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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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

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