I Only Recommend These 5 Shop Vacuums

Shop vacuum cleaners don’t get enough love and attention they deserve with all the power and ability they can give to homeowners.

Shop vacuums are not just for garages, businesses and industrial uses, they’re quickly making their way to homes as people learn how great they can be. With the power, ability to suck up water, pick up glass and more, homeowners are finding they need one at the ready.

In this post, I want to go over the best shop vacuums and the greatest types to help you find the one that suits your needs.

Shop Vacs Explained

A shop vacuum can be a new item to some, and many people don’t know what they are or what they do.

A shop vac is a vacuum cleaner that is a more robust, larger and more powerful vacuum cleaner compared to a regular vacuum cleaner. A shop vac can also suck up things a normal vacuum cleaner can't, for example nonflammable liquids.

You will find some tend to be more powerful than a regular vacuum cleaner, and for good reason, so they’re perfect for cleaning large objects up like broken glass, bolts or even Lego’s. They’re so powerful that I use one for cleaning my gutters, so I don’t have to get on the roof.

They also go by wet/dry vac, utility vac, or shop vac, but it’s all the same thing.

2 Main Types

There exist two main types, corded and cordless.

  • A corded one plugs into a wall outlet like other vacuum cleaners and uses your home’s electricity to power it.
  • A cordless one uses a battery, so it’s easier to get out and start using. You do need to charge the battery, which is easy to do on some models as they often use the same battery as power tools.

The best overall type I find and tend to use most often is my cordless Bauer. The convenience of having no cords, its smaller size, and ease of use has me using my cordless shop vacuum more often and for most messes.

The downside is that most cordless ones don’t have the power of a corded option. For cleaning my gutters, I stick to my larger corded vac, plus it has a larger dust bin, so I can empty it less often.

What I Consider The Ideal Shop Vacuum

As covered in the last section, I find cordless to be the best type, but they do lack in power in comparison to cordless.

With this in mind, I’m going to rank what I find to be the most ideal shop vacuums, cordless and corded options, and videos showing you why they rank the way they do.

1. Milwaukee 18-Volt Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum

Milwaukee has been hitting it out of the park with their tools, and the 18 volt cordless shop vac they have is no different.

If you’re already in the Milwaukee line up and use their batteries, it just makes sense to go with this model. If you’re not in any power tool line up or don’t own any drills, Milwaukee is a great option to go with and one of the “perfect” manufacturers on the market today.

You will need to have Milwaukee 18 volt batteries to use it, and a battery charger. This is normal for power tools, and mostly geared towards shops, but is too perfect to not have around the home.

Get the Milwaukee 18 Volt Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum here (Amazon Link Ad).

2. Vacmaster Professional

The next option, and my go-to when I need more power, is my Vacmaster 16 gallon Beast Series.

This large shopvac is what I use to clean my gutters, as it’s the only thing I could find that would give me the suction power needed.

It is a large, but it’s got plenty of power and plenty of room to suck things up. I’ve cleaned up broken glass, water, retrieved something stuck behind walls, used as a sawdust extractor and so much more, and it keeps going. I’ve even accidentally left it in the rain, and it comes out fine.

I beat the crap out of this thing, and it keeps on going.

For any wet messes, the Vacmaster is my go-to because it has the drain plug at the bottom, so I don’t have to lift it and dunk it like other models.

Get the Vacmaster 16 Gallon here (Amazon Link Ad).

Vacmaster also makes a smaller version that can be more suitable for the average homeowner, a video below about it. I went with this larger one, once again, for my gutters, as you need a 2.5 inch hose connection for the gutter attachments you get online.

3. BAUER 20V Cordless

The Bauer 20V cordless shop vac is similar to the Milwaukee, in that it’s a tool brand that sells a great vacuum, but the Bauer is a little cheaper.

Since I already have plenty of Bauer batteries, it’s the one I went with and use more often.

I have tested the Milwaukee against the Bauer, and the Milwaukee is a little better and cleans up nicer with hiding the hoses, but the Bauer is just “good enough“.

The Bauer cordless is my go-to for quick cleaning and beats getting the larger 16-gallon vac I have out.

Just like the Milwaukee, you will need to buy the batteries separate and the battery charger too. It’s smart you go with a 3AH or higher battery to get the most power out of these cordless vacs. Sometimes you can get lucky and Harbor Freight, the people who sell Bauer tools, will have a deal on a battery or charger when you get this tool, so be on the lookout for that.

Get the Bauer Cordless Shop Vac Here.


Shop vacuums are very powerful and often with that power makes them loud.

Dewalt has come out with a quieter model with the name Stealth Sonic, and it’s better than I expected.

Having a quiet vacuum cleaner, let a lone a shop vac, is a must in some places. Manufacturers haven’t really been spending much time making them less loud, but Dewalt took a turn, and they’ve hit it out of the park.

Get the DEWALT 9 Gallon STEALTHSONIC here (Amazon Link Ad).

5. Sun Joe

What is interesting about the Sun Joe 8-Gallon is that it comes with a HEPA Filter, which is not something we often see.

You have all the standard options that come with a shop vacuum, from being used as a blower to being able to suck up water by putting in the foam filter.

For the features and price, the Sun Joe is a great option if you’re not sure what to start with or to use around your home.

Get the Sun Joe 8-Gallon 1200-Watt 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry here (Amazon Link Ad).

Horsepower (HP) Needed

A super common question I get from readers is how much HP do they need for a shop vacuum.

The answer to this question depends on what you intend to use your shop vac for and where. I owned several and I tend to use my cordless ones more even though they have less power, just because they’re more convenient.

There is also the problem that the HP ratings on most models are BS marketing terms. It’s often PEAK horsepower and not what you get constantly.

If you want power, go off the diameter of the hose. Most small shop vacs has a 1.25 inch diameter hose, which is fine for most people. But the larger, and more powerful, model vacuums will have a 2.5 inch diameter hose. To have a larger hose means you need to be able to suck up a larger amount of items.

Even a bad shop vac will still be more powerful than most regular household vacuum cleaners. Unless you’re buying more expensive vacuum cleaners, most shop vacs are an improvement on the suction power of normal vacuum cleaners.



Hello, I'm Lee from "ThemVacuums.com"! Launched in 2016, my site addresses the online information gap about "robot vacuums" and "vacuum cleaners," areas where I have hands-on experience. Got questions about a post or topic? Feel free to comment or contact me (contact)!

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