Reply by Blackfin29

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Posted on Cordless Tools..

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130 posts in 706 days

#1 posted 11-28-2018 12:44 PM

For example, what s NEXT for Dewalt? They had the 18v, now the 20volt and even the flex series.

Excuse my electrical ignorance but is 22volt lurking around the dam corner?

- Blackfin29

Back to the OP. Current cordless tools all work in multiples of 3.6V, as that is the current supplied by each of the individual lithium ion cells in a battery pack. Gang five cells in series and you get 18V (3.6×5).

20V is just marketing—it still uses five cells, so is really a 18V tool. The way they get away with it is that fresh off the charger, each of those cells will briefly produce 4V. That drops to the nominal 18V working current almost immediately, however. 20V sure sounds more impressive than 18V though, doesn t it?

Interesting part is that they can only get away with that kind of marketing in the US. In Europe the identical tools are marked 18V, due to how laws are written.

If you gang six lithium cells together, you would have a 21.6V tool, which Lowes markets as 24V in their Kobalt line using the same fuzzy, but legal, math as Dewalt does with their 20V line. Expand that out to the FlexVolt and they are actually running at 54 volts (15 cells at 3.6V each). Same hype for “12V” tools—they are all using three cells, so actually run at 10.8V.

For years there were voltage wars. When Makita made the first big splash with cordless in the 80 s, those were 9.6V tools. (NiCad cells are 1.2V each, so eight cells in the battery) Then came 12V, 14.4V and finally 18V, each outperforming the previous due to the increased power. Dewalt tried some 24V NiCad, but they were just too heavy for the minimal performance gain and flopped. Things stabilized around 18V as the best combination of price and weight vs performance for heavy use tools. The performance gains since have been in motor and battery technology.

Additional voltage has some benefits, most of which can also be realized by reworking the 18V batteries to supply more amperage. DeWalt is taking the first path with FlexVolt, while Milwaukee is following the second with their new High Output batteries. Time will tell which is more successful, though higher voltage does seem to be gaining traction. Makita has the X2 series, which actually predates Flexvolt and uses two 18V batteries in series, while Metabo is also coming out with higher voltage tools.

That is all based on currently available battery technology. There are rumors of some really cool stuff being work on in the labs, but not ready for actual testing, yet. Who knows what technological breakthrough might disrupt the whole industry in the future?

- JayT

Exactly the answer I was looking for, Jay!!!

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