Cordless tools are becoming a ‘must have’ for both homeowners and professional craftsmen alike. Walk down the power-tool aisle of any hardware or home improvement store and you’ll find corded and cordless examples, in many sizes and configurations. It’s enough to confuse the handiest of handypersons. So which one should you buy? What brand should you get? How much should you spend? What features must you have and which don’t you need?
The answers will depend on how you will use it. Are you taking it out to a job site each day? Or is it for general use around the house? What type of material will you be working on? It’s important to remember to choose carefully by focusing on your own requirements.
One thing to note, cordless tools are only as good as their battery. The battery dictates the drill’s power output and how long it can run without being recharged. Of course, over time the battery will inevitably need replacing but you’ll find that higher quality tools are less likely to need their batteries replaced as often as their budget counterparts.
So here is some information to take into consideration.
Battery Size is important
For cordless tools, power is determined by battery voltage: the higher the voltage, the more power and torque the tool has available. While more power and torque may seem like something you want, there are trade-offs. With the high voltage cordless tools, comes additional cost and additional tool weight, along with the additional power.
If the increased torque and power of a 19.2 Volt cordless drill is really needed, the added cost is worth it. But if you are using your cordless drill only occasionally to drive screws at home, a 19.2 Volt cordless drill is probably not worth it. A cheaper, light-weight cordless drill will probably suit your needs just fine.
Number of Batteries
Another point to consider is the number of batteries that come included with the tool. If you plan on using your tool for extended periods of time or often, you will want to only consider tools that come with two batteries. It is very frustrating when your battery dies in the middle of something and you have to wait an hour for the battery to charge before you can get back to work.
The types of batteries for sale with cordless tools are: Nickel-Cadmium, Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) and Lithium Ion (Li-Ion). Though they have been improved the nickel batteries are less money and less quality. They have issues with memory problems (they need to be completely discharged before they are recharged or they lose charge capacity). They do not have as long a life and are lower power than equivalent voltage of Li-Ion batteries.
Battery and Tool Storage
When you put away your cordless tools, be sure to remove the battery; this will help ensure that the battery is charged the next time you need it. The reason this is important is that even when your cordless tool is not being used, it will draw a small amount of energy from the battery. While the amount of energy being drawn is slight, it can add up to a significant amount over the course of days. Also do not keep your battery in the charger for extended periods of time. While there are some chargers that claim to be “smart” about this, as a rule storing your batteries in the charger will lead to them dying sooner than if you don’t. When storing your batteries, avoid storing them in heat and cold. Cold weather will not harm your battery long-term, but it will decrease the amount of available power when the tool is being used. High heat can permanently ruin the batteries of your cordless tools.
Charging Your Batteries
Many higher-end cordless tools now come with advanced chargers that allow the battery to be charged in very short periods of time; often in about 15 minutes. In comparison, a standard charger usually takes 1 hour, cheaper ones up to 3 hours to charge the battery completely.
Pick a Brand
An easy way to avoid problems with battery availability is to decide on a battery size and brand and stay with it (Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee and Bosch are good brands). If you consistently purchase the same brand of tool with the same battery size when buying drills, trim saws, reciprocating saws, screwdrivers, etc, you will be able to share batteries and chargers between all of your tools. This will increase the number of available batteries and it ensures that you will never run out of charged batteries.
Cordless tools are the must have electrical toy of the homeowner and professional tradesman alike. Cordless tools have become less weighty, more reliable and far cheaper in recent years. So whether you’re a professional, an avid do-it-yourselfer or simply need a basic tool to tackle the occasional home repair, a cordless tool is one of the most practical, versatile and easy-to-use-tools you can buy.