Shop Vacs: Ratings of Sources
ConsumerReports.org puts 23 shop vacuums through objective tests, rating each for wet and dry pickup performance, emissions and ease of use, as well as assigning an overall rating. The focus is on the three most popular consumer brands for household and shop use in four size ranges. While a few top-rated wet dry vacs have been discontinued since this report was published, the ratings are still quite useful for most, and similar models are often available.
Paul Johnson and editors at FineHomebuilding.com put eight wet dry vacs through three rigorous tests: eating concrete, digesting dust, and chewing nails. Editors chose vacuums based on their suitability for general job-site and shop use, also considering factors such as price, availability, capacity, features, and functionality. All eight models either come with or are compatible with HEPA filters as well as disposable filter bags. Other articles on the site -- including some that are free even for non-members -- look at other shop vacs, either in round ups or single product reviews.
While some content is restricted to members only, you can read a number of reviews of tool-actuated shop vacuums at Fine Woodworking. Testing is comprehensive, and hands on. Ratings aren't assigned in most cases, and some of the reviews are quite old, but opinions are rendered that leave no doubt about where a particular workshop vacuum does well, and where it has a little room to improve.
Roy Berendsohn and his team test six wet dry vacs. Timed test are run to evaluate how quickly each model picks up two pounds of sawdust, two pounds of screened top soil, and one gallon of water.
Dan Ward puts four wet dry vacs under $100 to the test by cleaning up various common shop messes such as grinder dust, metal shaving and water. Other considerations include cord and hose length, noise, capacity, suction power, and other features.
Owner ratings and reviews can reveal durability and find usability problems that may not be apparent during professional testing. Reviews at Amazon.com can be filtered by star rating or date, and the results can be narrowed to show only reviews from verified purchasers, making it simple to filter out most unauthentic reviews.
HomeDepot.com lists dozens of wet dry vacuums. Several models have hundreds of owner-written reviews; however, some reviews are drawn from manufacturer websites and also appear on several other sites. Wet dry vacs get an overall rating as well as ratings in sub-categories including quality, value and features, and verified purchases are noted as well.
Like HomeDepot.com, Lowes.com sometimes includes reviews from manufacturer websites and other review sources, although it appears as though most wet dry vac reviews were written on Lowes.com. Reviewers offer ratings for features, quality, value, design and ease of use in addition to overall ratings and comments.
A contractor tests out four compact shop vacs at a job site and shares his impressions. No top model is explicitly named, but strengths and weaknesses among 4 to 5 gallon utility vacs are highlighted.
ProToolReview.com reviews all sorts of workshop tools, including tool-activated shop vacs (dust extractors) and cordless utility vacs. You have to search a little to find reviews, be careful to separate news and product announcements from actual reviews, and some reviews are more rigorous and complete than others, but the effort often pays of in some helpful insights.
Walmart.com publishes owner-written reviews and ratings of the wet dry vacuum cleaners it sells. A few models have accumulated several dozen owner-written reviews or more. Verified purchases are noted, and reviewers can state whether they'd recommend the product to a friend. There are no ratings for sub-categories such as features or ease of use, and most of the written reviews are short.