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Understanding Portable Carpet Cleaning Machine Motors & Terminology

rob allen

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A lot of you may not know it but I owned a string of vacuum cleaners stores years back. Here is a list of portable motor terms explained. Since portable carpet cleaning machines use the same motors that a vacuum cleaner does,then this information in the vacuum industry should halp ones understand that a lot more goes into making a portable carpet cleaning machine than meets the eye. It also helps one to determine what and how to measure a unit to see which ones are more powerful or suited for their needs.

In a vacuum motor, the rotating fans force outside air in through an opening on the bottom of the shell. The pictured motor has two fan stages - their is one seam separating two metal plates on the shell of the motor. The diameter of this motor is referred to as 5.7", or the width of the shell. (see pic below)

The components above the rotating fans perform the function of getting electricity to spin the armature which then spins the fans.

The exhaust on this motor is peripheral - it comes out the holes above the shell. Other motors have tangential or what looks like a horned exhaust.

Measuring Suction;
Vacuum "pressure" is measured without any air flowing through it. A completely sealed vacuum measures the power or force of the pull and is usually done by lifting water up a column and measuring how far inches the water is taken up.. This is called waterlift. The other measurement is CFM or cubic feet per minute of air and this measures how much air the vacuum moves without resistance - the opposite of a sealed vacuum. These are the two key measurements and both must be present in a good relation to have a satisfactory vacuum. The AirWatts measurement is a formula using waterlift and CFM. (For more info see the alphabetical terminology below pic)

5.7 Motor Cut a Way




VACUUM (Water Lift)
Inches of water lift. (Usually given at 0" air opening).

A vacuum's ability to lift is a valid measurement. In fact, it is called vacuum, or water lift. See how strong a vacuum can be by simply swallowing the air out of a two liter plastic soda bottle. That is actually about all it takes to lift a bowling ball!

The suction capacity of a vacuum system is not the key to effective vacuum. The real key is how much air the vacuum moves and how fast it moves it (see CFM below). Water lift becomes somewhat important when the air opening size is smaller - for example in air driven brushes, because the strength of the suction keeps the air turbine spinning when tension increases.

Water lift measurements will fluctuate based on the actual amount of voltage the motor is receiving, the altitude, air temperature, and the barometric pressure.

CFM (Air Flow)
Cubic Feet (of air) per Minute. (Usually give at 2" air opening).

Wonder why that pebble won't vacuum up but stays rattling in the end of your vacuum wand? Basically, without sufficient air moving around it, it's going no where. Even a feather won't budge without any air moving past it. Therefore, CFM (air flow) is crucial for deep carpet cleaning. CFM becomes more important as the air opening size gets larger. You can feel the air rushing in to a straw when you inhale, but you wouldn't feel a thing if you put your mouth around a two inch pipe and inhale.

AIR FLOW CALCULATION:
CFM = 13.35 d² (square root) VAC in H 2 O"

Need: d - Diameter of orifice plate
vac - Inches of water lift
* Vacuum must be corrected before being put into equation. To correct - temperature and barometric pressure must be accounted for.
AIRFLOW


AIR PRESSURE
The air around us constantly exerts a pressure of about 400 inches of water. That means that every exposed surface has the equivalent of 400 inches of water pushing on the surface. A vacuum cleaner doesn't actually create a vacuum, but it does lower air pressure inside the vacuum unit. Since the outside air is at normal pressure it rushes inward in a controlled airflow which creates the cleaning effect.

AIR WATTS:
"Cleanability Rating"


CFM x VACUUM (Water Lift) / 8.5

Note: Both the CFM and the Waterlift must be measured at the same air opening size. When a vacuum is operating, the narrowest opening must be determined. Using the motor manufacture's chart, find the CFM and Waterlift measurements for that orifice.

AMPS
Current draw of the motor.
Amperage current draw of electricity required to operate the vacuum motor. A motor that uses more electrical current does not always mean the current is being used more efficiently.

ARMATURE
The center part of the motor which rotates making the transfer of electricity across the motor, enabling the motor shaft to spin. A quality armature is mounted on ball bearings, and protected from incoming vacuum air that has been heated and dirtied. Cutaway of motor.

BYPASS COOLING
For vacuum cleaners,a separate stream of air cools the motor, different from the air that draws in dirt from the home. Air being vacuumed does not actually flow through the electrical components of the motor. Normally these motors have a separate fan to provide cooling air to the motor.

CONVERSION OF WATTS TO AMPS
The conversion of Watts to Amps is governed by the equation Amps = Watts / Volts. So if a motor draws 2000 watts at 120 volts it will pull 16.66 amps. And if you know the Amps and volts you can multiply them to get the watts.


FAN (and fan stages)
The fan is the combination of blades that spin around to create the airflow to produce the vacuuming action. Fans are flat impellers, and are combined in a set of two or three fans on each motor, depending on the model. A motor with two fans is called "two-stage"; if it has three fans it's "three-stage". Each fan - set of blades - increases the sealed vacuum, or maximum air pressure drawn through the system. Additional sets of fans will change the air flow dynamics, adding fans will increase waterlift and decrease CFM. Air driven power brushes work better with a motor with more fan stages, whereas electric brushes operate better with less fan stages.


HORSEPOWER
a) Peak Horsepower (PHP): Maximum instantaneous horsepower capabilities of a motor (most frequently used but very deceptive).
b) Input HP: Maximum watts divided by 746.
c) Operating HP: Watts at operating point divided by 746.

MAXIMUM AIR WATTS
This is recognized by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM) as the best way to measure the actual cleaning power of a vacuum system. Most manufactures provide statistics for the maximum air watts that may not be the actual amount produced under the conditions most often used. Make sure you know the opening size of the attachment most often used and then find the vacuum's air watts at that exact opening size.

MOTOR SPEED
Measured in revolutions per minute (RPM). Higher RPM motors may not last as long.

OVERALL EFFICIENCY
"Measure of Fan Efficiency"

Air Watts / Input Watts

ORIFICE (Air Opening)
Simulation of restrictions (impedance) in a cleaner system.

OPERATING ORIFICE
Restriction typical of operating conditions.


RESTRICTIONS
Hose, wands, filters, carpet, water, foam, voltage fluctuation (anything which impedes airflow)

SEALED BEARINGS
Often used in high quality motors to prevent dust and debris from entering the motor bearing area.

SEALED VACUUM GAUGE
A device to measure maximum vacuum or water lift by sealing off the vacuum intake port. It measures in "Inches of Waterlift". This is not for picking up water but a means of comparing lifting abilities of a solid column of water.

SOFT START
An electronic means of slowly starting vacuum motors to reduce initial in-rush voltage spikes. It starts the motor at a slower voltage, slowly ramping up to operation voltage. No tests by Ametek or any other agency have ever produced any quantifiable measurement of this extending any motor's life. It does however; allow the manufacturer to utilize a smaller capacity of relay which is less expensive.

STANDARD CONDITIONS
120 volts, 60 Hz., corrected to standard conditions of 29.92 barometric pressure and 68º F.


THRU-FLOW MOTOR
In some less-expensive motors, the air drawn from the home flows right through the motor to cool it. Unfortunately this air is laden with the dust from the home which dirties and contaminates the motor. This air is also warmed by friction as it moves through hoses and piping, and is substantially warmer so it is less able to cool the motor. Thru-flow motors will overheat if they are run for long periods of time without adequate air flowing through the system.

VOLTAGE (Volts)
A measure of the electrical potential employed by a vacuum motor. Typically, motors require common household current; 110-120 volts in North America; 240 volts in other parts of the world. Voltage is to electricity as pressure is to water, a measure of potential or driving force.

WATTS
Electrical power consumption of the motor.

WATERLIFT
See Vacuum (first definition).
 

Lefty724

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Thanks Rob! I am even more confused now than I was before I read this thread!

Really, thanks for posting this..... A little off topic but after all the vacuum stores, which is you're favorite vacuum for our (pcc's) kind of use? Thanks again!
 

grimel

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VACUUM (Water Lift)
Inches of water lift. (Usually given at 0" air opening).

A vacuum's ability to lift is a valid measurement. In fact, it is called vacuum, or water lift. See how strong a vacuum can be by simply swallowing the air out of a two liter plastic soda bottle. That is actually about all it takes to lift a bowling ball!

The suction capacity of a vacuum system is not the key to effective vacuum. [/B]The real key is how much air the vacuum moves and how fast it moves it (see CFM below). Water lift becomes somewhat important when the air opening size is smaller - for example in air driven brushes, because the strength of the suction keeps the air turbine spinning when tension increases.

CFM (Air Flow)
Cubic Feet (of air) per Minute. (Usually give at 2" air opening).

Wonder why that pebble won't vacuum up but stays rattling in the end of your vacuum wand? Basically, without sufficient air moving around it, it's going no where. Even a feather won't budge without any air moving past it. Therefore, CFM (air flow) is crucial for deep carpet cleaning. CFM becomes more important as the air opening size gets larger. You can feel the air rushing in to a straw when you inhale, but you wouldn't feel a thing if you put your mouth around a two inch pipe and inhale.

Note: Both the CFM and the Waterlift must be measured at the same air opening size.



As this reads, CFM is the important part of cleaning not lift, thus, once a minimum lift (and that appears to be a low amount) is reached we need to look for the max airflow.

If that is an accurate statement, what is the minimum lift and why is everyone so enthralled with raising that number and keeping the flow low?
 

Larry Cobb

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George;

CFM is important ....

but in carpet cleaning, we are trying to move water into the narrow wand lips with carpet fiber blocking that airflow.

This gives us a small opening (5/8" to 3/4"), which requires HIGH LIFT to generate that CFM.

Whoever generates the highest LIFT at the wand lips, will extract the most water from the carpet.

Air watts is the best guage of vac motor performance.

Manufacturers have been bringing out new vac motors with higher air watts ...
and better efficiency.

Larry
 

mclyburn1

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George;

CFM is important ....

but in carpet cleaning, we are trying to move water into the narrow wand lips with carpet fiber blocking that airflow.

This gives us a small opening (5/8" to 3/4"), which requires HIGH LIFT to generate that CFM.

Whoever generates the highest LIFT at the wand lips, will extract the most water from the carpet.

Air watts is the best guage of vac motor performance.

Manufacturers have been bringing out new vac motors with higher air watts ...
and better efficiency.

Larry


So when looking for new equipment we should look at both the CFM and the lift? What is the standard number for both?
 

MasterSteamClean

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So when looking for new equipment we should look at both the CFM and the lift? What is the standard number for both?
That Is a Good Question. If you are running distance you want both, but cant hav it all. It seems 10-11 hg and 200 - 230 cfm for 100 ft runs, 22 hg is for 15-25 ft at 100 cfm

Im one to go to the limits , my new project is 16 hg 330 cfm.
 

mclyburn1

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That Is a Good Question. If you are running distance you want both, but cant hav it all. It seems 10-11 hg and 200 - 230 cfm for 100 ft runs, 22 hg is for 15-25 ft at 100 cfm

Im one to go to the limits , my new project is 16 hg 330 cfm.
Another silly question from the rookie. If looking at cfm and hg, are we to know what the run is?
 

Larry Cobb

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Ask the machine manufacturer for AirWatt specs.

If he doesn't know what that is ...,

I would move on to another manufacturer.

Larry
 
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MasterSteamClean

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Marion, the average portable is around 8-10 hg this is water lift 130 lift is average on a portable with 197-200 cfm. Example most truckmounts are 15 hg-16 215 water lift and 350-500 plus.

Cfm is needed for distance hope this helps
 

Jan Sullins

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From my experience in cleaning carpet it is CFM that will determine my lift not the other way around. The vacuum motors must have sufficient lift but as I have stated many times just because you lift at static is 200"H2O doesn't mean you will even have half of that
with the wand on the carpet while you are jetting in solution and picking it back up. Since most portables that have 200 inches of
H2O lift only have 100 CFM it will not have as much lift while in the carpet cleaning mode as the extractor with 120 inches of H2O
lift and have 200 CFM.
My first truckmount (gasoline operated) was a Prochem Cub XL which used a 16HP V Twin and turned a Sutorbilt 3MVL vacuum blower at 3275 rpm and had the relief valve set at 14 HG. A great little unit that I loved very much . When I became a distributor
for Prochem I needed something for demo as well as for my service buisiness. So I got a Prochem Legend . It had a Kohler 18HP
V Twin turning a 3LVL Sutorbilt vacuum blower with it's vacuum relief set at 12HG also the rpms were 3050. The difference in
horsepower was not very important but the difference in the blowers was incredible. Both number 3 but one was for more CFM.
As best I remember the CubXL was cleaning at 10HG with around 160 CFM while the Legend even though at a lesser rpm was
cleaning right at 12HG and 250 CFM. Both really did a great job but the Legend could do the larger commercial jobs faster as I
could put up to 350 feet with no trouble whereas the CubXL was maxed out at 200-250 feet.
It works to some extent the same way with portables. At the wand where it is meeting the carpet where jetted solution is going on the faster velocity and more cubic feet of air per minute flowing there is going to create more lift at that point.
 

kevenlee

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Hi Rob,

Thanks a lot for such a nice post, this is really very helpful for me. I am planing to start a new company and this can help me more to sell protable carpet cleaning machine. Now i can explain each and evry thing related to carpet cleaning machine. Thanks again.
 

John Cable

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Which is more important depends on whether you have a truck mount or a portable.

CFM is essentially the amount of power that the vacuum motor has to create a vacuum. Once the vacuum is created, it's all about water lift.

Waterlift is exactly what it says. It's the ability of the vacuum to suck water out of the carpet once the vacuum is created (see CFM above).

More simply, if you have a 250 foot hose run, you need a CFM of at least 250 in order to clear the air from the hose and create your vacuum which will then produce the rated water lift for removing the water from the carpet. If your CFM is less than your hose run you will lose some of your water lift capability.

Once you have a sufficient CFM to cover your hose run, you should be all about focusing on the water lift which is what is really removing the water from the carpet. That is also why CFM is significantly less important for portables, because they use much less hose.

It's all about water lift as long as your CFM is sufficient to cover your hose run.
 

rob allen

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From my experience in cleaning carpet it is CFM that will determine my lift not the other way around. The vacuum motors must have sufficient lift but as I have stated many times just because you lift at static is 200"H2O doesn't mean you will even have half of that
with the wand on the carpet while you are jetting in solution and picking it back up. Since most portables that have 200 inches of
H2O lift only have 100 CFM it will not have as much lift while in the carpet cleaning mode as the extractor with 120 inches of H2O
lift and have 200 CFM.
My first truckmount (gasoline operated) was a Prochem Cub XL which used a 16HP V Twin and turned a Sutorbilt 3MVL vacuum blower at 3275 rpm and had the relief valve set at 14 HG. A great little unit that I loved very much . When I became a distributor
for Prochem I needed something for demo as well as for my service buisiness. So I got a Prochem Legend . It had a Kohler 18HP
V Twin turning a 3LVL Sutorbilt vacuum blower with it's vacuum relief set at 12HG also the rpms were 3050. The difference in
horsepower was not very important but the difference in the blowers was incredible. Both number 3 but one was for more CFM.
As best I remember the CubXL was cleaning at 10HG with around 160 CFM while the Legend even though at a lesser rpm was
cleaning right at 12HG and 250 CFM. Both really did a great job but the Legend could do the larger commercial jobs faster as I
could put up to 350 feet with no trouble whereas the CubXL was maxed out at 200-250 feet.
It works to some extent the same way with portables. At the wand where it is meeting the carpet where jetted solution is going on the faster velocity and more cubic feet of air per minute flowing there is going to create more lift at that point.
Good post Jan.
 

Braycooper123

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Portable carpet cleaning machines are used to clean the carpets. These are helpful to take out the dust particles which cant be easily come out off the carpet. Portable carpet cleaning machines are become very important in todays carpet cleaning industry. Here are few advantages off portable carpet
cleaning machines, and these are:-
1. Lower operating cost.
2. Lower equipments cost.
3. Less down time.
4. Easier storage.
5. Waste water.