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Regenerative Air vs. Vacuum Sweepers: Which One is Right for Your Business?

Author: Megan McClure
Published: October 6th, 2011

For street sweeping applications, debris mostly collects within three feet of a curb line, and the need for a vacuum sweeper came about as a result of that fact, as they are specifically designed to collect debris within that area. As time goes on, though, and innovations in the sweeper market hit the street year after year, many regenerative air sweepers are designed to complete the same functions as vacuum sweepers. There are, of course, advantages and disadvantages for each type of sweeper truck. Vacuum sweepers have more moving parts than regenerative air sweepers, and oftentimes, they fill cracks in the road with debris that they then cannot pick up due to lack of suction. So which one is right for your business?

Exprolink Inc. of Montreal, Canada and provider of the newly acquired Madvac product line, features the LN/LR50 vacuum sweeper, based on the Madvac 101. The sweeper boasts a patented power arm for easy vacuuming. The Madvac LN/LR50 is also cost-efficient with the ability to clean smaller areas such as sidewalks and parks, as well as bigger areas like parking lots.

Tenant Company, headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota, offers the ATLV® 4300 Riding Litter Vacuum as another top choice for a vacuum sweeper. The Tennant ATLV 4300 increases productivity by adapting to a variety of terrains. It can climb curbs, navigate hills and clean along fence lines. Its stable design and low center of gravity allows for maximum operator stability and safety, and much like Madvac’s LN/LR50, Tenant’s ATLV 4300 also has an ergonomically designed vacuum hose that can be operated from the seat.

Ease of design and the ability to reach minute spaces is another feature to look for when choosing a sweeper. Regenerative air sweepers employ a blast and suction effect, which has proven more effective in cleaning those hard to reach places that a vacuum sweeper cannot get. The regenerative sweeper’s blast force is able to reach and clean the entire area the sweeper is trying to cover.

In addition, they utilize a closed loop system in order to sweep up debris. This is where regenerative air sweepers and vacuum sweepers are similar. Both use similar vacuum inlets mounted on the side of the sweeping head. Regenerative air sweepers, however, regenerate the air inside at a constant rate. A big feature with regenerative air sweepers is their ability to collect larger, heavier debris. And due to regenerative air sweepers having larger intake tubes, they do not clog easily.

The ability to pick up heavy debris is a major issue when picking the right sweeper truck. Regenerative air sweepers have the ability to do so because of their “blast and pickup cycle” which means water is introduced into the intake, dislodging and moving any dust that forms in the hopper. The blasting also prevents heavy debris from getting caught. However, vacuum sweepers are oftentimes used in construction clean-up applications and have the ability to pick up large chunks of brick and concrete.

Regenerative air sweepers have the ability to clean a larger path than vacuum sweepers, can remove smaller debris more efficiently and release less exhaust and particulates back into the environment. In fact, regenerative air sweepers are more environmentally friendly than any other type of sweeper because they do not emit as much particulate, polluted air back into the environment. An added bonus is the fact that they have the ability to pick up the smaller debris, as well, making them a quality choice.

Vacuum sweepers, on the other hand, can re-release a substantial amount of debris and particulates into the atmosphere, which has been the subject of many regulations in several states across the country. Many states are putting emissions regulations in place to try and reduce the amount of pollution presumably caused by street sweeper debris. This is all despite the fact that many vacuum sweepers use water-based dust suppression systems meant to reduce the amount of particulates being released into the air.

Regenerative air sweepers are suitable for almost all everyday road sweeping needs. In addition, they are cheaper to maintain, and because of their cost effectiveness and versatility, they are the sweeper truck-type of choice for many municipalities and government agencies. That is not to discount or disregard vacuum sweepers. They are a great sweeper truck option for applications such as street sweeping, but for construction and airport runway applications, as well. Whether purchasing a regenerative air sweeper or vacuum sweeper it is important to assess the type of applications it will be used on and ensure you make the right purchase to get the job done.