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Central Vacuum Cost Guide

Vacuuming is one of those universal chores that most people love to hate. It's a necessity, but it's also a nuisance. That is, unless you own a central vacuum. Unlike heavy portable vacuum cleaners that you have to schlep along from room to room, a central vacuum is a built-in system that allows you to vacuum a room by simply attaching a hose to an outlet. Often featuring more cleaning power than portable units and capable of lasting four times as long, central vacs add convenience and value to any home. However, many homeowners balk at installing a central vacuum for fear of the upfront cost. The following guide reviews the average costs for central vac installations in both new and existing homes.

To install your own central vacuum, be sure to connect with a local HVAC pro!

National Install Central Vacuum Costs

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by ImproveNet members.

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Average reported cost

based on 62 cost profiles


Minimum cost


Maximum cost

Most homeowners spent between:




National Install Central Vacuum Costs
Average reported cost $4,871
Number of Cost Profiles 62 cost profiles
Minimum reported cost $174
Maximum reported cost $160,000
Most homeowners spent between: $1,420 to $2,067

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Table of Contents

  1. Central Vacuum Installation Cost
  2. Cost Factors of Central Vacuums
  3. What Are Central Vacuums?
  4. Why Install A Central Vacuum?
  5. Installation Considerations
  6. Central Vacuum Brands
  7. Common Central Vacuum Repairs
  8. Find A Pro

Central Vacuum Installation Cost

The cost to install a central vacuum varies significantly based on factors such as the number of inlets homeowners need around the house, the size and strength of the vacuum unit itself, desired accessories and other site-specific installation challenges. However, on average, the cost to install a central vacuum system in a new home ranges from $1,200 to $3,000 on average, exclusive of add-on features. In existing homes, expect to pay several hundred dollars more in labor because installation professionals must work around the drywall.

Cost Factors of Central Vacuums

There are many factors that affect the final cost of installing a central vacuum unit. The most significant of these factors is whether or not the home is a new build, because the presence of drywall increases the time and skill needed to install the vacuum and its pipes. The size of the unit itself is also a contributing factor; larger vacuums with more horsepower cost more. Additional features that may affect price include:

  • Total number of vacuum inlets desired throughout the home
  • Home size and number of stories
  • System design (hide-a-hose vs. traditional)
  • Cost of optional accessories such as an auxiliary flex hose, stretch hose and automatic dustpan

What Are Central Vacuums?

Central vacuums are whole-home vacuum systems that work through a centrally located, motorized unit that creates suction through a series of PVC pipes attached to inlets throughout the home. Users attach a hose to an inlet and then operate the hose and its attachments similar to the ways in which they operate a traditional portable vacuum hose.

The primary difference between a central vacuum system and a portable system is that the latter must be carried from room to room whereas the major piece of the central vac, the suction unit itself, is already attached to each room through the wall inlets and HVAC system. Users either bring the hose to the room or used an attached hide-a-hose to complete the vacuuming job without the need to carry the motor and bag unit around. Central vacs, because they’re larger and out-of-the-way, may also be more powerful in terms of suction when compared to portable vacuum units.

DIY Central Vacuum Installation

Why Install A Central Vacuum?

Central vacuums are more than a luxury; they actually add value to a home and provide users with distinct cleaning and lifestyle benefits. These include:

  • Easier Access: Hide-a-hose central vacuums don't require users to move or carry around anything but accessories and attachments in order to use the vacuum.
  • Convenient: Without the need to find and move a portable vacuum, it’s easier to clean up accidental messes.
  • Powerful: Most central vac units have more horsepower and suctioning ability than their portable counterparts, leading to a deeper clean on carpets and other surfaces.
  • Quiet: Because the main vacuum element is located in another part of the home, usually a garage, utility room or basement, operating the vacuum is quieter in the main part of the house.

Installation Considerations

Installing a central vacuum in a home as it’s built is as easy as installing any other piping or HVAC work, such as air conditioning. Without the confines of drywall, adding the pipes and inlets is a simple matter that takes a few extra labor hours for most HVAC pros.

However, in an existing home, retrofitting for a central vacuum is a bit more complex. While it’s entirely possible to install the system without tearing down walls and doing major construction, it does take longer to add in the pipes without full access to the walls and vents. Having an existing central AC system makes this easier, but the process is still more cumbersome than it can be with new builds. Adding a central vacuum system to a two-story home is also quite a bit more difficult than adding it to a one-story home. As a result, retrofitting for a central vacuum costs several hundred dollars more than it does to add the system to a new build.

Central Vacuum Brands

When shopping for a central vacuum, it’s important to know which type of unit best suits your home and budget. The two options include the traditional model, which requires users to hook up a hose to individual inlets throughout the home, and the hide-a-hose model, which has a retractable hose in or near one or two inlets that serve each floor. The size of your home and your aesthetic taste — traditional central vacuums are much easier to conceal — can help you determine which is a better fit.

Once that decision is made, however, it’s helpful to know that many of the major players in the portable vacuum market also manufacture central vacuum units. Popular brand names include:

  • Allegro
  • BEAM Electrolux
  • Dust Care
  • Honeywell
  • Hoover
  • Imperium
  • PurVac

Common Central Vacuum Repairs

Central vacuums, like other household appliances, are subject to breakdown and therefore need proper maintenance and routine repair. While most of these repairs should be conducted by an HVAC or central vac professional, minor issues like changing the filter or bag of the main unit are easy to do yourself. Among the most common major repairs needed for central vacuum units are:

  • Fixing clogged pipes, hoses and filters
  • Repairing leaking pipes
  • Repairing damaged or malfunctioning electrical components
  • Repairing or replacing the main unit's motor 

Each of these repairs requires specialized knowledge, skills and tools that HVAC and central vac professionals provide. Minimally, by contacting a pro for any central vacuum repair, homeowners help maintain their unit's warranty as well as minimize the damage to their homes’ walls.

Find A Pro

Hiring a pro to install a central vacuum unit is the best way to prevent future damage as well as ensure long, successful operation of your new home appliance. Use our free HVAC lead generator today and get into contact with pros in your area that can install and repair a central vacuum system for you.

Last updated on Aug 2, 2016

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