have a large house, checking run and charge time is a good idea.
The next time you vacuum, try timing how long it takes you to go round your usual route and make sure the running time is enough when you’re looking for a new one.
Charge time is worth considering too as some lightweight vacuums have quite short run times.
Finding something suitable for cleaning up after pets is easier than it ever has been. Most manufacturers make dedicated pet vacuums with brushes and attachments designed for the fur and dirt pets leave behind.
If you have a long-haired dog or cat, they’re a must-have as hair can quickly collect in a normal model and prevent it from sucking dirt properly.