In their day, wheel operated vacuums approached the cutting edge of early technology. They exhibited a sophistication that was not present in earlier vacuum designs. This style of machine provided powerful and continuous suction for its user. The increase in vacuum even allowed for larger diameter hoses and bigger cleaning tools. Typically, one person cranked the wheel while another cleaned with a wand or hand tool.
Mechanical advantage was achieved through the use of belts and pulleys. The hand, or power wheel, was set into motion with a cranking handle. The large wheel drove a belt that also went around a much smaller pulley. The small pulley was fixed to a shaft which would spin a fan or pump a set of bellows. These machines were used effectively until the early electric vacuums became popular.