What’s the Best Shop Vac?
Table of Contents
Shop Vacs are extremely versatile vacuums that nearly every home or office can use at one time or another. They have huge capacities compared to a standard vacuum and many are capable of handling wet cleanup. Add in a ton of accessories and high suction and they can clean everything. They are bulkier than a standard vacuum but they can do things the standard vacuum can only dream of doing.
A shop vacuum is a vacuum cleaner that is used to clean up debris in workshops and other large spaces. It is typically more powerful than the average home vacuum cleaner and has a longer hose, meaning it can reach further. The shop vacuum also has more powerful suction than the average home vacuum cleaner.
If you work in a workshop or have a large space, then you will need to get a shop vac. This will make your workspace much safer and more hygienic. There are many different types of shop vacs available, so there should be one that fits your budget perfectly!
If you’re looking for the best shop vac in 2021 for your garage or the best shop vacuum for your home, we research and reviewed dozens of shop vacuums to create this all-encompassing review guide on shop vacuums. If you’re in the market for a new professional shop vac then this is the guide for you.
The Best Shop Vac of 2021: Quick Review
1. Best Value: DeWALT 16 gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac/Acc
2. Best Friendly-Budget Shop Vac: Craftsman 6 Gallon 3 Peak Horse Power HP Wet/Dry Vac
3. Most Affordable Shop Vac: Vacmaster, 6 Gallon 3 Peak HP Stainless Steel Wet/Dry
4. Good Choice: Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum, 8 Gallon, Stainless Steel Tank
5. Good Investment: Shop-Vac Wet/Dry Vacuum 10-Gallon
6. Best Price: Armor All, AA255 , 2.5 Gallon 2 Peak HP Wet/Dry
7. Best Value Overall: Stanley SL18116P Wet/Dry Shop Vac
Need a shop vac specifically for woodworking? See our reviews on woodworking shop vacs here.
Getting a shop vacuum for either household or business use is a great idea because shop vacuums are heavy-duty, durable, and more powerful than a regular vacuum. They can pick up broken pieces of ceramics or glass, and even liquids in some cases without getting damaged. We’ve used our fair share to clean garages, construction sites, warehouses, offices, and heavy-duty spring cleaning.
In contrast to your typical home vacuum, a shop vac is usually a high-end unit with more horsepower to suck up larger dust bunnies and debris. This is what makes it so useful for cleaning commercial or industrial areas. As with most tools, there is a difference between products made for households, and products made for professionals.
However, choosing the best shop vac is a challenging task as there are different types of vacuums with a variety of features created by many brands. A shop vacuum is a more expensive purchase than a home vacuum so you want to be sure your shop vac meets your requirements.
So to help you make the best choice, we explore what type of shop vacuum you should choose. What features it should have. And how much you should spend on a great shop vac. Here are a few options to consider with the details below.
The best selling shop vacuuma
Our editor’s picked the best shop vac to buy as the Shop-Vac 9633400. It offers great features, high performance, and a variety of options to make cleaning your shop, garage, or home a breeze.
Check out these shop vac reviews with latest innovative components that are designed to meet your needs and to to help you do your best work. All of these vacuums were able to pass our strict criteria that make this list valuable for you.
1.Shop-Vac 9633400 12-Gallon
The capacity of this shop vacuum is twelve gallons. This is important as it allows you to keep cleaning for longer before having to empty it. If you’re using it in a professional capacity, you know time is money. Extra time spent emptying a small canister is like throwing money. This shop vac unit’s large capacity helps make you more efficient on the job site.
But capacity isn’t enough, power matters too. This shop vac is equipped with a powerful 6.5 HP motor that allows the shop vacuum to handle many different types of debris and messes that you encounter while cleaning.
This vacuum also wins when we consider versatility.
The shop vac brings plenty of accessories including a large eight-inch utility nozzle, a crevice tool that helps cleaning tough spots, and several different filters to filter the air and keep the small particles from damaging the inside. With a name like Shop-Vac, it’s no wonder this vacuum is made for heavy-duty applications.
Furthermore, one of our favorite features is that this vacuum can also be used as a blower by reversing the motor to clean outside areas. This is great to blow debris off your patio space, clear dust out of a garage or other large area. This can even help with some light leaf blowing. The eight-feet hose provides extended reach to clean stairs or hard to reach places like under-neath tables or workbenches.
Overall, this shop vac is an excellent machine with a powerful motor and a collection of features and accessories that allows you to handle different types of debris and messes. It was all the features of a great shop vac that will be your workhorse for years to come.
- The long hose provides extra reach in normal sized rooms
- Powerful motor to suck up a range of materials
- Heavier – as to be expected for professional grade
2. Ridgid 50348 1400RV Wet/Dry
The 14-gallon capacity and the 6.0-Peah HP motor makes Ridgid 50348 the largest shop vac to buy. This item features four caster wheels at the bottom the make the maneuverability easy, and a handle on the top and with an extended foot-hose attachment.
The Ridgid 50348 has a strong exterior that provides extra protection while maneuvering the vacuum around, thanks to the high impact plastic construction. This is especially important for job sites or small spaces like garages where items can be crunched together.
The exterior houses a powerful motor to tackle common messes around the home and garage.
The Ridgid comes with a three-layer filter system that takes care of fine particles like drywall dust, bacteria, and dust mites, and other dangerous dust from spaces after large projects or disasters.
Regarding accessories, the Ridgid brings a range of nozzles for cleaning difficult-to-reach areas like cars or on liquids. To make you feel confident about your investment, the Ridgid also offers a three-year warranty.
Overall, Ridgid is a powerful and durable vacuum constructed with powerful plastic and offers amazing features compared to other vacs available on the market.
- Largest vacuum cleaner
- Most powerful motor
- Three-year warranty
- Bigger size makes storage difficult
3. Shop-Vac 5986100
But reduced price tag doesn’t mean lower quality as the unit is crafted with the same material used for more expensive vacs.
Being an inexpensive vacuum it does offers fewer features like an eight-gallon tank and five-horsepower motor. But regarding performance, Shop-Vac 5986100 is on the lighter end. As a starter vacuum, the price is hard to beat.
The Shop-Vac 5986100 features a stainless steel tank that increases durability which most other cheaper vacs don’t have.
Regarding attachments, the unit comes with two standard nozzles and extension nozzle. Plus, the unit is capable to rotate 360 degrees thanks to the easy roll casters allowing you to pull the vacuum in any direction while vacuuming.
Overall, Shop-Vac 5986100 offers excellent performance and comes in durable construction and range of accessories without breaking the bank.
- Cheaper than high-end units
- Stainless steel construction
- Can rotate in 360 degrees
- Gallon capacity is less
4. Craftsman 12004
The Craftsman 12004 has the capacity of six-Gallons which sounds fair to clean small spaces and comes with a three horsepower motor that offers superior suction to deal with small spaces and jobs.
Due to small capacity, you won’t be able to clean an entire garage in a single session, when it comes to cleaning single room/apartment or a small project Craftsman 12004 is a solid option.
A slight downside of Craftsman 12004 is the short 17-foot power cable but the seven-foot hose combined with the length of the power cord can help you clean wider areas but for more, you might have to switch outlets frequently.
The best part about Craftsman 12004 is that it can be used for outdoors, by activating the lawn blowing function you can take care of patio, yard or driveway. Although the motor is not super strong, but still capable to deal with heavier materials like dirt and wood scraps.
The unit also brings a cartridge filter to remove dust particles from the air and a foam sleeve filter to deal with watery messes.
Overall, Craftsman 12004 is a great little piece of equipment that doesn’t have extraordinary horsepower, but when it comes to cleaning up gardening messes, tidying up your shop, cleaning away water, or other small to medium cleaning jobs there’s no alternative to this. That said, this affordable shop vac can take care of any mess better than some higher-priced units on the market.
- Most compact shop vac
- Good for wet and dry clean-ups
- Moderately priced unit
- Easy to convert from vacuum into a blower
- The tank can hold only six gallons of liquid and wet mess
5. Vacmaster VQ607SFD
Being a small unit, it’s best suited for small to medium messes without frequent emptying sessions. The stainless steel construction houses a powerful enough motor that provides necessary suction for household projects. Plus, the smaller size makes it easy to store in a small apartment, office, or at the garage.
The Vacmaster at such price tag seems durable compared to other similar options.
Furthermore, the water-resistant construction allows you to clean in bad weather. Plus, if you have a garden or tree in your backyard then you can easily take care of large piles of dead leaves in minutes with this machine.
The lid is reinforced with heavy-duty tank clips that stop air leaking. Similarly, it contains a contoured control handle that is sturdy and makes it comfortable to lift the vacuum anywhere with all-direction casters.
Overall, Vacmaster is an ultra-lightweight unit that comes with premium features can perfect to take care of hard floors, carpets, walls, car interiors, and tight crevices. With such a lower price tag and amazing cleaning options, Vacmaster is a worthwhile investment of your money.
- Water-resistant unit
- Offers both wet and dry cleaning
- Cheapest shop vac
- Smallest capacity not good for larger cleaning activities
6. Stanley Pro Stainless Steel
This vacuum is neither small nor large but a middle option that comes with the eight-gallon tank. Eight gallons is common for the majority of vacuums that make the vacuum cleaners capable of handling most common messes.
However, this unit is on a powerful side with a 6.5-horsepower motor that efficiently tackles larger, heavier materials making this vacuum ideal for cleaning, offices, shops, and the home.
Furthermore, Stanley Pro Stainless Steel also comes with an air filter that takes care of the harmful molds, mildew, and bacteria and makes vacuuming smaller rooms a simple task.
Like other shop vacs, Stanley Pro Stainless Steel is capable to take care of large wet and dry spillages.
Lastly, it brings a portable secondary one-gallon vacuum to clean hard-to-reach areas.
Overall, Stanley Pro Stainless Steel is a great medium-capacity machine that comes with a powerful motor, an efficient filter, and can take care of a large spill.
- Additional small vacuum for hard-to-reach areas like under bed, couch, or furniture.
- Wet and dry cleaning
- Powerful motor for carpeting
- No cons right now
7. Shop-Vac 5873410
This flagship model by the manufacturer comes with the great build quality and capability to clean challenging tasks and that’s why it’s known as Shop-Vac.
This vacuum is equipped with a 6.5-horsepower motor that makes the unit capable of surviving the abuse of professional applications.
Similarly, the vacuum doesn’t require any extension to clean open areas as the 20-foot power cord combined with 12-foot hose gives considerably enough reach to work around any room or space. Regardless of the larger size of the vacuum and the high-power motor, the system is quiet that using it in the crowded spaces or an apartment with neighbors won’t be an issue.
- Extended Reach
- Good for professional applications
- Less durable
8. Emerson WS1600VA
If you’re cleaning needs are beyond the home use, then selecting Emerson WS1600VA is a logical decision.
The large storage capacity and a plethora of attachments are important to deal with professional cleaning activities making this machine versatile around the shop or worksite.
The vacuum cleaner can withstand professional abuse, thanks to the durable copolymer drum construction that prevents cracking and dents from impacts.
Accessory wise, Emerson WS1600VA brings standard set of utility, car, wet and extension nozzles. Plus, the vacuum makes switching filters quick and simple, thanks to the Qwik Lock fastening system. Similarly, it has an auto shutoff float mechanism that maintains the balance while sucking wet stuff and avoid overflowing the unit.
- Massive tank capacity
- WORKSHOP vacuum cleaner
- Quickest suction vacuum
- Qwik Lock Filtering System enables quick wet and dry vacuum filter changes.
- The base contains a large base port to an empty wet mess
- No cons right now
The vacuum is heavy at 17 pounds which can be harder to maneuver compared to smaller machines. Features casters base to move in 360 degrees making this vacuum portable when rolling the machine around, but casters can fall off if you lift the unit up.
The unit is a vacuum and detachable blower at the same time with a staggering blowing speed of 240mph it offers good value for the money.
The bottom of the vacuum contains drain port to remove fluids that you’re collected instead of hoisting it up to pour liquids out.
Regarding accessories, the unit comes with cord wrap, double insulated motor accessories, utility nozzle, and a concentrator for pulling out stubborn stains.
- Easy to maneuver
- 12-gallon polypropylene tank
- Powerful suction and blowing speed
- Filter offers limited filtration
10. Armor All Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum
This vacuum is perfect to use inside a car but it’s not only limited for detailing and cleaning cars it can sweep every nook and cranny either you use it in your home or the garage.
With some accessories, it brings it can be used for motorcycles as well. The most impressive feature of this unit is vacuum to blower conversion that makes this machine suitable to clean up both solids and liquids.
Owning a shop vac like this is a great advantage as it offers unlimited uses and has built-in air and noise diffuser that minimizes volume. This can be useful when vacuuming inside cars or trucks.
This powerful little beast features a 2 horsepower motor that turns off automatically when it detects that the tank is full.
This larger and more robust device is a decent portable shop vac and the 10ft cord combined with six-feed hose allows the vacuum to reach in tight corners to pick up debris like nails, wood chippings, and screws.
Overall, this vacuum allows you to deal with several type of cleaning work without stooping or bending too much. You don’t have to worry about bucket-shaped body and bulkier appearance as it boasts super flexible wheels to move in any direction. This vacuum requires no assembly while using the first time.
- Wet & Dry cleaning
- Powerful motor
- Two-year warranty
- No cons right now
11. Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac ea
So a great alternative to this issue is Shop-Vac 1.5 Gallon All-In-One Wet And Dry Vac. This vacuum might not be the most powerful cleaning solution but it’s better than average machines when it comes to leaf removal or general debris cleaning.
This little unit features 2 peak horsepower motor and the unit is wall mountable that makes easy storage and quietly operating too.
This mini shop vac offers unique benefits at such a reduces price tag that you will never be at a loss again while washing machine decides to floor or your dog knocks over your water.
This vacuum can soak up any spillages and accessories can be neatly stored on the vacuum.
- Cheapest shop vac
- Small profile
- Wall mountable
- No cons for this
12. DEWALT DCV581H
It features a HEPA-rated wet/dry filter that traps dust with 99.97% efficiency at 1 micron. The best part is that the filter is reusable, washable that saves you extra cost.
The heavy-duty crush-resistant body makes the vacuum durable, flexible for all kind of usage.
The vacuum is offers enhanced mobility and easy transport and the dirt tank empties quickly. Simply pull the lid and dump the content which can be mechanics tools, power drills, screws or anything heavier.
The vacuum also brings a load of attachments including battery and charger.
Choosing a top-rated shop vac with limited knowledge can be difficult as there are different factors involved when it comes to buying the best shop vac. So, from power and effectiveness to size what type of vacuum with what types of features you should choose? Let’s find out.
Size of the vacuum is an essential element to consider. If you need a small shop vac for your backyard it shouldn’t be bulky or heavy because the heavier it is the bulkier or cumbersome it becomes to drag.
Similarly, if you want a large shop vac of the industrial-sized beast then determining the proper weight can be sensible to know as well.
Picking out the right machine for your needs becomes easy when you are less worried about the factors involved.
Messes can be of different shape and sizes, so you should be aware of this fact. For this, you should get a unit that removes both liquids and solids easily. Sometimes you have to deal with spilled drinks in your car or at your workshop.
A vacuum with wet/dry functionality can be a better option to deal with big liquid messes.
Similarly, easy cleaning requires a drainage spout at the bottom of the vacuum to get rid of all the dirty water collected.
Integrated Blower Port
Some vacuums are equipped with the integrated blower but do you need to blow debris from decks and garages or sucked up a mixture of mulch and screws from carpeting. If you don’t then a vacuum will be a lot cheaper. But if you need this additional part it can be handy.
The capacity of a shop vac plays an important role. The shop vac capacities range from 2-6 gallons are smaller, 6-14 gallons as a medium, and 14-18 gallons as high capacity. Being a homeowner you need to decide what is sufficient for most indoor and outdoor cleaning tasks.
Air power, or air-watts, describes the suction power of the vacuum. The higher air power makes the vacuum capable to suck up heavier objects like nuts and bolts.
The tank size of the vacuum matters as well. They are made up of plastic or stainless steel. The plastic tank is lighter and less prone to dents, but on the other hand, tanks constructed with stainless steel offer durability and easier cleaning.
A hose is not suitable to clean all surfaces. Depending upon your demands, you should look for certain attachments that can make your work easier. If you want to clean car, then go for a vacuum with extensive car accessories like a crevice tool, detail brush, and an extension wand to clean every corner of your vehicle.
Similarly, if you want a vacuum for backyard then get one with an integrated blower port to make sure you get things with less hassle.
The motor of the vacuum can make or break the vacuum. The amount of horsepower and/or the wattage describes the power of the motor. The high-performance motor will cost more keep in mind.
Cleanliness of the vacuum devices how efficient a vacuum cleaner is. The vacuum shouldn’t have limited reach, it should make you uncomfortable with constant plugging/unplugging. Let’s see what other components are involved in the agility of a shop vacuum.
Hose: The more flexible a hose is, it will drastically reduce the amount of work without diminishing the suction.
Power Cord: The longer the power cord is the less you have to worry about switching outlets but it also produces tangling issue. But with most of the vacuums cord can be wrapped around the unit.
Battery-operated: Vacuums powered by battery offer unlimited reach but only for a specific period of time because batteries can run out of juice in a few minutes. Similarly, battery-operated machines are good for noise reduction and help you deal with tricking vacuuming tasks.
Easy of Use: A vacuum cleaner should be easy to use, easy to empty, should have drain ports for easy emptying and the handle should be comfortable. It shouldn’t be dragged around.
Advantages of using a Portable Shop Vac
There are various advantages of a shop vac ranging from Multi-functional to easy drum emptying to Washable and reusable HEPA filter better than disposable filters to take care of allergens. Let’s look at a few advantages.
A vacuum should be portable enough that it could take anywhere from one room to another without getting frustrated.
Sometimes dirt gets stuck in car wheels and the vacuum should be able to lift up particles from the dashboard, upholstery, the floor, in between cushions, and other areas effortlessly. Such results are possible with an upright vacuum that deals with car interior conveniently and effectively. You got it right.
Shop vacuum cleaners are smaller and shorter that makes them easier to store in a closet, no matter if it is on an overhead shelf or inside a box with other cleaning supplies.
A vacuum should be capable to suck up dirt and debris from all floors and surfaces. To use the vacuum on the carpet you can turn on/off the brush. No need to adjust brushes or anything.
A great shop vac is the one that can take care of bedsheets, desks, countertops, upholstery, work benches, window spills, and much more. Plus, it should be light enough to take anywhere and it should be stronger to withstand the abuse of daily use and it should be capable to reach in between cushions from sofas and vacuum seats of stairs.
The vacuum we recommend is then the Workshop WS0301VA that offers exceptional performance for every situation, comes with built-in dustpan has Wide-mouth hose that avoids clog and range of other tools to make cleaning easier.
That’s all for this best shop vac guide. I hope you will be able to make a better selection with all the vacuums we have selected for you and an amazing full of knowledge buyer guide to help you understand what makes a vacuum better for different tasks and what features to look for and so on. So now it’s your personal preference to choose a vacuum cleaner that suits your requirements and budget.
If you’re looking for a hands-free high-tech vacuum option, see our review on Apple vaccums.