What Is a Shop Vac?
A shop vac differs from a household one in that it is designed for picking up larger pieces of debris (like wood or metal chips on the workshop floor) and also dealing with liquid spills and other wet areas. They tend to be a simple cylinder with a hose for heavy duty cleaning and other accessories designed for garage, outdoor and vehicle cleaning.
Why Should You Consider Buying a Shop Vacuum?
We can guarantee that your household vacuum won’t last long if you try and use it for heavy duty clean-ups in your garage or workshop, or if you use it to clean up wet material. Plus, it’s fairly likely that your wife or girlfriend will try to kill you before too long! You’re far better to keep household appliances in the house and invest in a specialized appliance for the shed – it’ll do a better job cleaning up where you need it to, and it’ll save you money in the long run.
Comparison Chart – 10 Best Shop Vacs On The Current Market
Choosing The Best Vacuum For You:
There’re a couple of things you need to think about when you’re looking for a model to suit your needs:
What Kind of Work Do You Need The Vacuum To Do?
The car? The workshop? The garage? The building site? Or a combination of purposes? Different brands have different features, specs, and functions. Some have a larger capacity and are well suited to large amounts of liquid, some incorporate a blowing function and some can pick up larger heavier debris. It all depends on what you need it for.
How Portable Do You Need It To Be?
The best portable shop vacs differ widely from model to model. Some are best wall mounted vacuums, some plugin, and some are cordless. If you will be using the appliance solely in one space, wall mounted is a good bet. But if you plan to take it out to worksites with you, or want to use it to clean your vehicles, you may want to look for something more portable.
You can spend anywhere between $30 and $300 on a new shop vac, depending on the brand name, the features you want, and how much you’re willing to spend. More expensive doesn’t always mean more effective and you can still get an excellent model with a smaller budget. If you’re a home handyman who’ll mainly use the shop vac for cleaning up smaller debris and spills, you can get away with buying a cheaper model. But if you’ll be using it on a heavier scale, you may want to look into something a bit more industrial. Check out our top 10 below for great models in every price range.
#10 Stanley Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum, 4 Horsepower Review:
This model is ideal for home carpenters and is highly effective on smaller debris (like sawdust and wood chips) or liquid spills. It features a 4 horsepower motor, 5-gallon capacity and a lightweight stainless steel canister for easy portability. It also has swivel casters to help you reach every inch of your garage floor.
Reviews for this model have been mixed and it has an average consumer rating of 3.8 out of 5 stars after close to 300 reviews on Amazon.com. The main complaint that buyers have is that the hose isn’t wide enough for picking up larger debris and that it has a tendency to clog. However, customers mainly using it for smaller particles and liquid jobs raved about it. Consider the purpose you want a shop vac for before buying this model to avoid disappointment.
It can be purchased for under $60 and free shipping is provided within the USA. There is also a one-year limited warranty.
#9 Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
This shop vac also has a 4 peak horsepower motor and a slightly smaller capacity of 6 gallons. Additional features include a blower port at the rear and a large waterproof on/off switch for safer operation. This model is fairly similar to the previous Stanley Shop Vac, except that it is plastic instead of Stainless Steel and the consumer ratings are slightly more positive.
It has an average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars after more than 250 customer reviews. The problems that people have with it are similar to the other model and it is definitely better suited to smaller debris and liquids. As long as you use it for this purpose, you shouldn’t have any major issues. It retails for around $50 and free shipping is provided within the USA.
#8 Shop-Vac 2.0 Peak Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
These lightweight and compact shop vacs are ideal for smaller workshops and even work trucks and vehicles. It features a 2.0 peak horsepower motor and 1.5-gallon capacity. You can choose to have it wall mounted or portable. Additionally, it has a collapsible handle to make it easy to move about the workshop and a range of tools, brushes, and nozzles to help you access all areas of your vehicle or garage (Best Car Vac ).While it does not have wheels, it isn’t really an issue because it is light enough to carry without strain and is stable sitting on the ground or a surface.
After 200 customer reviews on Amazon.com, it has an overall rating of 4.2 out of 5 stars and 60% of users have given it a full 5-star rating. It can be purchased for just over $40, free shipping is provided within the USA, and it comes with a one-year warranty on the motor only.
#7 Shop-Vac 2.5 Peak Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
This is the next model up in Shop-Vac’s range and has a few extra features. It is a simple and affordable entry level shop vac that is ideal for light use for home carpenters or handymen. It’s fairly versatile and you can choose to have it wall mounted or to use the dolly and casters to wheel it around your garage floor. It features a quiet operating 2.5 peak horsepower motor and has a 2.5 gallon capacity for both wet and dry material. The magenta and white color scheme are not particularly “manly” but it’s not all about looks! Reviewers are generally satisfied with the job it does in home workshops.
After close to 200 customer reviews, this model has an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars and nearly 70% of users rate it the full 5 stars. It comes with a three-year manufacturer’s warranty and can be purchased for under $50 with free shipping in the USA.
#6 DEWALT Cordless/Corded Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
The thing that sets this shop vac apart from the others we’ve reviewed is that it can either be plugged in or used cordlessly (battery and charger need to be purchased separately). This makes it ideal for tradespeople like builders, tilers, and plasterers to take on the road and clean up work sites more efficiently. It has a 2.5 peak horsepower motor and also features washable HEPA filters to trap harmful particles (particularly good for plaster dust), onboard storage for a range of tools, and a 5-foot crush resistant hose.
After well over 500 customer reviews, it has an average buyer rating of 4.4 stars and more than 65% of users gave it a full five-star rating. The unit alone can be purchased for around $110 and it’s closer to $240 if you get the battery and charger but, as the appeal of this vac is its portability, we recommended spending the extra. A 3-year limited warranty is provided.
#5 Vacmaster Stainless Steel 3 Peak Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
This model provides versatility and effectiveness for an affordable price. It features a weather resistant stainless steel canister with a 7-gallon capacity and a 3.0 peak horsepower motor. It also comes with a range of tools and brushes, including the crevice tool, multi-surface nozzle and utility nozzle – these tools are all stored conveniently onboard. The unit is set on swivel castors for easy maneuverability.
After nearly 400 customer reviews on Amazon.com, this system has an overall rating of 4.5 stars and 70% of buyers gave it a full five-star rating. It can be purchased for just under $60, comes with a 2-year warranty (for domestic use – 90 days for commercial) and has free shipping within the USA.
#4 ArmorAll 2.0 Peak Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
If you’re looking for something lightweight and effective for your home, or for heavy duty vehicle cleaning, and don’t want to spend a fortune, this Armor All shop vac is a pretty good bet. It features a 2.5 peak horsepower motor and 2.5-gallon capacity and also converts effortlessly to a blower. It also comes with a 2 in 1 utility nozzle, a specialized vehicle tool and a range of dusting and detailing brushes. All tools and accessories are stored conveniently onboard.
This model is exceedingly popular among small home workshop owners and, after close to 2000 consumer reviews on Amazon.com. it has an average rating of 4.4 stars, with 69% of users giving it a full 5-star rating. It can be purchased for just over $35, has a 2-year manufacturer’s warranty and ships freely within the USA.
#3 Vacmaster 5 Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum and Blower Review:
This model squeezes into third place because of its excellent reviews, versatile features, and reasonable price tag. It is the largest capacity model in this list and can hold an impressive 12 gallons of liquid or dry materials. It also features a 5.0 peak horsepower motor and a seven-foot cleaning hose with two extension wands as well as a range of tools to meet most cleaning needs. In addition, it has a detachable blower with a 210 mile per hour blowing speed, making it excellent for driveway and yard work as well as workshop use. It is set on casters for better maneuvering and features a large shut off switch for safer use.
This system has received over 550 reviews on Amazon and has an overall customer rating of 4.5 stars, with more than 70% of users giving it a full five-star rating. It comes with a 24-month manufacturer’s warranty for domestic use (90 days for commercial) and free shipping is provided within the USA. It retails for just under $80.
#2 Vacumaid Wall Mounted Professional Utility Vacuum Review:
Coming in at second place, this wall mounted unit is one of the most expensive shop vacs on the market but it is packed with features that most other models don’t have. It is made in the USA and features a powerful 5.7″ motor, a Vacumaid 50-foot hose and a range of cleaning tools, brushes, and wands. The galvanized, powder coated steel tank is built to last and the HEPA filters make cleaning safer and more hygienic. The system has a seven-gallon dirt capacity.
Most customers report that they get a professional standard of clean from this machine and that the unit is reliable over a long period of time. You can purchase this unit for just under $300 and free shipping is provided. After more than 150 customer reviews on Amazon.com, it has an impressive rating of 4.7 stars and 87% of buyers rated it the full five stars. The only reason it’s not number 1 on this list is that it hasn’t been as heavily reviewed as other products and the price tag could be prohibitive to many home workshop enthusiasts.
#1 Shop-Vac 4.5 Peak Horsepower Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum Review:
This 4.5 horsepower, 5-gallon, stainless steel unit features a six-foot power cord, dolly with easy roll casters for portability, on-board tool storage, and a blower function. The ten-inch vacuum nozzle can pick up just about any debris you throw at it and the extension wands, brushes, and crevice tool help you get into those tricky spaces.
After well over 1000 customer reviews, it has an average rating of 4.2 stars and more than 60% of users gave it a 5-star rating. If you want the stainless steel durability of the Vacumaid (Number 2) but can’t fork out the $300, this model is the way to go. It can be purchased for just over $65, free shipping is provided, and it has an impressive 3-year warranty on parts and service.