Best shop vac

Best Shop Vac Reviews 2023

Each year, we bring in and review more than 350 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

Shop Vacuum Roundup

Shop Vacuum Roundup

Design and engineering details make each of these shop vacuums unique.

Like all dedicated woodworkers, I have no problem generating copious amounts of dust and debris. And while making dust is always more fun than cleaning it up, cleaning doesn’t need to be an onerous task. With new shop vacuums, even the most basic models are quite capable, making the dreaded cleanup job much more convenient, effective and enjoyable. Efficient filters and well-sealed tanks are standard with most current models, and design and engineering advances have resulted in vacuums that fit the needs and budget of almost every woodworker and DIYer.

A Model for Every Need

I evaluated eight shop vacuums, from very affordable general-purpose models to high-end dust extractors for professionals and serious (and well-heeled) woodworkers. Whether you need to clean your shop floor, extract dust from a power sander or suck up a small flood in your basement, one of these units has you covered.

For simplicity, I’ve sorted the featured models into three categories: value-priced general-purpose vacuums, step-up general purpose vacuums, and commercial-duty dust extractors. Because each model is designed for a specific mar- ket niche and to provide the appropriate set of features, a head-to-head comparison isn’t really meaningful — it would be like trying to compare se- dans, sports cars and SUVs.

I found that all of the tested vacuums provide more than adequate suction for their intended use. Almost any vacuum will suffer a decrease in performance as it fills with debris, and the finer the dust particles, the more rapid the decline.
Hose diameters and lengths vary considerably, but the short explanation is that a larger-diameter hose moves more air and is good for picking up bigger objects, while a smaller hose increases air velocity and is better for sucking up dust. A long hose gives you more reach for cleaning or collecting dust from a tool without having to move the vacuum.

Most of the vacuums come with a standard-duty pleated filter, but other choices are available, such as filters for heavy-duty applications and HEPA (high-efficiency particle air) filters that trap microscopic dust. Note that installing a HEPA filter does not necessarily mean a vacuum is certified for hazardous material mitigation. The type of filter installed will also have an impact on the vacuum’s performance, depending on its airflow resistance.

Models with cylindrical filters that extend into the canister will suffer most quickly as the canister fills and the filter becomes submerged in dust and debris. Empty these vacuums early and often to maintain performance. Also, cleaning or replacing the filter regularly will help maintain peak performance and extend the life of the motor.

The three dust extractors have an auto-on feature that’s triggered by a power tool plugged into it. They also have variable suction control, which allows you to dial in the right amount of power for the tool
in use (prevents sanders from sticking to the work, etc.).

There are many other details to consider, such as cord, hose and accessory storage, the accessibility of the power switch and how convenient the motor housing latches are to use.

Bosch VAC090A


The Bosch is a sturdily built professional-level dust extractor, priced at $600, with many well-implemented features. Like the others in this category, it has variable suction control and an auto-on power tool outlet. There’s a very convenient hinged filter-access lid on top, and the 11⁄4″ x almost 10′ hose attaches to the front port with a twist lock and stores easily with bungee-style straps. Another useful feature is the retaining system for Bosch’s L-Boxx tool and storage boxes, which turns the vacuum into a handy dolly. There’s an automatic filter cleaning feature that makes a loud thumping noise every 15 seconds — it’s a feature, not a problem. However, auto-clean must be turned off when using paper collection bags or a HEPA filter. The Bosch’s narrow, snag-free design makes it easy to use in close quarters.

A filter access lid on the top of the Bosch VAC090A (left photo) makes cleaning and replacing the filter a snap. Bosch provides simple and effective bungee-style retainers (right photo) for hose storage and a loop for hanging the power cord.

Craftsman 125.12007


This Craftsman general-purpose shop vacuum delivers a lot of value for the money. Priced at $100, it generates remarkably strong suction, and it has good build quality and an extensive selection of cleaning tools. The onboard storage has a place for everything, and the motor unit’s flat top makes a good tray for holding tools and small objects. A simple twist lock secures the 21⁄2″ (x 7′) hose to both the inlet and blower ports.

Because it’s one of the larger units, it might be a challenge to use in a small shop. It also requires some quick and easy assembly. I found the canister latches to be a little balky to use, and it wasn’t always clear when or if they engaged properly.

The Craftsman can hold 16 gallons, so a threaded plug on the bottom of the canister (left photo) makes draining liquid easier and more controlled than dumping the tank. Wire retainers on the Craftsman (right photo) provide simple, yet effective hose storage. The large power switch is well placed, and the flat top makes a good storage tray.



Among the dust extractors, the DeWALT, which costs $500, is a relative bargain. It’s solidly built with high quality materials, and it’s impressively powerful. A lot of attention has been paid to ergonomics. Three handles are provided for wrangling the unit, as well as a rear telescoping handle. The canister latches are large and easy to use, and it has convenient hose and cord storage. A ball-bearing twist lock keeps the 11⁄4″ x 15′ hose securely attached to the inlet port. This vacuum also has an automatic filter cleaner, which clicks loudly about every 30 seconds. The canister accepts accessory paper and fleece filter bags but can be used without them. You can employ this vacuum for any cleaning task, but DeWALT is quick to point out that it’s primarily a dust extractor. And like all the other dust extractors, no accessories are included.

The DeWALT features many nice touches such as simple hose and cord storage (left photo), a telescoping handle and a stable dolly with non-marring wheels and casters. DeWALT’s twin HEPA filters (right photo) are low-profile to allow plenty of room for debris below them in the canister. These are permanent filters that can be cleaned many times.

Festool CT 26


From its performance to its price of $625, the Festool leaves no doubt that it’s a premium dust extractor. This is a system vacuum that’s compatible with almost all of the company’s power tools — and other brands — and offers a mind-boggling array of accessories. The CT 26 uses a self-cleaning filter bag to maintain its strong performance, and it has a well-designed hose and cord garage on the top as well as a cord wrap on the back. Other nice touches include a standard 11⁄16″ x 111⁄2′ anti-static hose and a brake to prevent unwanted movement. I found it to be noticeably quieter than the other models, and its rectangular footprint allows it to maneuver easily in tight quarters. The vacuum can also be used as a mobile cart for Systainer® tool and storage boxes. For more capacity, Festool offers the CT 36 and CT 48 models with larger canisters.

Festool’s CT 26 has its auto-start tool outlet under a hinged access door (left photo). When a power tool plugged into this outlet is turned on, the vacuum starts automatically. The Festool features a hose and cord garage on top of the unit, and it also has a cord wrap on the back (right photo). It’s shown here with the optional handle and tool caddy.

Milwaukee 8955


The Milwaukee is a step-up general purpose vacuum that’s old school, but in a good way. It may look like it’s from the middle of the last century, but its motor and filtration are thoroughly modern. It provides plenty of suction and, because the canister is tall, it can collect a lot of debris below the filter before it needs to be emptied. I found the two-wheel, one-caster dolly arrangement to be easy to maneuver, but not quite as stable as models with four contact points. The power switch is small and hard to see on the back of the motor. I think it should be “Milwaukee red” to at least make it more visible. Unfortunately, there are no cleaning tools included with this model. With its steel tank and simple construction, this vacuum, with its 11⁄2″ x 7′ hose and price of $270, is a workhorse that should last for many years.

Milwaukee’s large pleated filter allows plenty of airflow but still leaves a generous space in the canister for debris. The power switch on the motor housing is small and hard to see.



The RIDGID seems to get all the details right. It’s a step-up general purpose model that’s feature-rich and easy on the pocketbook with its price of $159. Despite its strong performance, it’s relatively quiet, due in part to the included muffler. There’s a good selection of standard-issue cleaning tools that all fit in the non-fussy fabric tool caddy mounted on the handle. Large wheels and casters provide the unit with excellent mobility over rough surfaces. Additional features including a 21⁄2″ x 7′ locking hose, a bottom-mounted drain for wet pickup and secure canister latching make this a very pleasant vacuum to operate. Some assembly is required, but it doesn’t take long and the parts fit well. This is a nicely made vacuum that has few, if any, disadvantages.

The RIDGID is relatively quiet considering its power. Some of that is attributable to the standard muffler that’s plugged into the outlet port (left photo). The RIDGID uses a thumb-actuated lever to lock its hose to the inlet port. It also features a well-designed rocker power switch, carrying handle and wraparound hose storage (right photo).

Shop Vac 5873410


The Shop Vac is a general- purpose model and the most compact model in this group. It’s versatile and excels in the mobility department. I grew to like this vac because it’s a very good performer that’s easy to use anywhere. Priced at $130, it also comes with a generous selection of cleaning tools and even a paper filter bag for collecting fine dust from drywall and concrete. A 11⁄2″ x 12′ hose with a screw lock gives this vacuum more reach than any of the other general-purpose models. The dolly can be removed quickly by pressing a lever, so the vacuum can be converted for handheld use. If space is at a premium and you want a vacuum that’s easy to use anywhere in your home, this is a great choice.

The Shop Vac 5873410 uses a screw connector for attaching the swivel end of the hose (left photo). Its 12’ hose provides exceptional reach for cleaning without having to move the vacuum. The Shop Vac’s jellybean shape makes it easy to maneuver and carry. It also features a convenient top-mounted cord wrap and large rocker-style power switch (right photo).



If you’re the super-organized type, you’ll love the WORK- SHOP vacuum. With a price of $250, it’s a general-purpose step-up model that’s designed like a rolling toolbox. There are two slide-out compartments (the top compartment also has a lid) that store the 17⁄8″ x 8′ hose and cleaning tools with motor, filter and canister positioned below them. There’s even a shelf on the back for storing cleaning supplies. Aside from its sleek, functional design this vacuum is a great performer and a very quiet one, too. Other features include a rear-wheel brake to keep the unit stationary, a cord wrap and a locking hose. It’s easy enough to roll the unit but it’s very heavy, so lifting it is a chore. The WORKSHOP seems to be a durable, well- made machine that should provide years of service.

WORKSHOP’s motor, canister and filter are on the bottom of the unit (left photo). The canister is essentially a slide- out bin and includes a drain for liquids on the bottom. Designed much like a rolling tool- box, the WORKSHOP has drawers for its hose and accessories (right photo). The top drawer also uses a lid for additional accessibility.

Sound and Size

Earlier, I gave you a heads-up on filter and hose size details you should consider in your search for the right shop vacuum. Sound and size are also important considerations.

Although several manufacturers list the decibel level of their vacuums, how and where the measurement is taken makes a difference, as does the frequency of the sound. Fortunately, none of the vacuums were uncomfortably loud, but I’d still recommend wearing hearing protection.

Finally, unless you intend to use your shop vacuum as a stationary dust collector, you should consider the size of its footprint, its dolly and how the accessories, cord and hose are stored. Large casters and wheels will ease travel over rough and uneven surfaces, and a handle will make maneuvering a vacuum much easier.

Best Shop Vac Reviews 2023

Best Shop Vac Reviews

The best shop vacs come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, power levels, and price points. Nearly every store that sells tools also sells shop vacuums. These handy tools range from larger-capacity units to smaller, portable models. Our picks for the best shop vac for 2023 include categories for various needs and applications.

Our Top Picks

  • Best Overall: Milwaukee Modular w/Air Tip Accessories – Buy at Acme Tools
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best Cordless: Greenworks 60V Pro Hybrid – Buy at Tractor Supply
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best Small Shop Vac: Craftsman 5-Gallon CMXEVCVVFB511 – Buy at Lowe’s
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best Heavy Duty Model: Vacmaster 8-Gallon VK811PH – Buy at Acme Tools
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best High Capacity: Ridgid 16-Gallon HD1800 – Buy at Home Depot
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best HEPA Model: Ridgid NXT HEPA Conversion Vacs – Buy at Home Depot
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best for Cars and Vehicles: Milwaukee M18 FUEL Packout 2.5-Gallon – Buy at Acme Tools
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓
  • Best Value: HART 8-Gallon VOC812SW 3701 – Buy at Walmart
    Jump to this Shop Vac ↓

What is a Shop Vac?

Shop Vacs are like Kleenex, Bandaids, and Sawzalls. The Shop-Vac brand became so synonymous with wet-dry shop vacuums that people started calling all of them Shop Vacs. The Shop-Vac brand is still around, though it went through a rough period and a sale a few years ago.

Shop vacs usually have a larger diameter hose and they don’t typically arrive HEPA certified (though some do). You don’t normally find automatic filter cleaning, and the motor tends to be smaller, so there’s less overall power. Those are the main differences between what we consider a shop vac vs a dust extractor. Those aren’t all the differences, of course, but it’s a good start.

Our best shop vac reviews cover the gamut from compact models to larger vacuums destined for woodworkers in the shop. So what makes a good wet-dry shop vacuum? It depends on your needs. It’s going to be a balance of portability, airflow (CFM), suction power (water lift), and capacity for the most part. Add in included accessories, storage, and hose/cord management to bring it full circle.

How you personally weigh each of those categories differs from job to job and person to person. So we’ve compiled our list of the best shop vacs for 2023 and you can decide which one best fits your needs.

Best Shop Vac Overall

Milwaukee Modular Wet/Dry Vacuum and Air-Tip Accessories

Milwaukee Air-Tip vacs

The best shop vac overall has to have the best balance of everything and Milwaukee nailed it, but not with just one vac. They created an entire modular system that lets you customize what you need. Choose from single-battery, dual-battery, or corded powerheads. Then add 6, 9, or 12-gallon canisters. From there, you can go with a standard filter, wet foam filter, or HEPA filter.

Then there’s the Air-Tip line of trade-focused accessories that are cross-compatible with almost any hose size.

While there’s not just one vac that fits every need, Milwaukee has designed a system that is far greater than any one model thanks to the sum of its parts.

Vac Prices: $249.00 – $799.00

Air-Tip Prices: $17.99 – $119.00

Best Cordless Shop Vac

Greenworks 60V Pro Hybrid Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Best Cordless Shop Vacuum | Greenworks 60V Hybrid Wet/Dry Vacuum

When we went searching for the best cordless shop vac, one feature stood out—hybrid battery/AC ability. While it’s incredibly convenient to run completely cordless, there are times when you don’t want to be limited by runtime.

With that in mind, the Greenworks 60V wet/dry vacuum is our top pick. Its performance is excellent among battery-powered options (90 CFM/36 inches of water lift), the overall design is solid, it has excellent capacity at 9 gallons, and you have the hybrid power option.

Price: $199.99 (does not include batteries or charger)

Best Small Shop Vac

Craftsman 5-Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum CMXEVCVVFB511

Best Small Shop Vac

When it comes to the best small shop vac, your definition of “small” is the key. For us, we’re looking for a small footprint and a canister that’s 5 gallons or less. This year, we’re right at the top of the scale with Craftsman’s 5-gallon wet/dry vac earning our recommendation.

It’s the performance that got our attention. Despite its smaller size, it has 5.5 peak horsepower with an impressive combination of 102 CFM and 84 inches of water lift.

It’s nearly identical to the Vacmaster Beast 5-gallon, and that model is on Amazon if Lowe’s is out of stock of the Craftsman model. We’ve been using Vacmaster products for years and don’t think you can go wrong with either brand.

Best Heavy-Duty Shop Vac

Vacmaster 8-Gallon Industrial Wet/Dry Vac VK811PH

Best Heavy Duty Wet Dry Shop Vacuum

The Vacmaster VK811PH Industrial Wet/Dry Vac gets our best heavy-duty shop vac nod for several big reasons. First, this shop vac had the highest-tested water lift in its price class at 106 inches (based on our tests). Even with that kind of pull, it still manages 125 CFM of suction.

We also think the 8-gallon canister is the sweet spot for commercial maneuverability and capacity. Large rubber back wheels let you get over bumpy thresholds without marring surfaces. The hose measures a somewhat tame 10 feet, but it’s still enough to work with in most situations. We also like the metal accessories and excellent cord management. It’s even HEPA-rated.

Best High-Capacity Shop Vac for Construction

Ridgid 16-Gallon NXT Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum HD1800

Best High-Capacity Shop Vac for Construction

Ridgid vacuums are all over jobsites for a good reason: they’re a great value and have a ton of suction for the price. There are several excellent options in the line and the Ridgid 16-gallon NXT is our top choice as the best shop vac for construction.

With 6.5 peak horsepower and 184 CFM, it’s the strongest model in Ridgid’s lineup. Plus, the 16-gallon canister holds more debris than most models, the cart design makes it easy to move around your workspace, and the accessory set includes nozzles to tackle just about any mess you have to deal with.

Best HEPA Shop Vac For Dust Collection

Ridgid NXT Shop Vacuums with HEPA Conversion


Most of our top-rated HEPA vacuums fall into the dust extractor category rather than the shop vacuum class. Their designs usually have a more robust build that ensures you get the canister sealing tight along with the HEPA filter’s finer collection to ensure those particles don’t make it into your breathing space. Still, there are some HEPA shop vacs running around that are worth considering and the trick to making the leap from basic collection to HEPA-rated lies in not just the filter, but also the collection bag.

Once again, Ridgid has you covered and for less than $60, you can add HEPA filtration and cyclonic collection bags to a wide range of 12 – 16-gallon Ridgid wet/dry vacuums. If you don’t already have a Ridgid vac, Home Depot has some kits that include the vac and HEPA accessories.

Best Portable Shop Vac For Car Cleaning

Milwaukee M18 Fuel Packout 2.5-Gallon Wet/Dry Vaccum

Packout Vacuum

When it comes to portability and cleaning vehicles, nothing beats a small-capacity cordless model… if it has high enough performance. Milwaukee’s M18 Fuel 0970 uses a brushless motor to produce 50 CFM and 47 inches of water lift in a 2.5-gallon size that’s Packout compatible.

You could go smaller and have more maneuverability around the vehicle, but we like the performance level of this model and the Packout interface is really handy to make storing and transporting your mobile detailing gear easier.

Price: $199.00 bare

Best Value Shop Vac for Home Use

HART 8-Gallon Stainless Steel Wet/Dry Vacuum VOC812SF 3701

Best Value Shop Vac for Home Use

HART has an impressive range of vacuums that covers everything from the wet/dry shop vacs we’ve been talking about to standard upright vacuums and plenty in between. With 6.0 peak horsepower dialed in to deliver 100 CFM and 89 inches of water lift, it has excellent performance for the price. Plus the stainless steel canister gives it a great look and its cart-style base makes moving the vac easier.

Best Wall Mount Shop Vac For Woodworking

Rikon 60-101 Wall-Mounted 1 HP Dust Collector

Wall Mounted vacuum Rikon 60-101

For a true wall-mounted shop vac we presume you may want to do more than simply clean up some floor space. For connecting woodworking equipment to a shop-wide vac system without hitting four figures in price, we like the Rikon 60-101. As our pick for the best wall-mounted shop vac, it collects up to 99% of dust as small as 1 micron.

It features all-metal construction and the motor’s 10-inch impeller creates 800 CFM of suction using 4-inch ductwork (up to two devices). With 5-inch ducting, you can get up to 1100 CFM for single-tool use. This system can really handle pulling dust and wood chips from bandsaws, table saws, jointers, planers, and more.

Best Shop Vac Recommendations from More Brands We Trust

Best DeWalt Shop Vacuum: 9-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum DXV09P

DeWalt has several wet/dry vacuum options that avoid reaching up into dust extractor pricing and we’re impressed with their build quality. Among the choices you have, we recommend the 9-gallon model for the best balance of capacity, performance, and price. It boasts 5 peak horsepower with 90 CFM and 70 inches of water lift. At $144.99, it’s an excellent upgrade if you’re looking for better durability than lower-priced models.

Best Flex Shop Vacuum: 1.6-Gallon Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum FX5221-Z

Flex only has one vacuum on its 24V system at the moment. The compact 1.6-gallon design has surprisingly good performance for its size with 41 CFM and 42 inches of water lift.

It goes beyond the basics with two modes to run for higher performance or higher runtime and has a button to activate the Reverse Flow Function so the vac can clean the included HEPA filter. The basic physical design strays away from tradition, but in a refreshing way that makes sense.

Price: $119.00 bare

Best Hilti Shop Vacuum: High-Suction 17-Gallon Wet/Dry Construction Vacuum VC 300-17 X

Hilti isn’t a name you necessarily think of in a conversation about shop vacuums. With a focus heavily on construction, they don’t have what you would consider a traditional shop vac. That said, their vacuums are excellent if you need one on the level Hilti develops them for.

The best is Hilti’s VC 300-17 X, which uses two turbines to produce a monstrous 300 CFM designed to help contractors remain Table 1 compliant. Capable of holding up to 159 pounds of dust, it has the automatic filter cleaning and HEPA design concrete contractors need.

Best Makita Shop Vacuum: 40V max XGT 4-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum GCV03

Makita is another brand that doesn’t compete in the traditional shop vac space. However, they have a deep line of vacuums ranging from dust extractors to commercial cleaning and even models that can detect the trigger pull of a cordless tool.

Going the route of a typical wet/dry canister vacuum, the GCV03 is our top choice. It has a 4-gallon canister on smooth-rolling casters with a brushless motor that offers 148 CFM and 92 inches of water lift. For a cordless vacuum, those are fantastic numbers. When the mess is primarily light debris, you can use the power dial to prioritize runtime and a second battery port offers longer runtime at any power level.

If wet vacuuming isn’t something you need, then consider the GCV04. It has the same performance while stepping up to HEPA certification and you can add Makita’s AWS chip to get automatic tool activation.

Price: $705.99 bare, $1129.99 kit with two 4.0Ah batteries and dual port rapid charger

Best Ryobi Shop Vacuum: 40V Cordless 10-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum RY40WD01

Ryobi had a major vacuum expansion in 2022 that’s great for you, but complicated matters for us. With several great models to choose from on both the corded and cordless sides, picking the best wasn’t easy.

In the final analysis, we chose Ryobi’s 40V cordless 10-gallon shop vacuum thanks to its cordless power source with 80 CFM and 50 inches of water lift. Using a 6.0Ah battery, you can get up to an hour of runtime. It’s a strong contender alongside Greenworks for the best overall cordless shop vac, but the one thing it lacks is an AC option.

Price: $199.00 bare

Best Shop-Vac Brand Shop Vac: 12-Gallon 6.0 HP Stainless Steel Wet-Dry Vacuum 5761311

We can’t have a best shop vacuum guide without including the brand that gave the category its notoriety. Shop-Vac has you covered across a wide range of sizes and power levels. It’s the 12-gallon 6.0 HP stainless steel model we prefer above the others.

The canister has a generous capacity without being as bulky as the 16-gallon models, the 6.0 peak horsepower motor provides 100 CFM with 66 inches of water lift, and it looks good, too. It’s an excellent all-around design to clean up your shop, car, garage, and all of those messes life likes to throw at your home.

Grab this one at Lowe’s for $119.00.

Why Buy a Wet-Dry Shop Vacuum?

Wet-dry shop vacuums (or Shop Vacs as the industry knows them) are the cleanup workhorses from house to jobsite. Their ability to clean up a variety of wet and dry messes from inside the house to your car to your jobsite makes them incredibly versatile. While they’re typically not as powerful or refined as portable jobsite dust extractors, they’re also much less expensive, starting at less than $50. Unless you really need all the extra bells and whistles of a dust extractor, they’re definitely the way to go.

Disagree With Our Choices?

That’s okay! We know personal preferences take a front seat in determining the best wet-dry shop vacuum for you, and every Pro is different. Do Pro Tool Nation a favor and tell us what your top pick is and why you love it. Feel free to put it in the comments below or on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

Best Shop Vac Buying Guide – What We Look For

Corded or Cordless?

Our favorite shop vacs still come with a cord. Many manufacturers, however, have smaller-capacity vacuums designed for very portable use. And some actually have cordless shop vacs with higher CFM and water lift capabilities. These cordless vacs can truly help your job site cleanup since you get to skip hunting for an outlet. Run times keep getting better as well, making them more practical than ever.

Dust Extractor or Shop Vac?

When considering between choosing a dust extractor or a shop vac we recommend looking at what you hope to achieve. A shop vac typically thrives at picking up materials like wood chips and debris. It often has a wider nozzle to handle these tasks without easily clogging. A dust extractor, on the other hand, focuses more on removing airborne particles like concrete dust.

Airflow (CFM)

Airflow simply reflects the amount of airflow running through the nozzle over a set period of time. As an acronym, CFM stands for “cubic feet per minute”. The higher the CFM, the more air it’s pulling through the hose.

Water Lift (Suction Power)

Water lift is typically measured in inches and it helps us understand the vacuum’s ability to move heavier objects. The higher the water lift, the greater the suction power, and the heavier debris it can move. If you’re primarily collecting sawdust, you don’t need a ton of water lift. If your debris involves chips or materials or nails and screws, you need more.


Clearly, the capacity you need depends upon the application for your shop vac. When comparing similar models in an application, factor in the amount of material a vac can take in. We also look at how efficiently it stores material. A shop vac with a well-designed filter can outperform another model in terms of realistic storage capacity.

Keep in mind shop vacs measure capacity by the overall size of the canister. The filter takes up part of the room, so the dry capacity is smaller. The wet capacity is smaller still to avoid the risk of pulling water up into the motor. Most quality models have a float valve of a sort to close off the motor when the water level gets high enough.


Not every shop vac qualifies as a “portable” tool, but even larger units need to transport from the tool crib or shop to the job site. Look at the wheels, handle design, and more to understand which models present the best portability for maneuvering and transport.

Accessory Storage

Accessory storage consistently presents a problem for some wet-dry vacuums. No matter how much attention manufacturers pay in this area, it seems you can’t help but snag a hose or drop a nozzle. Some vacuums, however, at least address accessory storage in a way that gives you a fighting chance to ensure those flooring tools, brushes, and extension nozzles are there when you need them.

For larger models, you can store most, if not all, of the accessories inside the canister when it’s not in use.

Cord Management

Many shop vacuums include some form of cord wrap, but some are better than others. Consider how easy the shop vac makes managing the cord when you plug it in and when you’re done for the day.

Price and Value

For many folks, setting a budget is the first step to eliminating options due to price. Consider the price of the vacuum and weigh it against the performance and features of the tool along with the warranty, depth of line (for cordless products), included accessories, and other priorities you may have.

Why You Can Trust Pro Tool Reviews

Ever check out a “review” site and you can’t tell if they actually tested the tools or if they’re just “recommending” the Amazon top sellers? That’s not us. We won’t recommend anything unless we’d actually use it ourselves and we don’t really care who the primary retailer is. It’s all about giving you a legitimate recommendation and our honest opinion of each product.

We’ve been in business since 2008 covering tools, writing reviews, and reporting on industry news in the construction, automotive, and lawn care industries. Our Pro reviewers work in the trades and have the skills and experience to know whether tools can perform well in the field.

Each year, we bring in and review more than 350 individual products. Our team will put our hands on hundreds of additional tools at media events and trade shows throughout the year.

We work with more than two dozen professional contractors around the United States who review products for us on real job sites and consult with us on testing methods, categories, and weighting.

We’ll provide more than 1000 pieces of new content this year absolutely free for our readers—including objective evaluations of individual tools and products.

The end result is information you can trust because of the editorial, scientific, and real-world professional experience we collectively utilize each and every time we pick up and test a tool.

Clint DeBoer

When he’s not playing with the latest power tool, Clint DeBoer enjoys life as a husband, father, and is an avid reader—especially the Bible. He loves Jesus, has a degree in recording engineering, and has been involved in multimedia and/or online publishing in one form or another since 1992.

Clint’s career has covered nearly the entire realm of audio and video production. After graduating at the top of his class with an Associates Degree in Recording Engineering, he began working for the famed Soundelux studios in 1994, one of the largest post-production companies specializing in audio for feature films and television. Working on a myriad of feature films, Clint honed his skills as a dialogue editor, foley editor, and sound designer. Years later, he moved into the expanding area of video editing, where he served as the company’s senior AVID video editor for three years.

Working for such clients as Universal Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Paramount Home Entertainment, NASA, Universal Studios, Planet Hollywood, SEGA, NASCAR, and others, Clint DeBoer dealt extensively with client management as well as film and video editing, color correction, and digital video and MPEG compression. He also carries several THX certifications (Technician I and II, THX Video), and is ISF Level II Certified.

After founding the CD Media, Inc. publishing company in 1996, he went on to help start or grow several successful online publications, including Audioholics (as Editor-in-Chief for 12 years) and AV Gadgets. In 2008, Clint founded Pro Tool Reviews followed by the landscape and outdoor power equipment-focused OPE Reviews in 2017. He also heads up the Pro Tool Innovation Awards, an annual awards program honoring innovative tools and accessories across the trades.

Crediting God and his excellent staff for the success of what is now the largest power tool review publication in the industry, Clint DeBoer hopes to see continued growth for the company as it rapidly expands its reach. Pro Tool Reviews critically reviews hundreds of hand tools, power tools, and accessories each year to help inform users about the best and newest products in the industry. Reaching everyone from the construction industry professional and tradesman to the serious DIYer, Pro Tool Reviews helps tool consumers shop better, work smarter, and stay aware of what tools and products can help put them at the top of their game.