Best Small Shop Vac

Best Small Shop Vac in 2018 – Complete Guide and Reviews

If you like to work in the garage, then you know that keeping the space clean afterward can be a pain. Fortunately, if you have the best small shop vacuum, then your job will be much easier. Whether you’re cleaning up after an afternoon of woodworking or you just want a simple way to clean your car, a small shop vacuum is the best way to go.

Today we’re going to look at some of the best models on the market, as well as go over the most important considerations to make when picking one out for yourself. After getting a new small shop vacuum, you’ll wonder how you ever managed without one.

The 5 Best Small Shop Vac Comparison

Picture

Name

Rating

Price

Vacmaster VF408

Vacmaster VF408

A+

ArmorAll AA255

Armor All AA255

A+

Shop Vac 2030100

Shop-Vac 2030100

A

Shop-Vac 5870400

Shop-Vac 5870400

A+

WORKSHOP S0250VA

WORKSHOP WS0250VA

A

Best Small Shop Vac Reviews

1. Vacmaster VF408 4 Gallon with 2-Stage Industrial Motor Wet/Dry Floor Vacuum

Vacmaster VF408

Editor Rating:

Kicking us off is this remarkable vacuum model from Vacmaster. When you want raw power and reliability, this is a fantastic option. We like the fact that it comes with a sturdy, five-horsepower motor, and that it has four gallons of wet and dry capacity. Also, since the motor is dual-stage, it’s built to last much longer than the competition. 

The other thing that we like about this vacuum is the range of attachments you get. These accessories make it much easier to get into crevices, vacuum spills on the floor, and clean practically any surface you can imagine. This also makes it ideal for cars and home cleaning as well. Also, the fact that it comes with extra large wheels means that you can roll it around wherever you go without having to lift a finger. 

Other features include a HEPA filter to keep dust trapped inside, a power cord that automatically rewinds for convenience, and a two-year limited warranty from Vacmaster. It’s also super quiet at 72 decibels, making it the perfect choice for any workspace or garage. 

What We Liked

  • Powerful 5-horsepower motor
  • Large four-gallon tank
  • Durable two-stage industrial motor
  • Wet and dry capability
  • Large wheels for mobility
  • Easy carry handle on top
  • Long 15-foot power cord
  • Dust-sealed on/off switch
  • Easy to empty design
  • Power cord automatically rewinds
  • Long seven-foot industrial hose
  • HEPA rated air filter
  • Quiet operation
  • Seven attachments included with onboard storage
  • Two-year limited warranty

What We Didn't Like

  • Some attachments affect suction levels
  • Front wheels are rather small and don’t work well on uneven surfaces

2. Armor AA255 All 2.5 Gallon Utility Wet/Dry Vacuum

ArmorAll AA255

Editor Rating:

If you’re familiar with Armor All, you know that the company makes a lot of high-quality cleaning products for your car. So, it makes sense that they would produce a versatile and robust shop vacuum as well to ensure that your vehicle stays clean all year long. However, while it may work well for your automobile, it’s convenient enough to work just about anywhere.

Although the motor and storage capacity are not as high as other models we’ve seen, the point of this vacuum is to be lightweight and portable. Thus, you won’t get quite as much suction, but it’s perfect for spot cleaning and the occasional spill. We wouldn’t recommend it for people who need a lot of power, but it’s great for regular household upkeep and maintenance. 

Some unique features that come with this vacuum include an automatic shutoff feature that prevents overflow into the tank, as well as five different attachments. These accessories are designed mostly for the car, but they will work on practically any surface. Finally, it comes with a two-year limited warranty. 

What We Liked

  • Powerful two-horsepower motor
  • Large 2.5-gallon capacity
  • Wet and dry capability
  • Long six-foot suction hose
  • 10-foot power cord with onboard wrapping
  • Automatic shutoff prevents overflow
  • Easy to empty container
  • Works as vacuum and blower
  • Reusable cloth filter
  • Five attachments with built-in storage
  • Ideal for cleaning cars
  • Cost-effective model
  • Two-year limited warranty

What We Didn't Like

  • Not as powerful as other models
  • No handle or wheels for easier mobility

3. Shop-Vac 2030100 1.5-Gallon 2.0 Peak HP Wet Dry Vacuum, Small, Red/Black

Shop-Vac 2030100

Editor Rating:

When most people think of shop vacuums, they imagine this company. The brand Shop-Vac is synonymous with these kinds of machines, meaning that you can expect great things from the company’s products. This particular model is built the same way as the Armor All unit above. It’s perfect for spot cleaning and regular household upkeep instead of heavy duty workshop jobs.

Although it does have a somewhat limited capacity, you will be surprised by how well this vacuum works. It comes with four remarkable attachments that make cleaning surfaces (including those in the car) a breeze. Best of all, it has onboard storage so that you will never lose them. 

We also like the fact that this model comes with a wall mount so that you can easily hang it up whenever you don’t need it. This makes it even more convenient and allows for more storage space in your garage. 

What We Liked

  • Powerful two-horsepower motor
  • 1.5-gallon capacity
  • Wet and dry capability
  • Easy carry handle
  • Removable hose for cleaning
  • Four accessories included
  • Lightweight and portable design
  • Wall mount bracket
  • Four-foot hose
  • Six-foot power cord with onboard wrapping
  • Two-year limited warranty

What We Didn't Like

  • Suction is limited with some of the attachments
  • Will most likely need an extension cord for proper use

4. Shop-Vac 5870400 4-Gallon 4.5-Peak Horsepower All Around Wet/Dry Vacuum

Shop-Vac 5870400

Editor Rating:

As we mentioned, the brand Shop-Vac is one of the best in the industry, particularly when you get a model designed for high-performance cleaning. This model stands out above the rest, thanks to its robust and reliable motor, large capacity tank, and a wide array of attachments. 

Unlike the compact vacuums we saw above, this unit is designed for bigger jobs. So, if you need something a bit more sturdy to help clean up spills and messes on a regular basis, this is a fantastic vacuum to get. 

As with the other models, this one can work on wet and dry materials with equal ease. It also comes with a dust bag so that emptying it is much easier as well. The accessories included enable you to work on virtually any surface, and they can all be stored in the rear caddy for convenience. Overall, this is one of the best shop vacuums you can find. 

What We Liked

  • Powerful 4.5-horsepower motor
  • Large four-gallon capacity
  • Wet and dry capability
  • Extra long 18-foot power cord
  • Large, dust-sealed on/off switch
  • Dust bag for easy cleaning
  • Convenient carrying handle
  • Seven hose attachments
  • Rear caddy for storage
  • Large wheels for easy mobility
  • Quiet operation
  • Plastic tank will not rust or dent
  • Long eight-foot hose
  • Can be used as a blower
  • Lightweight design
  • Three-year limited warranty

What We Didn't Like

  • Dust bags are rather small
  • Air flow regulator can affect suction levels

5. WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS0250VA Compact, Portable Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner

WORKSHOP S0250VA

Editor Rating:

Closing out our list is another compact and portable vacuum. This unit from Workshop is perfect for light cleaning out in the garage or your car, and it is built to last. With a 1.75-horsepower motor and two gallons of cleaning capacity, you can do a lot with such a minimal device. 

The features that we like the most on this vacuum are the long 10-foot power cord, the fact that it can clean wet and dry materials, and the price. It’s size and construction mean that you won’t be paying that much, but you’ll get a lot of bang for your buck.

Also, this unit comes with a five-year warranty. Compared to everything else we’ve seen, that is remarkable in its own right. 

What We Liked

  • 1.75-horsepower motor
  • Two-gallon capacity
  • Durable plastic construction
  • Lightweight and portable design
  • Easy carry handle
  • Wet and dry capability
  • Long 10-foot power cord
  • Four-foot hose
  • Two attachments with onboard storage
  • Can be used as a blower
  • Easy to remove hose
  • Cost-effective model
  • Five-year limited warranty

What We Didn't Like

  • Not as much suction as other models
  • Not built for heavy-duty cleaning

How to Choose the Best Small Shop Vac

Horsepower

Considering that these machines are designed to clean up a variety of materials and spills, you need to make sure that it can handle everything you encounter. You don’t want it to shut off unexpectedly while you clean, so it’s imperative that you pick one with the right kind of horsepower.

Typically speaking, anything above three HP is decent, but you don’t want to go too high. This will result in a larger, bulkier vacuum, which is the opposite of what we’re looking at today. Overall, between 3-5 horsepower should be ideal.

Size

As we’ve mentioned, we’re looking at small shop vacuums, but that doesn’t mean that they are all about the same size. The important thing to pay attention to is the capacity of the tank. This is rated in gallons, so you want something large enough to enable you to clean everything in one pass, but not so big that it will be cumbersome.

We recommend about 2-5 gallons overall, depending on the size of your workspace. Also, if you are doing a lot of work that needs cleaning up after (i.e., wood carving and sanding), then a larger tank will be better. For casual cleaning, you won’t need anything above 2.5 gallons.

Hose

Unlike the upright vacuum that you use in your home, these models all have a tube attached to a base unit. As such, you want to find a machine with a long enough hose that will enable you to reach into every corner of your garage or work area.

When picking a hose size, however, remember that the longer it is, the less efficient it will become. Also, if you have an extra long hose with a minimal motor, then you won’t be able to clean as effectively.

Overall, you want something that is just long enough to be convenient without significantly reducing the amount of suction.

Attachments

As with all vacuums, you want to have a set of accessories with your machine. These will enable you to clean a wider variety of surfaces, as well as reach into nooks and crannies that much easier.

One frequent use for a shop vacuum is to clean out your car, so if you can get attachments that will make that easier, we highly suggest getting them. The most common types that you should look for are:

  • check-square-o
    Extension wand
  • check-square-o
    Brush
  • check-square-o
    Flat vacuum head
  • check-square-o
    Crevice tool

Wet/Dry Capabilities

One of the great things about a shop vacuum is that it’s not as fragile as a standard upright. This means that you can clean up just about any spill and it won’t affect the device’s performance. That being said, you need to make sure that the vacuum is rated for both wet and dry messes to ensure that you don’t run into problems.

If it’s not rated for liquids, then you could ruin the filter by trying to suck up water or oil. If you’re not sure if you need a wet/dry vacuum, we highly recommend that you get one that can handle both. You never know what kinds of messes you will encounter, and it’s always better to be prepared.

Mobility

Considering that shop vacuums are base units attached to a hose, you have to move them around differently than you would a regular upright. However, not all models have wheels, which means that you will have to pick it up and move it around by hand.

We highly recommend buying a model with wheels to make things easier for yourself, but the benefit of getting one without is that you can place it on other surfaces (i.e., a work table or bench) without it rolling off. This can come in handy if you have to reach high places with the hose.

​Conclusion

When trying to find the best small shop vacuum, we prefer models that come with extra power, cleaning capacity, and attachments. As such, we love the Vacmaster Model the best. With five horsepower, four gallons, and wet/dry capabilities, you can clean almost any mess with this robust and reliable machine. Each attachment makes this vacuum even more versatile, and we appreciate the durable construction and ease of use. 

Overall, if you want to keep your work area and car clean, this is the vacuum to have.

About the Author Rafael Porter

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