best portable shop vac

Best Portable Shop Vac in 2018 – Reviews and Complete Guide

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You don’t always need the largest and bulkiest vacuum to make sure that you can clean up your messes effectively. In fact, sometimes you need something a little more compact. So that you can clean up in small areas like your garage, workshop, or even your truck or vehicle.

It can be much easier for small cleaning jobs to use a portable shop vac, instead of lugging around a heavy vacuum that weighs 20 pounds and can hold up to 10 gallons of wet or dry material. So, if you are in need of finding a high performing, small but portable shop vacuum, we are here to help. Let’s take a look at some of the best portable shop vacs, to suit  your needs.

Price Guide $ = $1-$80, $$ =$81- $160, $$$ = $161 and up

Recommended Best Portable Shop Vac Reviews

Shop Vac 2021000 Micro Wet Dry Portable Compact Vacuum

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In terms of being both lightweight and portable, this vacuum has both. This compact vacuum holds up to a gallon of waste and only weighs in at five pounds, which makes it really easy to pick up and move wherever you need it. It has a fold-down carry handle that makes it easy to transport. This Shop Vac 2021000 also comes with the wall-mounting tools and brackets that you need so that you can mount your vacuum out of the way, in order to save space in your garage or shop.

The vacuum has a Wall-Mount Tool holder which is a great way to keep all of the tools and attachments that you have for your vac nice and organized. This portable shop vac also comes with a lot of great attachments and features including a hose, crevice tool, tool bag, wall mount bracket for tools, gulper nozzle, wall mount bracket for tool bag kit, foam sleeve and disposable filter bag.

PROS

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    Incredibly lightweight and portable shop vac
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    Great for both wet and dry cleaning jobs
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    Holds up to one gallon of waste
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    Only weighs in at five pounds
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    One horsepower motor

CONS

  • It is so small that you basically have to hold it while you use it
  • Not great for big cleaning jobs
Shop-Vac 2030100 HP Wet Dry Vacuum

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This vacuum from Shop Vac is the next step up when it comes to getting a bigger, portable shop vac. We just took a look at the smaller version of this model in the very first product review. This model is slightly bigger with a little more power, that still offers maximum portability. This vacuum weighs a only 1lb more than the 2021000 portable shop vac, but has double the horsepower and an extra half gallon of cleaning capacity.

This vac is also totally wall-mountable and offers a 10 foot cleaning radius, so that you can plenty of cord and hose length for cleaning your small shop, garage, or vehicle. It also has a top carry handle that makes it really easy to transport it to where you need to clean. This vac also comes with a 4 ¼ hose, gulper nozzle, crevice tool, a wall mount bracket for your vacuum, a foam sleeve, a tool holder and a reusable disc filter with ring. We really appreciate that this portable shop vac also features a rear blower port.

PROS

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    2.0 peak horsepower motor
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    1.5 gallon capacity
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    10 foot cleaning radius
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    Features a rear blower port
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    Weighs in at only six pounds
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    Wall mount design saves space 

CONS

  • Port is inconveniently placed
  • Not the best for larger shops or big messes
DEWALT DCV581H 1820-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

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This particular portable shop vac is unique in that you can use this vacuum while it is plugged in as well as having the ability to use this vacuum wirelessly. This vacuum runs off of either an 18 volt or 20 volt battery so that you can use it totally cordless for the maximum amount of mobility, or you can use the power cord on this vac to plug it straight into an AC outlet.

We really appreciate that this vacuum uses a reusable HEPA rated filter, which has a 99.7% efficiency rating when you are cleaning. If you are a fan of durability, this vacuum uses a five foot crush-resistant hose that is up to any cleaning challenge. This DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum also has all of the onboard storage that you need for your cleaning accessories, for convenient and quick access while you are cleaning.

PROS

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     will work 18 volt or 20 volt
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    Works with cord as well
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    Uses a ​HEPA Allergies Filter
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    Uses a reusable filter
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    Uses a  5 foot hose 
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    2 gallon cleaning capacity

CONS

  • The vacuum power is not a strong
  • The battery life ok for short working
WORKSHOP WS0250VA Compact Portable Wet Dry Vacuum

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A portable shop vacuum from Workshop provides everything that you need in a reliable vac. The vacuum weighs in at only 6.9 pounds, and has a top handle that is ergonomically designed to make carrying your vacuum easy and comfortable. One of the finer design features that we appreciate about this vacuum is that it has a flat bottom surface. 

This may seem like a small, negligible detail, but this keeps the vacuum from tipping over while you are using it.This vac is perfect for cleaning up both wet and dry messes, and comes ready with a filter bag so that you can start cleaning as soon as possible. With this WORKSHOP WS0250VA, you get a 14 foot cleaning radius, via the 10 foot power cable and the four foot hose that both come with the vacuum. It also comes with a car nozzle, utility nozzle and an owner’s manual so that you know how to use everything.

PROS

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    Lightweight and portable 
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    Top carry handle that is ergonomically designed
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    Made for cleaning up both wet and dry materials
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    14 foot cleaning radius
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    Covered by Workshop’s five year limited warranty

CONS

  • It would be nice to have a longer hose on this model
  • It is not wall-mountable 
RIDGID VAC4010 2-in-1 Compact and Portable Wet Dry Vacuum

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Our final vacuum clocks in with the highest peak horsepower that we have seen yet at 6.0 HP. This powerful portable shop vacs also includes a blower port and a leaf blower attachment that you can use to blow out your workshop, garage, workspace or car. This portable vacuum rolls on wheels so it is easy to move it around to wherever you need it.

It is perfect for cleaning up both wet and dry messes, and comes with a couple of extension wands and a locking blower wand for heavy cleaning jobs. This Portable Shop Vacs has a maximum capacity of four gallons, and is great for cleaning up messes in small and medium-sized shops.

PROS

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    Perfect for cleaning up both wet and dry materials and messes
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    Comes with a blower port
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    Leaf blower attachment
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    Powerful 6.0 HP motor
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    Can be used as either a portable shop vacs or a compact leaf blower
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    Includes a storage caddy
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    Uses a quick locking filter
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    4.0 gallon max capacity

CONS

  • It would be nice if the main hose was a little longer
  • This vacuum is loud in comparison to smaller portable shop vacs

So What Are Our Thoughts?

So which vacuum came out on top at the end of this review? We thought that the Rigid VAC4010 provided the best value. The only drawback to this portable Shop-Vac is that it is significantly more expensive, compared to the other portable shop vacs that we cover in this review. We believe that the big bump in price is well worth what you are paying for though. With this vacuum, you are getting three times the horsepower of the strongest of the other, Small Shop Vac. With 6.0 horsepower of cleaning capabilities, you will have no issues cleaning the toughest of wet or dry messes in your shop.

You are also going to be getting much more cleaning capacity since this vacuum can hold up to four gallons of waste and debris. It has a large cleaning radius, all of the attachments that you need and a heavy duty hose for added durability. If all of that wasn’t enough of an incentive for this portable shop vac, it also has a blower port and comes with a leaf blower. This blower gives you the ability to blow out your shop space with plenty of added power.

Choosing the Best Portable Shop Vac

What are some of the features and qualities that you should be looking for in the perfect portable shop vac? Let's look at a few more key features you will need to consider before making your choice of which portable shop vac is right for you.

Weight

Since you are looking for a compact vacuum, the total weight of your vacuum is going to be very important. Make sure that you find a vacuum that is durable, but not too heavy so that you can carry it around to where you need to clean. If the portable shop vac you are looking for has caster wheels fitted, then moving it around the areas to be cleaned becomes a lot easier. Then the size of the vac would be next consideration for how and where to store the vac. Some portable shop vacs come with wall mount brackets so this is handy to have. So, you can hang it on a wall in the garage or workshop. 

Capacity

What is the cleaning capacity of your portable shop vac? Make sure that you check how many gallons the vac can hold to know if it is adequate for cleaning your shop and around your home. Depending on what you intend to use the shop vac for will then help you decide how big the tank needs to be. Dry debris is less dense than wet liquids so will hold more, Therefore if the portable shop vacs main job is for dry clean ups, a smaller tank capacity might be sufficient enough. Whereas if you are using it for areas with lots of water or liquids this tank capacity will soon be filling and the vac will need emptying more often.  

Horsepower

Horsepower ultimately dictates the amount of suction power and force that your vacuum has available to suck up debris and pull it from whatever surface you are cleaning. Heavier debris and materials are going to require greater horsepower to pull debris into the container of your vacuum. If you are using the shop vac to vacuum small or lightweight stuff the Peak Horsepower (PHP) of 1 to 2 HP will do the job for you adequately well. However, if you need to remove more heavy items such as dirt and sand debris, then you will need a vac that got more suction power and one with a horsepower of a 4/5 HP will be better suited to handle these type of jobs.

Cleaning Radius

The cleaning radius of your vacuum is a combination of the length of the vacuum hose and the length of your vacuum power cord. Having a longer cleaning radius can make your cleaning job easier, so that you don’t have to keep relocating to different power outlets.

Attachments

Attachments can include anything from different kinds of nozzles and hoses that can be used with your vacuum to onboard storage and carrying devices. They can make your cleaning experience easier and much more convenient. The accessories and range from Blowing Nozzle/Adapter, Straight Extension Wand, Angled Extension Wand, Round Dusting Brush, Oblong Dusting Brush and Crevice Tool. all for doing different tasks from cleaning the car upholstery, to picking up debris from hard to reach areas on your job

Additional Features

Other features that come with your portable shop vacs can include filters, bags, blower ports, mounts so that you can attach your vacuum to the wall to save space and much more. Make sure to take a look at the features of each of the vacs that you are considering.

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About the Author David Perez

I have a passion for clean floors and living areas, so it is no surprise that I know a lot about vacuum cleaners and how to clean different surfaces. Sharing this knowledge gives me a lot of pleasure which is why I started this blog and I hope everyone who needs help will find the help they are looking for here.

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