Best Shop Vacuums For Pellet Grills

Best Shop Vacuums For Pellet Grills

Pellet grills are probably the easiest way to grill, smoke, and cook food. You don’t need to be a pitmaster to prepare tasty meals on a pellet grill – just turn it on, fill the hopper, throw some food on the grill and wait.

Although pellet grills are user-friendly, they still have to be cleaned just like every other type of grill.

By maintaining and cleaning your pellet grill regularly, you will ensure that the pellet grill works correctly and has better airflow. A properly functioning pellet grill will lead to tastier food and a longer lifespan for your pellet grill.

One of the most important aspects of maintaining and cleaning a pellet grill is vacuuming the ash that accumulates in the firepot after every 2 to 3 sessions.

The amount of the accumulated ash might change depending on the type and quantity of the food you barbecue, but you should clean and vacuum the leftover ash after every 2-3 cooks at most. 

Checkout this step-by-step photo guide on how to quickly and easily clean a pellet grill that includes vacuuming out the ash from the firepot.

If the firepot accumulates too much ash then the pellet grill may shut down mid-smoke which can ruin the meat. So make sure to periodically vacuum out the firepot.

Here are the top 5 shop vacuums for cleaning pellet grills:

Best Overall: Craftsman 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac

Runner Up, Best Overall: RIDGID 12 Gallon 5.0-Peak HP NXT Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Third Place, Best Overall: DeWalt 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

Best Budget: Bucket Head 5 Gallon 1.75-Peak HP Wet Dry Vac

Runner Up, Best Budget: WORKSHOP, 2.5 Gallon, 1.75 Peak Hp Portable Vacuum

What to look for when buying a shop vac?

There are a lot of options when it comes to shop vacuums so here are some criteria that will help you decide which shop vac is best for your needs. Some important criteria are:

  • Power (motor hp)
  • Capacity (gallons)
  • Filter (ease and cost to change)
  • Durability
  • Price

Let’s cover the top 5 shop vacuums for cleaning pellet grills and the specs of each one.

Best Overall: Craftsman 16 Gallon 6.5 Peak HP Wet/Dry Vac

Weight: 26 pounds

Dimensions: 21.03 x 23.8 x 26.7 inches

Tank Size: 16 gallons

Power: 6.5 hp


  • Powerful motor
  • Great capacity
  • Heavy-duty


  • Very heavy

Craftman’s wet/dry vac is one of the best shop vacs for tackling any heavy-duty cleaning job because it has a strong motor, big capacity, and lots of cleaning tools.

The vacuum’s sucking power (6.5 peak HP) will ensure that any debris will be picked up by this vacuum. Not to mention the 16-gallon capacity means this vacuum can suck in a lot of debris before needing to be emptied.

For these reasons the Craftman’s shop vac is the best overall vacuum on the market for pellet grills, garages, and any outdoor or workspace cleaning. Not to mention this vacuum comes with a 2-1/2” x 7′ locking hose, dust collection bag, standard filter, two extension wands, wet nozzle, utility nozzle, and car nozzle.

Runner Up, Best Overall: RIDGID 12 Gallon 5.0-Peak HP NXT Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum

Weight: 16.5 pounds

Dimensions:  24 x 18 x 17.5 inches

Tank Size: 12 gallons

Power: 5 hp


  • RIDGID lifetime warranty
  • Easily mountable and removable accessories with locking connections


  • Bulky hose

Due to the RIDGID’s powerful motor (5 hp) and large capacity (12 gallons), the high-performance vac is a great choice for cleaning pellet grills.

Besides the vacuum itself, this bundle includes a 2-1/2” x 7′ Tug-A-Long positive locking hose with Dual-Flex, everyday filter, two locking extension wands, locking wet nozzle, locking utility nozzle, locking car nozzle. It also comes with the RIDGID lifetime warranty against material defects and workmanship.

Third Place, Best Overall: DeWalt 6 Gallon Poly Wet/Dry Vac

Weight: 14.77 pounds

Dimensions: 15.5 x 19.5 x 16.5 inches

Tank Size: 6 gallons

Power: 4 hp


  • Solid build quality
  • Easier to move


  • Relatively small tank size

Compared to the previous two shop vacs, DeWalt’s wet/dry vac comes with a smaller capacity (6 gallons), but its 4 peak hp motor provides enough suction power, which makes it one of the best vacuums for cleaning pellet grills.

While less powerful and smaller than RIDGIDS’ and Craftman’s vacs, this DeWalt shop vac’s build quality and durability are superior to them. It also features lots of accessories such as a washable cartridge filter, extension wands(x2), disposable filter bag, crevice nozzle, standard air hose, utility nozzle, and accessory mesh bag.

Thanks to its swiveling casters and longer power cord (10 ft.), this portable vacuum will enable you to move easily in any direction while cleaning your grill.

Budget Options

If you’re looking for a less expensive shop vacuum then you’re in luck because there are a couple of great options out there.

However, you should know that the filter on the budget shop vacs usually gets dirtier faster, which means it will need more cleaning/changing than the more expensive shop vacs’ filter.

Not to mention the capacity and horsepower will usually be smaller than the more premium option. However, these shop vacuums will get the job done and clean a pellet grill thoroughly so they are great beginner options.

Best Budget: Bucket Head 5 Gallon 1.75-Peak HP Wet Dry Vac

Weight: 1.52 pounds

Dimensions: 12.36 x 12.05 x 11.81 inches

Tank Size: 5 gallons (based on bucket size)

 Power: 1.75 hp


  • Portable
  • Lightweight


  • Short hose
  • Sells without 5 gal. bucket

If you’re searching for a budget shop vac that you plan on using exclusively for ash and gunk cleanup then it’s hard to find a better option than Bucket Head’s wet/dry vacuum as it’s the best bang for buck shop vac on the market.

Buckethead is unique where it comes with a powerhead motor, filter bag, and hose while the 5-gallon bucket is sold separately. Although both the cord’s (6 ft.) and the hose’s (4 ft.) shorter length will require the vac to be closer while cleaning, this shop vac will get the job done and is the best budget option.

A nice benefit to being able to mount the Buckethead to any 5-gallon bucket is that if the bucket gets too dirty with gunk then the powerhead can simply be placed on a brand new clean bucket.

Runner Up, Best Budget: WORKSHOP, 2.5 Gallon, 1.75 Peak Hp Portable Vacuum

Weight: 7.83 pounds

 Dimensions: 15 x 14 x 11.5 inches

Tank Size: 2.5 gallons

Power: 1.75 hp


  • Easy to handle and use


  • Short hose
  • Small tank size

Another popular budget choice is Workshop’s 2.5 Gal. 1.75-Peak HP Compact Wet/Dry Shop Vacuum. Its equipment includes a filter bag, 4′ hose, and two types of nozzles which will help you reach different places in the pellet grill’s firepot and from different angles.

If you’re after something small, easy to handle, and inexpensive then Workshop’s shop vac is the way to go.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can you use a regular vacuum for cleaning the pellet grill?

A: Regular vacuums should not be used to clean pellet grills. A regular household vacuum cannot vacuum any liquids and is also not intended to vacuum up wood ash that may still be hot. Improper use of a household vacuum may cause damage to the motor, hose, and vacuum bag.

Q: Do you have to clean ashes from a pellet grill?

A: Ash must be cleaned out of a pellet grill’s firepot periodically otherwise the pellet grill will not ignite or shut down mid-smoke. Once the firepot accumulates too much ash, the fire will be smothered which will cause the temperature to drop. Generally pellet grills should be vacuumed free of ash after every 2 to 3 sessions.

Q: Do you have to use an ash vacuum for cleaning the pellet grill?  

A: Ash vacuums are the best option since they are specifically designed to vacuum up hot ash. However, a regular wet/dry or shop vacuum can be used to clean a pellet grill once the grill cools down.

Q: How often do I need to clean my Traeger grill?

A: Traeger pellet grills should be cleaned every 2 to 3 sessions. The firepot will begin to accumulate too much ash where the grill may not ignite or shut off mid-smoke. So make sure to vacuum out the ash from the firepot after every 2 to 3 sessions.

Q: How do you clean ashes out of a pellet grill?

A: Ash that accumulates in the firepot will need to be vacuumed out of a pellet grill. A wet/dry or shop vacuum will be able to safely vacuum out the ash once the grill has been allowed to cool down.

Check out this step-by-step photo guide for seeing how to access the firepot, vacuum out the ash, and correctly restart a pellet grill.

Final Thoughts

Although pellet grills are an easy and low-maintenance way to smoke food, pellet grills still do need occasional maintenance in order to work properly.

Vacuuming the ash from the firepot is a regular maintenance item that needs to be performed after every 2 to 3 cooking sessions. Keeping the firepot clean will help prevent the pellet grill from shutting down mid-smoke or not igniting.

So make sure to use a shop or wet/dry vacuum in order to clean out the ash from the firepot. A pellet grill will continue to operate normally when properly maintained.

And a reliable shop vacuum is the first step in making sure that a pellet grill can continue to operate normally.

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I'm learning how to catch, grow, and cook my own natural food and my goal is to help others eat more food from nature. Eating natural food can taste great, be affordable and accessible with a little planning. Don't get me wrong, I still eat taco bell and pizzas every so often, but I'm trying to eat more dank food from nature! So let's eat tasty natural food together.

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