The vacuum cleaner, relied on the world over to remove dust, dirt and other debris from carpet, features a simple design that hasn’t changed much since its inception. Daniel Hess, a native of Iowa, took a classic, non-powered carpet sweeper and added to it a simple pump. This pump, powered by a bellows, generated enough suction for the vacuum to efficiently pull grime out of carpet. Hess was awarded a patent on July 10th, 1860 for his innovative design.
As the vacuum cleaner evolved, inventors replaced the bellows with the electronic pump, thereby increasing the suction power and making the device more efficient. An early example of these more powerful units is the first Hoover brand vacuum which added a rotating brush to the design. This addition aided in dislodging dirt.
Today, engineers apply the basic principle of the vacuum cleaner to machines large and small, ranging from USB-powered vacuums designed to keep desks tidy to massive industrial machines that suck up hundreds of liters of dirt at once.
Apart from these more exotic applications of the design, most vacuum cleaners fall into one of four basic categories: canister, wet/dry, cyclonic and robotic.
Canister vacuums are by far the most commonplace iteration of the device. They feature a long cylindrical body containing the pump and motor and a long hose connecting to a wheeled base. These units are extremely flexible and are ideal for reaching under furniture. They typically collect dust into bags that must be changed periodically.
Wet/Dry vacuum cleaners are perfect for use both indoors and out and are typically stout with a cylindrical body. They sport a thick, strong hose, capable of sucking up much larger debris than the typical model. Most wet/dry models feature a switch that reverses the air flow. This can be useful when the hose becomes clogged.
Robotic vacuums are typically disk-shaped and incorporate sophisticated on-board electronics that allow them to find their way around a room. They clean the carpet in a random fashion and are capable of dodging static obstacles. Though autonomous, these vacuums are limited in the amount of grime they can remove from a carpet.
Vacuum cleaners, varied in form and function, are essential household appliances. They remove dirt, mites and other grime from the house that could otherwise cause adverse reactions in sensitive individuals. They extend the life of carpets and make them easier to clean in the long run.