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'Watts all this then?' Stan Atkins article in C&M Magazine - Education, Membership and training within the cleaning industry | BICSc

Watts all this then?

On September the 1st 2014 a new EU directive governing the energy consumption of vacuum cleaners came into effect, it is possible that the reach of this directive will be expanded to other electrical goods next year. The new requirements include a limit on the maximum input power (which has dropped from 1600 to 900 watts) and 'minimal dust pick-up requirements'. To say that there has been push back to this legislation is something of an understatement, groups that are not even affected by the changes to wattage limits as yet have voiced their decent. The European Commission has even had to post a rebuttal on its website to address the concerns of industry bodies and individuals alike.

The rebuttal promises that new vacuum cleaners put on the market must meet 'minimum dust pick-up requirements’, based on a practical test that measures the 'pick-up performance'. Standardisation across the industry is something BICSc has been pursuing for several years and the measurement of basic cleaning capacities would be of great use not only to retail consumers, but also to the cleaning industry as a whole. However the level to which a standard is useful is largely determined by the test requirements, for example the requirements of the UK diving licence do not prepare its recipients for driving on a UK motorway, let alone a German autobahn. Testing must be relevant to the practical application of the task, and the only way to access the testing is to read through the legislation itself.

Upon doing so I discovered that this legislation does not even affect all vacuum cleaners as 'wet, wet and dry, battery operated, robot, industrial, or central vacuum cleaners' are exempt. However for those manufactures of vacuum cleaners covered by the legislation namely 'electric mains-operated vacuum cleaners' the additional tests and information requirements are substantial. Having read through the document outlining the new regulations I found that the standard was 3 pages in length but there were 20 pages for the additional Annexe’s! The dust pick-up test will be conducted on both carpeted and hard floors using established industrial equipment. However there are a few variations from the accepted industrial norms, for example dust re-emission will be measured by Destruction Removal Efficiency (DRE) rather than in microns.

The labelling that will detail the information follows the standard guidelines one might expect energy efficiency will be shown on the familiar red to green bar, in addition the ranking of hard floor, carpet, and dust re-emission will all be shown on a scale A to G. Sound levels are to be shown in decibels (dB) and there will be a figure for annual kilowatt (kWh) consumption. All of this will help to make the information readily available and understandable which is clearly essential to the effectiveness of any standard. Hopefully this standard will prove of use to both those within our industry and to the retail consumer. Who knows it may even help the EU reach its commitment to reduce electrical usage.

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Stan Atkins C & M Article October 2014 



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