If you are looking to buy the best shop vac we would advice you not to look any further and get the Dewalt DCV581H shop vac.
This Dewalt vacuum has a sleek combination of portability, affordability and general use. It comes with a 20V max battery but can also be used with a cord and it has an easily accessible, washable/reusable filter. The on-board hose, cord and accessory storage makes the shop vac easy to carry and transport. Model DCV581H comes with a 2 Gallon tank capacity which provides enough storage to empty a toilet or clogged pipe.
Every living place, whether it is big or small, eventually gets dirty. It starts with a thin layer of dust over the drapes, carpets and furniture – and eventually reaches a point where you have to use the services of a professional cleaning crew. Alternatively, you can clean stuff on your own with a good old vacuum cleaner, which is a convenient way of saving up on service charges etc.
This shop vac review is for those who are interested in buying the best shop vac in 2018 and beyond. I kept the “future proofing” concept in view because technology tends to run obsolete after a year or so. A lot of people resort to internet for resources and recommendations pertaining to any latest gadget.
The problem is that such methods only favor those websites that have an age old presence in the search engine directories. As a result, you may end up with crappy recommendations with even crappier product performance output.
Shop Vac Image
Shop Vac Model
Cordless 20 V
Shop Vac 5989400
Oh yes, some folks mistake shop vacs for “real” vacuum cleaners – as in, they are a cheap substitute for a conventional indoor only upright vacuum cleaner unit. I was baffled to read some user comments from folks who had the gall to use a wet dry vac for cleaning carpets and drapes!
No, you cannot use a shop vac for cleaning carpets. There is a reason that these units are labelled as wet dry vacuums. By using them on a carpet, you are not only making the carpet prone to fabric damage, but you are also blowing out an exponential amount of dust back into the air.
A typical wet dry vac filter is made for outdoor use only. When you are dragging it inside the house, you are preparing to see half-assed results. There is nothing wrong with the shop vacuum, or the carpet for that matter – it’s just that the two are not exactly made for each other.
Same theory applies on curtains and any fabric made material, which can be cleaned with a regular vacuum cleaner. However, if you are persistent on using a shop vac for cleaning carpets, there is a workaround solution.
You’re going to have to manually swipe all the dust and debris to one corner, and then suck that all up through the wet-dry vacuum hose. You should ideally be using a upholstery dust collection head attached at the suction end.
Sure, it’s small and it’s a cordless shop vac with only about 25 minutes of operation time, but Dewalt has added a corded variant of the same unit. How so? They included a power cord, which can be extended with the help of add-on accessories. Simple, convenient and to the point addition of any add-on feature we have seen so far in the entire product reviews lineup at Power Tool Buzz.
Usage wise, Dewalt’s DCV581H series may not be the ideal match for people looking to drain an entire flooded basement, but the vacuum’s sleek combination of portability, affordability and general use makes it an invaluable resource for average Joes. At the end of the day, it’s a normal user which matters the most as compared to professionals.
This best shop vac offers a variety of features, such as but not limited to the following.
Since there are too many variables for figuring out which wet dry vac is indeed worthy of spending money on, we decided to narrow down the focus a little bit. Regardless, I’d want you to stop reading here at this point, and scroll over to our shop vac buying guide for ready reference. Although, we’d love to pour over on all kinds of aspects that make one particular shop vac model stand out among the rest, we’re going to have to cut short.
Coming back to the variables part of the discussion, it is not possible for anyone to determine whether a number of products are best or at least considered close to being number one. But still, we ran down the selected model of the shop vacs through a couple of hoops to see whether they really work as advertised.
The Testing Method:
As a rule of thumb, you should keep an eye out for three main things to take the guess work out of buying the best wet dry vac .
A lot of brands try to presell cordless/mini shop vacs down our throat because of the portability factor of the unit. For example, we shortlisted five popular wet dry vacs, out of which Dewalt Dcv581H is a cordless category wet dry vac.
Now don’t get me wrong, because I am not bad mouthing Dewalt here, but the size of the vacuum cleaner, and its overall weight is a major cause for sacrificing performance. At the end of the day, do you need a flashy shop vac, or something that offers a thorough cleaning experience? Chances are that you are going to go for the latter – and that’s why we don’t strongly recommend using Dewalt Dcv581H.
In case you are wondering why we chose Dewalt wet/dry vac in the first place, then it is entirely because of the versatility and usability factor. This bad boy also has a corded version, which is slightly powerful than the cordless variant. Plus, Dewalt is known for its super duper product quality and reliability, which helped us recommend the company’s shop vac unit to Power Tool Buzz readers.
Following are the main driving factors that assisted us in taking the guesswork out of our top recommendations:
Larger shop vac models are great for storing a gazillion tons of debris and liquid, but that also causes the size of the unit to increase. For one reason, if you are not a fan of bulky wet dry vacs, you are not going to like the bigger wet/dry vac units. Especially, if you don’t need a shop vac for commercial cleaning projects, or any contracts, then go for a medium sized product.
Likewise, this is a debatable concern. Some people look at bigger shop vacs as a nice investment from future point of view. Should you end up owning a bigger house, or find yourself in need of cleaning more than usual amount of rooms, a big shop vac will suffice easily.
A shop vac’s storage capacity is measured in terms of gallons. It is the amount of dust, debris, liquid and waste material it can hold before going full. I had a house with a basement once; summers were all fine and chilly, but when the monsoon season hit, the basement would flood over a couple of days. Thankfully, my shop vac helped me to suck out all the murky liquid before I called the mason to repair wall damage.
The reason for bringing up a personal example was to help you understand how useful higher capacity shop vacs are as compared to the normal mini wet dry vacs. A lot of people avoid buying bigger/ bulkier wet dry vacuum units because they are afraid of the added weight that comes as a result of a full storage canister.
To help avoid the add-on weight, you can easily pump the excess liquid through the drain valve without having to carry the entire unit outside. If you are looking for a cheap shop vac, chances are that it won't have the water pump mechanism in it.
In this case, the drain valve has to be opened to let out all the dirty water, but first you’re going to have to carry the unit to a safe spot. “Carrying” a fully loaded shop vac can be a cumbersome task, especially if there are stairs involved. Therefore, consider the pump vs. weight thingy before buying the best shop vac for that matter.
This feature was discussed at length in the shop vac-buying guide at Power Tool Buzz. If you don’t feel like reading, then know this that the CFM is the maximum cubic feet of airflow which a shop vac can suck in over one minute. Sure, it sounds a bit like a physics theorem, but CFM is more of a maximum performance measure for air compressors, shop vacs and other airflow related products in that sense.
Okay, this is where it gets interesting because filters are one of those accessories which affect a wet dry vac’s results. A good shop vac filter never affects the CFM rating – as in it does not create any muzzle or blockage on the airflow suction speed. At the same time, the filter helps prevent the dust particles from going back into the air.
Both of the aforementioned factors are important because you don’t want to hinder the shop vac’s performance, but also don’t want to catch an allergy. These days, a lot of filters are HEPA approved, which means that they meet the environment safety and health standards for vacuum cleaner users. Therefore, if you are out there looking for a shop vac filter, or a brand new wet dry vac unit, make sure that the box packaging has the HEPA label.
Let’s get down to the brass tacks and see which shop vac made it to our recommended products’ list.
It is cheap, it is reliable and it is considered an “easily affordable” unit among some of the fiercest wet dry vac models. The reason we picked the Ridgid 50348RID Wet Dry Vac over tons others is because of the pricing vs. value factor.
It is available at a very nominal rate, i.e. – slightly under $150, and Ridgid made the 50348RID series specifically for commercial level users. The added 14-gallon waste material storage capacity also makes this Ridgid shop vac unit an ideal match for home and garage owners. Top it all off with a slew of Ridgid shop vac accessories, extra vac heads and many other perks, you are looking at one damn good product from long term one-time investment perspective.
I don’t know about other websites, but Amazon is selling the 50348RID Wet Dry Vac Ridgid unit not only as an individual product, but also as bundle deal. In latter case, you and your neighbors can chip in to buy 2, 3 or 4 Ridgid shop vac units at a discount rate instead of the other way around.
If you are buying the Ridgid 50348RID Wet Dry Vac for first time, make sure you are ordering the red – black color combo variant. This version of the unit was released a bit earlier, and it qualifies as the improved model of the Ridgid 50348RID series product lineup.
Their earlier versions were released in the orange – black variant. If you are purchasing this Ridgid shop vac model at a local Ridgid franchise, then you can personally request the manager to open the box and show the contents before you pay them. Buying it online, and ensuring that the color is red-black is kind of a hassle, but I guess an email can be sent as an inquiry to the representatives.
Ridgid 50348RID Wet Dry Vac is overall considered as an all-rounder product, but there is a minor setbacks which Ridgid does not mention. You need to buy the temporary Ridgid shop vac filter every time it breaks down. Normal filters are available for $3 a piece, but if you are considering buying a HEPA filter, it can take the price up to 30 bucks.
Therefore, please consider the cost of the filters as additional and continuous expense of having this unit in your possession. Otherwise, it is a stellar wet dry vac and it works as advertised all the time. Ridgid has a good customer support, and they are also offering an extendable warranty program for most of their products.
Just as I mentioned it earlier, if convenience and portability are your main concern then, Dewalt DCV581H cordless wet dry vac is made for you. It also means that you need to sacrifice a bit on performance because cordless units involve batteries. We all know that wherever batteries are used, you are looking at a preset timer, after which, the product will cease to function.
But then again, Dewalt was a little crafty with this Dewalt shop vac. They alternatively released a corded version of the Dewalt DCV581H wet dry vac series. For those who need top notch performance, the corded unit variant can make up for any lack of results in the cordless counterpart for that specific matter.
For argument’s sake, we used the Dewalt DCV581H cordless version, while knowing that this Dewalt shop vac unit cannot to put to test against all the different factors that were mentioned at the start of this best shop vac comparison guide. In that sense, this shop vac is ideal for people on the move, or for small apartment owners who like a squeaky-clean experience when it comes to:
You get the idea, right? The performance of this Dewalt DCV581H cordless wet dry vac is superb, especially when it is used for light to moderate amount of work. Anything involving flooded basements, wet sand or semi solid liquids will heavily impact the shop vac’s performance. First time buyers won’t know the difference and they will think that Dewalt made an inferior product.
By the way, we compared and tested the Dewalt DCV581H cordless wet dry vac against Milwaukee 088020 18 Volt cordless vacuum. Dewalt clearly exceeded our expectations because Milwaukee wet dry vac unit was lagging behind on the amount of debris collected within a minute, water suction and vice versa.
Speaking of water suction, this Dewalt vacuum unit is good and effective if it comes to cleaning clogged/ completely blocked basins and toilets. Since the amount of water is moderate at the least, the Dewalt DCV581H unit does not have any trouble in sucking in that much liquid sludge.
From hygiene perspective, we wouldn’t really recommend that you use this wet/dry vac for cleaning shitters. If there is no choice, then make sure that you have at least removed all the smelly content and gray water residue before inserting the Dewalt wet dry vac suction hose in there.
By the way, Dewalt is offering a 3-year factory repairs warranty on the Dewalt DCV581H wet dry vac. Just in case you run into any trouble, just head over to your nearest Dewalt customer center and turn in the Dewalt vacuum for quick processing. They may take 1 – 2 weeks to issue a new unit, but if you go there early, the time period for warranty claim may be less.
Later down in this write-up, we also recommended Shop-Vac 5989400 8 Gallons wet dry vac unit, but Craftsman XSP is listed above the former because of several reasons. To make matters interesting and relatively easier for us to order both of these wet dry vacs in terms of performance, we did a side-by-side comparison test over more or less the same amount of variables.By the way, this is only the second time a Craftsman product made the cut on one of our reviews, the first time we tested a Craftsman product was in our table saw review.
Craftsman XSP qualified as a go to unit because it tackles heavy-duty work easily. Just to give you a rough estimate, this Craftsman shop vac gutted and refinished manually flooded basement relatively quickly as compared to Shop Vac 5989400 series unit.
Also, Craftsman XSP comes with a 16 gallon storage capacity, whereas ShopVac’s wet dry vac only offers 8 gallon capacity. By the way, Shop Vac manufacturers re-introduced the same model with new and improved features, but it is not as much effective as the Craftsman XSP.
The byproduct of its heft is the 16-gallon storage capacity. Once Craftsman XSP reaches at its maximum limit, it becomes difficult to lift the unit, or haul it around for that matter. However, the company introduced a robust “pump” feature for those who are looking to drain all the liquid automatically without any manual labor or whatsoever.
This “experience” is only applicable to those who have purchased a brand new unit of the Craftsman XSP 16 gallon wet dry vac. eBay and many other private shop vac forums are selling Used/Refurbished/Reconditioned units at a lower price, but those Craftsman shop vac units do not come with all the accessories.
Anyhow, Craftsman XSP comes with couple of filters. Some of these Craftsman shop vac filters are for wet cleaning purposes, while others are made for dry use. There is a ginormous 6’ x ½ inch diameter hose and two extension wands to help make cleaning the vac itself and suction an easy-peasy experience.
In addition, Craftsman also included an 8-Inch crevice nozzle, a utility nozzle and a wet nozzle for users who want a versatile cleaning experience. These nozzles have an insertable squeegee brush for cleaning them after you are done with a room, or a basement for that matter. Overall, we liked the accessories to the point that they helped make cleaning a relatively quick process for us.
Ergonomics wise, Craftsman XSP has a slim handle, which makes it easy for users to operate the unit. Also, at the same time, there are Pos-I Lock style ports on the hose, inlet and the blower sides so that you can latch the hose on the Craftsman shop vac unit’s body whenever it’s needed. This way, the hose and the extension cord don’t drag behind on the floor wherever users need to take the unit.
By the way, Craftsman XSP wet dry 16 gallon vac also has wire holders; they are mounted on the top side of the main vac unit. The inclusion of those wire and hose carry latches take ergonomics to the next level. It gives a boost to the usability factor in that sense.
Speaking of usability, there is a blower mechanism in the Craftsman wet dry vac. Why would you need the blower system? Well, if you are looking to blow dry leaves and push them to a corner, or thinking of jolt cleaning a completely blocked basin drain hole, the feature can work wonders.
There are detailed video and text guides on how to use a wet dry vac for clearing basic blockage. Make sure you go through those tutorials before actually using the unit.
Earlier models of the Craftsman XSP wet dry vac had a 3 Hp rating, but new ones have a peak 6.5 HP. The new and improved motor will help in cleaning both your indoor and outdoor areas with thorough results. Shop Vac’s aforementioned model lacked behind because it’s HP was around 6.0. The surplus .5 HP makes this Craftsman shop vac a better substitute in the long run.
Craftsman Co. also added a polythene bag to withhold any liquid messes from actually making contact with the insides of the holding canister. Since these bags are removable, it not only keeps the smell at bay, but also makes it relatively easy for folks to clean the wet dry vac itself. A lot of manufacturers make extra effort to highlight the said product’s performance, but they hardly talk about how users can keep the wet dry vac unit clean and odor free for months to come.
Since this is a versatile unit, it gives usage factor a broader perspective. I forgot to mention that this Craftsman XSP also has 360-degree swivel casters – hence maneuverability also kicks in for users who have to move a lot from one area of a small room to another.
For people looking to flush flooded areas, basements, basins or blocked drains, this Craftsman wet dry vacuum cleaner is a perfect match. Likewise, it works to remove any clogs in dishwashers. The unit is equally recommended to both homeowners and contractors who are just getting started on taking cleaning services contracts as a career buildup option.
Stanley Wet Dry 8-Gallon vac came as a loaner units from one of the associates of Power Tool Buzz. Initially, this unit wasn’t on our radar – and even after getting the loaner unit, we did some extra research to make sure that we end up recommending something worth your time and money.
We were surprised to find out that Amazon is retailing 10 different variants of Stanley Wet Dry at different price to help users buy the vacuum cleaner of their choice. The variations were entirely created as standalone units of the same Stanley Wet Dry vac by Stanley Co.
The company also took the liberty of tweaking the horsepower and other associated ratings to cycle between the results. Since pricing is no longer an issue when it comes to this wet dry vac unit, one can either go for a 4 gallon + 4 HP combo, or an 8 Gallon + 4.5 HP combo.
The point is that once you are at Amazon, you will find out that Stanley Co. took a lot of time in creating this wet dry vac for potential users from all walks of life.
Top it off with a pin drop silent user experience, you are looking at a wet dry vac that doesn’t scream like a Milwaukee handheld shop vac. Speaking of Milwaukee shop vac, I had to use ear plugs to prevent my ears from catching on that shrilling noise while the vac was in motion. It was kind of a downer for me, and other associate testers at Power Tool Buzz.
I personally liked the visual appeal of this Stanley shop vac unit. It has a stainless steel barrel with shiny rings around the middle and bottom areas. Kind of gives it that ‘Breaking Bad’ chemical barrel appeal if you are into the TV series. On a serious note, the stainless steel build gives the tank added resilience against hard surfaces in case it tips over, or falls from top of the stairs all the way down.
On the same note, not all Stanley Wet Dry vac units are as quiet or durable as this one. For instance, we found out that Stanley SL18129 wet dry vac had an ear blasting noise level. It scored a full 97 Db, which is the highest noise level for any shop vac we tested during the trial phase. So, if you are considering buying a wet dry vac from this company, make sure that you read all the features list alongside product specification details etc.
Like all other wet dry vac units, we also tested this Stanley shop vac against different variables. First of all we threw a man made garbage combination of screws and mulch on the floor. The vacuum was quick enough to suck in screws, but the mulch needed a second pass.
Next came the water suction test. Stanley Wet Dry vac was able to suck in one gallon of water in exactly 4.65 seconds. Now it may not seem a lot, but if you double the gallons to two and multiply 4.65 with 2, you get 9.3 seconds on the timer. This is exactly 0.7 seconds less than the 2-gallon suction timer of the Ridgid wet dry shop vac as mentioned earlier in the article.
Among different benefits of owning a Stanley Wet Dry vac, there were some let down aspects. For example, there is no drain valve on the unit. You need to tip it over to one side every time the barrel needs to be emptied. I don’t know why Stanley Co., never added a drain valve because it is more of a common feature in almost every other wet dry model out there in the market these days.
The dumping makes it difficult for people to keep their shoes and clothes from getting dirty. If there was at least a drain valve or a pump feature in this Stanley shop vac unit, we’d have given it a stellar 5/5 rating.
Stanley Co. included 3 different short hoses as part of the accessories for this unit. The hoses may seem short, but the interesting thing is that they can be combined as one big hose for users who want to cover more area in their house. Therefore, if a hose is too short, you can combine two or all three to reach far corners of an area that you are looking to clean in the near future.
When placed on the side, it was conveniently easy for Stanley Wet Dry vac unit to fit inside car trunks, and camper vehicle storage bays – that is if you are a contractor, or looking to travel for vacations, you can take this Stanley shop vac unit with you. Campers can also clean their vehicle with this vac, but they will need a reliable power source since it is not a cordless unit.
Last but not the least, if you are looking to clean a large pile of debris with Stanley Wet Dry vac, make sure that you sweep most of it with a good ol’ broom. If you are going to insert the suction head into the pile all at once, it will create a choke point inside the hose.
Shop Vac Co. is regarded as one of the original manufacturers of wet dry shop vacs. I won’t get into a lot of argument over that. What really matters is how well the vacuum fared in terms of performance and other results.
The Shop Vac 5989400 series unit came with an 8 gallon storage capacity. An interesting find was the fact that Shop Vac guys had an older model going on under the same model series numbering. The old version had a 5.5 HP, but the new one comes with 6.0 HP. Some say that it peaks at 6.5 under certain conditions and against different materials, but we averaged at about 6.0 to be honest.
Aside from the accessories and other stuff, assembling the Shop Vac 5989400 was a quick and painless task. Since we knew what we were doing, it took around 5 – 10 minutes to completely assemble the Shop Vac wet dry vacuum unit and get it going.
First timers, may need to refer to the instructions manual. Speaking of which, the Shop Vac 5989400 instructions manual was bit of a let down. I can live with a bit of French and Spanish as long as the manual has detailed diagrams pointing to the assembly mechanism, but Shop Vac Co. got a little too wordy. Some of the explanations were completely irrelevant to the Shop Vac 5989400 model.
I guess, the company was aiming for covering models under one instructions manual, but they ended up confusing first time readers instead. A golden tip for such manufacturers would be to keep the instructions manual short and add tons of diagrams with proper numbering. Even if it is a manual for non-English readers, it will equally help English speaking folks for that matter.
Moving on, the Shop Vac 5989400 wet dry unit had storage bay for keeping tools and necessary cleaning material on board. However, the holding ports for those tools that have to be hung at the side of the canister is of inferior quality. If the vacuum cleaner is hauled off quickly, expect the tools to fall off.
Initial use against dust, grime and mulch yielded good results. I was impressed with the performance and so were the rest of the reviewers at Power Tool Buzz. We attribute performance metrics of the Shop Vac 5989400 model to the increased amount of HP, which comes in the latest models. In some sense, the power is more like raw element, waiting to be wielded and put to good use.
On the same note, the latest new and improved Shop Vac models of this wet dry mini vac are coming with a longer cord. Previous models had a short cord, which took a toll on the mobility factor. Since this a wet dry vac, it’s performance was slightly different on dry and wet services for that matter.
We noticed that the filter and bag did not need to be changed/ emptied on regular run-ins against dry vacuuming. This is a plus one for those users who are specifically looking to clean surfaces instead of alternating between wet and dry ones on different occasions.
To get the most out of Shop Vac 5989400 wet dry vac, you should use it large patios for blowing leaves, sucking in liquid, garages, cars, basements etc. What makes this unit a safe bet for first timers who have never tried any of the Shop Vac Co. products before is the 3-year warranty.
However, the warranty comes in with a brand new purchase. If you are buying a used Shop Vac 5989400 vac, make sure that you ask for the warranty card or proof of purchase from the previous owner to see how many months you are left with.
A word of caution to new users would be to be careful with how they use Shop Vac 5989400 wet dry vac. Under any circumstances, you should not pull the vacuum by the hose while it is attached. Also, the entire build quality is kind of flimsy, which calls for careful handling whenever you are using the unit.
Speaking of careful handling, DO NOT use the plastic handle on the top of the unit to pick the unit up. Yes, the purpose of the handle is to serve carrying related needs, but this is a plastic handle. It will snap off very soon if you keep on lifting the Shop Vac 5989400 unit repeatedly. Especially if the tank is full on liquid, you should avoid lifting the body of the unit by the handle.
Currently, the market is brimming with way too many wet dry vac models under different brand names. Out of the very few models that we listed above - they do not make up for what someone would call a fully fledged list of best shop vacs in 2018. Since technology is always evolving, companies keep on releasing bigger and better models of the same products over a certain time period.
Therefore, make sure you are doing your own research by reading user reviews and communicating with verified owners of wet dry vacs. A good place to get started would be the comments section of Powertoobuzz website, or by signing up at different forums for that matter. Thanks for reading our shop vac review and please leave your own best shop vac experiences in the comments below.