Shop vacs are no longer as heavy and bulky as they once were. Nowadays, these machines are lightweight and easy to use, although equally as large.
The size is mainly to allow you to collect plenty of dust and debris without emptying the canister as often. However, just because it’s large, a shop vacuum doesn’t have to be complicated.
Instead, it should be straightforward and simple to use and to store away. It’s an essential machine in most workshops and garages that are usually already packed with different devices and machines.
If that’s how it is in your garage or workshop, you might want to consider a cordless shop vac. It works just like any other, but without a cord that would get in your way.
Stay tuned as we review a few models to help you find the best cordless shop vac for your needs and preferences. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide with info that can help you choose.
|20 V||9.5 lbs||17 x 11.9 x 13.9 in|
|20 V||7.25 lbs||8.4 x 6.5 x 18.9 in|
|18 V||15 lbs||23.5 x 19.5 x 17.2 in|
|18 V||2.2 lbs||22.5 x 11.5 x 15.8 in|
|18 V||10.1 lbs||10.7 x 16.9 x 12.3 in|
Best Cordless Shop Vacs to Buy
PORTER-CABLE 20V MAX Cordless Shop Vacuum PCC795B
This is a portable, cordless vacuum cleaner that can pick up both dry and wet messes. It’s a powerful machine that lifts everything from sawdust to hair, sending it straight to the 2-gallon tank.
The shop vacuum offers portability as it’s cordless and battery-operated. It works with any Porter-Cable 20V MAX lithium-ion battery, although it’s not included in the package.
This one is designed for 34CFM’s of suction, featuring a long 7’8” hose that allows some more reach. It also has a wraparound storage solution for the hose so that it doesn’t take up any additional space.
It’s essential to mention that the vacuum is sold as a bare tool, which means no charger or batteries are included. It does come with a wide nozzle tool, a hose, a crevice tool, and a washable cartridge filter.
- Sturdy 2-gallon tank
- For wet and dry messes
- Lightweight (9 pounds)
- Works with Porter-Cable batteries only
DEWALT 20V MAX Cordless Vacuum Kit DCV517M1
DeWalt is a well-known brand in the industry of shop vacuums. This one is a bit different from all the other models that the brand offers, as it’s portable and cordless.
It comes with a DeWalt battery that’s supposed to last a long time, but this depends on how frequently you use the shop vac. On top of that, it also comes with a charger.
This DeWalt cordless vacuum features a HEPA filter that traps up to 99.97% of particles at 0.3 microns. It’s among the best filter options, especially if you’re working with a fine dust that you’re sensitive to.
The vacuum has another washable filter. It’s the one that protects the motor, which is why it’s important to wash it frequently. This DeWalt vacuum comes with the front utility nozzle and an extendable rubber hose.
- Easy-to-empty 1/2-gallon tank
- HEPA filter
- Comes with a charger
- The battery drains quickly with everyday use
Ryobi 18-Volt ONE+ 6 Gal. Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum
This one is quite large, so it’s suitable for bigger cleaning tasks and frequent use. Its 6-gallon tank is easy to empty, but you won’t have to do that as often since it’s as large.
It features the brand’s unique multi-size no-tip wheel design that helps the vacuum stay in place without tipping over. Plus, the wheels are 360° mobile, which provides some additional stability and maneuverability.
On top of that, it comes with onboard accessories. This ensures that all the attachments are within your reach, which also helps you not to lose them. The tools included are floor nozzle attachment, crevice tool, a hose, and an extension wand.
This one also has a few carrying handles that help with portability. Its canister opens at the top, which makes it super-simple to empty regardless of whether it’s holding dry debris or liquid.
- For dry and wet messes
- Onboard attachments
- Batteries and charger not included
Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum
Milwaukee 0880-20 is a cordless wet and dry vacuum that has plenty of suction power but doesn’t come with any batteries. It works with 18V slide-on lithium-ion or NiCd batteries that you have to buy separately.
It’s equipped with a strong motor that provides enough suction to pick up different debris in your garage and workshop. The airflow is constant so that there’s no loss of suction at any point.
It’s important to mention that Milwaukee 0880-20 has a blower port, allowing you to use it as a blower as well. This is quite useful in a workshop environment, but you can also use it at home to blow leaves and pine needles.
The sturdy toolbox design makes it easy to use and transport. Plus, the Milwaukee 0880-20 has handles for portability so that you can carry it around pretty much anywhere.
- HEPA filter – reusable, washable filter
- Hose storage
- Wide nozzle and crevice tool included
- The hose is considered short (2′)
Makita XCV11Z 18V LXT Wet/Dry Dust Extractor/Vacuum
Makita is another big name in the industry, so it’s a good option to consider if you’re looking for the best shop vac. It’s equipped with a powerful brushless motor that delivers 57CFM and a 27-inch water lift of suction. It uses 18V LXT lithium-ion battery, but you’ll have to buy it separately.
This one comes with a HEPA filter and a set of power tools to deliver the best performance. With the recommended batteries, the vacuum should run for some 60 minutes before you’d have to recharge it.
It has an LED indicator that shows how much battery life you have left. Plus, it’s also important to note that this shop vac weighs only 10 pounds and has multiple handles. As such, it’s easy to carry around and transport to wherever you need it.
- For wet and dry cleaning
- Shoulder strap included
- Brushless motor
- Batteries not included
Finding the best cordless shop vac doesn’t always have to be as tricky, although there are many models to choose from. In most cases, you should consider the power and tools it comes with, but there are a few other factors to think about.
Take a few minutes to check the guide below as we help you figure out what’s the best cordless shop vac for you.
Battery Capacity & Charge Time
As you noticed, most workshop vacuums come without a battery, so you’d have to buy one separately. If you’re opting for a rechargeable battery, you’ll have to buy a charger as well. You’re best off with 18-volt and 20-volt batteries as they’re more powerful.
Charge time is another thing you want to pay attention to. In most cases, you’d need at least four to five hours to recharge the battery before you can use your cordless vac.
Suction and power are other important factors you should think about. Without sufficient power, a shop vac cannot pick up the dust and dirt you’re typically dealing with.
Most manufacturers list power in Cubic Feet Per Minute (CFM) and suction pressure. This is for cordless shop vacs while corded vacuums have their power listed in Horsepower.
Filtration is vital more so if you’re prone to allergies and sensitive to dust. If so, you should consider getting a cordless shop vac with a HEPA filter. HEPA is by far the most reliable option that prevents any dust and dirt from going back into your breathing space.
Tank Material & Drain
When it comes to durability and sturdiness, you should first pay attention to the tank material. Look for a cordless shop vac that’s made of hard plastic or stainless steel.
You should also consider whether or not it has a drain. Shop vac models that can vacuum liquid are a bit tricky to empty unless they have a drain.
Hose length varies from model to model, so it’s best to first think about your needs and preferences. Try to figure out which length would work the best for you before you start searching for a cordless shop vac.
A hose can be anywhere from 2′ to 10′ long, depending on the particular model and the brand. It should be at least 1.5 inches wide.
The first thing to consider when it comes to performance is what it is that you need. How much power would be sufficient for your needs?
Consider its peak power, as well as the CFM measurement we mentioned earlier. You might also want to think about its Air-Watts and since it’s what’s meant to pick up the big items. Don’t forget to think about its overall ease of use as well.
Cordless shop vacs are generally louder than vacuums we use in our homes. This is because they’re more powerful, so don’t be surprised if the vac of your choice is loud.
However, some noises aren’t as common. In other words, high-pitched sounds might be indicating a problem that needs addressing.
Nearly every cordless vac comes with a few attachments. Some of the best cordless shop vac models come with an extension hose, crevice tool, wide nozzle, and an extension wand.
These are the most common tools, although some cordless vac models come with a few more or less.
Wet and Dry Suction
As you noticed, some of the best cordless shop vac models are suitable for both wet and dry messes. This is because they’re primarily meant for workshops and garages where there are often all kinds of things to clean.
A cordless vac that can lift liquid is far more useful in a workshop environment than any other, so you might not want to overlook this.
You can find a shop vac in every workshop and construction site as it’s among the most useful cleaning tools to have around. These machines can lift everything from dust to leaves and pebbles, depending on their CFM and suction.
However, it’s important to consider a few models before making your final decision. You should consider your needs and preferences as well as the kind of dirt and dust you’re typically dealing with.
Think about the size that would work the best for you since most models have a 2-gallon tank. This is a standard size, but you might also come across larger tanks.
Figure out which tools you need and whether or not you need the vac to work as a blower as well. Once you have an idea of what you want, you can use the info above to choose one if you haven’t already.
Sources and Resources
- Typical Shop Vac Can Curb Most Silica Dust
- Household Vacuum Cleaners Market Analysis By Product (Upright, Canister, Central, Robotic, Drum, Wet/dry)