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10 Best Portable Shop Vacs of 2021 – Reviews & Top Picks

person using Makita XCV11Z Portable Wet:Dry Vacuum

The very first vacuum was invented in 1901. Since then, a variety of special vacuum types have been invented, such as a robot vacuum or Shop Vac. Interestingly, though, the term “Shop Vac” is only a brand name that has become synonymous with the wet/dry vacuum.

Even though many people recognize the term Shop Vac but not wet/dry vacuum, there are a lot of wet/dry vacuums on the market made by brands other than Shop Vac, allowing the market to be flooded with wet/dry vacuums. Since there are so many Shop Vacs to choose from, it can be difficult to find the best one for your needs.

For this reason, we have compared the top Shop Vacs available and come up with a list of the top 10 models. In this article, we offer reviews of the top 10 Shop Vacs and provide a convenient buyer’s guide at the end.


A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites

Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 Wet/Dry Vac Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 Wet/Dry Vac
  • Strong suction power
  • 5 HP
  • 5-gallon storage tank capacity
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum
  • Portable
  • Lightweight
  • 2 HP
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    DEWALT DC515B Wet/Dry Portable Vacuum DEWALT DC515B Wet/Dry Portable Vacuum
  • Portable
  • Cordless
  • Lightweight
  • Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac
  • 50 CFM
  • Made with heavy-duty materials
  • Trusted brand
  • DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum
  • Can be used with AC outlet or battery operated
  • Lightweight
  • Comes with an onboard storage option
  • The 10 Best Portable Shop Vacs – Reviews 2021

    1. Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 Wet/Dry Vac – Best Overall

    One of the best Shop Vacs on the market is the Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 Wet/Dry Vac. We have named this Shop Vac our best overall pick because it has a high horsepower, large storage capacity, and is highly versatile due to a long cord and air converter.

    Notably, the Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 has a 5.5 horsepower (HP) motor and a 5-gallon polypropylene tank. These features allow this model to have a strong suction value, as well as hold a lot of debris and liquids at one time. This will make your vacuuming more efficient and less time-consuming.

    Additionally, the Vacmaster comes with an 18-inch cord with a cord storage option. The length of this cord will make it easy to reach hard-to-reach places, while the storage will make the model more compact and organized after use.

    Finally, it is highly versatile. On top of its strong suction, it easily converts into a blower. This blower can be used to blow away leaves or blow up items. The model also comes with a large handle, which will make it easy to transport.

    Pros
    • Strong suction power
    • 5 HP
    • 5-gallon storage tank capacity
    • Highly versatile
    • 18-inch cord with cord storage
    • Converts into a blower
    Cons
    • Does not include wheels

    2. Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum – Best Value

    Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum

    If you are looking for the best portable Shop Vacs for the money, then you will be interested in the Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum. We have named this model our best value pick because it is highly portable, has a high horsepower motor, and is budget-friendly.

    The Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum is highly powerful and can suck up large debris. It has a 2 peak HP, 120V motor, which makes it suitable for all home or personal uses, such as home renovation or general mess cleanup.

    Additionally, the Armor All AA255 is highly transportable. This model weighs a mere 7 pounds and is only 10.6” x 14.2” x 14.4”. It is one of the most lightweight and compact options on this list, making it perfect for on-the-go use or handheld use.

    The only reason that we have named the Armor All AA255 number two on our list, as opposed to number one, is that it has a smaller storage capacity than our best overall pick. This option only has a 2.5-gallon polypropylene tank, which makes it more compact and lightweight but also less suitable for extended use or heavy-duty cleanups.

    Pros
    • Portable
    • Lightweight
    • 2 HP
    • Handle included
    Cons
    • Small storage capacity

    3. DEWALT DC515B Wet/Dry Portable Vacuum – Premium Choice

    DEWALT DC515B Wet:Dry Portable Vacuum

    If you are looking for a premium Shop Vac with high functioning features, then you should check out the DEWALT DC515B Wet/Dry Portable Vacuum. This vacuum is our premium choice because it is battery operated, has an effective filter, and includes a heavy-duty hose, but it also has a lofty price tag.

    Firstly, the DEWALT DC515B includes a half-gallon tank complete with a heft latch, which makes clean-up a cinch. It also includes effective filters, like a Gore HEPA wet/dry filter, which is washable and traps 99.97% of dust at 0.3 microns.

    Additionally, the DEWALT DC515B is battery operated. The battery and charger are sold separately. These batteries are 18V, allowing this model to suck up most household messes. More so, the heavy-duty rubber hose is durable, flexible, and sealed, further ensuring that the messes are sucked up properly.

    The last notable feature of the DEWALT vacuum is that it is incredibly lightweight and portable. It only weighs 6 pounds, which allows it to be transported and stored easily, even for those who don’t hit the gym often. However, for such a high price tag, we were expecting a bigger tank than just a ½-gallon.

    Pros
    • Portable
    • Lightweight
    • Cordless
    Cons
    • ½-gallon storage tank capacity
    • Low horsepower

    4. Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac

    Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet:Dry Vac

    The next portable Shop Vac on our list is the Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac. This model is highly compact, making it portable and lightweight. At the same time, it is also powerful and durable, ensuring that it can suck up most messes and last over many years.

    The Shop-Vac 2021000 has a micro 1-gallon storage tank and a 1 peak HP motor. These features allow it to suck up a lot of messes, although it will not hold a lot of debris or liquids at one time. Nonetheless, this model is powerful with an airflow rating of 50 cubic feet per minute (CFM).

    Additionally, this Shop-Vac product is very tough and dependable. Since Shop-Vac is the most trusted and recognizable Shop Vac brand, this model is made with the highest quality vacuum cleaners, filters, bags, and other accessories.

    Finally, the Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet/Dry Vac, as the name suggests, is highly compact and portable. It weighs only 5 pounds, allowing it to be transported and stored anywhere. Even the portable handle, which makes moving the Shop Vac easy and convenient, can fold down for more convenient storage. The downsides are that it only has a 1-gallon tank capacity and only 1 HP.

    Pros
    • 50 CFM
    • Made with heavy-duty materials
    • Trusted brand
    • Lightweight
    • Includes a fold-down handle
    Cons
    • 1 HP
    • 1-gallon storage tank capacity

    5. DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum

    DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum

    Another good portable and affordable Shop Vac to check out is the DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum. This model is highly compact, while still being strong and powerful.

    The DEWALT DCV581H includes an 18V motor with a CFM rating of 31, both of which are a little on the low side. It also comes with a 2-gallon tank capacity, which isn’t small but also is far from the bigger sizes we’ve already seen on this list.

    The DEWALT DCV581H comes with a variety of operation options. For example, this model can operate cordlessly with an AC outlet, or it can be used cordless with an 18V or 20V Max battery. This feature makes the model more versatile since you can use it anywhere, regardless of the energy source you have on hand.

    At the same time, the DEWALT DCV581H Vacuum is also highly portable and storable. It has onboard storage for easy transport and organization. Additionally, it weighs 10.78 pounds, which is higher than some of the other options on this list, but it is still lightweight and highly portable for a Shop Vac.

    Pros
    • Can be used with AC outlet or battery operated
    • Lightweight
    • Comes with an onboard storage option
    Cons
    • 2-gallon storage tank capacity
    • Lower power
    • Lower CFM rating

    6. Milwaukee 0880-20 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum

    Milwaukee 0880-20 Cordless Wet:Dry Vacuum

    If you are looking for a compact and cordless Shop Vac, then you should consider purchasing the Milwaukee 0880-20 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum. This Shop Vac is highly convenient and portable because of its battery-powered source, toolbox design, and onboard accessory and hose storage.

    The Milwaukee 0880-20 is powered by 18V batteries, making it cordless and easy to transport, but a little low on power. It works specifically on all Milwaukee 18V slide-on batteries, Lithium-ion or nickel-cadmium (NiCd). It provides decent suction and airflow for cleaning up debris and liquids.

    Another notable feature of the Milwaukee 0880-20 is that it includes a built-in blower port and reusable wet/dry filter. These features allow this model to be highly versatile since it works on dry items, liquids, and acts as a blower.

    At the same time, the Milwaukee 0880-20 Cordless Wet/Dry Vacuum is highly portable and storable. It has a unique toolbox design, which makes it easy to transport and store. The toolbox design provides onboard accessory and host storage, as well as a compact look.

    Pros
    • Compact
    • Lightweight
    • Toolbox design
    • Cordless
    • Acts a blower
    • Comes with additional items
    Cons
    • Lower power
    • 2-gallon storage tank capacity

    7. Makita XCV11Z Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum

    Makita XCV11Z Portable Wet:Dry Vacuum

    The next portable Shop Vac we are going to look at is the Makita XCV11Z Portable Wet/Dry Vacuum. This vacuum is notable because it is cordless, has a decent-sized storage capacity for its weight, and is highly versatile for a variety of household purposes and needs.

    The Makita XCV11Z is powered using an 18V LXT lithium-ion battery, which allows it to have a powerful brushless motor that delivers 57 CFM and 27 inches of water lift suction. However, it’s horsepower is a bit lacking. This battery allows the model to run for a complete hour, and the model comes with an LED battery indicator that shows the charge level for convenience.

    Additionally, the Makita XCV11Z comes with highly functional filters. It includes a HEPA filter that captures 99.97% of particles at 3 microns and larger. More so, the filter cleaning system maintains optimum suction efficiency and a longer filter life.

    Finally, the Makita Shop Vac is also highly lightweight and portable. It weighs only 10.1 pounds thanks to its cordless design. It also includes integrated tethering hooks, which increases portability for an optional shoulder strap.

    Pros
    • Portable
    • Lightweight
    • 57 CFM rating
    • 27 inches water lift suction
    • Uses HEPA filters
    • Includes tethering hooks
    Cons
    • Not attractive
    • Low horsepower
    • Expensive

    8.  Stanley SL18910P-3 Wet Dry Vacuum

    Stanley SL18910P-3 Wet Dry Vacuum

    The Stanley SL18910P-3 Wet Dry Vacuum is the next affordable and portable Shop Vac on our list. This model is notable because it has a high storage capacity and horsepower, making it strong and able to hold a lot of debris. At the same time, it is portable and lightweight.

    Notably, the Stanley SL18910P-3 includes a 3 HP motor, one of the more powerful motors on this list. It also includes a storage capacity tank that is 3 gallons in size, allowing it to hold a lot of dry and wet debris at one time.

    Additionally, the Stanley SL18910P-3 is portable, lightweight, and easy to use. It weighs only 8.65 pounds, making it easy to transport and store. The model also includes a 10-foot cleaning reach that allows this model to work in hard-to-reach places.

    At the same time, this Stanley model comes with some downsides as well. This model is not made from very durable materials, and it is prone to breaking after minimal use. On top of that, customer service for the product is poor and often unresponsive.

    Pros
    • 3 HP
    • 3-gallon storage tank capacity
    • Portable
    Cons
    • Prone to breakage after minimal use
    • Poor customer service

    9. WORKSHOP WS0255VA Wet/Dry Vac

    WORKSHOP WS0255VA Wet:Dry Vac

    Another notable Shop Vac to consider is the WORKSHOP WS0255VA Wet/Dry Vac. This model is highly compact and portable while also having a unique design for storage and use.

    More specifically, the WORKSHOP WS0255VA is a corded electric Shop Vac. This provides a 1.7 HP motor that is capable of sucking up most household debris and liquids. More so, the model comes with a 2.5-gallon capacity tank, allowing it to store a bit of sucked up degree at one time.

    Additionally, the WORKSHOP model has a unique design that maximizes both use and storage. It has a unique stable, flat bottom. This prevents the vacuum cleaner from tipping over either during use or storage, making the model more efficient and convenient.

    However, the WORKSHOP WS0255VA has notable downsides as well. For example, the cord is pretty short, which makes it difficult to reach hard-to-reach places. Additionally, the tools included are extremely small, making it inefficient for use on larger debris. You will also need to turn off and on again if you accidentally tilt over the model.

    Pros
    • 7 HP
    • 5-gallon storage tank capacity
    • Flat bottom design
    Cons
    • Short cord
    • Small accessories
    • Turns off when tilted
    • Needs to turn on and off again after being titled

    10. RIDGID VAC3000 Wet/Dry Vacuum

    RIDGID VAC3000 Wet:Dry Vacuum

    Finally, the last Shop Vac on our list is the RIDGID VAC3000 Wet/Dry Vacuum. This model is highly portable and lightweight. At the same time, it has a 3-gallon capacity with a 3.5 peak horsepower motor, allowing it to suction up debris better than models that are up to two times its size.

    With that being said, there are more cons to this product than pros. For example, the hose is only 7-feet long, which can make it difficult to reach hard-to-reach places. With the RIDGID VAC3000, you will certainly need the extension hose or an extension cord to reach everywhere you need to vacuum.

    Additionally, the RIDGID VAC3000 comes with a filter that is way too large for the model. In fact, the filter touches the bottom and basically fills the entire inside at the vacuum. This leaves little to no area for the dust bag to fit.

    Pros
    • 3-gallon storage tank capacity
    • 5 HP
    • Portable
    Cons
    • Short cord
    • Large filter
    • Dust bag doesn’t fit properly
    • Poor seal

    Buyer’s Guide

    Why You May Need A Shop Vac

    There are several reasons that you may want or need a Shop Vac. Here are the most important benefits of owning your own Shop Vac:

    1. To Clean Wet And Dry Messes

    One of the biggest benefits of having your own Shop Vac is that you will be able to clean up both wet and dry messes. Normal vacuum cleaners are only suitable for dry messes. Shop Vacs, however, can clean up anything from dust to a spilled bottle of wine, making this tool highly convenient for a number of messes and cleanups.

    2. Ejects Less Dust Back Into The Air

    Since Shop Vacs can suck up both liquids and dry dust, they have two storage compartments, one for both types. These two compartments minimize the chances of ejecting dust back into the air once it has been sucked up.

    This may sound like a minor benefit, but it is especially beneficial for those who have respiratory illnesses such as asthma. Those who have respiratory illnesses will find using the Shop Vac less irritating for their illness.

    3. Versatility

    Finally, the last reason why you may need a Shop Vac is that it is highly versatile. They have a robust motor and reinforced storage canister, allowing it to be used both in the home and for more heavy-duty purposes. For example, it can be used to unclog pipes, clear blockage in kitchen sinks, suck up messes, and more. This allows the Shop Vac to be a great investment since it can be used for a variety of purposes.

    Additionally, most Shop Vacs come with an air section motor that can be reversed to pump air. This will allow you to fill up inflatable objects such as kid pools or balls. Once again, the Shop Vac is a highly versatile tool that can be used for many instances around the house.

    Factors To Consider When Buying A Shop Vac

    Whenever you’re buying a Shop Vac, there are few factors you should consider. These factors will ensure that you get the best Shop Vac for your needs.

    1. Power Usage

    The first factor to consider when buying a Shop Vac is power usage. Most Shop Vacs are measured in terms of amperes. In the case of Shop Vacs, more is better. Look for options that have 12 amps or more. If a model is under 12 amps, it will not be powerful enough to suck up many types of debris or liquids.

    2. Horsepower

    The next factor to consider when buying a Shop Vac is horsepower. The horsepower will ensure that the Shop Vac is powerful enough for most debris and liquid suction. For homeowning purposes, look for a Shop Vac with a 1.5 to 2 horsepower motor. If you are a contractor, look for a Shop Vac with a minimum of 3 horsepower.

    3. Sealed Suction

    Since Shop Vacs clean up messes, another factor that you should consider when buying a Shop Vac is the sealed suction.

    The suction is measured in how much liquid your Shop Vac can pull up against a certain amount of water pressure. If the hose is submerged in water, the vacuum’s motor performance decreases. To ensure that your Shop Vac works properly, look for models that have a sealed suction power of 50 inches. This ensures that the Shop Vac performs well.

    4. Storage Capacity

    Another factor to consider when buying a Shop Vac is the storage capacity. The storage capacity is how much the Shop Vac can hold at one time. Larger models will have larger storage capacity. Aim for a Shop Vac with a medium to large storage capacity so you do not have to dump out the Shop Vac during use.

    5. CFM

    You should also consider CFM ratings when buying a Shop Vac. The CFM measures how much air the model can suck in. This CFM rating will greatly depend on the size of the Shop Vac. As a general rule of thumb, a mini Shop Vac should have a 90 CFM rating, but larger Shop Vacs should have a higher CFM rating.

    6. Portability

    Finally, the last factor you should consider when buying a Shop Vac is the portability. Shop Vacs are tools that are meant to go into hard-to-reach places and carry around the house. Make sure that your model comes with features such as a handle or carrier. Additionally, look for models with wheels so you can easily roll it around.

    woman using Shop-Vac 2021000 Micro Wet:Dry Vac

    Parts Of A Shop Vac

    Here are the parts of a Shop Vac:

    • Attachments: Additional attachment heads that make it easier to get into hard-to-reach places.
    • Auto Shut-Off: Automatically turns off  the Shop Vac.
    • Cord length: Cord used to plug in the Shop Vac.
    • Drain Valve: Where the water can be drained from the tank.
    • Filters: Filters out debris once inside the Shop Vac.
    • Hose: Connects to the tank and attachments to suck up dust and liquids.
    • Hose-Tank Connection: Where the hose connects to the tank.
    • Tank: Where the debris and water are held.
    • Wheels: Wheels located at the bottom for transportation.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do I need accessories?

    Depending on the brand you get, your Shop Vac may or may not come with an extra accessories kit. Typically, accessory kits will include pipes, cleaning heads, and attachment ports. These accessories make cleaning easier and more efficient.

    These accessories are not necessary for the Shop Vac, but they will make cleaning more efficient. If you plan to use the Shop Vac in awkward or hard-to-reach places, you might want to consider looking for additional accessories such as unique heads.

    Can I pull a Shop Vac by the hose?

    Do not pull the hose on the Shop Vac. Although it is not dangerous to do so, it is always best to avoid pulling the hose. The reason why is that pulling the hose can tilt the entire unit over, or it can occasionally damage the model itself.

    divider 8

    Conclusion

    After reading our reviews and buyer’s guide, we recommend the Vacmaster Professional VFB511B0201 Wet/Dry Vac because it has a high horsepower, large storage capacity, and is suitable for a variety of uses. If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option, however, we recommend the Armor All AA255 Utility Shop Vacuum, which is portable, powerful, and affordable.

    We hope that these reviews and buyer’s guide have made the process of selecting an affordable and portable Shop Vac easier and more hassle-free.

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