5 Most Powerful Shop Vacs For Your Garage & Home Workshop – 2020

Dealing with cleanup jobs on a professional level, a flooded basement, or a construction site full of debris and dust is never easy if you use a normal household vacuum. That’s when a shop vac comes in handy. And here are my top-rated options for you:

  • Vacmaster VFB511B0201 – Best for a quick clean-up
  • Shop-Vac 5989500 – Best for big messes around the house
  • RIDGID 50348 – Best for tough jobs in small workshops
  • CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 – High-capacity workhorse
  • WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS – Best for pro-sized messes
sample-table__image Best for a quick clean-up Vacmaster VFB511B0201
  • This unit is quite ideal as a quick clean-up method for your workshop, job site, or garage
  • Peak Horsepower: 5.5
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sample-table__image Best for big messes around the house Shop-Vac 5989500
  • Powerful suction, has the the ability to suck up dust or light debris that a front or side blower can’t do
  • Peak Horsepower: 5.5
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sample-table__image Best for tough jobs in small workshops RIDGID 50348
  • Powerful, has big tank capacity, but very portable,my top pick for tough cleanup tasks in smaller rooms or workshop
  • Peak Horsepower: 6.0
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sample-table__image High-capacity workhorse CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595
  • Constructed with the most powerful motor and largest tank capacity in this list, this is the best bet for a high-capacity workhorse
  • Peak Horsepower: 6.5
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sample-table__image Best for pro-sized messes WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS
  • With a large 2.5”-diameter and an oversized drain port, it is a good choice for pro-sized wet and dry messes
  • Peak Horsepower: 6.5
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Vacmaster VFB511B0201 – Best for a quick clean-up

Vacmaster VFB511B0201
Vacmaster Professional - Professional Wet/Dry Vac, 5 Gallon, Beast Series, 5.5 HP 1-7/8" Hose Jobsite Vac (VFB511B0201), Black

  • Control quickly the power thanks to large dust sealed on/off switch
  • Convenient to handle versatile cleanup tasks
  • Lightweight & compact
  • On-board hose for easily and quickly reach when in need.


  • Quite a small tank capacity that you have to empty it more frequently
  • The machine doesn’t come with wheels

Product Specifications

Tank5 gallons
Peak Horsepower5.5
Hose Length7 feet
Power Cord Length18 feet
Accessory Diameter1-7/8″
Included Filtrationfine dust cartridge filter
Accessories Included7 ft. x 1-7/8 in. kink resistant premium hose

Utility nozzle

Crevice tool

Car nozzle

(1) Extension wand

Fine dust cartridge filter

Foam wet filter

Air & noise diffuser

Highlight FeaturesLarge dust sealed on/off switch, 8 accessories included, onboard hose and power cord storage, easily convert to blower

The Vacmaster VFB511B0201 zoomed through my test and gained the highest score at portability.

It’s constructed with only 17.8 x 12.5 x 17.1 inches size, 13.5 pounds of weight, and a sturdy handle that any woman can easily lift up and tackle a variety of jobs.

The power cord storage is also designed cleverly to help minimize total storage space while eliminating unneeded hassles.

Regardless, the model works powerfully at 5.5 peak HP thanks to the innovative cleaning power technology and unparalleled suction. It impressively can collect a mixture of screws and mulch with just one pass.

With one simple touch of a button, your portable vacuum will be immediately converted into a powerful blower for any leave or dust blowing-off tasks.

The only pity thing is its modest tank capacity – only 5 gallons and it’s crafted from polypropylene which is not as durable and sturdy as other stainless-steel models.

This unit is quite ideal as a quick clean-up method for your workshop, job site, or garage.

Shop-Vac 5989500 – Best for big messes around the house

Shop-Vac 5989500
Shop-Vac 5989500 12 gallon 5.5 Peak HP Stainless Wet Dry Vacuum, Black

  • Made of durable stainless steel to last longer
  • Easy to transport, use, and clean
  • Can suck up light debris and dust
  • Keep tank and lid together to avoid unexpected falling off
  • Run quietly compared to other models in its field


  • Quite big and heavy
  • Hose quality needs to be improved

Product Specifications

Tank12 Gallon
Peak Horsepower5.5
Hose Length8 feet
Power Cord Length18 feet
Accessory Diameter2-1/2 inch
Included FiltrationCartridge filter
Accessories Included– 8′ x 2-1/2″ hose.

– (2) extension wands.

– 14″ floor nozzle.

– Crevice tool.

– Foam sleeve.

– Cartridge filter.

– Filter bag.

Highlight FeaturesDurable, easy to clean, stainless steel tank, top carry handle rear blower port and positive latch system,

The Shop-Vac 5989500 stands out for its phenomenal performance on big messes around the house.

It features a powerful 5.5 peak horsepower motor with 7 different accessories to help manage the worst messes at anywhere needed. The 12-gallon tank capacity also helps limit emptying times to finish your cleanup job effortlessly and quickly.

While running so powerful, the shop vac highlights the SVX 2 motor technology that works super quiet to prevent you from unwanted hearing issues.

Regardless, its user-friendly design is well-loved by lots of customers, especially women. Some mentionable features are the secure latch system, the tank drain, and the multi-placed handles.

What I appreciate the most is its rear blower port – a specialty of Shop-Vac products to help turn your vacuum into blowing mode in a second.

The biggest advantage of this special design is the ability to suck up dust or light debris that a front or side blower can’t do.

With this, you can enjoy powerful suction and blowing to handle any kinds of messes around house.

RIDGID 50348 – Best for tough jobs in small workshops

RIDGID 50348
RIDGID 50348 1400RV Wet Dry Vacuum with Cart, 14-Gallon Shop Vacuum with 6.0 Peak HP Motor, Casters, Pro Hose, Drain, Blower Port, Accessory Storage

  • Easy to maneuver around
  • Long-lasting and robust
  • Large tank capacity to avoid emptying frequently during a cleanup job
  • Good suction


  • No brush attachment
  • A bit heavy

Product Specifications

Tank14 gallons
Peak Horsepower6.0
Hose Length8 feet
Power Cord Length20 feet
Accessory Diameter2-1/2 inches
Included Filtrationfine-dust filter (model VF5000)
Accessories IncludedA fine-dust filter (model VF5000)

Two 2-1/2-inch wands

A car nozzle

A utility nozzle

A wet nozzle

A crevice tool

Highlight FeaturesDurable, long-lasting motor, sturdy cart, push handle & large rear wheels.

The RIDGID 50348 is always my No.1 choice for small workshops

With a long 28-foot reach (including 20 feet of the power cord and 8 feet of the hose), combined with a powerful 6.0 peak HP motor and a 14-gallon tank capacity, it’s adequate for common messes in narrow areas.

Bigger tank means a bigger total silhouette.

In fact, this 19.8” x 19.8” x 25.8” shop vac is considered one of the largest available on the market. But thanks GOD it comes with a sturdy top handle, four caster wheels, and an exclusive cart for easier maneuverability.

Filtration is another highlight of this vacuum. It’s designed with three layers to easily suck up the smallest particles in the air. That means all dangerous dust will be removed from your workspace after a disaster or large project.

Powerful, big tank capacity, and portable, the RIDGID 50348 is my top pick for tough cleanup tasks in smaller rooms or workshops.

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 – High-capacity workhorse

CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac, Heavy-Duty Shop Vacuum with Attachments

  • Extra power to suck up large items easily
  • Quick and convenient cleaning grass clippings or leaves
  • Resist kinking efficiently
  • Convenient for emptying of dumpling liquids


  • No instruction

Product Specifications

Tank16 gallons
Peak Horsepower6.5
Hose Length7 feet
Power Cord Length20 feet
Accessory Diameter2-1/2-in
Included FiltrationCartridge Filter & Dust Bag
Accessories IncludedHose

Two Extension Wands

Car Nozzle

Wet Nozzle

Utility Nozzle

Highlight FeaturesLarge 2-1/2-inch diameter hose with added dual-flex,  Qwik Lock filter fastening system, equipped with an extra-large drain

The primary feature that I really appreciated with the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 is its large hose with added POS-I-LOCK dual-flex technology. This design wise helps the hose able to flexibly mobile at 180 degrees and avoid kinking efficiently.

Despite the fact that the larger diameter hose, the less efficiency in suction power, this seems like a no-strange exception due to its 6.5 peak HP motor.

In this list, it’s one of the most powerful designs that can suck up heavy, huge items like screws easily within seconds. Or vacuuming a few gallons of water without difficulties.

A minor gripe is its 1-foot shorter hose length compared to other models in this list. But that short difference can be offset with 2 extension wands. If as needed, like reaching the tightest corner in a workspace or room, this can give a max length of 17 feet.

Constructed with the most powerful motor and largest tank capacity in this list, the CRAFTSMAN CMXEVBE17595 is the best bet for a high-capacity workhorse.

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS – Best for pro-sized messes

WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS
WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS Stainless Steel 6.5-Peak Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner, 16 Gallon

  • Quietly powerful
  • High-quality parts
  • Super maneuverable


  • A bit pricey

Product Specifications

Tank16 gallons
Peak Horsepower6.5
Hose Length7 feet
Power Cord Length20 feet
Accessory Diameter2-1/2-inch
Included Filtrationhigh-quality Cartridge Filters and Dust Collection Bags
Accessories IncludedHose

Fine dust Qwik Lock filter

Dust bag

Utility nozzle

Wet nozzle

Crevice tool

Car nozzle

2 ext. wands

Highlight FeaturesErgonomic handle and large rear wheels, cart design, locking adapters, integrated blowing port

Take a quick glance and I bet you can quickly realize some similarities between this and the CRAFTSMAN shop vac above, right?

They are the tank capacity, the motor power, the cord, and hose length as well as the accessory diameter. But the real reason for making this bad boy more expensive but bang for bucks is noise deduction.

At full load, it will release 77 decibels of sound level, which is much quieter than other counterparts in this field.

Besides, the attached wheels are bigger with rougher terrain cart and stronger stainless-steel drum for easier transport and decent portability. Highlight with stable platform, it doesn’t tip over as easily as other tall, heavy models.

With a large 2.5”-diameter and an oversized drain port, the WORKSHOP WS1600SS is a good choice for pro-sized wet and dry messes.

How to choose the most powerful shop vac (buying guide)

Most Powerful Shop Vacs For Your Garage & Home Workshop


There’s no right or wrong answer when choosing this key-core element, just a case of which will work best for your demand and budget.

To keep an eye for the vacuum power, consider these three indicators:

  • Peak horsepower rating or amperage
  • Airflow (measured by CFM)
  • Suction capacity

Of course, the higher peak horsepower rating, the higher the suction capacity, and the costlier price.

A shop vac that’s considered powerful should be at least 5 peak HP.

Hose & Cord

Two features relating to the hose that you should keep in mind: Length and Diameter.

The hose diameter should be in an appropriate size for your needs. Large hose diameter will be quieter and able to vacuum large items but less efficient in suction capacity and vice versa.

Besides, a too thick hose is unwieldy while a too thin keep severing suction. The sweet spot should be between 1 ¼” to 2 ½”.

About hose length, you should determine how big of your room to ensure that the ideal hose length you have to find can reach every corner.

Also, consider whether the power cord is long enough to give you the needed reach or require you an extension cable.

Tank Capacity

Size matters with a shop vac tank. But it’s not always true to consider “the bigger, the better”.

Though a larger tank will require fewer times of emptying, you should understand that it will conversely result in a bigger size, meaning less maneuverability.

To plan what dimensions make the best fit, determine your purpose of use on the shop vac first.

If it’s utilized in a commercial workshop or on site, anywhere from 12 gallons or above is enough. But for a 14-gallon tank and larger, consider a shop vac with wheels for easier transport.

For household use, 10-11 gallons is a great choice.

Accessory Tools

During a cleanup task, you might face with wet and dry debris, dust and different surfaces so looking for a vacuum with necessary tools is a must.

Each tool will offer specific strength on some particular surfaces, like:

  • A floor tool is good at collecting dust and dirt on the floor
  • A crevice tool is for narrow spaces like inside a vehicle, between cushions or cracks
  • A brush tool is for loosening dried or lodged dust on carpets

Who makes the most powerful shop vac?

Most Powerful Shop Vacs For Your Garage & Home Workshop


Vacmaster is one of the best brands producing top-notch shop vac that can work decently as both a vacuum and a blower. Their products are designed with simple operation in mind and the shop vac lines are vast enough to fit your deepest needs.


Shop-Vac diverse models are always loved for its powerful motor and especially, a wide range of accessories included. If you’re looking for a versatile shop vac, consider this brand and their products.


The highlights of RIDGID shop vacs are their high-power rating but with fairly low noise. It’s a favorite address for people who want a more efficient design overall and better engineering of the motor with a budget-friendly price range.


Renowned as the best brand that manufacturing compact shop vac lines with a powerful design for any wet and dry clean-ups, CRAFTSMAN products are also vast. Because of a well-known brand, their customer service is really caring.


WORKSHOP shop vac lines are more about business, meaning for bigger cleanup jobs, due to their high tank capacity and strong motor. Their strengths are efficiency and speed. So, for pro-sized messes, this is the best choice.


Most Powerful Shop Vacs For Your Garage & Home Workshop

Are shop VACs more powerful?

Yes, they are.

Shop vacs are constructed with the high-powered suction unit and motor to perfectly use for woodworking or building sites.

Can you use a shop vac for Ashes?

Well, you can… But ensure the fire has been out a week or more. For ashes, I highly recommend using an ash vacuum for specializing clean-up.

Can a shop vac be used for water?

It depends. If it’s a wet/dry shop vac then the model can be used for water.

Take note that sucking up liquids is a bit different from it is with dry obstacles. You need to remove the dry dust bag, the filter and attach the water removal accessory to the hose. Finally, turn the wet-vac mode on and get started.

Does a shop vac need a filter?

Yes, it’s a should, especially when you dry vacuum an area.

Since the hose of shop vacs are usually larger, without a filter, little particles or dirt will be blown back to the air and your room still keeps filthy.

Can you use a shop vac to pick up leaves?

Probably could. You need to attach a bigger hose though. But usually, people will use the blowing mode of shop vacs to get rid of leaves instead of picking them up.

If you take this cleanup job serious, I highly suggest using a specialized leaf vacuum.

What is the difference between shop vacs and normal household vacuums?

Long story shorts, here are a brief of how differences between a shop vac and normal household vacuum:

 Shop VacsNormal Household Vacuums
Purpose of use/Size of debrisHeavy-duty clean up jobs/huger debris sizes

(like wood chunks, nails, and screws)

Small jobs/little dirt, dust, or particles
HoseBigger and tougher for handle huge, chunky and sharp debrisSmaller
SizeBigger and bulkierSmaller and more compact
MotorMore powerfulStandard
Way to emptyLift up and flip aroundRemove the filter compartment or dirtbag
FilterDon’t have many kinds of filterVery good at filtering to improve indoor air quality
Kind of messDry (some models can handle wet messes)Only dry


Now that’s all for this article. Of course, the information that’s been briefed in here can’t be enough for all. At least, rest assured that they are all from my own experience and some expert advice.

Hope it was useful for you. Thanks for reading!

Read more:

Smallest Wet Dry Vacs

Best Shop Vacs For Woodworking

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