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  • Universal Battery Operated Tools

    There are so many complaints about battery operated tools, I wonder if anyone would be attracted to a 12 or 14 volt tool that, in addition to a its supplied battery pack, could also be operated from a plugin cord? I'm talking about something universal, similar to most portable Ham Radio equipment that is on the market. It may have a proprietary battery pack, but also be able to accept NiCad or NiMh batteries, or be plugged into a cigarette lighter or even into a RV-type deep-cycle battery or AC power supply.

    I've owned a couple of portable radios that have proprietary NiCad packs and like so many tool owners, the packs go dead in a year or so and one is faced with buying replacement batteries that cost almost as much as the radio. If the radio is 7 or 8 years old, you are lucky if you can even find a battery pack to fit it. From what I can see, tool owners face the same problem! Subsequently, I will only buy something that can be run from a variety of sources.

    It wouldn't take much for Ridgid to add a standard power (barrel type or whatever)receptacle to the existing battery packs on 12 or 14 volt units (I presume that the standard 13.8 VDC automotive battery voltage wouldn't foul up either type). Better yet, would be a snap-on device in place of the battery that would contain the necessary receptacle, voltage regulator or whatever. Either way, the tool could than be operated from almost any source that could supply the necessary amperage. A tool belt could hold a universal rechargeable battery, or the tool could be plugged into a moderate AC power supply. It could be run from a vehicle's accessory plug; or on a job site with no power, a deep-cycle battery could probably run a drill or saw for a good 8-hour day or better. I have a 125 amp hour deep-cycle that will allow a 10 amp drain for a solid 9 hours. Recharge in the truck on your way home and back and your ready for another day. Like a car battery, the deep-cycle battery will last for years. It only costs about$75. In addition, there are a number of universal portable units that supply 13.8 volts.

    Any opinions?

    CWS

  • #2
    "Any opinions?"

    Yes, I have one, great idea!

    Make a adapter battery shell as you say with the voltage regulation built-in, just like some of the HT adapter packs.

    Actually, there is nothing stopping you or anyone from making and marketing your own as a third-party accessory is there? Since Ridgid (or whatever make, none offer these as far as I know) does not sell such an item (but they might hold a patent on such a device and be sitting on it), why couldn't you do that?

    73, Bob

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    • #3
      Dewalt offers sort of what you are talking about in a battery that has a cord on it...However they only offer it on the 24v system. It is a pretty nice design but I would never buy it because it is like 100 for the adapter and I can buy a corded recip saw for the same price..

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      • #4
        Agreed, $100 is a little too much for this accessory. If it was < $50 or 60 it might be worth it. It's not something I see many people needing or even wanting, but for those who need it because they can't afford to stop a job due to dead batteries it's probably worth it even at $100. You could potentially loose more money than that in one hour.

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        • #5
          Bob You are right if you have no batteries charged you are losing money and that is why all tool companies offer two batteries with most tools. If your battery can not make it at least one hour on a jobsite you either need a new Brand or a corded unit? If a battery does make it an hour then you are fine because all tool brands have at least a one hour charger

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          • #6
            "If a battery does make it an hour then you are fine because all tool brands have at least a one hour charger"

            So, let me understand this... a guy pays a premium for a drill or other tool that is usually less powerful because he needs to operate in some place where there isn't conventional electrical power. Add to that the inconvenience of the additional weight of a battery hanging off the grip and/or the fact that you really only have full power in the first few minutes of operation and then it deminishes from there. Yet, a guy needs conventional power to plug in his charger for the second battery!? Then when he runs the first battery down, he can go to wherever the charger is and swap... and like have to walk back and forth from the charger to the work area every hour or so? Then maybe every year or so, you either drop another $100 or so, for a new twin set of rechargeables? Hmmmm, no wonder contruction cost so much these days. I guess I'm clueless, gimme a cord!

            What I suggested was a simple addition of a receptacle that would allow any 13.8 DC supply to be plugged into either a 12 or 14 volt tool. Simple, and if it costs more than $15 to add for design and production, I'd like to see the numbers as to why? (Actually, you could do this yourself for about $2.00 in materials and less than an hour of your time.) The results would be that you could use either the proprietary battery, or a battery attached to your belt with a very lightweigt cord, or from a number of rather inexpensive 13.8 vdc products readily available from a variety of sources. And, your operation time would be extended well beyond what you currently experience. But perhaps my thinking isn't logical. Whatever!

            CWS

            [ 06-09-2004, 08:48 PM: Message edited by: CWSmith ]

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            • #7
              CWS:

              I hear what you are saying...I am no manufacturing guys so I would have no idea why a manufacture would not do it. I am sure that would add some type of cost to the tool and if you notice from all the threads in this forum alone that talk about sales and free this and free that and price...it is clear that price is a very important feature to power tool users. I know it is to me. And how many more of these would a manufacturer sale if they added this feature?? Not to mention if you are like me I have a cord and cordless model of everything I need. If I have access to power I use corded...if I do not I use cordless. So basing a cost analysis for a manufacturer...I bought a 99.00 corded Recip saw, 99.00 drill and then paid 500.00 for a cordless set. If the same company offered your design for 20 bucks more I would pay maybe 550 or 560 for the set. They just lost 140 to 150 dollars by making it...just simple thoughts....playing devils advocate.

              In response to your situation at the begining of your last post...I have a car charger and that is how I would change my batteries...and my battery last well longer then an hour I was just saying if you had a poor performing battery that last 1hr or less.

              But regardless...you do have a good idea...I would like to see if someone does do that some day

              Comment


              • #8
                Bo,

                I see your point. Actually I was just having a little fun. You are right about the long-run cost of marketing such a tool. The impact on other sales is something that must be taken into consideration. As it stands now, a company could almost give the tool away if it was ensured that the customer would return to buy batteries.

                I think Ridgid seems to be trying hard to bring confidence to its new product line. The newly annouced 3-year Service Warranty is pretty decent (covering batteries, especially). Still, the lack of parts and other service woes that are evidenced here on the boards would make for many sleepless nights if I were in their Marketing Dept. The lack of savy at HD is also an "Albatross" in my opinion. I think the BOB will end of killing both Ryobi and Ridgid if it doesn't get its act together.

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                • #9
                  I think we can both agree that Home Depot will probally never get its act together [img]smile.gif[/img]

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Bo_hamrick:
                    CWS:


                    ... my battery last well longer then an hour I was just saying if you had a poor performing battery that last 1hr or less.

                    What brand of cordless tools do you have that last well longer than an hour? I can't believe that is while using them much. I can go through a DeWalt 18v xr+ battery in 15 or 20 minutes with my drill at constant use (installing decking), faster with the circ. saw. Granted, I have heard/read that DeWalt batteries suck, but can you really get more than 30 minutes of continuous use out of even a cordless drill on one charge? [img]tongue.gif[/img]

                    [ 06-11-2004, 09:53 PM: Message edited by: tyxlc ]

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                    • #11
                      I've been frustrated by this problem ever since the sticker shock of pricing a new battery and charger for my first cordless - a 12V Porter Cable "Magnequench". For the price of 2 new batteries and charger you can buy a whole new drill kit. What is the logic of this? I also know that the basic cells that make up these packs can be bought in quantities for less than $1. So an 18V battery pack that sells for $70 -$90 has only $15 worth of cells.

                      The big problem is every tool has a different interface. Some brands have changed their own interface 3 or more times. If there was a universal interface, you would see 18V packs for under $30. But there isn't, so if you want to market a universal cordless tool power source you will probably need at least a hundred special adapters just for the professional grade tools alone. A couple years ago, I built a house for a guy who owns a plastics company. He was very interested in my ideas. I was looking at various options including variable output voltages and belt packs with coil cords. He even wanted to do a back-pack compressor for air tools. But as we discussed it, I knew it was hopeless. Tooling would run about $5000 per mold. Each interface connector will probably need at least 2 molds plus electrical contacts. I could quickly see that your talking about a million dollars just for tooling. Then there's the legal question of selling battery products that fit someone else's tools. Add at least $50K just for a preliminary patent search and legal opinion. I don't think you could sell enough batteries to ever justify a multi-million dollar gamble. Then along comes Ridgid willing to guaruntee batteries for life. I don't care if I do have to send the tool back for replacement. As long as Ridgid is in business, I'll never buy another battery.

                      And finally, one comment on the cord vs. cordless issue. Source of power is not the only consideration. Cordless driver drills offer much more. I have yet to see anyone but Sears offer a variable torque clutch. And no company that I know puts a brake on a corded drill. You just can't drive screws safely with a corded drill because of the rotational momentum. I used a Milwaukee screw gun on a subfloor once for an experiment. But OSB has too variable a density to set the depth reliably. I've even tried an air drill. It was really sweet but you need a good sized compressor to keep up - a little pancake unit won't do. As good and cordless drills are today I have no use for corded models except for hammer drills and Hole-Hawgs. If anyone's not being responsive to the customer, I say it's the corded drill makers.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        bytebutcher,you should have pattented the air compressor idea. I saw a 12 v or something hip compressor (probably only good enough for a finish nailer at the most).
                        I agree with your cordless to corded comparison, especially the clutch issue.

                        [ 06-11-2004, 11:41 PM: Message edited by: tyxlc ]

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                        • #13
                          Byte Butcher,

                          I understand your point of view. Actually the battery thing has always bugged me, not just with tools, but with anything, expecially proprietary stuff (like Ham Radio equipment and toys). I've been buying receptacles and doing modifications for years! It started when my son kept running out of batteries for so many of those battery operated electronic toys that used to be the rage. So, a simple barrel receptacle from Radio Shack and a quick drill hole and some quick wiring and a cheap adapter and he was set for life. Batteries could still be used, but the adapter worked when he ran out. The same thing works with some of my Ham Radio equipment. Portable with batteries when I need it, but also can plug into car lighter, RV battery or with a power supply. That the point of my suggestion. New moldings, tooling and all is not a requirement. Just a simple hole, a standard plug receptacle and maybe a modificaton to the circuit board or a simple wire bypass. Versatily is my point and total independance from any single source and all with a minimal expense. Of course, as previously pointed out, this may very well impact on continued battery sales and a completely new tool every couple of years, which is not good for the company.

                          While your posting started out with a sense of frustration over "batteries", it seems that everything is turning out okay for you with Ridgid's Lifetime Service warranty on tools you purchased last Dec or Jan. No doubt an amazing deal. I certainly was impressed by it.

                          As far as "clutch" drivers are concerned, I have a corded Ryobi drill that handles that nicely ($40). Probably not a really long lasting tool for commercial work, but that remains to be seen.

                          I think a lot of tools can be either overhyped or under valued. I have a "Companion" (cheapo Sears, not worthy of Craftsman label) that I bought as my very first drill over 40 years ago. Only 1/4 inch chuck, single-speed with bronze bearings. In addition to drilling, I've wire brushed, mixed paint, deburred and ground steel, and used butterfly bits with it and the darn thing just keeps running. It chokes on drilling in concrete or larger holes in hard wood because it lacks real power, but I haven't burned it up yet. I blow the dust out of it after dirty use and occasion put a drop of oil in the forward bearing, but that's about it. I own other drills including a Craftsman, Ryobi and a Milwauki and all are substantially better tools. But I still grab the little companion for those crap jobs that I don't want to risk messing up the better drills with. The point is, even a cheap drill can surprise you with its longevity.

                          CWS

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            CW,
                            I wasn't trying to slam any particular drill brand. In fact, I was giving Sears Sears credit for at least offering a corded drill with a clutch. Apparently Ryobi is also in that category - I hadn't seen that one. IMO Ryobi sells very good stuff for the money. Some people even have good experience with flea-market tools but I don't think I'd ever go that far.

                            Still, where is the electronic brake? This is an essential feature to me. The depth/pressure release system in a typical corded screw gun like the Milwaukee is not very effective. I just put my Ridgid cordless through a good workout on my uncle's subfloor. He used a Makita deck gun borrowed from the lumber company. After I re-set all the screws that didn't sink, replaced the ones that stripped before they set, and backed out what was left of the ones that snapped, I don't think the screw gun saved any time. The lumber company made out though by selling him the collated screws.

                            I agree that you can always open the tool to bypass the regular interface connector. But you still have a charging issue. Without specs on the thermal devices (third/fourth terminals on batteries) you don't really know what charger circuit to use. With enough patience and test equipment you could figure it out, but this is definitely not for the average consumer. I was just pointing out that the lack of a standard interface is a formidable barrier to a marketable solution for universal power.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              This idea (essentially of having a receptacle that would permit the use of outside-supplied DC when available to what is otherwise a battery operated tool, in order to avoid reliance on the battery and therefore extend overall battery life (i.e., number of cycles until failure)) isn't going to work. The analogy to doing the same thing with portable 2-way radios also fails. The reason in both cases is the high current draw that the tool imposes when spinning. The outside source would not supply it, which means that the tool would revert to the battery. Portable 2-way radios draw less than 2A when transmitting, and they transmit for less than 2-5% of their operating time. A battery-operated drill draws 10-15A all the time it is spinning.

                              For the fellow with the 125AH flooded cell deep cycle battery that will put out 10A continuously for 10 hours: the 125AH rating means that if you load the battery (fully charged and new) with 1/20th that number (i.e., 6.25A) then the battery should carry that load for 20 hours before reaching a terminal voltage of 10.5VDC. (At that point, the battery is DOA and will not recharge; this is a rating, not a test. At a draw of more than 20% of nominal capacity (6.25A in this case) the rating of the battery is less than nominal. The rating of a nominal 125AH battery subjected to a load of 10A is on the order of 90-100AH.)

                              A deep cycle battery should never be drained to less than 50% of nominal capacity. It must then be promptly and properly recharged or it will begin to sulphate and lose capacity.

                              [ 06-14-2004, 09:30 PM: Message edited by: RGad ]

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