(19)
(11)EP 2 995 428 A1

(12)EUROPEAN PATENT APPLICATION

(43)Date of publication:
16.03.2016 Bulletin 2016/11

(21)Application number: 15156870.6

(22)Date of filing:  27.02.2015
(51)Int. Cl.: 
B25F 5/00  (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: 12.09.2014 JP 2014186471

(71)Applicant: Panasonic Intellectual Property Management Co., Ltd.
Osaka-shi, Osaka 540-6207 (JP)

(72)Inventors:
  • Miwa, Tatsuya
    Osaka, 540-6207 (JP)
  • Ikeda, Masaki
    Osaka, 540-6207 (JP)
  • Tsuruta, Naoki
    Osaka, 540-6207 (JP)

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

  


(54)Electric power tool


(57) An electric power tool (10) includes a drive source (M), a rechargeable battery (21) that supplies power to the drive source (M), a voltage meter (18) that measures voltage of the rechargeable battery (21), a temperature meter (T) that measures temperature of the rechargeable battery (21), and a drive control unit (15,17) that regulates the power supplied to the drive source (M) from the rechargeable battery (21) to drive the drive source (M). If the battery temperature measured by the temperature meter (T) is lower than or equal to a predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage measured by the voltage meter (18) is lower than or equal to a predetermined voltage (Vs1), the drive control unit (15,17) drives the drive source (M) differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage (Vs1).


Description


[0001] The present invention relates to electric power tools.

[0002] An electric power tool, such as an electric screwdriver or an impact wrench, uses a battery pack (rechargeable battery) as a power source. This eliminates the need for an electric cord connected to an external power supply such as a commercial power supply. Further, the electric power tool may be used where there is no external power supply. Japanese Laid-Open Patent Publication No. 2014-54703 describes an example of an electric power tool.

[0003] The electric power tool includes a control unit provided with an undercut function that stops performing discharging when the battery voltage is low (e.g., 2.0 V/cell). However, when the temperature of the battery pack is low (e.g., 5°C or lower), the discharge of a large amount of current would cause a large voltage drop. In such a case, if the electric power tool is used under a situation in which the load is large and the temperature is low, activation of a trigger switch would also cause the undercut function to become effective and stop the operation of the electric power tool. As a result, it is difficult for the user to acknowledge whether the electric power tool stopped operating due to the depletion of the battery capacity (undercut function) or due to a voltage drop in a low-temperature condition.

[0004] It is an object of the present invention to provide an electric power tool that allows the user to acknowledge the operation of the electric power tool caused by a voltage drop in a low-temperature condition.

[0005] One embodiment of the present invention is an electric power tool including a drive source, a rechargeable battery that is configured to supply power to the drive source, a voltage meter that is configured to measure a battery voltage of the rechargeable battery, a temperature meter that is configured to measure a battery temperature of the rechargeable battery, and a drive control unit that is configured to regulate the power supplied to the drive source from the rechargeable battery to drive and control the drive source. The drive control unit is configured such that If the battery temperature measured by the temperature meter is lower than or equal to a predetermined temperature when the battery voltage measured by the voltage meter is lower than or equal to a predetermined voltage, the drive control unit drives and controls the drive source differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage.

[0006] The present invention provides an electric power tool that allows the user to acknowledge the operation of the electric power tool when a voltage drop occurs in a low-temperature condition.

[0007] 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.

[0008] 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 block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an electric power tool; and

Figs. 2A to 2C are timing charts illustrating an example of the operation of the electric power tool when the temperature is low.



[0009] One embodiment of an electric power tool 10 will now be described.

[0010] As illustrated in Fig. 1, the electric power tool 10 includes a main body 11 and a battery pack 21, which is coupled in a removable manner to the main body 11.

[0011] The main body 11 includes a motor M and a drive unit A. The motor M serves as a drive source and is driven by the drive source of the motor M. The drive unit A is, for example, a reduction drive and changes the rotation force, which is generated when the motor M is driven, to torque that is slow and high.

[0012] The main body 11 includes first and second input terminals 11 a and 11 b that are electrically connected to the battery pack 21. In the present embodiment, the first input terminal 11a is a positive terminal, and the second input terminal 11b is a negative terminal. The first input terminal 11a is connected to a first power terminal 21 b of the battery pack 21. The second input terminal 11b is connected to a second power terminal 21c of the battery pack 21.

[0013] The first input terminal 11a is connected via a trigger switch 12 to one terminal of the motor M. The other terminal of the motor M is connected to the drain of an FET 13. The source of the FET 13 is connected to one end of a resistor 14. The gate of the FET 13 is connected to a controller 15. The other end of the resistor 14 is connected to the second input terminal 11b.

[0014] When activated by a user, the trigger switch 12 outputs an operation signal corresponding to an activation or deactivation command of the electric power tool 10 (motor M). The operation signal output from the trigger switch 12 is provided via a trigger switch detector 18 to a microcomputer 17. The microcomputer 17 provides the controller 15 with a control signal that is based on the operation signal. The controller 15 uses the FET 13 to control the power supplied to the motor M. In this manner, the controller 15 controls and drives the motor M. In the present embodiment, the microcomputer 17 and the controller 15 form a drive control unit.

[0015] The main body 11 includes a voltage meter 18, which is connected to the microcomputer 17 and which measures the battery voltage of the battery pack 21. Further, a display unit 19, which is formed by, for example, an LED indicator, is connected to the microcomputer 17. The display unit 19 is capable of indicating, for example, the state of charge of the battery pack 21. The main body 11 also includes a memory (not illustrated) that stores various thresholds used to switch the operation of the electric power tool 10 in accordance with the temperature, voltage, or the like of the battery pack. In the present embodiment, the stored thresholds include, for example, an undercut voltage Vs2, a predetermined voltage Vs1, and a predetermined temperature Ts. The undercut voltage Vs2, which is a reference voltage used to detect over-discharging of the rechargeable battery, is set to, for example, 2.0 V/cell. The predetermined voltage Vs1 is a reference voltage set to a higher value than the undercut voltage Vs2 and is used to detect the value to which the battery voltage may decrease when the battery temperature is low. The predetermined voltage Vs1 is set to, for example, 2.4 V/cell that is obtained by increasing the undercut voltage Vs by 20%. The predetermined temperature Ts, which is a reference temperature used to detect the battery temperature at which the battery voltage is apt to drop, is set to, for example, 5°C. The values of the voltages Vs1 and Vs2 and the temperature Ts are examples and may be changed in accordance with the specification of the like.

[0016] The battery pack 21 includes a rechargeable battery formed by battery cells 21a (e.g., lithium ion batteries). The rechargeable battery includes the first power terminal 21b, which serves as a positive terminal, and the second power terminal 21c, which serves as a negative terminal.

[0017] The battery pack 21 further includes a temperature meter T, which is electrically connected to the microcomputer 17 via the first terminal 21d of the battery pack 21 and a terminal 11c of the main body 11. The temperature meter T is, for example, a thermistor. The temperature meter T measures the temperature of the rechargeable battery (battery cells 21a) and provides the microcomputer 17 with temperature information indicating the measurement result.

[0018] One example of the operation of the electric power tool 10 will now be described.

[0019] When the user activates the trigger switch 12, the battery pack 21 supplies the motor M with power and drives the motor M. Drive force is transmitted from the motor M to the drive unit A. This rotates a bit or the like (not illustrated) attached to a chuck (not illustrated) of the drive unit A.

[0020] The microcomputer 17 monitors the temperature of the rechargeable battery (battery pack 21), which is measured by the temperature meter T, and the voltage of the rechargeable battery, which is measured by the voltage meter 18. Referring to Figs. 2A to 2C, if the battery temperature is lower than or equal to the predetermined temperature Ts (e.g., 5°C) when the battery voltage is lower than or equal to the predetermined voltage Vs1 (e.g., 2.4 V/cell), the controller 15 sets a gate signal provided to the FET 13 at an ON level in predetermined intervals to intermittently drive the motor M based on a control signal from the microcomputer 17. That is, if the battery temperature is lower than or equal to the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery voltage is lower than or equal to the predetermined voltage Vs1, the motor M is driven and controlled differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage Vs1. If the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery temperature is lower than or equal to the undercut voltage Vs2 (e.g., 2.0 V/cell), the controller 15 deactivates the FET based on a control signal from the microcomputer 17 and stops the supply of power to the motor M. This limits over-discharging of the battery pack 21. In this manner, the motor M is driven and controlled so that the electric power tool 10 operates differently in accordance with the battery temperature and the battery voltage. This allows the user to distinguish the operation of the electric power tool 10 caused by a voltage drop when the temperature of the battery pack 21 is low from the operation of the electric power tool 10 when the battery capacity is depleted (undercut).

[0021] The present embodiment has the advantages described below.
  1. (1) If the battery temperature, which is detected by the temperature meter T, is lower than or equal to the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery voltage, which is measured by the voltage meter 18, is lower than or equal to the predetermined voltage Vs1, the drive control unit (microcomputer 17 and controller 15 in the present example) drives and controls the motor M differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage Vs1. This allows the user to acknowledge the operation of the electric power tool 10 resulting from a voltage drop when the battery temperature is low.
  2. (2) The drive control unit (microcomputer 17 and controller 15 in the present example) intermittently drives the motor M so that the motor M is driven differently from the normal driving. This allows the user to acknowledge that the operation of the electric power tool 10 results from a voltage drop when the battery temperature is low, while reducing the supply of power from the battery pack 21.
  3. (3) The drive control unit (microcomputer 17 and controller 15 in the present example) interrupts the supply of power to the motor M when the battery voltage is lower than or equal to the undercut voltage Vs2. This limits over-discharging of the battery pack 21.


[0022] It should be apparent to those skilled in the art that the present invention may be embodied in many other specific forms without departing from the spirit or scope of the invention. Particularly, it should be understood that the present invention may be embodied in the following forms.

[0023] In the above embodiment, the controller 15 and the microcomputer 17 intermittently drive the motor M if the battery temperature is lower than or equal to the predetermined temperature Ts when the battery voltage is less than or equal to the predetermined voltage Vs1. The intermittent driving may be performed by controlling the motor M in predetermined cycles or controlling the motor M in a non-cyclic manner.

[0024] In the above embodiment, the battery pack 21 (rechargeable battery) includes more than one battery cell 21a but may include only one battery cell 21a.

[0025] In the above embodiment, the battery pack 21 is coupled in a removable manner to the main body 11. However, the battery pack 21 may be fixed to the main body 11.

[0026] The above embodiment and the above modified examples may be combined with one another.

[0027] The present disclosure includes the embodiments described below.

Embodiment 1



[0028] An electric power tool (10) includes a drive source (M), a rechargeable battery (21) that is configured to supply power to the drive source (M), a voltage meter (18) that is configured to measure a battery voltage of the rechargeable battery (21), a temperature meter (T) that is configured to measure a battery temperature of the rechargeable battery (21), and a drive control unit (15, 17) that is configured to regulate the power supplied to the drive source (M) from the rechargeable battery (21) to drive and control the drive source (M). The drive control unit (15, 17) is configured such that If the battery temperature measured by the temperature meter (T) is lower than or equal to a predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage measured by the voltage meter (18) is lower than or equal to a predetermined voltage (Vs1), the drive control unit (15,17) drives and controls the drive source (M) differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage (Vs1).

Embodiment 2



[0029] The drive control unit (15,17) is configured to intermittently drive the drive source (M) so that the drive source (M) is driven differently from the normal driving.

Embodiment 3



[0030] The drive control unit (15,17) is configured to interrupt the supply of power to the drive source (M) when the battery voltage is lower than or equal to an undercut voltage (Vs2) that is lower than the predetermined voltage (Vs1).

[0031] 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. An electric power tool (10) comprising:

a drive source (M);

a rechargeable battery (21) that is configured to supply power to the drive source (M);

a voltage meter (18) that is configured to measure a battery voltage of the rechargeable battery (21);

a temperature meter (T) that is configured to measure a battery temperature of the rechargeable battery (21); and

a drive control unit (15,17) that is configured to regulate the power supplied to the drive source (M) from the rechargeable battery (21) to drive and control the drive source (M);

the electric power tool (10) characterized in that

the drive control unit (15,17) is configured such that if the battery temperature measured by the temperature meter (T) is lower than or equal to a predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage measured by the voltage meter (18) is lower than or equal to a predetermined voltage (Vs1), the drive control unit (15,17) drives and controls the drive source (M) differently from normal driving that is performed if the battery temperature is higher than the predetermined temperature (Ts) when the battery voltage is higher than the predetermined voltage (Vs1).


 
2. The electric power tool (10) according to claim 1, wherein the drive control unit (15,17) is configured to intermittently drive the drive source (M) so that the drive source (M) is driven differently from the normal driving.
 
3. The electric power tool (10) according to claim 1 or 2, wherein the drive control unit (15,17) is configured to interrupt the supply of power to the drive source (M) when the battery voltage is lower than or equal to an undercut voltage (Vs2) that is lower than the predetermined voltage (Vs1).
 




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