Shop vacs, or wet/dry vacuums, are specialized vacuums used for collecting liquids or larger pieces of debris in workshop environments. So, they are basically vacuums, but larger and have to meet higher requirements.
Choosing a good shop vac is not that tricky but there are certain factors you have to take into account including power, tank capacity, and cord length.
Here are the most powerful shop vacs you can buy in 2020:
- Compact Design: Shop-Vac 4 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Vacuum
- Best for Contractor: Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac
- Quiet: DeWALT DXV10P
- Best for Small Home Tasks: Vacmaster VBV1210
- Durable: Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Best for Quick Clean-Up: CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595
- Best for Big Messes: RIDGID 50353
|7 Most Powerful Shop Vacs|
|Shop-Vac 4 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Vacuum|
Best for Contractor
|Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac|
Best for Small Home Tasks
|Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum|
Best for Quick Clean-Up
Best for Big Messes
Compact Design: Shop-Vac 4 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Vacuum
- Easy to use – easy to get under furniture
- Give great suction - 5.5 peak HP
- Multifunctional and versatile - plenty of tools
- Not huge in tank capacity
After testing, the Shop-Vac 4 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Vacuum quickly roses to the top of our competitive field to take the Best Buy Award.
It has great suction to be way more powerful and even is slightly quieter than other similar counterparts, even without the muffler thing. It doesn't have a huge capacity so we would recommend it for small projects only.
In turn, the compact design allows it to get under furniture easily and hold a lot more debris in its bag than any bagless.
It also comes with plenty of tools, such as high-efficiency filter bag, a cartridge filter with a retainer, round brush, gulper nozzle, and more.
|Shop-Vac 4 Gallon 5.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Utility Vacuum Specifications|
Small, compact design; 5.5 peak HP; plenty of tools
Arguably as a knee-high version of the standard Shop-Vac models, this unit is powerful, multifunctional, and easy to use, making it the best overall performer in our list.
Best for Contractor: Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac
- Eliminate drywall sanding effectively – powerful with ultra-long hose and cord
- Relatively quiet - the sound suppressor installed
- Great maneuverability – weigh just 13.5 pounds
- Not for big projects
- No wheel kit included
- The accessories and extra tubes don't store well
For contractors, having a well-maintained shop vac on the job is a must and the Vacmaster Professional will surely give you lots of compliments from customers for how clean your job is.
Contrasting to the modest design, it is very powerful in addition to ultra-long hose and cord to capably pick up everything along its path and keep the floor from drywall sanding.
Suction and power aside, its sound is just unbelievable, all thanks to the sound suppressor installed.
Compared to other shop vacs at the same price point, this is a little bit bulky but still lightweight to carry around with ease, especially if you don't want to drag around a 20-gallon shop-vac on wheels.
|Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac Specifications|
Power Cord Length
5.5 peak HP; 25’ hose and cord; the sound suppressor installed; weigh just 13.5 pounds
With extraordinarily powerful performance combining with a lightweight design, the Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac is perfect for contractors.
Quiet: DeWALT DXV10P
- Keep cleaning accessories neatly in place - Convenient basket attachment
- Ideal for heavy-duty cleaning tasks – a 10-gallon tank
- Able to talk over when it’s running – very quiet
- Too small wheels
- A bit bulky to move around
In the realm of regular home vacuum cleaner, the DeWALT DXV10P is the quietest model to choose from. It’s is quiet enough that you can talk over without disturbing.
The suction is very good. What impressed us the most was its ergonomic design with all hand features added with no excess thing. Our most favorite is the practical pouch for the extra tools, unlike those knobs that are made into the frames of other vacs.
Hose size is a good compromise to handle sawdust and dirt on the garage floor as well as most leaves and yard debris. They also feel durable as well.
Last but not least, this model comes with a 10-gallon tank, meaning that it’s perfect for heavy-duty tasks.
|DeWALT DXV10P Specifications|
Power Cord Length
Convenient basket attachment; a 10-gallon tank
If quiet operation is a feature that for you is critical, don’t hesitate to pick this DeWALT DXV10P.
Best for Small Home Tasks: Vacmaster VBV1210
- Great maneuverability – lightweight and compact design
- Easy to suction anywhere – multiple attachments provided
- Able to blow leaf – a built-in leaf blower
- The cord is a bit short
- The system to manage the hose and cord is not good
- Plastic wheels
The Vacmaster VBV1210 is an excellent choice for small home tasks for many good reasons.
With the attachments provided, it can go under most furniture or into any tight corners for suctioning. The lightweight design allows this machine to simply pull and maneuver around. Best of all, the suction power is incredible.
The added benefit of the leaf blower is nice, too.
While being easy to use, it’s also easy to empty as well and with a muffler attachment, the machine runs more quietly than other shop vacs we’ve tried.
|Vacmaster VBV1210 Specifications|
Power Cord Length
multiple attachments provided; lightweight and compact design
Vacmaster takes a decent scientific approach to their shop vac design and this model features the most thoughtful ergonomic construction to make it the best choice for small home tasks.
Durable: Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum
- Simple to use – minimal construction and extra-long cord
- Durable – sturdy 12-gallon tank
- Multifunctional - a 3-in-1 design
- Safe to use - Safety buoy technology
- Wish the wet attachment worked better
- Work loudly
We love the Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum.
It’s simple to use with the standard filters that are available everywhere, two clips to detach the tank and empty it, a screw-on hose, and a power button. The extra-long cord makes cleaning much easier, especially those little nooks and crannies in a car.
The tank in this model has a 12-gallon capacity designed to be ultra-durable and longer-lasting for years of abuse. Besides, it allows the cleaning process to be faster and more effortless.
For those who don’t know, this product is a 3-in-1 design, including a blower, a dry suction, and a wet suction function. It’s designed with safety in mind with highlighting the safety buoy technology.
The way it works is once detecting the collected water level exceeds a critical point in the tank, it will be auto-shutoff.
|Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum Specifications|
Power Cord Length
sturdy 12-gallon tank; a 3-in-1 design; Safety buoy technology
For anyone looking for an ultra-durable shop vac that can last a lifetime, we think the Stanley 12 Gallon 6 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vacuum is the most suitable.
Best for Quick Clean-Up: CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595
- Versatile – can work as a blower, a wet suction machine, and a normal dry cleaner
- Work fast and efficiently – oversized drain & built-in blower port
- Resist kinking - Dual-Flex technology
- No foam filter
Built with 6.5 peak HP and 16-gallon tank size, the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 is more powerful and suck up material way better than most other counterparts in this list.
It can blow leaves and grass off of a porch, suck up heavy debris, and suck up water. During the wet suctioning, if its tank gets full, the machine will automatically shut off for safety.
The most important thing is all are done in just a short amount of time, all thanks to the oversized drain and built-in blower port.
Fans of this shop vac also praised for its decent maneuverability with no kinking issues as it’s added with a dual-flex technology.
Its hose has a nice one-hand clip to attach to the tank and when pulling, it doesn’t flip, which is great.
|CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 Specifications|
Power Cord Length
DUAL-FLEX TECHNOLOGY; OVERSIZED DRAIN; BUILT-IN BLOWER PORT
For anyone who needs a strong, professional-level vacuum for quick cleanup, the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 is our recommendation.
Best for Big Messes: RIDGID 50353
- Easy to set up, clean, and replace - Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System
- Powerful yet quiet - a 6.5 peak HP motor & Scroll Noise Reduction
Last but least, we’ve got the RIDGID 50353.
Like most other shop vacs here, it gives you versatile performance featuring a blower port for cleaning debris and a drain port for fast liquid disposal. Making it outstanding is the Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System.
It not only makes the setup simpler but also the replacement and the maintenance easier to carry out. The best thing is no tools or fasteners needed!
Despite featuring a 6.5 peak HP motor, we’re pleasantly surprised that it runs very quietly. And, the whole design isn’t as bulky or heavy as our initial thought but way more portable and maneuverable.
The hose is particularly designed to be more durable yet flexible than the standard models, making it more versatile and functional when in use.
|RIDGID 50353 Specifications|
Qwik Lock Filter Fastening System; Scroll Noise Reduction; ultra-flexible, 1-7/8-inch x 8-foot hose
For cleaning big messes, the RIDGID 50353 performs decently well, with a lower noise level and at faster speeds. That’s why we decided to give it our Best Buy award.
How To Choose The Most Powerful Shop Vac?
This is, of course, one of the major factors to think of when buying a shop vac.
The most powerful shop vacs come with the best motor that can offer high horsepower. While the horsepower of a shop vac should be at least 5, it’s also important to balance between the horsepower and the electric current.
You can choose a motor with high horsepower, but if the electric current of the vacuum can’t handle that power, it’s no use. The best electric current is 120V or higher.
Another factor you must consider when choosing a shop vac is how much it can contain.
Since shop vacs are specialized for workshop environments, which are larger and wider than regular houses, they need an adequate capacity to hold all the liquid and debris they will suck in.
On the other hand, the tank cannot be too big for you because you won’t be able to carry it around if it’s too heavy. Therefore, remember to balance between capacity and weight.
The best capacity for a shop vac is between 40 and 50 liters. A tank smaller than that won’t likely contain enough debris or liquid when you clean. Meanwhile, a tank larger than that is too heavy that you have trouble or cannot move it around at all.
Besides the capacity, the cord length is another thing involved in choosing a shop vac for the same reason of moving around while the plug is fixed at one spot.
Workshops or similar places are much larger than a regular house and you must move to various spots to clean them.
A cord long enough will allow you to clean the whole place without having to unplug the vac then re-plug it at another spot but a short one will make you frustrated.
Different from horsepower and tank capacity, choosing a cord length completely depends on how big the place is.
We suggest you measure the place first to come up with an ideal cord length, then when choosing the shop vac, remember to check the cord length and see if it’s suitable.
Of course, a cord a bit longer than the ideal length is better than a shorter one.
Which Brands Make The Most Powerful Shop Vac?
This is probably the most popular shop-vac maker with more than 65 years in the market. It offers product models with various sizes and features.
It's a brand owned by Cleva North America, Inc., producing wet/dry vacs with tank capacity from 9 liters to 60 liters.
This brand is famous for not only a pro but also homeowner construction tools. It has expanded its business to the shop vac market for a while and has become one of the best shop vac brands too.
Are shop vacs more powerful?
Shop vacs are more powerful than standard vacuums, for sure. They have bigger and tougher hoses to deal with chunkier and sharper pieces of debris.
How high can a shop vac lift water?
Generally, a shop vac can pump up to 23 liters per minute, and lift to about 1.5 meters high.
How many CFM is a shop vac?
This figure varies among different models with different specifications. But for example, a shop vac with the highest horsepower of 6.5 and an electric current of 120V can produce 185 CFM of airflow.
Is a dust collector better than a shop vac?
If you only need to clean dust, a dust collector is the best for the job, but if there are debris and liquid, a shop vac is better overall.
How long do shop vacs last?
On average, a shop vac lasts 8 years of use, but this changes depending on the brand, model, and the user.
Overall, three key factors to consider when choosing a shop vac includes horsepower, tank capacity, and cord length.
For the best shop vacs, you should visit some big brands like Shop-Vac, Vac Master, or DeWalt. Good luck with choosing a perfect shop vac. Thanks for reading!