Join the cordless revolution
Product Manager Alessandro Barera de-mystifies battery technology
My name is Alessandro Barera, the Cordless Product Manager for Hilti in Northern Europe and part of what I love about my job is the fact that cordless technology is constantly evolving.
EVOLUTION OF BATTERY TECHNOLOGY
Recent technological advancements in the size and performance of batteries has created a near volcanic eruption in demand for cordless tools. This is great news for me but also for our customers, as this helps to fuel continued investment in research and development in ever improving battery technology.
We’ve come a long way from the heavy old Nickel based battery cells to lighter and cleaner Lithium technology. This shift helped to reduce the weight of the batteries and the overall weight of cordless tools, but also allows us to store more energy in each cell.
Lithium cells can also be controlled electronically, which means we can better manage the energy running through the tool, prevent overload or deep discharge and gives us the opportunity to verify the level of charge with our handy LED-light indicators.
DE-MYSTIFYING VOLTAGE AND AMP HOURS
Nowadays, the cordless market offers a wide range of tools from screw drivers to angle grinders and combihammers.
To match the varying demands of different tools, they are offered on a variety of battery ‘platforms’ which is the voltage e.g. 12V, 14V, 18V, 22V, 28V, 36V etc. and the amp hour capacity e.g. 2.0, 3.0, 5.2. But what do all these numbers mean?
Well, comparing different voltages is almost like comparing the engines of two cars: a 1.6 litre car is likely to be more powerful than a 1.2 litre. And it’s the same with batteries - the higher the voltage, the higher the power and performance.
Continuing with the car engine analogy, when it comes to amp hours, (usually the smaller number on the battery e.g. 1.5, 3.0, 5.2) this can be thought of as the size of your fuel tank. The more fuel you can store, the more miles you can do with one full tank. Or in construction terms, the more holes you can drill or screws you can fasten.
So, you’d think comparing those numbers like for like would give you a good way to compare the performance of different batteries on the market.
Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple but there's a quick and easy calculation you can do to better compare different batteries.
Let the maths do the talking
A universal way to independently compare battery performance is to multiply the voltage by the amp hours to give you the total capacity of the battery.
Often this value is also written on the label of the batteries and named Wh (Watts per Hour) for example:
18V x 6.0 Ah = 108 Wh
22V x 5.2 Ah = 114 Wh
54V x 2.0 Ah = 108 Wh
36V x 5.2 Ah = 187 Wh
As you can see, the voltages are different in all those batteries, but some of them appear to be similar in the end in terms of capacity. And it's the capacity which determines how many holes you’ll be able to drill with one charge.
In addition to this simple multiplication, it's also important to consider any new technical enhancements. For example, our new B 22/3.0 Battery with 22 Volts and 3.0 Amp hours has new high density cells that make it the first compact battery with high performance.
SELECTING THE RIGHT BATTERY FOR YOU
When evaluating a cordless tool and its batteries, it’s worth taking the time look closely at the technical features and do the simple multiplication to assess the real capacity of the battery.
This should give you the info you need to select the right cordless systems for you; whether its weight that’s important to you, or reach. The good news is, Hilti has a range of tools and batteries to match your applications so why not check out our new Cordless in Charge web page to see what Hilti cordless can do for you.
SO, WHAT’S SO SPECIAL ABOUT THE NEW 3.0 BATTERY?
It’s all about the layers.
All lithium batteries have cells which are normally grouped in layers: 1 layer for compact batteries and 2 layers for the bigger ones.
Traditional compact batteries with 1 layer tend to have less capacity and lower performance, as they have fewer cells on the inside when compared with the bigger 2-layer batteries.
This means that when you need to use a high energy demanding tool like an angle grinder or impact wrench, a traditional 1-layer compact battery would struggle to get your job done, overheat and cut-out half way through the job. Not great, right?
Well, with the new B 22/3.0 we’ve overcome this challenge by making the cells in the battery bigger. So, although there’s still only 1-layer, the cells are much denser and together with the new electronics, they carry a bigger capacity to deliver the power you need for more demanding applications.
This means you get the benefit of a lighter more compact battery without compromising on power and performance!