Central Vacuum Glossary

Here is a quick reference of central vacuum glossary and definitions for you. You will come across these most used terms when looking for more details and specifications of central vacuum system.

Central Vacuum System Motor Types

Anatomy of Central Vacuum Motor

Anatomy of Central Vacuum Motor


Airflow (CFM/CMH)

This data measures the quantity of air that is moved at the same time, in cubic feet per minute (CFM) or in cubic meter per hour (CMH). A high airflow creates an important air movement, thus considerably increasing the capacity to vacuum dust and dirt within a larger range. This data is more important if you intend to use an electric powerhead: since it’s the electricity that will make the roller turn, the air movement created is of greater interest.

Having understood the respective functions of these two technical terms, it is important to know that these two characteristics ensure a maximal power altogether. It is therefore essential to analyse both of these data as a whole, and not independently.


Airwatt is a measurement that represents the motor performance, taking both these technical data into account. It is in fact calculated with a ratio between the airflow (CFM/CMH) and the water lift (H2O). It is therefore a major technical data that must be considered, although it is very sensitive to other factors, and so it would be inconvenient to only consider the Airwatt.


Often shortened as “Amps”. It’s the amount of electrical current used during motor operation.


Vacuum motor part. See Anatomy image at the bottom of this page.


Bagged Unit

Central Vacuum unit that is designed to work only with a bag system (inside a dirt receptacle). In other words, you can’t use this unit without a bag, unlike bagless or hybrid systems. This is a disposable bag and you’ll need about 3-5 bags average per year.

Bagless Units

Central Vacuum unit that can be used without a bag. All the dirt/debris will be reserved into the bottom bucket/canister/ receptacle. This must be emptied once it’s full to avoid problems to your system, – such as blockage and wear suction.


Carbo Brush

A part found inside a motor. Their end looks like charcoal (See image on right ->). Often two brushes in a motor makes contact with the armature. Once brushes are worn, replace them to prolong the life span of your motor and central vacuum.

Central Vacuum Motor Carbon brush blk complete


Motor part located above carbon brush. See Anatomy image above.


A type of central vacuum suction hose that’s crush proof, and resists normal wear and tear.


Electric Hose

On/Off Central vacuum hoses that come with corded plug (Pig-tail) designed to let you plug into an electric power outlet when you want to use a power brush head to clean carpeted areas.



A part located at the bottom of central vacuum motor. Also known as Stages. Stacked and Rotates to create vacuum airflow and cool the motor. See Anatomy image below.


Inlet Valve

Also known as outlet, faceplate, wall inlet, wall port etc. This is where you place/plug a suction hose into. Found on your wall, all the dirt will travel through this, your hose, PVC pipe, and end-up in the power unit’s dirt receptacle. There are two types of inlet-valves, Standard and Super Valve. Standard is used with corded suction hose also known as Pig-Tail and Super-Valve with Direct Connect.



The actual motor found in central vacuum cleaner that generates the suction power. See the most types of motor used for central vacuums below.

 Motor Brushes

See above Carbon Brush or Anatomy of motor mage at the bottom of the page

Central vacuum Ametek Lamb Electric Motor 115334 7.2inch


Power Nozzle

Also known as Power Head and Power Brush. Used to clean carpets and is designed with a beater bar. Similar to what are used in portable canister and upright vacuum cleaners.



A motor part that covers the fans.


See fans above.


The air suction in central vacuum created/generated by the fans of your central vacuum motor.

Super Valve

As mentioned above – Inlet Valve. This is an electrified valve designed to work with Direct Connect type of suction hose. It is wired with 110/120V during the construction stage (rough-in) of the house.


Turbo Nozzles

Also known as Air Driven power heads. These are designed to work and be powered by the suction air of your central vacuum. No electrical cords or electricity power are required. You can’t use this for medium-high pile carpet but can work on low pile carpets such as mats, thin area rugs, etc.



Also known as: automatic dust-pan, dust pan, kitchen kick plate, Toe-Tick


Water Lift (H2O)

Water lift (H2O) mainly measures the central vacuum’s engine strength; that is to say, the strength with which the air is moved. The speed at which the air moves is a good indicator of the suction power. This data indicates, among other things, if the chosen power unit will be able to suck up larger debris of a certain weight. It is therefore an important element to consider when choosing a vacuum cleaner, especially if you intend to use an air driven powerhead: the greater the suction strength, the faster the roller will turn! This data is also crucial if you want to use the retractable hose system, because it is precisely this force that will make the hose retract into the piping system.