We’ve already covered all of the new Packout system additions that Milwaukee revealed in the second installment of their Pipeline, but we’d like to take a closer look at the M18 Packout worklight and battery charger they teased at the end of the presentation.
This new Milwaukee M18 light and charger takes the space of two compact Packout organizers on a stack or more precisely it measures 16.9” x 9.8” x 8.7”.
It features three Rover-style rotating light heads and a compartment with a single M18 charger that is compatible with the entire line of M18 cordless power tool batteries.
What’s more is that it incorporates a USB charging port into a separate compartment. Both charging compartments are IP54-rated with the doors closed. An IP54 rating means that is protected from limited dust ingress and water spray from any direction.
It also has an AC plug that can power both the lights and charger simultaneously – you’ll need to supply your own standard-style extension cord. Alternatively, the lights (and the USB charger) can be powered by any M18 battery.
Both the lights and charger are designed to be used either on or off the Packout stack, although some of the maneuverability of the lights will be lost if you stack a box on top.
This Packout box has three different light panels featuring Milwaukee’s TrueView technology: one larger panel with 36 LEDs and two smaller side panels with 9 LEDs each. The panels are attached to arms that rotate 180° and all three panels swivel almost 360° on each arm.
Both the larger main panel light and the two smaller side lights can be operated independently or together at low, medium, or high brightness, giving you 9 different illumination modes. Milwaukee has provided the above chart, listing each mode with it’s Lumen rating and estimated runtime using an M18 XC5.0 battery.
All of these setting are operated by two different buttons, one that toggles the configuration of the lights, and the other that toggles through the different illumination modes. At the highest brightness setting with all of the panels at full power, the light can output a total of 3000 lumens and run for 4 hours on a fully charged XC5.0 battery. At the lowest setting with only the side panels lit, the light can output 325 lumens and run for an estimated 31 hours on the same battery.
The M18 charger delivers a 3A charging current — the standard Milwaukee charging rate. This means that a 5Ah battery would take approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes to charge while the M18 HD12.0 would take about 4 hours to charge.
In the rear compartment lives the USB charger, which can deliver 2.1A for charging your phone or other device. That black rectangle next to the USB port is an on button. When you press that button, it will turn on the USB charger for 2 hours, after which it automatically turns off.
The compartment itself is 7.3″ x 3.9″ x 4″, and so you should be able to squeeze in your super-sized Galaxy Note 20 Ultra or iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphone inside with the charging cable attached and shut the door.
Price and Availability
Milwaukee expects that the 2357-20 M18 Packout light and charger should be available October 2020. Several retailers currently offering preorders are claiming they will ship mid November 2020. Right now it looks like it will only be sold as a bare tool for $199.
Available: October 2020
This new Milwaukee Packout accessory is clearly meant to be a light primarily with the convenience of a built-in charger (with a USB charger thrown in to boot). With a standard charging rate of 3A, it clearly isn’t meant to replace your jobsite chargers, because charging even Milwaukee smallest 3Ah battery will take an hour.
Since the box is IP54 rated, I’m curious to see how Milwaukee handles cooling or venting with the charger. This could be one reason they limited charging to 3 amps, to potentially avoid needing to engineer the Packout Light and Charger with vent holes or added complexity of active cooling. Other Milwaukee lighting products also feature built-in chargers, such as the M18 Rocket tower light/charger, but they don’t appear to have IP ratings.
The cordless + AC hybrid power option is a welcome touch that many users consider a must-have. It would still be nice to see a Packout-compatible dedicated super charger or even a dual rapid charger that could begin to keep up with the charging demands of moderate tool use, although that might present its own issues.
With this only being Milwaukee’s third M18 cordless power tool system and Packout tool storage system mashup, it is very possible that a premium fast charger or multi-port charger is still in the works. In the meantime, the worklight features are the star of the show here, with the “standard” charging rate being slow but useful.
For what you get, this Packout accessory seems pretty competitively priced compared to Milwaukee’s other Packout and lighting products. For instance, an M18 Rover light gives you 1500 lumens and costs about $100. Here, you get double that output, M18 charging, USB charging, and Packout compatibility for $200.