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High-Tech Brushless Motors Hit the Cordless-Tool Marketplace

comments (0) March 23rd, 2012 in Blogs
JFink Justin Fink, Senior Editor

Video Length: 2:50
Produced by: Colin Russell

Sweeping changes to power tool technology don't come very often, but there's one coming, and it's brushless motors. To be fair, brushless motors aren't new. But only a few power-tool companies offer them. But that's what's about to change. Every major tool manufacturer is about to get on board with this technology. So, as a buyer, you're going to be faced with a decision: stick with the traditional brushed-motor tools you've been using for years, or shell out the cash for the new wave of premium-priced brushless motors that will be sold right beside them.

The claimed benefits of a brushless motor over a conventional motor include:

  • lower maintenance
  • longer battery life
  • more power

All of these perks are a result of one major design difference. In a brushed motor, the electromagnet that makes the tool spin is on the rotating shaft of the tool. This requires brushes-floating electrical contacts that transfer power from the stationary battery to the spinning magnet. The friction caused by these brushes robs a motor of power. A brushless motor uses a stationary electromagnet that wraps around the tool's driveshaft, so there's no need for brushes to power up the magnet. But it does take expensive computer circuitry to make this happen, hence the premium price.

Bottom line: Aside from a slight up-charge, and assuming the electronics don't lead to any problems out in the field, it sounds like brushless is going to be a really good step forward for cordless power tools.

For a more detailed explanation of the difference between brushless and brushed motors, read How it Works: Electric Motors.

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posted in: Blogs, drills and drivers