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Glossary of Terms

Beater Bar

Part of a Roller Brush/A long rigid bar or raised area on a revolving roller brush which pushes the carpet away from the roll, creating a rapid beating action. Stiff bristles on a brush roll can have a similar effect. 

Brush Roll

Or Roller Brush, is the part of a vacuum cleaner which contains rows of bristles and sometimes beater bars to agitate the carpet in order to significantly aid in the removal of dirt/dust. 

CFM

Cubic Feet per Minute. The specification typically used to indicate the amount of air flow which will pass through a vacuum cleaner power unit when running by itself. 

Canister

The type of vacuum cleaner that houses the suction motor and filtering system in a somewhat square or rectangular container. Typically incorporating a "clean-air" system, they are known for producing strong suction for use with the attachments. A canister type vacuum cleaner usually contains wheels which allow it to be pulled after the user by its hose.

Electric Hoses

A special type of vacuum cleaner hose which has internal wires which carry the 120v electrical current to run the powerhead's motor, for carpet vacuuming.

Electrostatic Filter/Bag

A type of filter or bag consisting of very fine synthetic fibers on which a static electric charge builds as air passes through. The charge draws the smallest allergen and dust particles, helping the filter in retaining them.

Fan

The fan or impeller that creates the actual suction in a vacuum cleaner. 

Filtration Efficiency

The percentage of particles retained by the primary filter as air passes through it. The efficiency increases as the size of the particle increases. 

HEPA

High Efficiency Particulate Air. A filtering efficiency specification whose purpose is to effectively remove radioactive dust from plant exhausts without redistribution. This filter must be able to capture 99.97% of all particles 0.3 mm (micrometers or microns) in size or larger from the air that goes through it.

HEPA Type Filter or bag

A type of filter or paper bag that uses similar construction or fibers to that used in a true HEPA filter. While being a significant improvement over regular filters, the vacuum that uses it may not have a completely sealed filtration system, so there is no guarantee
that the stringent HEPA specification will be met by it. 

Micron

A metric unit of measure equal to one millionth of a meter.

Motor Brushes

In a vacuum cleaner motor, the motor brushes are carbon rods which are held against the commutator in order to carry the electrical current to the windings on the armature. They are often called "carbon brushes" as well.

Paper Bag

The paper bag in a vacuum cleaner is made of a special paper into which the dirt and air are directed as part of the filtering system. The paper used is specially processed to permit the air to pass through it while retaining as much of the dust and dirt as possible. 

Polycarbonate

An extremely tough and strong synthetic plastic with the ability to maintain its shape and size even under great stresses over a wide range of temperatures. It is an ideal engineering plastic since it can be injection molded, blow molded, or extruded. 

Power

Relative to vacuum cleaners, the physical or mechanical force or energy that is applied to the load. Typically the electrical power is transferred from the household electrical outlet to the electric motor where it is converted to mechanical power. The mechanical power is then transferred to the load of the brush roll or fan. When a turbine is used to drive a brush roll, it actually removes the power it applies from the air flow, reducing the velocity of the air flowing through the system.

Power Nozzle

A special attachment for deep cleaning carpets. It incorporates a revolving brush roll similar to that used in the upright type of vacuum cleaner and an electric motor to drive it. When using a power nozzle, the electric motor actually adds power to the cleaning system. A power nozzle should not be confused with a turbine nozzle. When a turbine is used instead of an electric motor, the power to drive the brush roll is actually removed from the air flow, reducing the velocity of the air flow through the system. 

S-Class Filter

A designation used by Europeans to indicate that a filter meets stringent standards like the British Standard 5415 and German norm: DIN 2418B Ti-E EU 13 for filtration performance. It is essentially the same as the HEPA specification which states that a filter must be capable of capturing 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns in size from the air which flows through it.

Sealed Suction

The suction measured when there is no air flow through the suction motor. This is done by completely blocking the inlet of the motor or vacuum cleaner with the gauge. It is a measure of the potential developed when the motor is running at its maximum speed. It is often also referred to as “water lift.”

Suction

Used broadly, the ability of a vacuum cleaner to efficiently pick up dirt. When used in a more narrow way, it is the actual pull or pressure difference created by the spinning fans in the suction motor. The term suction is often used interchangeably with the term vacuum.

Turbine Nozzle

A special attachment for cleaning lower to medium pile carpets. It incorporates a revolving roller brush similar to that used in the upright type of vacuum cleaner and an air driven turbine to drive it. When a turbine is used instead of an electric motor, the power to drive the brush roll is actually removed from the air flow, reducing the velocity of the air flow through the system. When using a power nozzle, the electric motor actually adds power to the cleaning system. 

Upright Type

A type of vacuum cleaner which is self-contained and has a handle extending vertically from its main case. Being self-contained, uprights are pushed around in front of their users, eliminating the need to pull something behind them. Typically it contains a revolving brush roll for deep cleaning carpets. Many uprights also have on-board attachments for cleaning furniture and hard-to-reach corners although the suction with them usually isn't as strong as with the canister types. 

Vacuum

A total vacuum is the absence of everything, even air. Vacuum cleaners actually create a partial vacuum, or more accurately, an area of reduced air pressure as air moves outward within the fan. Air Flow is created as air with normal air pressure moves toward the area with the reduced air pressure. 

Voltage (Volts)

Electric potential or potential difference, expressed in volts. It is the push and pull of the potential difference between two points which causes electrical current to flow through a wire or device which is connected across them. The voltage in a typical household electrical outlet ranges from 110 to 120 volts.