Shop Vac Reviews
This page about shop vac reviews aims to give a little understanding about the terms used and their significance. I'm not going to include static measures such as 'sealed pressure' which is how high the machine will lift a column of water. CFM, (the amount of air moved in cubic feet per minute), is more useful.
Manufacturers may refer to 'peak horse power' when they talk about the power of electric motors. This is the current draw that that the motor needs when starting or about to stall and is not sustainable. Look instead at the amperage the motor is rated at.
Shop vac reviews generally give 'tank capacity'. Most shop vacs have a real capacity of about 65% of this figure. Cubic Feet/Minute (CFM)
CFM is the volume of air moved in cubic feet per minute. Basically, the higher this is, the better to keep dust particles in suspension until they reach the collection bin.
High air speed is also needed to keep dust particles in suspension. Air speed for a given CFM is affected by the suction hose diameter - a smaller hose for a given CFM will result in a higher air speed Intake Hose Size
The suction hose that came with your machine isn't necessarily the one you need. Planers particularly produce largish chips and at least a two inch hose is needed. Luckily, adaptors are available from a number of sources that allow you to change hose size Swivel Hose Fittings
The best shop vac will have a swivel fitting. If the suction hose can't swivel in its connection to the shop vacuum, it will be less manoeuvrable. Amps
Ignore manufacturer's claims about 'peak horse power' when they talk about electric motors in their shop vac reviews. This is the current draw that that the motor needs when starting or about to stall and is not sustainable. Look instead at the amperage the motor is rated at. The higher the better. Filter Effectiveness
Some manufacturers use the bag as a pre-filter to help avoid clogging the main filter. The more efficient a filter is, the more it's liable to clog. If your shop vacuum manufacturer doesn't supply high efficiency filters, "Gore" filters from Cleanstream
are available to fit most full size shop vacuums. Their 'Pro' filters can be used with wet or dry cleaning jobs and are washable. Gore Cleanstream filters are high efficiency, with the 'Pro' having a HEPA rating. Cyclone Kit Available
Another way to protect your high efficiency filter is to put a cyclone dust collector between the suction hose and the shop vacuum. If a kit isn't available for your machine, both the shop vac and the cyclone can be mounted on one mobile trolley. Decibel Level (db)
Most shop vacuums run between 60 and 90 db (noise level). If noise is a problem, mufflers are available. If you can't find one designed for your machine, they're not difficult to adapt. Outside Venting
A very good option that totally eliminates the chance of dust re-entering the workshop. Close the windows and don't annoy the neighbours. Tool Activated
This can be handy. When you switch your power tool on, the shop vacuum starts automatically. Variable Suction
Can be useful. Using a sander for instance, full suction can glue the tool to the workpiece. Wet or Dry Pickup
Usually you'll need to remove the filter and bag, replacing the filter with a foam sleeve. Water Level Sensor
Either an automatic cut-out or a level indicator to tell you how full the machine is. Automatic cut-out is better. Drain Spout
Saves you having to lift the vacuum up to drain water. Some of the larger shop vacs can get really heavy when full of water. Use as a Blower
Enables outside venting, also handy for blowing out almost anything that's hard to clean internally. Bags Available
Shop vacuum bags make life a lot easier when it comes to emptying the dust out of the vacuum. Instead of having to up-end the heavy machine over a bin, it's so much less hassle just to take the top off and remove the bag.
Some manufacturers use the bag as a pre-filter to help avoid clogging the main filter.
Some shop vac reviews can be more helpful than others, I hope this page has provided a little illumination.