What Are the Pros and Cons of a Whole House Vacuum System?

Updated on April 24, 2022 by Joseph D. Nielson

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When you’re serious about keeping a tidy home, it’s normal to put a lot of thought into your next vacuum cleaner. After all, it’s going to play a starring role in your cleaning routine, so you want to be sure you have “the one” before you commit. 

While plenty of homeowners shop from the usual portable Dyson and Hoover vacuums, there are other options available today. You can have a whole house vacuum system installed in your home to streamline this dirt-sucking chore. 

But how do you know you’re ready for the switch? Let us be your guide! We’ll give you a run-down on what whole house vacuum systems are before we jump into their pros and cons. 

What is a Whole House Vacuum System?

If you install a whole house vacuum system (or a central vacuum, as it’s also known), it’s a lot like having a permanent vacuum cleaner set up in your home. 

A whole house vacuum system installation places a canister somewhere in your home, like the garage or basement. A series of hidden pipes will connect this canister to wall inlets fitted in your baseboards or floors. 

When you’re ready to suck up some dirt, you’ll plug a vacuum hose into any of these inlets. Fitting the hose into the inlet activates the canister’s motor to draw dirt and dust particles into the canister.

There are different types of central vacuum systems that come with bagged or bagless canisters, which you can clean like any bagged vs. bagless vacuum cleaner. Or you can choose to send the exhaust outside for better indoor air quality.

Understanding these differences before you commit can help you decide if a central vacuum is the best carpet cleaner for your needs. 

What Are the Pros of a Whole House Vacuum System?

Now let’s get to what you’ve been waiting for. Here are the top benefits of central vacuum systems.

1. Power

If you want more ‘oomph’ out of your vacuum cleaner, it’s time to consider a whole house central vacuum system. Central vacuum systems are simply more powerful than the average upright vacuum — even if you spring for an expensive Dyson model. 

That’s because the motors are larger since they don’t have to fit onto a portable machine. Your vacuum hoses come with a variety of accessories, allowing them to give a deep cleaning that stands above and beyond the best vacuums for hardwood floors, furniture, and upholstery. 

smiling woman relaxing on couch

2. Indoor Air Quality

Central vacuum systems are better for your indoor air quality because their exhausting system is separate from the vacuum hoses. 

Anything you suck up gets sent to the canister. This is unlike a typical vacuum that exhausts air as it works, spewing out some of the dust particles you’re trying so hard to remove. 

This can be a huge relief if you have allergies. One study shows allergy sufferers saw a 40–60% improvement in their symptoms when they switched to a central vac [1]. 

As a result, the U.S. Green Building Council awards any building with a central vac one LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) point for its ability to control indoor contaminants [2].

3. Convenience

Once you have a central vac, you can say goodbye to lugging a 20-pound appliance upstairs or worrying about accidentally running over the electrical cord. 

Instead, you’ll just have to plug in your vacuum hose to the nearest inlet to get started. Some whole house vacuums even include inlet suction without vacuum hoses. This means you can quickly sweep up spilled popcorn and other messes into the inlet without pulling out the hose. 

As for clean-up, you won’t have to empty your canister or bag as often as you would a portable vacuum cleaner. 

4. Energy

While a whole house central vacuum system uses more power than an upright vacuum, some still consider it an energy efficient option. 

Between its powerful suction and canister located in another room, dust particles won’t blow back into the air and require a deeper clean. As a result, you won’t have to vacuum for as long or as often as you would with a portable vacuum.

What Are the Cons of a Whole House Vacuum System?

Here are some of the disadvantages to a whole house vacuum system. 

1. Expense

Perhaps the biggest downside to a whole house vacuum system installation is its cost. While installation may only take a day, it still involves fitting inlets, running pipes, and connecting the motor. 

The average whole house vacuum system cost reflects this complicated set-up, making it more expensive than an upright vacuum. Outfitting the average house would cost roughly $1,500, with a bigger bill in your future if you want more inlets or other features. 

2. Blockages

Because central vacuum systems have such forceful suction, it’s easier to suck things up by accident. Or, if you have small and curious children, your kids can purposefully feed inlets with toys and other things they shouldn’t. 

These large items can clog vacuum hoses and inlets, requiring maintenance or repairs if these objects damage the unit. This upkeep can saddle on extra costs if you aren’t careful. 

With great power comes great responsibility. If you only need something that will pick up small items and messes, check out our cordless stick vacuum reviews for more precision. 

older man using a whole house central vacuum system on colourful rug

Is a Central Vacuum Worth It?

If energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and suction power are key concerns of yours, a whole house central vacuum system might be worth the upgrade. But it’s likely not an option if you don’t own your home, as it requires a costly installation. 

But don’t worry if you rent or live on a tight budget. You can still achieve a deep cleaning with the classic vacuum and mop combo if you don’t want to make the switch. 


[1] The influence of a central vacuum system on quality life in patients with house dust-associated allergic rhinitis

[2] HEQ8.2c Central Vacuum USGBC

Joseph and Family
About Joseph D. Nielson

Former journalist and editor for various press groups, I now dedicate my time to reviewing products for the home and family life. When I get time to myself, I enjoy rock climbing, taking my dirt bike for a rip, and most importantly providing my family with the best home possible!