Choosing the Right Street Sweeper: Mechanical vs. Pure Vacuum vs. Regenerative Air Sweepers

Choosing the Right Street Sweeper: Mechanical vs. Pure Vacuum vs. Regenerative Air Sweepers

Choosing the Right Street Sweeper: Mechanical vs. Pure Vacuum vs. Regenerative Air Sweepers

Municipalities, utility workers and local government contractors responsible for street cleaning applications can benefit from exploring the key distinctions between different types of street sweepers on the market. Each model is best suited for specific uses, and choosing the right sweeper is essential for supporting the most efficient and highest-quality performance.

Mechanical, pure vacuum and regenerative air sweepers are among the most popular options. Explore their key features and advantages below to determine the best choice for your unique applications.

Mechanical Sweepers 

Mechanical sweepers, also called mechanical broom sweepers, use a heavy-duty brush to push dirt and debris from a surface toward a conveyor belt or elevator system. The belt/elevator propels the materials into the truck’s hopper for collection. These machines typically offer a high dump configuration that allows for offloading into a dump truck or roll off container.

These are among the most popular types of street sweepers on the market and are best suited for large debris pickup as opposed to fine material. They are your workhorse machines that will gobble up anything in their path, although they may not always leave the pristine clean ground behind that you would look for in an air machine. In tandem sweeping operations, these are often your lead machine that will take the brunt of the beating to pick up the bulk heavy material for an air machine to follow behind after and clean up the fines.

Primary Applications for Mechanical Broom Sweepers

The brushes on these sweepers are versatile enough to clean a wide variety of road surfaces and conditions. They efficiently clear heavy materials and debris, such as rocks, leaves, gravel or waste and are less sensitive to poor road conditions where there may not be a smooth and polished surface.

Mechanical sweepers are often used to clear roadways after street maintenance, tackle road construction or conduct routine street cleanings. They are not ideal for porous surfaces or clearing finer materials. Bigger cities and construction companies often prefer these machines for their ability to handle large loads of heavy material and how forgiving they can be when operating in poor road conditions.

Key Mechanical Sweeper Benefits

The following are key advantages of using mechanical broom sweepers for your applications:

  • Heavy-duty debris collection: Mechanical sweepers can handle larger kinds of debris and trash, making them a great option for removing unwanted obstacles from highways and roads. 
  • Simple design: These sweepers feature a relatively simple design compared to other models, making them especially easy to operate and maintain for peak performance. 
  • Cost-effectiveness: Compared to other types of sweepers, mechanical broom sweepers can be more affordable and have a variety of more compact options at lower price points. These are a great option for operators looking for an efficient clearing solution for periodic use on a tighter budget.

Pure Vacuum Sweepers

Pure vacuum sweepers use powerful suction instead of a conveyor belt or elevator system to collect debris from the ground surface and transport it into the vehicle’s hopper or storage container. Most models also spray water during operation to promote greater dust control and avoid discharging fine dust and dirt particles into the air. Typically, a center or belly broom will be used to guide material from the middle of the road to the vacuum nozzle riding along the curb.

These sweepers are often the perfect solution if you have a variety of applications and can only afford to have one machine in the fleet. They offer a “best of both worlds” approach for an option that will perform better in heavy material than regenerative air machines and better in fine material than mechanical machines. For this reason, vacuum sweepers are often the sweet spot for users who want a “jack of all trades”.

Key Applications of Different Sweepers

Common Applications for Vacuum Sweepers

These sweepers are an excellent choice for clearing fine materials, such as dust or sand. They are also well-suited for cleaning jobs involving uneven surfaces because the suction can effectively draw particles up and out. The biggest limitation for any air machine (vacuum or regen) is that they can only collect objects small enough to fit inside their vacuum nozzles, which is why mechanical machines are preferred in applications that routinely encounter larger objects.

Vacuum sweepers are a go-to option for porous pavement surfaces because they offer the ability to suck debris upwards rather than pushing it further down. They are also great options for catch basin cleaning if equipped with an optional vacuum hose. They are ideal for cleaning applications where air quality is especially important, including industrial facilities, urban areas, residential neighborhoods or construction sites.

Top Benefits of Choosing Vacuum Sweepers

Vacuum sweeper models can provide various advantages, including:

  • Dust control: Compared to mechanical brush sweepers, vacuum sweepers effectively reduce dust and particles released into the air, especially models with water systems. 
  • Powerful cleaning capabilities: The strong suction on a vacuum sweeper can dislodge debris and provide a deeper clean. These sweepers are particularly versatile, enabling them to tackle a wider range of applications than mechanical models. 
  • Multi-Purpose solutions: These machines are extremely versatile and can be used for applications like street flushing, litter pickup, or catch basin cleaning (in addition to sweeping).

Regenerative Air Sweepers

Regenerative air sweepers leverage high-velocity air blasts to dislodge debris on the ground surface. They also use suction — similar to that of vacuum options — to suck the loose materials into the truck’s hopper. The jolt of air can drive materials out of small cracks and hard-to-reach areas. 

These models can collect dirt and debris across the entire width of the sweeper through use of a suction hood running across the belly of the machine and creating the “air knife” to move material over to the curb suction nozzle (as opposed to the vacuum sweeper that relies solely on its center broom to accomplish this task). Regenerative air sweepers also have a dust separation system that supports a cleaner sweeping process.

Key Applications for Regenerative Air Sweepers

Regenerative air sweepers are a great option for getting the absolute cleanest road conditions possible, but can struggle in less than ideal road conditions or picking up larger objects. They can effectively remove fine particles like dust and sand and leave behind a pristine path as they go. However, they are very reliant on maintaining a good seal under the suction hood in order to achieve optimal performance, which can prove challenging with poor road conditions such as potholes, crowns, and uneven surfaces. These machines are often the weapon of choice when you are dealing with well maintained sufaces and want the absolute cleanest deliverable possible. Similar to vacuum machines, they are limited in only being able to pickup objects that are small enough to fit through the vacuum nozzle. Primary applications for regenerative air sweepers include new construction, college campuses, preparing airport runways, and commercial parking lot cleaning.

Thanks to their dust separation system, regenerative air sweepers are a go-to option for applications where cleanliness and air quality are paramount, including urban communities, neighborhoods, parks, industrial facilities and event venues. 

Leading Benefits of Regenerative Air Sweepers 

Explore some key regenerative air sweeper advantages below:

  • Efficiency: These sweepers can deliver advanced efficiency compared to other models because they provide a wider cleaning path that sweeps across the truck’s width.
  • Pristine clean finish: When road conditions permit, no other type of sweeper will offer a more perfect finish than regenerative air with no fines left behind.
  • Low maintenance: A key benefit of these models is their relative lack of maintenance compared to vacuum and especially mechanical. There are very few moving parts and very little greasing to be done in relative terms.

Choosing the Right Street Sweeper for Your Applications

The right street sweeper depends on your specific uses and cleaning needs. Be sure to explore the following factors before choosing a model for your next job.

Type of Debris

A key consideration when selecting a street sweeper is the kind of debris you typically clear. Mechanical sweepers are best for jobs involving heavy debris like rocks and construction waste. Regenerative air sweepers are effective for finer, lighter-weight materials. Pure vacuum models can handle a diverse range of debris types and applications.

Surface Characteristics

What type of surfaces do you typically work on? You can rely on a mechanical sweeper to tackle main roads, highways and pathways. Regenerative air and vacuum sweepers are better if the ground is even or features cracks, crevices or porous surfaces. These sweepers are also particularly well-suited for sensitive areas, like residential neighborhoods, where you want to control air pollution and dust.

Environmental Considerations

Consider the locations you typically sweep and the potential challenges in those environments. This will impact what size sweeper you should choose to support maneuverability and performance. Compact models are best for tight spaces, sidewalks and urban streets, while larger models support greater efficiency for bigger-scale jobs like clearing commercial parking lots or construction sites. All three types of sweepers have available solutions in both chassis mounted and purpose built configurations.

Why Trust Us?

MTech is your go-to destination for exceptional industrial products in Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania, and we have been serving the sewer, street and safety industries for nearly five decades

MTech is known for premium products and superior service, and our team always strives to deliver the best customer experiences. You can reach sales and service experts any time you need us. Whether you’re dealing with a breakdown at noon or midnight, we are here to get your equipment up and running as soon as possible.

Request a Quote for a Durable Sweeper From MTech Today

Request a Quote for a Durable Sweeper From MTech Today

If you need a top-quality street sweeper, browse the premium inventory from MTech. We have mechanical broom, pure vacuum and regenerative air sweepers from Bucher Municipal and Global Environmental Products available now. 

We have solutions for all types of work environments, from dusty construction sites to airport runways. We’ll help your operation supercharge productivity and uptime with reliable products and round-the-clock service support. Our team will ensure you get the right sweeper options for your toughest applications and unique line of work.

Request a quote from MTech to get started today. 

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