A variety of accessories like the ones used on standard vacuums are available for central vacuums: flooring, dusting, and upholstery brushes; crevice tools; and two types of beater-bar carpet brushes—electric and turbo-powered. Electric heads are the strongest but some models require an electrical receptacle near each vacuum inlet so you can plug in a power cord that runs alongside the hose. Turbo heads utilize the air rushing through the head to spin the beater bar.
Manufacturers offer a variety of improvements on the basic accessories—collection canisters with mold-killing coatings, retractable hoses, sock-like covers to prevent hoses from marring wood floors, and digital controls that spell out how efficiently the system is operating, when the canister is full, and when maintenance is required. Here are a couple of examples: Beam, manufactured by Electrolux, offers an “EasyReach” electrified 13-foot-long hose that is easy to manage but, when a longer reach is required, has an inner hose sleeved in the main hose that expands to a full 30 feet. Simply pushing a button on the handle retracts the extended hose.
Central vacuums cost from $600 to $1,500, depending on the power unit and the amount of pipe and fittings needed. Dealers often quote a price based on both installation and materials, but if you plan on installing the system yourself you can request a price for materials only.