5 Most Powerful Shop Vacs (Strongest and Highest CFM)

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Short on time? These are two shop vacs with the strongest and highest CFM:

Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Ridgid WD1450 14 Gallon Shop Vac

190 CFM

165 CFM

A shop vac is an essential tool in any household. More powerful and versatile than your average vacuum cleaner, a shop vac can clean up messes in the house, the garage, and the mid-renovation bathroom. Whether it’s nails and sawdust, cat litter, or a basement flood, a shop vac can save you time and money in a pinch. 

However, which shop vac is the most powerful?

Boasting the highest CFM of 190, the Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum is by far, the strongest shop vacuum on the market. With a twenty-gallon bucket, this shop vac isn’t messing around. You don’t have to empty it unless you’re pulling up a lot of water, and it will last a while.

If you are looking for a wet/dry vacuum cleaner, the first tool you should examine is a shop vac. The more powerful they are, the more they will clean without breaking down or needing emptying. 

Here are the five most powerful shop vacuum cleaners commercially available for you to purchase. Whether you need it for a basement flooding issue, a renovation project, or to have it in case of emergency, one of these powerful vacuum cleaners will help you with all your cleaning needs. 

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What is CFM? 

If we're discussing CFM differences in shop vacs, you need to know what CFM means. CFM stands for cubic feet per minute. In terms of an air compressor or shop vac, it’s basically a measurement of how many cubic feet of air the machine can pull in over one minute. 

It’s not just about how much air a vacuum can pull in. The higher the CFM, the stronger the pull of the vacuum is. A shop vac with a higher CFM is more likely to suck in more substantial and heavy messes, such as liquids or large pieces of debris and trash.

Of course, the higher the CFM, the more powerful a shop vac is. If your regular vacuum can only pull in a few cubic feet per minute, it’s not working very well. A shop vac is the same way and should be working well. Here are the highest CFM shop vacs available on the market today. 

The Five Most Powerful Shop Vacs

Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Ridgid WD1450 14 Gallon Shop Vac

Vacmaster - Beast Professional Series

Stanley 10 Gallon Shop Vac

DeWalt DXV06P 6 Gallon Shop Vac

190 CFM

165 CFM

123 CFM

100 CFM

80 CFM

This is a list of the five most powerful shop vacs available. We will go into detail on each one, but we’re going to assume that you are looking for power before size, portability, or price. If you want a shop vac that can clean up the biggest messes, look at this list and decide which is best for you. 

1. Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum With Attachments

Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

190 CFM

The first item on this list is the Craftsman 20 gallon shop vac. It is one of the most popular outdoor shop vacs on the market, and peaks at a CFM of 190. IT has a leaf blower option that reverses the airflow, so you can blow air out instead. There’s a built-in drain and a carrying handle. 

With a twenty-gallon bucket, this shop vac isn’t messing around. You don’t have to empty it unless you’re pulling up a lot of water, and it will last a while. There are several options for sizes and power, but the 20-gallon size is the perfectly-sized machine for most household and construction uses. 

Reviewers are nothing but positive about the power and versatility of this shop vac. It is powerful and works on the hardiest of messes but is a relatively quiet machine. It stores and rolls easily and doesn’t tip over (which is a blessing in a shop vac). 

If you want to clean wet messes, you will have to change the filter in the shop vac. It’s easy to do, and many people choose to keep the wet filter in all the time or take the filter out altogether. Craftsman’s 20 Gallon shop vac is one of the most powerful shop vacs on the market and is an excellent choice for outdoor or indoor.

2. Ridgid WD1450 14 Gallon Shop Vac

Ridgid WD1450 14 Gallon Shop Vac

165 CFM

For sheer power, it’s hard to beat the Ridgid 14 gallon shop vac. With about 165 CFM, the Ridgid shop vac can suck up some huge messes. It’s not quite as big as the Craftsman 16 gallon, but the small size makes it easier to maneuver and store. 

The Ridgid has a wet, dry, and blowing feature, so it’s versatile enough to belong in the garage or the house. With a filter change, it will work on any material but does particularly well on wet, watery messes. If your basement floods, the Ridgid WD1450 is well-suited to help you out of that emergency. 

One of the more unique things about the Ridgid is how quiet it is. For a commercial vacuum cleaner, it is remarkably silent when it runs. You can hear it going, of course, but the machine isn’t nearly as loud as many of the others on this list. The noise reduction technology that the Ridgid uses is a big part of this. 

This shop vac also comes with several accessories, from a utility nozzle to a water nozzle. You can switch out the nozzles as you need to, but it’s also possible to use the shop vacs without nozzles. For larger chunks or nails and wood pieces, it’s best to avoid using nozzles and go straight for the hose. 

3. VacMaster Beast 14 Gallon

Vacmaster - Beast Professional Series

123 CFM

If you want the most professional shop vac out there, check out the Vacmaster Beast. It’s as powerful as it is shiny and looks the part of a professional shop vac. With 123 CFM and a fourteen-gallon tank, you’ll clean up large messes with no problem with this beast of a machine. 

The VacMaster Beast has 27 feet of cleaning range, with a 20-foot cable and a seven-foot hose. The large bucket can hold wet or dry messes of any kind and doesn’t need to be emptied very often because of its size. 

This shop vac is a commercial-grade vacuum cleaner, used for hotels and company cleaners. It’s great for large or small cleanups. Although this cleaner isn’t quite as commonly seen in workshop situations, it can work for cleaning up nails and wood chips. 

Although this shop vac is one of the more expensive ones on the list, it’s also one of the best. For commercial or industrial cleaning, you can’t beat the power and size of the VacMaster Beast. 

4. Stanley 10 Gallon Shop Vac

Stanley 10 Gallon Shop Vac

100 CFM

The Stanley 10 gallon shop vac is a perfect fit for buyers looking for a large, cheap option. It is just as powerful as the other large shop vacs on the list but is less than $100. If you need a large shop vac on a smaller budget, this shop vac works well. 

It’s not as powerful as the larger shop vacs, with only 100 CFM. However, this is still much stronger than many other small shop vacs, and it holds up to 10 gallons of liquids. The full turning radius of the wheels enables easy moving, and the large hose can suck up wet or dry messes. 

This shop vac is black plastic. The stainless steel version is more expensive and only works marginally better. However, if you prefer a stainless steel bucket for smoother and easier cleaning, you can consider the Stanley stainless steel option. 

This shop vac was made for indoor use. While it will work in a shop or with housing materials, it's best suited for carpet and indoor messes. If your child spills applesauce, your cats drag litter everywhere, or your fridge leaks throughout the house, the Stanley shop vac is the best option for you. 

5. DeWalt DXV06P 6 Gallon Shop Vac

DeWalt DXV06P 6 Gallon Shop Vac

80 CFM

If you want a powerful shop vac but are trying to save money, you probably need to look for a smaller machine. The DeWalt 6 gallon shop vac is just that–a powerful engine in a small container. It is much cheaper than any of the other vacuums on this list and great for workers on a budget. 

At 80 CFM, this is a smaller, less powerful shop vac. However, it works just as well as the others, just on a smaller scale. You can do everything from cleaning up liquids to blowing leaves off your driveway with this machine–it just comes in a smaller package. 

DeWalt is a household name in tools and electronics, and not just because they have been around for years. The company is excellent at creating hardworking and durable products, and the shop vac is no exception. Customers appreciate its ease of use and storage, especially because of its small size. 

Like many of the options on this list, the DeWalt comes in a family of shop vacuum cleaners, so you can pick the one that best suits your needs. The six-gallon is the cheapest, but you can also buy a 12-gallon version. If you want a shop vac that is small but mighty, this DeWalt is an excellent choice for a great price. 

What’s the Difference Between a Shop Vac and a Regular Vacuum Cleaner? 

A regular vacuum cleaner was made for small household messes, like cracker crumbs or daily cleanings. A shop vac, on the other hand, was created to clean up more catastrophic messes. Overall, shop vacs are more powerful than regular vacuum cleaners. 

The biggest difference between a shop vac and a regular vacuum cleaner is that a shop vac is equipped with a bucket, so it can suck up wet and dry materials. If you spill water, you shouldn’t use your vacuum to clean it up. However, a shop vac is capable of cleaning spills of all kinds. 

Shop vacs are also much more powerful than regular vacuums. They were created with the workshop in mind and can suck up nails, sawdust, and other sharp objects that vacuums can’t. The hoses and pipes are sturdier than a normal vacuum cleaner, so sharp trash won’t puncture the sides or get caught in the filters. 

Essentially, vacuum cleaners use less energy and are less expensive. They clean smaller messes and are good for more household tasks and daily cleaning. However, when there’s a big mess, a wet mess, or an especially stinky mess, it’s better to use a shop vac for strength and completion. 

Things to Look for When Purchasing a Shop Vac

When you are purchasing a shop vac, there are more things to look at than pure power. Factors include price, size, and portability. Stronger is not always better, as requirements can vary depending on your needs. 

The first factor to consider is what you will be using the shop vac for. For construction workers or a remodeling family, a larger, stronger shop vac might be a good idea.

If your house tends to flood and you want a backup plan, get a higher power vacuum cleaner. However, for smaller emergencies, you might only need a small machine. 

Of course, it’s essential to look at the price of a shop vac. If a cheaper one works just as well, you might as well buy that one. The ideal cost is up to you - set a price range and use it to choose your ideal shop vac. 

Power is important, but ease of use is also vital. If you have the most powerful shop vac available but it doesn’t fit in your closet or work well in your house, you probably would do better with a portable cleaner. 

Size and portability are important! Unless you plan on keeping your shop vac in the same place, you should think about how easy it is to carry and empty. Since the machine will not be moving that often, a permanent shop vac can be as big or powerful as you need it to be.

Once you’ve answered all of these questions, you can narrow down your search for the perfect shop vacuum cleaner. It’s an investment, but an invaluable tool that will help you and your family stay safe and clean. The shop vac is more than just a vacuum cleaner–it becomes a part of your cleaning routine. 

Final Thoughts

Craftsman 20 Gallon Wet/Dry Vacuum

Ridgid WD1450 14 Gallon Shop Vac

Vacmaster - Beast Professional Series

Stanley 10 Gallon Shop Vac

DeWalt DXV06P 6 Gallon Shop Vac

190 CFM

165 CFM

123 CFM

100 CFM

80 CFM

Whichever shop vac you decide to buy, make sure it’s the right one for your needs. Whether you are looking for the most powerful vacuum cleaner available or a cheaper, more portable one, you will find something to clean up your wet and dry messes and help in any household emergencies.

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