How does the new Dewalt 20V Max PowerStack 5Ah compare against other Dewalt 20V Max cordless power tool batteries?
This is Dewalt’s second PowerStack battery, also engineered with Li-ion pouch cells. Here, I’ll go over what you can expect from it.
As a reminder, the new PowerStack 5Ah battery delivers 50% more power, 50% more work per charge, and 2X the lifespan (with respect to charge cycles) compared to the Dewalt DCB205 cylindrical cell 5Ah battery.
I was surprised to find that it paired well with every Dewalt 20V Max cordless power tool I used it with. It seemed to have power to spare, and didn’t throw off the handheld balance of any of the tools I tested it with, from small to large.
In the image above, from left to right, are the following Dewalt 20V Max batteries: PowerStack 1.7Ah, XR 5Ah, PowerStack 5Ah, XR 6Ah, FlexVolt 9Ah batteries.
Size-wise, the PowerStack 5Ah battery has a completely different form factor, similar to how the compact PowerStack 1.7Ah battery also “broke the mold.”
The XR 5Ah battery has 18650-sized cylindrical cells, while the XR 6Ah and FlexVolt 9Ah batteries have 21700-sized cylindrical cells.
Here is how much they weigh:
- PowerStack 1.7Ah: 0.68 lbs
- XR 5Ah: 1.36 lbs
- PowerStack 5Ah: 1.62 lbs
- XR 6Ah: 1.88 lbs
- FlexVolt 9Ah: 2.86 lbs
The PowerStack 5Ah battery is shorter than both 20V Max 5Ah and 6Ah batteries. It has a larger footprint than the XR 5Ah battery.
One thing to remember is that the PowerStack 5Ah battery is engineered with 5 Li-ion pouch cells, compared to 10 Li-ion cylindrical cells in the XR 5Ah and 6Ah batteries.
The PowerStack 5Ah battery (left) has a slightly larger footprint compared to the XR 6Ah battery (right).
There are very slight differences in length and width. Again, the PowerStack 5Ah is on the left, and XR 6Ah on the right.
However, the differences in height are apparent, with the PowerStack 5Ah battery (left) being noticeably shorter than the XR 6Ah battery (right).
Performance-wise, the PowerStack 5Ah seems to keep up with Dewalt’s 20V Max 6Ah and 8Ah batteries.
I try not to push my XR 5Ah batteries to their limits. When I know I’ll be pushing a tool hard, I generally switch to 20/60V Max FlexVolt batteries, despite their larger size and heavier weight compared to 20V Max 6Ah batteries.
The PowerStack 5Ah battery is smaller and lighter than FlexVolt batteries, and offers some size and weigh benefits compared to 20V Max 6Ah and 8Ah batteries.
At the time of this posting, a 2-pack of 20V Max 6Ah batteries has an MSRP of $269.
The PowerStack 5Ah battery 2-pack is available for preorder at $379.
With the PowerStack 5Ah battery delivering 2X the cycle lifespan compared to the DCB205 battery, we can assume there will be longevity benefits compared to the cylindrical cell 6Ah battery as well.
The PowerStack 5Ah carries a higher cost per amp hour, but it should last longer, whereas a cylindrical-cell battery might need to be replaced sooner.
I am hoping to see bundle promotions – similar to what we’ve seen for the compact battery – that could potentially help to lower the cost of ownership.
At present, Dewalt has 20V Max battery sizes for different user needs and wants:
- 5-cell 18650: 1.3Ah, 1.5Ah. 2.0Ah
- 5-cell 21700: 3Ah, 4Ah
- 10-cell 18650: 3Ah, 4Ah, 5Ah
- 10-cell 21700: 6Ah, 8Ah, 10Ah
- PowerStack 1.7Ah, 5Ah
This doesn’t include FlexVolt 6Ah, 9Ah, 12Ah, 15Ah batteries which can be used in 20V Max tools.
The PowerStack 1.7Ah battery is a great choice when smaller size and lighter weight are a high priority, and the PowerStack 5Ah battery is a great choice when power and efficiency are a high priority.
Compared to the XR 5Ah DCB205 battery, the PowerStack 5Ah operates cooler. Thus, in high demand usage, that’s where it will fulfill Dewalt’s claim of delivering 50% more work per charge. It stays cooler and can work for longer whereas an 18650-based 5Ah battery might tap out early.
Subjectively, I feel that the PowerStack 5Ah delivers the power of the higher output-capable 6Ah and 8Ah batteries, while being shorter and lighter.
It surpasses the power delivery potential of the XR 5Ah battery, but is a little larger and heavier as a tradeoff.
At the same time, it pairs well with more compact tools, which I have never been able to say about batteries with 6Ah and higher charge capacities. I suspect this has to do with its shorter height and mass distribution.
When the PowerStack 1.7Ah battery first launched, I was a bit skeptical, and wondered if users would have been better served by a higher capacity battery.
Now, with a couple of compact PowerStack batteries in my kit, I have all but phased out use of other 20V Max sizes up to 4Ah. I still use 5Ah batteries, and 6Ah batteries less-so, before stepping up to FlexVolt for more demanding 20V Max task or performance needs.
The PowerStack 5Ah battery’s size and weight feels balanced when attached to any of the tools I’ve tested it with so far.
I like the idea of greater longevity.
With respect to power and performance, I don’t quite see this battery as a replacement for Dewalt’s cylindrical cell 5Ah battery. Instead, I see it as a stand-in for the FlexVolt batteries I occasionally use with 20V Max cordless power tools.
I don’t use 6Ah or 8Ah batteries too often, but to me the PowerStack 5Ah seems like a good stand-in for this batteries, too, although with slightly lower on-paper charge capacity.
If you want a balance between power, runtime, size, weight, and longevity, this seems to be the best choice right now.
If smaller size and lower weight are your highest priority, consider the compact PowerStack 1.7Ah battery.
If runtime is your highest priority, consider higher capacity 20V Max or FlexVolt batteries.
If cost per amp-hour is your highest priority, keep an eye out for seasonal promotions. For example, the Dewalt 20V Max 6Ah battery 2-pack was $179 earlier in the holiday season. At the time of this posting, Home Depot has the FlexVolt 6Ah battery 2-pack for $199.
Ignoring cost considerations, the PowerStack 5Ah is the best battery for 20V Max cordless power tools with two exceptions:
The PowerStack 1.7Ah battery is an excellent pairing for compact tools – and even some full-sized tools – and FlexVolt batteries offer the longest runtime, plus a performance boost when paired with 20V Max FlexVolt Advantage cordless power tools.
Whether it’s suited for your needs is a question you will have to answer.
With the compact PowerStack battery, Dewalt offered promotional incentives to foster adoption, and it worked. I really hope they do the same with the new 5Ah.