Toward the end of 2019 DeWalt introduced a new range of 20V MAX XR cordless tools bearing the Power Detect logo. About a year later, another range was introduced, FlexVolt Advantage. Understandably, many are confused. What is the difference between DeWalt XR Power Detect and FlexVolt Advantage?

I’m going to explain why DeWalt saw the need for these new tools and what the difference is between the two upgrades. This is the tale of DeWalt Power Detect vs FlexVolt Advantage.

The DeWalt Power Detect system was designed to provide increased power when using the DeWalt 20V MAX 8AH battery. Whereas The FlexVolt Advantage system increases the power output when using DeWalt 20V/60V MAX FlexVolt batteries.

This may not make complete sense right now. I’ll be explaining the concept in more detail to provide a better understanding.

The Race for Power

Battery-powered tools are the best technology of our time. Resulting in massive competition between cordless tool manufacturers to offer the best tools in any class. Initial challenges were about power and battery life.

Let’s face it, those first cordless tools weren’t all that great. Power was not close to that of traditional corded tools, the batteries were huge, heavy, and very disappointing when it came to working time. It also took forever to charge the old NICAD batteries.

When lithium-ion batteries came onto the scene, things started to improve. Though, it has been a gradual process. Admittedly, the early 12V lithium-ion batteries were a major advancement but nothing like the batteries we see today. Chargers, and electronic battery management systems have also shown great improvements over the years.

It’s not just the batteries that have evolved, but cordless tools too. Brushless motors have replaced the older brushed motors in the range-topping cordless tools offered by all the big brands. Electronic management, to maximize power output,  has also become the norm for high-end battery-powered tools.

There’s a race between the major cordless tool manufacturers to produce the best batteries, along with the most powerful and efficient cordless tools. Makita introduced the LXT battery platform, which included brushless tools. Milwaukee has Fuel and REDLINK technology. DeWalt came up with XR brushless tools and then the magnificent 20V/60V battery platform.

To improve battery times, 21700 lithium-ion cells have seen higher ampere-hours possible for cordless tool batteries. The larger 21700 cells are configured for improved cooling. Resulting in higher efficiency, especially when the discharge rate is increased. In other words, the battery can provide more amps, increasing power output, without damaging the battery or reducing its efficiency.

Using this improved battery technology has placed the high-power DeWalt 8AH battery in the same league as Milwaukee High output, and Bosch Core 18V batteries. To make the most of these improved batteries, DeWalt devised ways to utilize this extra power in their existing range of 20V MAX XR tools. This was the birth of DeWalt Power Detect.

What is Power Detect and how does it work?

DeWalt Power Detect was developed in conjunction with the 8AH 20V MAX battery. This more advanced battery had the potential to provide more power to XR 20V MAX tools.

The first step was to engineer a battery detection system, the tool has to know when to change the power dynamics to utilize the extra power available from the 8AH battery. While power is fully optimized using the 8AH 20V MAX battery, you will have the benefit of a minor improvement in power when using other DeWalt 20V MAX batteries.

To achieve the goal of improving power, DeWalt implemented the following upgrades to their Power Detect tools:

  • Electronic improvements, using upgraded components for the boards.
  • New software.
  • Improvements to the motor – more copper in the motor windings, increased magnets, larger magnets, and redesigning the rotor.

These changes have made a significant difference to the power output for DeWalt XR Power Detect tools when using the 8AH battery pack.

DeWalt XR Power Detect Tools

The DeWalt engineers have had amazing success in their endeavor to improve the power output compared to the previous generation 20V MAX XR tools.

FlexVolt Advantage

All the same technology that has been used to increase power for DeWalt XR Power Detect tools has also been applied to the FlexVolt battery platform. However, the FlexVolt batteries, with even greater AH capabilities at 20V, can produce more watts than the 20V MAX batteries, even when using the high-power 8AH 20V battery.

Using a FlexVolt Advantage tool, with a FlexVolt 20V/60V MAX battery, delivers even more power than the Power Detect tools. Making this the pinnacle of DeWalt cordless technology.

The Power hierarchy for the top DeWalt tools has the 60V FlexVolt tools at the top, with the most power. In second position, are the DeWalt XR 20V MAX FlexVolt Advantage tools, followed by the XR Power Detect tools.

As an example, let’s see how the DeWalt XR 20V MAX reciprocating saw compares across these three technologies:

  1. DeWalt DCS389 60V MAX FlexVolt: 1,874 UWO
  2. DeWalt DCS386 20V MAX FlexVolt Advantage: 1,400+ UWO
  3. DeWalt DCS368 20V MAX Power Detect: 1,300 UWO

This is a clear example of how the same basic cordless tool can deliver more power by simply altering the technology and battery type. DeWalt 60V FlexVolt has taken the glory as the most powerful cordless tools. However, it’s remarkable what has been achieved to improve the power delivered by 20V MAX tools with a few changes to the motor, electronic components, and software.

DeWalt XR FlexVolt Advantage Tools

The same four DeWalt XR models that are available in the Power Detect format are also available in the FlexVolt Advantage range. These are the most powerful DeWalt 20V MAX tools. The full power advantage is only possible when using a FlexVolt battery. If you’re using 20V MAX batteries, you will have more power than conventional XR tools, but not as much as when using the FlexVolt battery.

  • DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage Hammer Drill: Using a 6AH FlexVolt battery, the DeWalt DCD999B Rotary Hammer Drill produces a mighty 1,200W. This is an increase of 42% in power.
  • DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage Circular Saw: The DCS573 7¼” circular saw shows the most remarkable power increase – a whopping 77% using the 6AH FlexVolt battery.
  • DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage Reciprocating Saw: At 1,400 UWO, the DCS386 is around 50% more powerful.
  • DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage Angle Grinder: The DCG416 4½” Angle Grinder also shows a significant increase in power, up to 54%.

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