10 Best Wet/Dry Shop Vacuums

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 collectors 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 10-14 gallon tank is fine, but if you are cleaning up wood chips or sucking up lots of water then go with a 16-20 gallon tank.

For more information check out our wet/dry shop vacuum buying guide.


Fein 9-20-26 Turbo III 15-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum with Auto-Start

This 15 gallon Fein model is our #1 choice for its superior suction and dust collection. It has an auto-start dust extractor which you can use with your power tools such as a router, miter saw, or table saw. One of the nicest attributes to the 9-20-26 is the noise. At just 60 decibels, it is significantly quieter than most models. It features a 10 foot hose with a 2.25″ diameter which will handle bigger pieces of wood debris.

Priced at about $469 it is expensive and might be overkill if you don’t need to use your shop vacuum with power tools. It also comes with very few attachments so you might need to spend more to get what you need.


Ridgid WD1851 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

At about $159 our #2 choice is significantly less money than #1. This 16 gallon Ridgid model is great to use on job-sites and users on Home Depot have rated it at a 4.7 out 5. It can handle heavy-duty cleanups, but doesn’t offer the same kind of dust collection as the Fein. It comes with a top handle, cord wrap, and accessory storage bag which are features that all come in handy and that you don’t find on lower price units. The hose is 7 feet long and has a diameter of 2.5″.


Fein 9-20-25 Turbo-II 9-Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum with Auto-Start

This is the 9-gallon version of the Fein model we rated #1. Its dust extractor works great with sanders, although not as well with saws because its tank will fill up much quicker than the 15 gallon version. One advantage it has over its brother is that the hose is 16 feet long, but only has a 1.25″ diameter.

At $299 this model is much cheaper than the larger Fein. If your main need for a shop vacuum is to suck up dust from sanders than this is the perfect model for you. It won’t work as well for you if you need to pick up larger debris or suck up lots of water.


Ridgid Professional 14 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

This is our #1 choice for a Budget wet/dry shop vacuum as it is priced at just $99. It is also a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It scores high marks for both its dry and wet suction. This shop vacuum is a perfect choice for a casual user who does not need professional duct extraction.


DeWalt D27904 12 Gallon Dust Extractor

This is another shop vacuum for those with dust extracting needs. Users on Amazon rated it at 4.5 out of 5 stars. It has a unique automatic filter cleaning system which delivers a filter pulse every 15 seconds for continuous operation – no need to stop the machine to manually clean the filter – helping to maintain suction power and eliminate fine dust particles. It has a 14 foot long hose with 1.25″ diameter.

We really like the performance of the DeWalt D27904, but the main drawback is the price of over $500.


Craftsman 17762 20 gallon Wet-Dry Vac, 6.5 Peak hp

This Craftsman model is a Consumer Reports Best Buy. It has similar performance to the Ridgid WD1450, but a larger tank at 20 gallons which is great for more work and less emptying. It has a 7 foot hose with a 2.5″ diameter.

It is priced at 119.99 which is great value for its performance.


Craftsman 17066 16 gallon 6.5-peak hp Wet/Dry Vac with Detachable 265 mph Blower

This Craftsman model offers solid wet/dry suction, but does not handle fine dust as well. One unique feature on this unit is the detachable leaf blower which gives you two functions in one tool. It has a 16 gallon tank, a 7 foot hose, and a 2.5″ diameter.

It is priced at $109.99. Users on Sears.com rate it at 4.5 out of 5.


Vacmaster VBV1210 Detachable Blower Wet/Dry Vacuum

This is one of the best selling shop vacuums on Amazon. Users have rated it at 4.4 stars. It also features a detachable blower, though not as powerful as the Craftsman 17066. This model works great for cleaning up after basic jobs. It has a 2.5″ diameter, 7′ long hose.

Priced at $89, it is not recommended for fine dust collection.


Shop-Vac 586-76-00 QSP Quiet Deluxe Wet/Dry Vacuum

This is a newer Shop-Vac model designed to be quieter than average. It has a 20 gallon tank with a 7 foot hose which has a 2.5″ diameter. The suction is good, but not great.

You will find it priced at around $200.


Shop-Vac 9551600 6.5-Peak HP Ultra Pro Series Wet or Dry Vacuum

Another Shop-Vac assembled in the USA. It also has decent suction, but not spectacular. It comes with a 8′ hose with a 2.5″ diameter and a 16 gallon tank.

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 10-14 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 60 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.

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