Battery glut

I have both corded and cordless tools, but I’ve never made any secret of the fact that whenever possible I prefer cordless.

Cordless tools are among the most convenient technologies ever devised for woodworking. Non-woodworking cordless tools are a boon, too, as evidenced by my cordless weed trimmer and yard blower. They don’t last a long time on a charge, but the size of my weekly landscaping chores means they don’t have to. They’re lighter than gas-powered yard tools, and you never have to wrap up a 50-foot extension cord when you’re done.

The benefit of not getting tangled in a cord would be enough, but the list of assets is a long one: Assuming a charged battery, they work anywhere. They’re way easier to use when on a ladder. Many fit in spaces a corded tool won’t. And of course, no outlet needed.

But there is one thing they all need, and that’s a battery.

My old cordless yard blower died last week and I replaced it with a new, identical one. I kept the old battery, but the new one came with two more. I have a large battery/charger drawer in my shop, and when I went to add the new ones it occurred to me that I had a lot of batteries in there.

On a whim, I counted them. And since I only keep my most-used batteries in that drawer, I also counted those kept in the cases of tools I don’t use often. I then counted all the other batteries already mounted on cordless tools around the shop. And then the ones on the tools I almost never use.

I was stunned at the total: 57 cordless-tool batteries. I quit counting then, but I could easily have added all the internal batteries in the rechargeable stuff around the house, like that tiny driver in the kitchen drawer, or the rechargeable flashlight in my nightstand, or our five cordless phones, or my cell phone, or laptop, or iPad, and on and on.

I suppose if I were an inventing sort I could make a point of some kind by wiring them all together, hook them up to my car and drive around the block. But I’m not an inventing sort, so I guess I’ll just be content in the knowledge that if the Mayans prove to be right that I can keep working long after the lights go out.

Until I need a recharge.



  • Mike Smith says:

    Yes, rechargable battery operated tools are great and the latest technology is making them even better. I have switched out all my older ni-cad stuff with the lithium-ion batteries of which there are several versions but I think li-ion is a great advancement. No more memory problems, so when I want to charge my tool for 5 minutes to finish a project no problem. The li-ion stay charged for a much longer time. The are lighter and stronger. It will probably be a while, but I just can’t wait to see what the next big battery breakthrough will be.

  • Paul says:

    I have watched the transformation of cordless tools and the countless styles of batteries over the years. I wish they would just standardize the batteries style. Just think of the impact on the environment you would have to keep fewer batteries charging if they where all interchangeable. It all comes down to the greed of manufactures. Just look at how many times DeWalt changed the style of there batteries and chargers. Can no one make a adapter from a slide on battery to a post? I am just frustrated every time they change battery style not only do you need new batteries but you need to buy new tools and charges. Just maybe someday manufactures will start thinking about there customers costs and the environmental effects of all there outdated tools and batteries.

  • Chuck says:

    I’ve had it with batteries over the years – they lose their charge while idle and sometimes in the middle of a job. Except for a couple of drills and a small trim saw, everything else is now corded. But then, it was easy for me to do this as my tools never leave the shop and I have installed several overhead outlets.

  • Awhile back I bought a full set of Masterforce Nicad tools and was very content with them. Then the charger failed and burned out a battery making all the tools practically useless. I then went back to the local big box store (Menards) where I had bought the tools and they replaced the whole set with brand new Lithium tools including a third battery. Isn’t it nice to know some manufacturers really care about their reputation.

  • Ted Mutz says:

    I have the opposite problem. My battries die and it is cheaper to replace the whole unit than purchase replacement batteries. I have a supply of battery less tools that I can’t part with, just in case I need a spare part.

  • Mahoney says:

    The secret of cordless tools is to buy a good brand with a line-up where you can get all the tools you need to share a common battery, and then stick with it. Don’t be lured in by the latest and greatest tool using a different battery, unless you are going to do a full conversion to the new battery.

    The tools will last much longer than the batteries, but there are ways to avoid spending more on replacement batteries than the tool cost new. We are still using 12 volt Dewalt and Makita Ni-Cad powered tools, about 70 tools between drills, impact drivers and saws, and about 100 batteries. One important tool for the management of an inventory of cordless tools this size is a battery analyzer. This device hooks up to a computer and provides a plot showing the capacity of the battery under load. Every 6 months all of our batteries are tested and any that are weak are replaced or rebuilt. Some battery rebuilding shops offer a testing service for a fee, if you don’t want to buy your own analyzer.

    Aftermarket tool batteries are available at a much lower cost than OEM, the battery analyzer helps sort out which ones are worth buying again…and any battery pack that is held together with screws can usually be rebuilt for less than the cost of a new battery, sometimes with better cells too.

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