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There’s no denying that cordless power tool brands have made remarkable progress over the years, as they drive forward the concept of a “cordless jobsite.”
Many tool users buy into a single cordless platform, while others might buy into several platforms. There are many possible reasons why someone might buy into more than one cordless power tool system.
Working with more than one cordless system has its benefits, but also its downsides. The more cordless tools and systems you use, the more chargers and batteries that need to be juggled.
Some brands do offer charger compatibility across multiple battery systems, such as how a standard Dewalt charger can work with their 12V Max, 20V Max, and FlexVolt batteries, or how a standard Milwaukee charger works with M12 and M18 batteries.
But while working with multiple cordless systems within one brand might not be as much of a hassle as working with different brands’ systems, the simplest solution is to work with just a single cordless power tools system where all of the tools, batteries, and chargers are cross-compatible.
Makita uses “One System” marketing language for their new XGT 36V/40V Max cordless power tool system. When they launched this cordless lineup in the USA, Makita made a big deal about the variety of tools that can be powered with a single 18V form-factory battery.
Makita makes similar “One System” claims for their 18V and 12V Max systems.
Each of Makita’s full-size tool systems – their 18V system and 18V form factor 36V/40V Max XGT system – have both single and dual battery solutions.
Nuron is a single 22V battery platform that enables cordless tools on all kinds of jobs, from light duty drilling to heavy duty concrete breaking.
There’s that claim again, of a single platform to suit all of your cordless power tool needs.
The Hilti Nuron system was seemingly designed from the ground up, and with modern Li-ion tech in mind. It will be interesting to see what they do here.
Bosch’s latest newsletter talks about “high power, one battery,” seemingly referring to their Profactor battery.
Bosch makes an effort to show off a cordless drill, impact wrench, and rotary hammer, all powered by a Profactor battery.
Metabo HPT (formerly Hitachi Power Tools) has their MultiVolt system. Their MultiVolt 18V tools can be powered by 18V or MultiVolt batteries, and their MultiVolt 36V tools can be powered by MultiVolt batteries or the MultiVolt AC adapter.
Milwaukee’s M18 system has an “everything fits” motto, where you can use different classes of batteries for everything from compact to heavy duty power tools.
Milwaukee also has MX Fuel, a separate cordless power equipment category.
Dewalt has a new Flexvolt 15Ah battery, and it looks like they designed a new interface to help support larger cordless tools and equipment.
Dewalt also created 20V Max PowerDetect and 20V Max FlexVolt Advantage cordless power tool systems.
Dewalt FlexVolt Advantage tools, such as their recent air compressor (DCC2520), bring higher performing tools to their 20V Max platform. While FlexVolt Advantage tools deliver the highest performance when powered with a FlexVolt battery, you can also use 20V Max batteries.
Dewalt recently launched PowerStack, their new compact Li-ion stacked pouch-style battery pack.
Brushless motors are the new de facto standard for new cordless power tool releases.
“Standard” power tool battery packs, built with 18650-sized Li-ion cells, are still extremely common and popular, and “high output” battery packs with 21700-sized cells have also become commonplace.
Big changes are coming to the cordless power tool industry. Adding stacked pouch-style Li-ion cells to the mix will surely lead to further expansions and possibilities.
21700-sized batteries raised the power output ceiling. Pouch-style cells can do the same again, and we’ve also seen brands – namely Dewalt so far – lowering the floor when it comes to battery size and weight.
With respect to 18V and 20V Max tools, there used to be just two battery form factors – compact 5-cell batteries and higher capacity 10-cell batteries. We now have compact 5-cell batteries that match the power delivery and runtime of legacy 10-cell batteries, and 15-cell batteries that fuel tools that weren’t possible 10 years ago, even in higher voltage systems.
Every brand seems to be working towards the goal of “one system fits all,” where they can suit any user’s needs with the right tool-battery pairing.
Cordless power tool brands have been working towards this for years. After all, which cordless brand would be eager to lose any business to their competitors?
Brushless motors, higher output Li-ion cells, and years of progress with now-mature Li-ion tech, have helped engineers raise the tech and performance bar, time and time again.
Brands furthered the idea of a “cordless jobsite,” where cordless battery-powered tools could replace tools and equipment were traditionally powered by AC and extension cords, gasoline engines and generators, or air lines.
They’ve done a good job with this so far – there are fewer and fewer tools where you need to choose AC, gas, or air power.
Now, whether obviously or subtly, most if not all major cordless power tool brands seem to be moving towards a “one system” philosophy.
Some brands offer next-level performance with some level of cross-platform compatibility, such as how Dewalt FlexVolt batteries can be used with both FlexVolt 60V Max and 20V Max cordless power tools and chargers.
Makita’s XGT system is completely new, and while not compatible, their 18V system remains separate.
Hilti’s Nuron 22V system will likely replace their legacy 22V and 36V systems.
Bosch has an 18V “Profactor exclusive” 12Ah battery.
We’re not just moving towards increasingly cordless jobsites now, we’re moving towards cordless jobsites and workshops where a single cordless system can meet increasingly broad user needs.
It seems that most cordless power tool brands are striving to provide complete one-system solutions. Will tool users move in the same direction?
As a tool user, I’m not quite certain whether I am moving in the same direction.
Let’s consider an 18V/20V Max class circular saw. Traditionally, I’d power this with a 10-cell battery, such as a 5Ah battery pack, or I might use a compact battery for a light cut or two in a pinch. Now, there might be as many as 6 or 7 different battery form factors in a platform, and that’s just talking about physical sizes – there are more if you go by charge capacity.
While it’s good for cordless brands to meet as many user needs as possible, will more users stick to just one cordless system?
When you might have to buy a full kit, or a $200 battery and separate fast charger to support a more powerful cordless tool, does it really matter if it’s in the same system as your drill?
One thing that’s certain is that the next couple of months will be extremely interesting. The idea of being able to power all of your cordless power tools with “one battery” or that they’re all in “one system” isn’t new – this is what years of progress and expansion has been leading up to.
What happens when you have a smaller battery and a standard charger for a compact tool, and a much larger battery and rapid charger for a heavier duty tool? I wonder how stacked lithium batteries will play into this. What if you could power a 12″ sliding miter saw – and at max performance – with a battery that’s compact and light enough to comfortable fit an impact driver?
Do you prefer using just one cordless system, or is your kit composed of multiple brands or cordless platforms? Which option would you choose if you had to build your cordless kit today?