Schmidt Power Tools : A Guide To Comparing 18V Power Tool Batteries - 1
Today i`m going to have a bit of a chat about cordless tool batteries, particularly 18v batteries since that`s what most people are using and because a battery is not just a battery anymore and customers constantly ask me which are the best. So hopefully this will help at least one person out there who is wondering from a technical point of view which battery has the best advantages.
Anything written here is just intended to help my customers make a more informed decision as to which system they want to go with. Nothing more and nothing less. I`m a makita LXT user myself but i try to be as unbiased as possible, so your welcome to take it or leave it. My opinion comes from 20 years as a carpenter and several years of running a high turnover Tool Store. So i have a pretty good idea of what i`m talking about.
We are in the age of smart batteries now and the new batteries on offer from different companies have pros and cons that need to be looked at in a little detail, since the battery is a very important part of the system and they arn`t cheap.
Ok so let`s as quick as we can take a look at the 4 main players in the market and what they offer.
Dewalt, Makita, Milwaukee & Hitachi.
Those 4 Manufacturers batteries can be easily split into two groups,
Those with smarter batteries and those without.
What`s a smart battery
That`s what we call batteries that have a good form of voltage, current, heat, & overload protection for the li-ion cells inside.
Why do you need that & why is that important
To put it simply the heat limit of a li-ion battery is only 50 degrees C versus the older ni-cd batteries that handled 75 degrees before taking damage and NI-MH that handled 65C. So there is a big issue with damaging li-ion batteries in power tools by getting them too hot. Fast discharges in high load tools really heats them up. So a battery having protection against over heating is a big deal if you want to get a good lifespan from a li-ion battery.
Or alternately having a tool that can fit ni-cd batteries and li-ion batteries to give you options is also a good idea.
So here`s where we get to the 2 groups of normal versus smart batteries
Dewalt & Makita:
MAKITA 18V LXT LI-ION:
Makita currently uses sony cells in the BL1830 & BL1815 LXT Makita batteries and these are the biggest seller in the market by far. They are regarded as one of the best conventional li-ion cells available and are very reliable. Makita batteries have a very low fault rate straight out of the factory and it`s very unusual for me to see a battery that won`t charge out of the factory or that dies after only a few cycles.
The problem with these batteries is that they don`t switch off and stay off of when they get too hot or over discharged. They may switch some of the tools off when they get too hot but it`s usually just a matter of switching it back on and it will start again. The battery doesn`t stay switched off like some of the other brands do now. Most people simply don`t realise the battery is to hot and try to keep using it. That`s how they take damage. These batteries can also be discharged to the point of death, it will not switch off once it gets too flat and that can prevent a makita battery from being recharged again. If it gets too flat to run the protection circuit inside the cordless drill battery it can trip the fire protection switch designed to stop the power tool battery from exploding when being recharged and from there that`s it you`ve got a dead battery that won`t recharge in the charger.
Yes they can explode & make quite a big bang if they do. I`ll put it too you this way if a li-ion power tool battery ever starts smoking in your hand and you want to keep your hand, then you`d want to quickly throw that battery as far away as possible.
The Makita LXT power tool batteries have been on the market for a while now and the technology is getting outdated it does offer some protection but it`s not enough in my opinion. Other companies have released batteries with better protection, making them more idiot proof. Makita users need to manage heat in their batteries or they will destroy batteries with in a year or two with over heating and over discharging issues. Hence why i don`t think they are the best power tool battery.
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