DeWalt DCV581H 20V Cordless Wet/Dry Vac Review

DeWalt 20V DCV581H vacuuming
PTR Review
  • Build Quality 9.0
  • Suction 9.0
  • Features 9.0
  • Ergonomics 7.0
  • Accessory Storage 7.0
  • Value 10.0

For smaller jobs and portability it's going to be hard to beat the DeWalt DCV581H wet/dry vac—especially if you already have a lot of yellow and black in your garage or work trailer. With a retail price of just $120, this is one tool I don't think anyone should go without.

Overall Score 8.5 (out of 10)

The cordless wet/dry vac has got to be one of the most handy products to hit the market since the dawn of cordless tools. In fact, if you consider cordless drills and drivers to be a “given”, then the cordless vac, like the new DeWalt DCV581H, has got to be the next most handy product to have in your arsenal. Then again, maybe because that’s because I tend to be a punch list and projects guy. In any event, I use them a lot-and the savings in time and hassle has paid for mine several times over.

So when the DeWalt DCV581H arrived at my door for testing, I had to take it out and immediately give it a thorough once over. Of course I had also just made one of my trademark messes sanding down a portion drywall in the midst of a repair to remedy a double gang outlet that had been cut in by an over ambitious electrician.

First Impressions are Important

I often find that I need to overcome my first impressions with many tools. Many products have more under the hood than they initially let on from outward appearances. The DeWalt DCV581H is a lot like that. It’s a short, squat vacuum that doesn’t seem like it will have much in the way of suction or capacity.

Yeah, that’s not really accurate. I turned on the vacuum and noticed a couple things right away. One, it’s really quiet. I mean really quiet-for a vacuum. The Milwaukee I’ve been using for several years has a much higher pitched whine and measures 3dB louder on the SPL meter. The suction was adequate. That is to say, you’re going to be able to pick up debris just fine and even use it as a mini dust collector (there is an optional DWV9000 that can fasten on instead of the default hose nozzle). You’re not going to be able to do really heavy work with this vac, and I wouldn’t hook it up to anything where you were staking your LRRP credentials on its dust-collecting prowess. Still, the HEPA-rated filter does a great job, there’s just not a ton of power or surface area in a vacuum of this size to handle larger jobs. For that you want to bring in the dust extractor/collector “big dogs”.

DeWalt 20V vacuum attachments

I love the integrated tool storage. The crevice tool stores nicely in the handle and the wide nozzle clips to the front of the unit. Even the hose stores securely around the back of the vacuum, underneath the open battery compartment.

Battery Compatibility

So let’s talk about the battery mode. I had the DeWalt DCV581H working off both an older 18V NiCd stem battery and a new 20V pack. Suction didn’t seem to be much affected by either mode and there was no difference in performance from using either the NiCd or the Lithium-ion. Given the number of installed packs in the industry, it’s great to see DeWalt catering to both new 20V “converts” and their long time 18V users.

DeWalt 20V vacuum battery compartment

Performance Matters

I love the 8′ long cord on this vacuum. It’s plenty long for most of what I needed, and it opts for space and convenience over capacity. Even the cord wrap is well thought out. I imagine that, like me, most users will be taking advantage of the battery powered nature of this portable vac.

DeWalt CDH581H 20V vacuum

The vacuum hose is a full five feet in length and perfect for most jobs. Holding the DCV581H in my left hand, I was able to reach up and vacuum along the top of a window where I had done some work. On another job, the extension was perfect when rotozipping a light switch and holding the hose up by the work to catch the debris on the fly.

DeWalt 20V vacuum use


  • Air Volume (CFM) : 33.55
  • Amperage (amps) : 8 A
  • Depth (in.) : 17.25 in
  • Height (in.) : 13.125 in
  • Width (in.) : 12.312 in
  • Cord Length (ft.) : 5
  • Filter Type : HEPA Washable
  • Hose: 1.25 in x 5 ft
  • Warranty : 3 Year Limited, 1 Year Free Service Contract
  • Vacuum Capacity (Gallons) : 2 gal Battery: 18V NiCd/20V Li-ion

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