How much does it cost to install a central vacuum system?
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Central Vacuum Installation Cost Guide
Updated: January 9, 2023
Central or whole house vacuums are a convenient and effective way of cleaning your home. Central vacuums are large units, typically located in a basement or garage, with a system of in-wall pipes and outlets you can connect to via a hose for suction cleaning power. Like a regular vacuum cleaner, a central vacuum can be used to clean different surfaces in and around your home. This includes carpeting, hardwood, tile, upholstery, curtains, blinds, and even ceiling fans.
The national average cost to install a central vacuum system is between $800 and $3,500. Most people pay around $2,000 to install a central vacuum filter system in a 2,000 sq.ft. retrofit home. At the low end of the spectrum, you can expect to pay around $600 to install a central vacuum cyclonic system in a 2,000 sq.ft. new construction home. At the high end, you can pay up to $4,500 to install a central vacuum filter system in a 2,000 sq.ft. retrofit home with retractable hoses, a hose cabinet.
Central Vacuum Prices
|Central Vacuum Installation Cost|
|National average cost||$2,000|
What Is a Central Vacuum System?
A central vacuum system, also known as a whole house vacuum, is a built-in appliance that uses suction power and a series of built-in pipes to collect dirt in a large canister, typically in the basement or garage. A central vacuum can last four times as long as a portable vacuum and features more power, adding value and convenience to your home. To use the system, simply plug your hose into one of the outlets, automatically turning on the suction.
With a built-in central vacuum system, you do not have to carry a heavy vacuum cleaner from room to room or up and down stairs. Instead, you can clean using an attachment at the end of a lightweight hose. To use the system, you start by plugging the hose into any wall or floor receptacle. The vacuum motor pulls air through the hose. All dust and debris travel through the hose to a canister. Paper, coins, or even small toys are retained in the filter. Exhausted air is either vented outside or within the space.
Central Vacuum System Cost by Type
The type of central vacuum system you select for your home directly influences the cost ranging from $200 to $2,000. There are essentially two central vacuum motors to consider: cyclonic and filtered. These two types of systems are basically the same in operation but differ in their filtering technology. The chart below highlights the two different types of central vacuum systems and their respective costs, followed by subsections giving a brief explanation of each type.
|Central Vacuum Type||Average Cost (Materials Only)|
|Cyclonic||$200 - $2,000|
|Filter||$400 - $2,000|
Cyclonic Central Vacuum
The average cost of a cyclonic central vacuum system is between $200 and $2,000. Cyclonic motors are filterless and bagless and use powerful suction to spin the debris in a cyclone, dropping the particles down into a container. There are no filters to change, but the dust needs to go somewhere. Some are designed to vent outside. Others collect the dust inside, where it can coat the motor and reduce suction. For this reason, cyclonic motors typically need more maintenance and cleaning.
Central Vacuum Filter
The average cost of a filtered central vacuum system is between $400 and $2,000. Filtered motors may be bagged or bagless and use a combination of paper and cloth filters to reduce dust. This keeps the motor clean but means that you need to stay on top of filter changes and purchase more filters over time. If you use a bagged option, you also need to empty the bag every six months and purchase new bags. Filters have to be replaced every three to twelve months depending on the size of the unit.
Ducted Vacuum System Cost by Brand
The brand of the central vacuum unit is a huge factor affecting how much you will pay, ranging from $200 to $2,000. When researching central vacuum units, you will notice the multiple brands and manufacturers on the market. All brands vary in price depending on the watts, size, and type. Similar products are competitive between manufacturers. Therefore, it is important to do your research before purchasing the perfect unit for your home.
If you want a cost-effective central vacuum, Imperium is a good place to start with cyclonic, bagless, and disposable bag models. VacuMaid is similarly priced, with affordable central vacuum systems made of galvanized steel and powder coated for prevention against corrosion and rust. These units require no bags and never lose power as the canister fills. RhinoVac features economical and compact systems known for their silence and power. They are ideal for apartments and condominiums where space is usually an issue. Beam and Electrolux are at the higher end of the price range due to their innovative central vacuum features. Beam vacuums have a self-cleaning filter and large capacity bucket for less hassle of frequent emptying. Electrolux has ultra-quiet models. The table below lists these central vacuum brands and their respective cost range.
|Brand||Average Cost (Materials Only)|
|Imperium||$200 - $800|
|VacuMaid||$200 - $800|
|RhinoVac||$300 - $800|
|Beam||$400 - $2,000|
|Electrolux||$400 - $2,000|
Central Vacuum System Installation Cost
For the installation of a central vacuum filtered unit in a 2,000 sq.ft. home, expect to pay $400 to $1,500 in materials and $400 to $2,000 in labor, for a total cost of $800 to $3,500. Most homeowners opt to hire a professional for the installation of their central vacuum system. Labor costs vary depending on the type of system. You can expect to pay less for the new construction of a 2,000 sq.ft. home using a filtered system, compared to a retrofit which will typically double in cost. You can hire a handyman with an average hourly rate of $50 to $100 or $60 to $120 for a journeyman or master electrician.
The first step in installing a central vacuum system is installing the main unit, typically placed in the laundry room, garage, basement, or utility room. Some units are required to be placed against the wall if they need to vent outside. From there, PVC pipes are run to each outlet in the system. Because the hose reaches about 30 to 35 feet, you need various outlets so that there is a slight overlap in areas. This process is easiest in new construction before the walls are framed. However, in a retrofit, the pipes are usually run into the attic or through closets, then dropped down through the walls to the outlet, so the only hole cut in the wall is at the outlet. The biggest issue is making sure there are no existing pipes or wires where the vacuum pipe needs to be. The entire process takes one to two days to complete, depending on the size of the home and whether this is new construction or a retrofit.
Some factors play a large role in the cost of a central vacuum system. These include the total number of outlets needed, the extra accessories, the brand, and whether the system is installed as part of a new construction or retrofitted to an already built home. The more outlets required, the more the system costs. Adding a central vacuum to an existing home requires more work than adding it before the drywall is installed. In new construction, you won’t need to get behind walls to set up the wiring and vacuum pipes. With an existing home, you have to break the drywall to do this. One other thing to remember is that the required components, including tubing, outlets, hose, power brush, power unit, and cleaning attachment, typically come with the system when purchased. However, if you opt for extra accessories and additional attachments, expect costs to go up. Overall, the required components range from $8 to $2,000, depending on the price and size.
Every central vacuum system needs an outlet, tubing, hose, power brush, power unit, and attachments to work properly. These parts make up the overall central vacuum system and are included in the initial costs. However, you can add extra attachments if you want to enhance your system and have more options for cleaning power. This includes a brush to clean hardwood and tile floors or carpet brushes for softer fabrics. A pet brush is specially designed to pick up dog and cat hair. Extension tubes provide extra length to the central vacuum system. An automatic dustpan is another smart investment because the built-in dustpan beneath a kitchen or bathroom cabinet collects dirt and crumbs. The costs for these add-ons range from $10 to $500, as outlined in the table below.
|Add-On||Cost (Materials Only)|
|Floor Brush||$10 - $50|
|Extension Tubes||$20 - $60|
|Pet Brush||$50 - $100|
|Carpet Brush||$100 - $500|
|Automatic Dustpan||$250 - $500|
What Size Central Vacuum Do I Need?
An important consideration to purchasing the best central vacuum unit for your home or space is making sure it is sized correctly. You want to ensure that it is sized not only by the size of your home but also by the length of the PVC pipe. It is usual to purchase a vacuum that covers twice the total square feet of your home for optimal performance. However, you can purchase units with extra-large collection units. The most important rating to look for to ensure that your system is sized correctly for the length of the PVC pipe is the “waterlift” rating. This rating refers to the suction power of the pipe and determines how well the unit picks up dirt through the piping. This number varies among different models. Smaller units typically have a waterlift rating of 105 to 120 inches, which can handle up to a 2,500 sq.ft. home.
Pros and Cons
Central vacuum systems have many advantages for homeowners. To have a single motor drive the entire system, it must be extremely large and powerful, which means that you have better suction and cleaning power. Since this large motor must be kept in the basement or garage, using the system tends to be very quiet indoors. Due to the larger amounts of suction and where the motor is kept, it reduces the allergens in the air, improving air quality. The hose itself is fairly lightweight and easier to maneuver than a typical vacuum. However, the system is expensive, particularly when retrofitting it into an existing home. Because the suction is so extreme, it may suck up things not intended to fit in the hose, causing blockages and damage. Maintenance for the system can sometimes be difficult and expensive, depending on the type of motor.
Central vacuums are fairly low-maintenance, requiring service about once every six months. For filtered vacuums, you need to change a paper filter every six months and a cloth filter every six years. For cyclonic vacuums, have them cleaned annually. If you notice a loss of suction, you may want to have them periodically serviced. Otherwise, the units are fairly low-maintenance and work reliably. Depending on the type of central vacuum system, the filter should be replaced every three months to a year.
Central Vacuum vs Portable
Most people are familiar with portable vacuums, which you carry or move from room to room with you. They are small, loud, and need to be emptied after each use. However, they are fairly inexpensive, with a cost between $50 and $200, and can be used in any home. Central vacuums are much larger and expensive, with a price between $200 and $2,000. They are quieter when operated, and only need to be emptied every six months or so. The hose is all that needs to travel from room to room, so they tend to be lighter. They also have greater suction power that is three to five times better than a portable and have a much longer life span. Central vacuums are located far away from the room you are vacuuming, thus improving air quality. On the other hand, a portable vacuum expends dust and fine particles back into the air as it pulls the debris through. In some cases, a central vacuum makes a home more attractive at the time of resale. However, they cost significantly more than a portable vacuum and must be properly installed inside the home.
|Type||Cost per Unit (Materials Only)|
|Portable Vacuum||$50 - $200|
|Central Vacuum||$200 - $2,000|
Enhancement and Improvement Costs
The average cost for a hose cabinet ranges from $100 to $300. When installing a central vacuum system, it is a good idea to install a hose cabinet. A hose cabinet is the perfect spot to store a hose when it is not in use. Storing the hose not only keeps the space tidy but also keeps the hose in good condition. If you opt into a standard 30-foot hose instead of the retractable option, it needs to be placed somewhere.
Automatic Dust Pan
Automatic dustpans for a central vacuum cost $250 to $500. A central vacuum dustpan, also referred to as a central vacuum sweep inlet, is a useful tool to consider when installing your central vacuum system. These dustpans are designed as an in-home vacuum port installed underneath a kitchen or bathroom cabinet or into a baseboard. They make it easy to collect dirt, crumbs, and debris without lugging around a bulky hose. These automatic dustpans, or vacuum kick sweep, allow you to activate your central vacuum by using the tip of your toes or foot to kick open the port, engaging suction. This allows you to sweep debris into the vacuum port and deposit it right into the vacuum canister with ease.
Additional Considerations and Costs
- Number of outlets. The number of outlets you need to install in your home varies depending on the layout, size of the home, number of floors, and the reach of the hose. Most people find they need at least four outlets to be effective. However, homes with many rooms and poor layouts need more.
- Credit qualifications. Adding a central vacuum to a home gives you points for LEED certification, a Health House certification, or the National Green Building Standard. Check your local building ordinances for more info.
- Cleaning toxic materials. Never use your central vacuum to clean toxic materials such as asbestos. Instead, these materials must be cleaned using specialized equipment and filters.
- Resale value. Some central vacuum designs increase the resale value by making the home more attractive to buyers. However, the relatively low cost of the system will not dramatically increase the resale cost of the home.
- Are central vacuum systems worth it?
A central vacuum system is worth the investment if you require exceptional air quality in your home, want to add value to your property, or love the convenience for intensive cleaning.
- Is it easy to install a central vacuum?
Installing a central vacuum is fairly easy for a professional to do. Though central vacuum systems are the easiest to install in new construction where tubing installation is easy, they can be retrofitted into existing houses with relative ease.
- Does central vacuum increase home value?
Central vacuums do not add a significant dollar amount to a home’s value, but they increase its salability by making it more attractive to buyers.
- How long does a central vacuum last?
When well-maintained, a central vacuum can last decades.
- How much does it cost to install a ducted vacuum?
Costs range from $800 to $3,500, depending on system type, installation, and size.
- How does a ducted vacuum work?
A large vacuum is installed in the basement or garage and connected via PVC pipes to strategically placed outlets. Plugging the hose into an outlet activates the vacuum, providing suction through the pipes to the hose.