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Get your money’s worth when it comes to batteries

Saving Money on Power Tools

Published: Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2012 11:43 a.m. CDT

Power tools can make certain task very easy, but they can be pricey. Recently, there have been advancements in the power tools industry. Companies have introduced lithium-ion (LI-ION) based batteries.

Traditionally power tools have been Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMh), or Nickel Cadmium (NiCD). Lithium batteries weigh less. They charge at a much faster rate, however, it comes at a cost.

Recently, the price has dropped on LI-ION power tools. When they first were introduced, you could easily spend over $200 dollars on an 18 volt drill. Now, you can find them for under $200, but in the long run it is not worth it.

LI-ION power tool batteries charge at a quicker rate, causing them having a short life span. On average, they last about a year.

NiMh and NiCD batteries can last 3-5 years, and can be rebuilt. Inside a typical battery pack are Sub C batteries in a series. There are some battery stores that can rebuild battery packs. It typically takes 3-5 days, and is a fraction of the original price.

An official 18 volt drill battery can cost anywhere from $80-120. A rebuilt battery can easily cost under $50, and can even have a better run time then the original one.This depends on the brand.

One of the most popular power tool brands is Craftsman. During the holidays, they can be cheap. They can be less than $40, but at a price. A Craftsman’s run time is much less than a Milwaukee or a Dewalt power tool, however, you can get a Craftsman’s battery to a better run time if rebuilt.

No matter the brand, almost all use the same battery size.

LI-ION can be rebuilt, but not many companies will do it. Any company that does rebuild LI-ION batteries has to pay roughly about $50,000 to be certified, and has to send them off to a government center to be tested.

Although, NiMh and NiCD batteries can outlast, it is usually lack of proper maintenance that leads to their short lifespan. It is recommended that you run the battery down before recharging it. This allows for maximum usage.

Another killer of batteries is over charging. Do not leave the battery on the charger all the time, unless it has a smart chip it. Most charging stations continually charge, which can hurt the battery.

Dormancy is another major killer of batteries.

If a power tool is not in use much, put it on the charger once a month, no longer than 24 hours. You can even buy a voltmeter to measure your power tool’s voltage. If your power tool reaches a certain voltage it will not be possible to bring it back to life.

You can leave it on the charger all day, but the true test will be when you put a load on the battery.

If you do get a battery rebuilt, it cannot make your power tool stronger. If you upgrade your voltage your power tool’s motor will burn out. This can be said for power wheels toys as well. You cannot go a 12 volt system to a 24 volt system unless you rewire the whole unit.

These maintenance tips can be used for all rechargeable batteries around the house (ex: camera,laptops, rechargeable AA and AAA’s) as well.

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