DeWalt 20V Max Wet/Dry Vacuum (DCV517B): Hands-on Review

If you’re the type of person who’s constantly reaching for that bulky 16 gallon wet/dry vac to clean up your messes and wishing you had something a little more convenient – the DeWalt DCV517B portable vacuum is just the thing for you. It’s the perfect size for cleaning up dirt and debris around the garage, workshop, car, or house.

The portable vacuum is compact, lightweight, and powerful, while not being too much of a battery hog. It features power and suction similar to a full-sized vacuum in a convenient ½ gallon tank size.

If you’ve already got a few other DeWalt 20V Max tools lying around, then adding this one to your collection is a no-brainer as you’ll have plenty of spare batteries should you need them. Let’s review the DeWalt DCV517B in more detail.

Pro’s

  • Light, compact, and convenient
  • Power is comparable to larger models
  • Wet/Dry functionality
  • ½ Gallon tank is easy to remove and clean
  • Removable flexible hose for getting to hard-to-reach spots

Con’s

  • No accessory kit
  • Loud

First Impressions

Right away, you’ll notice how compact the vacuum actually is. It’s by no means a replacement for your full-sized shop vac but is designed to be the first thing you grab for those small messes.

The vacuum consists of three major components, the base, the ½ gallon tank, and the removable HEPA filter. The tank is held in place with a latch that snaps shut and secures the tank in place.

The battery slides into place towards the front of the unit, which gives a nice balance to the tool. The angled head allows you to get the nozzle into tight hard-to-reach spots, and if you’re still having a hard time getting to the mess, the flexible 1-1/4” diameter hose can be separated from the main body.

When it comes time to clean up, unclipping the ½ gallon tank from the body is quick and easy, while the filters twists off and can be cleared of dust by tapping it inside a garbage can. If you’re using the vacuum to clear up liquids, a rubber gasket inside the tank prevents liquids from getting out once they’re in.

Turning the vacuum on and off is easy with the oversize toggle switch located directly underneath the handle.

Bare Tool: 

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With 4Ah Battery:

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Specs

  • Weight: 3.8 lbs (tool only)
  • Tank size: 1/2 Gallon
  • Hose diameter: 1 1/4″
  • Hose Length: 2 1/2 feet
  • Filtration: Gore HEPA wet/dry filter traps 99.97% of dust at 0.3 microns

Performance

I had the chance to review the DeWalt DCV517B while I was staying in a cabin for a week. There was no other vacuum around, so I pretty much used this vacuum to clean up dirt and debris for the entire week.

dewalt vacuum cleaning dirt
The vacuum made quick work of dust, dirt, sawdust, and food particles.

I used the vacuum to clean up food particles, dirt, mud, sawdust, and a number of other messes. It performed well at most of these tasks and has enough power to handle small messes with ease. While it worked ok as a primary vacuum, it’s obviously not meant for that, as bending over constantly to use the vacuum can get annoying fast.

I found the primary angled head to be fairly versatile, and rarely needed to remove the flexible hose from the body. Separating the hose from the body is a little stiff, although I would imagine this would become easier over time.

One thing you should be aware of is that this thing is pretty loud! It’s got a similar noise level to a full-sized vacuum, so if noise is a major consideration for you might want to look elsewhere.

I haven’t had the opportunity to use the wet function yet, but judging by its overall performance I’d have no hesitancy reaching for it if I needed to clean up a spill.

Emptying Compartment

When you’ve filled up the tank with dust and debris, emptying it is fast and straightforward. Simply unlock the compartment using the heavy-duty latch, and turn over the compartment into the trash can.

emptying vacuum compartment
Unlocking and emptying the tank is quick and easy.

The HEPA filter wet-dry filter is designed to be cleaned off with water, and replacements can be purchased in hardware stores or online.

Battery Life

The battery life was solid when using the vacuum with the 4 Ah battery. It would last for about 15 to 20 minutes of use before needing a charge.

Although that might not sound like a long time, it’s pretty decent for a battery-powered vacuum. If you have smaller 1.5 Ah DeWalt batteries lying around, don’t expect these to last as long.

Due to its battery consumption, the vacuum makes sense if you’ve already got several DeWalt 20V Max tools and spare batteries lying around. If you were to buy the kit without already owning extra batteries, the convenience factor would be somewhat diminished.

Bare Tool: 

View On Amazon

With 4Ah Battery:

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Wrap Up

In review, the DeWalt 20V Max Wet/Dry Vacuum (DCV517B) makes a great option for cleaning up small messes in a hurry. It’s portable, compact, and lightweight – making it ideal when you don’t want the hassle of reaching for a full-sized wet/dry vac.

For people already committed to the DeWalt 20V Max lineup of tools, the vacuum makes good sense, as you’ll already have plenty of spare batteries lying around. That way, you can easily swap your cordless drill or saw battery to the vacuum to clean up sawdust and wood chips as you work.

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