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In this report

Wet Dry Vacs: Ratings of Sources

Total of 25 Sources
March 2007
Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Editors of
Our 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. Several of the top-rated wet dry vacs have been discontinued since this report was published, but the ratings are still quite useful for most. Because the review covers four size ranges, only a few models are compared for each size.
2. Fine Woodworking
Winter 2011/2012
Tool Test: Shop Vacuums
by Asa Christiana
Our AssessmentAsa Christiana and Fine Woodworking shop manager Bill Peck compare six HEPA-equipped wet dry vacs as part of a special guide on dust management. In addition to dust management performance, additional test considerations include working airflow, power, canister capacity, bag capacity, noise and special features, like on-board tool activation and adjustable power suction. The Bosch Airsweep 3931A wins the Best Overall title for its automatic filter shaker, quick airflow restoration and higher canister capacity, despite being the loudest shop vacuum tested and having a narrower hose. Instead of picking a Best Budget choice, the author suggests readers "keep the vacuum you have and add an aftermarket HEPA filter and separator." Ridgid, Craftsman, and Shop-Vac brands aren't covered here.
3. Wood Magazine
May 2008
Wise Buys: Tool-Triggered Vacuums
by Editors of Wood Magazine
Our AssessmentThis review compares four shop vacuums that can be set up to turn on and off automatically. The review makes no attempt to rate or rank the vacuums, which are each tested by a different editor, and some of the top-ranked wet dry vacs in other reviews aren't covered here. The editors discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each vacuum. For easy vacuum comparison, the review lists each shop vacuum's price, capacity, tool amps, noise level in decibels and diameter and length of its hose.
4. Taunton's 2009 Tool Guide
Nov. 2008
Tool-Triggered Shop Vacuums
by Rob Wotzak and Taunton Press Editors
Our AssessmentThis two-page review summarizes the results of tests done by carpenter Rob Wotzak and his crew, reported in more detail in the June/July 2007 issue of Fine Homebuilding. In addition, the five tested wet dry vacs are also ranked according to a survey of readers of Fine Homebuilding and Fine Woodworking. Readers agree with Taunton Press editors that the Festool CT 33 earns top ranking. The editors pick the Fein Turbo II as the budget runner-up. Ridgid, Craftsman and Shop-Vac brands aren't covered here.
5. Fine Homebuilding
June/July 2007
Tool-Triggered Shop Vacs
by Rob Wotzak
Our AssessmentCarpenter Rob Wotzak and his crew evaluate five tool-triggered wet dry vacs on a 2,000-square-foot remodeling job. All five are wet dry vacuums. Noise levels are measured with a decibel meter held 4 feet from each shop vacuum at ear level, and each vacuum gets ratings for suction power, filter performance and convenience, ease of emptying, mobility and overall design. The Festool CT 33 gets the highest rating as the best overall shop vacuum, while the Fein Turbo II (which costs $200 less) is named the best value.
6. Popular Mechanics
Sept. 2007
Wet/Dry Vac Showdown: We Test 6 New Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Tom Klenck
Our AssessmentThis review reports test results for six shop vacuums: two Craftsman and two Ridgid models as well as a Porter-Cable and a Shop-Vac model. Testers measured pickup speed (gallons of water and of cat litter per hour) and how much the wet dry vacs hold vs. their stated capacity. Their performances are comparable in general, but the Craftsman 17066 is fastest at sucking up water and cat litter. Testers also checked decibel levels, and although no specifics are given, the author says that all the models tested at about 80 decibels.
7. Fine Woodworking
July 1, 2007
New Vacuum from Bosch Tames Dust and Debris -- Quietly
by Roland Johnson
Our AssessmentContributing editor Roland Johnson reviews the Bosch Airsweep 3931A shop vacuum, evaluating it in his own workshop. He says he appreciates its amperage control dial and auto-start feature.
8. Fine Woodworking
May/June 2003
Tool Test: Shop Vacuums
by Roland Johnson
Our AssessmentContributing editor Roland Johnson tests 13 wet dry vacuums for endurance, adaptability and ergonomics, with particular consideration for the filter design. While many of the discussed models have been discontinued, two of his preferred shop vacuums remain on the market.
9. Journal of Light Construction
Dec. 2004
Tool Test: Tool-Activated Vacuums
by David Grubb
Our AssessmentProfessional remodeling contractor David Grubb tests and compares seven tool-activated shop vacuums by using them at jobsites. Each vacuum is evaluated for HEPA filtration, durability, portability, capacity, suction, cleaning mechanisms and ease of switching between dry and wet vacuuming tasks. Although this review is older, several of the covered shop vacuums remain available.
10. Tools of the Trade
April 1, 2004
Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Chris Kulczycki
Our AssessmentBoat designer and builder Chris Kulczycki compares nine $200-plus wet dry vacs by running them through wet and dry tests on job sites and in timed shop tests. Shop vacuums are evaluated on their ability to pick up coarse debris, fine dust and liquids. Also considered are: ease of switching between wet and dry vacuum modes; compatibility with shop tools; stability, mobility, and storage; ease of cleaning; hoses and attachments; and special features. While the review is dated, most of the discussed models are still on the market.
11. Tools of the Trade
Sept. 21, 2008
First Test: Milwaukee Cordless Vacuums
by Mathew Steadman
Our AssessmentThis balanced review reports on tests of two cordless Milwaukee vacuums, the 0780-20 and the 0880-20, which are similar except for the batteries used. The 0780-20 model is discontinued. Reviewer Mathew Steadman concludes that "cordless convenience, adequate power, handy size and an easy stowing design make them a jobsite necessity."
Feb. 6, 2009
The Best in Shop Vacs -- Fein vs. Festool
by Rockler Blog Team
Our AssessmentThis comparison review from a major retailer covers the redesigned version of the Fein Turbo II, which incorporates several improvements over the earlier model. Editors say Fein and Festool shop vacuums are very quiet and "can make working with a variety of power tools virtually dust free." Fein models have more capacity, and the updated version of the Fein Turbo II matches Festool for maneuverability and adjustable suction -- features that gave Festool the edge. An October 2007 review here goes into more detail about the Festool dust-extraction models.
13. This Old House magazine
Nov. 2010
Tool Test: Compact Utility Vacs
by Sal Vaglica
Our AssessmentContractor Dave Andrews tests four compact wet dry vacs during a gut renovation of his own home. The review features a highlight for each shop vacuum along with Andrews' "two cents" about the vac's performance. Additionally, the review supplies the vacuums' specifications and stats, including weight, cord and hose length, canister capacity, horsepower, wattage, noise level in decibels and included attachments. While the mostly positive review does include criticism of a few vacuums, we are uncertain about its overall credibility. We would like to know details about test criteria and to see more comparison among tested models.
As of March 2012
Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Contributors to
Our AssessmentThese owner ratings and reviews can be useful supplements to professional reviews; users often report on durability and find usability problems that experts can miss in the short time many have to test the product for their review. The Shop-Vac 952-02-62 Hang Up is the most frequently reviewed wet dry vacuum with almost 100 reviews, giving the 5-gallon model 4.1 out of 5 stars overall. The 2-gallon 971-05-00 and 5-gallon 587-25-00 are two other Shop-Vac models that receive 4-star ratings or higher by users. The 16-gallon Fein Turbo III 9-77-25 model and its newer incarnation, the Turbo III 9-20-26, also get high marks, as does Bissell's 18P0 Garage Pro. In terms of portable, cordless shop vacuums, the Milwaukee 0880-20, the DeWalt DC515K and the tool-only DeWalt DC515B lead the pack.
As of March 2012
Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Contributors to
Our publishes owner reviews and ratings of the shop vacuums it sells. Ridgid shop vacuums are predominant, with few other brands reviewed. It's less convenient to check ratings here than at sites like because you have to click on a specific model to see the average rating. However, many wet dry vacs have enough reviews to make the average ratings credible.
As of March 2012
Shop Vacuums
by Contributors to
Our AssessmentMost of the shop vacuums sold at Lowes are made by Shop-Vac, and several models get 3.5-star overall ratings or higher from a significant number of owners. With a 4.6-star rating from about 25 customers, the highest rated Shop-Vac is the 5-gallon 600-45-11 Bucket Max, a no-canister shop vacuum that attaches to any 5-gallon bucket. In terms of large capacity shop vacuums, the 16-gallon 585-15-11 with built-in drain and the 16-gallon 934-16-11 with built-in water pump lead the pack. Meanwhile, in the mini shop vacuum department, the 2.5-gallon 930-20-11 is the best reviewed.
As of March 2012
Wet Dry Vacuums
by Contributors to
Our AssessmentSears sells Shop-Vac, Stanley and VacMaster vacuums, as well as wet dry vacuums under its own Craftsman brand, made by Ridgid. Five of the Craftsman shop vacuums get top ranking based on owner ratings and reviews; the other brands' models don't fare nearly as well, however. Owners are generally satisfied with the models that are most frequently recommended, but some users complain that their Craftsman shop vacuums blow too much air out of the exhaust port during use, spreading dust all around.
Not Dated
Wet/Dry Vacuums Reviews and Prices
by Editors of
Our AssessmentConsumer Guide reviews 18 wet dry vacuums in all, although some of the products included in this category are primarily for steam-cleaning carpets. Five shop vacuums are named Best Buys, including the cordless Milwaukee 0880-20, two Ridgid models, a discontinued Shop-Vac and the Bosch 3931A. Expert reviews of the vacuums are thorough, rating each model on value, performance, ease, features and overall opinion. However, the shop vacuums are not compared to one another, and it's not clear what kind of testing was done, if any. In addition, no review is more recent than 2008.
19. The Woodshop
Not Dated
Festool CT MINI Dust Extractor Review
by Jack Loganbill
Our AssessmentWoodworker Jack Loganbill tests and rates both the Festool CT Mini and the larger Festool CT 22 shop vacuum in separate, in-depth reviews. He notes specific pros and cons of the Festool models, comparing both with the Fein Mini Turbo wet dry vac. Ultimately he recommends using the CT Mini only as a dust extractor and not as a shop vacuum.
Feb. 2009
Top 9 Woodworking Shop Vac Smack Down: Ridgid vs. Festool vs. Fein and More
by Editors of
Our AssessmentThis is one of the most current review sources, but it doesn't cover the redesigned Fein Turbo II (model 9-20-25) and a few of the picks are no longer available. Editors rank nine shop vacuums suitable for woodworking, based not only on reviews but also on several different websites forums, where users discuss the pros and cons of specific models. Quite a few reviews are left out, but the links to forum discussions are useful. The 16-gallon Ridgid WD1851 earns top ranking here, based on 22 different forum discussions. The Festool CT 33, Fein Turbo II and Craftsman 17761 also are included among the best picks.
As of March 2012
Wet/Dry and Shop Vacuums
by Contributors to
Our publishes owner-written reviews and ratings of the wet dry vacuum cleaners it sells, most by Stanley and Shop-Vac. Some of the Shop-Vacs sold here are special models exclusive to Walmart. Shop-Vac models get the most reviews; however, a 2.5-gallon portable Stanley gets good ratings from more than 35 owners.
22. Northern Tool and Equipment
As of March 2012
Cleaning Equipment and Supplies: Wet/Dry Vacuums
by Contributors to Northern Tool and Equipment
Our AssessmentNorthern Tool & Equipment sells Shop-Vac, DeWalt and Milwaukee shop vacuums, but only a handful of models are rated and reviewed online. The Shop-Vac 5-gallon Hang Up QPMH450 and two of DeWalt's small cordless wet dry vacuums -- DC515K and DC500 -- have enough reviews to yield a meaningful average rating. All three receive very good ratings and positive reviews.
As of March 2012
Wet/Dry Vacuum Reviews
by Contributors to
Our AssessmentWhile retail websites are typically the best sources for user reviews, the independent website also generates a good number of user reviews from its community. Each product's overview includes the overall star rating, a list of pros and cons cited by reviewers and the number of reviewers who would recommend the product. While user reviews for shop vacuums are in short supply on, a couple of models have accumulated enough reviews to merit inclusion.
Nov. 5, 2007
How to Choose a Wet/Dry Vacuum
by Jude Herr
Our AssessmentAuthor Jude Herr describes her search for a shop vacuum that is "small and portable, yet powerful and durable." She considers four: the DeWalt cordless DC515 and DC500, the Shop-Vac AllAround 971-03-00 (discontinued), and the more expensive Fein Turbo I 9-11-55 (now 9-20-24). She notes of the Shop-Vac AllAround that it has good suction "for a $60 wet/dry vacuum," while she praises the Fein's quietness.
Not Dated
Review of the Festool CT 22E Mobile Dust Extractor
by Chris Baylor
Our AssessmentThe Festool CT 22 gets an enthusiastic review and perfect 5-star rating from Chris Baylor,'s woodworking guide. Like other reviews of Festool dust extractors, this one praises it for its quiet operation and overall convenience. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)

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