DeWALT has officially announced their new 20V Max* PowerStack 5Ah battery, DCBP520, which will be launching in the USA next month.
As with the brand’s 1.7Ah PowerStack battery, the new 5Ah battery is engineered with Li-ion pouch battery cells, and not the cylindrical cells found in most other cordless power tool battery packs.
I have been talking with DeWALT about some of the engineering that went into the new PowerStack 5Ah battery, and definitely learned more than I expected to.
NOTE: DeWALT is sponsoring ToolGuyd’s exploration and coverage of the PowerStack 5Ah battery.
In this post, I will be discussing some of the questions I asked and the answers I was given. Please let me know if you have any other questions, and I will try my best to get them answered for you.
If you are looking to get up to speed on the basics of DeWALT PowerStack pouch cell technology, consider reading these posts first:
What is New About this PowerStack Battery?
This new PowerStack 5Ah battery delivers 50% more power¹ and 50% more work per charge², compared to their cylindrical-cell 5Ah battery, and also has 2X the lifespan³.
¹compared to DEWALT DCB205 battery, not in application
²based on usable energy vs. DEWALT DCB205 battery, not in application
³based on charge cycles vs. DEWALT DCB205 battery
DeWALT launched their first 20V Max* PowerStack battery towards the end of 2021. That battery was designed to provide significant size and weight benefits compared to the brand’s compact batteries built with cylindrical cells.
With this new PowerStack 5Ah battery, the focus is on power and efficiency.
How Did DeWALT Make a Bigger PowerStack Battery?
When talking about cordless power tool batteries engineered with cylindrical Li-ion cells, there are different ways a tool brand can increase charge capacity. Generally speaking, they can select higher capacity cells, add more cells, physically increasing the size of the battery pack, or do both.
With pouch battery packs, new battery cells must be developed.
Basically, the Li-ion pouch battery cells in the PowerStack 5Ah battery were engineered specifically for this battery pack.
What I Didn’t Think About Before
18650-sized Li-ion battery cells – and now 21700-sized cells – were never designed specifically for cordless power tools.
Tool makers have long-relied on cylindrical battery cells because they were convenient and available.
Improvements in the cylindrical battery cell industry drove improvements in cordless power tool battery packs.
But with PowerStack, everything has changed.
DeWALT says (with emphasis my own) that they are:
The world’s first major power tool brand to use pouch cell batteries designed for the construction industry.
The batteries are custom-built specifically for cordless power tool applications.
They are spec’ed for power tool use.
There are significant benefits when comparing PowerStack pouch cells to cylindrical cells, such as lower internal impedance – which keeps the batteries running cooler – and more efficient connections.
The PowerStack batteries were designed for todays’ high-demand cordless power tools.
How Does the PowerStack 5Ah Battery Deliver 50% More Work Done per Charge?
Simply put, there are lower heat losses, which means more of a PowerStack battery pack’s charge capacity can go towards getting work done.
As I understand it, the PowerStack battery will keep going under demanding conditions, whereas a battery with cylindrical cells might have drained more quickly – if it didn’t shut down due to thermal overload conditions.
How is the PowerStack 5Ah Battery More Powerful?
As mentioned, PowerStack battery cells are custom-built specifically for cordless power tool applications.
Because of this, its properties can be dialed-in.
With DeWALT’s first PowerStack battery, the goal was to shed size and weight to deliver a more compact pack.
Here, the goal was for a balance between power, runtime, and longevity.
Because the pouch cells feature a lower energy density, that helps them run cooler while also being able to deliver higher performance.
Do PowerStack Batteries Require a Special Charger?
No – you can charge PowerStack batteries on any DeWALT 20V Max* charger.
Part of the reason for this is because PowerStack battery packs are in fact built with Li-ion battery cells.
You can charge, use, or store PowerStack batteries in the same manner as any other DeWALT 20V Max* batteries.
Additionally, the PowerStack 5Ah battery has a protective non-marring overmolded base, and a fuel gauge.
Will it Boost the Performance of DeWALT 20V Max* Cordless Power Tools?
The PowerStack 5Ah battery will help unlock the full performance potential of the brand’s 20V Max* Power Detect cordless power tools.
Are there any Other Benefits?
The way the PowerStack 5Ah battery is designed, there are 5 Li-ion cells connected in series, similar to the brand’s compact cylindrical-cell batteries. This would ordinarily limit them to a maximum charging rate of 4A.
However, the PowerStack 5Ah battery design allows it to recharge at a rate of up to 8A.
Are They Safe?
Safety is obviously a big concern for everyone.
I have been assured that the new battery has undergone thorough and robust testing, and can be treated in exactly the same manner as DeWALT’s other 20V Max* batteries.
The compact PowerStack battery has also been on the market and in users’ hands for about a year now.
How Does this Change Things?
Ever since I spoke with DeWALT about the engineering that went into the PowerStack 5Ah battery, and how it differs from their existing 20V Max* batteries, I cannot help but think of the words – “the proper tool for the job.”
It’s kind of like how everything and anything can be a hammer in a pinch, but a true hammer will deliver the best performance. Or, how a slotted screwdriver can be a prying tool, albeit with less than ideal results.
Cordless power tool brands all did a great job getting to where we are today using what in most cases are off-the-shelf cylindrical battery cells.
But now, for the first time, we’ve got new cordless power tool batteries designed specifically for the “cordless jobsite” that tool brands have been pushing towards over the past few years.
PowerStack batteries are pricier, but this can be offset with their claims of greater longevity.
Improvements in cordless power tool and battery capabilities have driven the industry forward in a progressive manner over the past few years.
In the nearly 14 years since I started ToolGuyd, I have reported on all of the gradual increases in battery pack charge capacity, the jump from 18650 to 21700-sized Li-ion cells, the introduction of brushless motors and higher voltage cordless systems, and more.
This is brand new territory, and definitely exciting times.
How Much Will it Cost?
DCBP520 (Single Battery) – $229
DCBP20C (Starter Kit) – $289
DCBP20-2 (2-Pack) – $349
ETA: The new battery will be launching at DeWALT tool dealers in the USA in December 2022.
Do You Have Any Questions?
I am extremely excited to see what the new PowerStack 5Ah battery can do, and will be putting it through extensive testing.
Please let me know if you have any questions or requests!
*Maximum initial battery voltage (measured without a workload) is 20 volts. Nominal voltage is