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DeWalt DCV581H Review

A sharp-looking machine that leaves a lot to be desired in the suction and airflow departments
DeWalt DCV581H
Credit: Laura Casner
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Price:   $160 List
Pros:  Long battery life, HEPA rated filter, well-designed floor attachment
Cons:  Poor suction, poor airflow, loud
Manufacturer:   DEWALT
By Nick Miley and Austin Palmer  ⋅  Jan 11, 2022
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49
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#9 of 9
  • Dry Work - 40% 4
  • Wet Work - 30% 4
  • Battery Life - 20% 8
  • Convenience - 10% 5

Our Verdict

The DeWalt 18/20V MAX is an interesting wet/dry machine that has many innovations that would otherwise be quite appealing except that the machine isn't very good at, well, vacuuming. The MAX struggled in both the wet and dry vacuuming analyses, as well as much of the convenience evaluation. That said, this machine does have one heck of a battery life, and it accommodates both 18 and 20-volt batteries. However, it is so poor at picking-up unwanted debris that the value of these components is moot.

Editor's Note: This product review was updated on January 11, 2022, with information on what we like about this product and a more in-depth comparison between products.

Compare to Similar Products

 
DeWalt DCV581H
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DeWalt DCV581H
Awards  Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award Best Buy Award Best Buy Award 
Price $160 List$120 List$130 List
$146.58 at Amazon
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Pros Long battery life, HEPA rated filter, well-designed floor attachmentLong runtime, HEPA filter, blower optionGood hose design, powerful motor, great storageGreat for hard surfaces, great with heavy/dense debris, compactPowerful suction, relatively lightweight, HEPA filter
Cons Poor suction, poor airflow, loudAwkward hose storage, narrow end of hose diameter, no tool adapterHeavy, filter isn't washable, shorter runtime, mediocre puddle clean upLacks HEPA filter, limited runtime, whiny motorShort and narrow hose, heavy, relatively noisy
Bottom Line A sharp-looking machine that leaves a lot to be desired in the suction and airflow departmentsThis do-it-all vacuum excels in wet work and battery lifeA well designed, toolbox-style vacuum that offers the most convenience and performanceAn economical machine that is capable of handling both wet and dry debrisThis inexpensive machine performs at the highest level in all areas excluding battery life
Rating Categories DeWalt DCV581H Craftsman CMCV002B Milwaukee M18 0880-20 Ryobi P3240 Kobalt KWDV 0124B-03
Dry Work (40%)
4.0
7.0
9.0
8.0
9.0
Wet Work (30%)
4.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
6.0
Battery Life (20%)
8.0
8.0
4.0
4.0
4.0
Convenience (10%)
5.0
6.0
6.0
6.0
5.0
Specs DeWalt DCV581H Craftsman CMCV002B Milwaukee M18 0880-20 Ryobi P3240 Kobalt KWDV 0124B-03
Measured height x width x depth (inches) 12 3/4" x 16 1/2" x 12" 13" x 18 3/4" x 10 1/2" 12" x 16 3/4" x 8 1/2" 9 1/2" x 18 1/2" x 12" 13" x 17 1/2" x 10 3/4"
Measured weight (w/o battery) 9 pounds, 2 ounces 7 pounds, 8 ounces 10 pounds, 2 ounces 8 pounds, 6 ounces 10 pounds,12 ounces
Measured runtime (minutes) 40 min 34 min 23 min 19 min 20 min
Measured hose length min/ max (inches) 21" - 82 1/2" 26" - 94" 24" - 90 1/2" 20 1/4" - 84" 24" - 96"
Attachments crevice nozzle, wide nozzle crevice nozzle, wide nozzle crevice nozzle, floor nozzle utility nozzle, crevice tool crevice nozzle, floor nozzle
End of hose diameter (inches) 1" 1" 1" 1" 1 1/16"
HEPA rated filter Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Canister volume (gallons) 2 gal 2 gal 2 gal 3 gal 3 gal
Washable filter Yes Yes Yes (dry only) Yes Yes
Battery (volts) 18/20v 20v 18v 18v 24v
Measured suction (inches of water lift) 16" 19" 25" 22" 22"
Battery life inicator on machine On select batteries On select batteries On select batteries On select batteries On select batteries
Blower feature Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Tool connection adaptor Yes (sold seperately) No Yes (sold seperately) No No
Auxiiary power cord Yes No No No No
Dry sawdust clean-up (seconds) 25 sec 15 sec 13 sec 15 sec 13 sec
Wet sawdust clean-up (seconds) 85 sec 42 sec 36 sec 42 sec 51 sec

Our Analysis and Test Results

The main features that make this model a standout in its cohort are its effective floor tool attachment, long runtime, a battery adaptor. It can handle either an 18 or 20-volt DeWalt battery cell and has an auxiliary power cord. Unfortunately, the accolades stop there. However, this model's exceptionally poor suction and airflow are more memorable, which means it's not very good at vacuuming. Added to the poor vacuuming is a super-high price, providing good reasons to look elsewhere for a cordless shop vacuum.

Performance Comparison



It's all about the air channels. This well thought out floor...
It's all about the air channels. This well thought out floor attachment keeps the air flowing and the sawdust moving.
Credit: Laura Casner

Likes


At 39 minutes, 40 seconds of runtime on a 20-volt, 5 amp-hour battery, the DeWalt 18/20V MAX offers one of the longest-lived batteries in the class. A real positive, to be sure. It's also an advantage that the machine has an 18-volt adaptor that will allow the user to run either battery type. Additionally, the DeWalt has an auxiliary power cord — a nice touch for prolonged jobs. We like the included HEPA-rated filter, which helps keep the air a bit cleaner.

This machine will accommodate the brand's 18 and 20-volt batteries...
This machine will accommodate the brand's 18 and 20-volt batteries. So, if you already own DeWalt cordless tools, you're all set.
Credit: Laura Casner

Another advantage that the DeWalt offers is a floor attachment tool that works well on hard surfaces. Despite this model's minimal suction and airflow, the gaps in the contact surface of this attachment allow the air to keep moving and the unwanted liquid or debris to shoot up into the canister.

Dislikes


The overriding problem with the 18/20V MAX is that its motor is incredibly underpowered for the tasks it's intended to tackle. We could go into all the vacuuming tests that this machine flopped. However, it's more telling to state the machine's suction and airflow stats. We tested the unit's suction — which is measured in the number of cubic inches of water lift the motor can produce. The DeWalt checked in at an abysmal 16 inches water lift. Yikes!


This machine's airflow is also quite low. The manufacturer's rating is 31 cubic feet per second, a rate that is at the bottom of the class. Contrary to popular belief, suction alone does not a good vacuum make. It is the combination of suction and airflow that moves unwanted items from the floor up into the vacuum canister. So, the fact that this model has poor suction and airflow goes a long way in explaining why it performed poorly in most of our wet and dry vacuuming evaluations.

Should You Buy the DeWalt DCV581H?


This machine may catch your eyes because of the well-known DeWalt name brand. However, we were disappointed in the overall performance of this vacuum. Paired with its higher-than-average price tag, we do not think this is the right vacuum for most people. We recommend looking elsewhere for your project cleanup tools.

What Other Cordless Wet Dry Vacuum Should You Consider?


The DeWalt is one of the lowest scoring vacuums in our review, so you can purchase almost any other machine and come back with better results. Some of our favorites include the Craftsman CMCV002B, which has above-average results in almost every metric, and the Kobalt KWDV, which has one of the top dry work scores combined with a lower price tag.

Nick Miley and Austin Palmer

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