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.
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 ]
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.
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.
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 ]
I LOVE IT when you talk technical! ;) :D :D
I understand what you are saying, and perhaps I stand corrected. I don't own a battery-operated drill, and therefore presumed that their current draw was substantially less than an AC plug-in unit. The suggestion was based on an assumption that there was no "magic" in those little 3 x 4 inch Ni-Cad packs that plug into the bottom. Given your example of amperage draw, I am surprised that the batteries last longer than two-minutes!
You are correct in the fact that a deep-cycle battery should not be drawn down to nothing. Still, it stands to reason that a larger battery/alternative DC source would still be an added convenience and should provide a significant run-time advantage over the normal clip-on battery pack.
With regard to radio equipment, my 100 watt transmitter draws 10 amps and receiver less than 1 amp. According to specifications from the battery manufacturer, my back-up deep-cycle will draw 10 amps for nine hours without damage. (Isn't that 90 amp hours from a 125 amp hour battery. That only 28% of the battery's stated capacity and perhaps that really is too little. On field exercize, I've operated through a weekend, but actual transmission time is subtantially less.
My experience with an electric drill, is that one generally doesn't run solid for more than a few minutes unless they are drilling holes in concrete. But my experience is perhaps limited. So, I guess I need to go purchase a 14 volt drill and do some experimenting.
Where I wrote, "my 100 watt transmitter draws 10 amps" should have read, "while my 100 watt transmitter can draw 20 amps, an average 100 watt transmission is more like 10 amps."
(Used as an example of comparisn with high amperage draw on a deep-cycle battery.)
(thats the sound of this posting going way over my head)