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One Gallon Shop Vac Powerful, Awkward

Reviewing: Shop Vac One Gallon Canister Vacuum  |  Rating:
Joan Young By Joan Young on
Badge: Editor | Level: 34 | Other Home & Garden Expertise:
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This small shop vac provides much more power for small cleanups than handheld vacuums, but it is essentially a shop vacuum. As such, it is dirty to deal with and not very ergonomically handy.

A friend of mine bought one of these when we were cleaning a rental house, and it was so great that I went out and bought one for myself. This was about five years ago.

We’ve had several of the small hand-held vacuums that you can grab for small spills. They are handy, but I haven’t had one yet that actually would pick up any real mess. This one will pick up the mess, but it’s not too handy!

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a baby sized shop vacuum. This little baby has a 1 HP motor, which gives it real sucking power. It can be used wet or dry, although I’ve never used it for anything wet. (You can’t just switch off indiscriminately.) It has a canister- in this case one gallon- and the motor is housed on top of the canister. There is a cylinder below the motor that extends into the canister, and that is covered with a filter. When you need to empty the canister you just snap off the lid, and there is the whole mess, which has to be dumped into a bag. If you do this inside you will just spread the mess around again. Get a plastic bag and take it outside. The hose just fits into a cut in the side of the top. Although it’s shaped so that it only fits one way, it usually falls out when you empty the canister, and then you have to fit it back in.

The filter will need to be replaced every so often. And if you accidentally punch a finger through the filter when you are emptying it you will need one immediately!

As you can see from the first picture, the hose that came with the cleaner is pretty short. The white wand and the blue brush end actually are from older vacuums. The accessories that come with this vacuum are a narrow crevice nozzle and a flared tool with no brush in it. Since it’s a shop vac, that’s not surprising, but it’s not great for the way we use the vacuum. Thus we switch out tools from former vacuum lives.

The cord is way too short. It’s virtually impossible to use this without an extension cord.

The vacuum is easy to pick up by the indented area above the switch. I see that the newer version of this cleaner has a handle that sticks out from the top. I think that probably makes the unit even more unstable. This is its second problem. The whole thing is top heavy, and it falls over really easy while you are using it. When it falls over it loses suction completely. The only way to solve this is turn the unit off, set it upright again and then turn it back on. I usually just carry the canister in one hand and vacuum with the other.

I see that the price for this has actually come down to under $25- so it’s an even better value than when I bought it.


good suction


easy to carry around the house


short cord

short hose


messy to empty

small tool selection

The bottom line for me is that it will actually pick up pet hair and serious messes, and it is easy to carry around. For small cleanups in a mini-home shop I would give it an even higher rating.