The Best Shop Vac
Most household vacuums won’t cut it when it comes to spills, metals, and all the other debris that turns up to clutter the garage floor.
Ever since the original Shop-vac (the brand) hit a home run with their range of highly efficient wet and dry vacuum cleaners. Most other leading vacuum manufacturers have followed suit and launched their own versions of similar machines.
As a result, the market is cluttered with wet and dry vacuums in a multitude of configurations, sizes and price points. Let’s explore some of the better options.
The Craftsman XSP is a brute of a vacuum that can tackle just about anything that comes its way. Metal, sawdust, drywall, liquids, or even leaves from your gutter (separate gutter kit) will disappear in seconds as the 6.5 peak HP motor whirrs to life. If you often use a chainsaw or a jigsaw or any power tools that create a mess then this shop vacuum will be able to clean up those messes easily.
Thanks to the 20-foot power cord and 360-degree swivel caster wheels you can access every nook and cranny of your garage, shed or home without unplugging it or the need for an extension cord.
Maneuvering and controlling the vac is super-easy. There is an ergonomic top handle and a secure-fit hose system that helps you control and use it with ease. The hose is 2 ½ inches in diameter which translates into fewer passes to clean a job site. Access to hard-to-reach areas is facilitated via a 7 feet hose and a set of extension wands.
You can flip a button and convert it into a powerful blower if you need to clear the dirt or dust off the job site floor too.
The XSP comes with a 16-gallon collection tank that eliminates the need for frequent emptying. There’s a separate fast-draining liquid compartment in the tank that has you covered for situations like a flooded basement.
If real estate is a premium in your garage, the Craftsman XSP might be the best option for you. It stands 24.88” tall and just 21.5” wide allowing you to tuck it away in a corner easily. There are a bunch of organizers that further reduce the space needed for storage.
The Craftsman XSP also features a storage tray on top for quick access for frequently used tools like power drills or screwdrivers.
- Pros: 6.5 peak HP. Large capacity drum. 3 year limited warranty. Up to 185 CFM air volume.
- Cons: Sloppy storage bag design.
The Shop-Vac 3940100 is a mid-sized wet and dry vacuum that can be a great pick for a small to medium sized garage or job site.
It is compact but has a reasonable 3.5-gallon collection tank and comes with a very convenient wall-mount assembly that allows for easy storage or even usage if you don’t intend to move it about too much. Just hang it on the wall, power it on and use it conveniently. It has a huge 18-foot hose that lets you move about freely. In addition to this, the package includes a boatload of attachments that extend the reach even more.
The Shop-Vac is powered by a 3 peak HP motor that gives it a lot of juice for a vacuum of this size. Customers have used it in varied scenarios including on job sites, for cleaning cars, and in homes without any complaints.
One of the best things about the Shop-Vac 3940100 is the accessory kit which makes it a value buy. There are three extension wands, a gulper nozzle, a wet and dry nozzle, a crevice nozzle, a brush for cleaning upholstery, dry/wet filters, a bag for collecting the dust, a wall-mount bracket and a bag for carrying tools.
However, we must mention that at times, the hose tends to get clogged. If you find that the vacs sucking power is diminished, just detach the hose and clean it.
- Pros: Wall mounted. A variety of accessories. 3 peak HP. Long 18 ft hose.
- Cons: A bit large to be used as a wall mount vac.
We first spotted the Vacmaster 12-gallon shop vac in action at a car wash. It was being used as a blower and boy, did it have some power. Certainly, blew us away!
This is a large and powerful wet and dry vacuum that’s best suited for job sites and garages. It has a 12-gallon tank that can hold a considerable amount of debris or liquids and comes with a durable 7-foot hose that’s 2.5” in diameter.
It weighs a very pleasant 12 pounds when empty and moves around on four detachable 360-degree swiveling caster wheels.
The cord length is 12-feet which is a little less than its nearest competition, the Craftsman XSP. But that’s only a minor problem. You can easily pull this around using the hose itself.
One of the best features is that you can completely detach the vacuum from the tank (one-touch release) and use it as a blower and a powerful one at that.
If you are looking to clean dust off a job site fast, there’s no better choice. The 5 peak HP motor generates a whopping 210mph wind speed. Enough said.
We love the attachments that come bundled with the Vacmaster 12-gallon wet/dry vacuum. There are nozzles for car and crevices, a spot-cleaning tool for concentrated cleaning tasks, two extension wands for reaching out without clambering on a ladder and a blower nozzle. These accessories can be stored on-board in the dedicated accessory rack.
Most importantly, the suction power is second to none. When cleaning liquids, the Vacmaster can suck in a gallon of water in a second and a half. That’s some serious power if you frequently use a vacuum to drain your pool or in a car wash.
Also, it has a large drain port conveniently located at the bottom that allows you to drain the tank without having to lift or tilt the entire unit.
- Pros: Large tank capacity. Budget friendly. Detachable blower. 5 peak HP.
- Cons: A few customer note that the suction power is lackluster.
This is one of Shop-Vac’s smaller, entry-level wet and dry vacuums for small shops and homes.
This pocket-sized powerhouse offers a lot of what a higher priced and bulkier machine can, for a lot less money. It is compact enough to be carried around, comes with a collapsible handle and an 8-foot cord.
You can carry it to the car, use it around the home or even wall-mount it when you are using it within a room or a small working space.
It certainly beats a regular home vacuum any day and eliminates the need to drag out the full-sized shop vac from your garage for tasks that need extra suction.
It’s not overly loud either, which is a sought after feature when selecting vacuums for cars and homes. It has a 2.5-gallon storage tank and is powered by a 2.5 Peak HP motor that delivers a lot of juice for a machine this size.
The shop-vac also features a very useful accessory kit including an extension hose, a gulper nozzle, and a crevice tool.
If you are looking for more reach, then there’s a 6-feet extension available for purchase. There’s a reusable disc filter and a foam sleeve to be used for sucking liquids as well.
- Pros: Perfect portable option. Wall mountable. Converts to a blower. 3 year warranty.
- Cons: Hose is somewhat small at 4 ft.
This Craftsman is a midsized shop vac with some serious suction power behind it. Its 6-gallon tank makes it easier to store. This is perfect for a shop, job site, or apartment use.
It is powered by a 3 peak HP motor, which isn’t the most powerful on this list, but it more than suffices to pick up metals, debris, screws, sawdust, drywall plaster and liquids that you may be dealing with every day.
The 360-degree caster wheels on the base are the best that we’ve seen. The installation prevents the wheels from getting detached while the vacuum is operational and it can easily glide over bumpy surfaces.
The vacuum also features a top handle for convenient lifting. The fact that it weighs a very manageable 12.4 pounds when empty makes this easier.
It has a long 10-foot power cord and a 7-foot hose which gives you 17-feet of reach. Club that with the two additional extension wands and you can easily cover an entire workspace without the need for detaching it.
The Craftsman scores way above the rest when it comes to cleaning liquids and spills. The vacuum averaged about two and a half gallons of water per second, which is phenomenal.
Also thrown in are a bunch of extra accessories and an on-board storage rack.
- Pros: 3 Peak HP motor. 17 ft total cleaning reach. Converts to blower.
- Cons: Capacity is somewhat small at 6 gallons.
Factors to Consider in a Shop Vacuum
Don’t want to deal with broken, clogged up vacuum cleaners? Like the idea of quickly removing dust inside your property? What about making sure your construction projects don’t leave a mess behind?
It’s all about understanding the power of a good vacuum cleaner and what the right shop vac can offer. A world-class shop vac can easily and efficiently help with these messes. These cleaners are committed, proven, and come equipped with what’s required to take care of dust or debris.
Defining a Shop Vac
In general, a shop vac refers to a professional-grade vacuum design to handle various messes including wet or dry varieties. For those looking to find a top-tier shop vac, it’s all about emphasizing quality and realizing it’s a term used synonymously with vacuum cleaners.
To be more specific, “Shop Vac” is the name of a well-renowned vacuum cleaner brand. These vacuums used to be all the rage early on and their brand became ingrained within society and common lingo.
Along with their features, these shop vacs can also come in different sizes and are often equipped with specialized tanks. The average shop vac will also include a robust set of nozzle attachments to make sure everything is sucked up efficiently. They also come with well-structured handles to ensure they’re easy to carry from place to place.
There are several different uses for a high-quality shop vac. The average shop vac can be used in residential and professional settings including construction sites, workshops, garages, and more. For example, with a construction site, professionals may take out the shop vac to eliminate any excess debris that are settling around the area such as concrete dust. If the dust is allowed to collect for too long, it can leave a permanent mark on what’s going on and this is what makes it damaging.
There are so many things to think about when it comes to managing spills but a quality shop vac can take care of liquids including flooded water. In some cases, shop vacs are used to work away on leaves by blowing them away.
Different Types of Vacuums
The market has grown substantially over the years and this has led to several innovations. Here’s a peek at some of the wet/dry vacuums available for sale right now.
Mini Wet/Dry Vacuums
These are the smallest in size and remain lightweight from top to bottom. The emphasis is on making sure the vacuum is easy to move from point A to point B without having to worry about much else. These are portable and easy to move around while being weaker in terms of overall performance. Mini wet-dry vacuums tend to come as handheld units and are often reserved for smaller commercial sites.
Small Wet/Dry Vacuums
These are larger and can also weigh more while providing a considerable increase in power.
Medium Wet/Dry Vacuums
Medium wet/dry vacuums are designed to offer a bit of everything when it comes to mobility and overall performance. This makes them ideal for both personal and professional purposes.
Large Wet/Dry Vacuums
With these vacuum cleaners, the idea is to focus on larger canisters and detailed efficiency. These vacuums are often found on construction sites where a considerable amount of dust and debris has collected. To get rid of this debris, it’s important to have a bit of power to work with and that’s what these larger models offer.
Other Vacuum Considerations
Buying a quality shop vac is important but it’s important to know what to look for. Let’s take a look at what matters when it’s time to pinpoint good features.
Size is essential as a smaller shop vac isn’t going to work well on larger commercial sites. They are often reserved for residential properties where a little bit of debris has to be removed. While a large-sized option is going to work well on a construction site or in a modern workshop. It’s all about the amount of power that’s required.
An integrated blower isn’t mandatory and is generally good for those working with excessive debris at their workspace. Otherwise, it’s not important to emphasize this as a requirement.
How is the shop vac going to be put to use? What is the role of a shop vac when it comes to your particular situation? Is it going to be used on a construction site or at home in the backyard? You will want to think about these details while focusing on certain accessories.
Shop Vac FAQ
Q: What is the best filter for a wet vacuum?
A: In general, the best investment would be to go with a foam sleeve as it will work well while handling wet debris or liquids. This works well with a variety of materials making it well-rounded over the long-term.
Q: What causes the suction power to go down?
A: This is going to vary based on your vacuum cleaner. For most people, the issue has to do with obstructed airflow. This means something gets into the hose and blocks it. The goal should be to take a look in the hose to see what’s going on and whether or not something can be done to fix the issue.
All of these vacuums will work well for the home or job site. When it comes to picking the right one consider the features above when making your decision. If you need a small shop vac for your home or vehicle to pick up light debris, then the 2.5 HP Shop-Vac above will work perfectly. However, if you need an all-around solid shop vac for every occasion then our overall pick, the Craftsman XSP is a perfect choice.
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