DeWALT’s new DCV501HB—A shop vac you can take home to the family

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Looking like a submersible or perhaps dirigible, DeWALT's new shop vac is a winner
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A recent “Tools in Action” YouTube video extolling the virtues of DeWALT’s new, DCV501HB vacuum suggested that this shop vac might be “The GREATEST Handheld?”

I’ll leave the answer to the influencers out there, but I can humbly state that this little yellow vac does live up to DeWALT’s legacy of excellence. I’ve been a DeWALT fanboy for many years (yes I’m unabashedly biased) and use their cordless gear regularly. (I’m currently deploying their tools—a drill, impact driver and oscillating tool to repair my termite infested home).

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Tracking down those nasty hairballs in my bathroom with the DeWALT DCV501HB (photo Rob Kay)

Now I’m “deploying” their new DCV501HB shop vac.

So what’s cool about this product?

Weighing in at three pounds, it’s useful for everything from grabbing those little balls of dust in your bathroom to the sawdust on the workbench. The wonders of Ni–Li batteries make it both powerful and portable.

There’s a lot to like.  

Works fine for everyday cleanup duties such as your automobile. I like the round nozzle for the carpet. (photo Rob Kay)

It’s powerful. Not jaw-droppingly so but muscular enough to pick up most things that aren’t too onerous. It’s not going to suck up golf ball sized ball bearings but will pick up tacks or small nails and just about any other detritus from the workbench so long as they are about 1/2″ or smaller.

Otherwise it will jam up.

I use it for tasks such as cleaning hard to reach corners of my home (such as behind my display case and desk), my car, the roof gutters, closets, the lanai—you name it. I also like that it has a sort of headlight that helps you to see exactly what you’re doing if the light is minimal.

And yes, you can even use it on the job site. In this case I’m grabbing sawdust from a once termite ridden deck. (photo Rob Kay)

Then there are the attachments. All kinds! There’s an extension tube, a flexible hose, a crevice nozzle, round brush, gulper brush, floor nozzle and a mesh accessory bag to keep everything in one place. (Good idea).

With the extension tube and floor attachment the DCV501HB becomes a house vac. It’s even ergonomic–what a concept.

Thus you can stand erect and clean your livingroom with the vac, using the extension, like any old-fashioned vacuum cleaner. With a flick of the wrist the rolling floor nozzle can navigate any corner of your home (or shop floor).

Take off the extension and as a stand-alone, the vacuum is balanced. It has a sort of rubber bumper that allows it to rest on any surface.

The attachments all fit, and the plastic is heavy duty. In other words, you don’t get the feeling that these items will crack or are shoddy in anyway.

All kinds of attachments and a mesh bag to keep everything together.

The DCV501HB utilizes a HEPA filter which is accessible and “cleanable”. Just hit the button and the device pops open. The cannister holds about a liter, which is not exceedingly large but you’re not going to tackle huge jobs with this anyway. To get rid of the junk, just tap the filter and most of it will drop away.

Just tap the filter and the junk drops away. You’ll need to tap it a few times! (photo Rob Kay)

I would say the pros for the DCV501HB far outweigh the cons.

For smallish jobs where a portable vac makes sense, like cleaning your car’s interior, it’s ideal.

Figure that with a 5AH battery it will go 15-20 minutes easy. It works great on bare floors but doesn’t have the “sucking power” (46 CFM) to be an ideal carpet cleaner. You’ll need to keep at it. On my Subaru’s dense carpet I find the small round brush works best because the bristles will nudge whatever debris below my gas pedal and clutch into the nozzle. You have to go over the surface a few times to pull out the rubbish.

That said, it actually did a fair job on my thicker Persian carpet in the living room–certainly better than my robo-vac.

The extension tube with the floor nozzle (or is it the gulper?) doubles as a house vac for light duty jobs and getting into tight spaces. The floor nozzle tilts and is easy to maneuver. (Rob Kay photo)

You’re not going to get the kind of power that you’d expect from a $1000 Miele. It’s quite sufficient, however, for its mission.

One reviewer said this vacuum is a winner for those already invested in DeWALT tools and batteries. He makes a good point, but I would turn this on it’s head and say if you’re contemplating a purchase of power tools, this would be an ideal first step to enter the DeWALT universe. (You will need to purchase a charger and battery to go along with this device).

You’ll need a battery and charger for this tool. The Powerstack 20V MAX Battery Starter Kit is a winner.

It’s handy, well designed and the plethora of attachments make it a pragmatic choice that you can use anywhere you live (or work). Price on Amazon is $142.69 as a “bare tool”, sans battery. It’s on the high end compared to other shop vacs but as the axiom goes, you get what you pay for. DeWALT stands behind their products.

Here’s the cool little mesh bag in action.. Nice touch. (Rob Kay photo)

If you need a battery/charger consider the Powerstack 20V MAX Battery Starter Kit, which includes a rechargeable, 5Ah, Lithium Ion (DCBP520C). It costs about $105 on Amazon and you can of course use the battery for any other of DeWALT’s cordless tools. If you live in Hawaii you can purchase this unit at Home Depot for slightly more. (Lithium Ion batteries aren’t typically sent via air freight–at least not with Amazon).

Cleaning has never been something I’ve looked forward to, but it’s certainly more fun with this item.

Rob Kay writes a column on technology for the Honolulu Star Advertiser and is a travel writer. He recently returned from Italy where he was researching a family memoir about the Second World War.

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