Bagged or Bagless?
20 years ago this was not much of a question. There were very few vacuums on the market that were truly bagless unless it was a hand vacuum (i.e. "Dustbuster"). Today, this is a question you will want to have figured out before looking for your next vacuum. There are pros and cons to both; however, generally speaking
a bagged unit will give you better filtration and a machine that will perform better and last longer than their bagless counterparts. Of course this can vary dramatically depending on the quality of the machine and how well they are maintained.
Bagless vacuums funnel the airflow into the dirt canister causing a vortex. This vortex pulls the large items to the bottom while a filter before the vacuum motor (pre-motor filter) filters out the fine particles in the air. The airflow continues through the motor (cooling it) and is then exhausted through another filter (post motor filter) before that "clean" air is expelled into the air around the vacuum and the room that you are in. When the dirt container is full you simply empty it into the trash. The filters are almost always washable. This all means you don't have to worry about running out of bags! There's something to be said for the instant gratification when you can see the dirt you have picked up with your vacuum.
Unfortunately, many people who use a bagless vacuum see them as maintenance free. Just empty the dirt canister and they're good to go. The filters that don't get cleaned slowly choke off the vacuum motor putting a tremendous amount of heat and stress on them. This doesn't kill the motor right away; however, over time this continued heat and stress slowly eats up their service life. Another inherent problem is that there is no easy way to clean the mechanism that funnels the airflow, also known as a dirt separator. This mechanism will slowly build up dirt in and on it which slowly restricts the amount of air allowing to pass through it. This problem is only exacerbated if there is any moisture added to the mix. Dirt separators can be very simple mechanisms or extremely complicated and vary not only from brand to brand; but, from model to model. If you decide to go with a bagless vacuum, having access to an air compressor is the easiest way of cleaning these and even then it's not 100%. Bert's Vacuums does have a service to accomplish this and it is called a "Restorative Clean". Pricing varies depending on the complexity of the dirt separator.
- Great for large amounts of pet hair (i.e. golden retriever)
- No extra costs for dust bag replacements
- Ideal set up for stick and hand held vacuums for quick pick ups
- Shorter lifespan
- Not as good at filtration
- Messy to clean