The DeWalt DCV517B 20V cordless wet and dry vacuum cleaner has some pretty incredible traits. It’s a powerful handheld portable vac with one of the best HEPA filters. For some, the 0.5-gallon capacity may be a limitation and it is not as versatile as other portable vacuum cleaners in the DeWalt 20V MAX lineup.

Generally, when I review a DeWalt product words like amazing, incredible, and marvelous appear quite frequently. When reviewing the DeWalt DCV517B my feelings are a bit more mixed.

Make no mistake, I’m a big fan of DeWalt 20V MAX cordless power tools, vacuums, and the huge range of diverse products that use this battery platform. Overall, I feel the same way about the DeWalt ½ gallon portable vacuum. However, I have some issues with this machine.

Mostly, I find any ½ gallon vacuum cleaner to be a tad on the small side. You can’t do much cleaning before emptying the canister. While this can’t really be seen as a complaint, since people buy a small vacuum like this for its compact design. For this reason, it cannot have a particularly large capacity. In this category, the DeWalt DCV517B is actually one of the best. I’d call it a Dustbuster on steroids.

There are a few other minor quirks that don’t impress me much. I’ll be discussing these in the DeWalt DCV517B 20V portable vacuum cleaner review, along with the great features that make this a highly desirable product for anyone seeking a compact portable vacuum.

DeWalt DCV517B Cordless ½ Gallon Vacuum Review


  • Gore washable HEPA wet/dry filter
  • 97% dust retention at 0.3 microns
  • Heavy-duty rubber hose and built-in nozzle
  • ½ gallon tank with heavy-duty latch
  • Weight: 4.5 LBS


I guess we need to understand what the DeWalt engineers had in mind when designing the DCV517B before passing judgment. This is a lightweight portable vacuum cleaner that can be used with one hand. It was never intended for large cleanup jobs.

While the DeWalt DCV517B is perfectly well-suited for cleaning your car or clearing away dust in the workshop, there are probably better cordless vacuums for these applications. This machine was specifically intended for contractors who want to do a quick cleanup after drilling, light sanding, and other light-volume cleaning on a jobsite. If you want a larger, more versatile 20V cordless vacuum, with a better selection of accessories, the DeWalt DCV580H would probably be a better option.

For its intended purpose, the DeWalt DCV517B is perfect. You can easily carry the 4½-pound machine in one hand. It’s wonderfully compact, without any complicated functions. The nozzle is reasonably wide, yet easy enough to fit into smaller spaces. The hose detaches from the nozzle in a flash. If you want to clean tighter areas, it only takes a second to pull out the hose.

The DeWalt ½ gallon cordless vacuum does not have a crevice tool, which makes it less capable when cleaning in narrow spaces. There are no attachments whatsoever. While this is a great machine for basic cleaning jobs, it is not the best when it comes to versatility.

Air filtration is top-notch. The large HEPA filter does a superb job of cleaning the air. The durable filter is washable so you can reuse it many times.

I have a bit of an issue with how the air is expelled from the canister. The exhaust vents are situated on the sides of the DeWalt cordless vac. This means that it blows debris on either side of the vacuum into the air. I think it would have made better sense to place these vents at the back of the machine, behind the cleaning path. The DCV517B doesn’t have a blower, which can be disappointing for some.

Ergonomically, the design could not have been better. It has a large handle extending along the top, with a soft grip. The on/off switch is conveniently positioned so that you can reach down with your thumb and switch it on or off on the go. The switch has a simple cover that flips over it when in the off position, preventing it from accidentally being switched on when transporting.

While the DeWalt DCV517B doesn’t have a large capacity, it’s quick and easy to empty. A single heavy-duty latch makes it a synch to open the canister. This does a lot to compensate for the limitations of a small handheld cordless vacuum.

Even though I’ve pointed out a lot of less-than-desirable features on the DeWalt ½-gallon wet and dry vac, I believe it can be commended for its practicality and incredible durability. If you’re looking for a mighty tough jobsite handheld vacuum cleaner, the DeWalt DCV517B is hard to beat.

This machine was conceived with a very specific purpose in mind. It is a rugged, powerful handheld cordless vacuum cleaner that will quickly and effortlessly remove dust and debris over a small area. If that’s all you want, the DeWalt 0.5-gallon cordless vac is quite superb.

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