Tool Test: Compact Utility Vacs
A pro contractor puts four 4- to 5-gallon vacuums models to the test
Small 4- to 5-gallon vacuums are easy to carry and store, but they still have the power to suck up spills, sawdust, and car-floor debris. Contractor Dave Andrews put these four wheel-less models to the test in his own house, now undergoing a gritty gut renovation. Here's how they stacked up.
Dave Andrews, owner of Andrews Custom Building, in Fairfield, Connecticut, has 25 years' experience as a carpenter.
Highlight: Includes two 20-inch extension wands for hard-to- reach areas.
My two cents: "The boxy design allows for convenient storage of all accessories. The extension wands allow you to vacuum standing up."
Tool stats: 15½ pounds, 4½-gallon capacity; 5-horsepower motor generates 187 air-watts* (the measure of a vac's sucking power) and 90 dB. Includes 20-foot cord, filter, 7-foot hose, five attachments, lifetime warranty; ridgid.com
*Measured at the end of the hose; air watts of the other three vacs are measured at the motor
Highlight: Power switch is located on the business end of the hose; has the quietest motor.
My two cents: "While the wall-mount held securely, it was tricky to remove the vacuum."
Tool stats: 23½ pounds, 5-gallon capacity; 5-horsepower motor generates 320 air-watts and 78 dB. Includes 20-foot cord, wall bracket, 21-foot hose, noise diffuser, eight attachments, two-year warranty; vacmaster.com
Highlight: Includes a HEPA filter to capture fine particles of dust.
My two cents: "Great suction; the best at picking up dust and chunkier stuff like nails, but its small-diameter hose clogged the most often."
Tool stats: 18 pounds, 4-gallon capacity; 5-horsepower motor generates 220 air-watts and 86 dB. Includes 20-foot cord, 7-foot hose, noise diffuser, three attachments, five-year warranty; jcwhitney.com
Highlight: Disposable vacuum bag keeps the dust contained when emptying the unit.
My two cents: "Solid performer with a hose that locks onto the tank."
Tool stats: 20 pounds, 5-gallon capacity; 5½-horsepower motor generates 345 air-watts and 82 dB. Includes 20-foot cord, wall bracket, filter and filter bag, 7-foot hose, two attachments, five-year warranty; shopvac.com