My pick for number one in the Top Tools of 2016 is the DEWALT Flexvolt system. Picking only one tool from the growing list of Flexvolt tools would be tough, I’m not even sure where I’d start but I suppose I’d have to first consider the first battery to hit the scene that actually changes voltages depending on the tool it is connected to. I picked the whole system of Flexvolt tools because only choosing the battery pack would leave out the high performance tools Dewalt had engineered to do mass amounts of work on the voltage-changing platform. Picking one specific tool would then take the honor of being the number one tool away from the battery pack; an honor that really belongs to Dewalt and the whole Flexvolt system.
Cordless job sites are now a reality. We’ve been gearing up for this for the last 4-5 years but falling short in key areas, some trade specific. The plumber, hvac installer and electrician have had a cordless drilling option for stud and joists for almost two years from a major competitor. Dewalt’s new Flexvolt 60v MAX VSR Stud & Joist Drill is built for rough-in drilling of large diameter holes in wood. I’ve pitted the VSR up against the Super Hawg multiple times as have others with the results always stacking in Dewalt’s favor. The speed and constant power along with the battery’s ability to remain cooler allow this drill to perform longer and drill more holes than its nearest competitor.
60V Max is about building more powerful and more capable tools. At higher voltages, less current draw is needed to achieve the same power output, and that means greater efficiency and lower losses. It is this exact engineering that keeps the Flexvolt tools running longer than their competitors and that means less downtime. Less downtime means more work is being done. The Flexvolt system is more than a powerful drill and high capacity battery though. I’ve been working with the 12” 120V double bevel compound miter saw kit for months now in my shop. Because of the battery’s engineering this typically corded tool is able to operate as a cordless tool but with corded performance characteristics. Dozens and dozens of cuts can be made with either (2) Flexvolt packs or the 120V corded power adaptor.
Flexvolt is also a 20V system for tools like typical drills and impact drivers. The voltage switch for 20V MAX tools allows for the new Flexvolt batteries to be backwards compatible with existing 20V MAX tools the whole platform of tools operating on the battery system. Each of the Flexvolt tools we’ve tested has been outstanding in all performance ratings. The ergonomics of these heavy-duty, high demand tools shows an improvement over previous 20V MAX tools as well. Durability and life span have not been confirmed yet because all of our tools are less than a year old now but I will continue to push them to the limit on the job and report back if anything out of the norm happens.
The Flexvolt battery automatically switches between two voltages, 20V & 60V. The ability to use a single battery in multi-volt applications improves worker efficiency and expands the types and amount of tools capable of moving from corded to cordless. For more information on how the batteries are built and operate see below.
In parallel mode [20V MAX] the Flexvolt 15-cell battery can deliver up to 4X the runtime** to your current 20V MAX* tools. In this mode, three sets of five cells each are connected in parallel to give you 20V MAX* and 6 Ah for increased runtime. New 9 Ah packs are now available, increasing the runtime and tool performance even further.
When you mate the Flexvolt battery into the new line of 60V MAX brushless tools, the battery automatically changes to SERIES MODE. In this mode, all fifteen cells are connected in series to provide 60V MAX for the power of corded. Around the shop we have started to call this BEAST MODE. The Flexvolt 6Ah packs are built with 18650 sized lithium cells. The 20V MAX and Flexvolt 9Ah packs are built with 20700 form factor cells. 20700 sized cells are larger and capable of delivering more power the 18650 sized cells of the same charge capacity.
If impacts, drills or saws aren’t enough Dewalt has brought a industry first to the job site with the DCB1800 Powerstation. The power station is a portable generator running off (4) 20v MAX batteries, not a gas engine so indoor use is not a problem. The inverter is silent in comparison to any other portable power solution as well making it a non-factor where noise is a obstacle to getting the job done. This is a gamechanger for those looking to knock out some punch list items at the end of the job or quickly get in and out to complete a task with a corded tool when cordless isn’t available.
Check out the complete list of Top Tools of 2016