Bosch GAS18V-3 Review
Pros: Stand-up vacuuming, ridgid hose, HEPA filter
Cons: Struggles with heavy debris, bulky, below average battery life
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Our Analysis and Test Results
The Bosch GAS18V-3 is a unique machine in the contemporary field of toolbox shaped wet/dry vacs. This machine sticks to the old-school look and keeps the extension tubes that allow the user to remain standing while vacuuming the floor. It also has a transparent canister that makes monitoring the filter as easy as can be. The downside is that the machine requires more space to store than its peers. This is in part due to a hose that is not self-retracting and that it is stored on the outside of the machine along with the extension tubes.
Overall, the Bosch delivered a slightly below-average performance in the dry work evaluation. Primarily, this can be attributed to the machine's relatively long hose. All of the other models were tested with their hoses fully retracted; a capability that the Bosch lacks. As such, this model suffers from a decrease in airflow when compared to its snub-nosed peers. Caveats aside, this machine did pretty well picking up heavy materials so long as they had a lot of surface area. Additionally, loose debris posed little trouble as this machine moved through 9 cups of sawdust in a middling 15 seconds.
In contrast, this machine does deliver above-average performance when it comes to plunging between car seats and couch cushions, or along baseboard gaps. With 8 ⅜ inches of reach, its crevice attachment is among the longest. Additionally, its suction power produces an additional ⅝ inch of reach — which is at the top of the class.
Overall the Bosch didn't impress in the wet work evaluation. To start with, the machine delivered a slightly below average water suction performance. While its motor didn't fail to pull the 2 gallons of water up to the elevated canister, the 18 seconds it took to do so was rather humdrum by comparison. It did perform decently in the wet sawdust test which consists of vacuuming 9 cups of sawdust mixed with 6 cups of water.
Unfortunately, the Bosch didn't build on its wet sawdust performance in the subsequent puddle on hard surface and wet carpet tests. The floor attachment's lack of airflow channels made it difficult to pull water off a linoleum floor. Additionally, the airflow issue created by the model's long hose left more of the 2 cups of water saturating the carpet than its peers. The Bosch did throw the smack down on the competition in the suction test with a measured 28 inches of water lift. However, this outcome — in comparison to the other test results — illustrates that superior suction will not overcome inadequate airflow.
All other vacuum tests aside, without an adequate battery cell, these machines are basically expensive step stools. While the Bosch didn't flunk this test, its performance was slightly below the class average. So, how do we know that? Easy. We took a full battery cell, popped it into the vacuum, and turned it on, letting it run until it died. The time it spends sucking air is called the runtime. To make direct comparisons among the various batteries being tested, we divided the runtimes by the battery cell's respective amp-hour rating.
At 4.5 minutes of runtime per amp-hour, the Bosch's performance in this evaluation was below average. However, with a four amp-hour battery cell, the 18 minutes of vacuum time will be adequate for many non-professional tasks.
A notable bright spot for the Bosch is its above-average score in the convenience evaluation. The vac is a bit heavier (10 lbs, 3 oz), and it requires more space to store than its competitors, yet it has several redeeming features. For starters, the hose on this machine is super tough. We had a 200 lbs person stand on it with two feet to no effect.
The Bosch's hose isn't the longest in the class on its own. However, when the extension tubes are added, nothing else in the class comes close to its 103 inches of reach. This model also comes standard with a HEPA rated filter — a definite plus for respiratory health. Finally, at 77 dBa, the motor in this machine is relatively quiet.
While we like this machine for the extension tube options that it provides users, it is not an inexpensive machine. Moreover, it can be argued that the cost of the vacuum is not wholly supported by the overall performance. That is not to say that it doesn't have a lot of checks in the pro column, just that there are higher performing machines that cost less. In that sense, this machine is not a great value. However, there are no other machines on the cordless wet/dry vac market that offer users a compact version of the classic shop vacuum design that allows one to stand while working. So, if you require a compact stand-up machine, then this vacuum will offer value to you.
In summary, the Bosch GAS18V-3 is the only model in the class that offers users a fixed-length hose with rigid extension tubs in the mold of a traditional shop vacuum. Also, this machine is the only one to use a clear canister for monitoring the collection of debris. Unfortunately, this vac's long hose creates some airflow issues that made it less competitive in wet and dry applications despite its superior suction power. While it wasn't terrible, this machine suffered a bit in our battery life evaluation as well. Despite these shortcomings, this machine makes it possible to stand while working. No other machine can make that claim.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer