Hand-held vs. Upright vs. Canister Shop Vacs

If you are looking for a new shop vac, but aren’t sure which one is right for you, then you’re at the right place. In this buying guide, you are going to learn all about hand-held, upright, and canister shop vacs. That way, you can determine which one is right for your needs!

Hand-held vs. Upright vs. Canister Shop Vacs

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What Is A Hand-Held Shop Vac?

A hand-held shop vac is a shop vac that can be held in your hand. If you compare a standard shop vac to that of a hand-held shop vac, the main thing you will notice is that the hand-held shop vac is significantly smaller.

While the small size can be advantageous – for one thing, it allows for greater mobility – it can also lead to a few notable disadvantages. One of the most notable disadvantages comes from the fact that hand-held shop vacs offer less power than a standard shop vac.

Hand Wet Dry vacuum

This makes it more difficult for you to remove especially large and difficult messes. The other disadvantage comes from the fact that hand-held shop vacs can’t hold as much material as larger shop vacs.

Handheld Shopvac Comparison

WorkshopWS0255VAWS0301VA
Voltage120V120V
Air Watts60 Watts164 watts
Airflow Volume22.7 CFM60 CFM
Amperage4 amps7.0 amps
BlowerN/AN/A
Capacity2.5 gal3 gal
Decibel RatingN/A79 dB
Filter TypeStandard Cartridge FilterStandard Cartridge Filter
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Regardless of those two disadvantages, hand-held shop vacs also offer several distinct advantages. One of the most distinct advantages is that of being able to vacuum in tight spaces that other shop vacs can’t vacuum in. Another is the fact that hand-held shop vacs are extremely to use, allowing you to vacuum and clean with ease.

Hand-Held Shop Vac | Recommended


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Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is An Upright Shop Vac

Just as an upright vacuum is a tall vacuum that stands upright, an upright shop vac is a tall vacuum that stands upright. But, the main difference between an upright shop vac and a standard upright vacuum is the fact that a standard upright vacuum can not remove wet material.

Upright vs. Canister vs Hand-held Shop Vacs

Making use of an upright shop vac is incredibly easy, since all you need to do is push it across your floors. By doing that, you will be able to remove the dirt, dust, and debris that’s in your path. If there is water and spills along that floor, then you can remove the liquid from those spills easily.

Upright Vacuum Comparison

EurekaNEU182BNEU181NEU188ANEU202
Weight10 lbs10 lbs11.8 lbs12.3 lbs
Dust Cup Capacity4.1 L4.1 L4.1 L3.8 L
Cord Length25 ft.25 ft.25 ft.25 ft.
Above Floor Cleaning Reach’7 ft.7 ft.8 ft.10 ft.
Cleaning Path12.6”12.6”12.6”12.6”
Pet Turbo BrushN/AYesYesYes
LED Lights & Clear Brush roll WindowN/AN/AYesYes
Automatic Cord RewindN/AN/AN/AYes
AccessoriesCrevice Tool, Dusting Brush, Upholstery ToolPet Turbo Brush, Crevice Tool, Dusting Brush, Upholstery ToolTelescopic Flexible Crevice Toolm, 2-in-1 Upholstery Tool, Pet Turbo BrushPet Turbo Brush, Crevice Tool, Dusting Brush, Upholstery Tool
Why BuyLightweight, extra-large dust cup, quick release handle for above floor cleaningLightweight, extra-large dust cup, quick release handle for above floor cleaning, solid metal handle, pet toolLED headlights for a better view under furniture, perfect for pet lovers.Automatic cord rewind, pet tool, LED headlights, transparent brushroll view
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For especially large messes – minor floods, for example – upright shop vacs can be a little more difficult to use. Most of this comes from the fact that the design of upright shop vacs makes it a challenge for them to gather up especially large amounts of material at one time.

Upright Wet Dry Vacuum

But, with that being said, most upright shop vacs have a separate nozzle that you can use for that type of vacuuming. It is not as effective as that of a standard shop vac, though.

Upright Shop Vac | Recommended


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Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

What Is A Canister Shop Vac?

A canister shop vac is a canister vacuum that offers wet/dry vacuuming capabilities. If you go to a store, or online, you will find that most shop vacs appear to be canister shop vacs, due to their canister shape. The reason for this is quite simple: canister shop vacs offer mobility and efficiency for a very low price.

Canister vs. Hand-held vs. Upright Shop Vacs

While you are using a canister shop vac, you can simply push the canister across the spaces that you are cleaning with your foot. These are relatively small and relatively light machines that are easy to navigate. Since each one is a canister, they can hold plenty of material. If you are removing especially large messes, this is extremely useful and makes it so much easier for you to get rid of large pools of water and other such things.

Canister ShopVac Comparison

VacmasterVF4081101 VOC507PFVOC809PF
Peak Horse Power5 Peak HP3 Peak HP4 Peak HP
Tank Size4 Gallon5 Gallon8 Gallon
Cord Length15 ft8 ft10 ft
Nozzle Width1-1/4"1-1/4"1-1/2"
Box ContentsCaster Assemblies, Cartridge Filter, Foam Wet Filter,HEPA Filter,Hose Storage Brackets, 7 ft. x 1-1/4 in. Secure Fit Hose, Extension Wands, 2-in-1 Utility Nozzle, Car Nozzle,Turbo Nozzle,Floor Nozzle, Operator’s Manual3*Extension wands,1*Floor nozzle, 1* Utility nozzle, 1*Resuable cloth filter, 1*Foam wet filter, 1*Hose(6 feet)1*Vacuum Cleaner, 2*Extension wands,1*Floor nozzle, 1* Utility nozzle, 1*Standard filter, 1*Foam wet filter, 1*Hose(7 feet)
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Just about every canister shop vac is exceptionally powerful and offers a tremendous amount of suction power. By having access to this suction power, the vacuuming process is so much easier than it is with other shop vacs. Along with that, canister shop vacs are quite durable, so they can withstand plenty of wear-and-tear, while also being able to vacuum up things like screws, nuts, and bolts.

Canister Wet Dry Vacuum

Since canister shop vacs are the most affordable and, generally speaking, most effective, most people buy them. But, they offer less mobility than hand-held shop vacs, and they aren’t nearly as good at cleaning regular floors and homes as an upright shop vac.

Canister Shop Vac | Recommended


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Last update on 2021-09-26 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Conclusion: Which One Should You Purchase?

In the end, each one of the shop vacs we’ve looked at is good in its own way. If you are looking for mobility, go with a hand-held shop vac. If you want to clean your home with ease, while also being able to remove wet material, go with an upright shop vac. If you just want a powerful and effective shop vac, then a canister shop vac is the best choice.


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