5 Best Shop VACs in 2023 – Best Wet Dry VACs
The Shop Vac is a very handy and versatile “cleaning” tool to have in the workshop. It can also be used for heavy-duty household applications like water pumping, fine dust cleaning, and even transforms into an ultra-powerful leaf blower. Unlike the house vacuum, the Shop Vac is much more powerful and works on both dry and wet areas. It does not have brushes or moving parts, and it is simply a powerful suction power tool with a wide range of applications.
If you are looking for a good and reliable model for your woodworking workshop or home, we reviewed a selection of some of the best Shop Vac available on the market below.
1. Shop-Vac 5986000 Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum
2. Bosch VAC090A Dust Extractor Shop VAC
3. Ridgid WD1450 Wet/Dry Vacuum
4. DeWalt DWV012 Shop VAC
5. Shop-Vac 9633400 Wet or Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower
Table of Contents
- 5 Best Shop VACs - Reviews
- What to Look for When Buying a Shop VAC
- Instructions for a Wet/Dry Shop-VAC
- Applications of a Shop VAC
5 Best Shop VACs - Reviews
Without any further ado, let us get started with this review.
#1. Shop-Vac 5986000 5-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet Dry Vacuum
Editor's Rating: (4.2 / 5)
First on the list we have the Shop-Vac 5986000. It is a high-quality and durable unit made from a nice mix of ABS plastic and stainless steel tank.
The 5986000 sports a powerful 4.5 PHP motor that is adequate for any general purpose vacuum, from being an effective dust collection system to a powerful water pump.
The rear blower port has a screw and lock mechanism that easily allows you to both remove and securely lock your extension wands. Additionally, this unit comes with three extension wands for even more versatility in the job.
The stainless steel tank capacity is 5 gallons. It is sufficiently big and will not require emptying every minute. Additionally, the tank is durable and long-lasting. It can definitely take a beating. This tank uses foam sleeve filters for wet substances and disc filters for dry ones. The disc filters are easily cleanable and reusable.
- Very affordable.
- 5 gallons stainless steel tank.
- Powerful 4.5 PHP for maximum performance and efficiency.
- Hose diameter of 1.25 inch compatible with a wide range of extensible wands.
- Works as a blower with a push of a button.
- Base rollers for portability.
- Fairly short power cord at 6 feet.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for an affordable shop Vac that does not sacrifice performance or versatility, the Shop-Vac 5986000 is one of the best shop Vacs in its price range.
#2. Bosch VAC090A 9-Gallon Dust Extractor Shop VAC
Editor's Rating: (4.3 / 5)
With the Bosch VAC090A we go up a notch in terms of performance. This is a professional grade shop vac with a very wide range of applications. It is a fairly expensive model, but as always, you get what you pay for!
This models boards a powerful 9.5 Amps motor that makes it a beast when it comes to blowing out air or sucking it in. It will not stall or be inhibited by anything during operation.
Bosch designed this shop vac to have an automatic cleaning system which cleans the air filters every 15 seconds. This prevents obstructions and allows the unit to always deliver the optimal performance the motor can provide.
One of the best things we like about this model is the inclusion of a power tool activation button. What this does is that it allows your power tool like a saw dust or drum sander to automatically switch this shop Vac on or off. By far, this model is the best shop Vac for woodworking workshop and will quickly and easily absorb sawdust.
Additionally, it has a power broker dial that allows you to switch the power for optimal usage. You do not have to use a shop Vac at its peak power. Sometimes, you will want a lower or higher suction capacity depending on your usage. This unit makes this constant power switching very easy and prevents you from blowing this shop vac under heavy duty usage.
- Powerful motor with power switching and power broker dial.
- Very versatile and adapts to a wide range of application, including a dust collection system for a woodworking workshop.
- Automatic water level sensor will automatically switch off this unit when the water level reaches a critical point. Additionally, the 9 gallons tank can hold a lot of material and requires less emptying.
- Automatic filter cleaning always allows the unit to work at the best performance.
- Lack of a blower function. This unit is more suitable as a “suction” shop Vac, mostly for liquid or sawdust.
- The price. It is expensive.
Who should buy?
We think that the Bosch VAC090A is one of the best woodworking shop Vac out there. It is an excellent dust collection system that has a generous 9 gallons container capacity as well as a powerful motor to keep your workshop clean of any debris.
#3. Ridgid WD1450 14-Gallon 6-Horsepower Wet/Dry Vacuum
Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)
The WD1450 from Ridgid is a high-capacity 14 gallons shop vac that is performing for both wet and dry usage. It has a long 20-foot cord that provides a long reach as well as delivered with many foot accessories for even more versatility.
This model sports a fairly powerful 6 HP motor that can deliver a very powerful suction capacity on both wet and dry areas.
Despite the high power rating, this unit has a fairly low noise output when compared to other similarly performing shop Vacs. We think that it has to do with a better engineering of the motor and more efficient design overall.
The four swivel casters are heavy duty and will provide a 360-degree motion with great ease.
Additionally, this model uses a secure and firm Tug-A-Long fit that makes the accessories hold position and never come loose, even under heavy duty usage.
- Powerful and heavy duty 6 HP motor. Value for money considering its price to performance ratio.
- Quick release mechanism allows you to easily remove accessories.
- Swivel casters make this unit move 360-degree with great ease.
- Fairly low SNR noise level.
- Can be used as a blower with the push of a button.
- It can feel awkward to carry this shop Vac around mostly due to its large dimension of 19.8 x 19.8 x 25.8 inches and small carry handles.
Who should buy?
Again we have a general purpose shop Vac that can be used for anything, from a powerful water pump to a heavy-duty household vacuum cleaner. Additionally, this model is also a powerful leaf blower. Bottom line, if it fits your budget then get this model.
#4. DeWalt DWV012 10-Gallon Shop VAC
Editor's Rating: (4.1 / 5)
The DeWalt DWV012 competes neck to neck with the Bosch VAC090A reviewed above. It is another professional shop Vac that has a lot to offer. It has a generous 10-gallon dust tank along with HEPA filters making it one of the best dust collection system for a woodworking workshop.
This model sports one of the most powerful motor in a shop Vac rated at 15 Amps. At this rating, this model can deliver a powerful 140 CFM airflow that is overkilled for almost any type of suction power. Indeed, it can easily swallow even solid materials like small nails, rock chipping, amongst others.
We tend to see HEPA filters in only professional shop Vacs. Naturally, this model from DeWalt has it. Indeed, it can easily absorb tiny sawdust particles invisible to the naked eye. Additionally, the DWV012 features an automatic filter control mechanism that cleans the filters every 30 seconds for a more efficient and continual operation.
As most professional shop Vacs, this model can be connected to a power tool for automatic on and off dust collection capability.
- Professional grade shop Vac. High-quality and durable build.
- Long extractor wand. Dual filter system for maximal filtration capability.
- Delivered with two HEPA filters. Automatic filter cleanser every 30 seconds for more efficient and smooth operation.
- 2 front rollers and 2 large side wheels for portability and movability.
- Large tank capacity of 10 gallons.
- Compatible with power tools with a dust port. Automatic on and off operation mode.
- Lacks a blower function. This is mostly a woodworking shop Vac for sawdust.
Who should buy?
If you own a workshop and a few power tools that have a dust port, then this model is one of the best and most powerful shop vac on the market.
#5. Shop-Vac 9633400 12-Gallon Wet or Dry Vacuum with Detachable Blower
Editor's Rating: (3.9 / 5)
Last but not least, we have the Shop-Vac 9633400. This is mostly a versatile and mid-range general purpose shop Vac that also works as a blower. It has a generous 12-gallon tank capacity as well as a fairly powerful 6.5HP single stage by pass motor.
The 2-1/2-inch port is compatible with a wide range of accessories and its 18-foot power cord as well as the 22-1/2 inches wands provide this model with a long reach. The build quality is very good and this model is assembled in the USA. This should guarantee quality and durability in the long run.
Additionally, it is very competitively priced and is one of the best small Shop Vac for any general purpose use.
- Long 18 inches power cord.
- Large tank capacity of 12 gallons.
- Extendable 22-1/2 inches wands provide a long reach.
- Powerful 6.5 HP single-stage motor for performance and reliability.
- High-quality build construction. Made in the USA.
- Works as a leaf blower with the push of a button.
- Some customers have had problems with the wheel.
- The filters can easily clog during heavy-duty usage.
Who should buy?
If you are looking for a reliable and performing Shop Vac that also comes in a small form factor, then this is an excellent unit to consider. It works great in small places due to its small size, and we think that this model is one of the best shop Vac for car, leaf blowing and general purpose household usage.
What to Look for When Buying a Shop VAC
Of course, before buying a shop Vac there are a few factors to take into consideration. Here are a few of the most important ones.
#1. Tank Capacity
One of the first things to look for is the tank capacity. This is the place that your shop Vac will store all your debris. If you intend to use this device for heavy-duty purposes and have a lot of material to absorb than it needs to be of an appropriately big size to accommodate the task you have at hand.
#2. Suction capacity
We cannot talk about the Shop Vac without talking about the suction capacity. After all, this is what this power is mostly made for. First and foremost, it is important to look for a model that is appropriate for your needs.
One way is to keep an eye out for the power which is indicated by horsepower or amperage. The more the horsepower, the more performing and higher suction capacity of the shop Vac. Of course, a higher capacity suction will also imply a more expensive price tag. Choose one that is based on your need rather on price alone. Additionally, here are if you suction factors to understand before purchasing a shop Vac.
The diameter of the hose needs to be of an appropriate size. Bear in mind that the larger the diameter is, the less efficient will be the suction capacity. However, a larger hose diameter will mean less noise. A smaller hose diameter will produce more noise. You will need to decide what is more appropriate for your needs based on this information.
Keep an eye out for the airflow system in the unit. For the most effective suction, the shop Vac needs to have a hose that sucks in air and blows it out in another hole creating a constant and powerful airflow that makes the device run more efficiently.
If you are planning to move your Shop Vac around, it is important that they have rollers or wheels. This power tool is fairly heavy and without those wheels, it will be quite difficult to move them around.
If you do not need a heavy duty Shop Vac and require it for only casual use or general-purpose usage, then you do not need a big unit. For example, if you are looking for a model to clean your car than a small shop Vac will do the job just fine.
Instructions for a Wet/Dry Shop-VAC
#1. Dry Condition
To work in dry conditions, the inlet deflector of your shop Vac needs to be facing the bottom of the tank. The inlet deflector is a faucet-like plastic. What it does is guide the debris or material that is sucked in any particular direction. With dry materials, you want the inlet deflector pointing downwards directly at the air filters.
Additionally, check your air filters if they are clean in case your shop Vac does not have an automatic filter cleaning mechanism. Once this basic instruction has been followed and your inlet deflector is facing down, you can fire away and start your shop back.
#2. Wet Condition
For wet conditions, the inlet deflector needs to be the exact opposite direction. Instead of facing the bottom of the tank, it needs to be facing upwards. One extremely important point is to make sure that you remove the cartridge filter. You can do so by turning it counterclockwise to remove the filter retainer.
Once the filters removed, connect the liquid pickup tube to the tank. Push the pickup to as deep as you can inside the tank and then securely lid the shop Vac.
You should be careful and keep an eye out for your water level in case you use the shop Vac as a water pump. You do not want to overfill the tank and it is recommended to empty it before it reaches the maximum level.
As you probably know by now, most shop Vac models are also powerful blowers. Turning the shop Vac into a blower is the easiest thing in the world. All you have to do is to unscrew the blower cover, usually found at the back or side of the device. Once done, insert your vacuum hose into the blower port and securely tighten it. That’s it! Now turn your device on and you will get a powerful blower.
Applications of a Shop VAC
The shop Vac is one of the most powerful and versatile vacuum cleaners in existence. There are so many applications for it. Here are a few of the most common ones.
#1. Pet grooming
Yes. If you have pets then you are surely plagued with a problem of stray hairs all over the place. A regular vacuum cleaner does an okay job of sucking in those stray hairs but most of the time, they are not powerful enough to eradicate a lot of those hairs.
This is where the Shop Vac comes in. It is much more powerful and will quickly and easily allow you to get rid of stray hairs in a matter of seconds, even in very hard to reach places.
#2. Versatile Bucket
Of course, this model is not intended to be a simple bucket but if need be, especially when mopping the floor then you can convert the base of your shop Vac into a handy bucket.
#3. Dry Surfaces
The very powerful suction capability of a Shop Vac allows it to perform as a drying tool as well. If you have wet furniture, mattress, or any other fabric that needs to be dried in a quick way then you can use the shop Vac. You will be amazed how quickly and easily it can dry up material by simply using airflow.
#4. Bag Sealer
If you need to store food in a sealer bag, then you can use the shop Vac to suck away air. It works very effectively in a matter of seconds.
#5. Water Pump
One of our favorite usage of the Shop Vac is a portable water pump. It is powerful enough to suck away water in a small pond. We do not recommend emptying a large pool with it - but it can still manage to do it given the time.