Story by Helen McMenamin

For homeowners, garden tools that used to be gas-powered or corded now use batteries and more powerful versions are available for landscapers.

DeWalt has developed over 100 tools that all use the company's FlexVolt system to deliver the power of a corded tool with the convenience of battery power. The batteries are sold separately and are interchangeable among tools, and each one draws just the power needed to give you the torque and the run time you need for a job.

"I own some of these tools myself," says Peavey Mart's Grande Prairie store manager, Rob Dahlen. "I have an acreage where I don't have power. I can take the tools I plan to use and a couple of batteries, and I have the power I need and the flexibility I want.

"I can trim my two and a half acres with my FlexVolt string trimmer. It's much lighter than the gas model I used to use. And I don't need to carry a jerry can of gas around. It's much quieter, too. The only sound is the whack of the brush falling, so I can hear what's going on around me."

"We're making the cordless workplace a reality," says Stephen Blain of DeWalt. "It's more convenient and it's safer, because there isn't the tripping hazard of a cord and you can hear what's going on around you. Since 1992, it's been our mission to convert workplaces to cordless. Now, we have the technology to do that for all our professional tools."

Milwaukee Electric Tool has a similar vision, but it's focused on linking each tool's motor, electronics and power source to a task. The battery is the driver, but the electronics are crucial. One key is a phone app that links to tools for remote on/off, or to set rpm, torque or the speed of the ramp up. The app can record exactly what was done, the date, time and tool settings and print off a record. An electrician can use the app to record details of every wire crimped so work quality can be shown to match the most stringent requirements.

One key can track a tool or other piece of equipment, easing cross-country inventory control for rental companies and big contractors - but also helping when a tool is misplaced. And, tools can be locked from a cell phone, so they won't work if they're stolen.

"We work on needs our customers bring to us," says Scott Moore, Director of Marketing for Milwaukee. "Lighting is a huge challenge, whether it's a job site with hundreds of lights, or fixing a combine in the field. We have cordless LED lights with three or more settings for area, tripod or task lights, and with our new 9-hour battery they can run all night.

"Electronics are the brains behind the new generation of tools - the communication between motor and power source, but also between operator, tool and supervisor."