In response to the question you posted to *** ****'s site. > Can't find much information anywhere on central > vacuums systems. Are they better than regular > vacuums? where do you find info on them? Who makes > good systems and who doesn't? What do they cost?
I installed a central vacuum about 6-months ago. I picked-up the power unit from e-Bay, but purchased all the other stuff from a place out of Mass., called Galaxie (http://www.galaxie-vac.com/) - their prices were good, and great customer service. I think there's been a few other posts on this board about Galaxie, so do a browser search for 'central vac' and you might find more.
Are they better - in terms of suction, YOU BET! If you continue with a good power brush, it'll literally pull your socks off!
Where to find info - I live in the Chicago area, and had no trouble finding places that install central vacuums. Again, check out Galaxie for more info.
Who makes good systems - When I talked to Galaxie, they commented that there's really only a couple different manufactures (sp? - it's early Monday morning), and one system is pretty much the same as the next. Some things to consider, are noise (probably the less expensive, the noisier), power (there are different sizes depending on the number of outlets), reliability (if you're in the middle of nowhere, you probably want to stick with a name brand, so repair/parts are easier to come by), and how easy it is to install - this is more of a general question.
If you are installing in a ranch style home, with easy access from the basement, it's really pretty easy to install. If you've got a 2-story, with finished basement, it's a totally different story. Installation is similar to plumbing, with a little less worry about gravity (the motor does the work). The hose length is usually around 30' - so measure out your home, and pick a corner, then use a 30' piece of string to determine the number of outlets. I've got a 4000 sq.ft., 2 story home with full basement. I installed 2 outlets on the first floor, and one each on the second and basement levels. I also have one of those baseboard vents that BobF mentioned - really neat and VERY handy (especially in a kitchen or mud-room).
Ditto also what BobF said about carrying around the canister. But also think about where you're going to store the hose (30 feet of vacuum hose) and power brush. Ours sits on a garden-hose hanger in the mud room.
My take. I'd probably do it again - we have some allergies in our family, and this vents all the dirt outside. It's also powerful, quiet, and convienent. I also ran an outlet to my workbench, and use it to clean-up that area as well. But, you've still got to lug around and store the hose.
Call Galaxie, or look in your yellow pages. It'll cost you a least $300, so spend your time evaluating this investment.