Do you work in construction? Have a wood-working shop? Do you often do-it-yourself with projects around your home?
Whether you are a professional out in the field of the master of your own domain, the purchase of a shop vac is an important decision to consider. There is more to this choice than simply buying the cheapest shop vac on the market. Determining which shop vac to buy depends on the task at hand.
This review will look at five of the top shop vacs on the market. Not all brands are created equal, and you don't want to be left with a shop vac which clogs, isn't powerful enough, or isn't fitted for your intended purpose. We will consider each of these aspects with a little extra assistance thrown in to be sure you find the right shop vac for the job.
These products have made it on this list due to their effective quality for various jobs and for their overall value to customers. We will look at shop vacs in a variety of price ranges, with different designs, and of varied sizes. At the conclusion of this review, you will have a better understanding of each product in this review.
Top 5: Shop Vac Review
Product Image & Rating (Out Of 10)
This product is ideal for smaller, more common tasks but is an industry leader in performance. The DeWalt 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac is one of Amazon's Choice wet/dry vacuums. Equipped with a powerful 4 peak horsepower motor, this shop vac provides the right amount of suction for just about any clean-up job.
It also comes with a strong built-in blower port which allows for removing sawdust and other debris from your workshop. Additionally, this shop vac comes with a ten-foot cord to help reach just about any area in your workspace. Most importantly, the DeWalt 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac has been battle tested by customers.
Next on our list is the Vacmaster 12 Gallon, 5 Peak HP, Wet/Dry Vacuum. This product comes with a little heavier price tag than our previous shop vac, but it also comes with a tank double the size of our previous product. Moreover, this shop vac has a more powerful 5 peak horsepower motor and a longer twelve feet cord.
However, the most impressive difference with the Vacmaster is that it is a 2-in-1 tool equipped with a quick release detachable blower. With just one hand, you can press a button and turn your shop vac into a powerful blower which can be used for more than your cleaning your workspace. The detachable blower can also be used for ridding your yard of pesky leaves or clearing grass clippings.
Our next shop vac is designed specifically to assist with cleaning the interior of your vehicle. The Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum comes with a smaller tank and less horsepower than our previous two products. However, this product comes with something the others don't.
The Armor All vacuum is equipped with a built-in air and noise diffuser for quiet operation. Additionally, this shop vac easily converts into a blower allowing you to dry your motorcycle and those hard to reach places such as your car's grill and wheels. Finally, this product has an automatic shut off to prevent overflow.
You can rest assured the Armor All 2.5 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum is the perfect product for all your car cleaning needs.
Our next product is the Shop-Vac 5989300, 5 Gallon, 4.5 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum. Not quite as big as the DeWalt nor as powerful as the Vacmaster, this shop vac is a happy medium for those working on medium sized jobs. What this shop vac lacks in size it makes up for in design.
Equipped with a secure latch system, the Shop-Vac 5989300 makes sure your tank and lid are held together. Like the previous products we've covered, this shop vac comes with a rear blower port converting your vacuum into a powerful blower ready for clean-up. The Shop-Vac is also equipped for portability with its top and side carry handles.
Most importantly, this product comes with accessories and filters such as three extension wands, a crevice tool, gulper and floor nozzle, a foam sleeve, and a filter bag. To set its design apart from the rest, this product also provides tool storage on the vacuum, so you'll never loose your accessories. Lastly, the Shop-Vac 5989300 is equipped with a dolly at the base to prevent the vacuum from tipping over during use.
If design is a big component in your decision on which product to buy, the Shop-Vac 5989300 may be the right shop vac for you.
The final product on our list is the Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Vac Beast Series. This vacuum behemoth is named appropriately. This shop vac is a beast. Clearly, the largest and most powerful shop vac of the lot, this product is perfect for those large jobs which cause other shop vacs to shake in their boots.
Equipped with a 16-gallon tank, the Vacmaster Professional can hold more debris than most other shop vacs on the market. Additionally, its 6.5 peak horsepower motor ensures the proper amount of suction for just about any job. The Vacmaster Professional also comes with a twenty-foot cord to ensure you'll be reaching every square inch of your workspace.
Finally, this shop vac takes the best parts of all the other products covered and fits them into one vacuum. It easily converts into a powerful blower, provides a crevice tool for hard to reach spaces, has two extension wands, and a noise diffuser for quiet operation. Now, you may be thinking with all this power and convenience, the Vacmaster Professional must surely come with the heftiest price tag.
However, you'd be wrong. This beast of a machine carries a similar price tag to the previous Vacmaster we discussed. So, not only is this machine a monster of cleaning your work space, but it is also affordable.
best shop vac - Buying Guide
You can't go wrong with any product on this list. Each of the provided shop vacs comes with different features for a variety of customer types. Whether you are looking for a large beast of a machine like the Vacmaster Professional or a smaller shop vac for specified tasks like the Armor All, you are sure to find the perfect product on this list.
If you are on a job site, I'd recommend the Vacmaster Professional for its large tank, powerful motor, and twenty-foot cord. However, if you are a do-it-yourselfer with a home workshop, I'd recommend the DeWalt 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac as it is the definition of "just right." While the 12-gallon Vacmaster is impressive for its 2-in-1 design, that will mostly come in handy if you don't already own a separate blower.
Commonly Asked Questions
What are shop vacs used for?
Shop vacs can be used for a variety of cleaning tasks, though they are most commonly used for woodworking and construction. Unlike standard vacuums, they can be used to suck up larger chunks of debris and even metal items, such as screws or nails, that may be left behind after completing a task.
How is a shop vac different from a regular vacuum?
While shop vacs and regular vacuums both clean by sucking up items, there are many big differences between these two products. Standard household vacuums can only be used to suck up very small items, like dust, dirt, or pet hair. Shop vacs are designed to be able to such up sharp and large items, like piece of dry wall, wood chips, or nails, that work destroy a standard vacuum.
Since shop vacs are a heavier duty option than a regular vacuum, they are also much larger. They are designed with a large drum and a heavy-duty hose. Because of their design and wide hose, it is very hard to clog a shop vac.
Shop vacs also have a very powerful motor when compared to a normal vacuum. The way you operate a shop vac is also different from how you operate a standard vacuum. Standard vacuums are designed to be pushed around, while you operate a shop vac by sliding the hose over the mess you need to clean up.
Can you use a shop vac to clean your house?
While you can use a shop vac to clean your home, that is really not what they are designed for. They are meant for heavier duty cleaning tasks and won't be as easy to maneuver around a space when you just want to vacuum the floors.
Do I need a shop vac for my house?
If you are looking for a product that will primarily be used to clean the hard floors and carpets in your home, a shop vac is probably not what you're looking for. However, if you'll be completing home improvement projects where you'll want to be able to clean up big messes, a shop vac may be a good purchase to make.
Can you use a shop vac outside?
Yes, you can use a shop vac outside. They can be very useful for cleaning up yard messes on your patio or deck or for cleaning up after an outdoor construction project. Because of their heavy-duty design, it is unlikely that you'll clog a shop vac sucking up things found outside.
What does CFM mean with shop vacs?
CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. It refers to a shop vac's maximum airflow at the largest opening. The higher a CFM, the more effective a shop vac will be at picking up dust and other very fine particles.
Can shop vacs pick up water?
Yes, some shop vacs can suck up water. These are a different type of shop vac and are called a wet/dry vac. Choosing to purchase a wet/dry vac will make the item you select more versatile and will allow you to use it in a variety of different ways.
Do shop vacs have a filter?
Unless you're planning to clean up water, you will want to leave the filter in your vacuum when using it. Without the filter, it will be much easier for the vacuum to become clogged, which could damage it or prevent it from being able to work properly.
Do you need to remove the filter from a shop vac if you're sucking up water?
Yes, if you're going to be using your shop vac to suck up water, you will want to remove the filter to make sure it stays dry and doesn't get ruined. Some vacuums may allow you to leave the filter in when sucking up very small amounts of water, but you'll want to confirm this with your user's guide.
Do shop vacs need a bag?
You do not need a bag to use a shop vac. You can suck dirt and debris directly into the canister and empty the canister when it gets full.
That being said, you may decide that using a bag with your vacuum is the best option. With a bag, clean up will be much quicker and easier. You won't need to worry about scraping out anything that gets stuck inside the canister or about trying to clean out the canister.
How do you know when a shop vac bag is full and needs to be changed?
You may be able to tell that your bag is full based on your vacuum feeling heavier. If it feels significantly heavier than it usually does, it is probably a good idea to check the bag and see if it is full.
Another way to determine if your bag needs to be changed it to open up the shop vac and look at the bag. This should only take a second, but will let you know right away whether the bag is full and needs to be replaced.
Finally, if you notice that the vacuum's suction does not seem as strong, it is often an indicator that the bag is too full and should be changed.
Why is my shop vac blowing dust back into the room?
If your shop vac is blowing dust or debris back into the air, it is likely related to a problem with the filter, since the filter is responsible for trapping the dust. Some possible problems that could be causing this include an improperly installed filter or a hole in the filter.
In some cases, the dust you are sucking up may be too fine for the filter to handle. If this is the case, you will need to purchase a new filter that can handle very fine dust and dirt. HEPA filters are best for capturing very small particles, so you will want to look for one of these for your shop vac.
What is a good horsepower for a shop vac?
The way you plan on using your shop vac can help you determine how much horsepower you'll want it to have. If you'll just be using your vacuum for small jobs and will only be sucking up small items like dirt or small pieces of debris, you will probably be fine with a 1- or 2-horsepower model.
However, if you think you'll be using your vacuum to suck up larger or heavier items, opt for a model with more horsepower. You can find some shop vacs that offer as much as 6 horsepower.
Can you drain water with a shop vac?
Yes, some shop vac models can be used to drain water. If you are looking for this capability, you will want to purchase a shop vac that comes with a water pump feature.
With water pump shop vacs, you can hook up a garden hose to a port on one side of the vacuum. When you suck up the water with the shop vac's hose, it will be pumped out through the garden hose.
With other wet/dry vacuums that don't have a water pump feature, you would need to stop periodically to empty the tank when it gets filled with water. So, if you'll have a need to remove large quantities of water, purchasing a water pump shop vacuum can definitely make the task less complicated or time-consuming.
Can you get a longer hose for a shop vac?
Yes, many manufacturers offer extension hoses for their shop vacs. And, since the hose port on most shop vacs are the same size, you should be able to purchase a hose from a different manufacturer to use with your shop vac if you can't find one from your manufacturer.
What accessories come with a shop vac?
Some shop vacs come with minimal accessories. They may only include the hose and a nozzle or two. Other shop vacs may come with additional accessories, such as extension wants, a car nozzle, brush attachments, and more.
If your shop vac doesn't include all the accessories you want or need, you can purchase accessories packs that should be compatible with most shop vac models. The accessories included in different packs will vary, but you may find packs that include items such as triangle brushes, crevice tools, nozzles of various shapes, extension wands, and floor brushes.
Can I buy replacement parts for my shop vac?
You will want to confirm with the manufacturer of your shop vac to see if replacement parts are available. In many cases, you should be able to find replacement parts for the product you have, especially if it is still relatively new.
There's a lot to be said for each of these machines. However, please be sure to do additional research in order to find the perfect shop vac for your required task. While each of these machines have their pros and cons, only you can know which one will be best suited for your work space.