Shop Talk

Dewalt Introduces New Line of Compact 20V Lithium-Ion Power Tools

  • 20V MAX: Compact, Cordless, Ultra-Powerful 


    Not long after their release of the immensely popular 12V MAX line, Dewalt is dropping another bomb on the power tool community. In the form of a remastered 20V line of compact and innovative power tools, Dewalt intends to make your work-load lighter and your time on the job more comfortable and more efficient.


    The new 20V MAX line includes seven power tools (and a worklight) redesigned, essentially, from the ground up: the DCD740C1 compact right angle drill kit, the DCD780C2 compact drill-driver kit (1.5-Ah), the DCD785C2 compact hammer-drill-driver kit, the DCD980L2 premium drill-driver kit (3.0-Ah), the DCD985L2 premium hammer-drill-driver kit, the DCF885C2 compact 1/4” impact driver kit (1.5-Ah), DCF885L2 1/4” impact driver kit (3.0-Ah), the DCS380L1 reciprocating saw kit (3.0-Ah), the DCS391L1 circular saw kit (3.0-Ah), the DCH213L2 3-mode SDS rotary hammer kit (3.0-Ah), and the DCL040 LCD worklight.

    Of course, with this release there are more than a handful of things that require mentioning, I, however, feel obligated to begin with the actual voltage of the tools themselves. Many of you may be questioning that 20V badge that introduces these power tools and the truth of it is, despite that label, the 20V line still produces the same 18V of power. The initial battery voltage may very well be 20V, but the nominal voltage, or the actual voltage output, is still the standard 18V, no different from Dewalt’s former 18V platform (that debuted in 1996) and no different from the 18V lines of competing manufacturers.

    I should also note that unlike the previous 18V platform’s focus on backwards compatibility, the 20V MAX battery is not compatible with Dewalt’s other 18V volt stem-style battery system. Coming in a 1.5-Ah and a 3.0-Ah version, though, the 20V batteries are compatible with each other (so to speak); they can be charged from the same charger and can be used interchangeably between 20V MAX tools. In other words, whether your drill-driver came with a 3.0-Ah or a 1.5-Ah battery, you can use either battery with that tool and you can charge both batteries in the same place.

    These 20V batteries (in the 3.0-Ah pack) also come with a 3-year warranty and boast up to 35% longer run-time and up to 57% faster charging cycles. The batteries, with their slide-on rather than stem-up design, are also considerably lighter-weight and contribute significantly to the tools’ overall ergonomics. In part, these batteries are so much more compact because their module (or the electronics that control them) has been moved out of the actual battery and into the tool. This renders the battery more efficient and less expensive to the end-user.

    So, despite that bit of tricksy name-gaming (which, according to Dewalt, is strictly to avoid compatibility confusion), the power tools of the new MAX release offer notable innovations that nonetheless separate the 20V MAX line from the former (but certainly not gone or forgotten) 18V platform.

    For starters, and also like the 12V MAX line, these 20V tools are compact and streamlined for a thinner, more ergonomic grip and for altogether better comfort on the job. Sure, the speed and power improvements of these 20 volters are modest to say the least, but the tools’ ergonomics and cosmetic enhancements are not to shake a stick at. Each tool is ideally balanced and boasts a lightweight and compact design comfortable for extended, awkward, or close-quarter applications. Dewalt has also incorporated 3-LED lights to improve visibility and accuracy in virtually any working condition.

    Dewalt’s 20V line is high-performance and, without a doubt, takes that high-performance standard seriously. These tools are aggressive yet smooth, powerful yet controllable, and they offer a sleek professional power tool to those looking to upgrade their existing 18V equipment or for those who simply have a bug for fancy power tools. For those who have no interest in this new line, however, Dewalt claims they will maintain the former 18V platform and continue improving upon it (within the limits of its stem-style battery design) until the demand for this platform disappears.