A shop vac (or jobsite vac) is a necessity if you’re going to keep dust and dirt under control. For cleaning up or dust extraction for power tools, we all need one.
This review is all about affordable, good quality vacuum cleaners with the power and durability to handle workshop and jobsite conditions. I guess you could call it the best suck for your buck. Hang on a minute… That sounded good at first, but I think some folks might get the wrong idea. We’re talking about shop vacs and jobsite vacs here.
As this is a review of the best value vacuum cleaners, none of them are very expensive. Yet we can be certain that with brands like DeWalt, Stanley, and Craftsman in the mix, you’re getting a trusted product.
All the models featured in this jobsite vacuum cleaner review are on the lower end of the power spectrum. Volume, power, and CFM specs will vary between the models, but you can typically expect to see 5 – 6 gallon vacuums. There are two exceptions in this regard: the Craftsman CMXEVBE1795 has a larger 16-gallon capacity, whereas the delightfully portable Craftsman CMXEVB17250 only has a 2.5-gallon capacity.
In terms of power, we’ll be reviewing vacuums rated at around 5 to 6 peak horsepower. Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) will vary quite a bit. Airflow for these machines will generally be around 80 CFM, with the Vacmaster Professional topping the list at 102 CFM and a pretty impressive 320 Air Watts.
Take a look at the great value for money vacuum cleaners we’ll be reviewing:
- DeWalt DXV06P: 6-gallon poly wet/dry vac
- Vacmaster Professional (VFB511B0201): 5-gallon poly wet/dry vac
- Craftsman CMXEVBE17595: 16-gallon heavy-duty wet/dry shop vac
- Stanley SL18115: 5-gallon stainless steel wet/dry vac
- Stanley SL18116P: Poly 6-gallon wet/dry vac
- Craftsman CMXEVBE17250: 5-gallon portable shop vac.
- Ideal for smaller jobsite clean-ups or a small shop
- A powerful 4 peak horsepower motor provides strong suction
- Rubberized casters allow smooth swiveling for easy movement
- 10 ft. power cord with cord wrap provides reach and neat storage
- Built-in blower port powerful enough to blow sawdust and debris from most workshops
- Accessories included: 1⁷⁄₈” x 7 ft. hose, 2 extension wands, washable & reusable cartridge filter, floor nozzle, utility nozzle, crevice nozzle, disposable filter bag & mesh accessory storage bag
- Airflow: 80 CFM; air watts: 135.5
- Weight: 18.3 LBS.
DeWalt has a pretty extensive range of shop/jobsite vacuum cleaners, from large volume heavy-duty machines to smaller medium-duty models. The DeWalt DXV06P falls into the latter category. This is one of their more affordable wet and dry jobsite vacs with a 6-gallon capacity.
While this is a fairly cheap shop vac, it is a DeWalt product. This means you can be sure that it meets a pretty high quality standard, albeit not quite in the same league as the heavy-duty stainless steel brutes at the top of the DeWalt range.
The DeWalt DXV06P is made from tough plastic with high-quality components. The metal-framed rubber castors are a prime example of how DeWalt, even with a cheaper product, ensures that quality always comes first. I really love these guys when it comes to great quality and durability at a reasonable price.
The 4 HP (peak) motor is not the most powerful but is more than adequate for a jobsite vacuum at this price. It also has a blower function to clear away dust and debris. Filtration is pretty good, especially for the price. With 80 CFM airflow, it is good for dust extraction when used with most tools and can handle the type of dust and woodchips that you will commonly find on a jobsite or workshop. It is a lightweight machine, weighing only 18.3 pounds.
The general design is wonderfully practical. A good example is the wide carrying handle that also functions as a caddy for convenient storage. You can wrap the cord and pipe safely and neatly for transportation and storage.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, the DeWalt DXV06P offers all you need for medium-duty jobsite cleaning, a home shop, or a small commercial shop. If you appreciate the DeWalt brand, as I do, and want something that is quite affordable, this is a fantastic option.
Vacmaster Professional (VFB511B0201)
- Portable 5-Gallon Polypropylene Tank
- Powerful 5.5 Peak HP† High-Performance Motor
- Complete Vac Organization with On-Board Hose, Cord, and Accessory Storage
- 18-Foot Power Cord with Cord Storage
- Easily Converts to Blower
- 25-Foot Cleaning Reach with Hose and Power Cord
- Equipped with High-Efficiency Fine Dust Filter
- Large Dust Sealed On/Off Switch
- Airflow: 102 CFM; Air watts: 320
- Weight: 15.63
I Guess the name Beast is quite apt for this mighty shop vac. Although one of the lightest in its class, the Vacmaster Professional is probably the best in terms of outstanding suction. The 5.5 peak HP motor is kind of what I would expect for a 5-gallon vac like this. What comes as a real surprise is the very impressive airflow spec of 102 CFM. That’s 20% up on the DeWalt vacuum cleaner (reviewed above) The air watts spec (320 AW) is also quite a pleasant surprise.
Although this vacuum doesn’t have wheels, it weighs just under 16-pounds, not bad for such a competent machine. I guess it’s easy enough to carry it with the metal handles that double up as a caddy for the hose and power cord. I’m not too sure how durable these handles will prove to be though. They jut out some distance from the body of the vacuum and could easily get snagged and bent on a jobsite. Perhaps not the best design.
It has all the expected accessories, like a crevice tool and extension wand. As many use their shop vac to clean their car, the car cleaning tool should come as a welcome extra. The Vacmaster Professional has a blower function and an excellent fine dust cartridge filter.
For one of the cheapest shop vacs that are worth recommending on this site, I’m definitely impressed with the Vacmaster Beast. Even though I’ll always lean towards DeWalt for good quality and value, I have to give this machine its due respect. For its price, the Vacmaster Professional is a mighty fine machine.
- 5 Peak HP provides extra power for large projects in the garage, shop and on the jobsite
- Rear blowing port on this wet dry vac allows for quick cleaning of leaves and grass clippings in your garage and outdoors
- Built-in oversized drain on the wet/dry vac allows for convenient emptying of liquids
- 2½ in. diameter shop vacuum hose features Dual-Flex technology for 180-degree mobility at each end to resist kinking
- ACCESSORIES INCLUDED: 2½ in. x 7 ft. POS-I-LOCK Dual-Flex Hose, 2 Extension Wands, Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle, Wet Nozzle, Quick Lock Filter, and Dust Collection Bag
- 3 Year Limited Warranty
- Airflow: 190.8 CFM; weight: 26 pounds
The Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 is the largest and most powerful in this review of the best value vacuum cleaners for a workshop or jobsite. I think most will agree that this is a brand that is trusted for great value. For a 16-Gallon shop vac with a powerful 6.5 Peak HP motor, this is an inexpensive product, especially from a recognized and respected brand.
With all that I’ve said about great value, I should also point out that this is not what I would call a heavy-duty shop vac, no matter what the brand advertisers may say. It is a fantastic wet-dry vacuum cleaner for light to medium duty jobsite and shop applications. As a nifty, and super powerful vac to use around the garage, cleaning the car, or even blowing leaves from your driveway, the Craftsman 16-gallon vacuum is a great deal.
At 190.8 CFM, this machine has the best suction compared to the other vacs in this review. Being a larger, more powerful vacuum cleaner, it is obviously going to be heavier than any of the others. Though, I guess 26 LBS is not too heavy for a shop vac with this type of capacity. It is made from pretty tough Polypropylene with reasonably durable castors. The design is very practical with onboard storage for the myriad of accessories. The vac hose slots into a perfectly molded hose storage caddy. However, the plastic hose clips seem quite flimsy. I can’t see them holding up well to the daily grind of an industrious jobsite.
Being a Craftsman product, this shop vac is definitely something you can buy with more confidence than the average cheap vacuum cleaner. Okay, it’s not a super heavy-duty industrial machine. At this price, no one can expect it to be. For a home shop or garage, I think it’s ideal. In a commercial shop or hardworking jobsite, it may be a bit of a compromise. When all is said and done, the Craftsman CMXEVBE17595 offers exceptional value for what you’re paying and has an impressive 3-year warranty.
- 4.0 peak HP motor
- 5-gallon stainless steel container
- Airflow: 85 CFM
- Rear blower port
- Swiveling casters provide ease of movement
- 10′ power cord built-in cord wrap
- Accessories include 1 ¼” x 5’ hose, two extension wands, crevice nozzle, gulper nozzle, floor brush, foam filter, cloth bag with clamp ring, and dust bag.
- Airflow: 85 CFM; weight: 11.55 pounds
With its gleaming stainless steel canister, the 5-gallon Stanley SL18115 certainly looks the part of a heavy-duty, take-no-prisoners industrial jobsite vacuum cleaner. Though, in strong contrast to the generally robust look and feel of this machine, the plastic castors appear to be quite ordinary. My overall opinion, however, is that this is a high-quality product.
For over a century, Stanely has represented the ideal of good no-nonsense value and quality. This is clearly evident in the SL18115. A great wet and dry vacuum, at a very affordable price, ready to take on whatever you throw at it.
Whilst not the most powerful shop vac, the 4 HP motor provides a perfectly acceptable 80 CFM. It is both a vacuum and blower, making it a very versatile machine, both at home and in a professional working environment.
The handle makes it easy to carry the 11½ pound vac and it also serves as a caddy for wrapping the 10’ power cord. Quite a good array of accessories are included for cleanups around the home, shop, or jobsite. It’s also very handy for cleaning your car interior.
I like the Stanley brand for its good quality at a reasonable price reputation. Along with a track record for outstanding customer service and a 1-year warranty, I think you can buy this product with complete confidence.
- Stanley shop vacuum, 4 peak MAX HP
- Vacuum: 14 kPa
- 10 ft. power cord with built-in cord wrap
- Swiveling casters provide ease of movement
- Rear blower port design
- 6-gallon poly container (injection)
- Airflow: 75 CFM
Despite the larger 6-gallon capacity, the Stanley SL1811P is cheaper than the SL18115 (reviewed above). I guess this has something to do with the more conventional injection poly canister. This a pretty robust type of plastic but is obviously cheaper than virtually indestructible stainless steel.
For the rest, it isn’t much different to its more expensive stablemate. The castors look different, and I think the Stanley SL18115 is the more robust of the two. While the bin capacity is up by a gallon to 6, the motor remains the same (4 horsepower peak). This gives the SL1811P slightly less suction power at a pretty uninspiring 75 CFM.
It has the same great handle / storage caddy design and also has a blower function. The same applies to the great array of accessories. It is a very functional vac for the home, garage, jobsite, or shop.
For affordability, the Stanley SL1811P is amazing. Not quite in the heavy-duty class, it is still a machine that can be bashed about a bit and remain working well. This is the kind of thing what we’ve come to expect from Stanley – good quality, reliability, and a great price.
- 75 Peak HP motor
- 5-gallon tank
- Vacuum and Blower
- Weight: 7.3 pounds
- 5-foot power cord
On a jobsite, I find a compact lightweight vacuum cleaner to be an invaluable cleaning companion. Sure, for most jobs you want a pretty powerful machine that can handle large volumes of dust and heavy debris. There are times when a bulky vacuum cleaner is not the best. Cleaning up dust in a crawl space is a perfect example of when the Craftsman CMXE17250 will rise to the challenge. When I’m drilling in multiple locations around the home, I like to have a vacuum cleaner with me at all times to clean up the dust as I go. This is another application where I think the plucky little Craftsman vacuum cleaner comes into its own.
At only 7.3 pounds, with a wonderfully molded handle, the Craftsman mini-vac is a delight to carry. The all-plastic housing isn’t exactly heavy-duty but for this class of vacuum cleaner, it’s quite robust. This is not a wet and dry vacuum but has a handy blower function.
Around the home, this inexpensive little vacuum cleaner will be a delight for general cleaning. It is powerful enough for the type of cleaning we do around the house. It’s also pretty great for cleaning the car as you can get in anywhere. As for a workshop or jobsite, I think this can be a great additional machine for specific tasks when a large shop vac will simply be impractical.
Because this is a pretty cheap vacuum cleaner, you shouldn’t have a problem buying it as an additional cleaning aide for your shop or on jobsite. Whilst cheap, it certainly isn’t nasty. The Craftsman brand has always embodied the principles of good quality that we all can afford.