When using a power tool, electricians often have two options: drag a long power cord across a construction site or wait a long time for a cordless tool's battery to charge. Now they can get the power of a corded tool without the cord. Milwaukee Electric Tool recently launched the V28 line of tools, which deliver 40% more power and up to twice the run time of 18V battery technologies.

The Brookfield, Wis.-based manufacturer spent nine years researching and developing the V28 lithium-ion battery technology for applications that draw a high level of current, such as power tools. Until now, lithium-ion batteries were reserved for small portable devices such as cell phones or digital cameras, while nickel cadmium (NiCd) and nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries powered cordless work tools. And although NiCd and NiMH batteries are capable of providing power at voltages greater than 18V, the additional weight of the battery pack made it too cumbersome. But a Milwaukee team of researchers and product engineers developed a lithium-ion battery that not only weighs less than today's NiCd and NiMH 18V models, but can also deliver fade-free power throughout the discharge cycle, says John Sara, product manager for Milwaukee.

“Other batteries can lose their charge, but with lithium ion, the last cut feels like your first,” Sara says. “You feel like you have a freshly charged battery pack every time.”

To verify the run time and increased power of the line of cordless tools, Milwaukee sent its products to Intertek ETL SEMKO, an independent research laboratory, for third-party testing. When cutting lumber, the V28 reciprocating saw performed more than twice as many cuts and the V28 circular saw cut 43% to 45% faster than other competitive 18V models, according to the lab results.

Milwaukee has also been field testing the line of cordless power tools for about a year. Roman Electric, a 75-year-old electrical contracting firm with 300 electricians, is serving as one of the beta testers. John Perse, a foreman for the Milwaukee-based firm, has been using the cordless utility drill, circulating saw, and reciprocating saw for about four months. He says he has a hard time distinguishing the power of the cordless drill from other corded models.

“The battery used to be spent after drilling one or two holes,” Perse says. “Now I can get half a day of use out of the tool.”

Perse drills holes in panels throughout the morning, recharges the battery during his 30-minute lunch break, and then continues to use the drill until the end of his workday. A built-in fuel gauge lets him know how much run time is available. He says the drill also delivers more power than his existing tools, which allows him to drill holes more quickly and increase his productivity. Roman Electric, which has wired the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa and the LEED- certified Schlitz Audubon Center, is currently using the tools on an apartment construction project. Perse says using a cordless tool has made it easier for his electricians to get the job done. With these tools, the electricians don't have to deal with the hassle and danger of dragging a cord around the jobsite.

“The cordless power tools keep our electricians very mobile,” he says.

The V28 cordless tools will be available individually or in combo kits in April 2005. Milwaukee is offering a five-year warranty on the tools and a two-year warranty on the batteries. To make it easier to validate warranty claims, the manufacturer designed the products with a smart battery that internally records the first date of product use. A battery pack memory chip also logs tool use patterns. Milwaukee engineers can retrieve this information to improve future cordless tool designs. The line of products currently includes a hammer drill, circular saw, reciprocating saw, band saw, impact wrench, work light, and battery charger, but the manufacturer plans to offer a rotary hammer and other tools in the coming year.

For more information about the V28 line of cordless tools, visit www.v28power.com.

Product Features

  • Lithium ion battery is designed for high current-draw applications

  • Built-in fuel gauge informs users how much run-time remains on the battery

  • V28 smart batteries internally record the first date of product use

  • The battery pack memory chip internally logs tool use patterns

  • V28 tools have twice the run time of traditional 18V cordless tools

  • Battery delivers fade-free power throughout the discharge cycle