When you work with power tools, or even hand tools, you’re probably going to make a mess. Frequently (speaking strictly for myself) it’s a BIG mess, and that’s why God invented the shop vac. But sometimes, it’s just a LITTLE mess – maybe you just had to drill a couple of holes to install a deadbolt, or you made a little drywall dust fly when you put in that new outlet. You know, in the name of preserving marital harmony or your reputation as a competent tradesperson, you have to clean it up, but you really don’t want to drag out the shop vac, unwind the cord, vacuum for five seconds, wind the cord back up, and schlep the thing back to your truck/basement/wherever. THAT’S when it’s handy to have along a quicker picker-upper like the Hitachi R18DSLP4 wet/dry hand vac.
Hitachi sent us the R18DSLP4 so we could check out its suckability. According to Hitachi, their handheld vacuum features impressive suction power for fast and efficient cleaning for any workshop or home. At only 3.3 lbs. with the battery, and just under 17” in length, the R18DSLP4 features a convenient slide lock-on switch for continuous use to reduce fatigue. It accepts a 3.0Ah Lithium Ion slide-type battery (not included) that provides up to 29 minutes of continuous use. The large capacity (22oz) translucent dust catcher makes it easy to see when the unit needs to be emptied. This vacuum is capable of collecting both wet and dry debris, and it comes with a brush, crevice and squeegee nozzles. The vacuum is covered by a one-year warranty.
Mini Vac—Purveyor of Death and Serious Bodily Injury??
Before we get going on the review, I need a moment to vent. In the manual for the R18DSLP4, there are six pages of warnings before the instructions even begin. We’re all for safety; we LIKE being able to see and hear, and we’d like to retain all ten fingers and toes for as long as possible. I’d expect to see lots of warnings for a miter saw or a grinder – you can do some serious damage to body parts you may be fond of, or materials you might like to have intact, with a blade or abrasive wheel spinning at thousands of RPM.
But does a little household vac rate eight total pages of WARNINGS!!! and CAUTIONS!!!? Come on; when tool manufacturers get to the point they feel they have to warn you not to vacuum up gasoline, not to pick up anything that is burning or smoking (particularly if you’ve just vacuumed up some gasoline, presumably), and not to put the tool’s battery into the microwave oven or your clothes dryer (actual warnings), it’s a sad commentary on how lawsuit-crazy, or stupid, or both, some people have become. Rant complete; I feel better now.
The Hitachi R18DSLP4 Vac in Action
Assuming you’re willing to risk life and limb, this little vacuum is actually pretty simple to use. Slide the filter into the guard, slide the guard into the dust case, snap the dust case onto the handle assembly, and slap a battery on it. Push the switch forward to turn it on, pick up your non-explosive materials, and slide the switch back to turn it off. Despite the warning that the vac is dangerous in the hands of untrained users, if you’re really, really careful, I think you can get that sawdust up and get on with your life without needing hospitalization.
I put the Hitachi R18DSLP4 to the test in three ways. First, I tried it in the back seat of my truck, where our two Labs had unselfishly distributed approximately a bushel of dog hair across the black carpet. The little vac got up a good bit of miscellaneous debris, and some of the dog hair, but even after going back and forth repeatedly, there was still a good bit of hair left. Once the hair gets tangled I the carpet fibers, the R18DSLP4 doesn’t have quite enough oomph to pull it out. To be fair, even with a shop vac, it takes some doing to get it all.
Next, I scattered some sawdust on our concrete back porch, about as much as you’d get from cutting a few 2X4’s. The R18DSLP4 picked it up with no difficulty, with a few passes back and forth. This is more what this type of cleaner is suited to, cleaning up dust or crumbs or sawdust off a hard surface. I tried it again on our hardwood floors, with some fresh hair graciously contributed by our dogs, and the results were much better than on the truck’s carpeting.
For the final trial of the mini-vac trifecta, I decided to test out the “wet vac” abilities of the little Hitachi. I didn’t have high expectations, given its small size. I dumped 12 ounces of water (the amount that might be accidentally spilled if you knock over your can of beer healthy vegetable drink) into a pan, and fired it up. The vacuum comes with a little squeegee attachment, which I dipped into the pan. Within less than 10 seconds, the water was all up and in the vacuum; not bad! I took the reservoir off, emptied it, and set the parts down to dry. No water seemed to get into the motor. I had survived the testing of the hand-held vac unscathed!
So Who Needs the Hitachi R18DSLP4?
This little handheld vacuum is designed for light-duty cleaning around the house or in the shop. If you have bigger pieces or heavy stuff to clean up, like a bunch of drywall scraps or nails, or a large area to clean, you’ll want to use your shop vac. Also, if you don’t already have a Hitachi tool that uses the 18V slide-type Lithium Ion battery pack required by the R18DSLP4, getting this tool would require a serious investment. By the time you buy the vacuum, charger and battery, you’ll be nudging $170 – pretty pricey for a handheld vac.
If you already have the battery and charger, though, it’s a pretty handy little cleaner at an easy price point. Mine is sitting on my tool shelf waiting to be called into action, in a safe and prudent manner, of course. One minor quibble: a wall-mounting bracket would be handy. When I go out to do small jobs, it will be going along; I’ll just throw it in the back seat of my truck (with the dog hair). When I make a little mess, I can just slide the battery off my drill, put my protective gear on, tidy up, and be on my way – hopefully without having to fire up the shop vac. You can find the Hitachi R18DSLP4 18V Cordless Wet/Dry Hand Vacuum (Bare Tool) for around $40 on Amazon.