When it comes to shop vacs, you will find different shapes, sizes and prices. The good news is that every store that offers tools would also sell vacuums. This means, you will not have a difficult time finding one. Vacuums differ on their capacity. There are larger units, smaller units and even portable models. Hence, in this article, we have separated shop vacs from dust extractors based on hose size and intended use.
What is the Best Shop Vac?
Shop vacs come in larger diameter hose. They do not usually have HEPA certification and they do not have an automatic filter cleaning. Its motor is smaller and has a lesser overall power.
In this article, we will cover gamut from compact models and larger vacuums which are intended for woodworkers. The best wet-dry shop vacuum varies depending on your needs. Do you need one that comes with balance of portability, airflow, suction power and capacity? Do you need one that comes with lots of accessories, storage and hose or cord management? In this article, do not worry as we shall weigh all these factors in.
Best Shop Vac Overall
Ridgid HD1600 16-gal 6.5 NXT Wet/Dry Vac
This vac comes with great power and airflow. It could clean up any job you needed to be cleaned. It has a 16-gallon container and it is for sure less messy. It uses a dust bag or liner and for sure you will have continuous use with limited downtime. All you need to do is charge it before using. As for its motor, this vac has a 6.5HP 161 CFM blower and its price is less than $120. Furthermore, this vac comes with a add on 20-foot cord, HEPA filter compatibility and locking hose.
We also recommend:
This vac comes with better accessory storage. It has a rear mounted bucket which holds everything. It also has a power cord and a 7-foot hose.
Best Small Shop Vac
Vacmaster Professional VFB511B 5-gal Beast Vac
If you are looking for a vac that comes with a balance of power and portability, we suggest that you go with Vacmaster Professional VFB511B 5-gal Beast Vac. It has a 5.5 HP motor, 102 CFM and 82.6” water lift. It also comes with a 7-foot hose and a diameter of 1-7/8” and 18-foot long cord. This vac is priced at $88.
- Shop-Vac 5870200 5-gal 6HP
- Shop-Vac 5910400 4-gal 5.5HP
Shop-Vac Hawkeye 5870200 is another best small vac. It is powerful. However, it does not have the storage unlike huge wet/dry vacuum. It could deliver 50 inches of water lift while providing 90 CFM of suction. This vac is priced at $120.
The 59100400 comes with 78 CFM and impressive 70 inches of water lift. This vac is priced at $109
Best Shop Vac for Car
Milwaukee M18 Compact Vacuum 0882-20
If you need to vacuum your vehicle and its carpeted floors, we highly recommend Milwaukee 0882-20. It is portable and could easily be moved from your trunk to your driver’s seat. Aside from that it has a 40 CFM suction and 36-ounces canister. Another thing about this vac is it has two extension wands which you could use to sweep up your car. It also has batteries which has a run time of 20 minutes with 5.0Ah pack.
For larger vehicles, we recommend the following:
- Makita XCV11 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Milwaukee 0880-20 M18 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum
Best Cordless Shop Vac
Ridgid HD0918 Cordless Shop Vac
This vac is battery powered which could clean up wet and dry messes. It has the ability to run and operate through battery and its runtime is longer compared to most battery powered vacs. It has an 82 CFM airflow and is priced at $119
- Hoover ONEPWR BH57125 cordless wet/dry vacuum
- Ryobi P770 6-gal cordless shop vac
Best Shop Vac for Dust Collection
Vacmaster Beast 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac
This vac is well-known for its amazing performance. It has 150 CFM and is one of the most powerful vacuums in terms of collecting dust. With its whole package, you could say that this vacuum would give you the best value for your money. It is priced at around $116
We also recommend, iQ Power Tools iQ426HEPA which is perfect to be used for drywall.
Best Shop Vac for Woodwork
Laguna B|Flux 1HP Dust Collector
If you are working with wood, you would definitely need a dust collector and the most effective solution to this is the Laguna Dust Collector. It has 650 CFM suction and it comes with a motor power of 8.4 amp. This dust collector is priced at $499.
Other options we recommend:
Best Portable Shop Vac
Makita XCV10ZX HEPA Backpack Vacuum
This vacuum allows you to operate it up to 62 minutes continuously. It uses two 5.0Ah batteries and its brushless motor has 64 CFM suction. Its filter side has two-stage HEPA system and it captures 99.7% of particulates 0.3 microns. This vacuum is priced at $499.
Best Shop Vac for Home Use
If you are looking for the best bargain, go for the Craftsman 16-gallon 5HP shop vac. This vacuum is perfect for home use and has huge capacity. It also includes hose inlet and lots of accessories. This vac is priced at $80.
Best HEPA Shop Vac
This vac is considered as a dust extractor. It comes with a HEPA filtration and it is one of the best. However, this vac also comes with a hefty price of $649. It comes with automatic filet cleaning and automatic tool activation. It also has 150 CFM.
Best Wall Mount Shop Vac
Rikon 60-101 Wall Mounted 1 HP Dust Collector
This vac is for wall mounts. It is perfect for woodwork. It comes with metal construction and it has a 10-inch impeller on its motor which could create 800 CFM suction. This vac could handle dusts wood chips from bandsaws, table saws, jointers, planers and many more. This vac is priced at $439.
Best Heavy Duty Shop Vac
This vac is one of the heavy duty shop vacs. It has the highest tested water lift at 106 inches. It also has 125 CFM suction and 8 gallons of storage. It is also HEPA-rated.
Best Shop Vac for Construction
This vac comes with 20-foot power cord. It is durable and its switch is found on top which is perfect spot. It also has swiveling casters which works well on different types of surfaces. This vac is priced at $193.
Why a wet- dry shop vacuum?
Wet-dry shop vacuums could cater not only for houses but also jobsites. It has the capability to clean up different types of messes – both wet and dry. It is very versatile and flexible. Though they are not as powerful as jobsite dust extractor, they are much more affordable.
What are the criteria?
In this article, we have looked into features such as CFM and water lift ratings. We also included in our criteria cord length, hose length, capacity, accessory storage, hose/cord management and rolling quality.
See some brands are missing?
Though this list is not a very comprehensive one. It includes the best and most popular ones.
How we test?
This is the amount of airflow which runs through the nozzle over a set period of time. we measured this through CFM which means cubic feet per minute. In other words, it is the airspeed in feet per second.
Water lift or Suction power
This factor determines the power of the vacuum. High water lift means your vacuum has the ability to pick up concrete chunks, nails and other heavy items.
This factor is the amount of material that a vac could take in. Some vacuums have a well-placed filter which could outperform other models in terms of storage capacity.
Not all shop vac could be called as portable. However, even huge models could easily be transported through their tool crib. We have considered those that are easy to handle, have wheel and easy to maneuver.
This is often a problem to most users. However, there are some accessories which could address this issue.
This includes cord wrap. We also have checked how easy the shop vac could grab and replace the cord whenever you plug it in.
Price and Value
This is one of the most important factors that we know you have to consider. Hence, we have checked the performance, features, warranty and its accessories.
Best Shop Vac Buying Guide
Corded or Cordless?
There are some favorite of ours that come with a cord. However, there are also some smaller capacity which are designed for portable use and are cordless. Though that is the case, they also have higher CFM and water lift capabilities.
Dust Extractor or Shop Vac?
This depends on your need. Hence, you will have to determine what you would really wish to achieve. A shop vac could pick up materials such as wood chips and debris. A dust extractor on the other hand could remove airborne particles and concrete dust.