Hilti TE 30-A36 Cordless Combihammer

Hilti's TE 30-A36 Cordless Combihammer sets a new standard in performance for drilling up to 1" diameter in concrete.

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Hilti TE 30-A36 Cordless Combihammer



Hammerdrills are great for drilling narrow, shallow holes in masonry, cinder blocks, concrete, metal, and even wood. But for anyone drilling large, deep holes in concrete or a regular basis, or working with high strength structural concrete, a rotary hammer (or combihammer) is the tool to use. You don't want to mess with concrete - it has high compressive strength - which makes it very strong and hard - while abrasive aggregates in the concrete quickly wear down drill bits, even those with solid carbide heads. Using the right tool and bit will make the job go smoother and faster, and give you better results.

As we've seen with drill/drivers, impact drivers, and hammerdrills, the trend is towards cordless tools, in part because users want freedom from the cord - especially working in locations where power isn't yet available - and also because cordless tools tend to be lighter and more compact. The one issue that still seems to hold users back is tool performance.

Hilti's new TE 30-A36 Cordless Combihammer effectively removes the performance distinction between corded and cordless when it comes to light duty drilling (1/4" to 1") in concrete. I had the opportunity of trying out the TE 30-A36, and was very impressed with its power, battery run-time, balance, and low level of vibration.

For practical purposes, rotary hammers and combihammers are the same, typically offering three modes of operation - rotation (no hammering), hammering (no rotation), and rotary hammering. The big difference is between hammer drills and combihammers.

TE 30-A36 cutaway


Unlike hammer drills that use a mechanical hammering action (or cam-action), combihammers use a pneumatic hammer action, which creates a higher impact force, with less wear on the drill’s internal components. While combihammers are designed for drilling in concrete, stone, and masonry they can also be used to drill in structural lumber (Glulam, LVL, and the like), and metal.

THE KIT
 

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Sturdy, durable storage case

The TE 30-A36 comes in a kit that consists of the tool, two lithium-ion batteries, a high speed charger, auxiliary handle, depth gauge, grease canister, cleaning cloth, five carbide tipped hammer drill bits, a wide flat chisel, instruction booklet, and a storage case.

I like to keep my power tools safely stored for quick and easy accessibility and transportation. The lockable, impact resistant case that comes with the TE 30-A36 is huge, and it conveniently stores the combihammer and all the accessories. There is even room for additional bits and chisels.The flip latches work well, and the handle is large enough to fit a gloved hand. While you can hear the bits rattle around in the case, but they stay put in the narrow compartment at the back of the case. As is common with most power tools, you do need to reposition the side handle in line with the body of the combihammer in order to store it in the case. So far the case has proven to be durable and reasonably scuff and scratch resistant.

SIZE/CONFIGURATION

The outer casing on the TE 30-A36 is made of an ABS thermoplastic that provides a high degree of impact and abrasion resistance, excellent tensile strength, as well as chemical, heat, and moisture resistance - all important factors for tools that are used extensively in harsh work conditions.
    
The only place dust can get into the combihammer is through the ventilation slots, located on the top and sides of the casing. Don't use compressed air to clean the slots as it will only force dust and debris into the tool - instead, use a cloth or brush.

For such a powerful took the TE 30-A36 is surprisingly compact, measuring 9" high, 4-3/8" wide, and 16-1/2" long. The bare tool weighs 8.4 pounds and 12.6 pounds with the battery and handle installed. This is virtually the same weight as the HIlti TE 50 corded combihammer. Weight isn't much of an issue unless you're using the tool overhead. In any other position, you want to let the tool do the work, without applying too much inline pressure. So a heavier tool, in tandem with the effects of gravity, does have some benefit.

The bottom mount battery provides a stable base when you set the TE 30-A36 down. However, with bits longer than 8" installed the tool has a tendency to flip forward or onto its side (depending on the angle of the handle).

MOTOR

The TE 30-A36 benefits from the use of brushless motor technology, which is becoming the norm for high-end power tools. Brushless motors are more efficient that brushed motors, generating less friction and heat, and use less battery energy to run the motor. This results in longer run times, and a longer tool life that requires much less maintenance.

The TE 30-A36 delivers a single impact energy of 3.8 joules (2.8 foot pounds), a no-load speed of 853 RPM, and a full hammering frequency of 4,500 impacts per minute. The higher the joules rating, the faster you'll be able to drill. In comparison, the Makita BHR261 delivers 3 joules, the DeWALT DC233KL delivers 2.6 joules, and the Bosch 11536SVSR delivers 2.2 joules.

To protect the motor in the event a bit hits a steel tie rod or other obstruction, the TE 30-A36, as with all rotary hammers, is equipped with a mechanical slip clutch. To protect the user from kickback, the TE 30-A36 also features Active Torque Control (ATC). Built in sensors detect sudden, uncontrolled rotation of the combihammer (for example, when the drill bit sticks or when the bit is tilted unintentionally) and automatically decouples the gearing and motor in a fraction of a second, switching the tool off.

BATTERY/CHARGER

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High capacity 36 Volt, 6 amp-hour battery

The motor is powered by a high capacity 36 Volt, that delivers an impressive 6 amp-hours of energy. That's accounts for its ability to drill holes up to 1-1/8" in concrete (up to 2-11/16" using percussion core bits) and 1/2" in metal. The battery has a separate voltage control for each of its ten 3.6V cells that prevents overcharging, overheating, and deep discharge. The battery housing, which also serves as the base for the tool when it's set down, is fiberglass-reinforced for maximum durability. At the back of the battery housing is a four LED charge status display - by pressing either of the battery release buttons you can check the power level at any time.

Along with the two lithium-ion batteries the kit comes with a high speed charger that provides a full recharge in about 45 minutes.

OPERATING MODES

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Mode Switch: (A) drilling, (B) hammer drilling, (C) chiseling, (D) chisel adjustment

You can operate the TE 30-A36 in three modes:

  • drilling without hammering (for use in wood and metal)
  • hammer drilling (the normal mode for drilling in concrete)
  • chiseling (hammering without rotation)

There is a chisel adjustment position in which the chisel can be adjusted to 12 different positions in 30-degree increments. Having more than 12 positions wouldn't likely increase the functionality of the tool.

The selector switch is large enough that you can grasp and turn it with gloves on. The icons are easy enough to read, but once you've used the tool for any length of time you'll instinctively remember where to turn the switch without having to look at it. However, you do have to remember not to power the tool when the selector is in the chisel adjustment position.

As with any rotary hammer the TE 30-A36 is loud in any of these three modes, with sound levels in the 100+ dB level. Unlike many other power tools, combihammers expose users to high vibration levels. On-going exposure to vibration can cause a range of neurological and circulatory problems. The TE 30-A36 features an Active Vibration Reduction (AVR) system that decouples internal parts of the tool from the casing, handle and grip. The serves to reduce tri-axial vibration to 11m/s². In practical terms this means that you can safely use the TE 30-A36 for up to two hours before you exceed the daily limit exposure. Using the tool for more than this increases your risk of developing long term health problems. For more on this read Hilti's What you Need to Know About Vibration.

HANDLES/TRIGGER

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Large, comfortable pistol grip handle with easy access to trigger and forward/reverse switch

I prefer the D-style main handle over a pistol grip handle, as I feel it provides greater control in use, especially when drilling overhead. Most of the time I wear gloves, and the handle opening has plenty of room even when you're wearing the heaviest gloves. The back of the handle has a rubber overmold that improved grip when you're not wearing gloves.

The variable speed trigger is big enough that you can easily activate it with two fingers for greater control. I found the trigger to be very responsive, providing very smooth speed acceleration.
 

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Non-slip side grip rotates 360-degrees

The non-slip side grip can be rotated a full 360-degrees. Two to three rotations of the handle are enough to release the clamping band so that you can re-position the grip. While the side handle is removable it's impractical to use the combihammer without it installed.

The forward/lock/reverse switch, located just above the trigger, can be easily changed with thumb or forefinger without loosening your grip. In lock mode the sides of the switch are virtually flush with the side of the handle - this makes it less likely the switch will be inadvertently activated when the combihammer is laid on its side.

DEPTH STOP

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Easily adjustable depth rod

The depth stop rod attaches to the side grip. To adjust the depth of drilling you need to loosen the side grip handle, which only takes a few seconds. Once positioned, the stop won't move out of place. However, when you adjust the depth stop, your handle can move. I prefer an arrangement that keeps the depth stop function independent of handle positioning.

CHUCK

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Fully enclosed SDS chuck

The TE 30-A36 has a keyless, spring-loaded SDS chuck with an integrated dust shield. The shield, which can be replaced if it get damaged, also helps keep the grease, which you apply to the bit shanks, inside from seeping out the chuck.

Installing a bit into the chuck is fairly straightforward. As you insert the bit rotate it, while simultaneously applying light pressure until it engages. You'll hear it click into place. If you tug on the bit, it will move forward 3/4" or so. This is due to the design of the SDS bits, which have a grooved shank.

An optional quick release chuck is also available for drilling in wood and metal with standard smooth shanked bits.

BITS

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SDS shanked bits

The TE 30-A36 comes with five of the most common sizes of SDS Plus (TE-C) bits: 1/4", 3/8", and 1/2" by 6", 5/8" by 8", 3/4" by 12", and 1" by 18" wide, plus a 2-3/8" by 8" chisel bit. There are lots more to choose from - Hilti has a range of 62 drill bits in 1/4" to about 5/8" (17mm) diameters, from 4" to 24" long. You can also get percussion core bits that enable you to drill large diameter holes - up to 2-11/6" diameter. Unlike conventional bits the shanks on SDS bits have to be lubricated with grease to allow them to slide in the chuck.
 

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Carbide heads and deep gullets make for fast dust removal

These bits have a unique X-design tip that makes it easier to start holes, while the solid carbide heads increase bit life. The large double-helical flute gullets allow for fast dust removal, less contact area with the hole wall, and as a result, faster drilling. According to Hilti, the angle of the fluting is optimized for the rotation of the combihammers.
 

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If the bit breaks and wear marks are still visible, Hilti will replace the bit

Hilti bits in the 1/4" to 5/8" diameter have wear indicator marks - on the tip, and about 1" below the tip. As long as the wear marks are visible, you'll know that you're drilling an accurate sized hole. And, if a bit breaks at any time, and either of the wear marks are still visible, Hilti will replace the bit at no charge.

EVALUATION

I tested the TE 30-A36 on some well-cured blocks of concrete in the 4000 to 5000 PSI range, with both a 1/2" and a 1" bit. I timed drilling speed - the time it took to drill 1/2" holes 4" deep, and 1" holes 10" deep - and battery duration - the number of holes I could drill with each size bit on a single charge. I also drilled 1/4" and 3/8" holes - but for the TE 30-A36 holes under 1/2" are just a tease, akin to drilling into butter. Unfortunately, I didn't have the opportunity of drilling into rebar so wasn't really able to get a sense of how the Active Torque Control worked.
 

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90 1/2" x 4" holes on a single battery charge

With the 1/2" bit I was able to drill 90 holes to a consistent 4" depth on a single battery charge. It took an average of 10 seconds to drill each hole. I drilled all 90 holes at one go, without letting the tool cool down at all. At the end of the session the battery casing had warmed up, but it wasn't hot to touch. The same for the area around the motor - it was warm but not hot.

Apart from the drilling speed, what really impressed me was how little vibration I felt. While I could feel some vibration, particularly in my right hand, none of it traveled up my arm to the elbow or shoulder.
 

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Bit condition after drilling 90 holes

The aggregate in concrete wears away the end of the drill bit quite aggressively, less so on the flutes, which mainly serve to channel the debris out of the hole. The Hilti bit stood up well, and while it shows some wear, there is still a lot of life left on the bit.
 

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18 1" x 10" holes on a single battery charge

With a 1" bit installed I was able to drill 18 holes 10" deep. It took an average of 28 seconds to drill each hole. Try to achieve this with any other cordless rotary hammer on the market. 

As with the 1/2" bit I drilled all the holes at one go. I did feel noticeably more vibration drilling these larger, longer holes - particularly for the last four to six inches of each hole. Still, I didn't experience any real discomfort in either my hands or shoulders.

 

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Extremely efficient chip removal

The Hilti bits, with their double-helical flute gullets, do an amazing job of removing chips from the drill hole. It's just like a volcano - as you drill there is a steady flow of chips up and out of the hole. For long holes it's still a good idea to pull the bit completely out of the hole every so often to help clear out the debris.
 

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Clean, consistently sized holes

Because the TE 30-A36 is so easy to control you end up with consistently clean holes. When drilling these holes I barely had to apply any downward pressure on the drill. It's when you start to force the drill by applying too much pressure, that you're apt to enlarge the holes, which will compromise the holding power of your anchors or bolts.

The results you can expect with the TE 30-A36 will depend on a number of factors, including the strength of the concrete you're drilling into, the amount of aggregate in the concrete, whether or not you hit any embedded rebar, and the depth and width of the holes you're drilling.

The TE 30-A36 is a remarkably well balanced tool, with a superb power to weight ratio. It will appeal primarily to electricians, plumbers, renovators, and carpenters who drill 1/2" and larger diameter holes in concrete on a regular basis. You get a lot of tool for the money - light weight, excellent balance, very smooth operation, super quick bit changeover, amazingly long battery life, and surprisingly low levels of vibration. Best of all, there's no cord to interfere with your work.

WARRANTY

The TE 30-A36 can be obtained through Hilti’s Tool Fleet Management or outright with their Lifetime Service warranty. For a flat monthly rate the Fleet Management program provides a tool that comes with a complete no-cost warranty period of 4 years covering the tool, battery and charger. Plus, if the tool needs servicing, you get a loaner shipped to you at no cost. The Lifetime Service warranty covers 2years wear and tear on the tool.

TIPS
When drilling into concrete you face a range of hazards, including silica dust, torque reaction (tool kickback), bit fracture, vibration, and noise. Here are a few tips to help you get the best performance out of your combihammer, and to reduce work site injuries.

  • Make sure you understand how to use the tool; begin by reading the operating instruction.
  • Wear suitable protective gear, including work gloves, helmet, and eye, hearing, and respiratory protection.
  • Use appropriate scaffolding or ladders if the work can't be safely reached from the ground.
  • Use a firm, steady grip on the tool to avoid overly enlarging the drill hole, which can weaken the holding power of a bolt or anchor.
  • Don't use the tool without the front, rotatable, side grip.
  • Let the tool do the work. Applying too much pressure reduces the life of the drill bit.
  • Don't turn the function selector switch when the motor is running.
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SPECIFICATIONS

Manufacturer Hilti
ModelTE 30-A36 (item # 03500960)
Dimensions 16-1/2" L x 4-3/8" W x 9" H
Tool Weight12.6 pounds (battery installed)
Battery Weight4.2 pounds
Motor Brushless
Power Source36 V, 6 Ah lithium ion battery
Recharge Time40 minutes (approximate)
Speed (No Load)853 RPM
Hammering Frequency4500 IPM
Single Impact Energy3.8 Joules (2.8 foot pounds)
Chuck TE-C (SDS plus)
Drilling RangeHammer bits (1/4" to 1"), precussion core bits (1" to 2-11/16"), forming/installation drill bits (3/8" to 1-3/8"), wood bits (1/4" to 1"), metal bits (1/8" to 1/2")
Modes Drilling (without hammering), hammer drilling, chiseling
Chisel adjustment12 positions
FeaturesMechanical clutch slip, active torque control
Source Austria (tool); Poland (battery)
Warranty 2 years wear and tear, no cost coverage, lifetime service Optional Fleet Management programme (with 4 year warranty)
Price$1732.00
Where to BuyDealer Locator or call 800-363-4458
Includes (2) batteries, high speed charger, auxiliary handle with depth gauge, grease canister, cleaning cloth, (1) each of TE CX: 1/4" x 6", 3/8" x 6", 1/2" x 6", 5/8" x 8", 3/4"-12", 1"-18", TE-CP SPM 6/25 wide flat chisel and plastic case
Optional AccessoriesDRS dust removal head (TE DRS-S), Quick-release chuck (00224119), TE-AC1 angular chuck (00272701), SDS plus magnetic bit holder (00306013)
Carl Duguay, July 2013
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