The Problem with Bagless Vacuums

Feb 25, 2019

The Problem with Bagless Vacuums

 

When the team of Vacuum Experts and Engineers at Prolux decided to invent the world's first bagless backpack vacuum we had no idea that we would also have to reinvent bagless technology as well.

Our Story

Three years ago, the team of Prolux Vacuum Experts and Engineers who work in the R&D department decided to invent the world's first bagless backpack vacuum. Why a Bagless Backpack Vacuum you may ask.

We are glad you asked, here a just a few of the many benefits of the bagless vac:

  • Backpack Vacuums can vacuum the same surface twice as fast as an upright.
  • Bagless Backpack Vacuum can vacuum hardwood, tile, carpet, floor edges, stairs, and under furniture without having to change any tools. Just turn them on and go.
  • Most large businesses use a backpack vacuum and all backpack vacuums to date use bags which are very expensive. By creating the world's FIRST bagless backpack vacuum we would be saving these companies thousands of dollars.

 

Our next goal with this project is to make the Bagless Backpack vacuum 30% more powerful than the bagless uprights but half the weight. We knew that professional cleaners already knew how awesome they were, but we wanted to make a product so powerful and so light that when home owners tried them and found out how easy they were to use that they would want them as well.

We started out with the idea of providing great cleaning systems for not only businesses but for every day house cleaners and 1 year later we had invented the world's FIRST bagless backpack vacuum. See picture below. Not a bad little unit and we had created a lightweight backpack vacuum that never uses bags and saves people lots of money.

 

 

THEN WE RAN INTO A PROBLEM.............

You see we have this weird culture here at Prolux. We believe when we release a new product that it has to be absolutely perfect and we are kind of crazy about it. Our company philosophy at Prolux is that we don't dump money into advertising but instead we put almost all our money into R&D and making great product. Our thinking is that the rules of retail have changed. We call it "The Amazon Effect" and basically it is that customers will buy an unknown brands product OVER a known brand if the reviews are better.

For example let's say we (Prolux) and the brand Shark came out with a similar product. If our Amazon reviews were 4.9 and Dyson's (or whatever brand) was 3.9 that customers would buy the Prolux brand with the better reviews OVER the known brand. So here at Prolux you won't catch us advertising how cool our brand is but you will catch us putting a lot of money into R&D and making our product great.

So before we release a product to the market it has to pass a series of tests :)

One of the tests is vacuuming up stuff that normally destroys other vacuums. We know some warehouses locally that have bought some of our commercial vacuums (normal vacuums don't last 10 minutes in these places). These places have screws, wires, and pieces of metal, dust, thread, sand, and gravel. It's extreme vacuuming.

So we took the bagless backpack prototype and ran it through the worst vacuuming you could imagine. Before we started the bagless backpack was pulling 98 CFM of airflow (really good considering the average bagless vacuum on the market does 70 to 80's). After its rigorous test we tested the bagless backpack vacuum and it only was pulling 25 CFM. 25!!! That was horrible!

When then tested all the other major bagless brands on the market...and had the worse results!

We could not release a product like this on the market! Now to be fair I know that we probably vacuumed up a years worth of cleaning in less than 2 hours but still we were very disappointed. WHY would it do this? We wanted a bagless backpack vacuum that we could JAM to the top with dirt and debris and it would still have enough power to keep on cleaning!

So at the R&D department we believe in doing LIVE testing of USED VACUUMS (Hint Hint Consumer Reports) because most vacuums behave very differently once they have been used for an hour. We don't think vacuum testing should be done in a computer 3D model or on a BRAND NEW vacuum. As a result our R&D department has literally bought and tested nearly every model of vacuum made in the world. So we have done the same thing with bagless vacuums. We bought and tested nearly every model of bagless vacuums and ran it through the same test as we did the bagless backpack and guess what THEY PERFORMED EVEN WORSE! After running other bagless vacuums through our rigorous test, we then tested their CFM power and they were even worse! After testing and tearing apart and studying the design of nearly 100 different bagless vacuums we came to the following conclusion.

ALL CURRENT BAGLESS VACUUM TECHNOLOGY IS FLAWED!

They all have the same problem. OK in a nutshell this is what is wrong. They work great on larger dirt and debris but it's the small lightweight material that does them in (you know the stuff that causes allergies). This small material passes right through all the "centrifugal force" and "100 times the force of gravity" and "vibrating cones" and lodges right into the filters.

These filters are deep inside the vacuum where most users cannot see or get to. The power of the vacuum begins to decrease and cleans worse and worse. The brushroll then grinds the dirt and sand deep into your carpet where you can't see it.

TEST - Try this test for example. Go to your local big box store and buy 2 brand new bagless vacuums of your choice. Leave one in the box and put it away. Take the other one out and begin to use it as your daily vacuum. Then wait 1 year (or 6 months it's up to you) and take your vacuum you have been using all year and vacuum as much as you want through your entire house. Then go and break out the brand new model you have never used and vacuum your house again (remember it's supposed to be clean as you just vacuumed it). You WILL be shocked at how much dirt your 1 year old vacuum left behind! The reason is that your 1 year old vacuum has dirt in all its filters. No problem you say I will just replace all the filters. OK is that what you really want? Do you know how expensive it will be to replace all of your filters every 6 months? 

SPOILER ALERT STORY - I hate spoil alerts, and if my dear wife is reading this just so you know I am still bitter how you spoiled 6th Sense for me :) LOL.  So at the bottom of this article is a story of when the CEO of Shark came by our booth and saw our bagless vacuum.   Its a great story so don't forget to read it :)

Below is an actual filter removed from a Dyson vacuum. If you look close you can see the filter is totally full of dust, dirt, hair, and small debris that made it through the Dyson filtration system and lodged in the final filter. Not to pick on Dyson as all bagless vacuums have the same problem and it chocked down the power of the vacuum.

So we were depressed :( How could we solve the problem that ALL bagless vacuums have when huge companies with billions in sales could not solve? 

We did not have their budgets. HOWEVER we would pit our vacuum knowledge against any company in the world. We felt that our Vacuum Experts and Engineers in our R&D department know more about vacuum cleaners and design than any company in the world and that if anyone could solve the problem we could. So we decided to tackle it.

If we had known it would have taken 2 more years to finally figure it out we might not have tried it :) Needless to say we were humbled quite a bit when month after month our prototypes failed over and over to improve over current bagless technology. Below is a list of SOME of our tests and prototypes that we came up with but that failed. Keep in mind the problem that all bagless vacuums have is that the suction power of the vacuum is greater than gravity and it sucks all the small dirt into the filters (as shown in the Dyson filter below).

Below is a list of our failed ideas and Prototype's:

Prototype 7 - Our idea here was to make the filter vibrate. If the filter would vibrate then the dust and debris would drop off. By attaching a rod from the motor (that vibrates) to the filter then it could........(It did not work).

Prototype 13 - Create a Chamber above the final filter with floating balls that are picked up by the vacuum suction. When the vacuum turns off the balls fall down and strike the filter knocking off any accumulated debris from the filter.....and no it did not work.

Prototype 17 - We came up with this idea of negative pressure. Which is when the user would turn off the vacuum the vacuum cleaner would reverse its suction power and blow air back against the dirty filter forcing the filter to be clean each time. We abandoned this prototype when we saw the vacuum turn off and a giant puff of dust went into the air :) Bad idea :)

Prototype 20 - Certain filtration companies are advertising a special spray that you can spray on filters that will actually "repel" dust and debris and won't let it stick to the filter. Then when the suction turns off the dirt and debris falls off.........cool idea but didn't work as advertised.

Prototype 28 - Static Electricity. By charging the filter with Static Electricity it could repel the dust away from the filter. We were concerned about shocking the user (and people playing practical jokes on their friends) and it also did not work as the suction power of the vacuum was too great.

Prototype 32 - A cone type filter in an inverted tube. This is where the dust would go up a chamber and down a tube. When it hit the tube it would hit a cone type filter. We passed on this idea because for it to work the user would constantly have to be cleaning the cone filter every couple of weeks. We wanted an idea where users did not have to clean a filter for at least a year. Ironically after we passed on this idea a big brand came out with their new model with this design.

Prototype 37 - Having a slowly turning filter cleaner. We would have to install a separate motor that spun around an arm that wiped the filter clean as it was being used. It did not work because it still did not clean off small dust particles and it added to the cost.

Prototype 43- Create a cork screw design inside a separate chamber that forces the dust to travel up the "screw" as the centrifugal force forced the dust to the outside the dust would strike the chamber and slow down. The problem was the vacuums suction was so strong it did not work (but we were getting close).  This was one of my favorite ideas but still not good enough.

Fun Vacuum Story - Did you remember the Fantom bagless uprights in the late 90's and early 2000's?  That was actually one of James Dyson's failed prototypes.   He had run out of money and sold that design to a competitor who released it in the US.  James then went on and built a better version (he had several more prototypes before he felt satisfied with his invention).  Then he released his final version in the US and put them out of business.  Prototype 43 was that for us (but we never sold the technology).

 

Nearly 2 years went by and we were stumped! No wonder no one else could figure it out.

So my kids actually helped me figure it out :) We went on vacation to Lego Land (my kids love that place). While their we also decided they wanted to take in a day of museums at San Diego. My kids and wife were excited to go to the Aviation Museum and also the Museum of Electricity. At the Museum of Electricity they had a demonstration on static electricity (it's really entertaining if you ever get a chance to see it). They asked for a volunteer to come get electrocuted. Of course my 9 year old son was the first to jump up waving his hands like crazy. So he got picked and the lady was doing all these funny tests with him being shocked by static electricity which he loved. While that was going on I happened to glance over and read a sign. As I recall the sign was on the importance of static electricity. It said something to the effect of

"As particles in nature get smaller and smaller gravity has less of an effect on them and static electricity has more of an effect on them".

I thought how that could apply to our problem but couldn't see how it could help as we had already passed on static electricity not working. I thought it was ironic as how that described the problem exactly.

Current technology is based on gravity separating dirt from air. However "As particles in nature get smaller gravity has less of an effect on them", which is why current bagless vacuums did not work very well. The force of the suction of the motor had more of an effect than gravity.

As I drove home from vacation I thought about this and how "Gravity had less of an effect". Then it hit me, we needed a force OTHER than gravity to separate out the fine dust. I went back to the lab (it was after hours and I was the only one there) and tested some of our failed prototypes and was watching how dirt and air moved. I was struck by something. I noticed in the bagless chamber that the inner tube was very clean and the outside of the chamber was dirty. As I was watching the dirt circulate in the dirt chamber the dirt and dust was forced to the outside. Forced by what? CENTRIFUGAL FORCE. Here was my other force besides gravity I was looking for.

What IF we created a filter on the inside just like that inner chamber and what IF we created a powerful tornado like force that forced all the small dust and debris to the outside of the chamber allowing the clean air to pass through. The point was not to filter out the fine dirt but to MAKE IT AIRBORNE while the air passed through the filter.

The following morning I had a meeting with our engineers with my hand drawn design. They thought my drawing was quite funny but they got the idea.

The following day our engineers came up with this design which we affectionately call "The Vortex Chamber".

 

The purpose of The Vortex Chamber is to 1 - Force air to pass through the filter horizontally (not vertically like nearly all other bagless vacuums). 2 - To spin the air super-fast right before it passed through the final filter, then dust and debris are spun away from the filter and strike the outside of the chamber and drop down. 3- To create a force stronger than the suction of the vacuum. 4 - To create it so that even when small particles get stuck to the filter that a tornado effect creates a SELF CLEANING filter. As the air spins around the filter it actually cleans the dirt off the filter.

This final Vortex Chamber could be jam packed full of dirt and small particles AND still NOT lose any suction power. But would it actually work? Time for Prototype 44 :) Below is what it looked like.....hey don't laugh at me :) It might look funny but I was EXCITED to try it out. So we used a cardboard tube for direct suction and a K&N Air Filter (3x more surface area than a horizontal filter). Don't laugh at me! Yes that's my wife's glass bowl and NO I never told her (it was the perfect size).

Yes it's true a multi-million dollar company uses cardboard, duct tape, a cut down K&N Air Filter, and my wife's glass bowl to build our final prototype. LOL :)

 

So if you look carefully at the images above you will see how in the final chamber we literally vacuumed so much fine dirt and dust in the final chamber that it was literally jam packed around the filter. So here was the moment of truth......time to test the CFM...........drumroll please...........only a 5% drop in power AND even with it packed with dirt and fine dust it had more power than all other bagless vacuums we had tested when they were brand new.

So we took off the bowl to inspect the filter. Now I know that no end user would ever get the filter this dirty and packed with dirt and fine dust but we wanted to test it in a worst case scenario just so we knew the product would be perfect.

If you look at image above (glass bowl) it was so packed full of dirt and dust you could not even see the filter.   However, when we inspected the filter over 80% of the filter was spotless.  Literally our invention and "Vortex Chamber" pushed the dirt and dust AWAY from the filter and kept it clean!

 

This allowed for air to pass through the filter even though this final chamber was packed with fine dirt & dust. No user would ever get it this dirty but even if they did they would only see a 5% drop in cleaning power not a 50% drop like current bagless tech does.

Problem Solved - We had invented Bagless 2.0 tech and the entire old 1.0 current bagless Tech was now obsolete. Users can expect to use the Bagless 2.0 tech 10 months or 10 years and still have the same cleaning power.

So here is our final design of the new Prolux Patent Pending 2.0 tech

You will notice that we made the top clear so the user could view the final filter. To see it in person it looks very cool to see the tornado like action around the final filter. You can actually see the fine dust being forced away from the final filter by centrifugal force. We then designed it so in 60 seconds the user can quickly unsnap the top, clean the filter and put it back on. If the user forgets to clean it ....no Problem as shown in our test above it is designed to be jam packed with dirt and still have plenty of power to vacuum. As shown by the picture below it is totally easy to see the status of your filter.

Spoil Alert Story - OK remember above when I said I had a great story about the CEO of Shark?  OK now I can tell the story :)   So after we invented it we filed all our patents, opened tooling and created our first version (the Prolux 2.0 Bagless model now is much better).  Then we headed off to the famous Home Show in Chicago to release this brand new technology.   

At our booth we had a suction test (see image below) and we hooked up our new 2.0 Bagless Tech and also a Dyson and a Shark (their best models).   Then as people would walk by we would turn on all 3 vacuums at the same time to see which one picked up the most tennis balls.  Needless to say it was impressive and people would stop and come talk to us.   Dyson would pickup about 1.5 balls (meaning the second tennis ball would go about half way up the tube), Shark would pick up about 2 balls, and the new 2.0 tech would pick up 4.

These tests were done with the same amount of dirt in them (we had double the dirt in our 2.0 bagless tech).   People were amazed as while the vacuum was running the 2.0 had this tornado of dirt around the filter (you could not even see the filter) but as soon as we turned off the vacuums the filter was bone white clean (while the filters on the other 2 were not).   

So at our booth I am hanging out with the CEO/Inventor of Blendtec Blenders Tom Dickson (super cool guy).   Come to find out he LOVES vacuum cleaners.   He was telling me about his custom built Central Vacuum with 2 motors (that he built himself) and was telling me that his Blendtec invention was just putting a large vacuum motor on a blender (by the way if you have not seen them check out Blendtec Blenders on Youtube they are awesome).    His factory is just down the road from ours and he is telling me about his new motor factory he was launching (and how we should buy our Vacuum motors from him) when this lady from Dyson comes storming up to our booth.   She is upset and says "you have sabotaged our Dyson somehow!".  She won't let me get a word in (literally not a word) as I try and explain to her about the new tech and she can check out her vacuum if she wants (we did nothing to it besides vacuuming up some dirt).   Then she turns to Tom gives him a big smile and says how much she loves her Blendtec and then storms off.    Tom and I just smiled (because Tom knows a lot about vacuums too).

So then the CEO/Founder of Shark Vacuums walks by and says "What are you doing to my vacuum!".   We explain to him the new tech, show him the problem with current tech and he nods his head  (this is not news to him) and then he shakes our hand and before leaving says "well don't treat my vacuum to bad" and walks off :) LOL.   Actually a really cool guy.    

So this is the story of "The problem with bagless tech and how one company solved it".

 

Our Current 2.0 Models can be seen at https://proluxcleaners.com/collections/backpack-vacuum and are:

Standard Bagless 2.0 1.5 inch Deluxe Attachments-

Standard Bagless 2.0 with Electric Power Nozzle -

1 Hour Battery Backpack Vacuum (world's lightest full powered backpack vacuum)-

Commercial Pro 2.0 with 1.5 inch Commercial Attachments -

Commercial Pro 2.0 with Commercial Electric Power Nozzle - 

 

Questions? Comment with your questions below or send us an email to sales@proluxcleaners.com. You can learn more about this product by going to

https://proluxcleaners.com/collections/backpack-vacuum

 

Thanks Dustin

Prolux, President