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[TOP 5] Best Shop Vacuum For The Money

Best Shop Vacuum Reviews 2020

Do you have a garage or a workshop? Do you like to do DIY projects? If the answer is yes to either of these two questions, then you need one of the best shop vacuums around. Shop vacuums are specifically designed to clean up big messes in a workshop. Powerful shop vacs help you keep your space clean so that it is ready for the next project.

Want to learn more? So, what are you waiting for? Read on.

In this article we will tell you all about shop vac parts and accessories. We will also give you a list of our top five shop vacuum picks.

Before we go into the specific products, let’s talk about shop vacuums more specifically. Shop vacuum cleaners are also sometimes called wet dry vacuum cleaners.  But, don’t be fooled. Both of these names describe the same product.

A wet dry vacuum cleaner is a type of heavy duty vacuum cleaner. Don’t get any ideas. A powerful shop vac is not meant to replace your home vacuum cleaner. In fact, you will probably not use this type of vacuum in your home at all.

In general, shop vacuums have a motor with a lot of power and suction. The extra power and suction allow the powerful shop vac to clean up large messes. The machine also typically comes with a large drum dirt collection bin, which holds much more mess than a typical upright vacuum cleaner.

Keep in mind that the extra power in wet dry shop vacs means that they are louder too. They can also be quite big, which makes them a nuisance to use in your home. But, for construction and project messes like sawdust, wood slivers, metal pieces, or drywall leavings, the wet dry shop vac is ideal.

Shop Vacuums vs. Regular Vacuums

Clearly shop vacuums and regular vacuums are quite different. Yet, you may be wondering about canister vacuums for the home, which look very similar to wet dry vacuums. But, there are significant differences between regular vacuums—of any size and shape—and wet dry vacuums.

  • Shop vacuums are much larger and heavier than regular vacuums as a rule. This makes them a little unwieldy for the home.
  • Wet dry vacuums and regular home vacuums have similar attachments. However, wet dry vacuums sometime come with more attachments. These accessories may also be larger and more heavy duty in order to accommodate the larger debris that the shop vacuum picks up.
  • Shop vacuums are typically much more power than normal vacuums for the home. Their extra power allows them to pick up larger debris and other messes.
  • Wet dry vacuum cleaners typically do not use filters, which can make it harder to keep them clean. In order to ensure that these types of vacuum cleaner are completely emptied, you often have to turn them upside-down. Regular vacuums can be cleaned by removing and washing or replacing their filter. The lack of filter on shop vacuums also means that they will not improve the air quality around them as regular vacuums do.
  • Shop vacuums can usually handle wet as well as dry messes. This is why they are often called a wet dry vacuum cleaner. On the other hand, regular vacuums struggle with wet messes. That’s actually a really good way to kill your regular vacuum.

Where To Use A Shop Vacuum

Clearly, shop vacuum cleaners can be used in a shop or garage. Their name tells you that much. However, there are a few other places that they can and should be used. Here are a few of the top places to use your new shop vacuum.

  • Car and boat detailing. Power shop vacs can be used as car and boat detailing tools. Most garages and shops have power outlets throughout. So, if there is one near where you wash your car or boat, then all you have to do is hook up the shop vacuum and get to work. The powerful motors on shop vacuum cleaners mean that they will clean your car or boat quickly and efficiently. Plus, then you don’t have to drag your home vacuum out of the house to clean your car or boat.
  • Wet dry shop vacs are also great to use in basements. Most basements—unless they are finished—end up with large messes in them. Remember all those boxes you put in the basement. Well now they are a huge mess that has to be cleaned up.
  • Finally, wet dry vacuums can be used outdoors. Because they are so powerful, these handy tools can help you remove small wood chips, leaves, and other debris from your yard. Some powerful shop vacs even come with a blower attachment, which turns them into a yard tool as well as a shop and garage tool.

What To Look For In A Shop Vacuum

When looking for shop vacs on sale, keep in mind the following factors.

Size

Size is important for any vacuum cleaner, but it is even more important when you are purchasing a wet dry shop vac. Shop vacuums size is determined by the size of their dirt collection drum. The larger the shop vacuum, the more power it often has, which means that larger wet dry vacuums are more powerful than small wet dry vacuums.

The smallest wet dry shop vacs are between two and six gallons. They typically range from one to four and a half horse-power. These small shop vacuums work perfectly for car and boat detailing jobs, and smaller messes in your garage.

The medium sized shop vacuums have a dirt collection bin that ranges from six to fourteen gallons, with five to six horsepower. Medium wet dry vacuums will work best for most people. Anyone who does occasional work in their yard or garage can use the medium shop vacuum easily.

If you do a lot of projects or generate large messes, you should try a large wet dry vacuum cleaner. These products have anywhere from fourteen to eighteen gallons capacity, and over six horsepower. Large shop vacs are perfect for commercial and heavy-duty use.

Hose Length and Width

You will also need to consider hose length and width as you look for your next wet dry shop vac. The hose is the part of the shop vacuum that picks up the debris, so it needs to be long enough to reach all parts of your shop. Hose length can range from three or four feet to much longer.

Most experts recommend that you purchase a wet dry shop vac with a hose width of at least 2.25-2.5-inches in diameter. Anything narrower than that can cause the hose to jam. You definitely don’t want that, especially when you have a very long hose.  

Corded or Cordless

Most of the largest shop vacs are corded, but you can find some that are cordless as well. By corded or cordless we are talking about the electrical cord on the shop vacuum. In your decision between corded and cordless, you will have to consider many of the same things that you do when purchasing a home vacuum.

Corded vacuum cleaners tend to be more powerful, and you never have to worry about them running out of power as you clean. However, you will always have to keep the cord on the shop vac plugged in. In very large shops, or with certain jobs, this may be a big hassle.

On the other hand, cordless shop vacuums never have to be plugged in. They are much more versatile and moveable from job to job. Typically, these products tend to be smaller, which makes them very convenient for jobs outside of your garage or shop. However, you will have to recharge the battery in cordless shop vacs. And, the products will not have the power of the larger, corded wet dry vacuum cleaners.

Blower?

As mentioned above, some wet dry vacuum cleaners come with a blower port and/or detachable blower. Wet dry shop vacs make great blowers because of the high amount of power that they product. So, why get another product to clean up stray leaves when you already have a great shop vac?

If you have a lot of leaf clean-up to do in the fall, make sure to look for a shop vacuum that comes with a blower port. Some product may even have a detachable blower to go in the port. But, you may have to purchase that tool separately.

Performance

Performance means more than just power when we’re talking about shop vacuum cleaners. Although the horsepower (HP) measurement of the vacuum should be taken into account, it is not everything. What HP measures is the amount of power the shop vacuum cleaner produces.

But, it does not tell you how efficient the shop vac is. Sealed pressure, cubic feet per minute, and air-watts all help you get a good overall picture of the shop vacs’ performance. Sealed pressure describes the suction power of the wet dry vacuum when picking up liquid. Anything over seventy-five is considered great.

 Cubic feet per minute refers to the amount of air flow the shop vac creates in its largest opening. And, air-watts is the measurement of the suction as the shop vac picks up dirt. Both of these numbers tell you how well the shop vacuum cleaner will clean fine debris (cubic feet per minute) and large debris (air-watts).

Tank material

There are two main types of tank materials for shop vacs: metal or plastic. The tank is the part of the shop vacuum cleaner that holds the dirt collection bin and motor. The motor is typically on top of the dirt collection bin, which is in the shape of a drum. Hoses are always going to be made of plastic.

Plastic shop vacuums are much more common now a days. However, they tend to be more on the flimsy side. The plastic used is heavy duty. However, it is not going to be able to take as much abuse as the metal products. One thing going for a plastic tank is that it will be much lighter.

Some people think stainless steel tanks look much nicer than the plastic ones. These products will be much heavier than plastic shop vacs. However, they can stand a lot of wear and tear. You don’t have to worry about breaking a hole in a metal tank. Still be careful with the hose though, because those are always made of plastic.

Filter

Although traditionally, shop vacuums do not come with filters, some modern products do have them. You know what type of filter to purchase based on the messes that you clean. For example, large debris and messes require a general household-rated filter. Medium debris and messes can use a medium filtration level. Fine debris need a fine filtration level. And wet messes should be used with a foam sleeve or filter.

If you’ve purchased a wet dry shop vac, your product should have a filter that will work for both wet and dry messes. The filters come with the products. Therefore, knowing the type of filter you need ahead of time will help you narrow down your product options.

Top 5 Best Shop Vacuum - Comparison Table

ImageProductFeatures
scmtbl-table__image Editor's ChoiceEditor's Choice Vacmaster Vacuum VBV1210
  • Wet/Dry: Yes
  • Size tank: 12 gallons
  • Attachments: Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle, Concentrator Nozzle, Crevice Tool, Extension Wand.
  • Weight: 24 lbs.
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Rank: #2Rank: #2 Armor All Vacuum AA255
  • Wet/Dry: Yes
  • Size tank: 2.5 gallons
  • Attachments: Crevice Tool, Deluxe Car Nozzle, Blower Nozzle, Detail Brush
  • Weight: 7 lbs.
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Rank: #3Rank: #3 Stanley Vacuum
  • Wet/Dry: Yes
  • Size tank: 6 gallons
  • Attachments: Extension wands, Crevice Nozzle, Gulper Nozzle, Floor Nozzle
  • Weight: 13.4 lbs.
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Rank: #4Rank: #4 Stanley Vacuum Stainless Steel Tank
  • Wet/Dry: Yes
  • Size tank: 4 gallons
  • Attachments: Three Extension Wands, Crevice Nozzle, Utility Nozzle, Floor Brush
  • Weight: 8 lbs.
VIEW ON AMAZON →
scmtbl-table__image Rank: #5Rank: #5 DeWalt Vacuum
  • Wet/Dry: Yes
  • Size tank: 6 gallons
  • Attachments: Two Extension Wands, Floor Nozzle, Utility Nozzle, Crevice Nozzle
  • Weight: 14.77 lbs.
VIEW ON AMAZON →

Top 5 Best Shop Vacuum on The Market Reviews

#1 Vacmaster Vacuum VBV1210

 Vacmaster 12 Gallon, 5 Peak HP, Wet/Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower, VBV1210

  With a twelve gallon tank, the Vacmaster Vacuum VBV1210 is one of the largest shop vacs on this list. This makes the VBV1210 perfect for commercial and large shops. The five peak HP motor also provides a lot of suction power. It also comes with a full HEPA filter, which can clean even the largest messes. Finally, the hose is over seven feet. So, you know that it will reach every place you need in your shop.

What makes the VBV1210 unique is its detachable blower design. You can actually lift out the blower from the top of the drum. And with the 240 MPH blowing speed, the blower is no shrimp either. The blower feature plus the extra large drain port make the Vacmaster VBV1210 a highly desirable wet dry shop vac.

#2 Armor All Vacuum AA255

Armor All 2.5 Gallon, 2 Peak HP, Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum, AA255

On the smaller end of the spectrum is the Armor All Vacuum AA255. It is a 2.5 gallon, cordless version of a shop vac. The AA255 is a great choice for car or boat detailing work. The fact that it’s cordless means that you can take it to the mess. Plus, the two HP motor is still powerful enough to provide thorough cleaning.

Even though the Armor AA255 is a small shop vacuum, it is still efficient. It has a six foot hose, and ten foot recharging cord. One thing to keep in mind is that you cannot plug this shop vacuum into your car. But, you can use it on wet and dry messes.

#3 Stanley Vacuum

 Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower

Stanley is known for their great vacuums, so it should come as no surprise that they have a shop vacuum cleaner on this top five list. Their wet dry shop vac comes with a six gallon tank and four HP motor. It has a rear blower port. So, you can use this shop vac as a bower as well. Plus, the canister swivels on wheels, which makes moving it around a breeze.

Stanley’s shop vacuum cleaner comes with as many accessories and attachments as you could want. The ten foot power cord means that you don’t have to find another plug often. And, 75-CFM means that it can pick up large and small debris without any trouble.

#4 Stanley Vacuum Stainless Steel Tank

Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum, 4 Gallon, 4 Horsepower, Stainless Steel Tank

Stanley has another shop vacuum cleaner on our list, the Vacuum with a stainless steel tank. This is the only stainless steel product on our list, and it is extremely heavy duty. It is a little smaller than the other Stanley shop vac listed here, but it has the same power production—four HP.

All of the accessories on this Stanley vacuum, have on board storage. And, the lightweight design of the shop vacuum means that it can be easily carried around. The ten foot power cord allows to Stanley shop vac to go almost anywhere in your garage or shop. Clearly, the product’s versatility and durability can’t be beat.

#5 DeWalt Vacuum

DeWALT 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

DeWalt has also gotten in on the shop vacuum industry with their wet dry vacuum cleaner. This product has a six gallon tank and create four HP of power. Like the Stanley products it has a ten foot long power cord. Additionally, it swivels on wheels to provide ease of movement as you clean.

DeWalts shop vacuum cleaner also has a built-in blower port, which will help you clean sawdust and other debris from your garage. And the filter is washable for easy maintenance and cleaning. It doesn’t get easier than this shop vacuum by DeWalt.

Tips and Tricks For Maintaining Your Shop Vacuum.

Because wet dry shop vacs are different then regular home vacuums, they come with their own set of care requirements. In this section we give you our top tips and tricks for maintaining your shop vacuum.

  1. If you have a filter on your shop vacuum cleaner, you will need to replace or wash it on a regular basis. The messes you will be cleaning with your shop vac will be bigger than those you deal with in your home. So, you need to keep your filter unclogged, cleaned, and replaced regularly. Otherwise it could get clogged with dirt and debris, which will mean that the shop vac will not work correctly.
  2. Also, do not overfill your shop vac bags and filters. Just because you have a huge dirt collection bin on your shop vacuum cleaner does not mean that you can run it for years without emptying it. If the tank gets overfilled, it can mess up the motor and will definitely not continue to provide as much suction.
  3. Always check the hose of your shop vac before you use it. We say this often with home vacuums as well. But, with shop vacuums checking the hose is even more important. The large messes that shop vac hoses clean mean that they are much more likely to get clogged and torn than hoses on regular home vacuums. If you are picking up a lot of wood, metal, or pointy objects on a regular basis, checking the hose is even more important.

Final Words

If you have a shop or a garage, you need a good shop vac. These powerful machines are perfectly designed for the large mess that happens in a shop. The best shop vacuums are great to have around because any mess that you create that your home vacuum cannot handle, can be cleaned by the shop vac. So, even if you don’t have a shop, you may still want to consider a wet dry shop vac.

In this article you should have learned everything you need to know to pick out your next shop vacuum cleaner. The handy buyer’s guide and tips and tricks should all guide you to a great product. If you need a place to begin your search, look no further than our top five list. All of the shop vacs on that list will be perfect for most people. Try a shop vacuum for yourself and enjoy having a cleaner garage and shop right away.

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