Glossary

Please browse our Glossary for help understanding the terms and specifications used in the products we offer.

The most asked about terms are below, but these are just a sampling of what’s in the complete Glossary. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, have suggestions for ways to make it better or need any other assistance, please call us, toll-free, at 1-888-205-3228.

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ABS

A common thermoplastic used to make light yet rigid molded products such as vacuum cleaners, helmets, automobile body parts, etc. It has excellent impact resistance and durability.

AHAM

An acronym for the American Home Appliance Manufacturers trade group, a company that tests and certifies air purifiers based on CADR (Clean Air Delivery Rate). See “CADR”.

Activated Carbon/Zeolite Blend

This is a blend of adsorbents used in some air purifiers such as Austin Air that removes odors and certain chemicals from the air.

Activated Charcoal

Activated Charcoal is used to remove odorous substances from air (in vacuum cleaners and air purifiers) and water (in water filters) through adsorption. Activated charcoal is made by treating charcoal with oxygen, which has the effect of creating countless holes or pathways in the charcoal. The result is a charcoal with an amazingly large surface area. As air or water passes through the immense surface area of activated charcoal, odorous compounds are caught in the innumerable bonding sites. Activated charcoal only removes specific impurities that are attracted to carbon while others will pass right through. Activated charcoal filters stop working once all the bonding sites are filled with trapped impurities, requiring that the filter be replaced. Activated charcoal filtration is sometimes referred to as carbon or active carbon filtration.

Activated Military Carbon Cloth

A cloth impregnated with activated charcoal to remove odors and gasses that is used in Austin Air air purifiers.

Active Air Treatment

This is a term used by Sharp to describe its Plasmacluster Ion Technology, used in its air purifiers. See “Plasmacluster Ion Technology”.

Active Carbon Filter

See “Activated Charcoal”.

Active Height Control

This is a feature of certain SEBO upright vacuums also referred to as Automatic Height Adjustment. Electronic controls identify the floor and the height of the carpet nap. The brush is then raised or lowered automatically depending upon the type of carpet or flooring for optimal cleaning performance.

Active HEPA Filter

This is a Miele trade name for their HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter that not only captures and retains tiny, lung-damaging particles (including dust mite feces and pollen), it also includes the same Generally Activated Charcoal filter (GAC) that the Active Air Clean filter uses to absorb odors. This Miele filter conforms to the new stringent European standard for filtration (EN 1822) which means that it actually traps 99.99% of all particles as tiny as 0.3 of a micron.

Adsorption

Adsorption is a process whereby substances stick to the outside surface of an adsorbent medium such as odor molecules being adsorbed by activated charcoal. This is in contrast to absorption in which a substance is taken in and made part of an existent whole.

Agitation

In terms of vacuum cleaners, agitation is the brushing action on carpet fibers. This can be from the fixed brush on a carpet and rug tool or from the revolving brush of a turbine or motorized power head. Agitation is important in order to break surface tension to release fine soils as well as to remove more difficult surface soils such as pet hair. Revolving brushes sometimes use “beater bars” to bring fine soils and dust up from carpet backing for removal.

Air Belt

This is a feature specific to SEBO canisters that disperses the filtered air exhausted from the vacuum cleaner around the periphery of the canister providing a quiet, gentle airflow.

Air Clean II Hygiene Filter System

This is a Bosch trade name for their HEPA filter system. See “HEPA”.

Air Exchange

This term can be used to indicate the rate at which outside air replaces indoor air in a given space but in terms of air purifiers it is typically used to indicate how many times the air volume in a given space will be filtered by an air purifier per a set period of time.

Airflow

A measurement of the amount of air that moves through a system such as a vacuum cleaner or air purifier. Airflow is measured in CFM or cubic feet per minute. Airflow is one of the most important criteria for determining effective vacuum cleaner performance because carpet soils are carried to the bag or dirt container by the volume of air moving through it. Airflow is important because it indicates how well balanced a vacuum cleaner is in terms of the power and therefore suction of the vacuum motor in combination with the resistance created by the filtration system and overall design. Generally speaking, the more airflow, the better the cleaning performance.

Allergen

An allergen is a substance found in the indoor or outdoor environment that is normally harmless to most people. However, people that have a genetic or developed sensitivity to specific allergens will react to these normally innocuous substances as if they were harmful to their health, triggering a release of chemicals typically referred to as an allergic reaction.

Amperage (Amps)

Amperage or amps is a measure of the flow of electric current. For vacuum cleaners, the term “amps” indicates the amount of electrical current that a vacuum motor uses while operating. Theoretically, the more amps a motor draws, the more powerful it is. However, amp ratings alone do not take into account the resistance of the filter system and a number of other factors. The all-important measurement is airflow, which is a result of the design of the entire vacuum cleaner system and not just the electricity consumption of the motor. (See “Airflow”)

Animal Dander

Small scales, analogous to dandruff, that comes from the skin, hair or feathers of animals or birds that contain a potent allergen that can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.

Asbestos Remediation

The process of safely removing asbestos from indoor environments. High quality, high filtration vacuum cleaners are often used in this process. Sometimes referred to as Asbestos Abatement.

Asthma Triggering Irritants

The medical condition of asthma can be triggered by a number of irritants including allergens such as dust mites, animal dander and cockroaches, certain foods, strong fumes, irritants like cigarette smoke, smog, soot or pollen, respiratory infections, cold or windy weather conditions, and emotions or exercise that cause deep or rapid breathing.

Auto Defrost (De-icer)

When dehumidifiers work at low ambient temperatures, frost can build up on the refrigeration coils, rendering the dehumidifier ineffective. An auto defrost may work by turning the unit off for a period of time or by routing hot compressor gasses to thaw the coils for continual operation. See “Hot Gas Defrosting” .

Automatic Dust Bag Closure

Many high-filtration, high quality vacuum cleaner manufacturers such as Miele, Sebo and others have designed their paper dust bags so that when they are removed from the vacuum cleaner for disposal a rolling shutter or other device seals the bag so dust and soils cannot escape during the disposal process.

Automatic Setting

This is a unique power setting available on certain Miele canisters such as the Champagne that allows the vacuum cleaner to sense the suction required and automatically adjust the motor speed.

Axial Fan

A fan that has a set of fan blades mounted on a rotating shaft such as found on a common house fan or ceiling fan.

Beater Bar

A component of a revolving brush roll that beats the carpet to bring up fine dust and soils from deep in the pile where it can be brushed from the surface and removed by the suction of the vacuum cleaner. Beater bars can be actual metal or plastic bars that are inserted into the revolving brush roll just like agitator brushes or they may be molded into the revolving brush roll in a wide variety of configurations. Stiff bristled agitator brushes can also produce a beating action.

Biotoxin

In the cleaning industry this term typically refers to toxins produced by living organisms and may include toxic molds, toxins produced by bacteria, algaes, etc.

Bleeder Valve

See “Suction-Control Air Vent”.

British Allergy Foundation

The British Allergy Foundation was formed as a registered charity in 1991 by a group of leading medical specialists determined to improve awareness, management and treatment of allergy. In May 2002 the operational name of the Foundation was changed to Allergy UK.

Brush Control

This is a feature on Dyson uprights that allows the user to turn off the revolving brush at the touch of a button to protect delicate rugs and bare floors.

Brush Roll

The brush roll is the revolving brush that provides the agitation or brushing action on the carpet fibers. Sometimes known as an agitator or revolving brush, it may be made of wood, metal or plastic resin and generally has brushes either molded in or inserted in the form of brush strips (also known as agitator strips) that fit into slots on the brush roll. The brush roll may also include beater bars that may be either molded in or inserted like the brush strips. Brush rolls are found in most upright vacuums and the power nozzles (also referred to as Powerbrushes or Power Heads) of canister vacuums.

Bypass Cooled Motors

By-pass motors utilize a separate, clean air supply to cool the motor. This design eliminates soils or moisture from coming into contact with the electrical components of the motor. A by-pass motor is a must on wet/dry vacuum cleaners. See “Flow-Thru Cooled Motors”.

Bypass Motor System

This is a design for upright vacuum cleaners where all the dust and debris that is vacuumed up bypasses the motor. “Traditional” upright vacuum cleaners are designed so that the materials that are picked up actually pass through the fan of the motor before any filtration and then into the dust bag. For this reason they are often referred to as “Dirty Air” or “Direct Air” machines because unfiltered air and soils pass through the motor. This can often result in broken fans and other motor damage. Uprights using the bypass motor design are more reliable, generally require less service and offer longer lasting performance.

CADR

This is an acronym for Clean Air Delivery Rate, an AHAM (Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers) certification for air purifiers. How well an air purifier works depends on the percentage of pollutants removed as air goes through the filter system combined with the amount of air that goes through the unit. In other words, you want a unit that cleans a lot of air extremely well.

To help consumers evaluate air purifiers, AHAM devised a test that evaluates the combined effectiveness of filtration and capacity. The test results are expressed in Clean Air Delivery Rate or CADR. This is the test that the American Lung Association and the EPA look to as a standardized test for evaluating the performance of air purifiers.

What the CADR tells you is the amount of 100% clean air in cubic feet per minute that is coming out of an air purifier. There are three tests and therefore three numbers provided, one for smoke, one for pollen and one for dust. In addition, specific room sizes that an air purifier is rated for are part of the CADR listing.

The maximum value for smoke and pollen is 450 and for dust is 400. When selecting an air purifier, the closer the CADR is to these maximums the better.

Cable Winder

See “Cord Winder”

Canister Type Vacuum Cleaner

The simplest way to understand the difference between a canister and an upright vacuum cleaner is that you pull a canister and push an upright. A canister vacuum cleaner has a base unit that contains the vacuum motor, dust bag and filter system.

There are three types of canister vacuum cleaners. All three are used with a hose and attachments. The difference is in the attachments. A canister that has no power nozzle of any kind is called a Straight Suction Canister. It is suitable for environments with no or very little carpet.

The second type is a canister with a turbo or turbine power nozzle, which is a power nozzle with a revolving brush that is powered by the airflow created by the canister’s suction motor. This type of canister is a good choice when soiling conditions are moderate or the amount of carpet and rugs in the home is minimal.

The third type of canister features a power nozzle where a separate electric motor drives the brush roll. This type of canister is often referred to as a Power Team and is ideal for homes with large amounts of carpet or rugs and standard to heavy soiling conditions.

Centrifugal Fan

A fan or blower that has a fan wheel with a number of fan blades mounted around a hub like a paddle wheel. The air enters from the side of the fan wheel and then turns 90 degrees, accelerating as it passes over the fan blades. This fan gets its name from the trajectory of the airflow as it exits the fan housing. A common example of a centrifugal fan is the blower used in forced air heating and cooling systems.

Clean-Air Design

This is a vacuum cleaner design where the airflow that carries the dirt passes through most of the filtering system before it reaches the motor where it passes through the fans (and may also be used to cool the motor). With this design there is usually an additional filter installed after the motor to filter any carbon dust produced by the motor itself. This type of design increases motor longevity, produces excellent suction and eliminates fan breakage and motor damage common in “dirty air” traditional upright vacuums.

Cleaning Effectiveness

Cleaning effectiveness is how well a vacuum cleaner removes unwanted contaminants such as soils, pet hair, dust, allergens, etc. from the environment. There are two components to cleaning effectiveness. The first is the removal of the soil from carpet, flooring or above the floor surfaces. The second is successfully capturing these soils in the dust bag or container, returning the minimum amount of contaminants back into the environment in the exhaust air.

Cold Evaporation

See “Cool Mist”.

Compressor, Reciprocating

A type of compressor used in dehumidifiers and air conditioners that compresses the refrigerant by use of a piston and cylinder design.

Compressor, Rotary

A type of heavy-duty compressor used in commercial grade dehumidifiers that compresses refrigerant by use of a rotary screw design.

Cool Mist

This is a method of humidification that uses a variety of methods to release moisture into room air without heating the water. Cool mist humidifiers include evaporative, impeller and ultrasonic types.

Cord Reel

See “Cord Winder”

Cord Retractor

See “Cord Winder”

Cord Release

On vacuum cleaners that do not have cord rewinders, the power cord is generally wrapped around cord holders that come in a variety of design configurations. A Quick Cord Release is a design that releases all the wrapped cord with a single adjustment so the user does not have to unwrap each turn of cord from the holders. This is a convenient and time saving feature. Sometimes referred to as a “Quick Cord Release”.

Cord Winder

A feature on vacuum cleaners and other appliances that retracts the cord onto a reel or spool inside the vacuum cleaner. Typically activated by the touch of a button there are also cord winders that retract automatically during cleaning. Also referred to as a “Cord Retractor”, “Cord Reel”, “Cable Winder”, etc.

Cubic Feet Per Minute

Also referred to as “CFM” this is a unit of measure used to calculate airflow. See “Airflow”.

Cyclonic Action

A method of vacuum cleaner filtration that separates soils from the airflow by making the air stream spin, subjecting it to centrifugal force, which throws the dirt and debris out of the air. Cyclonic filtration is used in a variety of “bagless” type vacuum cleaners. Dyson has developed an advanced cyclonic filtration system that represents the state-of-the-art in this technology.

DC Motor

A heavy-duty electric motor designed for continuous operation.

Decibels

A unit of measurement for sound. Decibel levels are typically used to demonstrate how quietly a vacuum cleaner or air purifier operates. To provide a frame of reference, a sound at 15 decibels (dB) is very soft and at 100 dB is very loud.

Dehumidification

The process of removing moisture from the air within an indoor environment. This is important to reduce relative humidity levels below those that support mold and mildew growth. Dust mites levels may also be reduced when relative humidity (RH) levels are kept below 50%.

Direct Air System

See “Dirty-Air Design”.

Direct Connect

Power team canisters that have electric power nozzles require that electricity travel from the canister to the power nozzle. In the past this was accomplished by attaching external cords to the hose and wands. Later, electric hoses were developed that had the electrical wires inside the hose with pigtails on either end. The Direct Connect system now eliminates both external cords on the hoses and wands as well as the pigtails. The electrical system is integrated into the hoses, wands and power nozzle and is automatically connected when the vacuum cleaner is assembled for use.

Dirty-Air Design

This is another term for “Direct Air” system and is a vacuum cleaner design where the airflow that picks up the soils passes directly through the motor fan before any filtration and then goes into the dustbag. Traditional uprights are most often designed using this system, which is known as a “Dirty Air” system because unfiltered air and soils passed through the motor. This often results in broken fans and other motor damage. Use of attachments in vacuum cleaners using this design is often awkward, requiring specialized adapters.

Drill Aerosols

In a dental office there are a number of sources of bacterial aerosols that may transmit disease to staff and patients. These include high speed drilling as well as ultrasonic scaling.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic, eight-legged creatures that are 250-300 micrometers in length (7,000 can fit on a fingernail) and are invisible to the naked eye.

Dust mites live on dead human skin cells, (which comprise up to 80% of house dust) as well as fungi and bacteria. They also live off water vapor, which humans provide for them by perspiration and respiration, emitting approximately one pint of moisture per person per night. This is why mites are found even in areas of extremely low humidity and prevention strategies such as reducing humidity levels in the home are generally ineffective. Dust mite feces contains a potent allergen thought to be responsible for as much as 25% of all allergies worldwide.

Physician organizations such as the American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI) state that dust mite feces are a major source of allergen found in house dust. It is clear that dust mite feces is one of the most important and hazardous allergens found in indoor environments.

Dust Mite Feces

Dust mite feces contains two highly potent allergens Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus and Dermatophagoides farinae generally referred to as Der p1 & Der f1. A dust mite will produce 20 to 100 fecal pellets per day or 200 times its own body weight in feces during its short lifetime. If dust mite pellets were the size of golf balls, the average queen size bed would have a pile of pellets 70 feet high. A female dust mite will also lay 100 eggs during its approximately ten-week lifetime, with a new generation being produced about every three weeks.

During the night, most people toss and turn up to 60 or 70 times. This expels dust mite feces into the air from bedding and pillows. These allergens can then stay in the air for up to two hours. Once airborne, these potent allergens are inhaled where they can cause allergic illness in the first place and stimulate allergic reactions and asthma attacks in those that already have developed allergic disease. Other activities such as walking, vacuuming (with typical vacuum cleaners) and changing bed linens easily stir up dust mite allergens.

Dustbag Change Indicator

A display on a vacuum cleaner that informs the user that the dustbag needs changing. Given that a full dustbag can decrease cleaning ability and put unnecessary strain on the vacuum motor, this is an excellent feature. Also referred to as “Dustbag Indicator” or “Full Bag Indicator”.

Edge Cleaning

This term refers to how well a vacuum cleaner is able to clean along “edges” such as walls and baseboards, furniture, etc. Because a vacuum cleaner has a housing that encloses the brush roll, special designs must be employed to enable successful edge cleaning. These include designing the brush roll so that bristles reach very close to the housing, stationary brushes mounted on the outside of the cleaning nozzle, air channels to increase airflow to edges as well as combinations of these approaches.

Electric Hose

Canister vacuum cleaners that use power nozzles need to get electrical power to the motorized cleaning head. In the past this was done by attaching an electric cord to the outside of the vacuum hose and then down the wands with special straps. An electric vacuum hose is manufactured so that the electrical wires are internal. This eliminates the inconvenience of external cords and makes using the vacuum cleaner much more enjoyable.

Electric Motor Brush

This is a Bosch trade name for their power nozzle. See “Power Nozzle”.

Electric Power Display

This is an electrical display that indicates at a glance the level of power at which the vacuum cleaner is operating.

Electronic Adjustable Power Regulation

See “Electronic Suction Adjustment”.

Electronic Suction Adjustment

There are two ways that vacuum suction can be adjusted; reducing the power to the vacuum motor or opening a relief valve that bypasses air and lowers the suction at the tool. Electronic Suction Adjustment refers to the reduction of power to the motor, which slows it down and in turn reduces suction. Also referred to as a “Speed Control”.

Electrostatic Filter

A filter that is made up of synthetic fibers that develop an electrostatic charge as friction is applied, which in vacuum cleaners, air purifiers and furnace filters is produced by air flowing across the filter. This electrostatic charge is generally effective in trapping particles 1 micron or larger making electrostatic filters capable of capturing house dust, skin flakes, animal dander, pollen and mold spores.

Ergogrip Plus™ Handle

A Bosch trade name for their ergonomically designed hose handle. See “Ergonomic”.

Ergonomic

Ergonomic refers to a design principle that seeks to make using a product as easy and as stress and strain free as possible. In the vacuum cleaner industry, ergonomic principles are often employed in handle designs, swivel characteristics of cleaning heads and so on.

Evaporative Systems

Falling under the cool mist category there are several types of evaporative humidifiers. The most basic utilize a filter pad to absorb water and a fan that blows air across the pad to release moisture into the air. More advanced systems such as those made by Venta and Air-O-Swiss utilize special evaporative discs and do not require pads.

Fan

A fan is the component of a vacuum cleaner motor that is spun by the electrical components of the motor in order to create suction and therefore airflow in a vacuum cleaner.

Filter Indicator Display

This is an electric display found on certain vacuum cleaners measures the effectiveness of the exhaust filter. As the filter loads the display informs the user so that it can be changed at the appropriate time to maintain the highest levels of filtration.

Filtration Efficiency

This term indicates the percentage of particles that a filter captures as air moves through it. Filtration efficiency is typically stated with regard to a specific particle size. For example, a HEPA filter retains 99.97% (filtration efficiency) of particles 0.3 microns (particle size) or larger. In order to make an informed decision about how well a vacuum cleaner or air purifier cleans the air, both specifications are necessary.

Filtration System

Vacuum cleaners and air purifiers use a variety of different designs and technologies to remove particles and sometimes odors from air flowing through them. These generally consist of a series of filters made from a wide variety of filter media including the dustbag (which may be made from paper as well as an ever increasing type of filter material), glass fibers, activated charcoal, cloth or foam filters, electrostatic filters, cyclonic chambers, water and so on.

Flow-Thru Cooled Motors

A motor design that uses the primary airflow that carries the soil in a vacuum cleaner to also cool the motor. This system is very effective in vacuum cleaners that utilize a “Clean Air” system where this air is highly filtered before it reaches the motor. Air is typically filtered again after the motor to capture any residual dust or carbon soils produced by the motor brushes.

Genuine

There are many items such as bags, belts, parts and supplies that are used with vacuum cleaners and other appliances. The term “genuine” indicates that the same company that manufactured the original product also manufactured these items. Genuine items may also be referred to as “original” or OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) produced. This is opposed to “replacement” bags, belts, parts and supplies that are made by third-party companies. When you choose genuine items you are assured that they meet the same specifications as the original equipment.

Galvanized Steel

Steel that is treated with zinc to protect it from corrosion.

HEGA Filtration

This is an Austin Air trade name and is an acronym that stands for High Efficiency Gas Adsorption filtration. This is a four-stage system of filtration that provides HEPA filtration combined with an Activated Military Carbon Cloth filter to remove a wide variety of odors and gasses.

HEPA

HEPA is an acronym that stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air and is used to indicate a very high level of filtration achieved by vacuum cleaners and air purifiers. A HEPA filter must remove 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns in size from the air that passes through it.

The phrase “as small as” is important because it designates that if all the particles were 0.3 microns in size, the filter would still have a 99.97% filtration efficiency. The term “down to 0.3 microns in size” does not refer to the same filtration performance as it may refer to a mixture of particle sizes for the stated efficiency.

HEPA filters may be certified, which means that they are tested and then identified with a certification number that provides assurance that the HEPA filter is actually providing the levels of filtration being claimed. Certified HEPA filters are also known as True or Absolute HEPA filters.

Because very small particles are the most damaging to health, getting true HEPA filtration is very important, especially to people that already have allergies, asthma or other respiratory illnesses. But HEPA filtration is only one part of the equation. If the HEPA filter is installed in a vacuum cleaner that leaks air prior to the filter then harmful particles of all sizes are recirculated into the room air where they remain suspended for long periods and can be easily inhaled.

True HEPA filtration of all the air that is picked up by a vacuum cleaner is obtained when using a certified vacuum cleaner such as Miele or Sebo where the entire vacuum cleaner is subjected to testing (not just the filter) and has been proven to retain 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3%.

The term HEPA is used primarily in the United States. European companies generally refer to the same filter as an S-Class filter, which means that it meets stringent standards such as the European Norm 1822 for filtration performance.

HEPA Type

This is a term that may indicate that a particular bag or filter is manufactured much like a true HEPA filter or that higher than normal levels of filtration are being provided by the vacuum cleaner or air purifier. However, it should be noted that “HEPA Type” or “HEPA Like” is not true HEPA filtration. While HEPA type filters may provide superior filtration than regular filters, check carefully to understand what the actual filtration efficiency (See “Filtration Efficiency” and particle sizes retained actually are. Also, the system may not be completely sealed which means that while the filter may provide the claimed levels of filtration in a laboratory, if air bypasses the filter when the appliance is in use, these levels of filtration will not be obtained.

HEPA Type Bags

This is a term that indicates a higher level of bag filtration than normal dust bags. Be aware that while these bags may offer significant improvement over normal bags it is unlikely that they meet the stringent specifications for true HEPA filtration. Some companies are even using the HEPA acronym but changing the words that it stands for! “HEPA Type” is not true HEPA. Check carefully to understand what the actual filtration efficiency (See “Filtration Efficiency”) and particle sizes retained by “HEPA Type” dust bags actually are.

HEPASilent Technology

This is a Blueair trade name for a combination of mechanical and electrostatic filtration that captures 99.97% of particles at 0.1 micron on level one. At this speed the air purifier not only filters at very high levels but also functions very quietly.

HealthcarePro Dustbags

A Lindhaus trade name for high filtration dustbags.

High Velocity Airflow Tools

These are tools used with Dyson vacuum cleaners and direct high velocity airflow down into the carpet pile. This directional airflow agitates and dislodges dust and dirt for easy removal. Also, because there is constant airflow curtains or upholstery fabrics will not become stuck to the tool during vacuuming.

“Hot Gas” Defrosting

When dehumidifiers operate at low ambient temperatures frost can build up on the refrigeration coils, rendering the dehumidifier ineffective. “Hot Gas” Defrosting uses the hot compressor gasses to thaw the refrigeration coils for continual operation.

Humidistat

An instrument that is a component of a humidifier or dehumidifier that that measures the amount of moisture in the air and turns a humidifier or dehumidifier on or off accordingly, in much the same way a thermostat regulates heating or cooling.

Hygrostat

See “Humidistat”.

HyperHEPA Technology

This is an IQAir trade name for a patented filtration system used in certain models that filters down to 0.003 microns with a guaranteed minimum efficiency of 99%. This system is individually tested and certified using EN 1822 standards.

Impact Foil

This is a feature exclusive to Miele Intensive Clean dustbags and is a piece of foil that is positioned opposite the dustbag opening that prevents sharp-edged objects, such as pine needles, glass and sand, from penetrating the bag while the vacuum cleaner is operating.

Incord (In-cord)

A Bosch trade name for electric hoses and wands that have integrated internal electrical cords.

Injection Molded ABS

See “ABS”.

Intelligent Filter Configuration

This refers to a SEBO upright vacuum cleaner filtration system design that provides less resistance in order to achieve HEPA filtration levels while using less energy.

Intelligent Filter Life Monitor

This is an IQAir trade name for a filter monitor that takes into account actual use, speed settings and air quality conditions to inform the user when the filter on the air purifiers needs to be replaced. By replacing filters only when truly necessary, the highest air quality is maintained without wasting money by replacing filters before it is required.

IntensiveClean Bags

This is a Miele trade name for their high filtration dustbags. These bags are an integral part of their certified HEPA filtration system and include a web of three-ply random-spun polymer fibers so that far more tiny particles and allergens are retained than with conventional paper bags. This new dustbag construction has reduced already extremely low dust emissions from Miele dustbags by up to 50%.

Internal Leakage

On vacuum cleaners and air purifiers, filtration is only effective on the air that passes through the filter system. Internal leakage refers to air that escapes the unit before it is filtered. This is an important consideration because such air often takes particles and contaminants that were on surfaces and makes them airborne, where they may stay suspended for hours and are more easily inhaled. If an appliance leaks air before the filters then its filtration claims are only theoretical. That’s why some companies such as Miele and IQAir, certify the HEPA filtration of the entire vacuum cleaner or air purifier to demonstrate that there is no internal leakage.

Internal Ribs

This is a vacuum cleaner design used by Miele and other companies that employs integrated plastic ribs as part of the dustbag compartment. This design helps prevent airflow loss as the bag fills and increases the longevity of the bags by circulating air around the entire bag, not just the rear.

Internally Wired Wand

Like electric hoses, an internally wired wand is one where the electrical cord runs inside rather than on the outside of the wand. Such wands may have pigtails an either or both ends or may be of the Direct Connect type.

Inverter Control

A type of electronic control used with DC motors.

Ion

An electrically charged atom. Ions are either positively or negatively charged. See “Positive Ions” and “Negative Ions”.

MPPS

This acronym stands for “Most Penetrating Particle Size” and refers to the size particle that most penetrates a filter during HEPA filter testing under EN 1822 certification standards. Once the MPPS is determined, the filter is then tested against only particles of this size to determine its performance.

MEGAfilt® Plus

A Bosch trade name for a high filtration dustbag.

MEGAfilt®SuperTEX

This is a Bosch dustbag that features three layers for better dust retention. Bosch claims that 99% of all particles remain in the dust bag.

Mercury Vapors

Mercury vapors are released during the drilling and removal of amalgam based dental fillings. There is significant controversy regarding whether or not amalgam fillings pose a health risk but it is generally accepted that mercury vapors released during their removal may be harmful and that patients and staff should be protected from inhalation of such vapors.

Microbiological

A term relating to microorganisms and their life processes. In the air and water purification industries, this term is generally used to refer to harmful microorganisms.

Micro-Filtration

This is a general term that indicates that a vacuum cleaner, bag or filter offers higher levels of filtration than normal. However, unless levels of filtration efficiency and particle size are specified, this term by itself is meaningless. See “Filtration Efficiency”.

Microflo Dustbags

A trade name for dustbags for Numatic vacuum cleaners.

Micro-Hygiene Filter

A SEBO trade name for their HEPA filter.

Micrometer (µm)

A micrometer is a unit of measure that is one-millionth of a meter. Another way of expressing this is that a micrometer is one-thousandth of a millimeter or one 25/1,000th of an inch. A human hair may be between 50 and 100 micrometers in diameter. In the vacuum cleaning and air purification industry this term is generally used to describe particle sizes of contaminants found on surfaces and in the air. A micrometer is synonymous with the now obsolete term, micron.

Micron

See “Micrometer”

Microorganisms

Most specifically, these are organisms that are microscopic in size. In the air and water purification industry this term generally refers to harmful or disease causing biological organisms.

Microtex 4-Stage Filtration System

This is a trade name for a multilayer, high efficiency filter for certain Numatic vacuum cleaners that when used in conjunction with Numatic 3-layer Microflo dustbags will upgrade the machine to full British Allergy Foundation approval (for dry use only).

Microtoxins

This term has not been well defined by the Federal Trade Commission but is generally used to indicate toxins produced by microbes such as mold or other processes of decomposition.

Mineral Absorption Pads

Used in warm mist humidifiers such as Slant Fin, mineral absorption pads are placed in the boiling chamber to capture minerals before they are expelled into the air stream.

Mold Mycotoxins

Mold can produce chemicals known as mycotoxins, which can cause illnesses in sensitive individuals or in individuals that experience repeated or large-scale exposures.

Mold Remediation

This is the process of safely removing mold from indoor environments. High quality, high filtration vacuum cleaners are often used in this process. Sometimes referred to as Mold Abatement.

Mold Spores

Molds reproduce by producing spores. Spores are differentiated by whether they can move or not. While both types of spores are of concern in the cleaning and air purification industry there is particular concern about airborne spores and their ability to trigger asthma, allergies and respiratory illnesses.

Multiple Chemical Sensitivity

This is a syndrome also known as “MCS” or “Environmental Illness” (EI) where a variety of multiple symptoms occur with low-level chemical exposure from a wide variety of sources. Symptoms commonly reported include fatigue, difficulty concentrating, memory loss, weakness, dizziness, headaches, heat intolerance and depressed mood. There is a great deal of controversy concerning this condition in the medical community.

Nebulizer

A medical device that converts liquid medicines into an aerosol or mist that is then inhaled through a mask or mouthpiece. Often used to deliver asthma medications that open blocked airways.

Negative Ions

An atom with more electrons than protons has a negative charge and is called a negative ion. Negative ions are produced by rain showers, waterfalls, etc. and are thought to have a positive impact on human health, particularly to balance an overabundance of positive ions in the indoor environment. This is an area of great controversy.

Negative Pressure

A condition where the pressure in a space is less than that in surrounding areas. In this case, if openings exist, air from surrounding areas will flow into the negatively pressurized space, thereby containing the air in the negatively pressurized area. This can be useful for containing harmful particles in a particular area, such as in Tuberculosis isolation.

Norm EN1822

This is the European Norm (EN) two-part test of HEPA filtration. The first part of the test determines which sized particles pass most easily through the HEPA filter media. And because filter efficiency is correlated to the speed at which the air passes through the filter this test is performed at actual use speeds of the vacuum cleaner or air purifier being tested. In other words, the filter is tested under the real world conditions it will operate in.

Once the “most penetrating particle size” (MPPS) has been determined the second part of the test is conducted by testing the HEPA filter against only particles of the most penetrating particle size for an absolutely worst case scenario.

HEPA filters that pass the EN 1822 test have passed the world’s most stringent test for HEPA filtration.

OEM

This is an acronym for “Original Equipment Manufacturer” and is used to designate that bags, belts, filters, replacement parts and other supplies have been manufactured by the same company that manufactured the original product. Other terms used similarly are “genuine” and “original”. This is opposed to “replacement” bags, belts, parts and supplies that are made by third-party companies. When you choose OEM items you are assured that they meet the same specifications as the original equipment.

Operating Radius

The Operating Radius of a vacuum cleaner takes into account the power cord and the hose length of the unit and calculates how far away from an electrical outlet the vacuum cleaner can be effectively used. This specification is useful to determine how often the user will have to find a new outlet during cleaning. Also referred to as “Operation Radius”.

Overheating Protection

See “Safety Shut-Off”.

Ozone

In the air purification industry ozone is sometimes used as an air purifying substance (not recommended) but is most often considered a harmful by-product of some types of air purification technology.

Paper Bag

A paper bag or dustbag is made of a special, paper filter media that traps as much soil as possible inside the bag while allowing the air to flow through. The paper bag is an integral part of the filtering system (and sometimes the only part).

Park System

This is a feature on some vacuum cleaners that allows the wand and cleaning tool to be connected to the canister in an upright position when the user has to step away for a moment. Upon returning to the vacuum cleaner the user does not have to bend over to retrieve the wand and cleaning tool. Some Park Systems also turn the vacuum cleaner off automatically when engaged and turn the vacuum back on when the wand is retrieved.

Parking and Storage Aid

See “Park System”.

Passive Air Filtration

This is a term Sharp uses to describe the filtration component of their Plasmacluster air purifiers. This passive filtration consists of a triple filter system that consists of a pre-filter, an active carbon filter, and a true HEPA filter.

Peak Horsepower

Used as a marketing claim to demonstrate vacuum cleaner motor power in the past, this term has largely disappeared. “Peak Horsepower” ratings were obtained by taking the vacuum motor and removing its fan(s) and then adding as much load as possible before burning it out and then measuring the horsepower. This produced a rating that had little relation to actual horsepower and this rating is therefore of no use to consumers in evaluating the performance of a vacuum cleaner.

Permanent Split Capacitor Motor

This is a type of heavy-duty motor design that uses different amounts of current on start up and during normal operation. It is used to provide heavy-duty performance without excessive amperage draw on motor start-up.

Permatex Filter

A trade name for a filter used in some Numatic vacuum cleaners.

Plasmacluster Ion Technology

This is a Sharp trade name for a system used in its air purifiers that releases positive and negative ions into room air. These ions are unstable and are immediately surrounded by water molecules. The resulting clusters are referred to as Plasmaclusters and spread throughout the room attaching to airborne particles and molecules. These Plasmaclusters knock out airborne mold fungus and decompose sources of odors.

Positive Ions

An atom with more protons than electrons has a positive charge and is called a positive ion. Positive ions may have a negative impact on human health though this is an area of great controversy.

Positive Pressure

This is a condition where the pressure in a space is more than that in surrounding areas. In this case, if openings exist, air from the positively pressurized space will flow out into the surrounding areas. This is one strategy to protect clean areas from contaminants entering from adjacent rooms. This is important to protect immuno-compromised patients, clean rooms, etc.

Potassium Iodide

This chemical compound is used in certain air purifiers such as Austin Air to increase the removal of gasses and odors from filtered air.

Power Nozzle

A Power Nozzle is a cleaning nozzle used with a canister vacuum cleaner that has a separate electric brush drive motor and a revolving brush. A Power Nozzle is sometimes referred to as a Power Head.

Power Team Type

A Power Team is a canister vacuum cleaner that includes a power nozzle where a separate electric motor drives a revolving brush roll. A Power Team is a very versatile vacuum cleaner that allows carpets and rugs to be cleaned with the powerful suction of the base unit as well as the agitation and grooming of the electric power nozzle. And, it is excellent for cleaning smooth floors as well as all above the floor surfaces.

Powerbrush

This is Miele’s trade name for their electrically powered power nozzles used with their canister vacuum cleaners. See “Power Nozzle”.

Powerflo Pump System

A trade name for a water pump used in Numatic carpet cleaning equipment.

Protection Grade IP40

Also referred to as Protection Class IP40, this is a standard for electrical components that protects persons and equipment from coming into contact with dangerous electrical equipment.

Progressive Filtering System, 360°

This is an Austin Air trade name for the design of its air purifier filter system, which draws air through a set of four circular filters that progressively captures larger and then smaller particles.

Quick Cord Release

On vacuum cleaners that do not have cord rewinders, the power cord is generally wrapped around cord holders that come in a variety of design configurations. A Quick Cord Release is a design that releases all the wrapped cord with a single adjustment so the user does not have to unwrap each turn of cord from the holders. This is a convenient and time saving feature. Sometimes referred to as a “Cord Release”.

Radio Frequency

In the vacuum cleaner industry this terms refers to a wireless system whereby electromagnetic waves are used to control the power of the vacuum motor simply by pushing + or – buttons on the hose handle. This system, found on the Miele Galaxy series also includes a stand-by button that allows the user to conveniently turn the vacuum cleaner on or off.

Relative Humidity

A measurement of the amount of moisture in the air that is reported on a percentage basis. Also referred to as RH.

Root Cyclone Technology

This is a patented Dyson technology that uses 100,000 G’s of centrifugal force in cyclones to filter dust and remove dirt from the airflow efficiently. The Root CycloneÔ delivers higher suction power by making the air stream spin, subjecting it to centrifugal force, which throws the dirt and debris out of the air. Because the airflow is unobstructed and because there are no filters or bags to clog, the suction power remains constant.

S-Class Filter

This is the European designation for what we refer to in the U.S. as a HEPA filter. S-Class filters meet stringent standards such as the EN1822 standard for filtration performance. These standards state that the filter must remove 99.97% of all particles as small as 0.3 microns in size from the air that passes through it. (See “HEPA”.)

Safety Shut-Off

This is a design feature on many vacuum cleaners that senses when the vacuum motor is overheating due to a clog or other condition and shuts the motor off before it can be permanently damaged. Also referred to as a “Thermal Cut-Out” or “Thermal Shut-Off” or a machine may be referred to as “Thermally Protected”.

Saturation

The point where air at a given temperature is holding the maximum amount of moisture possible. The amount of moisture air can hold increase as temperature rises.

Sealed System

A vacuum cleaner’s filtration is only effective on air that passes through the filter. Even vacuum cleaners that utilize HEPA filtration may leak air before the filter, defeating the whole purpose of HEPA filtration in the first place. A sealed system is one that uses special seals made of rubber (or other materials) and a design that does not allow air to leak before the filter system.

Self-Regulating Evaporation Principle

This principle states that indoor air will only absorb as much water from a humidifier as the ambient temperature will allow. Certain evaporative type humidifiers such as those made by Air-O-Swiss employ this principle.

Six-Position Suction Adjustment

There are two types of Electronic Suction Adjustments; one that offers variable adjustment from the lowest to the highest wattage and another that offers a limited set of power settings at previously set ratings. A Six-Position Suction Adjustment is the latter type with six pre-set power settings.

Six-Stage Micron Filtration

Terms such as this indicate higher than normal filtration, in this case with six levels or stages of filtration. However, unless levels of filtration efficiency and particle size are specified, this term by itself is meaningless. See” Filtration Efficiency”.

SoftTouch

This is a special finish developed by and used on select vacuum cleaners in the Miele line. It is a lacquer textured finish that makes the vacuum cleaner impact and scratch resistant and therefore impervious to most collisions.

Speed Control

See “Electronic Suction Adjustment”./p>

Suction

While a specific term describing a physical characteristic, suction is often used interchangeably with the term “vacuum” to describe the power of a vacuum cleaner or its perceived ability to pick up soils. Vacuum is normally rated in inches of waterlift but the more useful term used to evaluate vacuum cleaner performance is airflow, which is measured in CFM (cubic feet per minute). Suction more accurately relates to the power of the vacuum cleaner motor’s ability to create airflow. When airflow is well balanced against the resistance of the filtration system the result is a high performing vacuum. See “Airflow”.

Suction-Control Air Vent

One method of reducing vacuum cleaner suction is to create an opening in the vacuum system (usually on the wand or hose handle) that reduces suction at the cleaning tool head. A Suction-Control Air Vent accomplishes this suction reduction and is usually a slide valve in various configurations. Also referred to as a “Bleeder Valve”, “Slider Valve” or “Volume Control”.

Suction Motor

More often known as the vacuum motor, the suction motor consists of electrical components and a fan or series of fans. As the motor operates the fans are spun to create suction and therefore, the primary airflow that carries the soil through a vacuum cleaner. There are a wide variety of suction motor types used depending upon the design of the vacuum cleaner.

SurroundAir Technology

This is a Blueair trade name for a system of gently diffusing filtered air through an area six times greater than the average air cleaner for virtually no noticeable draft, while still providing an exceptional air exchange rate.

Telescope Reach System

This is the Dyson system of “on-board” attachments that has no awkward parts to assemble for above the floor and high reach cleaning.

Telescopic Wand

This is a wand design that allows the user to set the wand length that is most comfortable for his or her height, usually on a variable basis to the wand’s full extension.

Thermal Cut-Out

See “Safety Shut Off”.

Thermal Protected

See “Safety Shut-Off”.

Thermodynamic Air Purification

A system of air purification using heat to destroy airborne microorganisms such as spores, fungus, bacteria, viruses and mold spores, incinerating them at temperatures around 400F (250ºC).

Thermoplastic

There are a wide variety of materials that have thermoplastic characteristics, which are primarily that they become soft (even liquid) when heated and hard when cooled. There are dozens of thermoplastic materials and one of the most common in the vacuum cleaner industry is ABS. See “ABS”.

Thread Lifters

A component of a carpet and rug tool that picks up loose threads and pet hair from the carpet surface so they can be removed by the vacuum cleaner’s suction. Can be replaced when worn.

Traditional Upright

Traditional uprights are known as such because many of the early vacuum cleaners developed used a design in which unfiltered air passed through the fan and was then deposited into the dust bag. For this reason, these type of vacuum cleaners are also known as “Direct Air” or “Dirty Air” vacuum cleaners. This design often results in broken fans and other motor damage. Use of attachments in vacuum cleaners using this design is often awkward.

True HEPA

See “HEPA”

True Medical Grade HEPA

An Austin Air trade name for a certified HEPA filter. See “HEPA”.

Turbine Nozzle

Sometimes referred to as a Turbo Brush or Turbo Nozzle, a Turbine Nozzle is a cleaning nozzle used with canister vacuum cleaners where a revolving brush is powered by the airflow of the canister’s suction motor. Turbine Nozzles are not as powerful or effective as electrically powered power nozzles but do provide excellent cleaning in certain environments, carpet types and soiling conditions. The air used to drive the Turbine Nozzle is removed from the primary airflow, therefore decreasing the suction power of the vacuum system to some degree.

Turbine Nozzle Handheld

This is a smaller version of an air driven Turbine Nozzle that is used to clean stairs, corners, vehicles and durable upholstery. It is excellent for removing pet hair and other difficult soils. See “Turbine Nozzle”.

Turbobrush

This is Miele’s trade name for their air powered revolving brush cleaning nozzle. See “Turbine Nozzle”.

Turbobrush Handheld

This is Miele’s trade name for their handheld air powered revolving brush cleaning nozzle. See “Turbine Nozzle Handheld”.

Turboflo Vacuum Turbine

A trade name for a by-pass cooled vacuum motor used in Numatic wet/dry vacuum cleaners.

ULPA

UPLA is an acronym that stands for Ultra Low Penetration Air and is a level of filtration significantly more efficient than HEPA and is used in clean rooms, labs, hazardous materials clean up and other environments where the highest levels of filtration must be utilized. An ULPA filter must remove 99.999% of all particles as small as .12 microns in size from the air that passes through it.

The phrase “as small as” is important because it designates that if all the particles were .12 microns in size, the filter would still have a 99.999% filtration efficiency. The term “down to .12 microns in size” does not refer to the same filtration performance as it may refer to a mixture of particle sizes for the stated efficiency.

ULPA filters may be certified, which means that they are tested and then identified with a certification number that provides assurance that the ULPA filter is actually providing the levels of filtration being claimed. In conditions where ULPA filtration would be required it is very important that the design of the vacuum cleaner be airtight with no leakage before the filter.

Ultrasonic

Ultrasonic humidifiers create an ultrasonic frequency to generate a cool fog of very fine water droplets to add humidity to room air.

Ultraviolet Light

This is a type of light that starts at the upper end of the visible light spectrum and ends at X-rays. There is a wide range of commercial uses for Ultraviolet (UV) Light but in the air and water purification industry it is widely used as a disinfectant, being an effective virucide and bactericide.

Upright Vacuum

An easy way to define an upright vacuum cleaner is that it is the type that you push rather than pull behind you. There are a wide variety of different upright designs for many different cleaning situations. Uprights generally have a revolving brush roll to provide agitation and may have one motor that provides the suction and also turns the agitator or it may have two motors, one to provide suction and one to drive the brush. Uprights have traditionally been the favorite type of vacuum cleaner in the U.S. with canisters being more popular in Europe. Recent innovations like on-board attachments and integrated extension hoses and advanced filtration systems have made uprights much more versatile and therefore now able to offer many of the features of canisters.

Upstream HEPA Filter

A design in which the HEPA filter is placed before, or upstream of the motor.

V5-Cell Gas and Odor Filtration Technology

An IQAir trade name for its V-shaped odor and gas filter that contains 5 lbs. of activated carbon pellets and alumina impregnated with potassium permanganate (50/50 by volume) for superior chemical and gas removal.

VOC

See “Volatile Organic Compounds”.

Vacuum

This term is used in the cleaning industry to indicate suction or more accurately airflow through a vacuum cleaner. (See “Airflow” and “Suction”.)

Vaporization

See “Warm Mist”.

Vaporizers

See “Warm Mist”

Variable Electronic Speed Control

See “Electronic Suction Adjustment”

Variable Suction Adjustment

See “Electronic Suction Adjustment”.

Velocity

Velocity is the speed at which the air travels through a vacuum cleaner system at a given point. Velocity is the force of the moving air that lifts the dirt and carries it to the dust bag.

Volatile Organic Compounds

Also known as VOCs, these are compounds that become a gas at room temperatures. In sufficient quantities or in individuals that are highly sensitive VOCs can cause eye, nose and throat irritation, dizziness and headache, visual disorders and memory impairment. Some VOCs are known to cause cancer in animals and some are known and suspected to cause cancer in humans. There are a wide variety of sources of VOCs in the indoor environment including paints, lacquers, varnishes, enamels, fuels, a wide range of household and commercial cleaning products, auto emissions, etc.

Volume Control

See “Suction-Control Air Vent”.

Vortex Motor System

This is a motor developed and produced in the Miele factories in Germany and used in Miele canister vacuum cleaners. It is a 1200-watt motor and is designed to generate the highest airflow possible for superior cleaning performance at optimal power usage.

Washable Active Carbon Filter

This is an active carbon filter included in Sharp Plasmacluster air purifiers that is contained in a sack that allows washing. This washing unloads the filter material so it can be used again and again for five years.

Water Lift

Vacuum motor performance can be measured in “inches of water lift” as well as “inches of mercury”. These measurements are taken when the motor is sealed and are based on how many inches water or mercury will rise in a testing device. Since soils are removed from carpet, flooring and other surfaces by airflow (See “Airflow”) water lift is not a useful measurement in terms of evaluation vacuum cleaner performance.

Watts

Watts are a measure of the flow of electrical current and, like the term “amps”, are often used to indicate the power of a vacuum cleaner motor. Watts are related to amps in that watts/volts = amps. So a motor rated at 1200 watts used at the fixed U.S. household rating of 120 volts would be equivalent to a 10.0 amp motor. While the more watts a motor is rated at the more electricity it consumes, wattage (or amps, for that matter) is not the important rating when choosing a vacuum cleaner. The all-important measurement is airflow, which is a result of the design of the entire vacuum cleaner system and not just the electricity consumption of the motor. (See “Airflow”)

White Noise

White noise is created by combining sounds of all different frequencies together and is used to mask other noises.

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