The PowerSmith PAVC101 is specifically designed for cleaning warm and cool ash out of fireplaces and barbecue grills. It can be used like other shop vacuums, generally, but it isn't able to clean up wet messes around the house. Its performance in our vacuuming tests was average, and its 2-horsepower motor is one of the weakest we reviewed.
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 up all six, but it only took care of about 60 percent of the mulch. It comes with a noise diffuser, but its motor reached a maximum volume of 96 dB in our tests, which is very loud. We suggest using this shop vacuum with ear protection.
The design is different from those of the best shop vacuums. The tank is a thin metal canister instead of strong polypropylene, and 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 hard to maneuver, and it only comes with a cloth filter, which needs to be replaced more often than other types.
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 more cleaning power, you might want to examine the Vacmaster VBV1210.
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 the price, you could buy another shop vacuum that can do more than just clean your fireplace.