Bosch 36V Litheon Advantages

Posted by on May 15, 2006

As I’ve stated two times prior, Bosch gave us some of their marketing materials which I’m sharing and commenting on for the next few weeks surrounding their launch. Today, I’ll be focusing on their stated advantages from Litheon technology.

Litheon Advantage #1
Longest Cycle Life

Longer cycle life means that there are more charges per battery, which over time means you have to buy fewer replacement batteries. The result is that over the lifetime of the product, you’ve got a lower cost to operate.

Bosch had testing done in Bosch Labs (no bias there, right?) with the methodology of a constant amp draw on the battery to simulate applications such as 1/4″ x 3.25″ lag bolts and 1.25″ spade bits. Personally, I don’t consider that a normal “continual use” application, but the results were interesting none the less and they did verify them then by an outside lab as well.

Makita showed 20% the number of cycles of the Bosch Litheon. Milwaukee showed 33% as many cycles. Bosch’s Litheon batteries 3 – 5 times as many cycles vs. either of these competitors. Now, that brings up the question of how, and they tried to answer that.

Battery Design Criteria

Bosch focused on three design criteria. The first was higher voltage, the second was electronic cell protection, and the third is an optimized battery design. According to Bosch, Makita fails all three, Milwaukee only increased the voltage, DeWALT increased the voltage but they don’t know about ECP and it wasn’t an optimized design, but of course the Litheon tools passed all three.

Higher voltage seems pretty self explanatory, but it also means that the battery doesn’t have to work as hard for the same job. They equate that to an 8 cylinder car vs a 4 cylinder car driving uphill. The 8 cylinder has more power in reserve, so it isn’t working as hard doing the same job.

Electronic Cell Protection (ECP) is something unique to Bosch products right now that prevents overheating, overload and deep discharge and guarantees a long lifetime to your battery.

Optimized battery design means incorporating cooling ribs made of a highly conductive material to accelerate heat removal from the battery.

Litheon Advantage #2
Superior Run Times

Where it really starts to get interesting is when you look at the runtime data that their lab and the 3rd party came up with. Bosch doesn’t just show they can take more charges, but they show that each charge does more work per charge. In fact, up to 15% more than V28 and twice that of LXT and NiCad.

They used a hammer drill / driver for their testing and ran 4″ lag bolts. The data was amazing. The Makita ran 40 bolts, the Milwaukee ran 77 and the Bosch ran 90. When changing to a 1.25″ spade bit, the LXT made 47 holes, V28 accomplished 87 holes, but the Litheon made an amazing 101 holes.

Litheon Advantage #3
More Total Work

I disagree that this is really another advantage, but it is another way of stating the two prior tests effects when combined. If A is bigger, and B is bigger, A x B will be bigger. That’s not a third test.

By combining the data, they say that the Makita battery has 14% of the Litheon’s life, and the V28 has 33% of the Litheon’s life. Suffice it to say that double the work per charge plus 5 times as many charges as the Makita has me curious about how well they recreated real-world usage. We probably won’t know for a while yet, but it’ll be interesting.

Concerning Results

One area of concern with their testing is if they ran the Makita into deep discharge as that would shorten life substantially, but the ECP on the Bosch is a nice feature to prevent that to say the least. For those that don’t know, deep discharge can actually ruin a battery in a short amount of time by reverse-charging one cell so it can’t hold a charge any more.

Their method was “based on a constant amp draw on the battery to simulate applications such as”. So, a simulated load says this is better. But it doesn’t take into account the way a tool actually works the battery. I have yet to find a piece of wood that is a little different on the end to make the initial cut motion the same load as the rest of the board when drilling, and knots tend to always find their way into the path I want to cut / drill.

Also, when the tool starts to slow down you’ll normally pull the battery and put on a fresh one. With just placing a continual load on the battery, it can’t possibly stop at that point, it will for sure keep going to the point of over discharged.

The Remaining Problem

So what all this amounts to is that Bosch gave some hard tests to the batteries and showed that theirs do perform well. Now that we know this, we’re supposed to wait until this Winter to buy a drill? I don’t think so. That’s just way too long. I noticed they didn’t compare the 10.8V Litheon to what’s on the market now.

Doing up a huge promo pack about non-existent products, hmmm… is Bosch taking notes from Microsoft? Or are they perhaps watching the delayed launch of the PlayStation 3? Either way, you can’t buy this drill yet. Only a couple of 10.8′s and their 36V Rotary Hammer.

12 Responses to Bosch 36V Litheon Advantages

  1. Anonymous

    well, i dunno about lithium ion, but i can tell you this. if i put 20 gallons in my 4 cylinder honda civic, and some guy puts 20 gallons in his 8 cylinder truck my car will drive much LONGER than his. i will be able to drive much farther on the same fuel load. because my car is lighter and has better fuel effiecency. bigger isnt always better.
    the only advantage the bigger motor really has when it has to deal with heavy torque.
    so that arguement doesnt hold too much water with me.

  2. Anonymous

    Lithium batteries life are actually shorter due to heat. A new lithium technology called Lithium Polymer is better who knows what is in the various batteries?

  3. Brian Mark

    Second anonymous,

    Thanks for your input, but I’ve seen nothing to back this up. In fact, every test we’ve done here has the Lithium batteries running much longer.

    Just take a look at cell phones – the old Ni-Cad had to be charged daily and the batteries lasted a year. Ni-MH needed charged every couple of days and the batteries lasted 2 years. Li-Ion need charged once or twice per week and you replace the phone before the battery now.

  4. Bob E.

    As far as the above data, it really only shows what we already learned in middle school shop class. More volts give more power. I don’t see how they proved that Bosch’s technology is better, they only showed that they have a bigger reserve.

  5. Anonymous

    the guy who posted the comment about gas in a 4 cyl vs 8 cyl needs to take some mech E classes – you actually run the 8 cyl at much less rpm (and geared up) and end up with a same fuel useage, unless you floor it… then you burn more… but the 4 cyl cannot floor it…

    I suggest you google lios and learn a bit about energy density-

  6. Anonymous

    ditto.

  7. Anonymous

    mmm four more cylinders of friction, I don’t think you realise how much energy is used up turning those extra cylinders, 8s can never compare to four cylinders for fuel economy!
    Anyway, I have looked at the new bosch 36v sds and wonder why you have to move the handle round to get the battery out, they can’t last that long! I have the milwaukee 28v sds and it is superb, it is better than my old hilti te15 corded sds!

  8. Anonymous

    I use 36V non sds hammer 36V bosch drill and it cuts masonry like butter. I swear its a good tool.. I use my dewalt sds 24V still since it runs very well. I havent ever had any problems with it drilling concrete for 3 years. One plumber i know only uses hilti 36V though . He puts alot of anchors in concrete to hold piping down. I own a Makita 24V sds drill and i use it mainly for chiselling and it does very well also. Most of the people at my work site seem to have dewalt 18v and 24v makita tools.

  9. Anonymous

    Seems to me that Makita’s competition is scared to go apples to apples with them! They are continually building heavy 36v & 28v tools and comparing them to an 18volt tool? Why? Build an 18volt and go head to head in real world tests and then you have a leg to stand on!
    Jim

  10. Brian Mark

    Hitachi and Milwaukee both build 18V Lithium. I see no fear there.

    In fact, 28V Milwaukee came out first, so by your logic Makita was afraid to go head to head and built tools 10 volts lower to avoid it.

    Makita makes great tools, but the 28V and 36V do some jobs that 18V aren’t built for, like rotary hammers, masonry, and sawing tougher materials.

  11. Anonymous

    Key to this discussion is understanding what engineering advantages lithium Ion has with respect to other batteries. The key is that Li-Ion can be charged and discharged many more times then a Ni-Cad or NiMH can however the life of Li-Ion is linked directly to its age weather used or not. Typically a reduction to 80% of original capacity is considered to be failure of a batery and most Li-Ion batteries reach this in a year no matter what you do with them or how you charge or discahrge them (within reason) So Bosh having a claim of longer life is fairly irrelevant becasue i can guarantee a user will not use the device minute by minute for months on end but is more likely to want the tool 4 years from now which it will not perform well at all.

    Another note is that all Lithium Ion batteries have electronic protection circuits in them so I will simly have to call the claim that some do not bogus. It is not possible to have a safe condition without this the battery will overheat on charge and burst into flame without it no matter who made it or what sort of charger they have. In addition for regulatory compliance this is necessary.

    Overall the Batteries are nice because they are light, generate very little heat if protected properly, and have flat discharge patterns.

    The draw backs are the danger which requires the expensive protection circuits and the longevity. Essentially marketing people are not engineers so u need to understand what is really out there.

  12. Anonymous

    Oh course lithium batteries are better, how much? Is it worth the money? And it depends on what you are doing. I can use a 9.6v drill all day on 1-1/4in drywall screws. 36v drill might last all week but I wouldn’t, those things can get heavy. The lithium is a little lighter than even a 18v battery. As for the v8 and 4 cylinder engines, one is bigger than the other, that’s where the similarity ends. Gasoline is not like electricity, there is no fiction loss in a battery. Lets say a drill needs 2 amps to do a job. If you can 4 cells they have to put out 1/2 amp each. If you have 8 cells they only have to put out 1/4 amp each. Even if the cells aren’t the same size you still get a couple advantages. You can arrange them more freely and you can dissipate heat more easily. It more like hiring one big guy to move a 400lb safe or six little guys. They both get the job done and both cost about the same to feed but the little guys are going to live longer.