(19)
(11)EP 2 709 235 A2

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
19.03.2014 Bulletin 2014/12

(21)Application number: 13183309.7

(22)Date of filing:  06.09.2013
(51)Int. Cl.: 
H02J 7/00  (2006.01)
H01M 10/48  (2006.01)
(84)Designated Contracting States:
AL AT BE BG CH CY CZ DE DK EE ES FI FR GB GR HR HU IE IS IT LI LT LU LV MC MK MT NL NO PL PT RO RS SE SI SK SM TR
Designated Extension States:
BA ME

(30)Priority: 13.09.2012 JP 2012201424

(71)Applicant: Panasonic Corporation
Kadoma-shi Osaka 571-8501 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Okada, Masaaki
    Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-6207 (JP)
  • Ikeda, Masaki
    Chuo-ku, Osaka 540-6207 (JP)

(74)Representative: Appelt, Christian W. 
Boehmert & Boehmert Pettenkoferstrasse 20-22
80336 München
80336 München (DE)

  


(54)Battery state indication device and electric construction tool


(57) A battery state indication device includes a control circuit (21) that reads a plurality of voltage thresholds corresponding to an identified battery pack (12) from a threshold memory (21a) and compares the voltage of the battery pack (12) measured by the voltage measurement unit (23) with the read voltage thresholds to determine the voltage state of the battery pack. Then, a voltage indicator (24) indicates the voltage state of the battery pack determined by the control circuit (21).




Description


[0001] The present invention relates to a battery state indication device and an electric construction tool.

[0002] A known electric construction tool performs over-discharge prevention control so that multiple types of battery packs having different voltages may selectively be attached to the electric construction tool (refer to International Publication No. WO 2011/118475).

[0003] A further known electric construction tool includes a battery state indication device that indicates (displays) the voltage state (state of charge) of the battery pack attached to the electric construction tool (refer to Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2010-170779).

[0004] The battery state indication device of the electric construction tool described in Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2010-170779 indicates the state of charge for the same battery pack. Thus, the battery state indication device cannot correctly indicate the voltage state of the battery pack when different types of battery packs are selectively attached to the electric construction tool such as in International Publication No. WO 2011/118475.

[0005] It is an object of the present invention to provide a battery state indication device that correctly indicates the voltage state of a battery pack even when multiples types of batteries are selectively attached, and to provide an electric construction tool including such a battery state indication device.

[0006] One aspect of the present invention is a battery state indication device selectively connectable to a plurality of battery packs having different output voltages. The battery state indication device includes a voltage measurement unit that measures a voltage of the one of the battery packs connected to the battery state indication device. A battery identification unit identifies the one of the battery packs connected to the battery state indication device. A threshold memory stores a plurality of voltage thresholds respectively corresponding to the battery packs. A control unit reads the voltage thresholds corresponding to the battery pack identified by the battery identification unit and compares the voltage of the battery pack measured by the voltage measurement unit with the voltage thresholds corresponding to the identified battery pack to determine a voltage state of the battery pack. An indicator indicates the voltage state of the battery pack determined by the control unit.

[0007] Preferably, in the above structure, the indicator includes a plurality of state of charge marks. Further, in accordance with the battery state of the battery pack determined by the control unit, the indicator indicates the state of charge of the battery pack in a stepped manner with the state of charge marks.

[0008] A further aspect of the present invention provides an electric construction tool including the above battery state indication device.

[0009] The present invention provides a battery state indication device and an electric construction tool that correctly indicates the voltage state of a battery pack even when multiples types of batteries having different voltages are selectively attached.

[0010] Other aspects and advantages of the present invention will become apparent from the following description, taken in conjunction with the accompanying drawings, illustrating by way of example the principles of the invention.

[0011] The invention, together with objects and advantages thereof, may best be understood by reference to the following description of the presently preferred embodiments together with the accompanying drawings in which:

Fig. 1 is a schematic diagram of a power tool according to one embodiment of the present invention;

Fig. 2 is a graph showing the relationship between the state of charge and the voltage for different battery packs;

Fig. 3 is a schematic diagram showing one example of a voltage indicator; and

Fig. 4 is a diagram illustrating the operation of the voltage indicator in the power tool.



[0012] A power tool according to one embodiment of the present invention will now be described with reference to the drawings.

[0013] Referring to Fig. 1, the power tool 10 of the present embodiment includes a main body 11 and a battery pack 12. The main body 11 includes a motor M, and the battery pack 12 is attached in a removable manner to the main body 11.

[0014] The main body 11 of the power tool 10 includes a motor M, a control circuit 21, and a driver 22. The control circuit 21 communicates with the battery pack 12 and drives and controls the main body 11. The driver 22 is electrically connected to the control circuit 21 and controls the rotation speed of the motor M.

[0015] The control circuit 21 is formed by a microcomputer or the like and controls the motor M with the driver 22 in accordance with the movement of a trigger switch TS operated by a user. The trigger switch TS is coupled to and exposed from the main body 11 so as to allow for a user to operate the trigger switch TS. As shown in Fig. 1, the driver 22, which is connected to the control circuit 21, controls the rotation speed of the motor M. The driver 22 controls the rotation produced by the motor M by performing pulse width modulation (PWM) control that activates and deactivates a switching element (not shown) in accordance with a signal supplied from the control circuit 21.

[0016] The battery pack 12 applicable to the main body 11 has a predetermined rated output voltage. Fig. 1 shows a plurality of battery packs 12, namely, battery packs 12a, 12b, and 12c, which are lithium-ion batteries. The output voltage per cell C is approximately 3.6 V. The number of cells C included in each battery pack 12 determines the rated output voltage of the battery pack 12. For example, the battery pack 12a, which includes four series-connected cells C, has a rated output voltage of 14.4 V. The battery pack 12b, which includes five series-connected cells C, has a rated output voltage of 18 V. The battery pack 12c, which includes six series-connected cells C, has a rated output voltage of 21.6 V. Further, as shown in Fig. 2, since the battery packs 12a to 12c have different rated output voltages, the battery packs 12a to 12c have different voltages when the battery state of charge rate (%) is the same.

[0017] Referring to Fig. 1, each of the battery packs 12a, 12b, and 12c includes an information storage 41. The information storage 41 is configured to provide the main body 11 of the power tool 10 and a charger (not shown) with a signal indicating information on the rated output voltage of the corresponding battery pack 12a, 12b, or 12c. Thus, the control circuit 21 of the main body 11 receives a signal from the information storage 41, and the signal allows for the control circuit 21 to determine whether or not the battery pack 12a, 12b, and 12c is an applicable battery pack. Further, the signal received from the information storage 41 allows for the control circuit 21 to identify which one of the battery packs 12a to 12c is attached to the main body 11.

[0018] A voltage measurement unit 23 is connected to the control circuit 21. When one of the battery packs 12a to 12c, which have different voltages, is attached (connected) to the main body 11 of the power tool, the voltage measurement unit 23 measures the voltage of that battery pack.

[0019] The control circuit 21 includes a threshold memory 21a. As described above, since the battery packs 12a to 12c have different rated output voltages, the battery packs 12a to 12c have different output voltages when the battery state of charge rate (%) is the same, as shown in Fig. 2. Thus, the threshold memory 21a stores, in advance, a plurality of voltage thresholds respectively associated with the three selectively attached battery packs 12 (12a to 12c) having different voltages. Referring to Fig. 4, the threshold memory 21a stores a voltage threshold Sa1, which indicates the highest state of charge for the battery pack 12a, a voltage threshold Sa2, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sa1, and a voltage threshold Sa3, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sa2. Accordingly, the voltage threshold Sa1 is greater than the voltage threshold Sa2, and the voltage threshold Sa2 is greater than the voltage threshold Sa3.

[0020] The threshold memory 21a also stores a voltage threshold Sb1, which indicates the highest state of charge for the battery pack 12b, a voltage threshold Sb2, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sb1, and a voltage threshold Sb3, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sb2. Accordingly, the voltage threshold Sb1 is greater than the voltage threshold Sb2, and the voltage threshold Sb2 is greater than the voltage threshold Sb3.

[0021] Further, the threshold memory 21a stores a voltage threshold Sc1, which indicates the highest state of charge for the battery pack 12c, a voltage threshold Sc2, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sc1, and a voltage threshold Sc3, which indicates a lower state of charge than the state of charge corresponding to the voltage threshold Sc2. Accordingly, the voltage threshold Sc1 is greater than the voltage threshold Sc2, and the voltage threshold Sc2 is greater than the voltage threshold Sc3.

[0022] In this example, the battery pack 12a has a smaller rated output voltage than the battery pack 12b, and the battery pack 12b has a smaller rated output voltage than the battery pack 12b. Accordingly, the highest voltage thresholds Sa1, Sb1, and Sc1 respectively set for the battery packs 12a to 12c are set to satisfy Sa1<Sb1<Sc1. In the same manner, the voltage thresholds Sa2, Sb2, and Sc2 are set to satisfy Sa2<Sb2<Sc2. The voltage thresholds Sa3, Sb3, and Sc3 are also set to satisfy Sa3<Sb3<Sc3.

[0023] Referring to Figs. 1 and 3, a voltage indicator 24 is connected to the control circuit 21. The voltage indicator 24 includes a plurality of state of charge marks, which are three LEDs 24a to 24c in the present embodiment. The voltage indicator 24 indicates the voltage state of the battery pack 12 with the state of charge marks.

[0024] In the power tool 10, when the trigger switch TS is pulled, the control circuit 21 controls the driver 22 and drives the motor M. In this case, the control circuit 21 uses the voltage indicator 24 to indicate the state of charge of the battery pack 12 (one of battery packs 12a to 12c) that is attached to the main body 11 of the power tool 10.

[0025] The operation of the power tool 10 will now be described.

[0026] The control circuit 21 of the power tool 10 receives a signal indicating information of the rated output voltage from the information storage 41 of the battery pack 12 attached to the main body 11. Based on the signal, the control circuit 21 identifies the battery pack 12 that is attached to the main body 11.

[0027] The control circuit 21 measures the present voltage of the battery pack 12 with the voltage measurement unit 23 in predetermined intervals. Further, the control circuit 21 compares the presently measured voltage of the battery pack 12 with the voltage thresholds corresponding to the battery pack 12 attached to the main body 11. More specifically, when the control circuit 21 identifies the battery pack 12a that is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the present voltage of the battery pack 12a with the voltage thresholds Sa1 to Sa3 corresponding to the battery pack 12a. When the control circuit 21 identifies the battery pack 12b that is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the present voltage of the battery pack 12a with the voltage thresholds Sb1 to Sb3 corresponding to the battery pack 12b. When the control circuit 21 identifies the battery pack 12c that is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the present voltage of the battery pack 12a with the voltage thresholds Sc1 to Sc3 corresponding to the battery pack 12c.

[0028] When the battery pack 12a having the rated output voltage of 14.4 V is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the voltage thresholds Sa1 to Sa3 stored in the threshold memory 21a with the presently measured voltage of the battery pack 12a. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12a is greater than the voltage threshold Sa1, the control circuit 21 illuminates all of the LEDs 24a to 24c of the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12a is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sa1 but greater than the voltage threshold Sa2, the control circuit 21 illuminates the two LEDs 24b and 24c and deactivates the remaining LED 24a in the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12a is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sa2 but greater than the voltage threshold Sa3, the control circuit 21 illuminates the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12a is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sa3, the control circuit 21 flashes the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24.

[0029] When the battery pack 12b having the rated output voltage of 18 V is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the voltage thresholds Sb1 to Sb3 stored in the threshold memory 21a with the presently measured voltage of the battery pack 12b. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12b is greater than the voltage threshold Sb1, the control circuit 21 illuminates all of the LEDs 24a to 24c of the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12b is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sb1 but greater than the voltage threshold Sb2, the control circuit 21 illuminates the two LEDs 24b and 24c and deactivates the remaining LED 24a in the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12b is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sb2 but greater than the voltage threshold Sb3, the control circuit 21 illuminates the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12b is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sb3, the control circuit 21 flashes the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24.

[0030] When the battery pack 12c having the rated output voltage of 21.6 V is attached to the main body 11, the control circuit 21 compares the voltage thresholds Sc1 to Sac3 stored in the threshold memory 21a with the presently measured voltage of the battery pack 12c. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12c is greater than the voltage threshold Sc1, the control circuit 21 illuminates all of the LEDs 24a to 24c of the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12c is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sc1 but greater than the voltage threshold Sc2, the control circuit 21 illuminates the two LEDs 24b and 24c and deactivates the remaining LED 24a in the voltage indicator 24 shown in Figs. 3 and 4. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12c is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sc2 but greater than the voltage threshold Sc3, the control circuit 21 illuminates the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24. When the present voltage of the battery pack 12c is smaller than or equal to the voltage threshold Sc3, the control circuit 21 flashes the LED 24c and deactivates the other LEDs 24a and 24b in the voltage indicator 24.

[0031] The above embodiment has the advantages described below.
  1. (1) The control circuit 21 reads the voltage thresholds corresponding to the identified battery pack 12 from the threshold memory 21a and compares the voltage of the battery pack 12 measured by the voltage measurement unit 23 with the voltage thresholds to determine the voltage state of the battery pack 12. Then, the voltage indicator 24 indicates the voltage state of the battery pack 12 determined by the control circuit 21. Thus, regardless of which one of the three battery packs 12a to 12c having different voltages is selectively attached to the main body 11, the state of charge (voltage state) of the battery pack 12 may be accurately indicated using the voltage thresholds corresponding to the attached one of the battery packs 12a to 12c.
  2. (2) The voltage indicator 24 includes a plurality of state of charge marks. The state of charge of the battery pack 12 is indicated in a stepped manner in accordance with the voltage state of the battery pack 12 determined by the control circuit 21. This allows for accurate indication of the state of charge (battery state) of the battery packs 12a to 12c.


[0032] The above embodiment uses the three types of battery packs 12a to 12c having different voltages and selectively attached to the main body 11. Instead, there may be only two types of battery packs. Alternatively, there may be four or more types of battery packs. Further, the number of the cells C in each of the battery packs 12a to 12c and the voltage per cell may be changed in accordance with the specification of the power tool.

[0033] In the above embodiment, the voltage state of the battery pack 12 is indicated in a four-stepped manner. However, it may be indicated in a different manner. Further, as shown in Fig. 4, voltage thresholds Sa4, Sb4, and Sc4 that are smaller than the voltage thresholds Sa3, Sb3, and Sc3 may be set for the battery packs 12a to 12c, respectively. When the voltage of the battery pack 12 is smaller than the corresponding one of the voltage thresholds Sa4, Sb4, and Sc4, the main body 11 of the power tool 10 may be deactivated.

[0034] In the above embodiment, the voltage state of the battery pack 12 is indicated by the number of illuminated LEDs. However, the voltage state may be indicated through other means. For example, a numerical value may be used to indicate the voltage state. Alternatively, a voice or sound may be used to indicate the voltage state.

[0035] In the above embodiment, the power tool 10 is used as an electric construction tool. Instead, the power tool 10 may be used as a drill driver, an impact driver, an impact wrench, a hammer drive, a vibration drill, a jigsaw, a sealing gun, or the like.

[0036] In the above embodiment, the electric construction tool is a power tool. However, the electric construction tool is not limited to a power tool and may be, for example, a construction light, a construction cleansing device (cleaner or blower), or the like.

[0037] The present examples and embodiments are to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive, and the invention is not to be limited to the details given herein.


Claims

1. A battery state indication device selectively connectable to a plurality of battery packs (12a to 12c) having different output voltages, the battery state indication device being characterized by comprising:

a voltage measurement unit (23) that measures a voltage of the one of the battery packs (12a to 12c) connected to the battery state indication device;

a battery identification unit (21) that identifies the one of the battery packs (12a to 12c) connected to the battery state indication device;

a threshold memory that stores a plurality of voltage thresholds (Sa1 to Sa3, Sb1 to Sb3, and Sc1 to Sc3) respectively corresponding to the battery packs (12a to 12c);

a control unit (21) that reads the voltage thresholds corresponding to the battery pack identified by the battery identification unit (21) and compares the voltage of the battery pack (12) measured by the voltage measurement unit (23) with the voltage thresholds corresponding to the identified battery pack (12) to determine a voltage state of the battery pack (12); and

an indicator (24) that indicates the voltage state of the battery pack determined by the control unit (21).


 
2. The battery state indication device according to claim 1, being characterized in that:

the indicator (24) includes a plurality of state of charge marks (24a to 24c); and

in accordance with the battery state of the battery pack (12) determined by the control unit (21), the indicator (24) indicates the state of charge of the battery pack (12) in a stepped manner with the state of charge marks (24a to 24c).


 
3. The battery state indication device according to claim 2, being characterized in that:

the state of charge marks (24a to 24c) include a plurality of LEDs; and

the control unit (21) determines the number of LEDs that are illuminated based on the comparison of the measured voltage of the battery pack (12) with the voltage thresholds.


 
4. The battery state indication device according to claim 2, being characterized in that:

the state of charge marks (24a to 24c) include three LEDs;

the voltage thresholds corresponding to each of the battery packs (12a to 12c) include a first voltage threshold, a second voltage threshold that is smaller than the first voltage threshold, and a third voltage threshold that is smaller than the second voltage threshold; and

the control unit (21) illuminates all of the three LEDs when the measured voltage of the battery pack (12) is greater than the first voltage threshold;

the control unit (21) illuminates two of the three LEDs when the measured voltage of the battery pack (12) is smaller than or equal to the first voltage threshold but greater than the second voltage threshold;

the control unit (21) illuminates one of the three LEDs when the measured voltage of the battery pack (12) is smaller than or equal to the second voltage threshold but greater than the third voltage threshold; and

the control unit (21) flashes one of the three LEDs when the measured voltage of the battery pack (12) is smaller than or equal to the third voltage threshold.


 
5. The battery state indication device according to any one of claims 1 to 4, being characterized in that:

the threshold memory (21a) stores a plurality of threshold values (Sa1 to Sa3) corresponding to a first battery pack (12a), and a plurality of threshold values (Sb1 to Sb3) corresponding to a second battery pack (12b) of which the output voltage differs from the first battery pack (12a); and

the voltage thresholds (Sa1 to Sa3) corresponding to the first battery pack (12a) differs from the voltage thresholds (Sb1 to Sb3) corresponding to the second battery pack (12b).


 
6. An electric construction tool characterized by comprising the battery state indication device according to any one of claims 1 to 5.
 




Drawing









REFERENCES CITED IN THE DESCRIPTION



This list of references cited by the applicant is for the reader's convenience only. It does not form part of the European patent document. Even though great care has been taken in compiling the references, errors or omissions cannot be excluded and the EPO disclaims all liability in this regard.

Patent documents cited in the description