What features make the best cordless shop vac? The best battery-powered shop vacs should be able to handle a wide range of garage and workshop cleaning tasks, so they need strong suction and a powerful motor able to move at least 50 cubic feet per minute of air. Along with suction power, the best cordless vacuums for the workshop should offer wet and dry pickup and versatile attachments comparable to what corded shop vacs offer.
Additionally, the best cordless wet dry vacuum models have decent battery life, providing a run time of at least 15 minutes on full suction power so you can finish typical cleaning jobs on a single charge. You might also want to look for versatile accessories like a crevice nozzle or telescoping crevice tool for messes in hard-to-reach areas.
Finally, if you routinely clean up drywall dust, wood chips, or sawdust, you’ll want to look for cordless shop vacuums with HEPA-rated filters. Efficient filtration helps the best vacuum cleaners keep the air clean while removing dust and debris from surfaces.
Alternatively, if you need to clean up ash effectively, you’ll want to look into the foremost ash vacuums instead.
Keep reading to learn more about the best cordless shop vacs and how to pick the best vacuum cleaner for every cleaning job. And then, once all the big debris is gone, you can go in with the best portable steam cleaner to sanitize your home.
Top Cordless Shop Vacs
#1 Dewalt DCV580H 20V Max Vacuum Cleaner
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is great for users who also want to use the blowing function. Its container has a large 2-liter capacity, and it is both lightweight and portable.
- Massive two-gallon capacity
- Can be used as a vacuum or blower
- Lightweight and portable
- Battery and charger sold separately
The Dewalt DCV580H is a cordless vacuum cleaner that is powered by a 20-volt battery. Inside, it has an easy-to-access filter, and since it is also washable, owners won’t have to spend a lot of money on replacement costs. The vacuum cleaner has a 2-gallon tank capacity, which is ideal for heavy-duty cleaning. Its HEPA filter makes sure that dust and airborne particles as small as 0.3 microns get filtered out, and with a five-foot hose that is crush-proof, it is likely to stay in good condition for a lengthy period. Unfortunately, users will have to buy both the battery and charger separately.
Weighing only 8 pounds, the vacuum cleaner is pretty easy to carry around and maneuver. It also has a mode that allows users to reverse its suction and switch it into a blower for added convenience, and since it can run off either an 18 or 20-volt battery, users will have a broader range of options to choose from. The vacuum cleaner offers good suction power, and its large dust cup is pretty easy to empty. Users will only have to unclip the two latches on its side and empty the contents of its bottom half into a dustbin.
#2 Worx WX030L.9 Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is highly portable and generates a powerful suction force. It also offers onboard storage for hose attachments and has two-speed modes.
- Powerful suction force
- Easy to empty dust cup
- On-board storage for hose attachments
- Not ideal for vacuuming wet debris or liquids
The Worx WX030L.9 is a 20-volt cordless vacuum cleaner that is compact and offers users two speeds to choose from. The vacuum cleaner has a 4ft retractable hose and comes with a crevice nozzle and a brush attachment that makes hard-to-reach places a lot easier to clean. The vacuum cleaner also has a powerful 10Kpa suction force and an easy-to-empty dust cup that’ll only require users to press one button. The vacuum cleaner also comes with a washable HEPA filter, but unfortunately, it cannot vacuum up wet debris or liquids.
With two speed modes to choose from, users will easily alternate between low speed and high speed. The selected mode also affects its battery life since when placed on high speed, it’ll only last 10 minutes, but this extends to about 25 minutes when put to low speed. Weighing only 3 pounds, the vacuum cleaner is highly portable, and since it also comes with an onboard accessory storage box, owners will always be able to keep the hose attachments nearby.
#3 Evereze V20 Plus Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR MULTIPURPOSE USE
WHY WE LIKE IT: It can be used in many different environments and has a huge dust cup capacity. Its suction force is also powerful, and it comes with a shoulder strap for easy carrying.
- Very powerful
- Handles both wet and dry messes
- Has battery and dust cup level indicators
- Brittle plastic build may not impress everyone
The Evereze V20 plus is a heavy-duty vacuum cleaner perfect for the home, workshop, garage, or construction site. Powered by its 2.0Ah battery pack, its 200-watt brushless motor generates a suction force equivalent to 17kPA. It also has a run time of about 20 minutes when operating in normal mode, but this shoots down to 10 minutes when switched to boost mode. Fortunately, owners will be able to double this if they opt for a 4.0Ah battery. It also has a huge 2.6-gallon dust cup, but some of its previous users were not too impressed with its brittle plastic material.
The V20 plus will efficiently deal with both wet and dry messes, and since its packaging includes a hard floor brush, a 2-in-1 crevice, and a wide nozzle, users will be able to conveniently clean hard-to-reach areas. To make it easy to carry around, the vacuum cleaner comes with a shoulder strap, and with the two LEDs on its top panel, users will be able to know whether its battery is full after charging or if its dust cup is ready for emptying.
#4 Makita XCV11Z 18V Lithium-Ion Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR LONG RUNTIME
WHY WE LIKE IT: It is ideal for users who need to clean a large area or space since it has a runtime of up to 60 minutes with the correct battery.
- Very quiet operation
- Large capacity dust cup
- Efficient filtration system
- Battery is bought separately
The Makita XCV11Z is an 18-volt vacuum cleaner with a relatively powerful suction force and a compact yet portable design. Its large capacity dust cup can hold up to 2 gallons of debris, and since it only has a noise output of about 76 dB, most would not consider it noisy. The vacuum cleaner also comes with a HEPA filtration system for efficient filtration, and when hooked up with an 18-volt LXT Lithium-Ion 5Ah battery, it can keep running for up to 60 minutes. Unfortunately, users will have to get the battery separately.
The vacuum cleaner can also be converted to a blower for more efficient operation, and since it comes with an LED battery indicator, users will always know just how much juice is left before it needs to be recharged. Users will also be able to choose between two-speed modes depending on the required power. Since it also comes with integrated tethering hooks, users will have the option to get an optional shoulder strap for easier carrying.
#5 Armor All CKA203A Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR CONVENIENCE
WHY WE LIKE IT: It comes with many attachments for convenient vacuuming or blowing. It also handles wet and dry debris and has a large capacity dust cup.
- Wide range of attachments included
- Vacuums both liquids and solid debris
- Large capacity dust cup
- Does not rely on HEPA filter
The Armor All CKA203A is a cordless 20-volt vacuum cleaner that is portable and easy to handle. It can be used to vacuum both dirt and liquids, and since it comes with a huge 2.5-gallon dust cup, it is going to take a lot of cleaning for it to get filled up. The cleaner also comes with a bunch of useful accessories. Users will also get a 3-in-1 utility nozzle, a dust brush adapter, a pet hair adapter, a 2-in-1 crevice tool that also has a brush, a sports ball needle, a tapered nozzle, and a blower tube. However, it does not have an efficient HEPA filter.
The cleaner also has accessory storage for easy access to the many attachments that it comes with and a 2.0 Ah Lithium-Ion battery from which it sources its power. Users will also be able to convert it into a blower, and when not in use, its hose can be safely stored through the provided hose storage. Moving and maneuvering it is also pretty easy, thanks to the solid handle on its top side. For another example where maneuverability is convenient, consider the best stick vacuum for pet hair.
#6 Milwaukee 0880-20 18-Volt Cordless Vacuum Cleaner
Award: BEST FOR HEAVY DUTY CLEANING
WHY WE LIKE IT: Its 2-gallon dust cup makes it ideal for heavy-duty cleaning, and its powerful motor also makes it very efficient.
- Very large capacity dust cup
- Wide array of attachments included
- Powerful suction force
- Battery and charger are bought separately
The Milwaukee 0880-20 is an 18-volt cordless vacuum cleaner that is perfect for users who need a compact solution and has a powerful suction force. The vacuum cleaner also comes with a wide variety of attachments that include a crevice tool and a utility nozzle, as well as onboard storage so that they’re always accessible when needed. If powered by an M18 RedLithium Battery Pack, the vacuum cleaner should keep running for more than 30 minutes. However, both its battery pack and charger are bought separately.
The hose on this cleaner extends to about 6 inches, and with a relatively sizeable 2-gallon dust cup capacity, owners will be able to do a fair amount of cleaning before they need to empty it. The cleaner also comes with a HEPA filter for efficient filtration, and since it is washable, it is very easy to keep in good condition.
Beginner’s Guide to Cordless Shop Vacs
What Are Cordless Shop Vacs?
Cordless shop vacs are shop vacuums that use battery power and run without connecting to an AC outlet. These devices are different than pond vacuums. Designed for garage, workshop, and job site use, these powerful cordless vacuums usually have a lighter frame and more maneuverable utility nozzles than typical corded models. Many commercial vacuums are similar to shop-vacs in many ways than household vacuum cleaners.
They excel at small, quick clean-up tasks involving challenging areas like attics and crawl spaces, woodworking shops, art studios, and vehicles. They usually offer similar accessories as other small shop vacs, including extension wands and a floor nozzle. Some units also have a blower function, accessible via a switch or installing a separate blower nozzle over the exhaust port.
Cordless shop vacs can handle difficult spot-cleaning tasks more quickly and easily than a regular vacuum cleaner or corded stick vac. If you need a tool for cleaning up wet messes as well as dry dust and debris, a lightweight cordless shop vac with a flexible hose may be a perfect fit. Unencumbered by a dragging power cord, battery-powered shop vacs can reach areas other vacuums can’t. Moreover, a shop vac isn’t really a replacement for a great dust mite vacuum.
You’ll also find cordless wet and dry vacs on the market, which can be a great cordless vacuum for car detailing. Cordless shop vacuums offer extra convenience and can be easier to pack and transport than larger caster-wheeled models.
Cordless Shop Vacs vs Other Types of Vacuum
Compared to regular vacuums, cordless shop vacuums stand out for versatility and powerful performance. Compared to corded shop vacuums, they stand out for their more compact design and greater portability.
Unlike regular upright or canister vacuum types, a cordless portable shop vac can often clean up wet and dry messes. Unlike most other cordless vacuum cleaners, battery-powered wet/dry vac models may offer features like a built-in blower port. Cordless shop vacuums also generally have more CFM of suction than other cordless vacuums. This extra suction pressure helps lift larger debris and makes wet cleanup possible.
Like other vacuum cleaner types, cordless shop vacs employ a motor to drive an air pump that generates suction. Like corded shop vacuum models, they usually use a flexible hose, floor nozzle, and extension wand. They often provide onboard accessory storage for attachments like brushes and blower tubes. They may come in a similar toolbox design. Also, like corded model shop vacuums, cordless units often use separate wet and dry filter systems and may use a washable filter for the wet side.
Cordless shop vacs, however, stand out among all vacuums for their mix of powerful suction and convenient mobility. The most compact model cordless wet/dry vac options weigh under 20-pounds and use the same 18V-20V lithium-ion batteries as other modern cordless power tools.
How Cordless Shop Vacs Work
Cordless shop vacs use an electric motor to drive the air pump that generates the vacuum’s suction. A flexible hose directs the suction through the machine, pulling up dirt, dust, and other debris. Air moves through a diverter valve and exits via the exhaust port, trapping debris in the canister.
Cordless wet/dry vac units use additional plumbing and filtration systems that enable them to work on wet and dry messes. Shop vacs need strong suction, and most cordless units use a brushless motor to help make the most of the available energy from their lithium-ion batteries. Current-generation cordless shop vacs often use interchangeable battery packs for modular cordless power tools. Using two 18V batteries, a typical 1200-Watt portable shop vacuum can have about 30-minute battery life when used on full power.
As with their corded counterparts, battery-powered vacuum suction capacity depends on motor power and the design of the tubes, the hose diameter, vacuum heads, and filter efficiency. Spec sheets usually list CFM suction power to describe the airflow volume or may describe suction in terms of inches of water lift.
Cordless shop vacuums come in different sizes, but a typical model may have a 2-gallon tank capacity and a 5-7 foot hose length. Most models include accessories such as a wide utility nozzle, crevice nozzle, and various forms of onboard tool storage for selecting attachments.
Why You Should Buy a New Cordless Shop Vac
A cordless, battery-powered vacuum that handles garage and shop cleanup can make various hobby and work tasks much easier to complete and put away. Compact shop vacuums that don’t rely on power cords can easily reach high-up spaces and outdoor areas such as wood sheds.
You might also want to consider a cordless wet-dry vacuum for car and truck detailing. An 18-volt cordless vacuum can save time and trips to the gas station while effectively cleaning up pet messes, dirt, wood shavings, food crumbs, and more.
Suppose you frequently need to perform quick cleaning and vacuuming tasks such as changing cat litter, cleaning up sawdust after cutting boards to size, or removing chips and shavings in a workshop. In that case, cordless compact shop vacuums can be more convenient than regular corded models while offering more versatile cleaning power than upright vacuums for heavy-duty use.
Newer battery-powered shop vac models offer improved run time and battery life along with more powerful performance that puts them closer to matching corded vacuum cleaners in peak wattage and CFM of suction.
Newer models may also use more sophisticated control switches and offer a more ergonomic design. With improvements in motor efficiency and power density, the smallest compact shop vacuums can deliver strong suction but remain light enough to carry, like handheld vacuum types, making them an ideal choice for cleaning tight spaces.
Are Cordless Shop Vacs Worth Buying?
- Car or Truck Cleaning: Cordless wet-dry vacuum and shop vacuum tools are adept at mobile cleaning tasks that require quick vacuuming of mixed debris types. A battery-powered shop vac can be small enough to carry easily in a car or SUV, and are much more convenient than car wash or gas station vacuums.
- Art Studio Cleanup: Cordless shop vacs are well suited to short, challenging tasks such as cleaning up shavings and debris in sculptural workshops and woodworking studios. Typical upright vacuums are less mobile and may not handle larger wood shavings or plaster dust.
- Outdoor Tasks: A portable, battery-powered wet-dry shop vac can be the perfect choice for outdoor cleaning tasks that take you far from the nearest heavy-duty power outlet.
- Hard-to-Reach Areas: Thanks to their generally more compact design and maneuverable selection of attachments, cordless shop vacuums excel at cleaning crawl spaces, attics, and other tight spaces.
Why Cordless Shop Vacs Might Not Be for You
- Battery Life Concerns: If you’ve experienced limited battery life from cordless power tools, you may hesitate before investing in a cordless shop vac. However, some models can supply added running time using a second 20-Volt battery, and newer units increasingly offer modular, swappable battery options.
- You Don’t Want a Loud Vacuum: Shop vacs and wet/dry vac units tend to be louder than indoor upright vacuums. However, cordless models tend to have lower noise levels than their corded counterparts, and some offer distinct low noise modes when quiet operation is a priority.
How Long Do Cordless Shop Vacs Last?
As with other vacuum cleaners, the lifespan of cordless shop vacs depends on the intensity of use, the environmental conditions, and the initial quality of the product. Life cycle analysis results suggest average vacuum cleaners last around 6-8 years. Battery-powered models may not last as long due to the limitations of battery lifespan.
Experts estimate most lithium-ion battery packs last around 100-1500 charge cycles before losing over 20% of their initial capacity. In practice, some users have found that their batteries last much longer, while some find the estimates largely accurate.
To maximize battery lifespan, avoid running the batteries empty and avoid charging in extreme heat or sub-freezing temperatures whenever possible.
Aside from the battery and associated controller circuits, cordless shop vacs have similar durability to corded models. Consider models with a metal canister, metal impellers, and well-designed replaceable or washable filter systems if you’re looking for the longest-lasting options. To keep the vacuum running in good condition, keep the filters clean and replace or wash them at the recommended intervals. Some models have automatic filter change notifications, while some require periodic visual inspection.
Vacuums can start to lose suction when the filters are dirty or clogged or when the canister is nearly full.
How to Choose a Cordless Shop Vac
When choosing the best cordless shop vacuum for your application, various factors come into play. You might want to consider the type of messes and debris you usually have to clean up, whether you need wet and dry cleaning ability, and whether you need specialized tools such as a removable upholstery tool or crevice wand. You might also want to consider size and portability, factoring in how much weight you’re comfortable with carrying and where you might need to maneuver the vacuum.
Best Cordless Shop Vac Key Factors
1. How Compact a Vacuum Do You Need?
If you plan to store your cordless shop vac in a car, truck, or van, you may be looking for the most compact models on the market. However, if you prefer a larger capacity unit with a 6-gallon tank, you may be willing to put up with more bulk.
2. What Kind of Cleaning Tasks?
The right shop vac depends on what materials and what types of messes you need to clean up. If you often clean dusty areas used for drywall or plasterwork, you might want to ensure the vacuum has a filter system that can handle small particles and drywall dust.
3. What Additional Tools Do You Need?
Depending on the surfaces and areas you want to clean, you may want to look for features such as an upholstery nozzle, a wide utility nozzle for wet pickup, or a brush feature that helps clear debris out of cracks and crevices.
4. How Much Noise Is Acceptable?
Noise levels can vary between different vacuum models, even among cordless tools. If quietness is important, you might want to consider a model with multiple speed options and an available quiet mode.