best portable shop vac

Best Portable Shop Vac 2019 – (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

1. WORKSHOP Wet/Dry Vacs WS1600SS - strongest shop vac

Shop Vac 2021000 Micro Wet Dry Portable Compact Vacuum

Editor Rating:

We start with the workshop WS1600SS boosting 6.5 HP and 16 gals stainless steel drum and rough terrain cart. For wet/dry use this portable and mobile shop vac will perform in the toughest of situations. The hose fits the canister with a locking adapter, so stopping the annoying hose pulling loose when in use. All the tool accessories with this model are stored neatly on the vacuum cart in a storage bag, making them readily available to use when required.

The power cord is 20ft and wraps conveniently around the large carrying handle. The dual flex hose design will give up to 180° flexibility at either end of the hose. The drainage port is ideally situated at the bottom of the vac for easy emptying out any liquids. This strongest shop vac is very easy to maneuver around with large rear wheels and ergonomic handle. The suction pickup is about one gallon of liquid per second making this a powerful portable vacuum.

This is What You Said...

This workshop WS1600SS really sucks!! I have had more "shop-type" vacs then I can remember, but this is definitely strongest shop vac, it is unbelievable. By contrast, none of the past vacs cleaned as well, even brand new, as does this portable shop vac. Based on the costs of shop vacs earlier bought, it looks that this portable shop vac is a little costly. Yet, we are in the middle of a bathroom renovation, and I have been cleaning up the work-space every night. The shop vac picks up all the sawdust, wallboard dust, tile chips, wall scraping, screws, and nails so easily. It comes with a vast choice of tools. I have not used the portable shop vac for any water problems, so can't say on that performance, but it has exceeded my expectations for dry vacuuming. I would highly suggest this as an answer to your dirty problems.

PROS

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    powerful shop vac I've ever used
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    Great for both wet and dry cleaning
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    Holds up to one gallon of waste
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    reasonably quiet
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    caddy bag  for attachments are great

CONS

  • cost of replacement vacuum bags
  • frequent cleaning without bags

Workshop Strongest Shop Vac  -  Questions & Answers

Q - What is the dimensions of this portable shop vac?
A - These are the sizes: height of 36.5", the width of 21.5" and depth of 26"
Q - What are the cord and hose lengths?
A - The cord is about 10 foot the hose is about 6 foot. 
Q - Does this strongest shop vac have enough power to suck up sawdust and such?
A - Yes it is very strong has been used in industrial laundry for lint that is 3 inches thick.
Q - Do the attachments fit into small spaces for vacuuming a car?
A - Yes they did for my car.

2. Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac - best portable shop vac

Shop Vac 2021000 Micro Wet Dry Portable Compact Vacuum

Editor Rating:

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.

This is What You Said...

This little monster is perfect. It's quite small but extremely powerful. The power cord isn't super long, but it's big enough and I can always find a socket within the range of the job. unlike some other portable shop vacs, this doesn't have the option to turn it into a blower, but that's not why I purchased it, so I'm pleased with it as is. I would buy this again.

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 2021000 micro wet dry vac  -  Questions & Answers

Q - I want a small vac to suck up ashes from the fireplace. Will this work?
A - Yes the vacuum will work great for this.
Q - How is this powered? Is it plug in? Is it battery powered(rechargeable?)
A - It is a 1 hp electric plug in that uses a 1 1/2 gallon Type A filter bag. 
Q - Is there a cartridge filter instead of the foam sleeve, or bag or filter paper that fits over the sleeve?
A - It comes with a foam sleeve and a bag.
Q - Is there is a button on this Shop Vac 2021000 Micro Wet Dry Vac to make it blow air?
A - No.

3. Stanley Wet/Dry Vacuum, 6 Gallon, 4 Horsepower - portable shop vacuum cleaner

Stanley-SL18116P-Wet-Dry-Vacuum.jpg

Editor Rating:

This heavy duty and powerful 4.0 HP Portable Shop Vacuum Cleaner have a powerful rear blower port for converting into a blower for clearing away the leaves and debris. Stanley do this model in different sizes we selected the six-gallon version for this portable shop vac review; however, they have a range up to 12 gallons if you think you may need a larger one.

This Stanley Portable Shop Vacuum Cleaner is well made and has plenty of suction, even though the hose size is 1.25 inches. With air flow capacity of 75 cubic feet per min and swiveling caster wheels and 10-foot power cord. The tool accessories are extension wands, crevice nozzle, gulper, and floor nozzle. The filter is foam and uses disposable filter bags.

This is What You Said...

Stows easily in a truck or back seat, and creates sufficient suction to get dirt and debris off the floor of your car. Extra long cord makes cleaning your whole vehicle easy. Simple to use, just a power button and a screw-on hose, two clips to release the bucket and empty it. It uses primary filters available everywhere. Not as much suction as a big shop vac, but much more than most handhelds. Great for Uber or Lyft drivers, to get into those little nooks and crannies between rides.

PROS

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    great for trucks and car cleaning
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    useful blower feature
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    Holds up to one gallon of waste
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    Extra long cord
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    holds one gallon of wet liquid 
  • very convenient and compact

CONS

  • not as strong as a 4 hp shopvac
  • Not great for big cleaning jobs

Stanley Wet/Dry  -  Questions & Answers

Q - Do you have to use bags with it?
A - If using it to pick up wet stuff no. If using it in your home on dry stuff yes.
Q - Does this work on carpet?
A - Yes it does but you really want the paper bag filter if your inside or the exhaust will throw dust. 
Q - Do i need to remove the filter when I use this as a wet vac?
A - Remove dry pick up filters and leave the foam filter on.
Q - When using this vac as a blower, will it be better to remove either of the filters for better performance?
A - Yes, less restriction will help with higher flow.

4. Shop-Vac 2030100 Micro Wet Dry Vac - portable shop vac

Shop-Vac 2030100 HP Wet Dry Vacuum

Editor Rating:

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 product review No2. 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.

This is What You Said...

I have had this portable shop vac for a while and it has done exactly what I assumed it would and then some works great with Universal Mini Micro Tool Attachment 8 piece set for cleaning the inside of my car and I use it to clean the dust from my household electronics since it's powerful and small enough for what I need it to handle with the right attachments for the job and it's light and portable which is a plus for me I have no complaints

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

2030100 Micro Wet Dry Vac  -  Questions & Answers

Q - Does this have reverse air or "blowing" feature?
A - Yes you put the hose into the other hole.
Q - will it pick up small hard pieces?
A - Yes
Q - What is the wattage? Peak and normal operation?
A - This Vac is 7.8 Amps and 120 peak air watts.
Q - I want to buy an extra filter when I buy this item. Which one does it take?
A - It will take the Shop-Vac 9066700 

DEWALT DCV581H 1820-Volt MAX Wet Dry Vacuum

Editor Rating:

This particular portable shop vacuum 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 Made in the USA 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.

This is What You Said...

I love this thing! Having the capability to use it with the battery has made it entirely worth it. I can't tell you how many times while at a customer's home there is no socket nearby, and having the battery connected is way simpler than taking around an extension cord that I don't want for anything else. It does only last about 25 mins or so with the 20v Max battery, but suction power is plenty strong enough. I just keep a charger in the vehicle and replenish it up while on to my next job, if required. And if I'm not using the battery on it, it's a suitable spare for my cordless drill.

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 very strong
  • The battery life ok for short working

DEWALT  portable shop vacuum  -  Questions & Answers

Q - What is it's fluid capacity?
A - 2 Gallon 
Q - How many horsepower?
A - Air flow: 33.55 CFM and HP peak: 1.85
Q - Can this Portable Shop Vacuum be use as a blow also?
A - Yes it can.
Q - Is this model a wet and dry vac?
A - Yes

WORKSHOP WS0250VA Compact Portable Wet Dry Vacuum

Editor Rating:

A portable shop vacuum from Workshop provides everything that you need in a reliable vac. The Portable Shop Vac 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 Portable Shop 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.

This is What You Said...

Super lightweight to carry and get into any hard to reach places to vacuum-clean or blast dirt or grime as well as pick up any small water puddle that form in difficult to reach areas in the tarpaulin covering summer garden furniture and fire pit. Ordered micro extensions for portable shop vac and it cleans all vents in car as well. It is a vacuum with a great HP.

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 

WORKSHOP Portable Shop Vac  -  Questions & Answers

Q - What is hose diameter?
A - Measured 1 & 1/8"
Q - Can this be used for fireplace ashes?
A - Yes as long as the ashes are cool
Q - Can this Portable Shop Vac be use as a blow also?
A - Yes it can.
Q - Does the blower side work good enough to blow up air mattresses and rafts?
A - Yes it sure will

RIDGID VAC4010 2-in-1 Compact and Portable Wet Dry Vacuum

Editor Rating:

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.

This is What You Said...

I have needed this for years and eventually broke down and bought one. I am so glad I did. It is tiny and very manageable, but very powerful. It's the first job was to clean a log home that had years of dust, cobwebs, and soot. It made the job doable and so much easier than the other options we had tried. The speed and thoroughness of the cleaning were terrific. I also used the blower part to clean the long drive up to the log home! An indispensable tool for the homeowner. We also have five cats that are all indoors, which is a bonus using this Portable Wet Dry Vac! I look forward to using it for years to come.

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

RIDGID 2-in-1 portable wet dry vac - Questions & Answers

Q - How long is the power cord?
A - 15ft
Q - Would this Portable Wet Dry Vac be okay to use inside a house?
A - No dust from the unit. Can be used inside and out.
Q - is suction powerful enough to pull water from wet carpet?
A - I would say yes, it is very powerful.
Q - Do I need a separate filter for wet operation?
A - You just take filter out.

So Which Portable shop vacuum Came Out On Top?

So which portable shop vacuum did we think was best at the end of this review? We thought that the Rigid VAC4010 provided the best value. The only drawback to this portable shop vacuum is that it is significantly more expensive, compared to the other portable shop vacuum 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 Portable Shop 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.

strongest shop vac

Ideally the portable shop vac you choose should have a few extras that make is perfect for you requirements. You need a strong shop vac that is durable and robust and will be able to take the knocks and scrapes along the way. The last thing you need is a flimsy unit that could break down and need replacing. So Look for the strongest shop vac, ensure that the vac's casing is hard wearing and has a good warranty if you do have any problems. It's important therefore to read the full specification of the portable shop vacuum that you are looking at buying and also to read the reviews. To see how other users have experienced using the shop vac. 

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 (HP)

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 the Highest Hp Shop Vac that's got more suction power and one with a horsepower of a 4/5 HP or more 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.

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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