Which Shop Vac has the Most Suction? Tried and Tested


Let’s face it, we all use a shop vac or similar item to control dust and clean our shops. Shop vacuums are very popular tools for cleaning. I recently had to purchase a new one but I could not find anything that actually told me which shop vacs have the most suction. For this reason, I actually tried and tested a few to help you decide. But what shop vacuum has the most suction power?

The Ridgid HD1600 is the shop vacuum with the most amount of suction power. The Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac also has a lot of suction power. The amount of suction power a shop vacuum has decreased as it fills with dirt and debris, especially if a filter or bag is being used.

Now that you know which shop vac has the most amount of suction power, you may be wondering about some other shop vacs that are also very powerful. I have reviewed the following popular shop vacs to see which are the best.

Which shop vac has the most suction

Which Shop Vacs Have a Lot of Suction Power?

Below is a quick reference chart to the different shop vacs and their claimed CFM. I have explained in more detail below.

Shop-VacCFMPrice
Ridgid HD1600161$140.00
Ridgid WD1450 Wet Dry Vac150$178.90
Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 Wet Dry Vac150$131.49
Craftsman Wet Dry Vac Set XSP148$139.00
Vacmaster Beast Professional Series 16 Gallon Wet Dry Vac150$145.99
Bissell Multiclean Wet Dry Vac135$125.00
DeWalt DXV16PA 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac116$139.00

Ridgid HD1600

Ridgid HD1600 Shop Vac

The Ridgid HD1600 has the greatest suction power. It can contain up to 16 gallons of dirt and debris, which means that you won’t have to take the time to empty it out very often, even if you use it frequently. While you can use this shop vacuum without a bag or filter in it, either of these will allow you to empty the vacuum quickly without getting your hands dirty. This shop vacuum ranges in price from $126 to $141, so it is an expensive shop vacuum. However, the amount of power it has makes the cost of the vacuum worth it.

Ridgid WD1450 Wet Dry Vac

Best shop vac Ridgid WD1450

The Ridgid WD 1450 Wet Dry Vac is also a shop vacuum with a lot of suction power. It can hold up to 14 gallons of dirt and debris. It can also clean up wet messes, which is great, especially since you never know when you will need to clean up some sort of spill. You can use this shop vacuum with or without a bag. It ranges in price from $138 to $261 and it is slightly less powerful than the Ridgid HD1600.

Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

Craftsman Shop Vac

The Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac is a shop vacuum with a lot of suction power. It can hold up to 16 gallons of dirt and debris and can vacuum up wet messes. You can use a bag with this shop vacuum, but it doesn’t necessarily need one to work properly. This powerful vacuum ranges in price from $110 to $138.

Craftsman Wet/Dry Vac Set XSP

Craftsman Wet/Dry Shop Vac XSP

The Craftsman Wet/Dry Vac Set XSP is a shop vacuum with a lot of suction power. It can hold up to 16 gallons of dirt and debris and can clean up wet messes, which is always helpful. You can use this vacuum with or without a bag or filter. This shop vacuum costs $139, but the price will vary depending on the retailer you are purchasing this vacuum from.

Vacmaster – Beast Professional Series 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

Vacmaster Beast Professional Wet/Dry Shop Vac

The Vacmaster – Beast Professional Series 16 Gallon Wet/Dry Vac is a series of shop vacuums that each have a lot of suction power. While the exact amount of suction power varies depending on the shop vacuum model, all of them have a lot of suction power and will vacuum up any messes that you or others create. They range in price from $95 to $224, so they are slightly more expensive than other shop vacuums on this list, but the quality of this vacuum line makes it worth the high price. Because there are so many options you can choose the shop vacuum that works best for your needs and your budget. See my article on how to get tools cheap.

Bissell MultiClean Wet Dry Vac

Bissell Multiclean Wet/Dry Shop Vac

The Bissell MultiClean Wet Dry Vac has good suction power. It ranges in price from $125 to $150. It has been rated 4.5 stars by over 100 people across multiple websites, so many people have been happy with this shop vacuum. This shop vacuum will last for about 8 years, so you will have it for a long time if you choose to purchase it, even if you use it every day. You can use this vacuum on wet or dry messes with or without a bag or filter.

DeWalt DXV16PA 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac

Dewalt DXV16PA Shop Vac

The DeWalt DXV16PA 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac is another great shop vacuum with a considerable amount of suction power. It ranges in price from $187 to $342, so this shop vacuum is one of the more expensive ones on this list. When it was tested, this shop vacuum produced 116 CFM of suction and 73-inches of water lift, so it has the power to clean any wet or dry mess that is created in your home or workspace. You can use this shop vacuum with or without a bag or a filter.

How is a Shop Vac Suction Measured?

The amount of suction that a shop vacuum has is measured in how many inches of water lift it has when the shop vacuum is sealed.

You can see the process that companies use to measure the suction power of a shop vacuum at work in the video that is linked below. Companies use this method because if a shop vacuum can lift inches of water, then it will be able to pick up any wet or dry messes that are produced in workspaces. See how to keep the dust down in your workshop.

The amount of suction power that a shop vac has is also measured with CFM. The CFM measures how much air is taken in through the openings in the shop vacuum, like the hose and the vent near the motor. If you want to purchase a shop vacuum with a large hose, then you will need to purchase a shop vac with a large amount of CFM. Typically, the higher the CFM, the more suction power a shop vac has.

In the video below you can see how companies measure shop vac suction power.

What Causes a Shop Vac to Lose Suction Power?

A shop vac may lose its suction power if it is full, the filter is dirty or blocked or the hose is clogged. If all of these items have been checked it may be a case that your shop vac is getting old and needs replacing.

Many things can cause a shop vac to lose some or all of its suction power. If you notice that your shop vac is not vacuuming up items or debris that it usually has no problem picking up, then check the areas listed below to see if they are causing the shop vac to lose suction power.

Dirty Filter

If the shop vac’s filter is full of dirt and debris, then your shop vac will lose suction power and not work as well as it normally does because the motor isn’t working to its full capacity.

Dirty Shop Vac Filter

Shop Vac is Full

If the shop vac is full of dirt and debris, or it is almost full, then your shop vac will lose suction power because it does not have as much air in the container as usual, which decreases the suction power. You will also lose suction power if the bag you are using in the shop vac is full.

Clogged Hose

If your shop vac is not vacuuming up any dirt or debris and seems to have no suction power, then the hose may be clogged.

Old Shop Vac

If your shop vac is old, especially if it is more than 8 years old, then the motor is likely worn out, and it will seem to have almost no suctioning power.

How do I Fix a Shop Vac’s Suction?

Dirty Filter

If the filter in your shop vac is dirty and your shop vac seems to have lost suctioning power, try removing it and using an air blower to remove the dust and debris on it. If this doesn’t help the suction, then switch out the filter. You can find the filter that you need at any hardware store or online, but the specific process of changing out the filter will change depending on the model and brand of the shop vac that you have.

Shop Vac is Full

If your shop vac has lost suction power and you have not emptied it in a long time, then your shop vac is likely full. In order to gain suctioning power in your shop vac back, empty out the base of the shop vac into a large trash can. After you empty out the base of the container of your shop vac, then the suctioning power should return to its normal power, and you can continue to clean up any and all messes.

If you are using a bag in the shop vac and it is full, remove it and throw it away, then replace it.

Clogged Hose

If you suspect the hose of your shop vac is clogged, detach the hose from the main vacuum and look inside it. You should be able to see the clog in the hose. If you can see straight through to the other side of the hose, then it does not have a clog, and the hose is not the problem that is causing your shop vac to lose suctioning power. If you do see a clog, remove it. You may need to use a flashlight to see the clog, and you may need to use a long item to poke the clog out to the end of the hose.

Old Shop Vac

If your shop vac has lost suctioning power and nothing seems to be causing it to lose suctioning power, then your shop vac may be old and worn out. Shop vacs only last about 8 years when they are used regularly. If your shop vac is old and has lost suctioning power, then you will need to replace it with a new shop vac.

If your shop vac is not old and it has lost suctioning power, try taking it to a specialist in the field. They will be able to tell you what is wrong with your shop vac and how much it will cost to fix it.

Should I Purchase a Shop Vac?

Shop vacs are very helpful when you need to clean up large messes. They are also helpful when you need to clean up various shavings that a commercial vacuum would struggle to pick up. When a commercial vacuum has to vacuum up wood dust or various shavings, after a while the motor will become worn out and it will stop working, even if you think that it should still work.

Shop vacs can be used almost anywhere. My family has a shop vac that they use to clean the cars, and it works really well. If they tried to clean the car with the vacuum that they use inside of the house, then the cars might not get as clean as they do when we clean them with the shop vac.

The only cons to getting a shop vac are that they tend to get very dirty and they take up a lot of space. Oftentimes when you see a shop vac, it is covered in dust and other small debris. Shop vacs are nearly impossible to thoroughly clean because of the number of small crevices that they have. Luckily, not many people care if a shop vac gets really dirty because it’s not meant to be in the house.

Shop vacs take up a lot of space because they tend to be very large. However, there are smaller shop vacs on the market, so they don’t have to take up a lot of space if you don’t think that you need a large shop vac. Typically a shop vac, even a large one, can fit in a corner or a closet where it will be out of the way but easily accessible. If you have a closet or corner that you can put the shop vac in, then you will not really need to worry about how much space it takes up. However, it may be hard to store a large shop vac in a small workshop.

Shop vacs clean up messes quickly. Messes that would usually take you 10 minutes to fully clean only take seconds when you use a shop vac. Because many shop vacs can clean up both wet and dry messes, it can clean almost anything you need it to.

Shop vacs typically do not require regular maintenance to be done in order for them to function properly. Even when they seem to stop working as well as they usually do, shop vacs are typically easy to fix and get them back to their full power, which is very helpful when you don’t have a lot of time to fix your shop vac.

Shop vacs are definitely a useful purchase, so you should get one if you think that you will use it. They may be expensive, but they last for a long time and can clean up almost any mess.

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