But a conventional vacuum cleaner simply won’t do if you’re a woodworker or a contractor. The types of projects you take on require something as heavy-duty and as versatile as a shop vac.
In this article, we’re going to learn what a shop vac is and how you can make your workshop or job site cleaner and safer with this piece of equipment.
We’re also going to review some of the best shop vacs available online and in your favorite local hardware store. Feel free to use our buying guide below to help you choose the right shop vac for your workshop, business, or home.
1. Sale WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA High Capacity Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner, 16-Gallon Shop Vacuum Cleaner, 6.5 Peak HP Wet And Dry Vacuum 2-1/2-inch x 7-foot dual-flex locking Hose offers 180 degree flexibility at both hose ends. Locking tab keeps hose connected to the wet dry vacuum cleaner during use Qwik Lock filter fastening system allows quick and easy wet dry vacuum filter changes and contains an auto shut-off float mechanism that helps prevent overflow during wet pickups. Accessory storage on the feet and top keeps vacuum attachments secure and within reach This shop vacuum cleaner has a tough copolymer drum to resist dents and cracks, It will not rust and has a large drain for easy liquid disposal. Not compatible with dust collection bags. Integrated blowing port provides added versatility to this powerful wet dry vacuum cleaner, allowing a user to blow unwanted debris out of garages, jobsites, and driveways. Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 2. CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum with Attachments HEAVY-DUTY: Powerful 6.5 peak HP provides extra power for large projects in the garage, shop and on the jobsite BUILT-IN BLOWER PORT: Rear blowing port on this wet dry vac allows for quick cleaning of leaves and grass clippings in your garage and outdoors OVERSIZED DRAIN: Built-in oversized drain on the wet/dry vac allows for convenient emptying of liquids DUAL-FLEX TECHNOLOGY: 2-1/2 in. diameter shop vacuum hose features Dual-Flex technology for 180-degree mobility at each end to resist kinking ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: 2-1/2 in. x 7 ft. Pos-I-Lock Dual-Flex Hose, 2 Extension Wands, Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle, Wet Nozzle, Qwik Lock Filter and Dust Collection Bag Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 3. Stanley 6 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum , 4 Peak HP Poly 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction, Multifunctional Shop Vacuum W/ 4 Horsepower Motor for Job Site,Garage,Basement,Van,Workshop,Vehicle We are the official seller of wet and dry vacuum cleaners, 100% of the products in our shop are genuine.Stanley is a well-known company that focuses on R & D, production and sales of vacuum cleaners. In addition, stanley is the recognized world leader in wet/dry vacuum cleaners. Since 1843, we have produced innovative, high quality vacuum cleaners, hose, filters, bags, & other accessories Advantages: 1. Large capacity. ---- 6 gallons of capacity can satisfy normal daily using for you, you can use it for a long time without frequent cleaning of the trash inside. 2.Easy to use.---You just need to close the cover, connect the hose, and plug in the power so that you can use it. 3.Powerful vacuuming ability.----The 4.0 horsepower makes it easy to suck all kinds of debris, garbage, dirty water into tank. 4.Weight 13.8 pounds, with wheels, lightweight, portable, movable Applications Target: Benefit from its powerful vacuuming function, it is very useful for household, upholster, garage, workshop, hotel, car wash, laundry, shop, jobsite, bedroom, kitchen etc Features: Reach far away --- Over 16 foot of cleaning reach (6 foot hose and 10 foot power cord) allows you to reach farther without unplugging the unit. Long life cycle.--- It can work over 300 hours continuously. Extra large drain port.--- Provides easy vacuuming & emptying. Large transfer switch.--- make it convenient for using. Big handle,easy to carry WHAT YOU GET --- Stanley SL18116P Wet / Dry Vac x 1, 1-1/4"x6’ super flexible hose x 1,extension wands x 3, gulper nozzle, floor nozzle x 1,crevice nozzle x 1,foam filter x 1, dust bag x 1, reusable dry filter x 1, 12-month warranty Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 4. Sale Porter-Cable 5 Gallon Wet Dry Vacuum, 4 Peak HP Stainless Steel 3 in 1 Shop Vac Blower with Powerful Suction, Multifunctional Shop Vacuum W/ 4 Horsepower Motor for Job Site,Garage,Basement,Workshop 【LARGER CAPACITY】Porter-Cable PCX18406-5B Wet / Dry Vacuum has a 19 L large capacity, makes small clean-up jobs a breeze for you as you don’t have to empty the bucket frequently any more 【VERSATILE & POWERFUL】Thanks to the 4 peak HP motor, this vac offers powerful enough suction needed to almost any cleanup jobs in vehicle, jobsite, workshop, garage, basement, van, house, etc 【3 in 1 FUNCTION】With this versatile vac you can vacuum both wet liquid spills and dry debris, dust, saw, dirt or blow leaves away(use blower port), just organize the hose and power cord on top handle and side wraps after using, conveniently 【FARTHER CLEANUP】With over 15 ft of cleaning reach(5 ft hose, 10 ft power cord and 3 pieces of extension wands) it’s easy to do a farther cleanup for you without unplugging the unit, while it has four swivel casters for convenient and easy manoeuvrability 【WHAT YOU GET】PORTER-CABLE PCX18406-5B Wet / Dry Vac x 1, 1-1/4"x5’ super flexible hose x 1,extension wands x 3;floor nozzle x 1,crevice nozzle x 1,gulper nozzle x 1,foam filter x 1;dust bag x 1,storage bag x 1;reusable dry filter x 1;inflator kit, 36-Month Warranty.Note:All accessories are inside of the tank Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 5. Sale Vacmaster VJC507P 5-Gallon 3 Peak HP Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum, Blue, 5 gal 5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank 3 Peak HP Motor 8 Ft. Cord with Cord Wrap On-Board Accessory Storage Locking Hose Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 6. Sale AUTLEAD Wet Dry Vacuum 5.5 HP 5.5 Gallon Pure Copper Motor Wet/Dry/Blow 3 in 1 Shop Vac, Stable Round Bucket Design with Pulley System and HEPA Filter [SUPER PERFORMANCE SUCTION AND PURE COPPER MOTOR] The product's suction capacity is up to 5.5HP, which is higher than similar products on the market. It produces with pure copper wire motor, and also inside with the buoy technology double assure the operation safety [HIGH CAPACITY FOR HOME/BUSINESS USE] 5.5 gallons of capacity makes it ideal for home and business. Its relatively small size makes it easy to store and move. It also has a good performance in collecting the dust on the carpet/floors/cars/garage or in shops. The easy open hook makes it more convenient to release the waste to the trash bin [COMPLETE ACCESSORIES] Floor brush, T-brush, sofa brush , disposable dust bag, HEPA filter and extension wands all include this model, one stop solution, full sets of vacuum cleaning attachments provided, which brings a better experience for your home cleaning work [3 IN 1 MULTI-FUNCTION & EASY USE] This vacuum can use in dry /wet vacuum also it can be used as the blower to clean the leaf/dust/chippings. You just need connect the wand and the brush, one start button can start your work [WHAT YOU GET FROM US] 1 Vacuum cleaner, 3 extension wands, 1 hose (1.26 inches in diameter and 4.9 feet long), 1 floor brush,1 T-brush, 1 sofa brush, 1 HEPA filter, 1 disposable dust bag, 1 user manual ,1X 24 months service card. Check Price Below Buy on Amazon 7. Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum 2.5 Gallon Polypropylene Tank 2 Peak HP Motor 10 Ft. Cord With Cord Wrap Blower Function – Easy Conversion On-board Accessory & Hose Storage Check Price Below Buy on Amazon
1. WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Shop Vacuum Pros: It has a high-capacity and durable 16-gallon plastic tank. This is a portable shop vac. Moving it from one part of your workshop to another is super easy thanks to its four casters. It has a 7-ft. hose with a locking mechanism and a diameter of 2 1/2 inches. The built-in locking mechanism ensures that it won’t come off from the equipment while you’re working. It is versatile. It can be your regular shop vac that you can attach to your power tools or you can use the different attachments included in the package to clean your workshop or home. Cons: It is so loud. If you’re using it with a power tool, make sure that you’re using ear protection. Sebring Tip:
The WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner is the king of shop vacs thanks to its powerful 12 amp motor that offers reliable and impressive performance. The large and durable plastic drum completes this top rated shop vac. Plus, it has a 169 CFM rating, and 46 inches of water lift.
Moving it around the workshop or the house is a breeze thanks to the four casters at the base. Plus, making sure that it keeps your work table clean while using your scroll saw or belt sander is easy thanks to its powerful motor.
It comes with multiple attachments, including a utility nozzle, a car nozzle, and a wet nozzle. It also includes a couple of extension wands, a locking sleeve, and a filter. What’s great about its design is that you can store the attachments at the base with its onboard storage.
2. CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Wet Dry Shop Vacuum Pros: It has a stout and sturdy 16-gallon plastic tank. This Craftsman Shop Vacuum has an impressive 12-amp motor. Two extension wands, a car nozzle, a wet nozzle, and a utility nozzle are included in the package. It is not as loud as other shop vacs we’ve reviewed. It has a longer 7-ft hose (diameter: 2 1/2 in) and a 20-ft power cord. Cons: It’s a minor task, but unlike other vacs, you need to assemble the onboard storage/base and install caster wheels. Sebring Tip:
This CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Shop Vacuum is one of the pricier units on the list, but it’s a good deal as its performance is impressive and the craftsmanship is excellent.
The drum has a low profile, so it’s less prone to tipping over when moved. It is, however, large enough to accommodate as much as 16 gallons of liquid. It is also a reliable partner for woodworking projects thanks to its powerful 12-amp motor.
3. Stanley SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum Pros: It has a 75 CFM rating that delivers powerful suction whether you’re extracting dry or wet waste. It has a mid-sized and durable 6-gallon plastic drum. It comes with a 6-ft hose and a 10-ft power cord. The tank has swiveling casters that let you wheel it over near your work table so you can hook it to your power tool or bring it outdoors with you to blow some leaves away from your property. It is one of the most affordable shop vacs in the list. Cons: The caster fastening needs to be improved as the wheels won’t stay on if you lift the drum. Sebring Tip:
If you want a starter shop vac that costs less than a hundred bucks, then the Stanley SL18116P Wet/Dry Vacuum might be your ideal candidate. This wet/dry vacuum has a good motor with an adequate 75 CFM rating.
The 6-gallon drum is good enough for those who are working in a dry work environment. But it might not be large enough if you’re siphoning water from a flooded basement or a clogged bathtub and you don’t want to spend the whole day operating the vac.
The package includes a couple of extension wands, a crevice nozzle, a floor nozzle, and a gulper nozzle. It also includes a clamp ring, disposable filter bag, foam filter (if you want to use it in wet environments), and a reusable filter (for dry work environments).
4. Porter-Cable PCX18406-5B Wet/Dry Vacuum Pros: The 5-gallon drum is made of stainless steel and can accommodate as much as 5 gallons of liquid. There’s a wide array of attachments included in the package. It has a 36-month warranty (subject to conditions, of course). This Porter-Cable shop vac can also be used as an air pump. Cons: It is very loud. Wear ear protection if you’re going to use it for several hours. Sebring Tip:
The Porter-Cable PCX18406-5B Wet/Dry Vacuum is a versatile piece of equipment ideal for the home or for your workshop. Say goodbye to dust that seems to get into the nooks and cranny of your workshop with this Porter-Cable powerful shop vac.
It includes a 5 ft hose which is an inch or so shorter than other hoses of other shop vacs in the list. But rest assured that all the necessary attachments are here, including the floor nozzles, crevice nozzle, and gulper nozzle. It also includes an inflator kit for whenever you want to inflate a mattress or a toy.
5. Vacmaster VJC507P Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum Pros: It has a compact yet durable 5-gallon plastic tank. It has a large easy to access on-off switch at the top. This Vacmaster shop vacuum has a large handle which makes it easy to move from one part of the workshop to another. Four caster wheels are attached to the base for added portability. The hose comes with a lock mechanism so it doesn’t come loose during operation. It is one of the most affordable yet highly rated shop vacs on the list. Cons: The 7 amp motor leaves a lot to be desired. The hose is long enough, but it is not wide enough (diameter is only 1 1/4 inches). Sebring Tip:
The Vacmaster VJC507P Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum is one of the most affordable products on the list. It is a good starter vac if you want a heavy-duty piece of equipment that is handy around the house or you’re using it for your occasional woodworking projects.
The drum is designed to hold in as much as 5 gallons of liquid, but it’s more than enough if you want to extract sawdust, dirt, and debris in your garage or workshop.
A noise diffuser, multiple extension wands, and a cloth filter are already included in the package. You’ll also get a foam sleeve, a 2-in-1 utility nozzle, and a floor brush.
6. AUTLEAD Wet Dry Vacuum Pros: This is one of the most compact shop vacs with its 5.5-gallon drum. Autlead has a responsive customer service team. The multiple attachments are always within easy reach thanks to the onboard storage. A HEPA filter is included in the package. Cons: It’s hard to find replacement parts for this particular brand. Sebring Tip:
The AUTLEAD WDS02A Wet Dry Vacuum might not seem like the most popular product we have on this list, but surprisingly, its performance is at par with some of the more popular units in the review. Its powerful motor takes away all the dirt from the floor and furniture, and it extracts a large amount of sawdust when attached to a power tool.
Connecting it with your power tool is easy if you have the right adapter. It includes several attachments, including a T-brush, a sofa brush, and three extension wands. It also has a HEPA filter, a disposable dust bag, and a dust bag filter.
Looking for replacement parts can be a pain, so it’s best to call Autlead’s customer service if you need one.
7. Armor All AA255 Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum Pros: It has a 10-ft cord. This is ideal for large workshops or for working outdoors. It has a 6-ft vacuum hose. This shop vac comes with multiple attachments. It has a large and durable 2.5-gallon tank. This shop vac has an automatic shut-off that prevents the tank from overflowing. Cons: It doesn’t have caster wheels, so you need to tie a strap around the handle to make it more portable. The hose diameter is only 1 1/4 inches. Sebring Tip:
The Armor All AA255 Wet/Dry Utility Shop Vacuum is a nice vacuum cleaner to have around your house or workshop. This is a great piece of equipment to have whether you’re a woodworker who wants a reliable shop vac for whenever you have a project or you just want something that you can use to get rid of pet hair and debris.
It’s not the most powerful shop vac on the list, but it can extract sawdust adequately and keeps the work area generally clean. All you have to do is attach it to your random orbital sander or scroll saw using a compatible connector, and you’re ready to work.
It is versatile. It comes with multiple attachments including a utility nozzle with brush, a car nozzle, a blower nozzle, and a crevice tool. The reusable cloth filter and foam sleeve filter are also included.
Overall, this is a good compact shop vac for hobbyists and occasional users because of its versatility.
What Is A Shop Vac?
A shop vac is an equipment that is similar to a traditional or upright vacuum cleaner. But, of course, there are differences between these two pieces of equipment. While upright vacuum cleaners are used indoors, shop vacs can be used indoors and outdoors.
Shop vacs are suitable for different applications, jobsites, and working conditions. They are powered by a heavy-duty motor and come with a large stainless steel or plastic drum or tank.
Several upright vacuum cleaners can be used to extract liquids, but these are the exception rather than the norm. Shop vacs, on the other hand, can be used for both dry and wet applications. You can use them to remove dirt and debris from the ground today, then use them to extract water in case of floods or spills tomorrow.
Shop vacs have a large drum or tank where all the extracted dirt, debris, dust, or water are stored until they are disposed of. Upright or indoor vacuum cleaners, on the other hand, have a smaller dust bag.
They are an indispensable tool, especially for contractors and woodworkers. Shop vacs are used to remove solid and liquid waste off the floor or any surface in the work area. But apart from that, woodworkers, furniture-makers, joiners, and more also plug the shop vac’s hose into some of the power tools they use to get rid of sawdust produced during the operation.
Wet/Dry Shop Vac Buying Guide Airflow
Airflow measures the amount of air sucked into the shop vac within one minute. This is measured in cubic feet per minute or CFM. When it comes to choosing the best wet/dry shop vac, choose one with a higher CFM rating to get the most out of your machine.
The bad news is a lot of manufacturers do not readily supply their units’ CFM, so you have to dig deeper when reading product descriptions and specifications. You can try the manufacturer’s website to look for this important detail. They are usually listed in the ‘Specifications’ portion of the product information page.
Also called sealed suction or sealed pressure. Water lift is measured by testing the amount of water (in inches) that a vacuum can suck. Just like airflow, the higher the quantity of water it extracts, the better.
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It refers to the power consumption of the shop vac’s motor. When it comes to choosing a good shop vac, look for ones with higher watts as these have more powerful motors.
Hose Size and Length
Shop vac hose diameter ranges between 1 1/4 inches to as much as 2 1/2 inches. If you want to remove bigger debris or you want a faster liquid cleanup, then a wider hose is ideal for you. A wider hose also doesn’t clog as easily as a narrow hose tend to.
For some users, a longer shop vac hose is better than a shorter one. You can reach more debris with a longer hose, but you might be sacrificing overall vacuum power just to get a couple of inches or so. Remember that the motor will need to work harder if you have a longer hose, so it might not be to your advantage.
Make sure that the hose has a lock to ensure that it won’t come loose off the canister or drum when you’re pulling it or moving it around.
Tank Material and Size
If you’re a professional woodworker or you clean flooded properties for a living, then choose a large tank that can store up to 14 gallons or more.
There are two types of tank materials: stainless steel and plastic. Plastic tanks or drums are lighter compared to stainless steel ones. They also do not dent when you accidentally bang them on hard objects.
Stainless steel tanks are heavier and more expensive than plastic ones. The pros are that they are sturdier and are easier to clean.
Most shop vac models have pleated cartridge filters. Look for filters like these as they are not as prone to dust leaks compared to paper-and-foam filters. Plus, it’s easier to change them when the time comes.
Always ask your retailer if the unit’s filter can be easily replaced. Steer clear of units with odd-sized filters as they can be harder to replace.
A Word On Peak Horsepower
You might be wondering why peak horsepower is relegated to the last portion of this section. That’s because peak horsepower is not crucial at all when it comes to choosing a shop vac. Let me explain why.
Peak horsepower is the measurement of the peak in-rush current to the motor the moment you turn it on. It is not, however, the measurement of the nominal operating current of the motor. This is just another marketing ploy that does not mean anything at all when it comes to the suction power of the shop vac. If you want to check the shop vac’s suction power, then it’s best to check the airflow (CFM) and water lift instead.
We’ve come to the end of the review, and the best shop vac for me is the WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Shop Vacuum. What are the things that make this shop vac stand out?
First is its motor’s performance. It has a 169 CFM rating, and a water lift of 46 inches. Plus, it has an impressive 20-ft cord length, plus a high-capacity 16-gallon drum/tank. The hose runs up to 7 feet, but don’t worry about the reduction of suction power as it has a powerful 12 amp motor.
It has a Dual-Flex® Locking hose with a wider diameter. The hose is also made of durable material that didn’t easily bend or break apart when it was stepped on or twisted.
It comes with a pleated filter and all the necessary attachments. The attachments are pretty basic, but they will do if you’re going to use them for general cleaning or you want to attach the shop vac to your power tool.
The WORKSHOP WS1600VA Wet Dry Shop Vacuum performed very well during the test and even exceeded expectations. Overall, this is one of the best shop vacs in the market right now.
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