Wet/Dry shop vacuums are a must have item for your garage or workspace. Although they are usually called shop-vacs, that is not the correct terminology since Shop-Vac is an actual brand. They are especially useful for sucking up saw dust or liquids. The more advanced dust extractors have attachments that work with power tools to capture the dust they create. Some of the features to look for, besides actual performance, is the tank size, filter, hose diameter and length. The filter can be really important because if you are working with fine sheetrock dust then a good HEPA filter is a must. For most household and garage units a 9-14 gallon tank is fine, but if you are cleaning up wood chips or sucking up lots of water then go with a 15-20 gallon tank.
For more information check out our wet/dry shop vacuum buying guide.
Priced at $599 it is expensive and might be overkill if you don’t need to use your shop vacuum as a dust extractor with power tools. This version comes with a set of attachments included, although you can also get versions of the 9-20-28 without attachments or the HEPA filter for about $100 cheaper.
If you need to collect small amounts of dust then this Fein model is perfect. But if you need to collect large amounts of wood debris or a large volume of liquid this product will not work well for you.
Priced at $110 this Craftsman model provide excellent performance at a decent price.
We would recommend this model for any user at home that do not need dust extraction.
Priced at $130 it can be a good value if you will use the blower, but if you do not plan on using the blower then there are cheaper options available.
You will find it priced at around $200.
It is priced at around $145.
Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum Buying Guide
Features to consider:
Types of Jobs – Knowing which types of tasks you will be using your shop vacuum on will determine which style you should get. For general wood-shop clean up such as wood chips and shavings, experts recommend a 2.25″ to 2.5″ diameter hose. Hoses smaller than this might clog, however if you will be using the hose as a collector on your power power tools, then a smaller and more flexible hose might be preferred. If collecting dust is your primary use then get a automatic tool-triggered vacuum for dust extracting.
Capacity/Tank Size – Go with a bigger tank, 15-20 gallons, for sucking up wood chips or other big cleanups such as liquids. For basic garage use 9-14 gallons is a good size. Remember also how much space it will take in your shop. You can also get wall mounted units with long hoses if space is a problem for you.
Filters / Bags – You will need to clean and eventually replace your filter, so know how much a replacement costs – this can vary greatly for different models. For some projects, like sheet rock, you might need a special filter like a HEPA filter for the fine dust. Some models use bags to collect dust and debris – you may want one built for fine dust, sometimes called sheetrock bags. Also some models require you to change filters for wet versus dry operation.
Noise – Most units are very loud at around 80 decibels and up. The best wet/dry vacuums are around 65 decibels.
Drain Valve – You will want this to drain any fluids otherwise you have to take the lid off and lift and tip the tank to empty it, which is not an easy task with 16 – 20 gallons of liquid.
Maneuverability – A wide set of wheels and a low profile will help to prevent tip-overs. Also if you have to transport your vacuum up and down stairs then look for a model with large back wheels and a handle for easy use.
Storage – Cord wraps and on-board storage for accessories keeps everything neat and tidy.
Accessories/Attachments – Remember to check which attachments come with the unit you want to buy. Some brands come with only very basic accessories and you will need to purchase more to accomplish your tasks.