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 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 Flexvolt Advantage and Power Detect cordless tools. 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 XR high-power batteries, like 20V MAX 10AH. 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. Don’t worry, I’ll be explaining the concept in more detail. This will provide a better understanding of what FlexVolt Advantage and Power Detect mean, as well as the difference between the technologies.

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 and protect the battery,  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. To maximize the advantage of improved batteries, they also strive to develop 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 a range of XR batteries, ranging from 4AH to 10AH. DeWalt XR batteries can be used in any of their 18V and 20V tools. These batteries were designed to provide extended runtimes, particularly when used to power DeWalt XR Tools.

The next leap forward in the evolution of DeWalt cordless tools was the invention of the magnificent 20V/60V FlexVolt battery platform. This was the first multi-voltage battery. Some of the top cordless tool manufacturers have implemented this concept, but DeWalt was the pioneer in this field. Essentially DeWalt FlexVolt batteries will deliver either 20V or 60V, depending on the tool that the battery is inserted into. DeWalt FlexVolt batteries also offer increased ampere-hours at 20V, up to 12AH. 

Improving Lithium-Ion Battery Technology

To improve battery times, using 21700 lithium-ion cells increases the ampere-hours 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 XR 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, as well as some 18V XR tools. This was the birth of DeWalt Power Detect. DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage takes the same concept, and applied it to their 20V/60V FlexVolt batteries to provide even more power.

What is Power Detect and how does it work?

DeWalt Power Detect was developed in conjunction with the new 21700 cell DeWalt XR batteries, the 10AH 20V MAX battery being the pinnacle of this battery technology. This more advanced battery system has 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 more powerful XR battery. This means that you will have additional wattage when using high-power XR batteries that are capable of delivering a higher amperage to the motor. When using traditional 20V MAX batteries, the power increase will be minimal. The Power Detect system only really comes into its own when using the more advanced DeWalt XR 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 resulted in a significant difference in the power output for DeWalt XR Power Detect tools when using the DeWalt XR battery packs.

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.

What is DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage?

Dewalt FlexVolt Advantage increases the power of DeWalt 20V MAX XR tools when using a FlexVolt battery to power the tool. Like DeWalt XR Power Detect, this is achieved by utilizing an upgraded electronic control system, more powerful permanent magnets, and increasing the copper windings.

Essentially, 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. Flexvolt Advantage offers the very best performance for a 20V tool.

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

The Power hierarchy for the top DeWalt tools has the 60V FlexVolt tools at the top, with the most power. DeWalt XR 20V MAX FlexVolt Advantage tools take second place, 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 models have 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%.

Which is Better – Flexvolt Advantage or Power Detect?

Once you understand what type of power you’re getting from the tools, the decision between DeWalt Flexvolt Advantage vs Power Detect really comes down to how much you’re prepared to spend for the most powerful 20V cordless tool.

This raises another question that many have been asking: is DeWalt Power Detect worth it? The same can be asked with regard to DeWalt FlexVolt Advantage.

Both tool platforms are worth it if traditional DeWalt XR tools aren’t providing the power you need. You really get a far superior machine with the new technology, and this is what you’re paying for.

The most powerful of the bunch is Flexvolt Advantage. If you’ve been investing in Flexvolt tools and batteries, you obviously don’t mind paying a premium for the very best, most powerful tools. This probably means you’ll be quite happy to pay for the new 20V Flexvolt Advantage tools. Flexvolt batteries are the most expensive but they offer the potential for more power than just about any battery, from any manufacturer. They also provide incredible working time from a single battery.

If you aren’t that happy with the cost of DeWalt Flexvolt batteries, but still want a more powerful tool, then DeWalt Power Detect is your best option. Even though these tools aren’t as powerful as their FlexVolt Advantage counterparts, they are a vast improvement on the regular XR tools.

It’s important to remember that, in order to get the maximum benefits of these new tools, you need to use the best batteries. All of them will work just fine using a regular DeWalt 20V MAX battery, 20V/60V Flexvolt, or high-power XR batteries. However, the real power difference comes into play when you use the best battery for the tool. This means using a Flexvolt battery for your DeWalt Flexvolt Advantage tools and a 21700-cell (high-output) XR battery for your DeWalt Power Detect tools.

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