Unraveling the Mystery Behind DeWalt’s FlexVolt Technology
At 8:30 am on June 21, 2016, in Baltimore, MD, DeWalt unveiled its groundbreaking FlexVolt technology. This innovative mixed-voltage battery system has paved the way for a wide range of wireless tools. However, there is still some confusion surrounding FlexVolt. In this article, we will delve into the essential details and capabilities of this technology, helping you decide whether it’s worth exploring further.
The Power of Hybris Battery Voltage: DeWalt FlexVolt
FlexVolt technology harnesses the incredible potential of Hybris battery voltage. Every FlexVolt battery boasts an impressive output of either 20V Max or 60V Max. The tool automatically communicates with the battery, determining the appropriate mode of operation. DeWalt’s electronic control enables FlexVolt batteries to be connected in two ways: extending the runtime of 20V Max tools or delivering increased power to 60V Max (and occasionally 120V Max) tools.
Currently, there are four different sizes of FlexVolt batteries available:
- 2Ah 60V FlexVolt (equivalent to 6Ah @ 20V)
- 3Ah 60V FlexVolt (equivalent to 9Ah @ 20V)
- 4Ah 60V FlexVolt (equivalent to 12Ah @ 20V)
- 5Ah 60V FlexVolt (equivalent to 15Ah @ 20V)
20V Max and 60V Max from the Same Battery – How Does It Work?
Wired for Greater Amp Hours
The concept of battery pack wiring is quite straightforward. By connecting lithium-ion cells in series, the voltage increases. Similarly, parallel connections of multiple rows of batteries provide greater amp-hours.
For example, connecting five Li-Ion packs in series results in a 20V Max pack (or 18V nominal pack). Each cell produces a maximum of 4V (3.6 volts nominal). When connected in series, these cells combine to provide 20 volts. However, the amp hours of each cell remain unchanged. Consequently, the battery becomes a 20V Max with a capacity of 2.0 amp hours, commonly known as a DeWalt compact battery.
To double the amp hours, another set of five units is connected in parallel to the first. This configuration maintains the voltage while increasing the amp hours. As a result, a DeWalt 20V Max 4.0 Amp Hour Battery is created. Adding a third row of batteries in parallel further enhances the capacity to 6.0 amp hours.
Wired for Higher Voltage
On the other hand, if the parallel connections between the five battery packs are replaced with series connections, a battery with a maximum voltage of 60V can be achieved. However, the capacity remains at 2.0 amp hours. This innovation has given rise to higher voltage systems such as DeWalt’s 40V Max in OPE (Outdoor Power Equipment) and 56V and 80V Max batteries in other platforms.
Prior to the advent of FlexVolt, users had to choose a fixed battery configuration. To obtain a higher voltage battery, they had to transition to an entirely new platform incompatible with lower voltage systems. Alternatively, they could connect multiple batteries in series to double the voltage.
Within a DeWalt FlexVolt battery pack, you will find 15 Li-Ion cells and a wiring configuration for the 20V Max and 60V Max power options. The battery seamlessly communicates with the tool, activating the corresponding wiring setup. This principle also applies to the DeWalt 15Ah FlexVolt Battery, which utilizes more cells while adhering to the same concept.
As corded tools have varying power requirements, a one-size-fits-all approach wouldn’t suffice. For instance, a drill can operate efficiently with a 6 amp motor, while a miter saw necessitates a 15 amp motor. Although each motor has its own amperage rating, power consumption is measured in watts. FlexVolt offers the flexibility to use the 20V Max configuration for tools with smaller brushless motors that consume fewer watts. Conversely, when dealing with larger brushless motors that demand more power, the FlexVolt (60V Max) battery comes into play.
Think of a lithium-ion battery as a fuel tank with a certain usable potential energy capacity. In the case of DeWalt FlexVolt batteries, this capacity amounts to 108 nominal watt hours (the nominal voltage multiplied by the amp hours). At launch, the 9.0 amp-hour FlexVolt battery provides 162 watt-hours. Power consumption is determined by multiplying the voltage draw and amp-hour draw. Through their research, DeWalt discovered that larger brushless motors perform better at 60V Max and 120V Max, as opposed to struggling with higher amps at 20V Max. Nonetheless, all tools developed by DeWalt can operate smoothly under the 20V Max configuration.
The primary objective behind FlexVolt is to create a cordless workplace where power and performance are not compromised, regardless of the tools used. Users no longer need to be restricted by multiple battery systems.
Dos and Don’ts About Air Travel Safety
However, it’s important to note that batteries with a nominal wattage of 108 and above can pose distribution and air freight challenges. For instance, when the wattage reaches 100, restrictions based on the inherent risks associated with thermal runaway of Li-ion batteries come into effect. Heat buildup or short circuits can trigger a fire hazard. To be permitted on board, smaller lithium-ion batteries must be properly installed within equipment or adequately packaged.
DeWalt has ingeniously developed a solution to address this issue. By securely attaching the DeWalt flight adapter to the battery, the 108-watt-hour system is divided into three sections, each containing 36 watts. This configuration ensures safe air travel and meets certification requirements. Additionally, the adapter’s connection to the terminals helps prevent short circuits and fulfills the necessary battery separation mandates mandated by the FAA.
Compatibility: Will FlexVolt Tools Work with 20V Batteries?
No, FlexVolt tools exclusively work with FlexVolt 60V Max battery packs. Although a FlexVolt battery can physically fit and power a DeWalt 20V Max tool, it’s important to note that these tools require the 60V output that only FlexVolt battery packs can provide.
DeWalt offers an extensive array of tools in the FlexVolt product line, continuously expanding their selection each year. Below, we present a small sample of the original FlexVolt cordless power tools and their respective MRSP:
DeWalt FlexVolt 120V Max Tools
- DHS716AB/T2 Fixed-Blade Miter Saw with Adapter Cord: $499/$649
- DHS790AB/T2 Sliding Miter Saw with Adapter Cord: $649/$799
DeWalt FlexVolt 60V Max Tools
- DCS575B/T1/T2 Circular Saws: $179/$299/$379
- DCS388B/T1/T2 Reciprocating Saws: $179/$299/$379
- DCS485B/T1 Table Saw: $379/$499
- DCG414B/T1/T2 Grinder: $179/$299/$379
- DCD460B/T1/T2 Stud and Joist Drills: $279/$399/$479
DeWalt FlexVolt 20V Max Tools
- DCL070/DCL070T1 Area Lights: $399/$499
- DCK299D1T1 Hammer drill and impact driver kit: $379
DeWalt FlexVolt Batteries, Chargers, Radios, and Adapters
- DCB606 FlexVolt 20/60V Max Battery 6.0 Ah: $149
- DCB606-2 FlexVolt 20/60V Max Battery 6.0 Ah 2-Pack: $199
- DCB118 Fast Charger: $79
- DCA120 120-volt adapter: $49
- DCR025 Bluetooth Radio Charger: $199
- DCB1800B Portable Power Station: $399
- DCB1800M3T1 Portable Power Station with (3) 4.0 AH 20V Max Batteries and (1) 6.0 AH FlexVolt Battery: $599