My Shop Vac is wedged between my car and the garage wall. I regularly trip over the hose. Does anything make me want to curse more? (Can’t think of anything.) I haven’t broken an ankle yet. I am tired of tempting fate. It’s time to get R2D2 off the garage floor and onto the wall. I’m researching wall-mounted garage vacuum cleaners.
So what do I need know about wall-mounted garage vacuums before I buy one?
- Is the hose long enough
- Is the cord long enough? And why you probably don’t care
- Does it have wheels? And why you probably don’t care
- How do you store the hose and accessories
- Bagged or bagless
- Suck and blow or just suck?
- Where does the cord go?
- Is this a reliable brand?
- Wet/dry or just dry?
- Can you find the operator’s manual? (And a trick on making that easier)
Some garage wall-mounted vacuums are also wet vacs. Some act as blowers as well as vacuums. Some have long cords and some have short cords. The one thing a garage wall-mounted vacuum must have is a long hose. The vacuum stays put, but the hose goes everywhere you want to clean.
1. Hose Length: See Through Deceptive Vacuum Descriptions
When the vacuum is mounted on the garage wall, the hose length really matters. The vacuum is in a fixed location. Your reach is as long as the hose is long.
I’m putting it out there: the vacuum hose length is the single most important factor to consider. Some mounted vacuum descriptions talk about vacuum reach. They define “reach” as the electrical cord length plus the vacuum hose length. “The cord is 20 ft. The hose is 20 ft. This vacuum has a 40 ft. range!”
Well this math doesn’t work with wall-mounted garage vacuum cleaner. A wall-mounted vacuum cleaner with a 20 ft. hose has a 20 ft. reach. The cord length is irrelevant.
You just have to see through this before you shop for a wall mounted vacuum. When buying a wall-mounted vacuum, look at the hose length first, because everything else is secondary.
Corner-Mount or Middle-of-the-Wall Mount?
Where will you mount the vacuum cleaner? You can mount the vacuum cleaner in the middle of a garage wall, halfway between the front and the back. You can mount it in the middle of the back wall, halfway between the left and right sides. You can mount the vacuum in one of the four corners.
Consider the reach you’ll get in a typical 2-car garage with a 20 ft. vacuum hose length.
If the vacuum is mounted in the middle of the garage, a 20 ft. hose will reach the back and the doors.
If the vacuum is mounted in a back corner of the garage, a 20 ft. hose will reach the doors.
If the vacuum is mounted in the front of the garage, a 20 ft. hose will reach the back of the garage and into the driveway.
How Much Vacuum Hose Length Do You Need?
How much vacuum hose do you need to reach the other three walls? How about the ceiling and the floor?
We need two measurements to determine the minimum hose length required. First, measure from the mounting corner to the opposite corner.For this example, the distance is 28.5 ft. Now measure from the vacuum to the floor; and measure from the vacuum to the ceiling. The the larger of the two measurements. Let’s say the vacuum is 4 ft. from the floor and 5 ft. from the ceiling. So our second measurement is 5 ft. Add the first and second numbers:
28.5 ft. + 5 ft. = 33.5 ft.
Your garage vacuum minimum hose length is 33.5 ft. Only a couple of good garage vacuum cleaners have hoses that long. You can also buy more hose for your vacuum cleaner.
Deriving Corner to Corner Hose Length from the Width and Depth Measurements
If you know the width and depth of your garage, you can derive the corner to corner measurement. If you mount the vacuum cleaner in a corner, you’ll need the corner-to-corner length to determine the minimum vacuum cleaner hose length.
Don’t want to do the math? Skip to the next section, “I don’t want to do the math.”
The distance from one corner of the garage to the other is as follows:
garage width (squared) + garage depth (squared) = corner-to-corner length (squared)
This is the Pythagorean Theorem: a2 + b2 = c2
So you need two lengths to get the corner-to-corner length:
- What is the garage length? Multiply that by itself.
- What is the garage depth? Multiply that by itself.
- Now add together your two results and take the square root.
That is the distance from one corner to another of your garage. Another way to say this is, go outside and measure the garage from one corner to another.
Example of Deriving the Corner to Corner Length
Let’s say the garage width is 20 ft. And the garage depth is 30 ft. The width squared is 20 x 20, or 400. The depth squared is 30 x 30, or 900. The two combined is 400 + 900, or 1300. The square root of 1300 is (I have no idea either… calculator says): 36.05 ft. The distance from one corner to the opposite corner is 36.05 ft.
But you also want to reach the ceiling and floor with your vacuum cleaner. So find the distance from the vacuum to the floor and the vacuum to the ceiling. Take the larger of the two. Add it to your 36.05 ft. minimum length. This is how long your vacuum hose needs to be to reach the farthest corner of the garage ceiling (or floor). If the ceiling is 5 ft. from the vacuum, add 36.05 ft. and 5 ft. and you get 41.05 feet. This is the hose length from the vacuum cleaner to the opposite corner ceiling.
Only a couple of good garage vacuums have hoses this long. You can (1) get a vacuum with a long hose; (2) buy extra hose for your vacuum cleaner; (3) assume that sometimes you will want to dismount the vacuum cleaner to reach farther; (4) if (3) is true, assume you want a vacuum cleaner that is both wall-mountable and has wheels.
I Don’t Want to Do the Math
OK, go here. Google will do the math for you. Enter (a) the garage width and (b) the garage depth. The calculator will give you the garage length from one corner to another.
Can a 41.05 ft. Vacuum Hose Provide Good Cleaning Suction?
If 41.05 ft. seems like a lot of hose — it is. The longer the hose, the lower the vacuum suction will be. This is probably why there are only a couple of highly-rated garage vacuum cleaners with very long hoses.
Just understand that this is the minimum length you need. It still might not be optimal. For instance, if there are stairs on the other side, you might need another foot or two to get to all of them.
2. How Long is the Vacuum Cord? And Why the Hose Length Matters Much More
One of the vacuums I researched comes with a 20 ft. cord and a 21 ft. hose. What good does the 20 ft. cord do if the vacuum is mounted to the wall? You only get a total 41 ft. reach if the vacuum is on casters and you’re pulling it along with you. That is exactly what I do not want to do. I want a hose to follow me around. I don’t want R2D2 tripping me up. In my opinion, a long hose and a short electric cord are the way to go.
Sep. 9, 2020 Update: OK I left something out. You do care about cord length when the vacuum cleaner is on the ground. Cord length is not a factor when the vacuum cleaner is on the garage wall. When the vacuum cleaner is on the ground, the cord length does add to the total reach you have.
3. Does it Come with Wheels? And Why the Answer Should Be “Yes”
Why would you want a vacuum cleaner with wheels if you’re mounting the vacuum on the garage wall? Two reasons. (1) the thing you want to vacuum might be farther away than your hose can reach; and (2) if you use it as a wet vac, the vacuum cleaner will get too heavy for its wall mount. Even though I’m not a fan of a wheeled-vacuum nipping at my heels, there are times when the wheels will be really handy.
4. Does the Vacuum include a Wall-Mounted Accessory Bag? And a Place to Store the Hose?
Many people don’t realize that “Shop Vac” is a brand name. I bought my Shop Vac at Lowes a few years ago. It’s a halfway decent vacuum cleaner, but I’ve grown to dislike it because the accessories never stay put in their holders. I am always bending over to pick them up.
I’m researching a wall-mounted vacuum because I’m trying to clean my garage, not add to the clutter. A good wall-mounted vacuum cleaner will include solid accessory storage. A simple, portable carrying case really makes sense if you want all of your accessories in the car you’re cleaning. But, if you’re only ever going to vacuum the floor, then you don’t really care about the accessories. The bag won’t matter.
I have always found the Shop Vac hose to be one of the more annoying pieces of clutter in my garage. I really like the wall-mounted garage vacs that give you a place to store the hose and extension wands. Ideally, my next vacuum cleaner will give me places to store the accessories, the power cord and the vacuum hose.
5. Is the Vacuum Bagged or Bagless?
A vacuum cleaner bag acts as a last-stage filter. It captures dust that might blow back out of the canister. Bagless vacuums are more economical than bagged vacuums b cause you don’t need to buy new bags for them. This is not a choice you’ll have to make, though, as none of the good garage vacuum cleaners offer bags. They filter the dirt into the canister for you to empty when you’re done.
6. Does the Vacuum Blow as Well as Suck?
Have you ever blown the dust out of the garage? I enjoy pushing nature out of my garage. The vacuum blow feature is one of my favorite toys. It’s almost as much fun as running the lawn tractor, once I discovered that the tractor is just a Go-Cart with blades. Blowing out garage dust is much faster than vacuuming it. It’s definitely more fun, too.
Many wall-mounted garage vacuums allow you to switch the function from suck to blow.
The garage vacuum “blow” feature is one of my favorite toys. I put it just under “riding the lawn tractor,” which is just a Go-Cart with spinning blades.
Is the Vacuum’s Cord Retractable?
Do you plan to use the garage vacuum caster wheels? Or do you plan to leave the vacuum on the wall? I am not moving my vacuum. Once it is on the wall, it will stay on the wall. But if you’re looking for a portable wall-mounted vacuum, then you need vacuum wheels. When you move a vacuum cleaner around, you are also moving its cord around. The cord is a tripping hazard. Since it’s annoying to put away a cord, the retractable cord feature really helps tidy up the vacuum cord.
While you would consider getting a retractable cord, the fact is, most garage vacuums do not offer this feature. There are vacuum models that include wheels, but not a retractable cord. A retractable cord is not a popular feature in wall-mounted vacuums. I would rather have a stationary wall vacuum with a short cord. But for those times I make a portable vacuum out of my wall-mounted vac, I’d look for a retractable cord feature.
8. Will This Vacuum’s Parts Be Available in the Future?
As I am writing this article, Black & Decker has just agreed to buy Craftsman from Sears. I had already dismissed the Craftsman vacuum. Its cord accounts for half of its reach. I want a short cord and a long hose. Because Sears is closing, I was also worried about getting Craftsman parts down the road.
It helps to check on the health of the company making the vacuum you’re buying. This is not Saab going out of business — it’s just a vacuum. But still, you might not be able to find a filter replacement. Black & Decker bought the Craftsman line. We should expect Black & Decker to make Craftsman filter replacements.
Check the vacuum manufacturer’s status. Is it going out of business like Sears (Craftsman)? Will a buyer continue to make vacuum parts? A quick check will be cheaper than throwing away a $50-$300 machine.
9. Does the Vacuum Have a Wet Pickup Feature?
The wet pickup setting on a vacuum doesn’t turn it into a submersible pump.
Cleaning wet messes with a vacuum is much easier than throwing a bunch of towels on the floor. A wet vac becomes a necessity once you experience it. But be aware of a few important facts about cleaning up liquid with a vacuum cleaner.
- Wet vacs are not submersible pumps
- Put a wall-mounted vacuum on the floor before vacuuming liquid
- Do not use the dry filter when vacuuming liquids. Use the supplied filter for wet pickup.
You can use the wet pickup to clean winter slush or a spilled bottle. Do not use the wet pickup to clean water off a pool cover.
10. Is the Operator’s Manual Available Online? Here’s a Neat Trick to Help You Find It
Some wall-mounted garage vacuums have really short electrical cords. While your instinct will be to plug the vacuum into an extension cord, that’s not always safe. Each vacuum cleaner’s manual will instruct you on the wire size to use for your extension cord. If you need this or other vacuum manual info, you can probably find the manual online.
Look at the Craftsman 5 gallon wet/dry vacuum operator’s manual, for instance. It lists the required extension cord wire size. You must use a maximum of a 12 AWG wire* with the Craftsman 5 gallon wet/dry vacuum. *Lower AWG wire sizes are bigger and better. 12 is bigger than 14.
Here’s an easy way to find the manual online. Use the Google “filetype” search operator to narrow down results to the PDF file type. Enter the vacuum name. Then enter: filetype:pdf.
CRAFTSMAN WALL MOUNT 5 GAL. WET/DRY VACUUM filetype:pdf
Warning: Use this trick to easily find your garage vacuum’s manual. Just one word of caution. Don’t ever download a PDF from an untrusted website. Some websites will post appliance manuals to trick you into downloading bad software.
11. Some Manufacturers Forbid Extension Cords
Some manufacturers specifically forbid using an extension cord with their vacuum cleaner. This means that the electrical outlet positions in your garage now determine where you mount the vacuum.
Maybe some manufacturers got tired of people getting the gauge wrong. I don’t know why, but now there are many manufacturers who forbid extension cords. Presumably a bad cord will start a fire or harm performance. Check vacuum cord length, your garage outlet positions, and extension cord viability before buying a garage vacuum.
Garage Wall-Mounted Vacuum Cleaner Comparison
I chose three wall-mounted garage vacuums. My criteria were a price range of $100-$200, and at least 4.5 Amazon stars. Next, I checked their features against my garage vacuum requirements.
Update Sep. 9 2020: The Craftsman is no longer available
|Craftsman Wall Mount 5 Gal. Wet/Dry Vacuum 125.16825||Bissell Garage Pro Wall-Mounted Wet Dry Car Vacuum/Blower With Auto Tool Kit, 18P03||Hoover Vacuum Cleaner GUV ProGrade Garage Wall Mounted Utility Vacuum L2310|
|OPERATOR’S MANUAL||Craftsman Vacuum Manual||Bissell Manual||Guv Manual|
|ACCESSORY BAG||HANGS UNDERNEATH||HANGS UNDERNEATH||BAG|
|BAGGED OR BAGLESS||BAGLESS||BAGLESS||BAGLESS|
|HOSE LENGTH||21 FT.||32 FT.||30 FT.|
|CORD LENGTH||20 FT.||5 FT.||5 FT.|
|PARTS||BLACK & DECKER||BISSELL||HOOVER|
The Craftsman Vacuum Hose Length
Right off, I am not considering the Craftsman 5 gallon vacuum. The hose is too short. The hose is only 21 ft. long. (Update: This article represented my first research into buying a garage vacuum cleaner. I ended up choosing a vacuum with a 21 ft. hose. So the Craftsman would have had a shot. But the winner had wheels and the Craftsman did not, so it all came out the same in the end.)
I’m not taking the vacuum off the wall. The length of the electrical cord length is irrelevant.
The Bissell Vacuum Hose Length
The 32 ft. Bissell hose wins the “corner-to-corner hose reach” contest. But, the Bissell 32 ft. long hose is still too short. For instance, in a 20 ft. x 20 ft. garage, I’d need a 29 ft. long hose. In a 24 ft. x 24 ft. garage, I’d need a 34 ft. hose. But, the Bissell is a wet vac, and I like that it has a portable accessory bag. So long as I can make the hose work, this model is a contender.
The Hoover Vacuum Hose Length
The Hoover’s hose is 30 ft. long. I need a 29 ft. long hose in the 20 ft. x 20 ft. garage. The Hoover’s hose is long enough. The Hoover vacuum will work if I mount it away from the farthest corner. The Hoover’s accessory bag is portable. But, Hoover is not a wet vac. The Bissell beats the Hoover on hose length and wet vacuuming.
Which Vacuum Would I Buy?
(Update: The VacMaster VWMB5080101 (formerly VWM510).) I’ve only just started to shop. I’ve looked at three vacuums so far. The Craftsman 5 gal. wet/dry vacuum won’t work. Its hose is much too short. The Hoover Guv hose is 30 ft. long. It’s competitive with the Bissell Pro vacuum 32 ft. long hose. But the Guv is not a wet vac. So it won’t work. The Bissell Garage Pro is the current leader. The Bissell hose is 32 ft. long. It’s not long enough for a far corner mount. But a longer hose will start to lose suction. So I guess I can’t mount the Bissell in the farthest corner. The Bissell Garage Pro is a wet/dry vacuum. It comes with a portable accessory bag. I’m giving up on an extremely long garage vacuum hose. The 32 ft. hose Bissell meets the modified garage vacuum criteria. The Bissell Garage Pro is winning so far.
Choose a garage wall-mounted vacuum with a very long hose. Consider portable accessories and wet vacuum needs. I’ll post more vacuum comparisons
soon here, here and here.(links open in this site, in new browsers)