When we first saw the Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact tools, they immediately struck a chord with us as a brilliant solution. To understand why we love these tools so much, we first need to take a look at why we love our 12V tools.
Why 12V Tools for Pros?
12V tools are incredibly popular among Pros because they’re more lightweight and compact than 18V models. As lithium-ion technology has improved over the years, we now get enough power at the lower voltage to still do roughly 80% of the work that general contractors come across. Some trades like electrical and HVAC can use 12V tools almost exclusively.
The downside is that it forces you onto a different battery platform. So to get the size and weight of my Makita 12V tools, I have to buy 12V batteries and a 12V charger to go along with my 18V batteries and charger for my heavy-duty tools. Now some people might ask, “why not just buy an 18V compact drill and impact driver like most of the brands have?” But still, those tools aren’t as lightweight and compact as my 12V tools. So at every chance I get, I still turn to the lower voltage.
Where Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact Cordless Tools Come In
That’s where the Makita Sub-Compact line of cordless tools comes in. They’re essentially the same size and weight, they just simply run on Makita 18V LXT batteries. So now I have the lightweight and compact nature of my 12V tools but I don’t have to buy into a new battery platform.
I can take the 18V battery sitting in my Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact drill to put the air conditioner panel back on and then turn around and use the same battery in my SDS-Plus rotary hammer to drill a half-inch hole in concrete.
Who Should Use Makita Sub-Compact Tools?
Now Makita Sub-Compact cordless tools might not be for everyone. Like I said before, if you can use 12V tools as your primary tool, you may be good to go staying on Makita’s 12V line. It’s the contractor that still needs the power of 18V tools that really wins. He or she now has the benefit of cordless tools all away from the most compact, lightweight sizes to some of the most powerful cordless tools and even outdoor power equipment with Makita’s 18V X2 line without the additional cost of two battery platforms.
Another advantage is that you get compact tools with the potential of crazy-long runtime. 18V batteries have lithium-ion cells in sets of 5 rather than the 3-cell sets found in 12V tools. So right off the bat, you have 60% more watt hours available to draw from. But then you have to look at the fact that Makita’s 18V batteries go up to 5 and 6 amp hours rather than stopping at 4. You’re leaving a maximum of 44 watt hours behind for a maximum of 108.
Extending the Line
Initially, the Makita 18V LXT Sub-Compact tool line consisted of just a drill and an impact driver. They went a step further down the line with a hammer drill and are continuing to develop more tools. Currently, there’s even a compact SDS-plus rotary hammer. I can’t imagine that it’s going to take too much longer before we see a 18V Sub-Compact Recipro Saw. And Makita is making a good move by packing all their Sub-Compact tools with brushless motors.
When you talk about expanding the 12V line, a lot of times what you’re really talking about is getting into hand tool replacements. There are some pretty innovative and well-designed cordless tools out there with this kind of design intent, and going that route while intentionally staying on the 18V platform is key to keeping 18V users from having to jump battery platforms just to get their hands on these less powerful, yet incredibly handy tools.
The Bottom Line
So I’m hoping that Makita is starting a trend. I love the fact that grabbing these compact cordless tools doesn’t change my battery platform. At the end of the day, attracting more users to your system is the end game. But gaining users to your cordless platform is more than just having good tools. Although that certainly helps, it’s also a matter of having a deep line of tools so that your line can provide all the cordless tools a Pro needs without looking elsewhere. Going down this Sub-Compact road gives Makita an even deeper line than before. And that’s certainly something Pros should take note of.