If you have bought any type of cordless tool, including a cordless drill, then the most important part of that will be the battery. There may be plenty of features on your drill, but without a reliable battery to power it up, the drill is pretty useless. There is no doubt that cordless drills are a great thing to have as they just make everything that much easier to do. If you look after the battery properly, then it will last for several years, before it needs replaced.
Types of Cordless Drill Batteries
if you would like to find out about the different types of batteries available for your cordless drill, then please click here to read a detailed article on the choices available. This particular article is about how to look after them and help extend their useful life. We all know that these batteries are not cheap, so we will want to maximise their life span.
A typical stand alone battery costs on average around $40 so these are not cheap. By taking just a little care you can easily add a year of life to your battery, and at the end of the day, that will save you money.
General Care of Cordless Batteries
It may sound obvious to keep your battery charged, but unless the drill is being used regularly, then most people forget about it until the next time they need to use it. That is not a good thing in terms of ensuring a long life. Batteries need to be charged and used regularly as that will help keep them functioning to their maximum capacity. Ideally a battery will charge best when it is around 70% of its capacity.
The Complete Discharge Theory
You may have read that you should not charge a battery until it is fully discharged. That is not actually true. You only need to do that about once a month and at all other times you can charge it as and when you may need to use it.
Always allow your battery to FULLY charge – When you do have to give it a quick charge, then leave it plugged in until it is fully and completely charged. There is often a strong temptation to stop the charging, especially if you are in a hurry to finish a job, but it is strongly advisable to wait a few minutes and make sure the battery is 100% charged. That practise alone will really add a lot of life to your battery pack.
It is why we here at Tool and Go recommend always having 2 batteries. You can be using one and allow the other spare battery to fully charge. If you are someone who uses power tools every day, I am guessing you already have worked out that having two batteries is just a great idea.
Lithium-Ion batteries should in theory work forever because they work on the movement of ions. However, like any product, their general treatment and care, temperatures and aging process will also have an impact on these type of batteries.
Storing Your Cordless Drill Battery
Like any battery the life of it can be maintained if the battery is stored in a dry environment. I have seen many batteries left in cold damp garages or workshops, and not looked at for weeks, maybe even months. That is not a good thing to do at all.
If possible store your batteries in a cool dry place. if you got a bag or a case with your cordless drill, then it only takes a few seconds to pop the battery back in there and it will keep it safe.
If you plan on storing your battery away for a few weeks or months, then the ideal charge should be around 40% as at this charge, the battery will last longer.
Should you remove the battery from the drill when not in use?
This is a question that we are asked all of the time. We look at many manuals on a weekly basis, and we have tried removing the battery and also leaving it in the drill. We have not found anything that makes a recommendation either way. Our testing has also shown that there was no difference either way by leaving it in place, or taking it out and storing it in a separate place.
Other Top Tips
Treat your batteries with as much care as you possibly can. Avoid dropping them because they can crack and that will damage them and can break them as well. I have seen people toss batteries into a tool bag to charge later, and the terminals have been shorted out by a screwdriver or a spanner. That causes serious damage to a battery. Most of them come with some sort or plastic protective cover to stop the terminals being shorted out, so hold on to it and use it as well.
The higher torque you use on a drill, or the higher speed that you use on a drill, then the more battery power it will need and will use it up a great deal faster. Many people tend to place their drill on the highest settings available and use that for every job.
You really don’t need to do that, and it takes just seconds to get it on the right settings. It will also make your battery last longer, and not be so tough on it.
Here is a rough guide to the right battery for the right job:
For Light Work – Anything between 7-15 Volts will be find and a 12 volt is ideal
For Medium Work – Either a 12 or 18 volt is ideal or anything in between
For Heavy work – A minimum of 18 or 20 volt or anything bigger
So for example, if you plan on using your cordless drill for drilling metal or as a masonry/hammer drill, then buy one with at least an 18 volt battery pack, or even better a 20 volt battery pack.
Using a lower voltage battery to do really heavy work will very quickly render a smaller voltage battery completely useless, in a very short space of time.
When you buy your cordless drill then it should come with some type of warranty. Unless otherwise stated that will not include a warranty on the battery. With general good care though a battery should last you for around 3-5 years. After that it will need replaced and you will have to buy a new one.
Now there are some really clever people out there who know how to replace the cells inside a battery so as it can be used again. I am not one of those clever people, and to be honest, it just seems a lot more work that it is actually worth. It is also quite a dangerous thing to do and we would not recommend this at all.
I have included a video here of someone doing this on an old Dewalt battery that is almost 10 years old.
Basically he bought a replacement internal cell pack on eBay and replaced it. He also added a warning that they could explode on him. You have probably guessed why we don’t recommend this practise.
In our opinion if you get 5 years out of a battery you have done very well. We also think that after 5 years of drill usage, that unless you initially bought a really expensive drill, it might be time to replace that as well.