Have you seen the latest ranges of portable vacuum cleaners recently? If you’re still sweeping up in your caravan using a dustpan and brush, this could be a good time to make life easier. Gone are the days when vacuum cleaners were either big and heavy and had to be plugged in, or cordless and gutless, only fit for cleaning up small spillages of sugar, biscuit crumbs or coffee granules. 

A revolution has happened, quite literally (no pun intended), since James Dyson invented cyclone vacuum cleaners. This threw a gauntlet down to other manufacturers, who have come up with their own versions. All in all, vacuum cleaners are much better than they used to be. This includes small portable vacs, which have benefitted from improvements in battery technology. A few cordless vacuums now exist that give mains-powered models a run for their money. Many of them are actually better than traditional pre-cyclone era mains vacuum cleaners.

So which type of cordless model is best for you to buy for your caravan? At the budget end of the market, you can still find a few gutless compact models. Read our reviews of each model you’re considering before you part with your cash. Plenty of dearer versions now boast powerful motors and contain good batteries – so they’re ideal for a spring clean of your caravan on the driveway, as well as being compact enough to take away as part of your holiday toolkit.

Makita, Draper, Ryobi and Hitachi are all power tool manufacturers that have entered this market, too. They, after all, are experts in wringing maximum duration and power out of battery packs, and many of their vacs have terrific suction power. These manufacturers are making models that use their existing power-tool battery packs – so if you already have tools and chargers of the same brand and voltage, it means you get a very powerful portable vac at a low price. But if you don’t already own their power tools with those power tool battery packs and chargers, you might wince at the price.   

In this test, our main two criteria are suction and battery life. But we also consider the cleaning attachments supplied, whether wet usage is possible, how frequently the unit needs emptying during use, and whether the filter is washable or has to be replaced once it’s choked with dust and fluff. Value for money is high on our list of criteria, too.

Each of the vacuum cleaners in our group test is listed as a separate accessory review: Hitachi Koki R18DSL, Sealey CPV144, Hoover Jovis Turbo Power SJ120CB, Argos 406/4815, Dyson DC44, Ryobi CHV182M, Halfords 12v Car Vacuum Cleaner, Makita BCL180Z, Draper 75033. 

Makita BCL180Z

The Makita BCL180Z portable vacuum cleaner comes with a 45cm extension tube and a wheeled head, so it can tackle floors just like an upright cleaner. 

The battery gives a good 30 minutes of running time, but the little Makita’s suction power isn’t as good as that of the Halfords or the Hoover portable vacs tested.