Shop-Vac Class Action Lawsuits Question Horsepower Claims

Several class action lawsuits have recently been filed alleging that marketing claims for Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuums misrepresent the amount of horsepower delivered by the devices. According to these complaints, the horsepower delivered by Shop-Vac vacuums – which impacts the price of the devices – is generally much less than advertised.

One of the lawsuits, filed in New Jersey Federal Court in March, was brought by Missouri resident Andrew Harbut. According to his complaint, Harbut purchased 16-gallon Shop-Vac wet/dry vacuum with an advertised 5.75 peak horsepower, but the vacuum produces “materially less horsepower” than advertised.

Another class action complaint filed in California earlier this month details tests done on several models of Shop-Vacs to assess their true horsepower:

“Measurements were taken for line current, power factor, barometric pressure, air duct temperature, total pressure, static pressure, free velocity and air flow. From these measurements, incoming horse power, air flow and air horse power were calculated. Testing was done at the typical household voltage of 120 Volts rms.

The test results and attendant calculations showed that the Shop Vac vacuums, in actual use, produced a range of 17% to 40% HP under full load and 26% to 51% HP when under no load. (See chart at ¶ 25) However, even this measurement is taken at the motor, and is not a true indication of the actual work that the vacuum performs.

To observe a true measure of actual work, Plaintiff’s laboratory measured and calculated “air horsepower,” or the actual suction power of the vacuum. Air horsepower is a more accurate measurement of the vacuum’s ability to do work as it corresponds to the power seen at the intake of the vacuum. In essence, air horsepower corresponds directly with the vacuum’s ability to do the work that a consumer expects.

The test results and attendant calculations showed that the Shop Vac units, in actual use, produced a range of a negligible percentage to 2.7% air HP with no load and 1% to 10.3% air HP at 90% load.”

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