Our Short-Lived Ryobi Cordless Vacuums

By Carolyn Shearlock © 2015 • all rights reserved

We've had three Ryobi cordless handheld vacuums; two of the three died in less than three months and the warranty terms were ridiculous

A couple of years ago, I asked readers for boat vacuum recommendations. (See that post here.)

One that had several recommendations was the Ryobi Cordless from Home Depot – it uses the same battery as other Ryobi tools and readers said that it worked well, particularly with the lithium battery packs.

Since we have a number of other Ryobi tools and battery packs (and really like them), we got one of their cordless vacuums. That was about a year and a half ago. It worked well around our house. Consequently, last January we bought a second one for the boat.

We used it until May 1, when the boat went into storage while we sold the house. We returned to the boat in early July and around July 20, the vacuum died. Simply wouldn’t turn on (and yes, we tried it with numerous known good batteries that were fully charged and worked in all our other Ryobi tools).

These vacuums have a two-year warranty, but due to problems in getting warranty service (detailed below), it didn’t work for us to make a warranty claim. Still, considering that our other Ryobi tools had worked well, the one at the house had worked well right up until we sold the house and we’d liked it – it worked better than any other hand vacuum we’d had while it had worked – we chalked it up to just getting a bad one and bought another.

That was at the end of July. At the beginning of December, it died in almost exactly the same way as the previous one. Less than five months use!

We called Ryobi and they said to take it in for warranty service. Yes, there is a two-year warranty. BUT:

  • You have to take not only the vacuum to a Home Depot (some can service on-site; most send it out) but also a battery and charger – the shop doesn’t have them!
  • It will take 2 to 3 weeks to get your vacuum, battery and charger back.

Because we use the batteries for numerous tools and have only one charger, this just won’t work. In fact, it’s a serious consideration for us in any future purchases of battery-powered tools. Any Ryobi tool that needs warranty work will have to have a battery and charger sent in with it. We’re thinking that we might just transition away from Ryobi . . . but we’ll have to see what other brands’ policies are.

Bottom line:

  • I don’t recommend the Ryobi Cordless Handheld Vacuum at all. Two that have lasted less than 6 months tells me there’s a problem in the design or manufacture. I think that the older ones that readers based their recommendation on probably were good and there was some change between when I bought the first and second one.
  • If you don’t already have Ryobi tools, I’d be cautious about investing in them with having to supply a battery and charger for any warranty claims.

We bit the bullet and ordered a Dyson on Amazon. They got the highest marks when I wrote my original post and I was too cheap to buy one then. They’ve also gotten nothing but raves on a few Facebook cruiser groups that I’m in. About the only negative is their price. They are expensive but considering that we have spent $60 in less than a year on the Ryobis that don’t work, and haven’t really liked the Sharks and other models we’ve had over the years, we decided that it might be worth it to spend a bit more up front and get one that just works well. We don’t have it yet – I’ll write a review after we’ve had it a while – but here’s the link to what we bought:

NOTE: This is one reason that I generally wait a bit to write a review about a new product that I get. I want to see how it holds up over time and if any problems or quirks develop!

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  1. I’m very happy with my Black & Decker.

  2. I’ve never had any luck with Ryobi tools.

  3. It’s a shame about the Ryobi . . . we’ve always had good luck with their products (considering the price). I’m looking forward to reading your review on the Dyson because our trusty old Dustbuster is on its last legs (after 12 years of service) and I want a good, reliable replacement for it. Cheers!

  4. Love my Dyson!!

  5. Ryobi = cheap. I manage 2 college woodshops. We sometimes have rashs of drill thefts, so I stock Ryobis. Not as big a loss in cost and they disuade further thefts. Students learn by experience.

  6. Good to know.

  7. John Brethauer says:

    They aren’t designed for the salt and humidity on a boat

  8. Have the Dyson and it’s amazing I can use the shop vac. They the Dyson and it still seems to pickup stuff the other missed. I also have the matters attachment which is amazing in what it picks upm

  9. Ditto on the Dyson, its a c

  10. Ditto on the Dyson, we have the Dyson Mini on our boat, its amazing. Sailing the Planet

  11. We have a Dyson and the company recently sent us a new battery pack free of charge.

  12. More expensive, but versatile with the wet/dry capability, hose feature and rechargeable batteries that can be used on Dewalt drills, etc. http://www.cpopowertools.com/dewalt-dc515k-18v-cordless-1-2-gallon-wet-dry-portable-vacuum/dewndc515k,default,pd.html?ref=pla&zmam=31282435&zmas=47&zmac=726&zmap=dewndc515k&gclid=CNzq1P2kyskCFYQfHwodfp8CBg

  13. Use a “lint roller”….works much better. IMO.

  14. Auspicious is mostly a 12VDC boat. There are a few applications where plugging something in (we do have a 2kW inverter and a 6kW generator) makes sense to us. Our list includes a generic 2 gallon wet/dry vac and a very nice Rikkar canister vac.

    For what it may be worth the other 117VAC devices are an immersion (“stick”) blender and charger for a cordless drill. Oh – and TV – if I was starting from scratch I’d go 12VDC for the TV from the RV community.

  15. First off I would never buy any Ryobi tool’s you get what you pay for second the Dyson is OK but the batteries stop holding a full charge pretty quick I have two of there hand held and both of the batters stopped working all together after a year.

  16. Brian McCue says:

    That’s sad news about your experience with the Ryobi vacuums. I have had Ryobi tools for a number of years without any issues at all. To see if Ryobi is interested in restoring their image and making things right with you, I sent an email to one of their representatives.

    • Thanks, but we’ve had a number of phone calls with them.

    • Victor Raymond says:

      I have luck so far with Ryobi including the vacuum. I have a love hate relationship ship with it because it is so handy but when it starts up a lot of dust comes out initially.

      In any case the way I have had luck in the past is to go to Home Depot when the Ryobi rep is there demoing their products. In front of the crowd he will make good to you.

  17. I’ve had the “green” Ryobi tools for years now and have no complaints about the tools themselves – I’m surprised that the vacuum has been a problem. The other tools have worked extremely well and, other than shelling out $100 for replacement batteries (2) (the big 4A-h lithium ones when they go on sale a few times a year), I have to say that my Sawsall, drill, impact drill, circular saw, and light have provided many years of good service around the house and the boat.

    About a month ago I did lose my drill when making dock repairs at our club. Went to the bottom by a slip and I was unable to recover it from the muck layer. I pulled out my older “blue” drill and it’s still working just fine.

  18. Jane Overbeck, Rising Tide says:

    Wish you had gone with Makita 18v rechargeable handheld vac. It led the others in Practical Sailor tests a few years ago. Ours has been used every other day for three years now. No sign of stopping. Always works. Gets rid of dog hair (way beyond the capacity of a lint roller) and dirt. Easy to clean. Cost is reasonable — about $100 for the vac only, $75 for recharger and battery 3 years ago. Probably less now. Prices have dropped. We have Makita tools compatible with the batteries. Love my vac.

  19. The little dyson is what you want. That ryobi cordless system is just a toy. How many tradies and general contractors use ryobi?

  20. Mary Mathisson says:

    We’ve been using the Black & Decker BDH2000PL vac on the boat for a few months now and charge the thing on the inverter. I like the small size and that the nozzle can get into narrow spaces. I’m sure the Dyson will work well too. I know what you mean by wait and see. 🙂

  21. I know you two have a dog but $185 for a handheld vac? And right now the one for your mattress is on sale for $200!!!!! ……..Oh my.

    On a helpful note, I was able to put my hands on a DeWalt (to match my batteries). It weighs more than a ton. And cumbersome in my view.

    I’m sticking with my Hang Up Shop Vac. Real power. 18’hose. $85. HEPA filter. Gotta have an inverter anyhoo.

  22. I can highly recommend the Dyson DC6 portable vacuum cleaner. We’ve used others and found them mostly useless. The Dyson with its powerful motor, turbo-charger sucks as good as most household ones. And after nearly 2 years of live aboard use, its standing up to the environment.

  23. I read the owners reviews on Amazon – there are a loy of critical comments especially about short battery life.

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