Most people don’t realize that cordless shop vacs are a thing, which leaves them as something of a specialty item. Like most specialty tools, cordless shop vacs are easier to find online than in stores, and shopping online is supposed to make the entire experience far easier.
But, we all know that’s not always the case. Misleading product descriptions can lead to you selecting a model you don’t like all that much and regret buying afterward.
We want everyone to be able to shop online with confidence. Our reviews of the best cordless shop vacs of 2020 are designed with you in mind. We cover the good and the bad of each model so that you can know exactly what you’re getting before you make a big investment. We’ve also included a buyer’s guide, so you can make sure you’re thinking through all of the relevant factors before you buy.
|DEWALT DCV581H Cordless Handheld Wet/Dry Vac|
|Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt||5 years||4.7/5|
Best for the Money
|DEWALT DC515B 18-Volt||3 years||4.2/5|
|RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ 3 Gal Project P3240||3 years||4.0/5|
The DEWALT DCV581H Cordless Handheld Wet/Dry Vac is one of the finest cordless handheld wet/dry vacs on the market today. The best thing about this model is that it uses some of the most outstanding batteries you can find. The DEWALT 20V battery line supports a ton of tools, and if you already own some of the batteries from this line, you’ll be able to extend this machine’s run time without any additional purchases. It also comes with a 5-foot crush-resistant hose, which makes it a good choice for worksites or other places where there’s a chance of damage.
It also comes with a washable filter, so you’ll be able to keep this machine running at a high level without having to pay for extra filters along the way. The 2-gallon tank is also one of the larger ones you’ll find on a cordless shop vac, so you’ll be able to work for longer without having to empty it. Overall, this machine does well in all areas that portable wet/dry vacs need to, so if you’re looking for a good all-around model, this is the one. Consequently, it will leave most customers very happy with their purchase.
The Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt wet/dry vac is the model you’ll want to get if you’re looking for one of the best performing models on the market today. This model is well-known for its powerful suction, so if you have a lot of big messes that need to be dealt with, you’ll be very happy with its performance. It also comes with a blower port, so you’ll be able to empty this model as you use it by hooking it up to a garden hose.
It also comes with a reusable filter. If it gets dirty, you just have to wash it off, and you’ll be good to go again. Additionally, this model makes use of a good battery line. While Milwaukee’s 18V line isn’t as impressive as DEWALT’s, it’s still respectable, and there’s a good possibility that you’ll be able to buy other tools with batteries that will work with this shop vac. What ultimately keeps this model out of first place is the fact that it doesn’t come with a power cord. (The DEWALT model does, so you can plug it in if the batteries die.) Still, if you’re looking for a powerful model, you’ll love this one.
The PORTER-CABLE PCC795B is a great cordless shop vac that comes with some of the best features of any model on our list. It has a very long hose for a portable shop vac. Clocking in at nearly 8 feet long, it will give you the best range that you could hope for without the purchase of an aftermarket hose. It also comes with a 2-gallon tank, which is large enough for you to be able to work for a while without having to empty it. And, this model has some of the best tool storage that can be found in a portable model, with internal spaces to store attachments, and a high-quality outside hose rack.
Since you can get this model for a fraction of what you’d pay for the top ones on our list, it earns the title of “best for the money.” If you’re looking to get a deal on a great cordless shop vac, it would be hard to go wrong with this model. What ultimately keeps it out of the top two is the fact that it only has average suction, though most will be satisfied with it for the price.
The DEWALT DC515B 18-Volt is the model to get if you’re looking for a cordless shop vac that isn’t just portable but is also handheld. This model is small and light enough that you can carry it around like you would a dust buster, and it comes with a built-in nozzle for that function. Or, you can set it down and unhook the hose to use this model like a more traditional shop vac. It also runs quietly, so your ears won’t be as affected by this model as they may be by others that run far more loudly.
However, this isn’t a perfect machine, and it has some downsides that affect how much value you can get out of it. For example, it only comes with a half-gallon tank. That’s about a quarter of the size of the other models on our list. This may not be a big deal if you’re only ever cleaning up small messes. However, this model also comes without a battery, so it’s not the best value for the price. It’s a good machine, but most will be able to get better value for their money with another one.
The RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ 3 Gal Project P3240 is the model with the largest tank on our list. At 3 gallons, it’s more than 50 percent larger than those found on the competition, so if you need a good mix of portability and capacity, this model is a good choice. It also comes with a 6-foot hose, which isn’t the largest you’ll find the market today, but it’s certainly a good size for a portable model. This dry vac also features onboard accessory storage, so keeping things on hand and orderly is easier than ever.
However, this model drops a few places on our list since it only has average power. You’re not going to get fast cleanup with wet or clumpy materials, which is a big reason for using a shop vac. However, it still performs well with dry and loose materials, so there’s a chance that it will meet your needs. It’s also relatively expensive given what you’re getting out of the deal. If it were more powerful or had a longer hose, the price would be better justified. Unfortunately, the value isn’t good enough for this model to place higher than last on our list.
When shopping for a cordless shop vac, there are a few important features you should keep in mind that have a huge impact on how much you’ll like your purchase, and how much value you’ll get for your money.
The first of these is the battery. Note that not all models come with the battery included. This means you could spend anywhere from $40 to $80 extra to get the battery you need to run your shop vac. You also have to consider the battery line used by the shop vac. Certain brands, such as DEWALT and Milwaukee, have extensive lines of tools that all use the same batteries, so it makes sense to buy that brand if you already own batteries from that line. Even if you don’t, you should consider the other tools in the battery line, since you can save money by buying them sans batteries in the future.
You also need to consider power when shopping for a cordless shop vac. While you’ll never get as much power as you would out of a non-portable model, some models come with significantly more power than others. If you’re going to be working with messes that are wet or clumpy, then you’ll want to make sure you invest in a model with above-average power, since weaker portable shop vacs can struggle in those situations.
More of our content about shop vacs:
The DEWALT DCV581H Cordless Handheld Wet/Dry Vac is the best overall cordless shop vac due to its washable filter, crush-resistant hose, and 2-gallon tank. The Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt wet/dry vac includes a blower port, a reusable filter, and great suction, though its lack of a power cord keeps it out of first place. The PORTER-CABLE PCC795B comes with a long hose, onboard accessory storage, and a 2-gallon tank, and its great price means that it’s the best value overall for the price. The DEWALT DC515B 18-Volt can be used with its nozzle or hose, and runs quietly, though its small tank and lack of an included battery drop it to fourth place. Coming in last is the RYOBI 18-Volt ONE+ 3 Gal Project P3240, which features the largest tank size and a decent hose, but suffers from average suction at a high price.
Hopefully, our reviews and buyer’s guide have taught you more about cordless shop vacs, and have helped you select the model that is right for you.
Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!