Best Portable Shop Vac
  • Where are the main places that you are going to be using your vacuum?
  • Are you going to need a vacuum that can handle both wet and dry materials?
  • How large or a vacuum container do you need in order to clean your space, without having to empty the container or change bags?
  • How large of an area do you have to clean?
  • Would you rather have an AC powered vacuum with a cord, or a portable vacuum that is battery powered for more mobility?

As you can see, there are many important questions that you need to answer before you just hop online or go to the store and buy the first shop vacuum that you see. Just in case you need a little help and guidance for buying a shop vacuum, today we are going to take a look at five excellent portable shop vacuums that you may want to consider.

5 Best Portable Shop Vac

Picture

Name

Price

ArmorAll AA255

Armor All 2.5 Gallon Utility Vacuum

DEWALT DCV581H

Dewalt DCV581H

shop-vac-2036000-hp-wetdry-vacuum

Shop-Vac 2036000

workshop-wet-dry-ws0400va

WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS0400VA

RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000

RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000

Top 5 Best Portable Shop Vac Reviews

1. Armor All 2.5 Gallon Utility Vacuum

ArmorAll AA255

Editor Rating:

Let’s take a look at the Armor All 2.5 Gallon portable utility shop vacuum. This is a really powerful and reasonably priced vacuum that is excellent at picking up both wet and dry debris. It has a massive 2.5 gallon storage tank, so it is wonderful for cleaning up debris in large areas, without having to empty the vacuum container.

This model also has a powerful two horsepower motor so that you don’t have to worry about going over your shop floor multiple times, in order to pick something up.

This vacuum includes a long six foot hose, and a 10 foot power cord, so it is nice for small to medium sized shops and garages. Another nice feature that we like about this shop vacuum is that it has auto-shutoff feature that prevents your vacuum from overflowing and causing a mess. It is a compact vacuum model that includes all the onboard storage that you need to carry around the attachments, cord, and hose for this vacuum. Sound reduction is a big plus with this model, which is equipped with a built-in muffler system for keeping the noise down. It is big enough for big cleaning jobs, but lightweight for easy portability.

PROS

  • Large 2.5 gallon vacuum for big cleaning jobs
  • Lightweight and portable for easy storage and cleaning of your garage, shop, or car
  • Includes onboard storage so that you can carry everything that your vacuum has, right on the vacuum
  • Built-in muffler for serious noise reduction
  • 10 foot power cord and six foot hose
  • Auto shutoff feature to prevent overloading the vacuum

CONS

  • Not great for picking up hair on carpet
  • You may want to get an extension cable because the power cord isn’t very long

2. Dewalt DCV581H

DEWALT DCV581H

Editor Rating:

The Dewalt DCV581H is another extremely reliable, portable shop vacuum. This vacuum is great for picking up both wet and dry debris. What is a really nice little feature that this vacuum offers, is that it does not need to be plugged into an outlet to be able to use it. This vacuum can operate corded with an AC power cable and outlet, or you can use it totally cordless.

It’s nice to have the option of not having to be attached to a cable, while you are cleaning. All you need is either an 18 or 20 volt battery, which is sold separately from the vacuum itself. It uses a HEPA rated filter that captures with up to 99.7% efficiency, so that you don’t miss a thing. This filter that is included with this model is also washable and totally reusable. It comes with a crush-resistant five foot hose that can be stored on the vacuum for convenience and ease of transport.

PROS

  • Can be used and operate with or without a cord and AC power
  • Great at cleaning up both wet and dry debris- Onboard storage for easy portability and packing
  • Five foot crush-resistant hose that stores itself on the unit
  • HEPA rated filters that are easy to clean and totally reusable
  • Can be used with an 18 or 20 volt battery pack for wireless use

CONS

  • Battery pack and charger not included
  • It isn’t that powerful

3. Shop-Vac 2036000

shop-vac-2036000-hp-wetdry-vacuum

Editor Rating:

This is another 2.5 gallon portable shop vacuum that provides delivers 2.5 horsepower of cleaning capabilities. What you can really appreciate about this portable vacuum is the compact nature of everything about it, down to the collapsible handle, on top of the vacuum. It comes with a four foot hose that stores on the model, and it comes with a crevice tool and gulper nozzle as well. It uses reusable disc filters that are easy to clean, and a foam sleeve.

If you are keeping it in your garage or shop, it is really easy to store because it is a wall-mountable unit.

PROS

  • Totally wall-mountable for easy storage and easier accessibility
  • Large 2.5 gallon vacuum tank
  • 2.5 horsepower which is strong enough to pick up both wet and dry debris
  • Filters that are easy to remove and clean, that are totally reusable
  • Onboard storage, so that you always have everything that you need right with your vacuum
  • Six foot power cable and four foot hose

CONS

  • The hose and the power cord are both a little short and limited
  • The hose connector is angled, which makes it almost impossible to plug in and use as a blower

4. WORKSHOP Wet Dry Vac WS0400VA

workshop-wet-dry-ws0400va

Editor Rating:

This portable shop vacuum by Workshop is another reliable vacuum that has a lot of length. This vacuum comes with a 20 foot power cord that stores on the vacuum. It comes with a reliable quick-release hose lock that will keep your hose securely locked to your vacuum while in use, but is also really easy to detach and remove.

This vacuum also has a quick filter fastening system that allows you to seamlessly switch between wet and dry vacuum filters. We really like that this vacuum has an auto-shutoff mechanism to prevent from overflowing your vacuum during wet cleanups. It has a large, ergonomic carry handle which makes it really easy and comfortable to carry it around while you are using it. The tough polymer that this vacuum is coated with makes it really resistant to dents, cracks, rust, and any other kind of damage.

PROS

  • Long, 20 foot power cord that stores on the vacuum
  • Great for both wet and dry pickups
  • Really easy to switch between wet and dry filters in the middle of cleaning up
  • Damage resistant polymer coating to protect your vacuum
  • Auto-shutoff mechanism for wet pickup jobs, so that you don’t overflow your vacuum

CONS

  • The hose can be stiff and not very flexible

5. RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000

RIDGID Wet Dry Vacuums VAC3000

Editor Rating:

The Rigid VAC3000 is the last shop vacuum that we are going to be looking at today. This appears to be another reliable wet and dry vacuum cleaner for picking up a variety of messes. The vacuum may appear to be small, but it can actually hold three gallons of waste and debris before it needs emptied. 

It also offers an impressive three horsepower for heavy-duty cleanups and jobs. The hose comes with a dustpan attachment which is great quickly cleaning up small messes, as well. Onboard storage is great to have on this model, and the hose easily collapses as well to store on the vacuum.

PROS

  • Quick-lock system that safely secures your vacuum hose to the vacuum itself, and is also really easy to remove
  • Offers three horsepower for cleaning up both wet and dry messes
  • Has a three gallon tank for plenty of storage so that you don’t have to keep constantly emptying your vacuum, in the middle of cleaning
  • Dustpan attachment is included, and is great for cleaning up small messes
  • Onboard storage to keep all of your attachments and your vacuum compact and accessible

CONS

  • The power and suction from this vacuum is just okay
  • It is difficult and temperamental to adjust and change the bags out

At the end of the day, there is one particular vacuum that stood out to us the most. We believed that the Workshop WSO400VA wet and dry vacuum had some outstanding qualities that made it stand out from the rest of the pack. Having an easy to change filter, an extremely long power cord at 20 feet, and 5 total horsepower were enough for us to give this vacuum the win in today’s review. It is an extremely portable and lightweight vacuum that can carry 4 gallons of waste and debris before you have to empty it out. For all these reasons, we give the medal to this vacuum.

Rafael Porter

How to Choose the Best Portable Shop Vac

There are some features that experienced shoppers usually look for when choosing the best portable shop vac. We have carried out research to identify the 5 most important things that can help in making the decision to pick one over the other even though some features come down to personal preference.

Suction

This is the most important feature on a shop vac. You need a vacuumthat will effectively suck up all the debris in the workshop and the best way to do that is to havepowerful suction because you do not want it living behind some debris that it does not have thepower to suck up. Most portable shop vacs come with horsepower between 2 and 5HP. This does not mean though that one with less horsepower will not work, it may simply take longer to finish the task

Length of the hose and cord

The cord and hose will determine the reach that you will have. A long cord means you can go farther from the socket without having to switch sockets to get to areas outside the radius of the cord. The hose length will determine how far you can go from the unit. I would recommend a hose length between 7 and 10 feet and cord length above 10 feet but the final decision is based on the area you will be cleaning and how wide it is.

Weight

Part of being a portable shop vac means you can easily move it around so its weight becomes a big factor. A number of reviews will talk about the weight of a portable vac as one of the pros of a particular model. It may be relative to different individuals what a proper weight Is but the bottom line is you should be able to carry the unit around without it becoming too much of a burden or you getting exhausted. The weight of a portable shop vac is considered when empty as well as when it is loaded with debris.

Battery life

The best cordless shop vac needs to have a strong battery that will give you enough time to clean up the area before you need to recharge. If it has good suction, then a battery that can last as much as 20 to 30 minutes may be sufficient enough to do the job. It may be an added advantage if the vac comes with a power cord as well so that if you still have to do more vacuuming after the battery is dead, you can plug into the socket. It is also important that the battery can take a number of charges before it needs to be replaced. Lithium batteries are the best-recommended batteries.

Capacity

Considering that the best portable shop vac will have powerful suction, it is important that it has a collection capacity to match. You do not want to have to empty it every 2 minutes or so. Most of the good ones will have a tank capacity of between 2 and 4 gallons. You also need to realize that the size of the tank affects its portability so if you end up with a tank that is extra large, then it may not be easy to carry around. So a reasonable size is best.

Other considerations

  • How loud is the vacuum and can you tolerate the noise?
  • Durability as well as the warranty on the product
  • Consider if it is affordable but do not compromise quality.
  • How easy is it to clean the filters?

About the Author Rafael Porter

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