As a car wash owner or convenience store owner, adding a couple of commercial car wash vacuums can be a great addition to your main car wash bay, adding a little extra income to your bottom line. These are much different than consumer-grade models you can find on Amazon, and made with better quality materials and pumps built to last.
As far as commercial vacuums go, there are a plethora of options that you must consider when getting into this venture. This article will help to analyze your different options from both a broad perspective and some basic info to know when owning one. I’ll also provide a few recommendations and where you can find these.
Understanding Commercial Grade Car Wash Vacuums
Commercial or industrial car vacuums are predominantly separated by the number of hoses, the number of motors, and whether or not the machine has shampoo or fragrance capabilities. Most commercial vacs have one hose that solely focuses on vacuuming. These machines will typically have two motors for smaller machines and three motors for larger one-hose machines.
They do however make dual hose commercial vacuums.
These machines feature two hoses with both just acting as vacuums. These machines will have four motors or two per each hose. Finally, we have the Ferrari of commercial vacuums: turbo vacs with shampoo/spot remover & fragrance options. These machines come equipped with dual hoses, however, one hose can administer shampoo and fragrances while the other hose vacuums.
These vacuums contain three motors and are fully loaded in features. These are usually more expensive and require more continued maintenance but are a great amenity for your customers that many competitors likely won’t have.
Brands to Know and Where to Buy
When it comes to purchasing these commercial vacs, Kleen-Right is your best bet in terms of selection, eVacuumStore.com is a good choice, as well as a used preowned marketplace for car wash equipment at CarwashConsignment.com.
I also found quite a few eBay search results for commercial car wash vacs that you may want to check out as well. While newer vacs are certainly more expensive, the warranties on these are usually pretty good.
J.E. Adams Leads the Way
When it comes to commercial vacuums there is a clear industry leader in J.E. Adams. J.E. Adams has been around for over forty years and specializes in self-service car wash equipment, pressure washing, and mist cooling solutions. They dominate the market and are featured all over Kleen-RiteCorp.com which is the largest seller of industrial vacuums. Kleen-Rite is probably the best option for purchasing a new commercial vacuum and as an additional perk they offer financing of machines.
In terms of parts, J.E. Adams are the most prevalent, and something to keep in mind if you are considering a preowned unit.
IVS and Magic Mist Vacs
Industrial Vacuum Systems (IVS) is another popular manufacturer you’re likely to come across. IVS is the only company that matches the number of machines and flexibility that J.E. Adams has. They have options from single hose to dual hose featuring shampoos, bill readers, digital screens, etc. all at an equal price point pretty similar to J.E. Adams.
A third option you’ll see are combination machines by the Magic Mist brand. These feature dual hoses with the shampoo and fragrance options all in one.
Accepting Credit Cards and Payment Options for Your Commercial Vac
There are a few different options when it comes to accepting payment with commercial vacs. All vacuum machines come with the standard coin slot which leads into a coin storage chamber or vault-like box inside the machine.
While there are differences in where the vault is in the machine all machines have a safe and secure area for said change. As an upgrade, vacuum machines can have a bill acceptor placed on the machine. While this is a possibility, it will significantly increase the price by around $500 per machine.
For an even greater upgrade attach your machines with a card reader! However, this requires a card processing service. The most common payment methods for commercial vacuums are still coins, with most locations having a change machine for convenience.
Accepting Credit Cards
With that said, studies have shown that over 50 percent of consumers use credit cards for gas purchases, so having this option is really important to maximize your revenue from a commercial vac. While many vacuums come with card readers built-in, you can also have them installed.
Check out this page at Otiglobal.com for information on converting your vac. This company provides a ton of card readers and contactless readers that can really help to modernize your vacs and can be added to your air machines as well.
To Soap or Not To Soap – Combination Vacs
Where you’ll find the largest difference in price is whether or not your machine comes equipped with shampoo and spot removers. These machines boast features like dual hoses for separate vacuuming and shampooing. They also can come equipped with a fragrance spray. However, with the dual hoses comes the need for more power in order to perform at the level needed.
Let’s compare that to the best-selling model the J.E. Adams 9200. The 9200 sports two motors with only one hose for just over $1,300. The J.E. Adams 29072 features six motors with a dual hose system for shampooing and vacuuming for around $6,500.
This is a major increase but showcases the upgrade that comes with having shampoo machines. Not to mention the necessity to refill the shampoo machines, as one galloon of shampoo equates to roughly 128 minutes of vend time. When the question of to soap or not to soap arises the most important factor has to be your budget. While the shampoo and fragrance is a very nice amenity, it’s not a requirement. You can also purchase fragrances and spot remover refills from J.E. Adams.
With that said, let’s take a look at a few of the more popular types of commercial car wash vacs you’re likely to see on the market.
Recommendation 1: J.E. Adams 9200 2 Motor Super Vacuum
The J.E. Adams 9200-Super Vac is the top seller on the Kleen-Rite website. It’s a single hose vacuum with two motors. Both motors are 1.6HP 120 Volts. This vacuum is very affordable coming in at $1,335.00. Let’s take a look at some of the other specs:
- Standard Imonex coin acceptor (quarters only)
- 2 service doors with access to 4 filter bags
- SSAC 110 volt accumulating timer
- Coin box
Overall with this vacuum, you’re getting great value for the price and a top-notch vacuum from an excellent brand in J.E Adams.
J.E. Adams 9200-1LD 2 Motor Vac with Lighted Dome
The J.E. Adams 9200-1LD is basically the high tech version of the 9200. It’s a single hose vacuum with two motors and both motors also have the 1.6HP with 120 volts. However, there are some definite upgrades that come with the 9200-1LD:
- Dixmor digital display timer
- Programmable digital display
- Last coin alarm
- Lighted dome available in multiple colors
- Mars Series 2000 bill acceptor takes $1.00 and $5.00 bills
The biggest difference between these two base J.E. Adams models is the digital screen on the 1LD. This screen allows for a multitude of features like the countdown timer, the price messages, etc. While not a requirement this features allows for a much more customer interactive experience. This model also comes with a bill acceptor which can be a great selling point when it comes to deciding which car wash to use. The 9200-1LD has all of these additional features for a price of just over $2,500.
IVS 140000-2LD Power Vac – 2 Motors (Stainless or Lighted Domes)
IVS makes an appearance on the list with the IVS 140000-2LD. This is a single hose vacuum with dual motors. This vacuum is similar to the J.E. Adams 9200-Super Vac however, the exact specifications of the motors were not available online. (Although both require a 20 amp service). This vacuum does come with a lighted or stainless dome which is a nice option considering the price point on the IVS 140000-2LD is just over $1,500. Here are some of the additional features on the IVS 140000:
- Coin Vault and pin lock
- 2 heavy-duty motors (requires 20 amp service)
- Lighted dome
- Imonex coin acceptor
These features along with a reasonable price point make this IVS a great option if J.E. Adams doesn’t have the vacuum you’re looking for.
J.E. Adams 29070 – Ultra Series Turbo Vac (Shampoo, Air, Spot Remover)
Last but certainly not least on our list is the J.E. Adams 29070. Ferrari, Lamborghini, and the J.E. Adams 29070. This is the cream of the crop when it comes to all-on-one commercial vacuums. The 29070 comes loaded with a double hose and three motors. These motors are both 1.6 HP and 120 volts. The 29070 dual hose system works as one hose is used for vacuuming while the other adds the capability to shampoo and scrub your vehicle. Here are a few of the features:
- Dixmor digital display timer
- Mars bill acceptor for $1 and $5 bills
- Coin box has 800 quarter capacity
- Comes fragrances
- Lighted push buttons
If you’re looking for the power, technology, and all the bells and whistles this is the vacuum for you.
Parts and Maintenance
eBay is an option when looking to buy parts, but as far as entire machines go the best and most cost-effective option is Kleen-Rite. As for maintenance, there are many companies that can work on these vacs if they break, but as an owner you can probably service them yourself.
No matter what bags you have, you will need to change your bags. Many vacs contain either two or four bags, which can be replaced every year. The video below by Kleen-Rite explains how to change these and what to know about servicing them.
Gaskets are also very important to replace every so often, as these are responsible for maintaining suction and prolonging the life of the motors.
One Last Note
Overall the commercial car wash vacuum market presents an opportunity and the ability to customize your own business giving your car wash a unique identity. You may want a vac with a lighted dome to draw attention at night (these look great), but it really depends on what you need for your car wash.
If you are looking to purchase several vacs for a franchise or car wash system, you may want to check out NCS (National Car Wash Solutions). They have a wide network of partners across the United States who can help you with installing stations and booms. You can also find tons of accessories for your existing vac, like adding a canopy or new decals.
Have any other thoughts or recommendations? I’d love to hear from you!