Editor's Note: A new version of this shop vacuum is now available. Our Visit Site Button will lead you to the new product. We will evaluate, rank and review the new version when we next update the shop vacuum reviews. Meanwhile, enjoy our review of the Stihl SE 61 below.
The Stihl SE 61 is a good shop vacuum for heavy-duty household cleanups. It has competitive length, with the second-longest hose we reviewed, and performed well in our dry debris tests. This wet-dry vacuum comes with a unique cartridge filter that doesn't need to be changed when you switch from cleaning dry materials to liquids. All these factors make this one of the best shop vacuums we tested.
For all our shop vacs, we performed a series of tests using screws and mulch. We ran the vacuum over a mess of six screws and 2 ounces of mulch, including large pieces. The Stihl sucked up 100 percent of the screws and around 70 percent of the mulch in one pass. That's better than the majority of the shop vacuums. It didn't work as well for liquid cleanup, though. The Stihl sucked up 2 gallons of water in 11.88 seconds, which was the second-worst time in our rankings.
This shop vacuum was relatively quiet at about 93 dB. Its 8-foot hose was longer than those of our top-ranked vacuums, and the 16-foot power cord is only shorter than that of the Ridgid, our Gold Award winner. This means you'll have tremendous range with this vacuum, which is valuable when you're out in the yard or using the blower function. Although the filter doesn't need to be changed as often as those of other vacs, it still gets dirty quickly. You should clean it after every extended use.
One thing the Stihl lacks is a wide range of attachments. It comes standard with only an extension wand, floor nozzle and crevice tool. Most vacuums have two or more extension wands for added reach. Stihl does offer several more attachments, including car cleaning and wet suction kits, but they are sold separately. If you are willing to pay a little extra, there are 10 different tools to choose from for this vacuum.
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Another concern with the Stihl is how difficult it is to purchase. You can purchase this model online, but most areas require in-store pickup. Availability depends on location. If you need a strong blower that also includes shop vac functions, take a look at Vacmaster VBV1210.
The Stihl SE 61 is a great vacuum that does its job well. It has a small enough tank to move around without heavy lifting, and its motor is powerful without being too loud. We would have liked more attachments, though, and we weren't impressed by its wet vacuum function. However, with an extra accessory kit, this vacuum is still among the best.