Experts say the 10-gallon Porter-Cable 7812 does a good job of general workshop cleanups and of collecting dust from portable power tools. It's inexpensive for a tool-triggered shop vacuum, and its dual filtration system captures even fine wood dust. However, some reviewers complain that the Porter-Cable 7812's accessories cost too much and that standard vacuum accessories do not fit the shop vacuum without the purchase of an adapter. The Porter-Cable 7812's noise level also is higher than many pro-grade shop vacuum. The Porter-Cable 7812 costs less and is lighter and more compact than the Bosch Airsweep 3931A (*Est. $535), but the Bosch shop vacuum has a filter that automatically cleans itself and can take advantage of a 20-amp circuit.
The Porter-Cable 7812 is covered in comparison reviews at Wood magazine, Fine Homebuilding and the Journal of Light Construction, and it's included in Taunton's 2009 Tool Guide. A single-product review at Lumberjocks.com is full of details, and owner reviews on Amazon.com provide a look at the Porter-Cable's performance in real-life conditions.
1. Wood Magazine
Four editors at Wood magazine test four tool-triggered shop vacuums; Editor-in-Chief Bill Krier checks out the Porter-Cable 7812. Top ranking goes to a Festool model.
Review: Wise Buys: Tool-Triggered Vacuums, Bill Krier, May 2008
2. Taunton 2009 Tool Guide
In this review of five tool-triggered wet dry vacs, the Porter-Cable 7812 is compared with four competitors based on tests done for a review in the June 2007 issue of Fine Homebuilding. In a survey of readers whose results are included here, the Porter-Cable ranks fourth out of the five models; higher-priced Festool, Fein and Bosch shop vacuums all rank higher.
Review: Tool-Triggered Shop Vacs, Rob Wotzak and Taunton Press Editors, Nov. 2008
3. Fine Homebuilding
The Porter-Cable 7812 and four other tool-triggered wet dry vacs are tested and rated on filtration and dust collection, ease of emptying and cleaning, mobility and overall design. Noise levels are also measured; the Porter-Cable is louder than the top-ranked models.
Review: Untitled, Rob Wotzak, June/July 2007
4. Journal of Light Construction
Professional remodeling contractor David Grubb tests and compares seven tool-activated wet dry vacs, including the Porter-Cable 7812, at jobsites. He finds the Porter-Cable one of the lighter models tested, as well as one of the most stable, and he appreciates the built-in filter cleaning mechanism. The chief drawback he sees with the Porter-Cable 7812 is that it isn't a qualified HEPA vacuum. Still, the Porter-Cable vacuum is his pick for jobs that don't require HEPA filtration.
Review: Tool Test: Tool-Activated Vacuums, David Grubb, Dec. 2004
This single-product review by blogger and lumberjock "PurpLev" calls the Porter-Cable 7812 a "poor man's Festool," because "PurpLev" wanted a Festool CT 33E but couldn't justify the expense because he's not a professional woodworker. He writes a thorough and detailed review that is mainly positive. The only thing he doesn't like about the 7812 is its noise level; "PurpLev" writes, "If only it was also quiet, this would be a Gem, but for now – it'll remain just a good value."
Review: Porter-Cable 7812, "PurpLev", March 2010
We found more than 30 owner-written reviews here for the Porter-Cable 7812 wet dry vac; owners give it an above-average rating of 3.9 out of 5 stars. One writes that he bought the shop vacuum originally to use with woodworking tools, but now, several years later, he finds himself using it for almost all clean-up jobs. He writes, "It can operate with or without a bag when you suck up debris and has great suction all these years later (I've only changed the top filter once). It is relatively quiet for a vacuum and relatively light since I take it everywhere to side jobs I do to help with clean-up." A less-impressed reviewer comments that the Porter-Cable 7812 seems better equipped for picking up "very fine debris," but it lacks the suction power for bigger debris.
Review: Porter-Cable 7812 10-Gallon 1-1/2-Horsepower Tool-Start Wet/Dry Vacuum, Contributors to Amazon.com