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David Merrill of Spring Grove, Ill.-based Totallywood Flooring tried the Makita 18V X2 (36V) LXT Lithium‑Ion Brushless Cordless 1.6 Gallon HEPA Filter Backpack Dry Vacuum:
As a wood flooring pro my entire adult life, I've accumulated many vacuums (I have at least 20). Backpack vacuums are particularly great for our industry since you aren't dragging anything on your wood floor except the vac's power cord. So when I saw Makita had a battery-powered backpack vac, of course I wanted to try it.
Makita offers two models—one geared toward power tools (XCV18ZX) and one for floor cleaning (XCV17PG). I chose the floor cleaning version because it has more power. The vacuum has three settings from low to high, but I only used it on high (when you turn the power on, it stays on the last setting you used, which is nice). I found that it wasn't as strong as my ProTeam backpack vac (not surprising, because that one is corded), but it was sufficient, and it was nice to go anywhere on the job site without worrying about a cord.
As you can see in the photo at bottom left, I hooked it up to my track saw and wore it to minimize the mess as I cut the kerf for long runs of slivering. In general wearing a backpack vac while using a track saw isn't the most comfortable thing, but this one only weighs 15 pounds, even with two batteries, so it wasn't a problem. It was really helpful to not pull a vacuum along or even keep track of a power cord for the vacuum as I cut that 40-foot-long kerf.
I also used the vacuum for sanding between grits. Usually when sanding between grits or finish coats I use a vacuum head that's a horse-hair soft bristle brush, but this vacuum came with a hard plastic head with rollers—more like you would use on a subfloor. It seems Makita has all proprietary-sized wands and hoses, so even with my big collection of vacuuming equipment I couldn't find anything that hooked up correctly to this vacuum. I also didn't find that Makita sells an attachment like the one we use for vacuuming between coats. To make this vacuum work for that, I'd have to put some effort into retrofitting a head for it.
This vac kit comes with two batteries and a double battery charger. The run time on high was good, and I have other Makita batteries from other tools and a four-battery charger, so that made it easy to swap batteries for efficiency. Changing the dust bag was easy, and the vac has a little bag shaker built into it for when the bag is getting clogged, which is a nice feature.
Would I buy this vacuum? For the money, I'm on the fence. If you don't already have a backpack vacuum, it would be really cool to have. But know that if you're doing work like vacuuming shards of tile or plywood from demo work, you'll need to bring another vacuum for that job.
Retail for kit (including dual charger and two batteries): $899
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