Picture in your head, if you will, a job site or workshop that is free from dirt and debris. If this mental image resembles the “happy place” you go to when you’re stressed, I’ve got good news for you! We recently took a look at a whole slew of available wet/dry vac models for our 2018 Wet/Dry Vac Buying Guide and found quite a few models that are completely capable of making that dream a reality. Today, we’re taking a look at one of the best models we found for under $200, the DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac. This model combines a functional and powerful build with quality workmanship. If you’re looking for a quality wet/dry vac that can turn your workspace into a debris-free nirvana, well, prepare to get enlightened.
- 6.5 HP Motor: When it comes to portable shop vacuums, 6.5 horsepower is about the best we see. Of course, it’s how well the vacuum converts that power into CFM and water lift that makes the bigger difference.
- 16-Gallon Canister: 16 gallons is pretty much the top end for portable shop vacuums. There are some running around the 20-gallon range, but they’re closing in on a loose definition of “portable”, especially if you have obstacles to navigate in your workspace.
- Blower: Nearly every shop vacuum available lets you swap the hose to the exhaust port to make a blower. DeWalt is no different, just bear in mind that it’s not a replacement for a job site blower in terms of power.
- Two Large Wheels and Two 360° Casters: Like all the 16-gallon models we brought in, the 4-caster design makes way for a combination of 2 larger wheels and 2 casters. That means it can’t take corners as easily and tightly, but it’s able to roll over small obstacles like extension cords better.
- Hose Management: DeWalt does a nice job with hose management, opting for a rubberized strap to hold it down rather than some of the other methods out there. It’s not a elegant looking as the way Ridgid’s 14-gallon model is, but it’s incredibly effective.
- Cord Management: The DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum keeps cord management simple: just wrap it around the top handle. The outside tabs are a great size for holding the cord in place and a clip on the plug secures it.
- Accessory Storage: DeWalt uses a storage bag to hold onto attachments. Personally, I prefer a system where everything has its place and stays organized so I can quickly see if something is missing. On the other hand, there’s no guesswork of where each piece goes with this system.
- Drain Plug: Not all wet/dry vacs have a drain plug, but the larger capacity models typically do and DeWalt includes one.
What’s Included In The Kit?
- 2 extension wands
- Washable cartridge filter
- Floor brush
- Utility, car, crevice nozzles
- Disposable 3 filter bags
- Hose adaptor
- Accessory storage bag
Specs and Performance
When you look at the 16-gallon class of wet/dry shop vacuums, Ridgid pushes the airflow envelope claiming 208 CFM. DeWalt comes in at a seemingly tame 116 CFM. While that’s a big difference, it’s not the whole story. CFM moves light debris like sawdust, but when you want to pick up larger debris like chips, you need higher water lift.
We’re measuring based on sealed pull force and DeWalt comes in with some impressive numbers. While most of our medium and large capacity vacuums come in with 4 to 4.5 pounds of pull, the DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac pulls a massive 8.4 pounds! So while it gives up some CFM to Ridgid, nothing else we’ve tested comes close to the suction power this model offers in its class.
Build Quality On A Higher Plane
First off, the DeWalt model uses a more durable, poly material for the construction of the container. It fits snugly and securely to the motor, and while you generally don’t need to worry about leaking from any wet/dry vac, the DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac just feels solid and secure.
Actually, the fit and finish, as well as the quality of the components used are all a step up from the others. You’ll notice things like the latches snapping more securely and the wheels rolling more smoothly. That’s intentional. Alton Industries who makes these also manufacturers Stanley and Porter-Cable models. Just like Stanley Black & Decker designs their tools, these also step up from DIY to Prosumer to Pro level. The quality of the components is what makes each step better than the previous and it shows.
Ultimately, you can find a cheaper unit with a comparable motor size and capacity. However, I doubt that you’ll find one that with a significantly better build than the DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac.
Price and Value
It’s not a surprise that as you increase the quality of the components, you increase the price. At $231.49, this is one of the most expensive models in the class. But what you get for the extra $30 or so is the higher quality and power we talked about earlier. For what I’ve seen so far, that’s a premium I’m willing to pay for the extra quality.
The Bottom Line
The DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac earned the title of “Best Overall Quality” in our recent buying guide for good reason. It’s clearly a notch or two better than the other models we’ve tested. Solid performance wraps in to make the upcoming launch of this line something Pros should be anticipating with enthusiasm.
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DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac Features
- 6.5 Peak HP motor
- 16 Gallon poly container
- Airflow: 116 CFM
- Built-in tank drain makes draining easy
- Swiveling four casters provide ease of movement
- High-performance cartridge filter for wet or dry pick up
- 20′ power cord with cord wrap
DeWalt 16-Gallon Wet/Dry Vac Specs
- Model: DeWalt DXV16PA
- Motor: 6.5 HP
- Canister Size: 16-Gallon
- Hose Diameter: 2-1/2″
- Hose Length: 7′
- CFM: 116 Max
- Water Lift: 73″
- Warranty: 3 years limited
- Price: $231.49