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New EU Vacuum Cleaner Rules ‘Will Mean Longer Cleaning Times’

Justin Binks, director of Sebo UK, questions whether the new EU law limiting the power
of vacuum cleaners will result in any actual savings:

REDUCING the energy consumption of vacuum cleaners is laudable in its own right, but there are considerable doubts as to whether the new EU labelling rules will actually result in savings.
Instead, we are likely to see confusion in the market place, inefficient products, longer cleaning times and frustrated and disappointed customers.
The EU energy label is designed to provide consumers with information on domestic household products regarding energy consumption, performance, noise, dust re-emission and other essential characteristics.
Note the emphasis on ‘consumers’ and ‘household’ products. The tests used to gain an energy label rating are the same whether the product is a domestic or commercial model.
A key issue is the power of the motor. Although with an upright cleaner a motor that achieves lower suction than before is potentially not such a problem because the rotating brush does much of the work, with a cylinder cleaner suction is key.
When all else is equal, a more powerful motor will clean better.
Put simply, the efficiency of a vacuum cleaner may be improved with better design; for example, by reducing restrictions to airflow within the machine which can compensate for a lower power motor.
However, if you took this ‘improved’ vacuum cleaner and fitted a more powerful motor, this version would give better performance.
Central to the issues associated with the legislation are the testing procedures, particularly the tests for pick up.
These tests are more Alice in Wonderland than real world. Both the hard floor and carpet pick up tests require that a special type of sand be used.
This is not something that is normally collected by vacuum cleaners: generally 80% of what is picked up is fluff; hair and fibre.
Equally unrepresentative is the format of the hard floor test. This involves removing dirt from a 10mm deep by 3mm wide crevice.
It does not take into account the need to clean the surface of the floor. In order to achieve the suction necessary to clean the crevice, the vacuum cleaner head must be designed so it ‘seals’ down against the floor.
In a real world situation this means that dirt on the surface of the floor is simply pushed along in front of the head, without being sucked up, while the device itself becomes hard to use because it ‘sticks’ to the floor.
To get an ‘A’ rating the vacuum cleaner has to pick up more than 111% of the ‘dirt’ in the crevice: Surely that tells us something about the test!
The newly introduced noise and filtration tests are equally farcical and in no way make for a more efficient and better designed vacuum cleaner.
An important point to remember is that the new labels are self-certified, so some machines may not merit the ratings they have been given by their maker. In all likelihood there will be legal action against the tests and also against the claims of some manufacturers.
Anyone buying a commercial vacuum cleaner would be well advised to take the claims made on the labels with a generous pinch of salt – if they seem too good to be true then quite possibly they are.
I believe quality brands will still offer superior performance but remember that, whichever cleaner is purchased, the advent of lower power vacuum cleaners could mean that it takes longer to clean a floor than before, even if the energy label suggests ‘A’ rated performance. CFJ

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal. You can find them at