Anyone looking to build a kit of cordless power tools based on a single battery system is potentially faced with a bewildering range of choices. Voltages range from 10.8v through to 36v, battery systems include Nickel Cadmium (NiCd), Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion), while the number of manufacturers offering cordless power tools has never been greater.
Cordless power tool research and development has advanced rapidly in recent years, the key objectives having been more power, longer runtime and faster charging. As a result, battery voltages have reached 36v, Metabo have recently announced the release of their world-first 4.0Ah batteries, and charging times can now be as low as 30 minutes. This progress has largely been achieved through the development of improved technology. Key developments include the introduction of Lithium Ion to supersede older battery systems and advances in electronics, which have resulted in the reduced charging times as well as significantly increased motor power. At the same time, these advances in technology have improved the overall performance and durability of cordless power tools, especially at the premium end of the market.
In recent times, 18v Li-ion has become the most widely used system of cordless power tools, particularly by tradesmen. There are a number of reasons why this has happened, but probably none more critical than the emergence of the 18.0v combi drill as the workhorse tool of choice in the construction industry. The 18v Li-ion combi drill has gained this position largely because of its power to weight ratio. At voltages below 18.0v there is a perceived lack of power, and above this the weight of the tool becomes an issue for most users who need to use it for drilling and screw driving continuously on a daily basis.
As a result, when manufacturers looked to extend their range of cordless tools beyond simply drills, it made sense to develop the 18.0v platform as their flagship range and offer additional tools or kits compatible with this system. The number of cordless tools available in 18.0v is now extensive, and includes combi drills, drill drivers and impact drivers, which are frequently used as the core tool on which a kit is based. Amongst the other types of tools on offer are planers, grinders, various saws, impact wrenches, SDS-Plus drills, nailers, and even band saws and straight grinders. Most manufacturers’ 18.0v cordless tool range also includes radio chargers and lights. The 18v Li-ion ranges available from various manufacturers are not only often the largest, but also the main focus of cordless R&D. This means that the 18v tools usually feature the latest technology, deliver the best performance and represent the best value for money when compared with other voltage systems.
The 18v Li-ion system currently represents the best power to weight ratio, offers the broadest range of available types of tool, and features the most up to date technology available for cordless power tools. This is why it has become the cordless power tool platform most widely used by tradesmen, particularly those who need a system that is versatile, reliable and gets the job done quickly.