Choosing the Right Sweeper

A sweeper is a mechanized piece of cleaning equipment that acts like a traditional broom to treat solid waste, but on a larger scale.
It is used for cleaning floors in industrial premises, warehouses, hangars, etc., as well as streets. There is a wide range of sweepers available from fully mechanical models (without motors) for small areas to combustion engine street sweepers used for cleaning cities. Sweepers should not be confused with scrubber-dryers (not covered in this buying guide). Sweepers perform a solid waste sweeping function while scrubber-dryers perform a floor cleaning function using a liquid detergent.

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  • Why choose a manual sweeper?

    A EUREKA manual sweeper
    A EUREKA manual sweeper

    A manual sweeper doesn’t have a motor, instead its rotating brush is connected to the wheels mechanically. When the operator pushes the sweeper, the rotational movement of the wheels is transmitted to the brush. This type of sweeper is more affordable to buy, but is reserved for small areas.

    Main points:

    • small area
    • motorless
    • powered by the operator’s pushing (wheel-brush connection)
  • Why choose a walk-behind sweeper?

    A TENNANT walk-behind sweeper
    A TENNANT walk-behind sweeper

    A walk-behind sweeper  has a motor which controls the machine’s traction and the rotation of the brushes. The operator no longer has to push the machine but simply guide it with minimal effort. The motorization of the brush and traction allows for efficient sweeping and increases the size of these machines as well as their working width and waste storage capacity, making them suitable for medium-sized surfaces (under 2,500 m²).

    Manufacturers offer a choice of walk-behind sweepers equipped with electric motors or combustion engines.

    Main points:

    • medium area
    • walk-behind
    • motorized traction and brush
    • electric motor or combustion engine (for exterior use)
  • Why choose a ride-on sweeper?

    A HAKO electric ride-on sweeper
    A HAKO electric ride-on sweeper

    A ride-on sweeper is a motorized sweeper where the operator sits on the machine and steers it with controls or a steering wheel. The increase in size and capacity of these machines compared to walk-behind sweepers and the reduction in fatigue of the operator who no longer has to walk means that these machines are suitable for cleaning large areas (up to 8,000 m²).

    Manufacturers offer a choice of electric ride-on sweepers or ones with combustion engines.

    Main points:

    • Large areas
    • Ride-on
    • Motorized traction and brush
    • Electric motor or combustion engine (for exterior use)
  • What is a street sweeper?

    A FIMAP street sweeper
    A FIMAP street sweeper

    Street sweepers are used to clean cities and parking lots. They are used for cleaning very large surfaces. As with ride-on sweepers, the conductor is seated.

    Street sweepers are very powerful. They can be used to collect all types of waste, whether light (like paper) or heavy (like bottles). Street sweepers also have a large waste storage capacity. As such, you will not need to temporarily pile up waste and transport it later. It is also important to note that street sweepers are designed to clean urban spaces without damaging them.

    Main points:

    • Urban cleaning or very large surfaces.
    • Large waste storage capacity
    • Vehicle-mounted or self-propelled
  • Sweeper or suction sweeper?

    A sweeper pushes waste towards the collection bin with the action of the rotating brush. A suction sweeper will also suck up the waste pushed by the brush. Cleaning is thus more efficient and the suction force of these machines makes it possible to treat denser waste than with a simple mechanical sweeper. These sweepers are however more expensive than traditional sweepers.

    Main points:

    • normal sweeper: waste is pushed into the collection bin by the brush
    • suction sweeper: waste is pushed by the brush and vacuumed up
  • Electric or combustion engine sweeper?

    Walk-behind and ride-on sweepers can be equipped with an electric motor powered by batteries or with a combustion engine.

    Electric models are limited by the autonomy of their battery which must allow them to clean the entire surface without being recharged.

    Combustion engines are not limited in terms of range as long as they can be refueled, but their exhaust emissions prevent them from being used indoors and they are therefore reserved for outdoor applications.

    Main points:

    • Battery: limited autonomy, for interior use
    • Combustion engine: “unlimited” autonomy, for external use
  • How to choose a sweeper?

    A Bucher Municipal ride-on street sweeper
    A Bucher Municipal ride-on street sweeper

    When choosing a sweeper, it is important to select a model adapted to the surface that needs to be cleaned and the applicable constraints.

    Manufacturers indicate two very important parameters in the technical specifications of their models:

    • The working width generally depends on the size of the machine and corresponds to the width that is swept with each passage of the machine.
    • A cleaning capacity in square meters per hour which corresponds to the theoretical area that the machine can sweep in an hour, depending on the working width and driving speed. This capacity correlated with the machine’s autonomy makes it possible to determine the surface that can be swept without needing to recharge the battery as well as the time required by the operator to carry out this task.

    When choosing a machine you must then take into account the working width adapted to the area that needs to be cleaned keeping in mind its layout (size, aisle width, etc.) and the cleaning capacity required to carry out the work. To make things simpler, some manufacturers indicate directly which area sizes their models are recommended for. Another factor to take into account is the motor type, electric motor or combustion engine, the latter being reserved for external sweeping because of the harmful emissions.

    Main selection criteria when purchasing a sweeper

    • Working width
    • Cleaning capacity
    • Autonomy
    • Motor type
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