A vacuum cleaner is a staple in every household and workspace. Somehow, every endeavor we put our hands into always produces some form of mess.
Shop vacs are there specifically to handle tough jobs. They really can suck! And I don’t mean that in a bad way. They can suck the dust and dirt out of every shop, construction site, or commercial space.
There’s just one downside with every vacuum. It’s annoyingly noisy!
Up till today, no manufacturer has completely solved this issue. Not to worry, a few innovations here and there have made the shop vac bearable to the human ear. Here are five of the very best and quietest shop vacs in 2020:
Our Top Quiet Shop Vacs
Starting with the best on this list, the FEIN Turbo II wet dry vacuum offers powerful suction and quiet operation. This shop vac has all the rights to be our top contender.
It boasts a powerful motor with 151 CFM and 98.4″ SP while running on just 66dB noise level. This means you won’t get hearing loss while keeping your workstation clean.
With a total of 32-ft reach, you get to have a long-range hassle-free operation. Although it has a big canister, you’ll find it easy to move around your job site with its four swivel wheels. It can swiftly rotate at a 360-degree angle.
Motor Design & Material Quality:
The FEIN Turbo II is a German manufactured vacuum. Its motor has a by-pass design ensuring no dirty air from its hose can get into the motor.
The FEIN brands are also famous for their products made with high-quality materials. This ensures longevity and durability for your investment.
This unit has an auto-start option. This is especially great when vacuuming dust from power tools. This will autostart the vacuum motor to clean the chop saw, sander, and other power tools you have in use. This ensures dust doesn’t widely spread across your environment.
Storage and Accessories:
The contents of its accessory package include 2 steel extension wands, elbow, a crevice tool, dust brush, and a floor combination nozzle you can exchange for a brush or rubber squeegee.
An onboard storage and a rimmed flat-top design allow you to store your shop vac with ease.
This quiet shop vac comes with a cellulose filter and a fleece filter bag too. HEPA filters are available for extra purchase and should be added when sanding lead paint for health reasons.
When sucking up water, remove the filters. Keep in mind regular maintenance, and these should last you decades.
For this model, there is no drain plug. If you need to lift it, don’t fill it up for better mobility. You might want to look into the FEIN Turbo I. It is just as excellent as this one!
- 1100 watt motor
- 66 dB
- 98.4″ water lift
- 151 CFM
- 8.4-gallon canister
- 13-ft hose, 19-ft cord
- 1-year warranty
- Quiet operation
- Compact design
- Powerful suction
- Easy assembly
- Easy mobility
- Reasonable price
- Hose may be too stiff for some
- No drain plug
Another German-made shop vac on the list. The Festool CT 26 comes with excellent features that are sure to make cleaning a pleasurable experience.
This ultra quiet shop vac is one of the best on our list. Besides being the quietest, it functions with impeccable suction power at 137 CFM and 96″ water lift.
This unit’s motor allows variable speeds from 350 to 1200 watts. You can also change the setting from low to high, performing at a noise level of 62 dB up to 71 dB only. Who wouldn’t want happy ears while working in the garage, or at a construction site?
This one has a tank capacity of 6.9 gallons, with two large fixed rear wheels and 360-degree angle front casters, with brakes. The unit is compact and lightweight. The answer to your storage woes. For extra storage for attachments, you can buy Festool Systainers separately.
The Festool shop vacs have more than 36 ft of reach, which includes its 12-ft power cord. It’s easy to handle from the outlet to wherever you need it in the room.
The 1’1/8″ diameter hose handles dust better from saw and chips from planers. You can opt for the 2.5″ diameter as needed too. They boast an anti-static hose that is flexible and kink resistant.
What makes this a one of a kind quiet shop vac is it comes with a large 3.29sq ft HEPA system filter.
The Festool quiet shop vac also has a unique self-cleaning dust bag. It is a collapsible bag that eliminates dust cakes between cycles.
It delivers full, sustained suction force and longer bag life. This efficient filter cleaning system makes it one of the safest vacuum cleaners there is on the market.
The Festool CT 26 is equipped with an auto-start and stop tool trigger too. It goes in sync with the power tools you are currently using. It works with most tool brands so you don’t have to worry about compatibility.
The brand carries a 3-year all-inclusive service warranty. Not bad at all. Although the Festool costs more money over any vacuum cleaner on this list, no doubt it is worth every penny!
- 1200 watt motor
- 62 dB
- 96″ water lift
- 137 CFM
- 6.9-gallon canister
- 24.5-ft hose, 12-ft cord
- 2-year warranty
- Ultra quiet operation
- Convenient Carry handle
- Anti-static hose
- Easy storage
- Easy mobility
- Automatic Water level sensor
Most Budget Friendly
The Vacmaster VQ607SFD is a wet dry vacuum cleaner for those on a budget.
Design & Size:
It is small and compact. Its stainless steel made material makes it extra durable as it can resist rust and harsh weather conditions.
Filter Type & Extra Accessories:
The Vacmaster comes with many accessories you can use for whatever surface.
The package contains:
- HEPA filter
- Reusable foam sleeve
- 2 extension wands
- Air control nozzle
- 2-in-1 utility nozzle
- Multi-surface floor nozzle
- Crevice tool
You can also convert the Vacmaster to become a blower. You can use its remote control to conveniently switch it on or off.
It has a top handle that makes it really easy to transport. Its round design makes it look unique and stylish compared to other models. An onboard accessory storage and its rear base help you keep everything in one place.
For its affordable price, the Vacmaster has met a lot of people’s expectations. It is a very powerful vacuum cleaner. Although Vacmaster has not stated its exact noise levels, many positive reviews have made this shop-vac a contender.
- 12-ft power cord, 7-ft hose
- 3 Peak horsepower motor
- 6-gallon stainless steel canister
- 2-year warranty
- Easy to use
- Sleek design
- Powerful suction
- need some skills to assemble
- narrow hose
The Nilfisk is one to consider for its special Push and Clean feature. It offers a semi-automatic cartridge filter cleaning for maximum efficiency.
Material Quality & Design:
This is another one of our German-engineered quiet shop vacs. So you expect it to be made with the highest quality materials that are reliable and will last you a long time.
The Nilfisk ALTO Aero 26-21 has a flat top design. Its canister is easy to separate from the power unit for emptying. This one does not; however, have a drain plug for wet uses. It’s nothing to worry about.
It is powerful as it is quiet. This Nilfisk quiet shop vac also comes with a HEPA filter and a washable PET fleece filter bag.
The Nilfisk vacuum cleaner like most also has an auto-start receptacle for coupling with tools from most brands. It can start and stop with the use of the tools, reducing cleaning steps and the noise.
Other accessories that come with this one are:
- Tool holder
- Aluminum extension wands
- Wet dry vacuum floor nozzle
- Suction brush
- Tool adapter
- Crevice tool
- Universal utility nozzle
- Dust bag
- 1000 Watt, 13 AMP motor
- 64 dB
- 84″ water lift
- 127 CFM
- 6.6-gallon canister
- 11.5′ hose with 1.25′ diameter
- 2-year warranty
- Low noise levels
- powerful motor
- superior cleaning
- HEPA dust collection systems
- No drain plug
- hose not as versatile
The Dewalt DXV10P has a quiet dual-stage motor for longer motor life. This makes it half as loud as competitors. Although, it has not mentioned its exact decibel ratings.
Mode & Features Functionality:
It boasts a 3-in-1 function: Wet, Dry, and Blow. The Dewalt brand is popular among tools in the market. It’s no surprise it made it on this list!
The Dewalt quiet shop vac has three ultra-durable rubberized casters that allow smooth 360-degree angle swiveling for ease of movement.
This vac has a built-in blower port powerful enough to blow sawdust and debris from your workshop. It contains a drain port that could really come in handy when emptying the tank of liquids.
If you work with water often, you’ll be glad to know the power switch is waterproof!
This is one of the bigger tanked vacuums available in the market. Although it stands 23″ tall, its top handle allows most users to wrap around the cord around.
It also has a hose strap, and a built-in accessory storage bag attached to the backside of the vac to keep them all neatly organized.
This vacuum cleaner comes with two extension wands, three nozzle attachments, a foam sleeve, cartridge filter, and a dustbag.
- 10 AMP, 5.5 horsepower motor
- 90 CFM
- Built-in portable blower
- 10-gallon tank
- 20-ft power cord, 7-ft 2″ diameter hose
- 1-year warranty
- blower feature
- huge capacity
- durable motor
- easy mobility
- not HEPA equipped
Shop Vac Buying Guide
Vacuum cleaners are a must-have! Who wouldn’t want to keep their home and workspace neat and tidy at all times?
Since clean-ups are a regular thing, you might as well make vacuuming a worthwhile activity. For that to happen, we recommend buying a shopvac for longevity, worth every buck.
Before making that final decision, care to know the different types of vacuums whose functionality best suits your need? Also, pay attention to the many buying considerations.
What are the Types of Vacuums?
Shop vacs come in many configurations and materials. Consider a vacuum cleaner that meets most if not all your shop requirements.
A wet dry vacuum cleaner tackles liquid spills and dry debris. It is primarily used for heavy-duty jobs, mainly in commercial spaces.
They have long cords and wheels to better access hard to reach areas. This vacuum also comes with many attachments to cater to wet and dry surfaces.
A wall mount shop vac is more compact and storage-friendly. If you want to conserve space, this is your best pick.
This vacuum contains brackets securing the machine to the wall, off the ground. The brackets store its attachments and hoses as well.
Cordless and Portable
Also known as a handheld vacuum. If you want to do a deep cleanup in tight spaces, this would be the most user-friendly.
They are lightweight and run on limited time. A portable vacuum uses an internal or external rechargeable battery for power. Some packages may come with attachments and a spare battery.
Canister or Tank Material
A canister vacuum makes maintaining a vacuum a breeze because they are bagless. All the unwanted debris is stored in a canister either made of plastic or stainless steel. This makes it easy to clean.
The design of a canister vac allows efficient and eco-friendly disposal. All you have to do is dump everything into a trash can, then get right back to cleaning.
Considerations Before Buying a Shop Vac
Maybe you’ve seen a shop vac on sale online, or at your favorite appliance store. Hold up and don’t give in to an impulse buy! It is better to do some research and avoid the buyer’s remorse. Here’s a buying guide for you to consider:
Type of Task
It would be great if you could jot down specific tasks you will need your shop vacuum cleaner to perform.
Can you imagine the frustration of getting a vacuum that can’t do what you want it to do? Let’s not get there.
Here is a checklist of tasks a shop vac can do. Tick the necessary ones and see which vacuum meets your need:
- Cleaning Messes and Dirt (indoors and outdoors; on walls, ceilings, and floors; carpet, other fabrics, and concrete)
- Dust Collection (sawdust or plaster dust from tools; dust from floors and walls)
- Sucking up Liquids (from floods and leaks; to clean ponds or boats; to transfer liquid from point A to B)
- Sucking up Debris (wood chunks, nails, and screws)
- Blowing (leaves, dust, fur, and gravel)
- Inflating (air mattresses, rubber boats, and inflatable water toys)
You can find a blower port at the back of many vacuums. You can also connect the hose to the air discharge portal and turn the vacuum into a blower. Some models have a blower feature so you don’t need to move the hose.
You’ll find many attachment nozzles to choose from too, depending on what you will be working on. Most devices come with extension wands, basic utility nozzle, floor nozzle, wet nozzle, brush nozzle, gulper nozzle, car nozzle, and a smaller crevice tool.
If you’re using your shop vac as a blower, a special blower nozzle to direct airflow is available too.
Look for a shop vacuum with a tool holder, hooks, slots, or baskets to fit their attachments. A great storage design can make all the difference for convenience.
Shop vacs have greater suction power over your average household vacuum cleaner. This means it is more likely to produce noise. Noise levels will depend on the settings you have in use too.
A quiet shop vac will ideally be at 60 decibels to 80 decibels. That’s quite enough as to not interrupt a conversation. If it bothers you still, put on some headphones and play your favorite tunes while you vacuum!
Canister or tank size will depend on how much mess you create, and how often you work in your shop. The goal is to reduce the number of times you have to empty it.
A bigger canister would mean it could hold more. But it also means it would be much heavier, and it might be difficult to maneuver. A tank drain would aid the emptying process.
If you’re dealing with a small workshop, a car, or a boat, a small or medium tank will do. For construction sites, commercial spaces, and big woodworking shops, a large type is best.
Consider if you have enough storage space too. Weigh in these factors vacuum size influences before making your buy.
Maneuverability makes working with a shop vac much faster and easier. Most shop vacs come with side handles to help move the vacuum quickly while lifting. Wheels make it easier to bring it around to where you need cleaning too.
Lightweight model shop vacs are easier to maneuver. They are also quieter but have weaker motors.
Power and Capacity
Horsepower measures the greatest power of the vacuum cleaner’s motors. The higher the power, the higher its possible suction capacity. But it is not the sole ideal sign of performance quality.
Cubic Feet per Minute (CFM) is the volume of air the vacuum will suck up in a minute. The higher the CFM, the better and faster its suction force. You’ll want to focus on this consideration especially for vacuuming finer particles.
Sealed Pressure (SP) also known as a water lift. This measurement bases on how high the shop vacuum will lift a column of water in a tube.
SP is the best indicator of suction power. A rating of 75′ or higher is ideal, especially for construction sites and woodworking shops.
Shop vacs tend to have a longer cord than a regular vacuum’s because you’ll most likely be working in a bigger area. It would take so much effort to keep transferring plugs if your cord can’t reach farther distances.
Its cord can be as long as 15 feet. Some cords are even retractable and easily bendable for convenience. Retractability gives it its efficient cord storage system.
Hose Length and Diameter
Hose length and diameter greatly affect suction. Go for 2.5″ for large shops and regular clean-ups; 1.5″ for medium size debris; or 1.25 inches for finer debris, or for cleaning smaller areas like rooms and cars.
Durability and Warranty
The materials used to make the vacuum cleaners, and its attachments define its durability. Those made of steel will last longer and resist harsher weather conditions.
But these are also heavier and possibly cause more dents and scratches.
Plastic or rubber made parts are lighter and come in a variety of colors. These are great options too.
Warranty is a good bonus. It’s different for every manufacturer. Always read the fine prints and check the coverage. Most exclude parts that easily wear out, including attachments.
Do Shop Vacs Have Filters?
Yes, they do! You can basically suction dust and debris with a standard cartridge filter that often comes along with every shop vac.
You can suction wet spills with an extra foam sleeve filter. Remember to change the filter when you shift to vacuuming dry debris.
Some models have the HEPA filter over the exhaust. These filters trap harmful particles that otherwise end up floating around the area.
Some units have a filter bag or a dust bag to collect debris and make emptying easier to do.
If you need filter replacements or new bags, most manufacturers offer these for sale.
Why is My Shop Vac So Loud?
Shop vacs as compared to regular vacuum cleaners have stronger suction power. Power is derived from its electric motor, which spins fans to create a low-pressure space inside the canister.
All these moving parts create the noise. Theoretically, the more powerful the vac, the higher the noise level.
Some vacs use AC motors which are cheaply built and create more noise. Noise mainly comes from the vibrations and high-frequency sound from the turbines working to create the suction.
A broken fan, a broken brush bearing, a clogged hose, a dirty filter, or a full bag may also be the cause of some noise.
Make sure to check these out. Broken parts may need a visit to a repair shop. Noise can be a sign that something is wrong. Better be safe than sorry!
Our Top Choice
No doubt, these quiet shop vacs are your cleaning saviors for your workshop, garage, construction site, or commercial space.
With its excellent features, attachments, and powerful operation, while keeping noise at the least, investing in a shop vac is worth every penny.
If you’re already eager to make that final buy, our evaluation has crowned the FEIN Turbo II as the best among the best. It has all the positive qualities you would look for in every shop vac.
Every shop vac we noted is worth considering. We hope our recommendations and purchase guide has greatly helped you make your pick.
Additionally, if you need a vacuum cleaner that’s more compact than a shop vac, then you should also check out our Best Quiet Vacuum Cleaners article for options.