Panasonic Power Tools have released all-new Dual Voltage (14.4V & 18v) brushless drill and impact drivers featuring water and dust-resistance, matt black livery and third generation nickel oxide-based lithium ion batteries.
Panasonic provided TTT with one of each tool and a 3.0 and 5.0 amp hour 18V battery for testing. I ran them on site for a month before putting them through a series of TTT Extreme Tests, measuring performance, runtime and the IP56 dust and water resistance.
My initial findings from a month of heavy use were that these are solid tools and ultra-compact for how much power they put out. For me a metal chuck and quality grip are essential, as is nice weight distribution. These tools tick all those boxes.
Under the hood they have brushless motors, meaning less friction and heat which delivers more power and runtime. Other features include a work light, 3 speed settings in the drill, smart auto-impact control in the impact driver (starts in high impact mode and then moves to soft impact mode), battery life indicators and battery overload sensors – which I would come to use in our Extreme Tests.
As well as having IP56 rated dust and water resistance, most of Panasonic’s power tools also provide dual-voltage capabilities, meaning they can run off both their 14.4v and 18v batteries.
I was powered by Panasonic’s all-new third generation nickel oxide based lithium batteries, their latest technology that Panasonic says provides an extra 20 per cent runtime over their second generation models. Interestingly, Panasonic provides many other power tool brands with their battery cells and says the latest technology is every bit as good as their competitors.
On paper and for day-to-day use, these tools were very impressive, so it was time for a few Extreme Tests to really push their limits.
There’s nothing like a tough old piece of hardwood to test the capabilities of a drill. I chose a quality, but affordable drill bit in the Sutton Tools Viper and got drilling.
This was a fairly straightforward test for the 18v Panasonic Drill Driver. While it did require some attention to drill-speed and pressure, it was up to the task and I punched in six holes with relative ease.
TEST TWO: 89mm Sutton Tools Holesaw into 40mm hardwood
With some super-tough, young hardwood and a monster 89mm holesaw, this test really pushed the Panasonic Drill Driver, but ultimately it made the cut.
It was tough going though and required even more attention to speed and pressure to avoid jamming. The battery overload sensor kicked in around 80 per cent through, but a short wait and I continued on my way.
In reality, you wouldn’t be using your cordless tools to cut through hardwood with an 89mm holesaw too often, but it’s nice to know your drill can do it if needed – and that they won’t plough on to their death if you are pushing them too hard.
Leaving the drill to cool down, I moved onto the Panasonic Impact Driver for an Extreme Test that is always a potential tool-breaker.
Using 50mm Macsim batten screws and a 58mm piece of LVL, I locked in a fully-charged 3.0 amp hour battery and set about measuring how many screws we could punch in on a battery charge.
The result was a staggering 105 batten screws in 23 minutes, a number that really drives home just how far battery technology has come in only a few years.
The 23 minutes included around three minutes of stoppage time when the battery overload protection kicked in, so actual runtime was around 20 grueling minutes.
Significantly impressed with both tools, I moved onto the water test.
TEST FOUR: Water Test
Most of Panasonic’s tools come with an IP56 dust and water resistance rating which means they are “certified” as able to withstand being hit with jet of water, or caked in dust – and keep on working.
So with a hose, a bucket of water and the Panasonic Drill Driver, I drenched the tool from the hose. It was enough to make me cringe, soaking this tool I had come quite attached to, but it powered on afterwards.
Next I upped the stakes, submerging the tool in the bucket for around five seconds – a test I was sure would kill it. However when I ripped it out and pulled the trigger, water shot out of the vents as the motor roared to life. I was now truly impressed by this tool.
At this point, I’d pretty much tested the Panasonic tools to their limits and there was nothing left to do but pack ‘er up!
While IP56 will provide dust and water resistance, these tools are not marketed as being water”proof” and Panasonic’s warranty will not cover you for water damage if you drop it in the pool. However it’s nice to know that if you do it is unlikely to cause the irreversible damage that a non IP56 tool might suffer.
Key stockists of Panasonic Power Tools are Masters, VEK, Specialty Fasteners, F&K Power Tools, Huntingdale Power Tools and Salmon Bros. Electrical