In their relentless quest to create a cord-free job site, the major tool makers have been introducing beefed-up cordless tools at an incredible rate. Their developers and engineers are clearly a pretty sharp bunch – many of their recent offerings equal or exceed the power of their corded cousins. Not everyone wants, or is ready, to totally break free from traditional corded tools, though. To take away their excuse for not working on sites with scarce power, the Yellow and Black team developed the DeWalt Portable Power Station (DCB1800). They loaned us one, to see if they could “generate” some interest on our part. Here’s a hint: I don’t want to send it back.
Designed for use in any dry location, the DeWalt Portable Power Station is about the size and shape of a beefy boom box. Using four 20V MAX batteries, the unit can be used to power almost any corded tool that runs on 120V. It cranks out 1,800 watts (15 amps) of continuous power, and 3,600 watts of peak power. We first got a look at it back in June of this year, during DeWalt’s rollout of its new FlexVolt product line. All the lighting for the event, which was held in a huge aircraft hangar, was powered by DeWalt’s Portable Power Stations.
But wait – there’s more! When your batteries are finished satisfying your lust for power, leave them right where they are. In addition to serving as a power source, the DeWalt Portable Power Station can also be used as a four-port parallel charger. When plugged into a standard receptacle (using an extension cord you provide), it can charge any combination of 20V MAX and FlexVolt batteries simultaneously. It charges at a rate of 2 amps an hour, so for example, a wrung-out 2.0 Ah battery would take an hour, and a 6.0 Ah FlexVolt battery would take three hours to fully charge.
The DeWalt Portable Power Station can use any combination of 20V MAX and FlexVolt batteries to provide the unit’s output power. For best results, though, DeWalt recommends using batteries with a capacity of at least 3.0 Ah; the more capacity, the longer run time you’ll get. Also, although you can mix batteries to power the unit, the inverter will only operate to the capacity of the least powerful battery, and only until the least-charged battery runs out of juice.
A benefit to users invested in the DeWalt platform is that the unit, which weighs around 23 pounds when it’s all batteried up, is compatible with the DeWalt ToughSystem. Just click it in on top of your stack of workboxes, and wheel it around with your tools. That’s a nice feature for the end of the day, when your batteries aren’t the only thing that’s out of juice… Here is the official list of specs from DeWalt:
• 120V Receptacles: 1
• Batteries Compatible: 20V MAX & FlexVolt
• Charging Connection: male 120V plug
• Charging Rate: 2.0 Amps
• Charging Time: 2 hours, 4.0 Ah battery
• Indicator Lights: inverter and charger, operation and fault, low battery
• Length: 12.75 in.
• Width: 21.3 in.
• Height: 10.75 in.
• Max AC Output: 3600 Watts
• Max Current (120V/240V): 30 Amps
• Quantity of Batteries Charged: 4
• Rated AC Output: 1800 Watts
• Rated Current (120V/240V): 15 Amps
• Required Number of Batteries: 4
• Sequential or Parallel Charging: Parallel
• Shipping Weight: 22 lbs.
• Sinewave Type: modified
• Temperature Range: 32-104 F °
• Weight without Batteries: 18 lbs.
The Dewalt Portable Power Station – Charge!
When the DeWalt Portable Power Station arrived, the batteries showed only one bar of charge, so my first mission was to charge ‘em up. I grabbed a beefy extension cord (which just happened to be yellow), and attached it to the male prongs on the unit’s end. The cord fit fine, even though the receptacle was oversized. The unit arrived with three 4.0 Ah batteries (which took 90 minutes to charge) and one 6.0 Ah FlexVolt battery (which took two hours to charge). The charger is totally silent – no annoying whining or fan noise.
The batteries charge simultaneously, and each one has its own indicator light. While they’re charging, the lights flash slowly; when fully charged, the lights stay solid. When the DeWalt Portable Power Station is plugged into an outlet, the unit is in charging mode, and the Power Out receptacle will not work. Once the batteries are all charged up, it’s time to unplug the cord and get to work!
The DeWalt Portable Power Station Does Floors And Doors
One of my current projects is a kitchen do-over in an old duplex. We tore out the old cabinets, and were getting ready to put down some fresh underlayment so we could install a new sheet vinyl floor. I brought the DeWalt Portable Power Station along, and we introduced it to some power tools.
First up was a circular saw. The underlayment required several cuts, to extend the flooring into a couple of doorways and a pantry, and to maneuver around a couple of pesky walls. I grabbed my corded circ saw, plugged it into the DeWalt Portable Power Station, and fired it up. The saw, which is rated at 15 amps, sounded as though it had full power throughout, and we quickly had our underlayment cut.
To attach the underlayment, we had a pneumatic crown stapler and, to make the power station feel more at home, a DeWalt pancake compressor. I plugged the compressor into the DeWalt Portable Power Station, and pressed the button to power it up. After the “Powering on” beep, the unit was totally silent.
— HomeFixated.com (@HomeFixated) December 21, 2016
We then switched on the compressor. The compressor was NOT totally silent. It powered up as usual, though, just as if it were plugged into a 120V outlet. When it was fully charged, we grabbed the stapler and banged away. The compressor cycled on a couple of times while we were running the stapler, with no issues.
After the underlayment was in, we needed to cut down the back door, to accommodate the extra floor thickness. We took the door outside, marked it, and proceeded to cut off the excess, using the circular saw. Even though the door was 1-3/4” thick, the saw had no trouble drawing enough juice to power through it. When we finished up, the 4.0 Ah batteries still showed two bars of charge.
— HomeFixated.com (@HomeFixated) December 21, 2016
How Long Can This Go On?
I brought the DeWalt Portable Power Station home, topped off the batteries, and took it outside to play. Since I had left my circular saw at the duplex, I grabbed a corded DeWalt reciprocating saw, and attacked a pile of scrap lumber. Cutting loose boards with a recip saw is pretty annoying, so after making about 15 cuts, mostly through 2x4s, I brought the power station inside.
To see how long the batteries would maintain enough juice to power the DeWalt Portable Power Station, I grabbed a 500W halogen work light and plugged it in. (I didn’t recharge the batteries first). The light burned bright (and hot!) for 44 minutes. A couple of minutes before the power station shut down, it beeped several times, which is a nice warning that things are about to get dark.
I wanted to do one final test, before I sent the DeWalt Portable Power Station back to Maryland. Here in the northeast, we get more than our share of power outages. Some claim this is caused by wind and snow bringing branches down on power lines, but I think it’s entirely the fault of the evil (insert name of most despised political party).
In any event, these outages normally last only a few hours. We have a wood stove we can fire up if we need heat, but more often we just want some light, which normally means rounding up and lighting the kerosene lamps. I plugged one of our regular lamps, which uses a 16W LED bulb, into the DeWalt Portable Power Station. It powered the light for 10 hours and 15 minutes, which would easily get us through an evening’s outage. With an extension cord and a splitter, we could even have a couple of lamps going. And the stereo. More importantly, if it’s a morning outage, the coffeemaker!
Should You Tune In To The DeWalt Portable Power Station?
So who is a potential buyer for the DeWalt Portable Power Station? Let me narrow it down for you: Everybody. Contractors, tradespeople and DIYers already invested in the DeWalt 20V MAX lineup will like the fact that they can simultaneously charge any combination of those batteries. Whether they’re using their tools in a shop setting all day, or remotely on site, everyone will get a charge out of the big DeWalt unit.
Face it, though, $399 would be mighty steep if all it could do was charge your cordless tool batteries. The “portable power” component of the unit is what makes it worth the money. Most contractors, those who work in the trades, and DIYers have a lot of money invested in traditional corded tools. Many of them still work just fine, thank you very much, and it would be hard to justify buying a cordless version, even when there are benefits to doing so.
This is especially true for tools that don’t get used frequently; for example, I only occasionally need to drill holes into concrete. When I do, though, my corded hammer drill kicks butt. Would it be easier to use a good cordless hammer drill? Probably, but I don’t use it often enough to justify the cost, so I just man up and scrounge around for a power source.
The beauty of the DeWalt Portable Power Station is that you can schlep it along to those job sites with limited – or nonexistent – power, and use pretty much any corded tool in your arsenal. Hammer drill? Check. Chop saw, portable table saw, recip saw, router, jigsaw, compressor for nailers, oscillating multitool? Check check check check check check check. And no noisy, smelly, heavy generator to mess with. The unit will be a boon to anyone doing small jobs, or punch list work, where an old-school corded tool is needed.
The drawback? If you’re running tools with heavy current draw, like a table saw, you won’t be able to run all day. The unit is great for intermittent use on bigger tools, but should be able to power smaller ones, like OMTs and jigsaws, for a good long while. To maximize your run time, you could load the DeWalt Portable Power Station up with four 6.0 Ah FlexVolt batteries. Or wait ‘til early next year, and invest in some of the power-packed 9.0 Ah batteries. Start saving now.
In addition to being ideal for remote workers who have occasional need to use a corded tool, the DeWalt Portable Power Station has limitless other potential uses. Going camping, and not willing to totally rough it? Bring along your hair dryer or your electric blanket, you wussie. Tailgating? No need to limit yourself to beer and chips. Fire up the blender and whip up a batch of whatever God-awful blender drink your heart desires (I’m OK with limiting myself to beer), and cook up some hot sausage, onions and peppers in that well-seasoned electric frying pan. Want to play your electric guitar in the Wal-Mart parking lot? Plug it in, crank it up, and make new friends. Possibly.
My personal scenario would be to keep it plugged in at home. Grab batteries in the morning for any tools I’ll be schlepping along, then pop them back in to recharge when I get home. If I was bringing along any corded tools, and had concerns over access to power, I’d just bring the whole shebang along. Meanwhile, next time the power goes out, I’d be ready to plug in a lamp or two, along with the coffeemaker (as necessary).
The DeWalt Portable Power Station will be available two ways: If you have a good stash of DeWalt batteries, you can get the bare tool (DCB1800B), which is expected to retail for $399. If you need batteries, DeWalt offers the power station in a kit (DCB1800M3T1), that includes three 4.0 Ah batteries and one FlexVolt 6.0 Ah battery, for $599. Since a two-pack of the 4.0 Ah batteries runs around $120, and a single 6.0 Ah FlexVolt battery retails for $149, it’s not a bad way to build up your yellow battery collection.
DeWalt is backing the little black and yellow power plant with its three-year limited warranty, one year of free service, and a 90-day money-back guarantee. According to a DeWalt rep, the DeWalt Portable Power Station should start showing up in stores around the end of December 2016.
Kit from Tool Barn:
Kit from Acme Tools: