Best Shop Vacs

Shop messes are more difficult to pick up than indoor spills, so a special vacuum is required to get rid of them. Shop vacuums help people remove sawdust, liquid spills, and any type of debris that falls on almost all types of surfaces, their high-demand being easily understandable considering their unique performance.

Top 5 Shop Vacs Comparison

1. Vacmaster VBV1210 2. Vacmaster VF408 3. Shop-Vac 5870400 4. Shop-Vac 5986000 5. ArmorAll AA255
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General Information

Manufacturer Vacmaster Vacmaster Shop-Vac Shop-Vac ArmorAll
Dimensions (H x W x D) 24.2″ x 20.75″ x 18.25″ 18.25″ x 19.5″ x 12.25″ 15.5″ x 13″ x 16.5″ 19.5″ x 13.5″ x 13.5″ 14″ x 31″ x 14″
Weight 21 Lbs 17.2 Lbs 16.5 Lbs 14.8 Lbs 7 Lbs
Tank Construction Polypropylene Polypropylene Plastic Stainless Steel Polypropylene
Cord Length 12 Feet 18 Feet 18 Feet 6 Feet 10 Feet
Hose Length 7 Feet 7 Feet 8 Feet 7 Feet 6 Feet
Hose Diameter 2.5″ 1.25″ 1.25″ 1.25″ 1.25″
Air Watts N/A 200W 320W 320W 240W


Peak Horsepower 5 HP 5 HP 4.5 HP 4.5 HP 2 HP
Vacuum Capacity 12 Gallons 4 Gallons 4 Gallons 5 Gallons 2.5 Gallons
Blower Conversion
Blowing Speed 210 MPH 240 MPH 210 MPH N/A N/A
Air Volume 133 CFM 63 CFM 175 CFM 175 CFM 110 CFM
Sealed Pressure N/A 71″ 60″ 60″ N/A
Noise Level 94 dB 72 dB N/A 75 dB 95 dB


Dry Pickup
Wet Pickup
Cartridge Filter
Foam Sleeve Filter
Caster Wheels
On-Board Storage
Top Handle Design
Other Features Extra Large Drain Automatic Cord Rewind Cord Storage Cord Storage Automatic Shut-Off
Dust-Sealed Power Switch Contour Handle Lock-On Hose Disposable Filter Bag Air/Noise Diffuser
Automatic Shut-Off Dust-Sealed Power Switch Automatic Shut-Off Cord Wrap
Filter Retainer Rear Caddy
Air/Noise Diffuser Secure Fit Hose
HEPA Exhaust Filter

Cleaning Perofrmance

Concrete Floors
Bare Floors
Laminate Floor
Car Interior


2 x Extension Wand 3 x Extension Wand 2 x Extenstion Wand 3 x Extension Wand Extension Wand
Car Nozzle Floor Nozzle Floor Nozzle Gulper Nozzle Utility Nozzle
Crevice Tool Crevice Tool Gulper Nozzle 10″ Wet/Dry Nozzle Car Nozzle
8″ Utility Nozzle Utility Nozzle Crevice Tool Blower Nozzle
Blower Nozzle Round Brush Round Brush Detail Brush
Blower Adapter Upholstery Nozzle


Product Warranty 2 Years 2 Years 3 Years 3 Years 2 Years
Customer Support
User Manual

Vacuum Particularities You Should Know About

Shop vacs, as opposed to their traditional counterparts, are multipurpose tools that can handle even the toughest of messes around the house, shop, or garage. Most of these vacuums offer wet/dry performance, meaning that they are able to clean liquid spills just as easily as solid messes. This makes them ideal for use in harsh environments like wood shops, garages and even flooded basements.

Most of these vacuums come with a blowing feature that allows you to clear the leaves that gather on your driveway when autumn comes and the weather changes, or for other similar tasks and chores around the house. Another trait of these shop vacuums is the fact that they boast an impressive power and capacity.

The bigger their capacity is the better as it shows that you will not have to waste time too often emptying the tank. Thus, you will have more time to tend to your chores and other affairs. High-end models even allow a high degree of mobility, letting you freely walk across the room when using them so that you will not have to change the power outlet as the cord length does not allow you to reach certain corners anymore.

Relatively compact and easy to work with, vacuums specially designed for use in shops are the right investment for those who usually have big messes to deal with. Although their performance makes them clearly outweigh traditional units, know that their pricing does not differ all that much. Thus, there are only benefits to reap without there being financial or any other sort of consequences to the investment.

Shop Vacuum vs. Vacuum Cleaner

How does a shop vac actually differ from a vacuum cleaner? Is the difference in pricing – where there is one to begin with – worth the money? We will answer these questions immediately by showing you how the two devices differ in various performance aspects, pinning them side by side to underline what type is better, why, and under what circumstances.

  • Power: Generally more powerful than vacuum cleaners, shop vacuums have the unique capability of handling heavy-duty cleaning tasks. Unlike them, regular vacs solely stick to a peak performance when used in normal household messes. This makes them improper choices for those who work on woodworking projects in the garage or do similar messy projects at home or at their workplace. Powerful and capable of confronting large debris with ease, shop vacuums are must-have cleaning tools for hard-working men and women who get their hands dirty as well as the environment they work in.
  • Capacity: Their capacity is another point where these two types of vacuums differ greatly. As opposed to shop vacuums, traditional cleaners feature small bags where debris and dirt are trapped. On the opposite side, we have shop models that boast generous tank capacities, enabling you to pick up a wide load of dirt, debris, and liquids, all without having to empty them in the middle of the operation.
  • Cleaning performance: Shop vacuums are known under the name of dry/wet vacuums as well. The reasoning for this alternative naming is quite obvious as they can be used to pick up dry as well as wet messes. Thus, when there is a large liquid spill, the shop vacuum can be used to clean it up fast. This is a capability that regular vacuum cleaners do not have, thus being limited in their usability.
  • Surface performance: When it comes to the types of surfaces that shop vacuums can be used on, you will be glad to know that there is no actual limitation. As opposed to them, vacuum cleaners are intended for use indoors, on carpets and laminate floors usually. Allowing you to pick up dirt that lays on leather, vinyl, upholstery, concrete floors, bare floors, and in vehicle interiors, dry/wet vacuums boast the highest functionality and versatility in use.
  • Design: Designed with a higher degree of maneuverability in mind, wet/dry vacuums are specially created to allow ease of use in harsh, dirty environments that span over a large area. Their power cords, as well as their hoses, are longer than what traditional vacuums have accustomed us to, thus allowing a wider reach to get the job done faster.

Advantages Brought By Using a Professional Vacuum in Your Shop

Whether you plan on using the vacuum at home, in the garage where you work on woodworking projects, at your workplace where there is usually a huge mess at the end of the day, or anywhere else for that matter, it is important to clearly understand why the shop vac is the best choice to go with. Find out the advantages that the design and construction of these vacuums deliver to those who use them by checking out this section of the article.

  • Ability to Tackle Wet Messes

  • Unlike vacuum cleaners that are quite limited in their cleaning performance, there is nothing that you cannot do with a wet/dry vacuum as it is not only capable of tackling normal, solid messes but liquid ones as well. For those who plan on using the vacuums is their work environments, this is a major plus as spills can always occur, spills that do not have to be problematic to clean up anymore as the vacuums just suck the liquid in them. Also, this capability of picking up wet messes makes the vacuums perfect for use in flooded basements.

  • Can Pick Up Large Debris

  • The diameter of the hose is what shows the capability of the vacuum to handle picking up large debris. Due to the fact that the Vacmaster VBV1210 has a generous 2.5-inch hose diameter, it will easily suck in larger debris as well, thus allowing an easy cleanup of your work environment. Best of all, this generous size of the hose mouth shows that you will be done with cleaning the surface in a single pass.

  • Doubles As a Blower

  • Most high-end shop vacuums allow you the capability to transform them into blowers. Thus, when leaves gather on the driveway, just take the vacuum out and deal with them. This is a convenient trait as it eliminates the need for an actual leaf blower, so no additional investments need to be done for tending to other household chores. It might come as a surprise, but vacuums that double as blowers can be used in other ingenious ways too, more precisely for inflating pool toys, inflating mattresses, removing snow off of pathways, cleaning out the fireplace, and so on.

  • Powerful Lifting and Suction

  • The superior lifting and suction performances of these vacuums make them the most efficient and effective cleaning tools when confronted with the removal of liquid or dust particles. Considering the fact that most of them are designed to have separate storage compartments for liquids and solids, maintenance work and emptying them will be a breeze.

  • Moves Easily Across the Shop/Garage

  • By definition, wet/dry vacuums are intended for use in heavy-duty circumstances. Thus, they are designed to not only perform well when confronted with big messes, but they are designed to allow easy movement across the area as well. Long hoses and power cords are the two main traits that make these vacuums so convenient to work with, allowing you to finish cleaning after yourself in no time and with as little hassle as possible.

Shop Vacuum Buying Guide – What to Look For and Why

Shop vacs might resemble traditional vacuum cleaners up to a point, but the differences between the two appliances make it mandatory that you take a deeper look into what makes a quality wet/dry vacuum before charging in to make a specific purchase. Otherwise, the risk of making the wrong choice becomes very high. Learn what you must look for when buying the right shop vacuum by reading this useful buying guide.

  • Hose Length

  • The longer the hose of the vacuum is, the more easily you will be able to reach into all the corners of the room, all without having to drag the cleaning device with you. High-end products, like the Shop-Vac 5870400 for example, feature an 8-foot long hose. However, you should know that there are wall-mount models that have larger extensions, reaching hose lengths of up to 20 feet. While these vacuums might be convenient to use for other reasons, their suction power is affected by the enormous hose length.

  • Hose Width

  • The hose’s width shows whether it can easily pick up large debris or not. Just like with the length of the hose, it is better for its width to be as large as possible. From this point of view, we recommend that you use a vacuum like the Vacmaster VBV1210 for example, as it features a generous 2.5-inch hose width, thus picking up large dirt and debris without a problem.

  • Power Cord Length

  • The length of the power cord shows how much movement the device will allow when using it. The longer the cord the better as you will not find yourself caught in the unpleasant situation where you will have to switch power outlets just so that you will be able to finish cleaning the entire area. We recommend that you look for a shop vacuum with a power cord length of at least 6-10 feet.

  • Tank Capacity

  • A generous tank capacity shows that you will not have to waste time emptying the vacuum too often. If your working environment usually gets very messy, this is a trait that you have to pay extra attention to. Otherwise, you risk wasting a lot of time and doing a lot of tedious and useless work, all because you did not bother to check the important tank capacity rating. We recommend that you choose a product like the Vacmaster VBV1210 as it boasts an impressive 12-gallon vacuum capacity.

  • Quiet Operation

  • Even if you plan on using the vacuum in your work environment, this does not mean that you should overlook the amount of noise that the cleaning device produces. After all, you would not want to go deaf because of cleaning the garage when you are done with your latest woodworking project, right? Also, you must consider the comfort of those around you, especially if you plan on using the vacuum in your own home. Thus, when making this investment, do not forget to check out the dB rating of the unit that you are interested in.

  • Tool Storage

  • Having a convenient place to store the many accessories that come with top of the line wet/dry vacuums is a more important element than you could imagine. Not only does the tool storage make it easier for you to set the cleaning device aside when you are done using it as you will not have to search for special places to put these accessories and nozzles, but it will make it less likely that you will lose any of them as well. Considering the fact that most accessories come at spicy prices, it is a feature that you should not overlook when making this purchase.

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