Thread Number: 18675
A look at the Stihl SE 61 shop vac -PICS-
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Post# 205421   10/30/2012 at 21:54 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

I bought this Stihl SE 61 wet/dry vac recently. Iíve had it about two months and used it a decent amount, so I decided Iíd post my impressions.

I had been wanting a new garage vac for a while. I was on the fence whether I should go with a wall-mounted unit or a small shop vac. I decided to go with a small shop vac because it would be more portable so I could use it in the house or other places.

Hereís what I wanted:
-Compact, so it would be easy to store and use
-Not made in China
-Relatively affordable, in the under $200 range

I considered some of the other popular brands, including:
-Ridgid. made by Emerson. Theyíre mostly made in Mexico. These vacuums are well-regarded on the tool forums I frequent.
-Craftsman. From what I've read, these are also made by Emerson. They're also mostly made in Mexico, with some smaller units made in China.
-Shop Vac brand. These are mostly ďassembled in the USA with imported components,Ē or some similar wording.
-Vacmaster. These are all made in China, or at least all the ones Iíve seen in person are. They do get some good reviews, though.
-Fein, Festool, Porter-Cable, DeWalt. These are all vacs made by European companies. I liked the specs of these models, but they cost more than I wanted to spend. The Porter-Cable and DeWalt vacs are rebranded models made by European vac makers.

I eventually settled on the Stihl SE-61, which is basically a rebranded Nilfisk-Alto Aero 20. Nilfisk sells many of its wet/dry vacs in the US, but the smaller Aero 20 and 25 arenít sold in the US, as far as I can tell. Itís made in Hungary and it was in my price range with an MSRP of $169.99. As far as I can tell, this is about the most affordable way to buy a Euro vac in the US, but itís considerably more expensive than a wet/dry vac from the more mainstream brands you find. Since Stihl mostly focuses on chainsaws and yard equipment, some dealers donít carry the vacuums in-store. The dealer I bought from had to order it.

Hereís what youíll find when you open the box:


Post# 205422 , Reply# 1   10/30/2012 at 21:55 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

After you put it together, this is how it will look. One negative of this is that the manual didnít do a great job of explaining how to arrange the tools on the vac. I eventually figured it out, but I ended up organizing them differently than the manual recommends.

Also, the black button is a filter cleaning mechanism. You block the hose and press the button, which reverses the airflow to blow debris off the filter. Iíve played around with it, but since I havenít had a problem with the filter plugging, I havenít really had to use the function too much.

Post# 205423 , Reply# 2   10/30/2012 at 21:56 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

Hereís the back side, which shows the tool storage a little better.

Post# 205424 , Reply# 3   10/30/2012 at 21:57 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

This vac is pretty small, with a 5 gallon capacity, so it doesnít have a drain. If you fill it up with liquid, it still should be easy enough to lift and dump out.

Post# 205425 , Reply# 4   10/30/2012 at 21:58 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

The wheels are mostly plastic, which I was disappointed to see. The front wheels do incorporate some metal parts. But, all the wheels seem sturdy and have been working well.

Post# 205426 , Reply# 5   10/30/2012 at 21:59 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

Hereís the motor removed from the body. The filter is washable, since itís made of plastic (PET, specifically, I believe). I canít find a micron rating for the stock filter, but the stock replacement filters sold online by Nilfisk dealers claim to be good down to 1 micron. There are also HEPA filters available for this vac, but theyíre over $100.

Post# 205427 , Reply# 6   10/30/2012 at 22:02 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

One thing I like about this vac is that the attachments seem higher quality than the other vacs in this price range. The attachments seem sturdy and less flimsy than the mainstream brands you can buy at big box stores. The Stihl comes with a combo wet/dry hard floor tool, an upholstery tool and a crevice tool. The tools are 35mm. The extension tubes are aluminum, not plastic. The hose has a swivel connector on the end, so itís less likely to twist and bind up. Some people see the small hose as a negative, because it canít pick up large debris. But I like it. I also have a big HEPA shop vac with a 2.5Ē hose. The smaller hose on the Stihl is much easier to handle and maneuver, in my opinion.

Post# 205428 , Reply# 7   10/30/2012 at 22:04 (2,717 days old) by stephenk ()        

Overall, my impressions of this vac are positive. Iíve used it a lot in the garage for general vacuuming and for cleaning out our cars. Iíve actually used it a lot in the house also, because itís good for cleaning hard floors. Itís quite easy to use, it cleans well and it is quiet. It is pricey, though, but Iím hoping it will last longer than the average wet/dry vac you can buy at the big box stores. However, I can't comment on its long-term durabilty, as I've only owned it a couple months.

Positives of the Stihl SE 61
-Quiet (rated at 70 db)
-Decent suction for a vac of this size (rated at 71 in of water)
-Easy to use. Swivel hose, suciton control
-Good quality attachments

Negatives of the Stihl SE 61
-It canít easily run over itís own cord because the front wheel are so small. It often tips over if you run over the cord. The other vacs I looked at also had tiny wheels, so I assume they would have had this issue, too
-Pricey for a vac of this size
-Less availability of accessories and replacement parts than the mainstream brands

Post# 205470 , Reply# 8   10/31/2012 at 10:21 (2,716 days old) by dysondestijl (east midlands, UK)        

hi all! we have loads of numatic vacuums in the uk. in every shop or business you go in, they always use henrys/other numatics! i dont really know why, as they are difficult to store, they ALWAYS fall over, and often crash into things when you pull them along! BUT having said that then they are still made in england, have good suction and spares are cheap. numatics are quite similar to shop vacs but not all of them are wet/dry. i have 4 numatics, and they arent too bad, i still have one from the 70's/early 80's.

Post# 205571 , Reply# 9   11/1/2012 at 15:10 (2,715 days old) by vintagerepairer (England)        

Numatic cleaners do exactly what they say they will do, and that is why people like them. I am not sure what you mean by difficult to store, because storage of any cleaner is somewhat subjective. I often considered that the Dyson cleaners with wrap around hoses and tubes were rather large and bulky, even if they were all in one place. The problem is, a lot of things in life are what they are, but thanks to the media and such, people have come to expect so much more. Years ago it was accepted that if one wanted a cylinder cleaner then one would have to store the parts. Electrolux often suggested hanging a cleaner on the wall if necessary. But that was only a different way of storing it. It would be down to the individual user to say whether or not it was better than standing it in a corner or lying it down.

Post# 205629 , Reply# 10   11/2/2012 at 11:25 (2,714 days old) by dysondestijl (east midlands, UK)        

hi, i mean by hard to store is the fact that to be stored easily the tubes must be fully seperated, meaning you have to assemble the vac every time you use it- some people can't be bothered! but i agree, numatics do just what they are expected to do and more.

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