Lithium ion (LI) batteries burst into the cordless-tool market in 2005 when Milwaukee Electric Tool Corporation introduced its 28v power-tool line. Since then, the industry has exploded with products featuring this revolutionary power source for cordless tools. Not only do LI batteries provide more power and weigh less than their nickel-cadmium (NiCd) counterparts, the battery packs last twice as long. LI batteries are low maintenance: they have no memory, and no scheduled cycling is required to prolong the battery's life. They also have a slow self-discharge.
The new technology has allowed tools with increased power, lighter weight and greater portability. Although the new LI-equipped tools cost more than NiCd tools, the efficiency and productivity gained may make the purchase worthwhile. Here are some of the hottest new cordless tools showcasing the power of lithium ion.
-By Katie Honnette
1. DeWalt reciprocating saw
DeWalt’s new 20v Max lithium ion reciprocating saw (model DCS380L1) offers versatility and enhanced performance. The four-position, keyless blade clamp allows for easy blade changes. Its 1⅛-in. stroke length delivers 0 to 3,000 strokes per minute (SPM), powering through some of the most demanding applications. The saw also boasts an adjustable, pivoting shoe that extends blade life and allows depth-of-cut control. Other features include a comfort grip and a double oil sealed shaft that provides durability. A 3.0-amp-hour (Ah) lithium ion battery reduces downtime throughout the day by providing up to 35% more run time compared to other leading 18v lithium ion tools, according to DeWalt.
2. Milwaukee cordless ratchets
Milwaukee Electric Tool expands its M12 lithium ion system with the introduction of the M12 cordless ¼- and 3/8-in. ratchets. The tools are compact at only 10¾ in. long and 1.9 lbs. For users tired of hassling with pneumatic tools and hoses, the cordless ratchets provide an effective solution. Delivering up to 35 ft.-lbs. of torque and 250 rpm, the ratchets deliver power, speed, and durability. The compact, ¾-in., low-profile head design allows the ratchets to fit in tight spaces, maximizing productivity.
Prices: $159 for the M12 cordless ¼-in. ratchet (2456-21) and $149 for the M12 cordless 3/8-in. ratchet (2457-21).
3. Porter-Cable infrared thermometer
Porter-Cable launched a new infrared thermometer (model PCC581B) that is compatible with 18v lithium ion or NiCd batteries. Designed to deliver quick and accurate readings, the thermometer has a backlit LCD screen and an easy-to-view indicator beam that changes color when it detects a difference in temperature. It has a working temperature range of -22° to 590°F, a temperature accuracy of ±1.8°, and a 12:1 distance-to-spot ratio for accuracy. Also, the thermometer offers 10 memory settings that allow users to record measurements in different locations.
Price: approximately $60.
4. Makita drill/driver
At 7 9/16 in. long and weighing only 3.8 lbs., Makita’s new 18v LXT lithium-ion cordless ½-in. drill/driver (model LXFD01) offers an improved power-to-weight ratio. The drill/driver’s gear system and transmission have been redesigned for increased durability, and its four-pole motor delivers 480 in.-lbs. of maximum torque and 290 in.-lbs. of PTI torque.
The drill/driver has 16 clutch settings and a variable two-speed, all-metal transmission (0 to 400/0 to 1,500 rpm) to cover a wide range of drilling and driving applications. It also boasts an improved ergonomic design and a built-in LED light that illuminates the drilling surface.
Prices: $129 for the bare tool, and $329 for the kit containing tool, charger, case and two batteries.