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Canister or Upright Vacuum – Which is the Best Choice?


You’ve bought your first home, a new, larger home or perhaps you are just heading out into your first apartment. No matter what stage in life you are in, by the time you get to having your own place, you’ll immediately start looking to outfit your new space with the right tools and electronics.

One of the most popular household electronics is undoubtedly the vacuum cleaner. Following the invention of the motorized vacuum cleaner in the early 1900s, it revolutionized how we kept our homes clean and quickly became a fixture in homes across America.

Fast forward a hundred-or-so years and consumers today are met with countless vacuum cleaner configurations and options. Today, consumers have the best technology at their fingertips and enjoy a plethora of options, including self-driving robot vacuum cleaners and more.

Without getting too caught up on the technology side, we wanted to break down two of the most popular configurations here in America, highlight the benefits and help you to choose the best vacuum cleaner for your home – whatever size it might be.

What is a Canister Vacuum?

While both of these configurations are traditional in nature, they are very different in operation and what they ultimately offer to the end user. A canister vacuum unit contains the head, hose and the tow-behind canister that follows you around as you vacuum your home.

Canister Vacuum by Miele

Why Use a Canister Vacuum?

The canister vacuum certainly has a few drawbacks, but what it lacks in terms of convenience, it makes up for in performance. In terms of the ultimate floor cleaning machine, canister vacuums are incredibly tough to beat.

Because these units are designed to tow the canister behind, they are easy to maneuver around your home. If you have a large home, experience any nagging injuries or are aging, these units allow you to easily tote your unit around your home without much stress on the body. They are also extremely powerful. Given that the motor is designed to glide seamlessly across all surfaces, larger motors offering more suction are found on board these wheeled units.

Additionally, they are incredibly quiet, especially compared to their upright counterparts. Given that the motor is housed inside the canister, this muffles the sound from the motor exponentially and gives these units a more friendly sound when in use.

Outside of the above, these units are amazing at getting into hard-to-reach places and often come equipped with a number of add-ons and accessories to help you do just that.

Why not Use a Canister Vacuum

In terms of overall operation, there isn’t much to complain about when it comes to canister vacuums. As stated above, they are powerful, generally easy to use and do an excellent job of cleaning under furniture and in corners.

Where these vacuums lose points is in overall utility. While they function perfectly, these vacuums can be difficult and bulky to store. They have also been known to scuff up walls and furniture while in use. As you can imagine, dragging around these units on the floor does require proper steering and care when moving around your home.

What is an Upright Vacuum?

The most popular vacuum in the US today is the upright vacuum model. Standing upright in nature, this all-in-one unit is pushed from behind and houses the hoses and canister in the same unit.

Upright Vacuum by Riccar
Upright Vacuum by Riccar

Why Use an Upright Vacuum?

What makes upright cleaners the most popular is their neat-and-tidy appearance and the ability to quickly and easily roll them out of the way. When it comes to storage, not much can beat these units. Simply wind up the power cord and wheel it into the closet or storage space of your choosing.

Many upright cleaners today are also available in cordless configurations. Operating on a rechargeable battery, these upright vacuums are on another level in terms of convenience, allowing the unit to be hung up in closets or behind doors at a moments notice.

Outside of those reasons, these vacuums have nothing following behind them, so the only damage sustained is usually the user accidentally steering it into something.

Why Not Use an Upright Vacuum?

Most of the cons of upright vacuums have to do with the overall size and maneuverability of the vacuums. Because they are designed to be a singular unit that needs to be pushed around, they can be heavy to move in and out of storage and to vacuum around the house with.

For many with two-story homes, these units are not the best choice. In addition to having to lug them to different levels of your home, they are not the best for vacuuming stairs. Holding them up while you vacuum stairs can be strenuous and even dangerous in some situations.

Upright units can be quite noisy as well. For those with small children, pets or aging parents in the home, a lower decibel canister unit might be a better choice.

All told, there is no mistaking that either of the above configurations is more than able to get the job done around your home. The choice ultimately depends on personal preference with regards to power, utility and overall cleaning power.

If you are in the market for a new vacuum cleaner, we invite you to visit our website for more information or reach out directly to us for more information.

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