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When it comes to buying a gutter clearing vacuum system, what are the specifications that really matter. From Watts, to Horsepower to water lift (also referred to as static lift or sealed suction) to air flow, it can all become a little bit bewildering.
In this guide we will highlight the key factors to consider when buying a professional gutter vac. And more importantly, help you to decide on the right type of system and the specifications that meets the needs of your business.
But before we dig into the details, it helps to understand how a vacuum works.
Best illustrated in the simple diagram - it all starts with the motor (or motors as there can be up to three in industrial powered systems.)
Each motor powers a fan with angled blades. As the fan rotates, air is quickly forced through and out of the system creating a partial vacuum. Air pressure inside the drum drops below external (also known as ambient) air pressure which in turn creates suction, forcing air and debris to rush inside to fill the void. Once inside the drum, the air pressure is equalised causing the debris to fall into the base of the drum.
So, the greater the power, the greater the suction? Well, no, it’s not that simple and we’ll explain why.
Let’s have a look at some of those specifications and explain exactly what they mean and whether they are key to an effective professional gutter clearing vacuum system.
WATTS: Is the measurement used for power input to the motor from mains electricity.
HORSEPOWER: Is the measurement used for power input to the motor from an external petrol- or diesel-powered generator or motor. For example, The SkyVac® Interceptor features an on board 5.5HP petrol motor which delivers the equivalent of 3600 Watts of power.
Power in, does not necessarily equate to suction, it just gives an indication of the power supply being made available to the system.
So, what really matters when it comes to performance and removing those stubborn gutter growths? There are two critical and interlinked elements, and these are Water Lift and Air Flow.
Relates to the vacuum’s airflow to physically “lift” dirt and debris. Water lift is critical for the removal of stubborn, deep rooted and waterlogged gutter debris.
High Water lift also ensures that the vacuum will continue to perform at a high level as the drum capacity is filled. A key factor for systems with high debris capacity.
WATER LIFT MEASUREMENTS: Typically measured in inches, this is written at 90 Inches Water Lift - but can also be displayed in millimetres such as (mmH20)
This is calculated by sucking water up a measured column/tube to reach the maximum achievable height by the vacuum.
The greater the Water Lift, the more effective the gutter vacuum is at removing stubborn gutter growths.
This measurement indicates the amount of air that the vacuum motor (or motors) can move through the system.
The higher the Air Flow, the greater the system’s ability to transport air containing dust and debris into the drum.
AIR FLOW MEASUREMENTS: Typically measured in LPS (litres per second), this can also be demonstrated or referred to in Cubic Metres per Minute CFM (m3/min) or Cubic Feet per Minute (ft3/m).
In other words, AIR FLOW could be seen as a sprinter in a relay race, carrying the baton (in our case gutter growths) from A (the gutter) to B (the inside the drum of the vacuum) as fast as possible.
Air Flow and Water Lift work together to achieve optimum suction. They have a finely balanced relationship. When airflow is at its maximum, water lift is at its minimum and vice versa. Most Commercial gutter vacuums have been typically engineered to operate at the “sweet spot” where airflow and suction is at its most efficient for the end-use.
However, the SkyVac® Industrial 85 is unique in the gutter clearing market and features a unique patented “Power Mix” system which reconfigures the power supply from parallel to series to drive unprecedented water lift of up to 150 inches, which is + 50% higher than standard 3 motor 3,300 Watt machines*.
In summary, WATER LIFT is like having a powerful weight lifter, make light work of the heavy lifting, enabling the AIRFLOW or sprinter to take the baton and whisk the debris away.
WATERLIFT: To meet the rigours of gutter cleaning, we would recommend systems operating over 90”
AIRFLOW: Professional systems typically operate above 3,200 LPM.
All of our professional wet and dry gutter vacuums have been designed, engineered and extensively field-tested to power through every day and extreme gutter clearance. From the small and mighty “window cleaner’s favourite” SkyVac® Atom through to the completely independent and powerful SkyVac® Interceptor, see how these systems stack up on the parameters that matter!