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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 | Check Price at Amazon
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  ⋅  Feb 21, 2020
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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 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.

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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 well-designed vacuum except for the fact that it has poor suction and airflowThis machine performed well across the board but particularly in wet clean-up and runtimeA compact, powerful tool that can handle just about anythingAn affordable vacuum that is tough on wet and dry messesThis competitively priced vacuum is powerful and efficient but lacks in battery life
Rating Categories DEWALT DCV581H Craftsman CMCV002B Milwaukee M18... Ryobi P3240 Kobalt KWDV 0124B-03
Dry Work (40%)
4
7
9
8
9
Wet Work (30%)
4
7
6
7
6
Battery Life (20%)
8
8
4
4
4
Convenience (10%)
5
6
6
6
5
Specs DEWALT DCV581H Craftsman CMCV002B Milwaukee M18... 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 that allows one to use either an 18 or 20-volt DEWALT battery cell and an auxiliary power cord. Unfortunately, the accolades stop there. More notable is this model's exceptionally poor suction and airflow, 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.

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 greatly 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 the majority of our wet and dry vacuuming evaluations.

Value


To put it bluntly, we do not find the DEWALT 18/20V MAX to be a very good deal. This machine is at the top of the class in price, but it is at the bottom of the class in performance. Many models on the cordless wet/dry vacuum market cost less and clean better.

Conclusion


The DEWALT 18/20V MAX is a sharp-looking machine with the option of using either an 18 or 20-volt DEWALT battery cell or an auxiliary power cord. It also has an effective floor attachment that works well on hard surfaces where the competition flounders. However, these features do little to mitigate this machine's utter lack of vacuuming power. Exacerbating this performance shortfall is a hefty price tag. It is our opinion that one can do much better than this machine for a lot less money.

Nick Miley and Austin Palmer