Sponsored by: RIDGID
A good wet/dry vac is really worth its weight in gold. While I won’t go so far as to say there’s nothing worse than a lackluster vacuum, if you’re trying to use one around your shop that just isn’t up to the task, then you’re fighting an uphill battle. A lot of contractors end up with shoddy vacs trying to save a little money on what they see as non-essential equipment. More often than not, this comes back to bite them. While you don’t have to pay a fortune for a good vacuum, you’re really going to hurt yourself if all you look at is the price tag.
That’s why I like the RIDGID NXT line of wet/dry vacs. It’s far from being the most expensive vacuum on the market, although if you just go looking for the cheapest vac you can find, you might pass it by. That would be a huge mistake, because you’d miss out on some amazing power (and a really great value) by just chasing a lower price tag.
Power Where You Need It
When you bust out a vacuum, you want it to have the power to get the job done. You and I both know that not all vacuums do. Weak vacuums make cleanup take longer, which slows you down, and in some cases, creates hazards until a spill is finally cleaned up. They burn out faster, too, costing you more money in the long run. Suction (and the motor that creates it) is the one place you really can’t skimp when it comes to choosing a vacuum for your company.
A lack of power certainly isn’t an issue with the NXT line. Even the smallest vacuum in the line boasts up to 3.5 peak HP under load, and each size increase brings with it an increase in peak horsepower as well. That’s how it should be for a vacuum, with the motor and airflow being designed for each specific use case and not just have a generic motor slapped onto a few different canisters. You’ve probably seen vacuums that do the latter, but the RIDGID NXT definitely doesn’t. Each model in the line has a slightly different design, maximizing airflow and putting all its horsepower to good use.
Perfect Size for the Job
A lot of people view wet/dry vacuums as a one-size-fits-all unit, in part because there usually isn’t that much choice when you’re shopping for a new vacuum. Don’t get me wrong, a big vacuum can always be used to clean up a small spill. If you have a big cleanup task, though, a little vacuum is going to struggle. When “big” and “little” make up the range of choice you usually see, a lot of contractors opt for the bigger model and then find somewhere to stick it until it’s needed.
With the NXT vacuums, this isn’t as much of an issue. Instead of having one or two primary capacities, the RIDGID NXT line comes in a few distinct sizes so you can match the vacuum with your need. There’s a 6-gallon model (which is probably better suited for home or hobby use, but could be handy for general cleanup) that’s optimized for easy storage, a 9-gallon model that balances portability with capacity, and 12- and 14-gallon models that move more into the “industrial size” range. If you work in a specialization that produces a lot of sawdust or spills, you may want to keep an eye out for the 16-gallon NXT vacuum instead; it offers 6.5 maximum peak HP and a variety of features designed to make it easier to move and empty, so it’s probably right up your alley.
Redesigned from the Ground Up
One of the most impressive things about the entire NXT line is that RIDGID went through and redesigned its approach to wet/dry vacuums. Part of this involved the line’s, as mentioned earlier; RIDGID reworked its scroll technology to reshape air as it flows through the vacuum, increasing power, lift and overall airflow volume (usually referred to as CFM, cubic feet per minute.) You’d be amazed at how much of a difference optimizing airflow can make. If you compared it to another vacuum with the same motor, you’d swear that there’s no way they both delivered the same horsepower.
This wasn’t the only upgrade RIDGID made for the NXT line, though. Everything’s been overhauled. Latches and drum keying were updated to create a better seal on your drum, handles and wheel design were adjusted to make the vacuums easier to move around, and little things like a cord wrap and hose storage were added or adjusted to make storing the vacuum easier. As an added stroke of genius, RIDGID decided to make all of the accessories lock into place instead of relying on friction. Even the hose locks onto the unit, eliminating fears of the hose popping lose if you pull on it to move the vacuum closer as you work.
Beyond Easy to Use
The RIDGID NXT vacuum line is made up of some of the easiest-to-use vacuums I’ve ever worked with. It’s obvious that the company tried to make them as user-friendly as possible and built them with working men and women in mind. From the locking accessories and the increased power to the changes made to improve portability and storage, these vacuums just work. Better yet, they work where you work, even if you’ve got big messes to clean up. You can even operate the power switch with work gloves on, something that’s a major hassle with a lot of vacuum models.
Your Next Vacuum
There are a lot of wet/dry vacuums out there to choose from, including models from some of the biggest names in shop equipment. In my eyes, though, there’s not much of a choice to make. If you want the most power and the greatest convenience in a solid wet/dry vacuum, you probably want one of the RIDGID NXT models. Everyone else is just going to be playing catch-up and trying to implement the features that RIDGID already has available.
Sponsored by: RIDGID