5 Most Powerful Shop Vacs in 2021 – Best Suction & Highest CFM Wet/Dry Vacuum

Shop Vacuum is a term that get tossed around the garage and workshop community, and it can be difficult to figure out what makes one shop vacuum different from another. If you’re looking for the most powerful shop vac to clean up water from a leaky roof, or suck up stray screws and nails, there are plenty of choices that will leave your tasks complete in no time.

Here are the most powerful shop vacs on the market that will perform like none other, with their own special features and design details that make them work like an absolute dream.

Most Powerful Shop Vac

What is The Most Powerful Shop Vacuum?

When looking for the most powerful shop vac you want to ensure that it includes adequate cord Length, Filter type, CFM or Airflow and Water holding capacity or Water suction. We have found the most powerful shop vac built to handle even your biggest cleanup jobs to be the Vacmaster.

The most powerful wet/dry shop vac that we reviewed is the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 model. While most of the models advertised the peak 6.5 HP strength, we found that it consistently showed the most power and worked the best overall. The Craftsman’s 177 CFM was also top in our evaluations of the best wet/dry vacs as well as a 47” water lift capability, making this model the most powerful vac in this mid-range size of machine that we found. Easy to use without tipping, this powerful machine is our top pick for wet/dry vacuums.

Our Top Picks

  1. Best Overall: Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac
    The Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 uses an interior bag as well as a filter system. Craftsman’s model is the most powerful shop vac on our list with a 6.5 peak horsepower strength, making it perfect for the biggest or messiest cleanups in both a shop and garage situations.
  2. Strongest Shop Vac: Vacmaster Beast Series Professional Wet/Dry Vac
    The Professional Wet/Dry Vac from Vacmaster Professional is a strong 150 CFM and has a helpful quick-empty feature so users can switch from wet to dry vacuum functioning rapidly.
  3. Most Powerful Shop Vac for Dust: Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Dust Extractor
    The Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Dust Extractor has a super long reach with a 13-foot vacuum hose and a 19-foot power cord to use with its handy handy built-in bypass cooling system.
  4. Best Suction Shop Vac: Dewalt DXV16PA Shop Vac
    The Dewalt DXV16PA comes with a helpful muffler to minimize the volume of this powerful machine that also has a 6.5 peak horsepower strength.
  5. Best Budget Shop Vac: Workshop WS1600VA Shop Vacuum Cleaner
    The Workshop Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA has a strong 6.5 peak HP suction along with a nifty blower feature to add in a third valuable function to this shop vac.

5 Most Powerful Shop Vacuum in 2021

If you’re in need of a shop vacuum for blowing or sucking, we’ve picked five of our favorites: they’re powerful enough to clean up big messes, but light enough that you can carry them around your workspace with ease.

1. Best Overall: Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Wet/Dry Vac

Top Features

  • Size: 16 Gallon
  • HP: 6.5 Peak HP
  • Air Flow(CFM): 177
  • Power Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Hose Length & Dia: 7 feet & 2-1/2 in
  • Peak Air Watts: 1440 Watts
  • Volt/Hz: 120V/60Hz
  • Weight: 26 pounds

Easy to assemble right out of the box with just a few quick screws, the Craftsman 16-gallon wet/dry vac is a reliable, powerful machine. This heavy-duty machine is big enough to get the job done.

Weighing in at 26 lbs. and approximately 21x23x26 inches, the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 model is fairly large, so users inside of a structure with typical door widths will need to watch out for door frames. But this model also is pretty quiet for the amount of power it puts out making it a great machine to use indoors or out. Rated at 177 cubic feet per minute flow, this is the shop vac with the highest CFM of all the shop vacs we reviewed, making it an excellent machine to use for all kinds of wet or dry vacuuming. For dust collection, the Craftsman has not only a filter that can be cleaned or replaced but also a dust collection bag. Users can replace the bag as needed, but the filter is reusable for some time with light cleaning. One other excellent trait is that this shop vac is very sturdy and doesn’t seem to tip often when being dragged around the job site, a side benefit to being such a solid machine.

2. Strongest Shop Vac: Vacmaster Beast Series Professional Wet/Dry Vac

Top Features

  • Size: 16 Gallon
  • HP: 6.5 Peak HP
  • Air Flow(CFM): 150
  • Power Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Hose Length & Dia: 7 feet & 2-1/2 in
  • Peak Air Watts: 400 Watts
  • Volt/Hz: 120V/60Hz
  • Weight: 29 pounds

This large, professional-grade wet/dry vac from Vacmaster is the shop vac with most suction on our list. With 400 air watts combined with 150 CFM, the Vacmaster Professional is strong and is just as reliable for home jobs as well as in shop or garage work.

This machine has integrated hoses and cords, upping the convenience factor for storage and use of the vacuum and the storage hook is a thoughtful addition so this 29 lb, approximately 20x20x24 machine can be stored up and out of the way when not in use. Moreover, the Vacmaster Professional’s premium hose material means that kinks in the line will not slow down the workflow. Users appreciate the attached muffler, reducing the noise this Beast Series wet/dry vac emits, and the helpful on/off switch is easy to control and also comes with a dust seal, so the tell-tale dust poof doesn’t happen when the Vacmaster Professional is turned on.

3. Most Powerful Shop Vac for Dust: Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Dust Extractor

Top Features

  • Size: 5.8 Gallon
  • Air Flow(CFM): 151
  • Power Cord Length: 19.7 ft
  • Hose Length & Dia: 13 feet
  • Peak Air Watts: 1100 Watts
  • Volt/Hz: 120V/60Hz
  • Weight: 26.5 pounds

This strong wet/dry vac comes in a respectable 151 CFMs, making it one a best CFM shop vac on the market. Users love that it has an auto-start outlet and a delay for the power-on, helping to prevent tool coupling and other issues like power surges.

This compact model is uniquely flat-topped, making it conveniently double as a small workspace if needed. With dimensions of approximately 15x15x18 and weighing in at 26.5 lbs., its smaller size makes it accessible in tighter workspaces as well. Users love the quietness of this wet/dry vac with its 66 dB sound, and like that suitability for working alongside other noisy machines or inside. The AutoStart feature is really helpful since the machine will not start to extract before the vac is switched on, instead delaying so that it starts afterward. Another excellent feature is the way the bypass motor keeps the hose’s dirty air away from the motor, eliminating the common shop vac problem of dirty air spewing out when it is turned on.

4. Best Suction Shop Vac: Dewalt DXV16PA Shop Vac

Top Features

  • Size: 16 Gallon
  • HP: 6.5 Peak HP
  • Air Flow(CFM): 116
  • Power Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Hose Length & Dia: 7 feet & 2-1/2 in
  • Peak Air Watts: 325 Watts
  • Volt/Hz: 120V/60Hz
  • Weight: 30.6 pounds

This is the strongest shop vac on our list with its peak 6.5 horsepower motor and ability to lift water easily in use.

The Dewalt wet/dry vac also is a relatively quiet machine, clocking in at only 50 dB due to the silencing muffler attached. The hose adaptor also can be affixed to the tank drain, improving flexibility in emptying the large 16-gallon reservoir. The included three dust bags are a step up from other vacs that only arrive with one or even none. This machine also comes with a removable tall handle, increasing maneuverability of this 30 lb., approximately 20x28x19 machine. Storage of the accessories in the removable bag is very convenient while the flexible hose can be wrapped around the unit for storage.

5. Best Budget Shop Vac: Workshop WS1600VA Shop Vacuum Cleaner

Top Features

  • Size: 16 Gallon
  • HP: 6.5 Peak HP
  • Power Cord Length: 20 ft
  • Hose Length & Dia: 7 feet & 2-1/2 in
  • Peak Air Watts: 1440 Watts
  • Volt/Hz: 120V/60Hz
  • Weight: 23.4 pounds

This wet/dry vac picks up about 1 gallon of water a second, making it one of the most powerful and fastest working shop vacs we have reviewed. The large capacity drum holds 16 gallons, but the surprising lightness of this model makes it a perfect choice for at-home use.

This machine has a few interesting features like the undercarriage and top storage areas that lock in the accessories when not in use. Additionally, Workshop has included an auto-shutoff mechanism to stop the suction so that wet pickups will not overflow the storage drum. The drain port is easy to use to remove wet or dry material, and this machine does not need (or work with) dust bags. The drum is also made of a resilient copolymer material that doesn’t rust or dent easily, extending the life of this shop workhorse.

How have we chosen the shop vacuum on this list?

When it comes to choosing a good wet/dry vacuum, there are several factors that you should consider: motor size and horsepower; tank capacity; and accessories or attachments that come with your purchase. You want to be sure you are investing in the right product.

Of course the best way to choose the right shop vac is to do extensive research and go through comprehensive guides like the ones we created to help you consider the important factors. We strive to provide you with the most recent and up-to-date information on products and things to consider when shopping around.

Brand’s Reputation

Our suggestions include top manufacturers because these brands have high quality products.

Customer Reviews

We rely on recommendations from genuine users because no one can tell about a product better than a customer who has tried and tested it. We didn’t simply go by power ratings alone. We also took into account how well these vacuums were built and for what environments they are best suited.

Budget

We’ve broken down our picks into three categories: budget, intermediate, and premium. Prices range from $33 to over $100, but there’s a model for every budget. We tested all of these shop vacs for their performance at picking up dirt and debris, as well as how long each one would run on a full tank of power. In addition to our own testing, we also consulted customer reviews to see which models stood out from others in terms of overall value.

What to Look for in a Most Powerful Shop Vacuum

When shopping for a shop vacuum, it depends on your specific needs as they come in many different sizes and styles. First, determine whether or not a wet/dry vac would suit your cleaning job better than a standard upright or hand held style. While there are many different brands and styles to choose from, it’s important to note that most come with similar features.

Air Watts

To start off your search for a good wet/dry vac , take a look at its CFM rating — or cubic feet per minute — which indicates how powerful it is overall. This measurement gives you a general idea of how well your new vacuum will handle both liquid and dry debris. You might also want to look into whether or not your new vac offers airflow control — as well as high and low settings — which allows users to adjust suction based on job requirements.

Safety Features

If safety isn’t a big concern for you, then weight might be. On average, shop vacuums tend to weigh anywhere between 10 and 30 pounds without water. Also keep in mind that most models don’t include wheels. Nevertheless, if mobility does matter to you, consider investing in a lightweight backpack vacuum instead of a corded or cordless unit because they provide comparable performance but offer more freedom of movement. Lastly, some models even feature padded backstraps to make lugging your vacuum around a little easier.

Maintenance

Whether you only clean up small messes every now and then or find yourself handling larger projects often, maintenance is key for prolonging your wet/dry vac’s lifespan. Although portable vacuums typically don’t require maintenance, you should still follow a few tips to keep your machine working properly. For example, try to avoid submerging your machine in liquids and always wash out tanks and filters after each use. If you notice that suction doesn’t seem to be as strong as usual, unclog tubes and check them for clogs. Otherwise, it might be time to replace damaged parts altogether.

Specifications to Consider When you’re ready to buy a shop vacuum

When you’re ready to buy a shop vacuum, it’s important to look for specific criteria that will help you narrow down your selection. Here are three of those specifications to keep in mind before making your final decision.

Cord Length

It might be convenient for vacuums to be cordless or designed with retractable cords, but keep in mind that wires can get caught or wrapped around objects within your workspace. If you think you’ll be tripping over wires on a regular basis, consider choosing a vacuum with a cord. The length of your cord will determine how far away you can stand from your outlet, which means it’s important to choose one that will give you enough room to work comfortably. However, be sure not to select one that is too short as it might cause problems when trying to move around your workspace.

Accessories and Attachments

Along with a standard hose, look for vacuums that come with other accessories. Your vacuum might come with a foam cannon or dust brush to help tackle your cleaning tasks faster and more effectively. Plus, you can save money on accessories if you invest in a vacuum that comes packaged with what you’ll need most. Budget Last but not least, decide how much you’d like to spend on your new shop vacuum before diving in to shop around.

FAQs

What is the highest CFM shop vac?

The shop vac with highest CFM we reviewed is the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 model. With strong cubit feet per minute of 177, Craftsman’s wet/dry vac is able to suction at the highest rate of all of the machine models we reviewed. Having a high CFM is important when also paired with a strong horsepower, as both combined together produce the most power in a wet/dry vacuum.

How many CFM is a good shop vac?

Most shop vacs that are powerful enough to get the job done have a CFM of at least 150. A good shop vac that just exceeds this is Fein Turbo I Wet/Dry Dust Extractor, clocking in at a respectable 151 CFM suction capacity. A good shop vac should be able to move at least 150 cubic feet per minute of wet or dry materials effectively.

What is a good horsepower for a shop vac?

Shop vac power is first measured in the HP or horsepower. A good shop vac HP is around 6 or 6.5, like the Vacmaster Professional Wet/Dry Vac. HP is measured as the ability to reach that HP at peak performance, and a shop vac like Vacmaster’s does that with a peak HP of 6.5.

Which shop vac has the strongest suction?

For a wet/dry shop vac with the strongest suction, the Dewalt DXV16PA 16-gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac is a great option. This machine is super strong, owing to its peak of 6.5 HP and its solid, tight construction and variety of accessories that focus the machine’s suction power.

Can I use shop vacs at home?

Yes you can, as the use of wet/dry shop vacs for home needs is possible with many units. We recommend the Workshop Wet Dry Vac WS1600VA for at-home jobs for a few reasons. It is only about 23lbs., and it comes with an attachable accessory bag to keep the attachments close at hand. Its maneuverability and lower noise volume both add to Workshop’s Wet Dry Vac being our pick for a good machine to use at home.

Conclusion

If you’re a do-it-yourselfer, an upgraded shop vacuum is a must-have tool. With some brands under $35 and others around $200, there’s no reason not to have one on hand. In fact, if you’re going to spend money on a vac, make sure it’s as powerful as possible. Keep in mind that a large capacity doesn’t always mean more power. Instead, look for a model with high airflow levels that means more suction power and filtration designed for fine dust particles that can harm your lungs or clog up your tools. A good dust bag may not be enough to protect you from these dangers.

The best models also include a sealable compartment for wet items like paint, chemicals, and anything else that might ruin a floor or stain other work surfaces. And don’t forget about accessories! A variety of add-ons are available to help keep garage cleanup tasks simple and efficient.

Ultimately, shop vacs provide incredible convenience in both workshops and homes they save time, money, and effort by eliminating trips to the dump or cleaners every time you spill something on your carpet or countertop. When it comes to these handy tools, you get what you pay for: cheap ones may seem cheaper in price but will only prove more expensive in terms of both safety and convenience down the road. So shop around — we did — and choose one that does everything it should do without costing too much.

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