A Commercial Floor Sweeper Buyer's Guide: Costs, Types and Purchasing Advice
For larger facilities and commercial cleaning companies, a commercial floor sweeper is a must-have, not a luxury.
These machines come with a wide variety of features, and incredible variations in size. This makes finding the right commercial sweeper to meet your needs a challenge. Costs vary from around $500 to $20,000 and more. The key to determining which machine you need is understanding your budget, your requirements, and the differences between the different sweeper models.
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What Are the Types of Commercial Floor Sweepers?
Floor sweepers bear little resemblance the broom sitting in your utility closet. There are many types of commercial sweepers, but they all have a few things in common.
Each machine includes brushes at the front and rear of the unit, and usually comes with different types of brushes. The operator chooses which brush type to use for the specific job. To remove lighter material, use brushes with finer bristles, whereas stuck-on dirt and heavier debris require rougher brushes with stiffer bristles.
The two main types of sweepers are walk-behind (also called pedestrian) and ride-on. Power options include battery or fuel (propane, gasoline, or diesel).
Walk-behind floor sweepers are better for smaller areas, or those with narrow access that require extra maneuverability. They are available in both battery- and fuel-powered models. The operator walks behind the unit (hence the name) using the controls on the handles or, if the sweeper includes this option, pre-programs the unit.
Ride-on floor sweepers are typically more heavy duty and used for both indoor and outdoor applications. Though you find a battery-powered ride-on unit, diesel and propane models are also available. Ride-on models typically include a higher-tech extraction and filtration system than pedestrian models do.
Choosing between these options depends on your budget and cleaning needs. The rider models clean a much larger area, around 52,000 square feet per hour on average, compared to 30,000 square feet per hour for a walk-behind model. Look at the actual square footage that needs sweeping, and how often you would use a commercial floor sweeper when deciding between the rider or walking models.
How Do I Know Which Commercial Sweeper I Need?
The easiest way to determine the best model for your needs is to answer the following questions.
- Do you prefer electric or fuel? If using the sweeper in an enclosed area, a fuel-operated machine may not work well, due to fumes.
- How much time do you want to spend sweeping? The amount of time it takes to clean an area determines your labor costs and influences the size machine you want.
- What is the size of area you need to clean? This includes total square footage as well as the width of doorways, aisles, and hallways. You also need to look at areas with obstacles and limited maneuverability.
- What kind of dirt are you sweeping? Removing food scraps from a kitchen or restaurant is a totally different beast from removing grease and gravel from a warehouse or dock, and different again from the relatively minor dirt and debris found in an office setting.
- What type of flooring are you cleaning? Is it concrete? Warehouse flooring? Office flooring? Smooth linoleum? Different flooring types have different brush requirements.
How Much Does a Commercial Floor Sweeper Cost?
Again, costs vary dramatically based on size, features, brand, and location. We can offer some basic guidelines, though.
- A basic model with few features starts as low as $150 and goes up to around $500
- Manual push sweepers start at around $500 and go up to around $2,000
- Self-propelled push sweepers range from around $2,500 to $5,000
- A push sweeper with a 25,000 square foot rating averages around $875
- An electric sweeper with a 30,000 square foot rating averages around $2,500
- A 3,450 RPM electric sweeper averages around $3,500
- Ride-on models start at around $5,000 and exceed $20,000
- An electric model rated at 65,000 square feet averages around $5,500
- An electric model rated at 91,000 square feet averages around $14,500
In addition to the unit, the cost of a maintenance plan averages around $750 per year. Check whether any warranty or maintenance plan is included with the unit, and what comes with an additional cost.
Regular maintenance extends the life of the machine, and saves you from expensive repairs, so consider purchasing a maintenance plan if the warranty does not include one.
When is it Better to Buy a Floor Sweeper?
Businesses that handle their floor cleaning in-house typically use a floor sweeper at least once a month, and many do it weekly and even daily. It all depends on the nature of the business. For these businesses, renting cleaning equipment is not the answer, as the cost over time is far greater than the expense of purchasing a machine outright. Typically, within five or six rentals, you'll have paid the price of a new unit, especially with the average commercial floor sweeper renting for around $250 per day.
The same is true for leasing your cleaning equipment. Though leasing is cheaper than renting, it's still more expensive than the purchase price of the machine. In addition, you cannot sell leased equipment, meaning you never get to recoup any of that expense.
Purchasing equipment outright also allows you greater freedom in choosing the exact machine to fulfill your needs, as well as maintaining it and performing repairs. In leasing, you must rely on your leasing company to handle any issues, which may delay much-needed repairs. In addition, cleaning equipment doesn't carry the risk of becoming outdated or obsolete the way standard office equipment does, so you don't need to worry much about upgrading.
Ownership also allows you to claim the expense on your taxes, including the purchase price, maintenance, and replacement parts. You may also be able to finance the purchase instead of paying a large lump sum upfront.
When is it Better to Rent a Floor Sweeper?
Some businesses only have use of a floor sweeper a few times a year. You may even only need to use one once. In these cases, the financial burden of purchasing or even leasing a floor sweeper is both prohibitive and unnecessary.
People also choose to rent floor sweepers to save money on maintenance, storage, and general upkeep. When you rent, these costs belong to the rental agent instead of you. In fact, if you only use the machine a few times each year, you stand a good chance of it developing problems due to lack of use, especially battery-powered units.
You may also prefer to rent in order to preserve working capital, especially in your startup phase, when you face numerous expenses for equipment necessary to the day-to-day operations of your business. Cleaning equipment falls well below the urgency of outfitting your employees with up-to-date technology.
Finally, you may decide to rent a floor sweeper to determine (1) how much machine you really need and (2) whether it makes better sense for your business to handle floor cleaning in-house or outsource it to a commercial cleaning company.
When is it Better to Lease a Floor Sweeper?
Many businesses choose to lease their cleaning equipment, as it offers some of the benefits of buying as well as some of the benefits you get with renting.
The most popular reason businesses choose leasing is because it preserves working capital and improves cash flow. If yours is a new business, or if you're in the middle of a growth spurt, this can be especially important. The cost, over time, to lease is greater than purchasing a floor sweeper outright, but far less than the cost of renting. What's more, the upfront cost is significantly less than buying, with easily budgeted monthly payments.
Leasing also reduces the debt column on your financial statements, creating a better balance sheet if you need an infusion of capital. At the same time, you usually get to claim your lease payment on your taxes (check with your CPA to be sure).
Another big plus in the lease column is the lack of worry over routine maintenance, which is the responsibility of the leasing company, not you. Finally, you may also be able afford a more powerful machine with a lease than if you bought the unit outright. Or, you can upgrade to a larger machine if your business needs change. In the end, the decision of which option – buying, renting, or leasing – is the right one comes down to what your business needs.