The Bosch Professional cordless tool systems cater primarily to the construction worker and tradesperson. As a consequence, the power tools tend to be very high-performing and durable. Unlike some other cordless power tool battery brands, the Bosch Professional cordless ecosystem is relatively simple. It consists of a single 18V-based category for the vast majority of its cordless power tools. In addition, it features a smaller 12V-based system for its compact range. That's it!** No FLEXVOLT business, no 80V systems! Just plain old 18V and 12V but with a large and diverse array of tools to choose from.
** Bosch Professional has also made a foray into the 36V system of the Bosch DIY line (the green tools designed for DIYers). However, Bosch Professional has very few tools that use this system. In fact, in the UK, of the hundreds of Bosch Professional cordless tools available, only the GBH 36 V-LI Plus rotary hammer drill uses the 36V battery system. Consequently, this should not be considered another Bosch Professional cordless system. Instead, it represents more of a bespoke effort to field a higher-powered rotary drill.
The Bosch Professional 18V Cordless System
Bosch Professional 18V tools are the mainstay of its cordless tool line-up. As alluded to above, one of Bosch Professional's advantages is the system's simplicity. Indeed, one type of battery serves all of Bosch's 18V tools. Accordingly, this allows the company to focus more on providing a diverse array of tools and accessories that make up its 18V tool line-up.
Original 18V batteries vs 18V ProCORE batteries
The Bosch Professional 18V cordless tool system uses the modern 'Slide' type of battery. However, there are currently two versions of it: the original 18V batteries and the newer 18V ProCORE ones. Although both battery versions are still available for purchase, the 18V original batteries are not marketed as much by Bosch anymore. Instead, the newer 18V ProCORE batteries are now the primary Bosch 18V battery to use. Importantly, however, both the original batteries and the ProCORE ones are fully compatible with all tools in the 18V line-up manufactured since 2008.
The 18V ProCORE batteries offer several notable improvements over their original 18V counterparts. The main advantage is the enhanced performance of the newer brushless BITURBO line of tools when using these newer batteries. This brushless BITURBO line was designed alongside the ProCORE battery so it is perhaps no surprise that they operate optimally together. Indeed, a ProCORE battery paired with a BITURBO brushless tool provides the highest power output of just about any Bosch cordless tool. This means that tougher and more demanding jobs can be tackled with these high-specification tools. But it's not only the latest line of brushless tools that benefit. Older brushed Bosch Professional cordless tools also get a boost in performance too, although this is limited by the older power tool technology.
The power boost is not the only thing that ProCORE batteries provide. They are also more compact than the original 18V Bosch Professional batteries. As a result, this makes the tools that use them more compact and easier to manoeuvre.
Partly as a result of this smaller size, ProCORE batteries also come in a greater range of capacities. Therefore, while the original 18V Bosch batteries were available at a maximum capacity of 6Ah, ProCORE batteries are available in 8Ah and 12Ah options. This higher capacity provides more power for extended periods, allowing operators to work for longer without interruption.
ProCORE batteries also boast faster charging times compared to the original 18V batteries. This means less downtime waiting for batteries to charge and more time working on projects.
Compatibility with other brands
One unusual aspect of Bosch Professional's 18V battery system is its compatibility. The system's batteries and tools are interchangeable with those of a limited number of other brands. Most power tool companies design their cordless tool systems so that only their batteries are compatible with their tools. This is partly due to their own vision of how battery power should be implemented, but also to lock users into their brands as a business strategy against their competitors. Unfortunately, this is to the detriment of users who are then restricted to buying tools from a single brand if they don't want to spend on several parallel battery systems.
To address this issue to some degree, Bosch has formed the Ampshare alliance. This is a grouping of several companies whose tools all make use of the same 18V battery engineered by Bosch. This makes their 18V tools completely compatible with the same batteries and chargers. A notable member of this alliance other than Bosch is Fein Power Tools which is also a well-know, popular power tool brand. Unfortunately, the other members of the alliance are comparatively unknown. In addition, popular brands of prosumer power tools, in particular, DeWalt, Makita, and Milwaukee are not part of this alliance making their tool line-ups incompatible.
A final advantage of the Bosch Professional 18V line-up is the wide range of cordless tools it offers. In addition, it has some pretty unique accessories designed for some of its 18V tools. Notably, the GFA 18-E Off-set Angle Adapter allows a user to work close to edges and walls. While the GFA 18-WB Angle Adaptor facilitates screwdriving at a right angle.
The Bosch Professional 12V Cordless System
Bosch Professional's 12V cordless tool system consists of a smaller range of tools. The range includes drills, electric screwdrivers and power saws, all powered by small 12V lithium-ion batteries. Like other low-voltage power tool brands, Bosch's 12V tool system is designed to be light and compact. Consequently, the tools are ideal for use in hard-to-reach places and for reducing user fatigue during extended tool use.
Bosch Professional 12V Tool Range
12V Power Tool Types
No. of Models Available (UK)
The 12V system uses a Cluster / Stick type battery, which keeps overall tool size to a minimum. Given the lower power, the range of tool types and the number of different models available of each tool category are more limited. The complete 12V tool range is enumerated in the table above. As can be seen, the tool diversity and number of models available are significantly lower than those of the 18V cordless system.
Bosch Professional 36V
For the sake of completeness, and as mentioned in the introduction, Bosch Professional has a rotary hammer drill that uses a 36V battery. This is accompanied by a second 36V tool, a combi drill, if you are located on the African continent. However, the 36V battery is primarily designed for the Bosch DIY line-up where it is designed to run large garden tools. Consequently, the use of the battery in the odd Bosch Professional tool does not make it a separate professional cordless range. Rather, it looks more like a feeble attempt to produce a couple of higher-powered cordless tools by hitching a ride on a less professional cordless tool battery system.
In summary, the simplicity of the Bosch Professional cordless tool brand stands out as a key advantage when it comes to choosing a cordless power tool system. The ecosystem is centered around a single 18V-based category for most cordless power tools. While a smaller 12V-based system is designed for compact applications. In addition, the introduction of the 18V ProCORE battery and the BITURBO brushless tool line-up has brought significant improvements in power and tool runtime. Furthermore, Bosch's Ampshare alliance allows 18V tools from several other brands to work with the same batteries and chargers. However, one caveat to this is that most other popular power tool companies are not part of this alliance. Finally, the system's diverse array of tools and accessories, further enhances its appeal to those trying to decide on a cordless power tool brand.