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A few months ago at the Milwaukee event, all the tool writers from the major mags and sites gathered to hear about the newest tools. NDAs and embargos flew around like water and we were presented — after appropriate waiting and light shows had built up sufficient suspense — with the RedLithium battery packs. Milwaukee was very excited to let us get our hands on them. In short, it’s the battery advance in Li-Ion the industry has been looking for but never gotten right — until now.

Here’s the quick and dirty from the press release.

Fully compatible with all M12 and M18 cordless products currently available, the new REDLITHIUM batteries will provide up to 40% more run-time, 20% more power and 50% more recharges than other Lithium products. The new technology will also operate in extreme temperatures as low as 0 degree F/-18 degree C and will run 20% cooler with fade free power and no memory effect. In short, users are able to instantly upgrade the performance, run-time and durability of the M12 and M18 tools they already own, simply by switching to the REDLITHIUM battery packs.

During the event they pulled packs from freezers and fired off countless run time and power tests and explained all the awesome that they had brought to bear on the now fully mature Li-Ion technology.

We’ll spare you the standard marketing about commitment and innovation. The main point is they lowered the resistance in the battery pack and changed up the electronics to handle the extra power; this way the entire system can run more energy, more efficiently and safely through to the motor without fear of making boom or shorting.

The kicker is, it’s very impressive once you get hold of it. The pack looks, feels, and weighs the same as the old Li-Ion pack until you load one up and pop the trigger. The M12 tools feel more like an 18v and the runtime really does seem to be noticeably longer. It’s backwards compatible into your existing M12 or M18 tools, and the very best part is it will ship with all the combo kits and be available across the entire M12 and M18 lines going forward. This makes changing out chargers you might already have not necessary and upgrading to the new gear simple. Mostly because price points won’t move either, the RedLithium costs exactly what the previous gen of packs cost.

It may look like the same old song-and-dance from a marketing perspective, but under the hood it really is a leap forward in the specs department. Just try one at the local big box — if nothing else, the added power is easy to see, and that sells it for us.

RedLithium Battery System [Milwaukee]

 

5 Responses to Milwaukee’s RedLithium

  1. Rob says:

    I think this is the best acknowledgement we are going to get from Milwaukee that they screwed up. I was an early adopter of the V28 tools, and that (extremely expensive) lithium battery lost power (run-time and speed) within a few months. Fail!! Since then, I have been using Makita and Bosch lithium with excellent results, and have learned the cells in those battery packs are made by Sony and Sanyo. The cells in the “old” Milwaukee tools are supposably Moli Energy. I have heard (but haven’t used the tools) that the Dewalt A123 branded lithium battery packs last for years. I willing to bet Milwaukee switched lithium cell manufacturers, and that is the new “technology” they are speaking of. Smoke and mirrors…

  2. busf says:

    FYI fellow Toolmongers…

    I agree with Rob, they probably just switched battery cell manufacturers.

    Also, because lithium ion has 3.6V per battery cell, compared to NiCd’s 1.2V per cell. Tool companies must use electronics to ensure long runtime, prevent overload when charging and prevent the battery from deep discharge.

    Milwaukee places their electronics in the battery. Why do I think that is bad…because heat is the number one killer of battery cells. What do electronics create?

    Bosch does uses electronics in the tools and chargers. Makita uses electronics in their chargers only and DeWalt puts electronics in their batteries.

    I first adopted Makita for my company, then after battery issues I looked into why this was happening. After looking at each manufacturer’s website and speaking to some of their reps it was easy to see Bosch was the winner for our company. They don’t have the depth of line of the other manufacturers, but their drills, saws work great for us.

  3. @busf:

    While I would agree with you that all electronics do produce heat, I’m sure the electronics in the pack add a very negligible amount compared to the actual use of the tool or charging. What you are probably thinking of are things like power transistors, linear voltage regulators (they drop voltage by changing it to heat), or computer processors. The electronics in a pack are probably for monitoring very small and sip power probably a few milliwatts. I know it’s not the most relevant example, but does your battery operated watch generate any discernible heat.

    While I don’t know what’s exactly inside their packs. I know what I would put in. I would monitor each cells temperature and tell the charger to reduce the current if any of the cells are starting to heat up.

    And since Lithium based batteries don’t have a drastic voltage discharge profile like say alkaline batteries, so it’s hard to just measure a parameter or two real in time and figure out how much juice is left. I would have some sort of on-board fuel gauge that measured how much power went in and how much power went out.

    There’s probably other circuitry in there too that I can’t think of right this second, but the electronics in the pack probably reduce heat damage to the cells by reducing charging current before the cells heat up. This would have a far greater effect on battery longevity than any small, small heating the electronics would do.

  4. Jerry says:

    Made from the same lithium crystals that Captain Kirk used on the Enterprise, no doubt.

  5. JMB says:

    @busf

    I disagree! Like Benjamen said it will be very minimal the heat produced by the electronics! Like you said busf makita only have electronics in the chargers only! Thats why I dont buy makita! Because Makita dont have any protection in the batteries or the tools its really easy to burn out the batteries! Mainly with the SDS and circular saws! I own Alot of M18 Milwueakee Range and have had no problems with the batteries so far. Ihave owned them for a year now! I use them alot! The batteries are on bar with current companies so this upgrade should bring them higher up in the market!

    JMB

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