Hybrid Power Tools: Corded and Cordless
Each passing year companies introduce new power tools that were once only reserved to run on electricity or air but, with advancements in battery technology, these boundaries are being torn down. Let’s talk Hybrid Power Tools: Corded and Cordless.
Cordless finish and framing nailers, routers, sanders, compressors and even table saws are now becoming more commonplace on job sites. But, don’t be too quick to completely cut the cord.
Ryobi, Ridgid and Festool are producing some interesting, “Hybrid Power Tools” that combine the convenience of battery operation while retaining the ability to run full-time via a 120v connection. Not to be left behind, Bosch, DeWalt, Makita and Milwaukee also have a couple of products.
With exception of Festool and the miter saw, almost all are low power consumption, semi-stationary tools. Here are some of the current tools available:
- 18V ONE+ Hybrid 20-Watt LED Work Light
- 18V ONE+ Hybrid Portable Fan
- 18V ONE+ Hybrid Stereo with Bluetooth Wireless Technology
- 18V ONE+ Hybrid Transfer Pump
- 18V-Volt ONE+ Hybrid Shoplight
- 18V ONE+ Score Wireless Speaker Set
- 18V ONE+ Hybrid Drain Auger
- GEN5X 18V Jobsite Radio with Bluetooth Wireless Technology
- GEN5X 18V Hybrid Fan
- GEN5X 18V Hybrid Folding Panel Light
- GEN5X 18V Hybrid Cordless Upright Area Light
- GEN5X 18V Hybrid Cordless Flood Light
- GEN5X 18V Hybrid Forced Air Propane Heater
- FLEXVOLT 120-Volt MAX Lithium-Ion Cordless 12 in. Double Bevel Sliding Brushless Miter Saw
- 18 Volt Lithium-Ion Power Box Jobsite Radio
- M18 18-Volt Lithium-Ion ONE-KEY Radius Site Light
- M18 18-Volt Lithium-Ion Cordless Rover AC/DC LED Flood Light
- ETSC 125 is a 5″ random orbital sander
- DTSC 400 is a delta triangular detail sander
- RTSC 400 is a rectangular finish sander
The Shift from Corded to Cordless Tools
So, you see there are a lot of lights, fans and sound systems – this is by design – according to the product development teams at RYOBI and Ridgid.
“The shift from corded to cordless tools will only continue to grow and expand. Ultimately, our customers greatly prefer our cordless tools as they expect them to perform as well as, or greater than, their corded counterparts. However, we also realize there are certain situations where the use of an additional power source (i.e. AC/extension cord) can provide our customers with even greater flexibility for unlimited run time.”
A Secondary Power Option
the secondary power option does increase tools’ utility, it also offers an additional option for users who might not have bought into a specific battery platform since almost all of these tools are offered in bare tool options.
According to Ryobi, “These products provide a low cost opportunity for new customers that may not already be on the ONE+ platform. With the ability of using AC power, our customers aren’t required to invest in batteries and chargers at the time of purchase and can expand further into the platform at a future time.”
Additionally, “These items are low amp draw products meaning that the internal components required for AC use will not significantly alter the design of the product or its intended use.”
While both companies confirmed that they are fully invested in exploring more opportunities within the exiting categories, they are looking to expand this hybrid power tool technology to other products. But, according to the folks at Ridgid, there are some obstacles.
“At the moment it’s difficult to implement this technology into high amp draw (power hungry) products as it will not only alter the intended design of the product, but will also significantly increase the cost. In addition, as we continue to innovate and upgrade our batteries and brushless motors, the need for this type of technology in general power tools will decrease as the tools can run much longer and much more efficiently. “
Rick Bush, director of product marketing for Festool, provided some key insights as to how the sanders were chosen as the flagship for their entry into the hybrid power tool segment.
“Essentially, the combination of popularity coupled with the technology made these sanders the first and best choice to introduce this capability of hybrid technology. Our main consideration was both our primary goal as well as the main point – performance.”
“To ensure all the hallmarks of Festool sanding performance – balance, control, reduced vibration, ease-of-use, etc. were maintained while providing corded performance with cordless convenience the size of these sanders offered the best platform.”
“To achieve significant run time and power, the sanders all feature a brushless motor with intelligent electronic control. This also helps to reduce weight and size to achieve such running characteristics.”
“The ERGO 3.1 Ah battery provides not only the balance that is critical to good sanding performance, but also significant run time (30 minutes) in these types of sanders.”
When asked if there would be any future developments, Rick offered the following:
“Just a few years ago the technology we use in these hybrid sanders was not yet fully developed for this type of application. As the technologies of motors, controls, and batteries continue to develop I am sure we will see more and more cordless products that mimic corded functionality and will have the option for battery or corded operation to fit the needs of the user.”
But, he adds a caveat. “Current is king. The hybrid sanders are both low and slow in terms of power consumption, so having an on-board adapter is not prohibitive in terms of weight or size. This helps to ensure that whether using these sanders with a battery or a cord, it provides a seamless user experience.”
Hybrid Power Tools: Corded and Cordless Conclusion
So, it looks like hybrid power technology will continue to develop which will help those who don’t want to support a single battery system.