The PowerSmith PAVC101 is specifically designed for cleaning warm and cool ash out of fireplaces and barbecue grills. It can generally be used like other shop vacuums, but it's less capable of cleaning up wet messes around the house. That being said, if you're looking for the best shop vac to tackle fine particles like sawdust, ash, and dust, this is a great choice. Its performance in our vacuuming tests was strong, but its 2-horsepower motor isn't the strongest we reviewed. For the price, though, this is a great dry shop vacuum.
PowerSmith PAVC101: What you need to know
Although this vacuum is mainly meant for ash, we tested it in a similar way to the other shop vacs, with a mix of screws and mulch. It did well with the screw test, vacuuming them all up, but when it came to the mulch its performance wasn't as impressive. It comes with a noise diffuser, but its motor reached a maximum volume of 96 dB in our tests, which is pretty loud.
The design is different from those of the best shop vacuums. The tank is a thin metal canister instead of strong polypropylene, which is again optimized for ash as it prevents possible fire hazards when vacuuming hot ash (although this isn't advised). However, its hose is the shortest of those we tested. It has a long power cord, reaching 16 feet, which helps make up for the short hose. The wheels are a little tricky to maneuver, and it only comes with a cloth filter, which needs to be replaced more often than other types. The filter is very effective though, and no dust escaped from the PowerSmith PAVC101 when we put it to the test.
Perhaps because it's so specialized, the PowerSmith doesn't come with a lot of extra attachments. It has an extension wand, floor nozzle, and crevice tool. All the accessories are attached to the tank but come off easily. You would not want to use this vacuum for wet cleanup, as it doesn't come with a foam filter for separating dirt from water or other liquids. The cloth filter isn't made for liquids and could cause damage to the motor if particles get through. If you need something which can handle both wet and dry, check out the Ridgid WD1450.
The PowerSmith PAVC101 is both lightweight and easy to empty. It will be perfect for anyone that has a fireplace or pellet stove, or shops which have a lot of dust and sawdust, but it's not as versatile as some shop vacuums on the market.
Should you buy the PowerSmith PAVC101?
The PowerSmith PAVC101 is a difficult shop vacuum to compare to the others in our lineup, simply because it's meant for one task. It works well for dust, ash and other small particles, but it isn't made to do much else well. For these tasks, it's a great choice, but you could buy a more versatile shop vacuum at a similar price.