One of the most useful pieces of equipment in any shop, garage, backyard garden or work space is the shop vac. With the ability to handle wet and dry materials, the shop vac makes clean-up easy and helps keep work areas presentable and free of hazardous debris.
The first step in searching for a shop vac is to consider your cleaning requirements. Make sure your vac’s horsepower is sufficient to handle the type of debris you typically pick up. Other considerations include the length of the power cord, holding tank capacity, attachments, type of filters, reverse blower capability and portability.
Top 12-Gallon Wet or Dry Vacuum
The Shop-Vac Ultra Pro Series Wet or Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower is a high-powered vac with some heavy-duty features. A 6.5 horsepower motor and 12-gallon holding tank give it the capability to tackle the toughest cleanup projects.
The 18-foot power cord and 8-foot LockOn hose give the Ultra Pro superior reach. An assortment of attachments including 22.5-inch extension wands, a 14-inch floor nozzle and 120-degree elbow make it highly versatile. The detachable blower turns the vac into a leaf and lawn blower for yard cleanup jobs. The unit includes cartridge filters and a disposable filter bag.
Customers gave good marks to the Ultra Pro’s power and tank capacity. They also found the 2.5-inch diameter hose increased the ability to pick up bulkier items like wood chips.
Best Wet/Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower
The Vacmaster Wet/Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower is a solid and powerful shop vac that incorporates a detachable blower into the lid. With a 5 horsepower motor and 12-gallon tank capacity, it can handle the biggest shop and garage cleanups.
The 12-foot cord and 7-foot hose with a 2.5-inch diameter give it good reach and suction. The detachable blower creates a 210 mph wind output, perfect for blowing leaves and lawn clippings. The hose and attachments store onboard, and the extra-large drain makes for easy tank emptying.
Customers appreciated the Vacmaster’s suction power, large capacity tank and ease of emptying. They also liked its ease of assembly out of the box and its reliability.
Top High Capacity Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
With a 16-gallon tank and 6.5 horsepower motor the WORKSHOP Wet Dry High Capacity Vacuum Cleaner is truly a workhorse, able to handle the toughest cleanup jobs. Its no-rust, copolymer construction make it durable and rugged around any job site.
With a 20-foot power cord and 7-foot hose, the Workshop has excellent reach. An assortment of attachments including two extension wands, utility nozzle, car nozzle and Roll Tight Locking Sleeve increase its versatility as does the integrated blowing port that reverses the air flow to blow debris out of the work area.
The cartridge filtering system is compatible with fine dust filters, HEPA media filters and wet filters. The Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System makes changing wet or dry filters simple.
Customers used words like powerful and rugged to describe the Workshop. They also said that it was excellent for wet as well as dry cleanups and felt that the power matched its size.
Best Portable Contractor Wet/Dry Vacuum
The Shop-Vac Portable Contractor Right Stuff Wet/Dry Vacuum is a serious, mid-price range shop vac. With a five-gallon tank capacity and 5.5 horsepower motor, this vac combines portability with real power.
The 20-foot power cord and 7-foot hose give the Right Stuff outstanding reach, important for a portable vac. The top carry handle and weight of 17 pounds make it a hefty but true portable that can handle tough cleanups.
The Right Stuff comes with a 16-inch crevice tool and claw utility nozzle. Filtration is through the Ultra Web® filter cartridge. The power cord and hose are stored onboard, and a rear blower port is included.
Customers found that the Right Stuff had great power and tank capacity, saying that it was relatively quiet for a shop vac. They also appreciated its portability and the flexibility to use with or without the filters.
Best Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum
At just over 9 pounds, the ArmorAll Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum is made for ease of use and portability in tight spaces like car and truck interiors. The 2 horsepower motor and 2.5-gallon tank offer sufficient capacity for moderate cleanup situations.
The 6-foot hose and 10-foot cord give it reasonably good reach. Air and noise diffusers keep the sound at reasonable levels. The ArmorAll comes with a built-in auto shut-off that prevents the vac from overflowing. Also included are reusable cloth filters, a utility nozzle, crevice tool, blower nozzle, and detail brush.
Customers praised the ArmorAll Utility Vac for its light weight and power. Its smaller size gave it great versatility, and they found it suited to jobs that other vacs were not up to, like picking up pet hair and removing ashes from wood stoves.
Best Cordless/Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum
Another highly portable shop vac, the DEWALT Cordless/Corded Wet-Dry Vacuum offers the option of operating off a 20-volt battery for up to four hours, or with the standard electrical cord. This makes it among the most portable of shop/utility vacs.
At 11 pounds, the Dewalt is among the lightest wet/dry vacs on the market with 1.85 horsepower and a 2-gallon capacity. It also features state-of-the-art HEPA filtration, integrated hose and an assortment of attachments.
Customers appreciated its ability to pick up work debris where there was no access to an electrical outlet. They also found multiple uses for the vac commenting that they had cleaned places they could never reach before.
Understanding your cleaning requirements in advance will help you select the right shop vac for your use. Remember that shop vacs come in many tank sizes and power options. While big and powerful may be best for many jobs, portable and light may be just the thing for those tight spaces and smaller cleanups.
A little advance consideration of your cleaning needs and you will have no problem finding the right shop vac among the many options.