10 Best Shop Vacuums | March 2017

We spent 32 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top options for this wiki. Contrary to popular belief, wet/dry vacs are not just for industrial use. Whether you're a homeowner undertaking DIY projects or a professional contractor, a good shop vacuum will make quick work of the cleanup process, and there are options to suit every need and budget. We've done the research for you, so all you have to do is choose from our top-notch selections. Skip to the best shop vacuum on Amazon.
10 Best Shop Vacuums | March 2017

Overall Rank: 3
Best Mid-Range
Overall Rank: 1
Best High-End
Overall Rank: 10
Best Inexpensive
The ArmorAll AA255 is not the best or most powerful model available, but it can't be beat by anything else in its price range and is a great introductory choice. The hose can be stored in its canister and it shuts off automatically to prevent overflows.
The Workshop WS1600SS features a large drain for easy disposal, an ergonomic handle, and sturdy rear wheels, making it easy to transport over rough terrain and up or down stairs. A locking tab keeps the hose securely connected during use.
A wall-mountable design sets the Vacmaster VWM510 apart from its compact competition. An ABS plastic body keeps this model lightweight and sturdy, and it features a switch for remote control on the handle at the end of its 21-foot hose.
If you are more concerned with portability than power, the DeWalt DCV581H is a solid choice. It has a 5-foot long crush-resistant hose with onboard crevice and wide-nozzle attachments. This model is capable of running on both AC and battery power for maximum flexibility.
  • two-gallon capacity
  • lightweight at just 11 lbs
  • battery and charger sold separately
Model DCV581H
Weight 11.1 pounds
The Milwaukee 0880-20 is a great choice for both homeowners and professionals seeking a cordless solution. It has strong suction power considering its battery-operated design, and features a built-in blower port and reusable wet/dry filter.
  • built-in hose and accessory storage
  • five-year warranty
  • batteries last 12-25 minutes
Brand Milwaukee
Model 0880-20
Weight 11.9 pounds
Its 27-foot reach, powerful 6.5-horsepower motor, and 16-gallon capacity make the Craftsman XSP a strong contender when it comes to cleaning up big messes. It rolls effortlessly in any direction and won't tip over when pulled by its hose.
  • fast-emptying liquid drain
  • dust-sealed power-switch
  • converts to blower
Brand Craftsman
Model pending
Weight 29.6 pounds
The compact, 5-gallon stainless steel Shop-Vac 5986000 comes on casters, so it's easy to move along with you as you clean, although its 6-foot power cord will somewhat limit its mobility. A detachable HEPA filter-bag aids in fine dust collection.
  • made in the usa
  • includes a rear blower-port
  • three extension wands
Brand Shop-Vac
Model 5986000
Weight 14.6 pounds
The Ridgid 50348's sturdy cart, detachable high handle and large wheels make it a breeze to transport without having to bend down. Sound reduction keeps it impressively quiet, and filters are easy to install and replace tool-free thanks to its Qwik Lock fastening system.
  • built-in accessory carrying bag
  • drain at base for rapid emptying
  • fine dust cartridge filter
Brand Ridgid
Model 50348RID
Weight 31.9 pounds
Its polished stainless steel body gives the Vacmaster VQ607SFD an industrial, modern look that will make you feel like R2-D2 is on your side. The best household choice, its 7-foot hose and myriad nozzle attachments help you conquer tight corners and crevices with ease.
  • three horsepower motor
  • lightweight and quiet
  • dual suck and blow functions
Brand Vacmaster
Model VQ607SFD
Weight 15.8 pounds
The best solution for professional contractors, the Makita VC4710 offers the ultimate in power and quality from one of the most trusted names in the business. Despite its large capacity, this model is quiet and lightweight at just 27 lbs.
  • automatic filter cleaning system
  • integrated cord and hose management
  • onboard outlet for handheld tools
Brand Makita
Model VC4710
Weight 41.4 pounds

Choosing The Right Shop Vac

Before considering which shop vac best suits your needs, of course one must consider whether or not they even need a wet dry vacuum at all. This musing is not surprising given the common misconception most people have about the price of one of these units. While you could easily spend more than five hundred dollars on a high powered, commercial grade shop vacuum, you can acquire a low cost model for well under fifty dollars. (In fact, some shop vacs cost only a little more than thirty dollars).

The second obstacle most people cite in their decision not to buy a shop vac is size. Again, many such units are large and bulky and would be an inconvenience to store in the home. Others, though, are only a bit larger than a standard tool box and are ingeniously designed in the same rectangular pattern as such units. They can be stored away under a bed, on the top shelf of a closet, or in the garage.

Most homeowners don't need a large shop vac, and should indeed select a smaller option that can be easily stored away. Even the smaller units can easily lift open hair, dust, and other detritus from flooring and upholstery. And while you don't ever want to need your wet dry vac's wet function at home, but you will be endlessly grateful you made the modest investment in one the first time you can suck spilled water (or worse) out of your carpets quickly, saving yourself a professional cleaning job, not to mention the potential for total carpet replacement.

When it comes to a professional setting, a shop vac is not a mere convenience, but can actually be a necessity. In an environment prone to frequent water or other liquids spilled on the floors, a shop vac can help keep employees and visitors safe by minimizing the chance for slips and falls. Shop vacs are also crucial for areas where lots of particulate matter is produced, such as in lumber yards. The more sawdust (or other fine matter) that can be sucked up off the floors and workspaces, the less matter will end up in the respiratory system of those nearby.

A business's investment in a large shop vac is not only a commitment to cleanliness, but to employee and visitor safety and wellbeing.

Shop Vac Safety And Maintenance

If you are using your shop vac near water, then it is important to remember how dangerous the use of any electrical device can be when liquid is involved -- don't be lulled into complacency because the unit is purpose built to be used with liquids. Make sure to inspect the power cord of the shop vac for any cuts or tears that could present a danger, and make sure to use the unit according to its instructions.

Shop vacs use different filtration systems depending on their application. That is to say, when used to suck up water, their internal filter is usually removed wholesale. When operated to lift dry materials, the filter must be in place, or else most of that which the vacuum draws in will be broadcast right back out of its exhaust port. This will potentially cause more issues than were present before, with small particles now airborne as opposed to lying on the ground.

Again it is critical you consult a unit's manual before using it in either wet or dry applications.

Most shop vacs have filters that can be rinsed clean many times before they require replacement. The more frequently you take the few minutes required to perform this step, the better your vacuum will work in terms of suction power, and the longer the filter will last. Do replace the filter once it has become compromised by extended use and numerous washings, but prior to that treat it as a valued component to be cared for, just as the vacuum is a valued part of your home or institution.

A Brief Look At The History Of Vacuums

The first genuine vacuum cleaners were so large they had to be hauled from place to place by a team of horses. These modern though monstrous vacuums were invented by a Brit named Hubert C. Booth. The first vacuums Booth's British Vacuum Cleaner Company created were powered by gasoline fueled engines. Soon the company created a unit with an electric motor, but it was still so large as to require equine power for transportation. British Vacuum Cleaner Company vacuums would be perched outside a client's home or building and long tubes fed through the doors and windows. Professional operators then got to work cleaning the home. Booth initially planned to sell cleaning services, not cleaning products.

The first vacuums that were easily portable and could be used by a single person required manpower to create their suction. The personal vacuum cleaner of the early 1900s used a handle attached to a bellows to create airflow into its collection chamber. These hand powered pneumatic vacuums were only used for a handful of years, however, as soon portable electrically powered vacuums were on the market.

By the year 1908, the forerunner to the modern vacuum had been signed and patented. Today one can find vacuums in all shapes and sizes, from units built right into the framework of a home or business to handheld units company enough to be stored under the seat of a car. They use a variety of different techniques to create suction, to store the dirt, dust, and other debris they suck up, and are designed for a range of applications.

Few vacuums can serve with quite such versatility as the wet dry vacuum, often also known as the shop vacuum or merely as a shop vac. With a good shop vac at the ready, a person can be ready to clean up almost any mess, from crumbs to sawdust to pet hair to gallons of water spilled by a leaking pipe. Most shop vacs can also be used as blowers, and can be operated indoors or outdoors and even with fine particles like ash, provided a proper filter is installed.

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Last updated: 03/22/2017 | Authorship Information