Indoor air quality (IAQ) has become an increasingly important issue among homeowners. Results from a survey of homeowners, renters, and contractors conducted recently by The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies (JCHS) indicates that nearly one-quarter of homeowners harbor some concern about healthy-home problems or risks; homeowners cite indoor air quality issues as their leading concern. Top on the list of concerns, according to a study are household dust and pet dander.
“Emerging is an increasing desire among consumers for built-in products that clean spaces,” says Jim Carmichael, global product manager for Electrolux Central Vacuum Systems. “Not necessarily a large two-story home, but perhaps a unit in a multi-family building, a detached garage, or a rec room.”
Central Vacuums Contribute to Consumers Need for IAQ
One of the most effective ways to minimize dust and dander is through vacuuming of flooring and furnishings, and no system does this better than a central vacuum. Unlike conventional portable vacuums that can recirculate dust back into the air, a central vacuum system is designed to siphon all of the harmful particles away from the living space and into a tightly sealed receptacle. It’s a proven way to reduce allergy and asthma symptoms and create a cleaner, healthier living environment.
And while the Harvard JCHS shows that people living in condos, apartments and other Multi-Dwelling Units (MDU) dwellings are just as concerned as owners of single-family homes about the harmful effects of living in a potentially unhealthy indoor environment, they are at a distinct disadvantage when it comes into implementing solutions such as central vacuum systems, due to the complexities of adding wiring and PVC tubing to these types of residences, particularly rental units.
Broadening the Central Vac Market to MDUs
Add the fact that the MDU market is experiencing healthy growth and the timing couldn’t be better for a company like Electrolux, maker of BEAM Built-in Vacuums, to introduce a central vacuum system, the Semi Integrated Condo Vac, aimed specifically at providing deep cleaning for smaller homes, townhomes, condominiums, and apartments. According to the Harvard JCHS, growth in construction of multi-family starts topped 10 percent for the fifth consecutive year in 2015, reaching a 27-year high of 397,000 units, says the Harvard JCHS. The single-family sector, on the other hand, is still struggling to recover after a decade of weakness.
What’s unique about the Electrolux Semi Integrated Condo Vac and makes it ideally suited for the multi-dwelling unit (MDU) market, is the fact that no PVC tubing or low-voltage wiring needs to be installed. Also, at 20 inches tall and 10-1/2 inches wide and less than 8 inches deep, the receptacle is small enough to fit in a closet or hallway, either mounted to the surface of the wall or recessed between the studs of an interior wall. It plugs into a standard electrical outlet, and built into its outer shell is an inlet valve onto which users attach either a 30- or 35-foot hose.
Not too Big, No too Small—Sized Just Right
Also contributing to the Condo Vac’s MDU-friendliness is its streamlined cleaning power. According to the JCHS, the median size of multifamily units is 1,074 square feet; the Condo Vac is designed to cover 700 square-feet of living space. Because it’s designed for cleaning smaller
spaces, the system’s 500 air watts of cleaning power is about two-thirds to three-fourths that of Beam’s existing products, which makes it a more affordable option than a standard-size central vacuum system (pricing will be announced in September at CEDIA 2016).
The Condo Vac represents the most recent development by Electrolux to broaden the central vac marketplace. In the early 1990s the VacPan automatic dustpan, which installed at the base of a wall or in a cabinet toe kick, catered to the frequently cleaning often required of a kitchen or mudroom. Beam followed up by creating a product called the Yellow Jacket that installed inside a cabinet and had an attached hose to perform quick cleanups in kitchens and laundry rooms.
Opportunity for Integrators
The MDU market is ripe for technology—as long as that technology is designed appropriately for the unique structural characteristics of smaller living spaces that occupy a common building. Easily retrofittable, streamlined in size and power, and affordable, the Semi Integrated Condo Vac from Beam is a solution that can help you break into the MDU market and deliver a cleaner, fresher home environment a broad range of consumers.