Let’s be honest, what do you think of when you hear about Kobalt power tools? I am not sure about you, but I have always thought of it as a Lowes house brand that is stagnant. We had a chance in the past to take a look at some of their power tools. While we ended up liking the 20V, it was something that never had any real excitement behind them. The tools were nice, but not much to the 20V line. While the tools performed descent , it wasn’t mind blowing. There wasn’t a lot to get excited about. Now I know I am not the only one who thought this way as we would get a ton of emails asking and making comments about Kobalt power tools. A week or two ago Lowes paid our travel and lodging expenses to go to Vegas and learn more about them. Now before I go in and start telling you about these new Kobalt 24V power tools, I need you to do me one favor. Whatever your past experience or past thoughts of Kobalt were, I need you to forget about it. The power tools we see today, the company we see today and the dedication we see today are completely different than what you might expect. Before I get into these tools, we need to take a step back and look at the people who are part of the Kobalt family.
Most of the time when we visit power tool companies media events, they tend to be one big sales platform, which is understandable. Companies want to tout why they are the best, they want to talk about the technology behind the tools and they want you to get excited about their product. Yes, I understand that is the point of a media event, but I do have to say it does get old pretty fast. Being at this Kobalt event was a totally different event, one that I have never been a part of before. There wasn’t any pushiness, bragging or strutting around like they are the best. Yes, they did take time and tell us about the tool, they did let us have hand on use and they also made it fun. But what I really liked about this event was the fact they just let the tools sell themselves. The set up was great, we had small groups so we could get all our questions answered from the product specialist. They truly listened to any criticism we had and took it to heart. While some companies say they are listening, it really felt like the Kobalt people were ready for anything we threw at them, they were even taking notes, so they didn’t forget.
Kobalt People & Culture
So this brings me to the people behind Kobalt. You can know and understand a company, but the people behind the scenes are who really makes the company. The people behind the scenes really tell you about the future of the company and more. If you want to talk about a great bunch of people, then you have to bring up Kobalt. As I said before there wasn’t any high pressure as to why they are the best. I could see the passion in the Kobalt people, which is always a huge plus. They all seemed down to earth and easy to get along with. The best thing I saw at this event, was the separation between work and play. While we were in Vegas for the Kobalt product event, we also went to a NASCAR car, the Kobalt 400. We were also lucky enough to take a helicopter ride. So what I mean by the separation was during the product event, it was all business. We talked about the tools, got an in depth look and had hands on time. All we did was talk about the tools. However during the other parts of the trip, such as NASCAR, we really didn’t talk about the tools. Well in the pits and in the garage when we saw the new Kobalt tools actually being used by the 48 team, then we talked about it. As a side note, I thought it was cool we saw these actual tools being used in the garage. Even on pit row they had the new reciprocating saws ready for use. To me that is impressive because a couple of seconds on the track can mean the difference between first and last. Again, I am not knocking other events, but I really like the separation from work and play. To me that speaks loud. It was great seeing the Kobalt people outside of work, just laid back and down to earth.
In the past when people have asked me about Kobalt tools, I have always shied away since I really didn’t know much about them and never seemed like they were investing into the line of tools. One huge thing I took away from this event was the future of Kobalt. The tools I am about to show you today are only the beginning. They are planning on releasing a bunch more tools in the future. Again, this is a huge plus because not only do I like recommending quality tools, I also like recommending tools that people can grow into and add to their collection. Kobalt definitely fits this case, but I will discuss the future tools shortly. So to me seeing Kobalt wanting to expand the line, putting money behind the brand and coming out with more tools, is a reason I can get behind the new Kobalt 24V line of tools.
Before We Move on to the Kobalt 24V Tools
You may be asking yourself why am I talking about the company, the future and the culture of Kobalt. One thing I have realized is there is so much more than a product. You can have the best product in the world, but if there isn’t the right people behind the scenes and there isn’t a company dedicated to the vision, then what do you have a couple years down the road? I like understanding what is behind the products and what is behind the scenes, so I wanted to give you a little insight also and hopefully you can see what I see in Kobalt.
Kobalt 24V Tools
So let’s jump in and take a look at some of the new Kobalt 24V Power Tools. As a note we will be getting product samples and going into much greater detail on each tool, but we wanted to give you a heads up and look at the Kobalt 24V line today. These new tools will be available in June 2016.
Kobalt 24V Batteries
Yes, you heard it right, the new Kobalt 24V has more volts than some of the other tools on the market. What surprised me was that these batteries didn’t seem any bigger or heavier than the 18/20V tools available. So how did they do it? To get to a 24V status, they added an extra battery cell to the battery packs. When I first heard this, I wasn’t sure how it would work out since we all know batteries produce heat and heat kills batteries. What Kobalt did was add an extra battery cell and they made room by moving some of the electronics from the battery to the tool. Once I heard this, I have to say I was a little relieved because I first thought they just smashed everything together inside the battery and therefore the battery wouldn’t have any room to dissipate the heat. So knowing that isn’t a problem, I have to say, nice move. The Kobalt 24V line will have three new batteries 2Ah, 4Ah and a 5Ah, so you can match your battery to your application, nice job.
Kobalt 24V Drill/Driver
Probably one of the most used tools in any line is the Drill/Driver. At first glance, the drill has a nice feel and balance to the tool. The grip is nice and it really doesn’t seem any heavier than other drill/drivers we have tested. This new drill/driver has some pretty impressive stats to go along with the new designed look. This drill has 2 speeds and a variable speed trigger which seems to be pretty smooth. A user can select from 0-550 rpm and 0-2000 rpms. The motor itself puts out 650 in-lbs of torque which isn’t too shabby. Kobalt uses a brushless motor to make this drill more efficient and have a longer run time. You will notice on the front it has a clutch which has 24 positions. The base LED light does a pretty good job lighting up your scene.
Kobalt 24V Impact Driver
The new Kobalt 24V impact driver also has a nice feel and balance to the tool. As with the drill/driver, the grip and handle feel pretty comfortable in your hand. The head of the tool isn’t too long, so getting into tight spaces shouldn’t be a problem. This tool uses an electronic speed control and has three settings. 0-850, 0-2000 and 0-2700 rpms. The brushless motor puts out 1,800 in-lbs of torque and produces 3,500 ipms. As with other impacts, this also has a 1/4″ quick release collet. The variable trigger is easy to control and keep a constant speed. Again, this also has a base LED light that works better than expected.
Kobalt 24V Reciprocating Saw
The new Kobalt 24V reciprocating saw is a huge improvement over the older bulky version. They have slimmed it down a little and gave it much more power. The reciprocating saw has a variable speed of 0-3,100 and I was surprised at how low the vibrations in my hands were. The stroke length is 1-1/8″ which is great for any reciprocating saw. Kobalt designed this with a tool free blade change and adjustable shoe. There is also a LED light for those times you are using this in a darker environment. Two improvements I would like to see with this tool are the following. I would like to see a blade eject system as reciprocating blades can get very hot. The other item would be on the front over-molded grip. Instead of it being smooth, I would like to see some sort of texture for added grip. Both are not a huge deal, but would be nice to see when the final saw hits the market.
Kobalt 24V Circular Saw
I have to say this new saw has broken a couple barriers. If you noticed the picture above, you can see this is a 6-1/2″ circular saw, but it’s cutting through 3 3/4″ pieces of plywood. Yes, you heard it right. It’s equivalent to a 7-1/4″ saw. They were able to do this with their redesign of the brushless motor. I am not going into all the design changes, but the point for you and me is I can now use a 6-1/2″ like a 7-1/4″. The saw produces 5,400 rpms and has a bevel capacity of 0-50°. The saw is also equipped with an electronic brake. The blade guard and shoe are made from a lightweight aluminum.
Kobalt 24V Impact Wrenches
Kobalt is offering two new impact wrenches, a 1/2″ and 3/8″. I would like to say I had a good feel of the power of the 1/2″ on the the NASCAR, but I couldn’t really tell since Dan stripped all the bolts before I got to it. Lucky enough they had a testing station inside where I was able to play around with these tools. Again, they both feel very comfortable and powerful.
Kobalt 24 1/2″ Impact Wrench
- Variable Speed: 0-1900 RPM
- Torque: 650 Ft-lbs
- Impacts: 2400 ipm
- Brushless Motor
- LED Worklight
Kobalt 24 3/8″ Impact Wrench
- Variable Speed: 0-1900 RPM
- Torque: 650 Ft-lbs
- Impacts: 2400 ipm
- Brushless Motor
- LED Worklight
Kobalt 24V Light
The new Kobalt 24V LED light is small and produces 200 lumens. The head rotates 135°. I can’t say I had a chance to test this in a dark place, but 200 lumens isn’t too bad for a small work light. Once we get our hands on this light, I will be able to talk about it more.
Kobalt 24V Future Tools
We got a sneak peak of three new tools Kobalt will be launching sometime around December 2016. I really don’t know much about these tools, but they will launch a new Hammer Drill, Grinder and Oscillating tool.
Kobalt Wrap up
In the end, this was a great event. I learned there is culture behind the Kobalt name and they are not afraid to break the mold. Great people making great tools. There is money that will be supporting new tools in the future, which is huge. The new Kobalt 24V tools are not only ideal for the homeowner, but the contractors as well. If you haven’t taken a look at Kobalt lately, I would recommend giving them a second look as they have turned a corner and it looks like a bright future.
So in the end, here is what Dan and myself think about Kobalt. It would have been 4 thumbs up, but I had to hold my water and a bag full of Dan’s Xanax.
Don’t forget to check out our Kobalt Tool Talk