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.
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.