Best Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum of 2020
Best All-Around Wet Dry Vacuum
With the suction power to move 2 gallons of water in just 9 seconds and the airflow to suck up heaps of sawdust, the Craftsman CMCV002B is a true wet dry vacuum. While it's on the smaller size, the 2-gallon canister offers more than enough space for most non-professional applications. With a 4 Ah battery (not included), the unit boasts a relatively long 34 minutes of runtime. Due to spring-like coils that lay flat when weighted, the hose is crush-resistant, and it provides self-retracting elongation from 26 to 94 inches.
The issues we take with this machine are focused on its external design. Unlike the toolbox style vacuums that store hose, attachments, and battery internally, Craftsman attaches all these items to the outside. Additionally, the handle sits proudly on the lid of the canister. These design features make it difficult to stack this vac on a shelf. That said, the HEPA filter that comes standard and the float ball shut-off make this a top-tier machine in the class.
Read Full Review: Craftsman CMCV002B
Best Toolbox-Type Wet Dry Vacuum
Milwaukee M18 0880-20
The Milwaukee M18 is a slick little cordless wet dry vacuum. Its two-gallon canister is shaped like a toolbox, and its tube and all the attachments are stored neatly in the lid. Not only is this machine designed well, but it's also a beast at sucking up all types of debris, from nuts and bolts to buckets of water to sawdust. This machine also has one of the longer tubes of the models we tested. The tube has the added benefit of self-retracting like a spring, so it's long when you need it and short when you don't.
While the M18 is indeed a sweet cordless wet dry vacuum, it does have a few drawbacks. At 10 lbs, 2 oz, it's on the heavier side of the class. It's also one of the noisier models we tested. And despite its 5 amp-hour battery, a fully charged cell would only power the machine for 23 minutes — not particularly impressive. That said, the conveniences that this machine offers overshadow its performance shortfalls.
Read Full Review: Milwaukee M18
A Great Value
The Ryobi P3240 is a high-performance cordless wet dry vacuum at a reasonable price. It picks up wet and dry materials like a boss. It is also relatively lightweight, and its self-retracting hose and effective attachments store on the outside of the machine in convenient, in-line slots.
While this model's self-retracting hose design makes for easy storage, the hose is among the shortest in the class when fully extended. Additionally, the hose diameter poses some problems when attempting to pick up larger, rigid materials. However, some may see these negatives in a positive light — with the short and narrow hose, there was an improved ability to move heavy objects when smaller in size. This is a little cordless wet dry vacuum that we think will satisfy most people's needs and budgets.
Read Full Review: Ryobi P3240
Best Bang for the Buck
Kobalt KWDV 0124B-03
The economical Kobalt is a thoughtfully designed, toolbox-shaped machine. The hose stores in the lid, along with the attachments, making it fuss-free. The tool comes with a HEPA rated filter, and the hose is among the longest in the class. It's self-retracting, so you don't pay a storage penalty for the extra reach. Perhaps most importantly, this machine really sucks (in the good sense of the word!) Both wet and dry materials are drawn up like they've been taken by a twister.
We don't like the fact that it has a shorter runtime compared to other models. Additionally, the Kobalt is not great at pulling liquids off hard surfaces, and its suction rating leaves something to be desired. Nonetheless, this machine performs at a level superior to many of its higher-priced peers, making it more than worth the money spent.
Read Full Review: Kobalt KWDV 0124B-03
Best for Battery Life
While the PORTER-CABLE has an appealing price, the bigger draw is its superior battery life. Battery performance aside, though, this machine has average scores in all other categories and will tackle most tasks with little difficulty. We were particularly impressed with this vac's performance with heavy debris.
There were trouble spots in the PORTER-CABLE's performance, however. First off, the motor lacks the power to move water at a high rate. Also, the handle of the unit is neither folding nor inset. As a result, the toolbox design is compromised, and it's more difficult to store. The crevice tool is on the short end, making deep penetrations challenging, and the filter does not meet the HEPA standard. Despite these shortcomings, we believe that this machine's performance and cost warrant recognition.
Read Full Review: PORTER-CABLE PCC795B
Best for Dust Collection
The Ridgid WD0319's large hose diameter makes it unique and gives it both positive and negative results, depending on the work being done. The hose dimensions are great for picking up both wet and dry sawdust, and it can also accommodate large debris. So, this machine will be useful in a shop or on smaller construction jobs.
While we like the large hose for picking up piles of sawdust, it definitely struggles with liquids and small, heavy items. The vac picked up large washers without a problem but struggled with small screws. As an additional gripe, this machine lacks a storage system for the hose and attachments. As it is, the hose just hangs out there, and one of its attachments is stored on the end of the hose. That said, for moving big piles of debris, this tool is the ticket.
Read Full Review: Ridgid WD0319
A More Traditional Shop Vacuum
The Bosch GAS 18V-3 has features akin to traditional plug-in shop vacuums. It has a rigid hose with extension tubes that make it possible to stand up while using the tool. The hose is also quite sturdy and can hold its shape while bearing the full weight of the user. Additionally, you never have to fight the spring-like action of a self-retracting hose.
Some of the Bosch's strengths can also be seen as weaknesses. The hose and extension tubes are stored on the outside of the machine, making the unit a bit cumbersome. Also, the hose is always 72 inches long, preventing the increase in airflow that other models benefit from when their hoses are retracted. That said, in the right scenario, the Bosch is an excellent machine.
Read Full Review: Bosch GAS18V-3
Why You Should Trust Us?
Our expert review team is comprised of Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer and Senior Review Editor Nick Miley. These two bring to bear more than 15 years of combined experience in the trades (heavy equipment maintenance and custom carpentry).We pulled 16 gallons of water through these machines and took dozens of water lift measurements. We sucked up heaping piles of wet and dry sawdust as well as an array of heavy hardware items. We also tested the runtimes on each battery cell. Additionally, we measured and cataloged 18 unique features on these machines relevant to convenience, ease of use, and general performance.
Analysis and Test Results
These metrics are weighted proportionally to their impact on the overall performance of the tool. The final score for each product is 1-100 points. The metrics and their contribution to the overall score are as follows: dry work (40%), wet work (30%), battery life (20%), and convenience (10%).
If a model costs the same amount as other products in the class but performs better, it is considered to be a value product. Also, if a less expensive product performs at the same level as more expensive machines, it is also considered to have value.
The Kobalt and Ryobi models perform at the highest level in both wet and dry work, yet they ring up for significantly less than the average price in the class.
We focused a good deal of our effort on the dry work evaluation. The evaluation consists of three sub-metrics of dry suction power: heavy debris (i.e., washers, nuts, bolts, screws, and 100-gram cylindrical weight); large sawdust pile (9 cups); and crevice cleaning. The first two do not use attachments on the end of the hose, while the crevice test uses the crevice attachment to pick up rice in a narrow slot.
Both the Kobalt and Ryobi thrived in the heavy debris assessments. The combination of their narrow hoses diameters, high airflow, and decent suction proved highly effective. In the timed sawdust pickup, the Ridgid inhaled the sawdust pile in only eight seconds. The Kobalt and the Milwaukee M18 were right on its heels at 13 seconds. As was confirmed in the wet sawdust tests (discussed below), the Rigid's wide diameter hose (combined with the lack of an elbow at the connection point with the canister) enabled this machine's success.
The crevice test is an assessment of both the crevice tool itself, but also the reach of the suction produced by the vacuum motor. Here too, the Milwaukee, Ryobi, and Kobalt proved themselves to be top-notch. Their attachments all penetrated 8 or more inches, and at least another half-inch of suction reach. Overall, the Kobalt and Milwaukee lead the class in dry work.
We began with a water drawing test, removing the filter and sucking two gallons of water from a height of 14 ½ inches — the height of a five-gallon bucket. Having replaced the filter, we then ran a wet sawdust pickup evaluation that is identical to the dry sawdust test with the addition of six cups of water mixed in. Next was the hard surface puddle test, where we employed the floor attachment to slurp up three cups of water off a linoleum floor. Of course, no wet work assessment would be complete without sucking water out of a carpet. We poured two cups of water onto a floorboard mat, allowed it to soak in, and measure how much we could pull back out. Finally, we measured each unit's suction with a water lift gauge.
We were surprised at the degree of variability in these machines' performances across the tests. With 7 out of 10 points, the Craftsman, Ryobi, and Ridgid were the best. However, none of these machines excelled in every category. In the water drawing evaluation, the Craftsman and Ryobi came out on top by moving two gallons of water in just 9 seconds. As for the wet sawdust assessment, the Ridgid lead the class at 15 seconds, and the Bosch a distant second at 31 seconds.
The puddle tests proved to be a measure of the floor attachment design. Because they allow air to flow continuously, attachments with channels through the contact surface did best. The Ryobi and Craftsman came in at 25 and 27 seconds, respectively. In the wet carpet test, the Makita finally got into the fray, as did the PORTER-CABLE, Ryobi, and Craftsman, with all four of these models basically sucking the carpet dry. Lastly, the water lift/suction test registered the Ridgid at 29 inches of lift, Bosch at 28, and Milwaukee at 25.
The DEWALT, operating with a 5 amp-hour cell, was first with a runtime of just under 40 minutes. The Makita, also working with a 5 amp-hour cell, clocked in at 33 minutes 45 sec. Similarly, the PORTER-CABLE and the Craftsman ran for 34 minutes. Here's the twist. These last two models use 4 amp-hour batteries. So, if we look at these outcomes in terms of runtime per amp-hour, the PORTER-CABLE and the Craftsman ran for 8 mins 30 sec, whereas the DEWALT and the Makita ran for 7 min 56 sec and 6 min 33 sec, respectively.
We measure the outer dimensions of the machine, the hose length (both retracted and at its maximum stretch), the weight, and the noise level at 3 ½ feet. Finally, we look at the filters.
The Makita makes a solid effort to check all the boxes. This model's toolbox design offers compact storage and below-average weight (8 lbs 13 oz). It has a washable HEPA filter and a prefilter option available for purchase. Additionally, this model is relatively quiet, registering well below average at 74 dBa. The only knock against this machine is its below-average hose length (82 inches fully stretched). Other notable models are the PORTER-CABLE, Ryobi, Bosch, and the Milwaukee.
The production of this review required weeks of research and testing. We ran these machines through every conceivable test and measurement for cordless dry/wet vacuuming, battery life, and convenience. We're hoping that our research helps you to easily and confidently select the right machine for your needs.
— Nick Miley and Austin Palmer