Best Ash Vacuums

Updated July 2019
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

48 Models Considered
9 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
257 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best ash vacuums

Last Updated July 2019

If you love to cook on the grill, or you enjoy the comfort of a wood stove or fireplace on a cold winter’s night, you know that dealing with the resulting ash can be a pain. This is where a high-quality ash vacuum can help.

An ash vacuum can remove all the ash from your grill or woodstove in a safe and efficient way. While some of these vacuums also double as wet or shop vacuums, they really shine when it comes to disposing of fine or coarse ashes safely and efficiently.

We created this guide to highlight the features and issues that you will need to consider when shopping for an ash vacuum. We also let you know how much you can expect to pay and offer up our own recommendations for some of the best ash vacuums on the market.

While ash vacuums are designed to be as fire resistant as possible, it’s still advised that you only use your machine to vacuum warm – or preferably cold – ashes.

Key considerations

Ash vacuum vs. shop vacuum

It probably helps to clear up some terminology before we wade into the features of ash vacuums. An ash vacuum can also double as a shop vacuum, but a shop vacuum may be missing some elements that make ash vacuums unique.

Ash vacuum: This tool is built specifically to handle ashes from your grill or fireplace. As such, it may feature design elements such as metallic housings, reinforced hoses, and metal attachments that better handle ashes. Ash vacuums also stand out for their more robust filtering, which is necessary when dealing with the fine ash produced by wood fires.

Shop vacuum: This vacuum typically doesn’t offer the same level of fire resistance or filtering that you find in an ash vacuum. While you can use a shop vacuum to clean out a wood stove, it generally isn’t advisable.

Powerful and versatile

This ash vacuum from one of the leaders in the field features a large five-gallon capacity and a powerful 4.5 peak horsepower motor for extremely strong suction. It ships with a wide variety of accessories and is one of the lowest-priced and best wet/dry vacuums on the market.

Size

You want an ash vacuum with a large enough tank that you can use it several times without having to empty it but not so large that it’s difficult to use or store. Consider how large an ash vacuum you really need and shop accordingly.

EXPERT TIP

A more powerful motor usually results in more powerful vacuum performance, but it can also be louder to operate.


Staff  | BestReviews

Ash vacuum features

Tank: Most ash vacuums have a metal tank to protect against the possibility of fire caused by hot ashes, but some lower-end models are made of a  fire-resistant plastic. If you go with a plastic model, you should be sure that it at least has a metal lining inside the tank.

Power: Power equals suction, so you should look for a vacuum with a decent-size motor that will provide effective suction – 10 amps is at the high end here. While you want a powerful vacuum, you don’t want one with a motor that’s so loud that you need ear protection when using it! Some larger motors do an effective job of providing power without excess noise. Check the online reviews of specific models to find any noise problems.

Cord: Cord lengths vary considerably from model to model. You should buy an ash vacuum with a longer cord because this will give you more flexibility in how and where you can use it. While retractable cords aren’t common on ash vacuums, there should be some other easy way to store the cord when the vacuum isn’t in use.

Hose: The hose should also be made of metal or other fire-resistant material. And the hose should be long enough that it can easily reach where you need to use the vacuum but not so long that it’s difficult to store. That said, if you have the option, go with a longer hose.

Filter: Filtration is an important aspect of ash vacuums. The fine ash created by burning charcoal or wood can be a health hazard if inhaled, so it’s important that the vacuum not release these particles into the air. Some of the best ash vacuums use a double- or even triple-filtration system that includes a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter for capturing ultra-fine particles. Filters constructed from a fire-resistant material (such as fiberglass) are a plus here. Filters that can be washed will limit the number of replacement filters you’ll need to purchase in the future.

Handles: Handles are standard on most ash vacuums, making it easier to carry your vacuum to where you need to use it.

Wheels: Some ash vacuums roll on wheels or casters, a real plus when the vacuum is full.

Attachments and accessories: Many ash vacuums, particularly if they can also be used as shop vacuums, come with attachments. Some standard accessories and attachments include brushes, crevice tool, upholstery brush, extension wand, extra filters, and a drawstring bag for storage.

The operating sound range for ash vacuums is generally 79 to 90 decibels.

Ash vacuum prices

While some ash vacuums cost more than $100, most of them can be found for less, sometimes under $40. At the higher price point, expect to find more power, more capacity, longer reach, and a more specialized collection of accessories and features. Warranties vary, too. While most are around two years, some manufacturers offer up to a ten-year limited warranty.

EXPERT TIP

An ash vacuum with a dual- or triple-filtration system is designed to handle all grades of dust, from coarse to fine.


Staff  | BestReviews

Tips

  • Suit the vacuum to the use. If you’re buying an ash vacuum to clean a pellet stove, look for one that ships with a specialized kit for pellet stoves.
  • Look for fireproof attachments. Take special care that the nozzle, crevice tool, and other cleaning attachments are constructed from metal or fireproof plastic. These vacuum elements have direct contact with hot ashes and other warm stove or grill elements.
  • Look for safety features. A thermal cutoff will shut the vacuum down if it starts to overheat, extending the life of the motor. An ash vacuum with a built-in safety stop switch will prevent the vacuum from operating when the filter isn’t installed or fitted properly. This will minimize the possibility that you’ll fill the air with ash.
  • Look for helpful features. An external agitator rod allows you to quickly clear filter blockages without having to open the vacuum. An LED “full” indicator lets you know when the vacuum is ready to be emptied.
  • Check if the ash vacuum ships fully assembled. We’ve run across issues with some that ship as “assembly required.”

Compact and lightweight

If your ash-removal needs are minimal, this ArmorAll vacuum should fit the bill for a budget-friendly price. While you’ll need to take extra care with the polypropylene housing, this option offers portability in an easy-to-clean design.

Other products we considered

For a niche category, ash vacuums are well represented by a number of high-quality options, and there were a couple more that caught our eye that we wanted to share. The first is the Shop-Vac Ash Vacuum, which features a five-gallon stainless steel housing, wire-wound hose, and a variety of accessories, including a pellet stove kit. We also really like the Love-Less Ash Cougar Ash Vacuum. While it costs more than some other models to buy, it stands out as a powerful and attractive option that offers a choice of colors and a full ten-year warranty.

Look for an ash vacuum with a retractable cord to minimize onboard clutter.

FAQ

Q. Can I use my regular vacuum cleaner to clean up ash?
A.
No. Having a dedicated ash vacuum on hand to clean out wood stoves and grills is actually important for a couple of reasons. Ash vacuums are designed to withstand warm ashes and the occasional live ember and your traditional vacuum is not. Regular vacuums also don’t have the filtering capabilities necessary to handle the fine ash produced by charcoal and wood fires. This fine ash not only clogs up and destroys traditional vacuum motors but also could be a health hazard if not filtered properly.

Q. How often should I clean my ash vacuum?
A.
In addition to the light filter cleaning that you should do whenever you use your ash vacuum, you should also give the vacuum a periodic deep cleaning. Check the documentation for recommendations for your specific model.

Q. What length hose should I buy?
A.
You should try to go with the longest hose you can find. While it may be more of a pain to store, a longer hose will give you access to all the nooks and crannies of your grill or wood stove without needing to park your ash vacuum at weird angles to clean it.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Enid
    Enid
    Editor
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Rich
    Rich
    Writer

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