Mod #73: Central Vacuum System
Submitted on: 02/25/09
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Note: This mod first appeared on the RV Travel Blog and was originally written by Jim Twamley.
Having a central vacuum cleaner system in your RV may seem like overkill to the average RVer. Why not just use a broom? In one word: convenience. If you have an RV that has carpet or is particularly large, like a class A motorhome, then you probably already have a hand-held vacuum. For small jobs they work fine. But instead of getting down on your hands and knees or dragging the stickhouse vacuum in to the RV every time you want to tidy up, make it easy on yourself and mod your RV with a central vacuum system. And it’s a lot easier to do than you might first think.
The only central vacuum unit made just for the RV is the Dirt Devil CV950LE. Well, there may be others, but in terms of cost and ease of installation, the Dirt Devil takes the cake. The vacuum system has recently been redesigned to have more suction power and a greater lifespan, likely outlasting your RV! The system comes with 35′ of hose, and various attachments, including a power brush head that works really well for cleaning both carpets and flooring.
This mod details how to install the system in a motorhome. You can follow the same steps if you have a TT or 5th wheel as well. The only difference is that you will likely have more mounting location options in a motorhome. The large compartment in the front of 5th wheel is a good mounting option for the vacuum unit, as well as the front pass-through compartment in a TT if you have one. Other locations include under a dinette bench or storage cabinet. But you must be able to provide some ventilation for the unit so as to not overheat the motor during operation.
Start by locating the unit centrally so that the area to be cleaned can be conveniently reached with the standard 35′ hose. Also locate the unit near a grounded electrical receptacle for easy plug-in connection of the motor cord. Route the supply cord so that it doesn’t rest against sharp edges or pinch points. For the adventurous, you can hardwire the power cord in to the RV power center by adding an extra breaker. Just be sure to properly attach the unit’s ground wire to the ground of the power center. You may also add an extra outlet instead to plug the unit in to if one is not nearby to where you mount the unit.
Once you have decided on a location, you will need to determine best configuration for your installation. Temporarily install the unit for the best inlet valve location. Be sure there is clearance to remove top cover and filter bag. If you are mounting the unit upright, cut a 2 1/4″ wide x 3 3/4″ high opening, 9 7/8″ above the floor, or 1 3/4″ above the floor for horizontal canister position. The rectangular opening is necessary so both the hose attachment point of the inlet door and the wiring terminals will have clearance when securing the inlet door to the mounting surface.
This is only one way to install the unit. You may wish to have multiple inlet valves so the instructions above may not apply. In this case, you can mount the unit where convenient and then plumb the tubing necessary to provide multiple remote inlets, such as when using the VacPan option. This option uses a rectangular floor-level inlet valve that you can sweep debris in to. It’s a nice addition for the kitchen area. Whatever option you choose, locate and cut the appropriate size holes to fit the inlet valve or valves.
Now it’s time to wire the inlet valve. This really simple. The inlet valve serves to activate the vacuum motor when the hose is plugged in to it. It does this by using a metal ring around the hose that contacts metal pins on the inlet valve, completing the low-voltage circuit and telling the motor controller to start the motor. The two wires from the unit connect to the back of the inlet valve. They simply press in to their respective terminal with a firm push. Be sure to route the wiring through the mounting hole first before securing to the inlet valve. Now connect the other ends of the wiring from the inlet valve to the wire leads from the relay, located at the bottom of the unit, with the wire nuts provided.
The next step is install the inlet reducer to the inlet valve and secure the inlet valve to the mounting surface. The reducer should line up with the inlet to the vacuum unit. Make sure this is the case before securing the inlet valve. Now secure the unit with the supplied hardware. This consists of four wood screws that go through the mounting tabs on the unit’s housing. You can choose other mounting hardware to suit your location’s needs, i.e., if you had to bolt the unit through a cabinet wall. The only thing left is to plug the unit in and test it out.
ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
Dirt Devil RV Central Vacuum System