Makita has a history of making some of the best, high-precision power tools and its cordless ranges are no exception. Surprisingly though, for such an excellent power tool manufacturer, Makita's cordless power tool systems are a touch on the confusing side.
In this article, we try to clear up some of that confusion by outlining the different battery systems that Makita offers. Currently, these include the following:
Makita's LXT Cordless Power Tools
The LXT range of Makita power tools represents the mainstay of its cordless devices. Accordingly, this cordless series has a vast selection of tools and will be the range that most of us will adopt when buying a cordless Makita power tool. The LXT series runs on LXT batteries and the tools adhere to one of two main voltage levels. The most common voltage that LXT tools conform to is 18V. The second, less common form is powered by a 14.4V LXT battery. Accordingly, the lower voltage tools tend to be smaller and less powerful than their 18V counterparts. This makes them better suited for less intense work.
36V (18Vx2) LXT tools
In addition to the standard 18V and 14.4V tools, some larger LXT tools require the use of two 18V batteries installed in series on the tool. As a result, the tool runs at a combined voltage of 36V. This higher voltage provides the tool with more power and allows it to tackle tougher jobs.
Makita's CXT Cordless Power Tools
Makita's CXT (Compact Extreme Technology) range of cordless power tools represents its extra-compact series. Importantly, this range is sometimes also referred to as the 12V Max system. CXT tools are designed for use in confined spaces and are also lightweight to reduce user fatigue. However, although this tool series covers a range of construction applications, the number of tool categories available is not as wide as that of the LXT range. Therefore, you won't find every tool type in the CXT range.
The CXT tools are powered by Makita's 12V CXT lithium-ion batteries. This lower voltage battery makes CXT tools less powerful than their LXT counterparts. However, this is the trade off for a more compact and lighter-weight tool.
Today, 12V CXT batteries come as 12V 'Slide' format power banks that look similar to LXT batteries but smaller. However, until recently, some of Makita's 12V CXT tools made use of a 'Cluster' or 'Stick' type of battery instead. These are narrow battery modules that insert almost completely into the bodies of tools. Although officially obsolete now, these 12V Stick batteries and compatible Makita tools are still available from some vendors. For added confusion, older Slide and Stick/Cluster batteries and older CXT tools are sometimes labelled as being '10.8V' instead of 12V. However, these 10.8V devices have now been reclassified as being part of the 12V system and are fully compatible with it.
Another older series of Makita tools that make use of the Cluster or Stick type of battery operate at 7.2V. These devices are essentially on the road to obsolescence, however, you will still encounter them when searching for Makita cordless power tools. These tools might once have been classified as being part of the CXT range due to their similar level of compactness and relative low power. However, today, Makita considers its modern CXT range to consist of its 12V tools that operate off a 12V Slide battery.
Makita's XGT Cordless Power Tools
Makita's XGT series of cordless power tools represents the company's industrial power tool line up. As a result, these tools contain the latest technology and show exceptional performance.
Accordingly, the XGT series exceeds the performance you get with Makita's LXT and CXT power tool series, enabling users to tackle the most challenging of tasks. In addition, the XGT tools are also built to be extra-rugged to be able to survive the harsher conditions of the industrial site.
Although the range of XGT tools is not as large as the LXT series, it is still large enough to cover the majority of power tool categories. This ensures that if you can do a job with an LXT tool, then you will probably be able to get an XGT tool capable of doing the same job. However, the XGT tool will be tougher, more advanced, and have a longer battery life than the equivalent LXT one.
The XGT series is powered by Makita's 40V Max XGT lithium-ion battery. This battery provides extended runtime, rapid charging capabilities, and exceptional power output. Furthermore, the batteries are also designed to communicate with the tools themselves to ensure peak tool performance is maintained.
80V (40Vx2) Max XGT tools
Similar to the LXT range, some larger XGT tools operate using two 40V batteries in series. This allows the tools to operate at an even higher voltage of 80V. Once again, running at the higher voltage provides the tool with additional power so that it can deal with even tougher jobs. In fact, at this voltage, the tools are now operating at similar power levels to mains-powered devices. However, unlike their mains-powered counterparts they don't have the inconvenience of a power cord.
Makita's G-Series Tools
Finally, we have Makita's G-Series, which is an older, almost obsolete, line of power tools. Like the LXT range, the G-Series has tools operating in both the 14.4V domain (although you will be hard-pressed to find a 14.4V G-Series tool today) and an 18V system. However, one thing that is important to be aware of is that the G-Series of tools is NOT compatible with the LXT series. The G-Series range relies on its own G-Series battery which is easily identifiable by its white or grey top section. In addition, the G-Series battery has its own charger. Therefore, G-series devices cannot be used interchangeably with LXT equipment, even if they operate at the same voltage level.
Today, it is probably safe to say that the G-Series range has been sidelined. Makita now focuses on its higher performing LXT, CXT and XGT ranges. As a consequence, G-series tools will soon be a footnote in the history of Makita. Of course, you can still buy a G-Series tool but with the line rapidly becoming obsolete, we don't recommend it.
As with other power tool manufacturers, Makita's power tool battery systems feature a variety of systems which may initially cause confusion. However, once you understand that some of its battery systems are rapidly becoming obsolete, choosing the best Makita cordless power tool system for your needs is not so difficult.
The LXT series is the key range for most DIYers and tradespeople. It offers a vast selection of tools for just about any task. The CXT series offers compactness and lightweight design, for confined or difficult-to-reach workspaces. Finally, the industrial XGT series showcases the latest in Makita's cutting-edge technology and performance. Since no one wants to invest in power tool technology that is on its way out, when looking for a Makita cordless tool, the best approach is to stick with tools from one of these three ranges.