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.
DeWalt DCV581H Review
Pros: Long battery life, HEPA rated filter, well-designed floor attachment
Cons: Poor suction, poor airflow, loud
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|Pros||Long battery life, HEPA rated filter, well-designed floor attachment||Long runtime, HEPA filter, blower option||Good hose design, powerful motor, great storage||Great for hard surfaces, great with heavy/dense debris, compact||Powerful suction, relatively lightweight, HEPA filter|
|Cons||Poor suction, poor airflow, loud||Awkward hose storage, narrow end of hose diameter, no tool adapter||Heavy, filter isn't washable, shorter runtime, mediocre puddle clean up||Lacks HEPA filter, limited runtime, whiny motor||Short and narrow hose, heavy, relatively noisy|
|Bottom Line||A sharp-looking machine that leaves a lot to be desired in the suction and airflow departments||This do-it-all vacuum excels in wet work and battery life||A well designed, toolbox-style vacuum that offers the most convenience and performance||An economical machine that is capable of handling both wet and dry debris||This 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%)|
|Wet Work (30%)|
|Battery Life (20%)|
|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|
|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|
|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.
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.
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.
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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