Our mothers’ and grandmothers’ vacuum cleaners were heavy, cumbersome beasts made of metal. Today, vacuum cleaners are made of lightweight plastics and feature highly efficient motors that are both small and powerful. The weight of a vacuum cleaner is particularly important in many of today’s newer homes, which are frequently larger than older homes and have more than one story. The vacuum in the home must be easily transported up and down a staircase and often must also be used to clean the stairs themselves.
While not necessarily weighing more than their canister counterparts, upright vacuum cleaners require more movement of the bulk of the machine during use. With upright models, the hose attachment is generally only used when cleaning furniture, edges, corners or ceilings; the cleaning of the floor requires continual movement of the entire apparatus. Because canister vacuum cleaners only require movement of the small wand and hose during cleaning, they mandate less expenditure of energy from the user as long as the hose can reach into the desired areas.
Automatic or robotic vacuum cleaners can also be compact and lightweight. More importantly, they require no effort by the user except for programming, so their size and weight is considerably less relevant to energy expenditure by the user.
The most lightweight manual vacuum cleaners are small, handheld devices. These are literally operated with one hand, and over the years their size and weight has progressively decreased. Today, the weight of a handheld device can be limited primarily by the size of its dirt cup.
Hand Held Vacuum Cleaners
Hand held vacuum cleaners are perhaps the most convenient models for a variety of smaller jobs. Because they are the smallest and most lightweight models, they can be easily wielded to clean a small spill or spot of dirt. In addition, their light weight makes them convenient for cleaning overhead and other areas that are above waist level without tiring. For example, they are very useful for cleaning drapes or blinds, or along ceilings or upper walls.
Hand held models can be corded or cordless; the cordless models are very convenient for cleaning within cars. Their compact heads fit readily into a dashboard and many of the small spaces within a car. The cup holders, center console and pockets in car doors are all easily managed with a small hand held cleaner.
One disadvantage to small hand held models in comparison to other models of vacuum is their capacity and the lack of surface area covered by a single sweep of the vacuum’s head. Because their heads are so small and compact, they are not practical for cleaning large areas. Additionally, their dirt cups are small and can become full quickly, requiring frequent emptying. Some models have less power than upright, cylinder or canister vacuum models, although many hand held models can be very powerful.
The size of object that can be aspirated by a hand held vacuum is predominantly limited by its head size. This can be an advantage over uprights and canister models, as fewer parts of the hand held model can become clogged.