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New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W 338

Posted by timothy
from the sucking-power-defined dept.
AmiMoJo writes "New EU rules are limiting vacuum cleaner motors to 1600W from 2014/09/01. The EU summary of the new rules explains that consumers currently equate watts with cleaning power, which is not the case. Manufacturers will be required to put ratings on packaging, including energy efficiency, cleaning efficiency on hard and carpeted floors, and dust emissions from the exhaust. In the EU vacuum cleaners use more energy than the whole of Denmark, and produce more emissions than dishwashers and washing machines."
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New EU Rules Will Limit Vacuum Cleaners To 1600W

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  • Do the math (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday August 23, 2014 @02:54AM (#47735267)

    1600W is about two horse powers, and if you think you can keep a house clean with two horses running though it, I have a barn to sell you.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CaptnZilog (33073)

      1600W at US/120V standard is 13.33Amps.
      Most standard house circuits are 15A (maybe 20A, above that it's the special 240V/30A+ outlets for stove, dryer, etc).
      Add a couple of 100W incandescent bulbs on in the room and you'd be popping the breaker turning on your vacuum.

      I know it's Europe, but who TF would want/need more power than that for a F'in vacuum cleaner? I can run an HP color laserjet and 3x 450W power supply pc's, an 8-drive NAS box, plus a Cisco switch, router, light, and a 50W stereo system (all i

      • Re:Do the math (Score:4, Informative)

        by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @04:07AM (#47735323) Homepage

        In the EU, 240V outlets are the standard not anything special. Generally appliances (at least in the UK) have up to a 13A fuse in them, and you may have a higher capacity hard wired circuit for the stove (the dryer is almost always just plugged into a standard wall outlet).

        • Re:Do the math (Score:5, Informative)

          by dunkelfalke (91624) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @04:35AM (#47735341)

          In the EU 230V outlets are standard (IEC 60038). 240V is UK (as always, they absolutely have to be different from everyone else) and Cyprus (as a former British colony).
          Actually, most of the former EU countries used to have the 220V standard, but it was raised to 230V so it would be more compatible to UK.

          • by 91degrees (207121)
            In the EU, inlcuding the UK, 230V is standard. The tolerances are different though.
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward
            It's actually 230V everywhere in Europe. It used to be 220 with 240 in the UK, so the EU set standards that basically set it to 230 but with enough slop either way that both 220 & 240 were declared within standard. Then they started to slowly harmonise everyone up/down towards 230.
          • Re: Do the math (Score:2, Informative)

            by loufoque (1400831)

            Where do you think UK electricity comes from? They import it from France, and don't bother converting it.

        • Re:Do the math (Score:5, Informative)

          by Teun (17872) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @04:38AM (#47735345) Homepage
          Uh no, since the year 2000 all of the EU, that includes the UK, runs on 230V.

          The UK has not changed it's 13 Amp plugs but the domestic circuits can be up to 40 Amp, on the continent they are typically 16Amp, meaning you can pull up to 3600 Watts.

          There are manufacturers selling 2000-2200 W. vacuum cleaners.

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Actually it's still 240V in the UK. The EU requirement is 230V + 10%, so the UK just stuck with 240V to avoid having to make any changes.

          • by Trepidity (597)

            There are manufacturers selling 2000-2200 W. vacuum cleaners.

            I can't wait for those to be gone. Not because of the energy usage really, but because those monsters are incredibly loud.

            • Re:Do the math (Score:5, Interesting)

              by anarcobra (1551067) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:26AM (#47735475)
              I love them. And I will try to keep getting them. If the problem is that people equate cleaning power with Watts, they should mandate some measurement of cleaning factor instead of maximum power. Then people can determine if they want the 2100 W vacuum cleaner, or the 1600 one with the same cleaning factor. I see what happens at other peoples houses. They have their eco vacuum and the cat hair just stays on the floor if you don't pas over it 10 times. It's the same thing with all their washing machines. In the US washing my clothes takes about 1 hour for washing and 40 minutes for drying. In the EU with all their eco washing machines it takes 2 and half hours for washing clothes (one and a half for quick) and 80 minutes to dry it. Is it more eco-friendly? I'm sure it is. But in return I have to actually plan out when I'm going to wash my clothes because it takes twice as long. Maybe I just have a bad washing machine, but all the ones I've used here are like this.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by dunkelfalke (91624)

                Why do you actually care how much time your washing machine uses? Fill it up, switch it on and do something else during the time.You are not a cat, you don't have to stay and watch it spin. European washing machines take so long because the detergents are much milder.

                • On the Internet, nobody knows that you're a cat.

              • by Trepidity (597)

                Where in the EU are you washing clothes? Most people here (Scandinavia) live in apartment buildings that have a laundry room with industrial-strength washers/dryers, which take only 25-30 minutes to wash.

                • I seriously doubt that most people in the EU live in apartment buildings (or flats.) That certainly wasn't true of the UK when I lived there, or Holland or Germany when I've visited them.
                  • by Zumbs (1241138)
                    In Denmark there are roughly 3 million people living in single family homes and 2 million living in various types of apartment buildings. I'm unsure if the same ratio applies to Finland, Norway and Sweden, or to the rest of EU for that matter. As can be seen, a lot of people are living in apartment buildings that should have access to very efficient laundry rooms. Most city dwellers have laundromats within comfortable walking distance if time was important.
              • by ultranova (717540)

                I love them. And I will try to keep getting them.

                Bragging about driving an overpowered sports car or a pickup might impress someone. Bragging about using an overpowered vacuum cleaner is very unlikely to. It might work as a comedy sketch, though.

                But in return I have to actually plan out when I'm going to wash my clothes because it takes twice as long.

                ...Your point?

            • Re:Do the math (Score:4, Interesting)

              by zephvark (1812804) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:31AM (#47735483)

              There are manufacturers selling 2000-2200 W. vacuum cleaners.

              I can't wait for those to be gone. Not because of the energy usage really, but because those monsters are incredibly loud.

              I might point out that the power of the vacuum cleaner has no relationship to its noise level. The noise is considered a selling point, a feature, because people have this curious tendency to think, "oh yes, that's causing me permanent ear damage, so it must be doing a good job." People conflate noise with power.

              Don't ask about the dust in the corner. I'm protecting my ears. I swear it.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Anonymous Coward

              My 2kW Miele is the quietest vacuum I've ever had, even at full power (which you wouldn't normally use). It about rivals my GPUs with the fans ramped up.

            • by GNious (953874)

              Get a Dyson - it uses less power, but is more efficient at turning that power into loud noise!

          • Uh no, since the year 2000 all of the EU, that includes the UK, runs on 230V.

            Uh no, the standard voltage for mains power across the EU is 230V +/- 10%. The UK runs 240V, and still does. The continent runs 220V, and still does. The standard was picked because of EUs love of standards, but everybody knows that practically 220V=240V so they picked half way inbetween, with a tolerance, and called it a day.

            • by Teun (17872)
              You might be right that the UK (once more) drags it's feet [wikidot.com] to get in line with their neighbours but really, the continent runs on 230V.

              The fable that the continent has also remained on 220 V is only to pacify British feelings of guild, from 1990 onward the EU countries increased their mains voltage in small steps and were done in the year 2000, a little quicker than the original plan that called for 2004.

              Just as much a fable is the story the UK would have incurred great or unacceptable cost for this chan

              • Ah, I didn't know they'd actually changed. Still, if there's no point (and your link says so) then I'm not sure why you would change the voltage just to be nominally at the correct level, in preference to being technically within the allowed limits.

      • by Splab (574204)

        Not sure why you are modded informative, you should be modded ignorant.

        We run at 230v. +/- 10% in Europe, we generally have 10-16A fuses, and no one is selling 100w bulbs any longer.

      • I know it's Europe, but who TF would want/need more power than that for a F'in vacuum cleaner?

        The same people who buy 18,000 watt PMPO stereos. Obviously if it has bigger numbers it's better, so manufacturers oblige them by putting bigger numbers on things.

      • by h5inz (1284916)
        Hey I have a hillbilly-house with 230V and I don't think I have anything but a central breaker which is 64A. Any fun ideas what I could do with that? No.. I have already turned down the "incandescent me" idea.
      • by thegarbz (1787294)

        Most standard house circuits are 15A (maybe 20A, above that it's the special 240V/30A+ outlets for stove, dryer, etc).

        Even in the USA this would seem insanely small. Are you saying your main circuit breaker is only capable of running the maximum load from one power outlet? At 1800W that wouldn't even run a microwave in the entire kitchen let alone share it with a fridge or whatever else is running. I imagine you're confusing the max load for an outlet with the max load of a circuit in the house.

        In several EU countries we run max 2300W at a single outlet but homes are typically wired up to support closer to 5000W / circuit.

        • by fnj (64210)

          A single circuit is that which a single circuit breaker protects. A single circuit feeds several outlets and bulb sockets. In a house are several to quite a few independent circuits. The master breaker is maybe 150 A. Clear?

      • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

        1600W at US/120V standard is 13.33Amps. Most standard house circuits are 15A (maybe 20A, above that it's the special 240V/30A+ outlets for stove, dryer, etc). Add a couple of 100W incandescent bulbs on in the room and you'd be popping the breaker turning on your vacuum..

        Definitely. The business of amping up the wattage on vacuum cleaners is similar to how they advertise power in stereo amps - People think more Amperes are better, or more Watts are better, so in amplifierss, they just raise the distortion level, and in vacuum cleaners I wouldn't be surprised if a few components were added just to raise current draw. With a good efficient motor and competent design, a 1.6 KiloWatt vacuum should be able to suck the stripes off a zebra.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      1600W is about two horse powers, and if you think you can keep a house clean with two horses running though it, I have a barn to sell you.

      A single horse is strong enough to lift any dirt you might possibly have off you floor. The problem is that its much cheaper to build an inefficient vacuum cleaner than an efficient one so they mostly use all those watts for creating heat and just a fraction to suck.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A single horse is strong enough to lift any dirt you might possibly have off you floor. The problem is that its much cheaper to build an inefficient vacuum cleaner than an efficient one so they mostly use all those watts for creating heat and just a fraction to suck.

        An inefficient vacuum cleaner rated at 2000W sells better than an efficient one rated at 1200W. Because it has more power!!!!!!11!!!!1eleven!!!!

      • They'd do better to ban vacuum cleaners that still use bags to collect the dust
    • by flyneye (84093)

      Approaching the problem from the perspective that EU vacuums use more than the whole of Denmark; a 1000 watt bulb can produce 16 sq feet of marijuana, a cash crop, therefore banning carpet in favor of wood floors throughout the E.U. should solve the problem. Especially since the advent of L.E.D. growlights. Now we can either trade that 1000 watts for 100 or exceed our area to 160 sq.ft. of marijuana and trade the problem for water usage. However with todays technology, we should be able to reuse the unevapo

  • This sucks (Score:5, Funny)

    by exabrial (818005) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @03:14AM (#47735279)
    /me shows self to door
  • Waaah. (Score:5, Informative)

    by wolrahnaes (632574) <(sean) (at) (seanharlow.info)> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @04:09AM (#47735325) Homepage Journal

    In the US our consumer-grade vacuum cleaners are already effectively capped around the same wattage. The standard household electrical outlet is rated to provide 15 amps and does so somewhere between 100 and 125 volts. That's 1500-1875 watts as the maximum any single device clet an expect to pull without requiring a special outlet. Nothing in reality expects the higher end of the spectrum because it's by no means guaranteed.

    Somehow we get along just fine, residential or commercial, with pretty much the same as what this limit allows. /me awaits some Brit who's come to explain how their 240v 13A outlets allow them to suck the carpet right off the floor with their cleaners.

    • by azzy (86427)
      Got a new vacuum cleaner lately, high power, massively discounted (didn't know it at the time but obviously due to these regulations being on horizon). At first use it stuck to the carpet and is difficult to push around, a tug on the handle WILL lift the carpet off the floor.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, I have 15A outlets at 230V, that is theoretically 3500VA max.
      Note it's not watts since they depend on power factor, assuming 0.7 you get about 2500W max.
      With 100V/15A it's only about 1000W.
      You can't have 1600W appliances in the US. (only with special electronics that would give 1.0 power factor, that would include large capacitors)

    • Re:Waaah. (Score:4, Funny)

      by Shimbo (100005) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @05:22AM (#47735373)

      Somehow we get along just fine, residential or commercial, with pretty much the same as what this limit allows. /me awaits some Brit who's come to explain how their 240v 13A outlets allow them to suck the carpet right off the floor with their cleaners.

      Actually, we use them mostly to take out drones and deflect NEOs into a safer orbit.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      In the rest of the world we use twice the voltage. In the EU 200 to 250V is standard.

      I just checked my vacuum cleaner. It is 2300W. Jesus, no wonder I never turn it up to max. That thing sucks. Hard.

    • by _merlin (160982)

      It must take longer to boil water in the US then. In Aus a standard electric kettle has a 2.4kW resistive heating element. I bet little things like that would be most irritating for someone making the transition to a 100-125V country.

      • Re:Waaah. (Score:5, Funny)

        by Trepidity (597) <.delirium-slashdot. .at. .hackish.org.> on Saturday August 23, 2014 @06:10AM (#47735435)

        I don't think I ever saw an electric kettle in the US. People who drink coffee make it in a coffee pot, and people who drink tea are deported to Europe.

        • What about cup ramen? In the coffee pot as well?

          • by Trepidity (597)

            I think most people just add (cold) water and then microwave it, even though the instructions say to heat the water separately.

        • I don't think I ever saw an electric kettle in the US. People who drink coffee make it in a coffee pot, and people who drink tea are deported to Europe.

          I know you're sort of joking here, but I think it may depend on you and your group of friends. I use an electric water kettle daily -- it's one of the most useful devices in my kitchen.... particularly on hot summer days when you don't want to inefficiently heat up the whole kitchen with wasted gas heat or poorly-sized electric elements on your stove just to boil water when you can do it in a small insulated container. Also, it shuts off automatically at the right temperature, so I don't need to come runn

          • by Trepidity (597)

            I do think kettles are getting more common in the U.S., but in the '90s they were almost unknown. Another factor imo is that microwaves have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for decades, and are commonly used to heat water, so there's already a common alternative to the stove. They're not a great option for boiling water, but they're a common way (in the U.S.) of making near-boiling water for brewing tea or making ramen.

            • I do think kettles are getting more common in the U.S., but in the '90s they were almost unknown.

              Agreed. I don't think I ever saw one here until around the year 2000. I've just been seeing them a lot in recent years.

              Another factor imo is that microwaves have been ubiquitous in American kitchens for decades

              I agree with that too. For years, my grandparents used to heat up their water for their morning tea in a teacup in the microwave. I suppose for me the change happened around the same time I switched from teabags directly in a cup to loose-leaf tea brewed in a pot. When you're brewing your single-serving tea in a teacup, it makes sense to just boil the water in the cup in the microwave.

          • Actually, most of the Americans I know who don't care that much about coffee flavor seem to have moved on from "coffee pots" into the world of single-serving wasteful expensive options like K-cups, which are effectively an "electric kettle" combined with a pump. I feel like in the past few years, when I'm visiting someone, that's often the option I'm given for coffee -- either a French press (for coffee fanatics), or "you can choose whatever flavor you want because we have a Keurig." (I can understand the convenience, but the per-cup cost is insane -- it often comes out to greater than $50 per pound, often for pretty cheap crappy ground coffee.)

            Maybe if you're buying then from Starbucks, but Costco sells them for about $0.38 each. Hard to figure the per-pound cost but it's nowhere near $50. Also by my reckoning, the "beans-per-cup" of the single-serving machines is way lower than a drip machine or french press; that's got to be worth something, if you're trying to be responsible in a global sense. The machine makes passable coffee. It's quick and efficient and rarely needs any attention besides an occasional descaling. Some people will turn u

        • They used to be more common before Mr. Coffee and other gadgetry. Nowadays you probably have to go to Amazon or eBay to get one in the US.

      • It must take longer to boil water in the US then. In Aus a standard electric kettle has a 2.4kW resistive heating element.

        You don't see many kettles with built-in heating elements here. People heat their kettles on the stove, which will either be gas, or if it's electric, will be on a special high-capacity circuit.

      • I once worked with a Brit that used an electric kettle here at work all the time. I can't say I remember anything specific about the kettle, other than him not understanding why we all don't have one (and why we don't drink tea). He also quite often talked about the 240V electricity. I am sure the two topics intersected at some point.

        In reality 20 amp is common and 30 amp is certainly not unheard of here in the US. I have a dedicated 20 amp circuit running to my kitchen island (at 125V), so it could
      • Electric kettles sell poorly here, and when I got here - though this changed around five years later - it was exceptionally difficult to find an automatic kettle (one that shuts off when the water starts boiling.)

        And yeah, they do seem to take longer, though it's too early in the morning for me to figure out why, my sleeping head is thinking the halved voltage should mean double the amps through the element for the same wattage, making it hotter. (Or is that the problem, and as a result US heating elemen

        • by _merlin (160982)

          A standard US outlet is only rated at 13A and the voltage can be up to 120V, so your kettle will be rated at about 1500W at 120V, and therefore will have a 9.6 Ohm element. If you happen to have 110V where you are, it will be running at 1260W which will take even longer to boil.

    • Remind me why they need to cap it then? From what you're saying this is a pointless regulation that accomplishes nothing.

      • Contrary to anti-EU people*, it's not completely pointless. Regulations like these are not just for controlling the wattage of vacuums, the curvature of banana's, or the number of times a paperclip can bend before it breaks. Thanks to regulations like these, certification for products in the EU has become a whole lot easier; no more need to have it done in each country separately. The problem is that the EU has a lot of bored politicians eager to make their mark, and they *love* to slip politically motiv
  • They can have my 2000watt vacuum cleaner when they pry my cold dead hands... Wait, the EU? Nevermind. Whar's mah beer?
  • by Afty0r (263037)

    vacuum cleaners ... produce more emissions than dishwashers and washing machines.

    Wowser, I feel better about my laziness already. My room might have a 3/4" layer of dust on the floor, but I'm saving the ice packs one lie-in at a time!

  • Our Vorwerk vacuum cleaners only use around 200 W...
    • A German appliance that's not bigger, stronger and greater than anything contemporary? That's unthinkable!

  • more rules.... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by X10 (186866)

    The EU found yet another way of telling me what to do. They should mind their own business, and stop wasting tax money.

    • You guys just love to complain.

      By your logic, bank robbers have the right to complain that they're not allowed to rob banks.

      Your complaint is only slightly less absurd.

    • by Teun (17872)
      Yep, people like you need someone to think for them, like we've all moved on to X11.
  • The future uses less (Score:5, Informative)

    by maweki (999634) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:16AM (#47735573) Homepage
    My Roomba is using about 30 Watts for its vacuum and that is more than enough.
  • If 1600W is enough, then just buy two vacuum cleaners. Duh.

  • My vacuum cleaner has official Windows XP and Windows 7 stickers.
  • by MrL0G1C (867445) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @07:46AM (#47735643) Journal

    Vacuum cleaners [currys.co.uk]

    Last time I looked 1400W was common, now 2400W is common.

    I'd be happy if they banned putting the Wattage in the product title as a temporary measure, no doubt some of these 2400W are still crap and edging towards being a fire hazard with that much power enclosed in a small space.

    What do you do with your vac' when you've finished with it? Shove it in the cupboard with lots of highly flammable materials, perhaps underneath the stairs?

    Quick search confirms it happens:
    https://www.google.co.uk/searc... [google.co.uk]

    • by thegarbz (1787294) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @09:13AM (#47735929)

      Fire hazards are not directly linked to wattage. It's all about overheating. Bigger power motors are bigger (surprise) and are capable of withstanding more heat because of it.

      Additionally higher wattage does not mean more power use in an ordinary scenario. An induction motor will still only draw the amount of power needed to get it spinning to the correct speed. Take a 1400W vacuum and a 2400W vacuum and put them on the carpet they'll likely draw the same amount of power.

      Now quite critically when you block the suction pipe that's when the differences become evident. Most vacuums have a relief valve which will allow it to suck air in after a certain pressure is reached. This RV will dictate the amount of power that the vacuum sucks and if sized correctly the motor will still not draw its full rated current. What will happen in reality is the higher rated motor will have a lower minimum suction pressure and a lower set RV.

      Where the entire mess catches fire is either:
      a) Stupidly set RVs
      b) Lack of overload protection for the motor.
      c) Stupid design of the vacuum that doesn't provide adequate cooling (I've had a hot air gun catch fire in my hand once due to such brain dead design, that tip will never get hot, lets support it with plastic. What could go wrong.)

      This doesn't excuse the stupidity of selling a 2400W vacuum, but power does not directly equate to fire hazard.

  • I have hardwood floors. I use a broom. It's peaceful and meditative. I do not understand why people like carpet. It gets dirty FAST, it traps bad things, it offgasses weird chemicals, and vacumn cleaners are loud and annoying.
  • Do they have commercial class vaxuums in the EU? For people that run a cleaning business, or for hospitals etc.

    A friend of mine ran a cleaning business in NZ, and used backpack vacuum cleaners. Not sure of the power rating but they could really suck.

  • by dkegel (904729) on Saturday August 23, 2014 @10:56AM (#47736371) Homepage
    The US doesn't have Energy Star standards for vacuum cleaners yet, but they're thinking about it.

    http://www.energystar.gov/ia/p... [energystar.gov] says
    "[Assuming efficiency improvements of 16% to 33%...] Estimated per-unit annual savings for residential vacuums are on the order of 10-19 kWh/year... Considering there are approximately 28 million vacuums sold in the U.S. each year, the national energy savings opportunity would be on the order of 67,000-135,000 MWh per year if 25% of products sold were replaced with energy efficient models"

    Contrast that the the document linked in TFA:
    http://ec.europa.eu/smart-regu... [europa.eu] says
    "[Vaccuum cleaners sold per year in 2005 and 2020: 54 million and 92 million]... [Energy consumed by vacuum cleaners under business-as-usual by 2020: 29.7 TWH/year]... by 2020, the annual electricity consumption ... of vacuum cleaners will be reduced by 19 TWh"

    So, 67 TWh annual savings in US vs. 19 TWh annual savings in EU in spite of twice as many vacuum cleaners sold per year in the EU. Is there just more dirt in the US? Or was the Energy Star scoping report just overoptimistic?

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