A central vacuum system is a type of vacuum that has a large bag or container that is installed in the home's basement, garage, utility room, or the like, and which then has inlets in different rooms of the home; the vacuum hose is plugged into these inlets which provide the suction needed for vacuuming. A central vacuum means not having to lug a heavy vacuum cleaner from room to room, and it can also be more powerful than a standard handheld vacuum, allowing a deeper and more thorough cleaning of the home.

When you're ready to choose a central vacuum cleaner for your home, note a few quick tips. This will ensure you get the right choice that works for you.

1. How they work and types of vacuum

A central vacuum usually has a vent that goes to the outside of the home; what you vacuum is not automatically sent through this vent, but the vacuum will filter larger particles and then an airstream containing smaller dust particles and debris will be vented out the home. However, if your home cannot accommodate this outside vent for whatever reason, you would need a bagged unit. The bag collects all dust and debris just like a handheld vacuum and would then need to be changed a few times every year or as recommended by the manufacturer. 

A cyclonic unit swirls the air in a circle or cyclone; this allows larger particles to fall through a filter to the bottom of a canister, and the smaller airstream is vented outside the home. This can mean more efficient cleaning as the canister doesn't become full of dust and debris as a bag would, so the filters can work more efficiently. However, the filters usually need to be changed every few months, so these models need more maintenance than a bag.

2. Inlets

You want enough inlets in the rooms of your home to make it convenient to vacuum all the carpeting, but note that the more inlets you have, the more this compromises the suction power of your vacuum. You might opt for the lowest number of inlets possible and then invest in a longer cleaning hose or wand so you can more readily reach all your home's carpeted spaces.

Inlets can be either electrical or air-driven; electrical inlets are used with electrical hoses or wands to help create suction. Air-driven inlets use the power of the vacuum itself for suction. The electrical model may be more powerful, but be sure you choose the type of wand or hose that matches the type of inlets you install.