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Central vacuum cleaners (also known as built-in or ducted vacuum cleaners) make vacuuming a home, business or commercial space more efficient. A central vacuum power unit can be installed in an attic or basement as a built-in appliance. Piping runs from the central vacuum to inlet ports installed in the walls. Vacuum hoses can be either retractable ones that store in the wall or attachments that hook at the inlet ports for vacuuming as needed. Dust and debris are efficiently pulled out of the house or office space, through the pipes and into the unit. Contractors can install a central vacuum system during new construction or can retrofit an existing space with the appliance. Several factors affect installation costs.

New installation or retrofit

Installing a system into new construction costs less than retrofitting one into an established house. In new construction, the installation professionals aren’t hindered by walls when setting in the vacuum pipes and electrical wiring as they are in a house that’s already constructed. Here’s a typical cost for installation in 1,800- to 3,000-square-foot homes:

  • Central vacuum installation with separate hose attachment at inlet ports in a new construction home: $1,200–$2,800

    • Includes unit with four ports and all labor costs

    • Retrofitting an existing house with the same system: $1,500–$3,100
  • Central vacuum installation with retractable hose stored in the walls in a new construction home: $2,400–$3,900

    • Includes in-wall hose, two inlets and all labor costs

    • Retrofitting an existing house with the same system: $2,700–$4,200

      • It is also possible to install a mix of retractable and traditional attached hoses, especially in multistory homes.

System type

Motor type, air watts, filtering options and brand name all affect the cost of a central vacuum unit. The more expensive the unit, the more costly the overall installation will be. The type of system and level of power a space needs depends on the square footage as well as the amount and kind of traffic—pet hair, kid mess, dust factor, etc. To determine the suction strength needed, double the square footage of the home and selecting a central power unit that is rated for that amount of space. Complete central vacuum kits, including unit, brushes, etc., range from $400 to $1,500 from a supplier, without installation.

Extra inlets and features

In general, the more inlet ports installed, the greater the overall cost because of the additional labor and materials required. Higher costs are especially likely in homes being retrofitted because the walls will have to be cut open for the port insertion and electrical wiring to be run to each location. Extras such as automatic dustpans (a suction-floor pan that sucks away dirt upon activation) also increase the cost of installation and materials. Expect to pay $250–$500 for an automatic dustpan.

Electrical work

Some installation companies have licensed electricians on staff and their costs will be included in the overall price. If not, a professional electrician will need to come in separately to safely install the wiring for the system. Each inlet needs to be wired with a minimum 110 volt to trigger the suction when needed. The total cost for central vacuum electrical work depends on the number of inlets that need to be wired and the square footage of the house. Here are two examples of electrical costs (independent of the cost of the vacuum itself):

  • One inlet port installed in an existing, single-story home through a wall opposite the new vacuum unit: $300, including electrical parts and labor

  • Six inlet ports wired back to the central breaker in a new construction home of 6,800 square feet: $1,300, including electrical parts and labor.

Pro tip:

  • Consult with a pro on the setup that’s right for you. Keep in mind that more inlets (places to attach a hose) are not always better because the more inlets diminish the vacuum’s suction power. Fewer inlets with longer hoses to reach into multiple rooms may be a better way to go.
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