In late February, Home Depot held its Lithium Ion Showcase at Studio 450 in NYC for the purpose of sounding its support for products employing lithium-ion (li-ion) batteries and related technologies. On display was a veritable cornucopia of power tools for both indoor and outdoor use.
According to Home Depot, li-ion technology started in power tools and is now crossing over to high-power categories such as outdoor tools, painting, and flooring. The reasons for the expansion are many. First li-ion batteries produce a consistent charge throughout their lifespan as opposed to Ni-Cads that lose power as the tool runs. Other advantages include li-ion batteries can be charged many more times than Ni-Cads, they are not subject to damage when sitting in the charger for long periods, they are lighter, which in turn enables smaller and more ergonomic-handling tools.
As per Home Depot, the popularity of lithium ion technology is growing rapidly with sales of li-ion power drills tripling over the past five years. And it expects lithium ion products to continue to increase in popularity as consumers realize their benefits and the price gap between lithium ion and NiCad products shrinks. Thought to be tools for the pros due to their power and price, advancements in li-ion technology and the resulting lower prices has more do-it-yourself users jumping on the lithium wagon.
I have to agree with the company on this one. Li-ion batteries are the way to go, even if it’s just because you or someone you work with (or live with) just loves to keep all things rechargeable on their respective chargers ad infinitum.
Currently, Home Depot carries a comprehensive variety li-ion-powered tools from companies that include Bosch, Dewalt, Echo, Hilti, Makita, Milwaukee, Panasonic, Ridgid, Ryobi, Toro, and Worx as well as standard-size, non-rechargeable (AA/AAA/9V) li-ion batteries from Energizer. Several of these companies were at the Manhattan showcase with some pretty impressive wares.
Claiming best-in-class features, Rigid’s X4 18V Lithium-Ion 5PC Combo Kit includes a hammer drill, impact driver, circular saw, reciprocal saw, and a LED light. Features include a four-pole open frame motor (hammer drill), 1,750 in.-lb. of torque (impact driver), a sight line blower plus Grip Light and Hex Grip (circular saw), on/off orbital action, tool-free blade change, and an adjustable shoe (reciprocal saw), and dual-mode operation and a retractable sky hook (LED lamp). Price for the five-piece package is $499.
Ryobi’s ONE+ 18V ProTip reversible tip paint sprayer offers continuous coverage with a reversible spray tip that rotates 180 degrees. Its noise reduction pump enables quiet operation and the company’s GripZone provides optimum grip and user comfort. Price is $179.
The M18 FUEL compact drill and hammer drill kits from Milwaukee both employ brushless motors for high torque operation in compact and lightweight profiles. Prices are $229 and $299, respectively.
Makita’s LXT 18V multi tool offers variable speed control from 6,000 to 20,000 opm. Features include a 3.2-degree oscillation angle, LED light, and its battery recharges fully in 30 minutes. Price is 119.
The DCD780 20V drill/driver and impact driver combo kit from Dewalt provides up to 2,800 rpm and 1,400 in.-lb. of torque. It comes with the case and charger. Price is $249.
Black & Decker offers a 12V drill/driver featuring an 11-position clutch to eliminate screw stripping, an LED work light, and a comfortable soft grip. Also, the company’s CompactFit design screwdriver holds its charge for 18 months and also features soft grips. Prices are, respectively, $59.97 and $29.97.
Energizer’s Advanced Lithium AA batteries claim to last six times longer in digital cameras, up to 20 times longer in wireless game controllers, seven hours longer in handheld GPS devices, up to five hours longer in video recorders, and 25 hours longer in two-way radios than comparable power sources. They are 33% lighter than alkaline batteries and hold their charge for 10 years when not in use. A four pack costs n$7.97. An Advanced 9V lithium battery is available for $6.97.
Energizer Ultimate Lithium AA and AAA batteries lay claim to being the longest lasting such power sources available. With a 15-year storage life, they last up to nine times longer in high-drain digital cameras and are 33% lighter than alkaline batteries. Price for a four pack is $9.97.
Judging by the number and quality of products on display it looks like the future is very promising for li-ion power sources. And it no wonder because all the items I got a chance to try performed well beyond expectation and/or hype. Drill on!