Self-retracting central vacuum hose systems have been around for around 13 years and have gone through quite a few transitions since the original Hide-A-Hose was introduced.
Today, there are a few more options available. The HS4000 valve, HS5000 valve, Canavac’s Doc-It, Retraflex offered everywhere except the United States because of patent laws and legal agreements and the very latest to market, Chameleon by HP Products, manufacturer of VacuFlo central vacuums.
Breaking down the differences can be confusing. Here’s our take on the different systems.
First we’ll start with the Doc-it. The first and only retractable hose that worked via mechanical motors and gears. Originally showing promise as the only system using a 120 volt powered carpet head, this system has been plagued with one engineering problem after another. The system works with electronic motors, gears and sensors which have been a nightmare for system owners as well as the manufacturers who have sold off the design over and over again.
Hide-A-Hose designed, patented and sold the first retractable hose system on the market. While there have been a few problems along the way, the HS4000 valve has been on the market for over 9 years and has proven to be the most robust and reliable implementation yet.
Hide-A-Hose came out with the HS5000 valve about 3 years ago and it was a hit due to its smaller size, about 3/4 of the HS4000. While the HS5000 has gone through a few redesigns in that period, about 1/2 of the retractable hose installation companies still prefer the HS4000 because of its proven reliability and ease of use. The HS5000’s locking mechanism is a bit stiffer to use and consumers with arthritis as well as weaker hands sometimes have problems operating it.
Retraflex was a revolutionary design, however because it is based on the Hide-A-Hose patented locking mechanism, it can not be released in the United States for another three years at least. The overall design is fantastic and perhaps the best implementation of the retractable hose on the market today… just not available in the USA.
The new kid on the block is Chameleon Inlet by VacuFlo. It has been on the market for about 1 year now. Overall the Chameleon is a nice design, but lacks a key feature that when compared to the other valves, takes it out of contention for many people that have been in the industry for a long time. The hose does not lock in place unless you use a locking clip. While the locking clip solves the problem, its and external/secondary component that many consider an inconvenience. Without the locking clip in place, you need to pull the hose out to its very end, or creeps back into the inlet while using certain cleaning attachments. VacuFlo contends that as an advantage of not locking the hose, consumers are able to pull the hose out to a longer length at any time while vacuuming (as long has its not already pulled out to its full length already. Before we recommend the Chameleon Inlet Valve, we’d like to see it out on the market for a few more years and see if they can fix the lack of a built in locking system.
With that said, the beauty of the HS4000 Hide-A-Hose inlet design is the ability to use the hose at any length desired without creeping back in, as well as 12 years of actual consumer testing. While Hose Genie has the option to use an other inlet design, the advantages of the Hide-A-Hose HS4000 far outweigh the problems and unknowns of other products.