An electrically powered vacuum brush head has a motor that spins the brush, aiding the function of the vacuum by digging into the carpet with enough force to lift dirt from the base of the carpet. Some electric brush heads have power settings (low & high). Also, some heads like the Stealth brush have height adjustment settings for optimal use on short and tall carpets. Most modern electric heads have a microchip board that governs the RPMs and functions related to the motor and brush roller.
Because electric brushes have a motor assisting the brush spin, the brush loses less power to friction as opposed to Air Powered brushes that may stall if introduced to an increased amount of friction. Also, since an electric head isn't using the suction of the vacuum to spin the brush, more suction and air flow reaches the carpet.
Electric power heads will give your carpet that "Groomed" look that we come to expect from a vacuum cleaner. Because of the superior airflow, and the spinning brush, carpet bristles are lifted, vacuumed, and laid down in the direction that the power head is pushed. Air powered heads won't always do this because they simply don't have enough power.
Air powered attachment kits include a basic or low voltage hose and an air powered brush head. There is a switch on the low voltage hose that signals to the vacuum unit to turn on/off via a low voltage wire hidden in the hose. Basic hoses don’t have a switch, and normally the vacuum unit turns on when the hose is plugged into the wall or the inlet valve door is opened.
Air powered vacuum brushes channel the suction and air flow of a vacuum through a small tube in the brush (a smaller channel than in an electric brush). In the tube is a turbine which is forced to spin via the air flow. The turbine is responsible for spinning the brush in the head. The turbine duct is the only inlet for air in the brush, so all vacuumed particles pass through the turbine (sometimes stalling the spin). The suction of the vacuum (different from the air flow) determines how much friction the brush can withstand before it freezes. So, vacuum units with low suction (Water Lift) may not be strong enough for an Air Powered brush head. Consequently, if the air powered brush starts spinning slower for an unknown reason, it probably means your vacuum bag is full in the unit (causing less air flow).
Air powered heads do a good job on hard floor and short carpers. They also do a good job at picking up dirt and small particles on these surfaces, however, watch out for medium to large sized debris, because air powered turbines are easy to clog. To decrease the friction energy on the turbine, some air powered heads have less bristles on their brush like in the TurboCat shown to the left. Instead of a steady row of bristles, notice the gaps.
Use the comparison charts on this page to review specifications for electric and air powered kits and brushes. For expert advice, give us a call at (800) 997-2278.