While the Advanced Battery Landscape is Expanding, Only Two Have Voltage-Switching Packs
Most of the major professional power tool manufacturers now have some sort of advanced battery system on the market. Of those, only two take on the concept of switching voltages. We’re taking a look at the DeWalt FlexVolt vs Metabo HPT MultiVolt battery to see how they’re similar and what makes them different.
DeWalt FlexVolt vs Metabo HPT MultiVolt Battery
Which Came First?
DeWalt was the first to launch its voltage-switching pack back in 2016. DeWalt FlexVolt technology was a huge surprise for us sitting in the room at that launch event.
How Does a Voltage-Switching Battery Work?
When you build a lithium-ion battery pack, you connect individual cells with either series or parallel connections, or a combination of the two. Series connections increase voltage and parallel connections increase amp-hours. Even though you can change the wiring to adjust the voltage or amp-hours, you get the same total watt-hours from those cells.
To make a pack that switches voltage, you need to start with a number of cells that work in both. For example, you can make either an 18V, 5.0Ah battery or 36V, 2.5Ah battery out of the same 10 cells.
To make a pack that switches between 18V and 36V, you can use 10, 20, 30 cells or more, as long as they’re in groups of 10. A pack that switches between 18V and 54V (20V and 60V Max) needs sets of 15 cells.
Once that’s in place, electronic communication between the tool and the battery tells the pack which connections to use to get the right voltage for the tool it’s on.
Same Kind of Different
DeWalt’s FlexVolt system switches between 20V Max and 60V Max (18V and 54V nominal). That requires the battery packs to contain 15 cells. Currently, DeWalt has FlexVolt batteries that run 2Ah/6Ah, 3Ah/9Ah, and 4Ah/12Ah*.
Note: The first number is the amp hours at the higher voltage and the second number is the amp hours at the lower voltage.
Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt system switches between 18V and 36V, meaning its core power source is a smaller 10-cell pack. The initial excitement was around the pack running a 4.0Ah/8.0Ah configuration. More recently, a 2.5Ah/5.0Ah slim pack also made its way to the market.
There are pros and cons to both systems. DeWalt’s FlexVolt is larger and heavier, but it has higher energy capacity in its two larger packs and 60V Max is potentially more powerful than 36V.
Metabo HPT’s MultiVolt is a smaller, lighter pack with a lower capacity than the 3.0/9.0Ah and 4.0/12.0Ah FlexVolt batteries. Its 36V system doesn’t have as much power potential as the 60V Max line.
When you’re running tools such as table saws and miter saws, DeWalt’s higher capacity and power can be a big advantage. DeWalt even has a 15Ah FlexVolt battery on the market.
However, one of the key features of both systems is the ability for these higher voltage packs to also power tools requiring 20V Max or 18V batteries. You might not mind the bulkier FlexVolt battery on reciprocating saws or circular saws, but Metabo HPT’s lower weight and size is a huge plus on some of its drills and impact wrenches, especially with that slim pack.
The Bonus: AC Power
Both systems have an AC adapter available, but they affect the lineup very differently.
Currently, DeWalt only has a power adapter for one specific tool: the DeWalt FlexVolt 120V miter saw. It runs at (you guessed it) 120V and requires 2 batteries or the Adapter.
All Metabo HPT MultiVolt tools are compatible with its AC adapter.
Neither adapter works on each brand’s 18V or 20V Max tools.
The Bottom Line
It’s interesting to see how two brands have taken one concept and created two very different systems from it. Choosing which one is best for you really boils down to your personal priorities.
Want higher voltage and capacity? DeWalt FlexVolt is the way to go.
Prefer a smaller footprint, lower weight, and an AC adapter that works with the entire line? Go with Metabo HPT MultiVolt.
Which one do you prefer? Tell us about it in the comments below!