Customer Reviews: DEWALT DC515K 1/2-Gallon 18-Volt NiCd Cordless Wet/Dry Vac
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Size: 0.5 gallons|Change
Price:$116.99+ Free shipping with Amazon Prime
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VINE VOICEon February 4, 2008
I bought this to replace a truly crappy Shark rechargeable vacuum. The DeWalt was one of four that I had decided on (the other three being the B&D PHV1800, Eureka 71A, and B&D CHV1500 in descending order of price). I ultimately chose the DeWalt because it uses a standard DeWalt power tool battery, has a washable filter, and was the only wet/dry vacuum of my selections.

The box contains the vacuum itself, rechargeable battery, fast charger (will charge a completely flat battery in about an hour), and a thin but complete owner's manual.

The DeWalt's design is all business. It's about the size of two irons or half a shoe box. The top has a very grippy rubberized handle that's set above a large (but not stiff) responsive power switch. It's very easy to turn the vacuum on and off with one hand and very difficult to do so accidentally. A plastic vacuum hose runs from the back of the unit over the top (the handle) to the vacuum nozzle on the front of the unit. You can easily pull the hose out of the nozzle to get into smaller crevices; put the hose back in and it's a normal hand vacuum. Underneath, in the back you've got a black plastic debris bin that's held in place with a beefy (but, again, not too stiff) latch. In front of that is the standard DeWalt battery pack.

Although it's one of the heavier vacuums out there, the weight is well balanced. You can easily tilt the vacuum in all directions without feeling like you're fighting the weight of the battery and/or the vacuum motor. You can vacuum vertical surfaces just as easily as horizontal ones. You CAN use the vacuum vertically if there's water in the collection bin; the bin seals tightly enough to the base that leakage isn't a problem. However, having too much water in there could make it splash into the motor assembly. So the moral is: If you've got water in the collection bin, empty it out before doing anything vertical (or hold the vacuum horizontal and use the detachable hose).

So, how well does it work? Quite well, in fact. The motor is very powerful and was able to easily pick up all manner of bits that I threw at it including drywall dust, small finishing nails, screw anchors, and cat hair from a wood floor. It also did an excellent job removing cat hair from upholstery despite its lack of a power brush or upholstery comb. In the car, it easily picked up all the sand, dirt, pebbles and occasional penny without any complaints, including bits that were embedded in a damp carpeted floor mat.

Emptying the bin is simplicity itself and takes less than five seconds to complete. The filter seems to be doing an excellent job so far; even with a bin full of drywall dust, there's no "cloud" when you turn the vacuum on again. I haven't yet needed to clean the filter but it's easily removable and is washable. (EDIT 03-24-08: I finally had to wash the filter. It lost about 70% of its suction after pulling up a buttload of spackle dust, so I removed and tapped the filter against the inside of a trash can. A HUGE cloud of dust was released. About a minute at the sink with a small stiff bristled scrub brush and the filter came clean. I let it dry overnight before reinstalling it; meanwhile I rinsed out the collection bin and cleaned up the unit itself. By morning it was back to its old self again, sucking up everything and scaring the cats.)

The battery lasts friggin' forever. Out of the box the battery had a partial charge on it that lasted about 20 minutes. After charging for about half an hour in the included charger I was able to vacuum pretty much every corner and edge in the house, plus my car, without losing any vacuum strength. A big selling point for me was that it uses standard DeWalt power tool batteries so finding replacements will be incredibly easy.

My only real issue with the vacuum is one that has been mentioned before: This vacuum is LOUD and does emit a power tool-like whine which some people can find annoying. I doubt it's any louder than my full-size vacuum cleaner but since it's held in your hand rather than being dragged on the floor, it's closer to your ears and therefore might sound louder. So far as 18v handheld vacuums I compared it against this one is about average in noise, and compared to all handheld vacuums I looked at this is definitely one of the louder ones. I therefore wouldn't consider this to be "bad design" but simply a consequence of a larger and more powerful motor. Even so, since there are other 18v handhelds out there which aren't as loud, I think DeWalt could have done a little something to quiet it down just a little more.

I also would have liked to have a transparent debris bin so that I could see how full it was. This feature exists on at least 2/3 of the handheld vacuums out there today. I recognize DeWalt's "yellow and black" design decision here probably overrode this as a possible feature.

The only other thing I would have liked to see on this vacuum is a few more accessories; namely, a shoulder strap (so you can walk around using the hose to clean things like window sills and such) and a few hose accessories like an upholstery brush or pinhole nozzle. Still, even with these minor shortcomings I'd definitely buy this one again.
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on September 30, 2007
I was excited to get this vac as I needed a commercial quality portable for the random handyman jobs my boss sends me to in between regular framing gigs. Having an extra battery and charger to use with my other Dewalt 18 volt tools made this the vac to buy. I'm on the fence as to whether or not I would buy it again.

Did you read in any of these reviews that it is LOUD? Well, it is. It is not just that the vacuum is loud, but that it is an extremely high-pitched whining kind of loud. If I use it without earplugs I begin to get irritable like when I have to listen to a broken car alarm, a yapping poodle (oh, isn't he so-o-o cute!), or a toddler who isn't getting what he wants in the supermarket candy aisle. I have tried to adjust the pitch by SLIGHTLY covering the air intakes and outputs with blue painters tape to no avail. It is like an 18 volt motorized whistle. The fact that the vacuum operates at a mere arm's length from your ears exacerbates the problem.
You figure that if you buy an 18 volt vacuum made by Dewalt that you are going to get some serious suction, right? Not the case with this vacuum, or at least the one I bought. My 7.2 volt Dustbuster is much stronger than this vacuum. When I'm on the job I usually need to pick up sawdust, wood chips, drywall dust, and small screws and finish nails. The Dewalt leaves something to be desired when it comes to these materials, requiring me to go over and over the dirty area to get all the dust, and leaving me to pick up the bigger debris by hand. It isn't a clogged filter either, as I keep the filter meticulously clean on this, and on all my vacuums. I find it hard to believe that the engineers on this project were content to let a Dustbuster outperform this cool looking vacuum in suction strength.

There are some solid points about this vacuum. First off, the thing seems to run and run on a fully charged battery. If it does have 1/2 the suction of the Dustbuster, at least it runs several times as long. In the end that may equal as much or more dirt being picked up per charge.

The batteries and charger are compatible with your other dewalt tools.

The vacuum is made of thick, heavy duty plastic that, so far, has endured all the rigors of commercial use, including being at the bottom of the Jobox under a heap of other tools. It is not fragile.

I have not had it clog up yet, even when the canister is full up solid to the dustport it keeps on vacuuming. I know this doesn't sound quite possible but it is my experience. It can deal with drywall dust which is the bane of many vaccums.

It vacuums liquids. It can be used to clean up while wet polishing counter tops or wet cutting concrete in a situation where water can't be allowed to go all over the place. I have used mine to drain the water from a low spot on a wet, leaky roof so that I could perform repairs.

The collection bin can be emptied and reinstalled in about 6 seconds. The HEPA quality filter is easy to access and rinses off under the tap. (I don't think that you are supposed to scrub this type of filter with a brush or anything as you may damage the rather delicate-and expensive- membrane.)

It looks way cool.

There you have it. The vacuum performed less well than I expected as far as its suction strength goes. It is annoyingly loud. On the other hand it is useful for wet tasks and I'm not afraid to let it get knocked around, it'll probably last many, many years. I just ordered a Makita 14 volt vacuum, which received glowing reviews here on Amazon, before I wrote this review. I plan on using the Makita to keep my client's floors clean of dust and debris and will use the Dewalt on other, task specific jobs.

Hope this review helps you in your decision making process.
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on January 3, 2007
I've owned and discarded any number of small portable dustbuster type vacuums over the years. In every case, they run well for a time, then go in the trash bin after the batteries lose charge capacity and are not worth replacing. This DeWalt is the best alternative I've found yet.

Pros: very powerful, swappable batteries (especially good compared to the NiCads in usual dustbusters that become useless quickly), small but solid. Detaching hose feature is a plus. Easy to unload the waste and clean the filter. wet/dry feature quite useful in the real world. Lots less loss of vacuum power as the collection bin fills as compared to other units we've owned.

Cons: Pricey, stuck to the 18 volt power pack only (other DeWalt design will take several different voltage packs), needs a crevice tool to be included.

Observation: No more noisy than other portables of this size. Industrial look does not really go well in most home situations, but that's just a matter of taste. Stick it in a closet if you are really bothered.

Overall: Much preferred to even the most powerful consumer dustbusters, despite the price. Rated 4 not 5 stars for lack of power pack options.
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on May 19, 2006
Dustbuster that runs on my 18V batteries....hard to beat for convenience. Good battery life and pretty good suction, but it is LOUD with a really high pitched sound that buzzes in your ears. It comes with one XRP 18V battery which is about $60 so the cost of the vac is $70 or so. Was great to use in my attic rather than dragging out the big shop vac. I tried and returned the 2 gallon vac. This one has about the same suction and is cheaper and smaller. Hose detaches for cleaning in corners etc. Other than the noise...I love it.
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on April 26, 2011
Reasonably light though also relatively bulky compared to my older Ryobi vacuum. It does hold a lot more before requiring emptying and has a much finer pore filter so it stops more fine dust.

One thing not noted in the other reviews I have read on it concerns the criticism noted of the suction nozzle being fixed to the body. The hose diameter is such that when the nozzle end is pulled out of the nozzle, 1.25" diameter standard shop vacuum accessories can be attached to the hose end. Thus it can be used with standard 1.25" nozzles including wand, flared nozzle and brush accessories and extensions for floor cleaning. This capability adds considerably to the unit's versatility.

It is loud compared to other battery powered vacuums but that is my primary criticism so far.
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on December 11, 2005
For a handheld cordless vac, this works well. Suction is adequate for picking up sawdust, small nails, screws, drywall dust, etc. Used for the first time today on a wet clean-up and it worked great. No it won't replace my full size shop vac, but that isn't why I bought it. Its great for bringing into the house to clean up work messes that don't justify the large plug-in vac, or when you don't want to junk up the house-vac with work debris. Battery life is really good. Bought it about a month ago and have used it about a dozen times without charging again until today. None of the clean up jobs were significant - just various wood dust and chips... but still impressive battery life.
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on September 17, 2006
This thing does what it says. The suction is not as strong as my shop vac, but who cares. This little vac picks up everything, and it is great for getting spiders, bugs, and flies! I bought it for convenience and think it was money well spent. The battery lasts about 30-40 miinutes, so I may get an additional battery. The extension from my regular house vac fits onto the plastic end, and I use those accessories. The sound is high pitched, and it is loud as some reviewers have noted. It certainly is not louder than my regular vacuum, but the pitch is higher and you hold the thing next to you. To me, that isuue is not worth fussing about. Ted Nuggent should have worn haearing gear, but he was exposed to much higher decibels--just ask him . . on second thought just write it out.
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on August 17, 2012
I have tried just about every cordless vacuum made including Black & Decker, Red Devil, Dust Buster, Eureka, Shark and even the cordless Dyson. They were all great right out of the box but each one eventually failed to hold a charge or the charger wore out or burned out. Their life span was usually less than one year some even less. The Red Devil and Dust Buster both wore out within eight months with very little use. The Dyson was very expensive and was quite a disappointment. Anyone that owns a Dyson knows that it will only give you six seconds of suction at a time. Imagine how much cleaning you can do in six second intervals. Plus the battery wears out quite quickly and a replacement battery is super expensive. What a joke.

The DeWalt Cordless Vac is simply fantastic. The one I have in my workshop at home has performed flawlessly for over six years and I am still using the same battery. I just bought this one for the office because the aforementioned cordless vacuums were all junk.

I should have ponied up the extra cash years ago and bought this one instead of all the other disappointments.

I am most certainly NOT a fan of products Made in China but this product is actually very well made and very reliable. If it has one flaw it is quite noisy but it works so well that the noise is of little consequence.

If you take care of your tools properly this one will last you a lifetime.
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on November 24, 2014
I have had this vacuum for about 2 years now, I like it a lot. It is our primary vacuum in the house and we use it daily. It doesn't seem any louder than a normal vacuum to me and it has plenty of suction for me. I use the standard accessories that came with my Shop Vac (extension wands, floor nozzle, crevice nozzle, etc.) which fit right on the DeWalt hose so I can stand up and use this to vacuum the floor. We have a toddler and live in a small space so this is used daily. Our battery hasn't had any degradation issues as of yet, but it will eventually like all batteries. I have a fleet of Dewalt 18V XRP tools and it is inevitable no matter what the brand. We might charge this battery once a week. It works fine for wet as well, but be realistic, you aren't going to clear out a flooded bathroom with it. Ours has developed mold and a stink to it after vacuuming up some water and food and foolishly letting it sit, but this thing totally breaks down and was very easy to clean. Take off the tank, hose, and filter and soak in some bleach water then spray out with the water hose. Clean up the body with some bleach water in a spray bottle and rag and we were back in business. This thing is not a Shop Vac replacement in regards to capacity, I mean it is a handheld vacuum so use your brain. It is great for vacuuming out vehicles. It holds a good deal of sand, dust, pop corn, sock lint, dead bugs, dog hair, wife hair, whatever else gets tracked in or dropped. I can only guess the reviewers with bad suction either have an obstructed hose, bad battery, a lemon... or unrealistic expectations in a vacuum. I got this vacuum because I was tired of crappy dust buster type vacuums with no power and batteries that die after 5 minutes. I can buy replacement batteries and will be able to use them in my other tools as opposed to having to buy an expensive replacement battery that will only fit a vacuum, may not be available once that model becomes obsolete, and die after a year. I like my vacuum, I would recommend it. Thought about getting it as a gift for several people but decided I don't love them enough to spend this amount of money on them yet... get your act together mom and dad.
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on July 5, 2015
Have had it now for almost two weeks. We have hardwoods through most of the home and I was looking for something lighter than our Dyson upright that we could bring out quickly to pick up all the Labrador retriever fur that our best friend leaves all around. To do this I have paired it with a set of Shopvac 1 1/4" extension tubes and the Cen-Tec Systems 34905 Hard Floor Vacuum Brush (see picture). This system does exactly what we needed, and so much more powerful than the cordless vac broom we have. I also purchased it to vacuum the charcoal ash from my Big Green Egg barbecue. It does this very well also without the ash clogging or passing through the vacuum's HEPA filter. Easy to empty the collection bin and keep the vacuum looking new with a simple wipe-down with a damp paper towel. Sturdy, and well constructed, yet light enough to easily and quickly pull out and carry around for clean-up projects. It beats dragging my 6 gal Craftsman around which now stays out in the garage.
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