Just in time for this year’s BF, I come out with a nice talk about a certain breed of vacuum cleaners. I don’t know if many of you know this, but vacuum cleaners have been with mankind since 1900s. These appliances revolutionized the cleaning process. The first vacuum cleaners used an air pump to create a partial vacuum, therefore, sucking up debris and dirt of the floors. The filth was gathered into bags before being disposed, and the rest of the air was liberated back into the working space, carrying with it small dust particles, allergens, and so on. With time, this part was roughly redesigned, and all sorts of filters were invented. A few decades ago, a new approach to this problem was taken, as some manufacturers started to use water for filtration purposes. This idea of using water to discard debris and dirt is interesting and compelling. The water filter compel gusts of air to pass through water before they are exhausted. And, by so doing, dust cannot spread back into the air, because it gets stuck onto the water particles, thanks to the Lorentz force. Basically, the water has a high adhesion level, and is sticky enough capture all these airborne particles. Soon after the wonderful innovation was made public in the 1930s, the medical community hailed the product as a breakthrough product since it helped to eliminate airborne dust particles. It was also beneficial for hay-fever and allergy sufferers. It seemed like the next step in the evolution of vacuum cleaners. So why aren’t today’s vacs all using this tech? Read on, you’ll find out soon enough.
This article endeavors to outline both the advantages and the disadvantages of vacuum cleaners which use water filtration. To reach this objective, I’ve been supplied with a Quantum Vac, one of the most recent vacuum cleaners of this type. I will also compare this unit with the established Rainbow System E2 (which I’ve reviewed a while ago), trying to emphasize the differences in construction and in the working mechanism.
Trivia: The Quantum Vac has almost the same nomenclature with the “quantum vacuum” plasma thruster. The latter represents a theory in spacecraft motors, according to which mankind could build a motor which could work without carrying it’s own propellant. Read more about it on Wiki.
Now, back to our business, here’s what you’ll learn from me today:
- what are the goods and the bads of using water filtration in vacuum cleaners
- how good is the Quantum Vac, compared to the Rainbow System
- where you can get a good deal for the Quantum Vac
A typical water filter vacuum cleaner comprises a vacuum body having a suction assembly and a dust chamber. The dust chamber has a dust collector assembly, and the dust collector assembly features an upper cap and a dust collection seat. The dust collection seat has two compartments: an airflow chamber and a filter chamber with water. An airflow duct connects the two chambers to each other.
Formerly known as the H2O WindForce Vacuum, the Quantum Vac features a red slick appearance, compared with the more traditional gray of the Rainbow system. Quantum has 4 wheels, Rainbow has 5. Both have a rubber band in the lower part of the caddy, which keeps your units and your furniture protected. Here are some pics from my recent photo session with the Quantum:
and here are the video highlights:
The working principle in both the Quantum Vac and the Rainbow System is the same. In a typical vacuum cleaner, the suction assembly produces an airflow which draws dust particles into the airflow chamber, and then into the filter chamber. In water-based filtration vacuums, the water in the filter chamber sticks to the dust and airborne particles, as discussed previously. Water, due to its higher density than air, remains in the filter chamber as the air, purified of the dirt and debris from the floor, is released back into the airflow that is discharged back to the room through the vacuum cleaner’s outlet. You are mistaken if you think the water filtration vacuum cleaner only removes dirt and debris: it also sucks up mold, bacteria, pollen, germs as well as any pungent odor.
Come to think of it, this appliance isn’t very different from a regular dry vacuum cleaner. The only difference is that this one uses water for its cleaning operation. It is noteworthy that vacs with water filters, unlike most dry vacuum cleaners, can be used on both dry and wet messes, and, they do not feature bags that require replacing. All the owner has to do, once he has completed the cleaning process, is to get rid the dirty water by pouring it out.
It is hard to compare the suction force of 2 different vacuum cleaners, as both manufacturers don’t offer clear values. For starters, it is well known that vacuum cleaners with water filtration generally feature a high suction power. After some investigations and a bunch of testing, I’ve found that the latest Rainbow E2 Black Series, featuring their latest Huricane brushless motor, produces around 100 CFM. This shouldn’t resolve to 1200 AW (which is humongous); I estimate the suction measurement for the E2 to be around 300 AW. After also heuristically measuring the Quantum Vac, I’ve found this unit to produce a similar suction power. There is a completely different talk about the airflow, considering that vacuum cleaners with water filtration don’t really lose this. Moreover, there are a few differences between the Quantum and the Rainbow at the nozzle level (check out the image below), but overall, in my opinion, both units have a similar cleaning efficiency.
The Quantum vac needs 850 Watts to work, as opposed to the more “needy” Rainbow, which works with 1150.
Water filtration vacuum cleaners come with certain advantages:
+ They can freshen the air while you clean
Look around, there is virtually no other cleaning tool that can pride itself to cleaning and purify the air while in use. It is important to have a clean and fresh-smelling home, – water-based vacuum cleaners can give you just that. Moreover, many of these units (including the Quantum Vacuum cleaner) can operate independently as air purifiers. Usually these electrical appliances have to speed settings, one for purifying the air and one for vacuuming.
As such, one major role of such an appliance may be e.g. in your kitchen, when you cook foods that possess strong odors. Instead of using smoky incenses and messy sprays, just run the vacuum cleaner and the room will quickly get fresher. It is also possible to use aromatic fragrances with some water-based vacuum cleaners (e.g. Rainbow/Rexair comes with its very own set of aromas). This function permits to fragrance or freshen each room, within a few minutes, while you continue to do the cleaning.
+ They are ideal for people who suffer from allergies
One of the biggest reasons why water-based vacuum cleaners are popular is thanks to the fact they are ideal for people who suffer from allergies or asthma. And that is why virtually all manufacturers of vacuum cleaners of this kind claim that the use of water for filtration makes these machines superior to other vacuum cleaners. People generally believe that water filtration based vacuum cleaners possess an efficiency rate of 100%. That’s not exactly true. You see, most of these units, although they use water as their primary filter, still have installed other types of filters. Quantum vac clearly differentiates from these, as there are no additional filters to cleaner. Moreover, it employs the so called “Micro Silver Technology”, meaning that the airflow passes through a series of silver plated parts which help destroy airborne bacteria.
However, like every other thing out there, the filtration process of water vacuum cleaners has some drawbacks:
– The emptying
You need to empty the product each time you use it. Not to convening for quick picks, where in most cases, you don’t even need filtration.
– The water/electricity mix
This is rather an universal drawback, but the idea remains: a Ultra HEPA filter from e.g. Miele does a very similar job. You just need to change it very 6 to 12 months.
Water vacuums are popular in part thanks to their cleaning flexibility. This flexibility comes from the high number of attachments and products they have. Being in many cases expensive, their manufacturers afforded to include in the package lots of accessories. The Quantum vac comes with almost any accessory we can see in on the Rainbow System:
- the caddy
- the upholstery brush
- the dusting brush
- the inflater tool
- the crevice tool
- the water basin cleaning brush
- the separator cleaning brush
I guess you can add to these the electric/non-electric wands and hoses. Optionally, you can purchase the Mini-Power Head, which is great for sofas and armchairs. Rainbow on the other hand, has available as additional purchases the proprietary fragrances (Violet, Orange, Siberian Pine, Eucalyptus, Mulberry, Apple Blossom, Lemon, Spice, Gardenia, or Vanilla – personally, I like the lemon and the Apple) and a refrigerator coil cleaner to help clean behind your fridge and under the washing machine. Rainbow also has a suite of interesting accessories:
- Rainmate – separate device which acts as an air humidifier.
- AquaMate – transforms the system into a carpet cleaner
- RainJet – good for tiles and linoleum
- MiniJet – good for cleaning upholstery
- JetPad – an extra wide hard floor mop tool
- RainbowMate – good for carpeted stairways, mattresses and car interiors
- RainbowMate IL – scent generator
Leaving aside the financial factor (all these extras cost a lot), Rainbow clearly outranks the Quantum at this chapter.
Quantum comes with a 100 oz tank. The standard tank from the E2 can accommodate 80 oz. However, it can be extended to 160 oz if you buy separately the XL tank. Both are easy to replace, empty and clean. The materials are well chosen in both products. I don’t think you can easily crack these parts.
Quantum Vac measures 10 x 10 x 16 and weights 18 lbs, while the Rainbow has a more atypical form with its 5 wheels, measuring 15.5 x 11.8 x 15.8 and weighting 19 lbs. The weight should count too much, since you will be dragging it, not lifting it.
Quantum has a 5-year warranty, Rainbow has 4 years (8 for the motor).
Both nozzles have a 12″ clearance. Quantum’s power cord is 20 ft long; Rainbow’s is 24 ft. Anyway, both are detachable, and thus, replaceable. What I like about both is their versatility. This type of products can really tackle most cleaning needs. If you want to just vacuum, you got it. If you are dealing with stubborn stains, there are specially formulated extras which you can use with these appliances, to remove dirt without the need for harsh chemicals or heavy scrubbing. If you need to clean up your car, you got it. If you need to reach above the drapes, under your couch, inside a crevice or behind your fridge – no problem, there is an attachment for anything. The parts snap together like magic. Another common point is that the caddy can store a few tools on-board. Both nozzle have LED lights. Basically, there are minor differences between these 2 products at this chapter. Perhaps the most important one is that you can reach a little bit lower under furniture with the Quantum (you can vacuum under furniture just 4″ high). The attachments listed above may come with the appliance, but in some cases you will have to purchase them separately, and usability depends on this. My recommendation is to always understand exactly what is in the package, prior to making the purchase. Anyways, it is trivial that these units give users far more flexibility than conventional uprights.
I was speaking about the advantages of water vacuums cleaners a few paragraphs above, and I find this the perfect spot to add some more:
+ They are durable
Water-based vacuum cleaners are a “little” bit more expensive – but for a good reason: their durability. High-tech water filtration vacuum cleaners can set you back up to $2500, which is a really high price for such an appliance. The cheapest ranges between $500-$600 dollars. When compared to air vacuum units, the water based vacuum cleaners are expensive. But they cost that much because they are built to last. As a matter a fact, many are only available in the US. Cheap vacuums usually break and get damaged easily or they tend to malfunction or die within a few years of use. Because of that, they end up costing you more money, since you need to replace or repair them often. Instead of wasting bucks on repairs and replacements, many folks now opt to go for the high-end models, especially these water-based vacuum cleaners, which will cost a lot but last for eons.
+ They are environmentally friendly
For some of my friends, this is a decisive factor.
Some usability drawbacks of any water-based cleaning vacs include:
– Replacing Water
One of the foremost issues with this type of vacuum cleaners is the fact that since they rely on water, the water needs to be replaced continually. Because the filtering of dust from the air flow always relies on water pressure, the water gets dirty and makes the system to work inefficiently and ineffectively. Some studies have even shown that opening the filtration compartment when you want to replace the water allows some of the bacteria collected from the airflow to be released back to the breathable air, and that countervails the whole point of having a 100% filtration efficiency rate. In fact, some pundits have suggested that HEPA filters are, in the long run, more efficient and more effective in the cleansing of the air.
– They are heavy and large
One of the criticisms of water-based vacuum cleaners is that they are inordinately large and heavy, thus, cumbersome to move around, unsuitable for small homes. The water in the cleaner tank weighs more than some anticipate. Also, lifting the tray full with dirty water and discarding it requires a certain degree of strength. Children, senior citizens and people with disabilities, therefore, find these appliances cumbersome and in some cases, cannot use them. That being said, both the Quantum and the E2 Black series are comparatively compact, powerful, lightweight and popular once again.
– They are expensive
Another drawback of these appliances is that they are deemed to be very expensive. Standard vacuum cleaners retail at a much lower cost. The price is over the top for most families. But let me come in and help you with this problem:
The Quantum vac can be tested for free for the first 14 days of use, and then it costs around $500. Rainbow E2 on the other hand, can set you back even $2500. Prices may vary, but if you are interested in the Quantum, make sure you check out this deal.
Final words and VGMw
I was pleasantly surprised by the Quantum Vac, and I warmly recommend it, especially if you don’t need all the extra funky accessories Rainbow has to offer. Great suction power, quality materials, lots of attachments, a large warranty and an unbeatable price/quality ratio, that’s what Quantum brings to the table. After drawing the line, Quantum comes in front of the Rainbow, on many sections. Here’s my VGMw for this vacuum:
VGM table for Quantum Vac
|Weight and Dimensions||8|
(VacuumsGuide.com Mark for water filtration vacuums)
I hope you’ve found above something new to think about. If you have any questions, please place them below.