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Community and Q&A

Central Vac

drpepper | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

We are building a net zero, LEED Platinum home.. and need to decide on a central vac system. Would love any recommendations. Thank you, – Karen

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  1. user-577475 | | #1

    I'll have to talk to my net zero, passivhaus friends but I don't quite see how a central vacumn will really fit into LEED Platinum or net-zero. Generally these have bigger motors which use more power, although perhaps there are energy-star rated models. The required piping will create opportunities for air leakage between rooms and zones, or between conditioned and unconditioned spaces, depending on how you route everything. At a minimun do not get the kind that vent outdoors as you would just be throwing conditioned air away and probably creating negative pressures that will need to be compensated somewhere else. Not to be condescending, since I live in an oversize house that has a central vacumn, but hard surfaces and a good broom will probably cost less up front, less to operate, and last longer. Being the owner of three long haired dogs, I have become somewhat of an expert on cleaning floors and furniture and seldom bother with the central vacumn that I paid a lot of money to put in.

  2. user-659915 | | #2

    What Corian said. You can get a good cordless rechargeable stick vac for less than $150. Much more convenient.


    Central vacs that exhaust outside are dramatically better for indoor air quality than portable recirculating vacs. This is why they get points in the National Green Building Standard and are certainly compatible with LEED-h.

    I don't own one myself (have a HEPA vac) and rarely use them in the homes we build but when I do I like to encourage people to specify one with the hide-a-hose option that stores the hose in the wall so you don't have to lug a thirty foot hose around and hang it up after each use.

    Assuming that most folks already have a decent portable vacuum I think the best option is to have a single, thirty foot, hide-a-hose in the center of the house where most of the dirt accumulates and use the portable for the bedrooms and areas that the hose won't reach. A couple of those base-board dust collectors in the mud room and kitchen can make sweeping up really convenient and add little cost to the basic hide-a-hose setup. I refer the choice of suction unit to the local service guy, he knows which models are durable and easy to maintain.

    Not wearing shoes in the house is also a good option.

  4. Mike Eliason | | #4

    who uses a vacuum in 'green' houses? carpets are horrible for IAQ, waste, etc.

    if you're using wood/stone/tile/concrete you can get away w/ mops and brooms. one of the best setups i've ever seen for this was a sweet, minimal dust chute at the vladimir ossipoff-designed liljestrand house.

  5. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #5

    If you take Michael's suggestion and install a central vacuum cleaner system that exhausts outside of your thermal envelope, remember that you will be depressurizing your house at a rate of 100 to 200 cfm whenever you run the vac. That means you'll have to think about backdrafting and makeup air, especially if you have other exhaust appliances (a clothes dryer, range hood fan, bath fans) that might operate simultaneously.

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