Cordless power tools

Buck91

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Wasn't really sure if I should post here or in the Batteries section so apologies if its the wrong place. I'd like to add a cordless impact driver to my stable but I'm a little hesitant to invest in cordless any more. Historically, if you get more than a couple years out of a battery you are doing pretty good. Add that to the high self discharge the NiCD cells had and it was a recipe for never having a charged pack when you needed it.

Do the newer lithium packs solve these issues? I would think self discharge would be minimal as it is with most other li-ion cells out there... but what about service life? Last thing I need is to be looking at replacing all my bad packs again every couple years. At this point I've switched to a corded drill again and since I don't have a good air setup currently my electric 1/2in impact has been serving great.

Any suggestions on a good 1/4 or 3/8 electric impact? I see the Black and Decker, which is attractively priced... But its also a black and decker.
 

mattheww50

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Generally the Lithium Ion batteries have much better storage characteristics then NiCd's in terms of self charge. However when stored for long periods of time at high charge states, it actually does tend to reduce the life of the cell. The major impact of Lithium Ion cells is on total weight. The NiCd pack for an 18-24 volt system (which is what you need for any sort of heavy duty application) is several times the weight of a Lithium Ion battery with comparable energy storage capacity. However Lithium Ion chargers need to be a lot smarter, and in a pack, the voltage on the individual cells has to be monitored during charging. NiCd's generally don't do much if you overcharge them. Overcharging a Lithium Ion cell often has very unpleasant consequences, like burning your house down. So the total cost of a typical Lithium Ion powered tool tends to be higher than that of NiCd. NiCd batteries are relative inexpensive, and the charger doesn't have to be especially smart. The same cannot be said for Lithium Ion battery chargers.
 

ven

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As above, the lithium packs are so much better. I use dewalt (Milwaukee are good as well) 1/4 impact with up to 205nm, a 1/2” impact with 450nm or near 800nm breakaway. Also dewalt drill. Will get some pics up later when I get home, have a few of the battery packs inside. the 4a and 5a packs have 10 x 18650 in, 2000mah for the 4a and 2500mah for the 5a. UK show 18v, USA marketed at 20v. Packs are 20.68v ish charged.

Before I got the 1/2” impact, I simple used a Milwaukee 1/4 to 1/2 drive for larger impact sockets. Amazing power this little beast has! It’s 3 speed, 1 I use on m5/m6 fasteners, any larger mode 2. Don’t really need level 3 that often ,level 2 has enough power to pretty much strip m12 bolts if not careful.

Although mine are are not used in anger, I might use 3 or 4 days in a week. Couple of silos for inspections may require undoing 12 or so 19mm bolts x2 and locking up. Then guards and other bits in the week. Filter housing doors with around 30 or so 24mm bolts.
Before putting on charge, with a MM, I have not seen the voltage bellow 20v yet. So it’s literally topped off at the end of the week. Of course the battery has a built in check with 3 LEDs for ease.
Could not live without my little drivers now, makes my work so much easier/quicker/less repetitive .
Not sure on Milwaukee , but dewalt offer 3yrs warranty when sign up.

I don’t think you can go too wrong with most of the bigger brands, I would look ahead and maybe think what else would be of use. See which manufacturer may cater for your needs down the line, all you need to do is buy the bodies and share the battery packs.
Will add some pics later today.
 

ven

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I am sure the 4a pack use 20R cells, 5a use 25R but thats off memory(not the best ha)
3Gr00YSl.jpg


OIX3ZKVl.jpg


So although they are expensive, even if you say $5 a cell, thats $50 straight away in batteries.

I use the 4a on the 1/4 drive, 205nm if required, plenty powerful for most stuff
PTKBnPol.jpg


Big stuff, mode 1 is the same as mode 3 on the 1/4 drive, 200nm. So on smaller fasteners care is needed. 450nm fastening on 2 and 3, 800nm breakaway on all levels 1,2 and3
tCD10bHl.jpg


Not a massive difference in pic, but quite a bit more weight in the 1/2(to be expected)
oZoU1HWl.jpg


Drill as well, so if needed can swap around batteries if any do get run down(yet to happen)
z5hqJlyl.jpg
 

AVService

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Don't know where you are but if in USA the Rigid tools offer a lifetime battery warranty.
Kind of tough to fault that!
If you find what you need in the Rigid line then your batteries fears might be taken care of.

I use Milwaukee and Makita mostly and am thrilled in general with the newest versions of the Lithium Packs but also have had nothing but trouble with the tiny original Milwaukee M12 packs,they all died straight away on me?
The new larger M12 packs have been OK though.
 

louie

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Personally, I think if you feel you'd like a new cordless tool and would benefit from one, go ahead and get one! But, I would try to step up from Black and Decker and at least go with their Dewalt line or similar competitors, hopefully on sale.

Not sure if you can even get nicad tools nowadays - but the LiIon tools now are smaller, lighter and more powerful, with no self discharge.

However, I would just expect to get new battery packs every 3-4 years. I feel that's just the cost of cordless tools. I, too, hated nicads - heavy, self discharged, would go bad after a couple years even if not used very much, ugh. I would try to replace nicads myself, but couldn't find good replacement cells any cheaper than buying a new, name-brand pack.

Where we'll get burned is if the manufacturers stop making the replacement packs with good cells. Then you just have to buy new tools. Hopefully that will take 10-15 years, and might be time for a new tool anyway.
 

ven

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Ridgid look good, can only (say only as imho its pretty good for a battery) 3yrs on the web site. Still its better than dewalts 1yr.
 

alpg88

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i still use nicd tools, have Milwaukee and de walt drills. jig saw, saw zall, i also have makita li ion drill and driver, original nicd batteries are pretty good, i had about 4-5 years out of each, other brands like skill, black and decker.... that use 2\3sub c sells are total garbage. no one makes good 2\3sub c cells, those are the reason why nicd gets bad rep. yea they lose in weight\capapcity to li ion. my makita set came with 2ah li ion cells, oem dewalt is 2,4 but it does weigh like 2x as much, so far i do not consider replacing them, they work great. i discharge nicd packs pretty low when i store them, only charge them before i need to use them, i use 12v bipin bulb to drain them when i'm done. storing them fully charged is what shortens their life.
 
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CobraMan

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Milwaukee all the way for me - their ergonomics, balance, power, versatility, and compact size = win in my book. I have their 1/4 brushless impact driver (M12 2553-20/22) and this bad boy generates a maximum of 100 ft-lbs of torque! Also love their cordless ratchets and have all 3 sizes (1/4, 3/8, and 1/2) amongst the myriad of drills, drivers, oscillating tool, cutoff saw, and rotary tool.

None of them have ever let me down or required service.

Cheers,
Tim
 

iamlucky13

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A lot of consolidation of brands has happened, along with more complex arrangements like license manufacturing (Craftsman has multiple suppliers, including Black and Decker and Techtronic, who also make Ryobi tools for Home Depot).

These tools tend to be marketed in a hierarchy. Very roughly, here's examples of some of the above relationships lumped into families of generally ascending quality:

Black and Decker: Black and Decker < Porter Cable < Dewalt.

Bosch: Skil < Skilsaw and Dremel < Bosch

Milwaukee: Ryobi < Ridgid < Milwaukee

There has been a similar tier structure with Craftsman and Craftsman Pro branded tools.

There's also still a handful of brands that still operate effectively independently in the tool market, such as Makita and Hitachi.

For routine, but non-professional use like my own, I tend to stay away from the bottom tier. That would normally mean I don't recommend Ryobi, but that's what I bought into a decade+ ago when I was on a tight budget, and to my surprise, all my Ryobi cordless tools have worked great for semi-regular use in terms of both reliability and capability.

A major reason for this is, I'm sure, that Ryobi effectively has multiple tiers within the brand. Some of their models are clearly entry level, for only occassional use by homeowners with small projects. Others seem to be basically on par with some of the Ridgid branded tools.
 

AVService

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Tool-Brand-Behemoths-Tool-Companies-Who-Owns-What-Brands.jpg



A lot of consolidation of brands has happened, along with more complex arrangements like license manufacturing (Craftsman has multiple suppliers, including Black and Decker and Techtronic, who also make Ryobi tools for Home Depot).

These tools tend to be marketed in a hierarchy. Very roughly, here's examples of some of the above relationships lumped into families of generally ascending quality:

Black and Decker: Black and Decker < Porter Cable < Dewalt.

Bosch: Skil < Skilsaw and Dremel < Bosch

Milwaukee: Ryobi < Ridgid < Milwaukee

There has been a similar tier structure with Craftsman and Craftsman Pro branded tools.

There's also still a handful of brands that still operate effectively independently in the tool market, such as Makita and Hitachi.

For routine, but non-professional use like my own, I tend to stay away from the bottom tier. That would normally mean I don't recommend Ryobi, but that's what I bought into a decade+ ago when I was on a tight budget, and to my surprise, all my Ryobi cordless tools have worked great for semi-regular use in terms of both reliability and capability.

A major reason for this is, I'm sure, that Ryobi effectively has multiple tiers within the brand. Some of their models are clearly entry level, for only occassional use by homeowners with small projects. Others seem to be basically on par with some of the Ridgid branded tools.
 

ven

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Interesting, never knew bahco was owned by snap on. Although i do prefer snap on, bahco has been a good brand for cheap cost. I have their 1/4,3/8 and 1/2" socket sets(along with screw drivers etc etc). Pretty good!
 

Lynx_Arc

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I have black & decker and porter cable 20v tools and they work fine for light to medium duty work for the price they are worth it compared to the cost of more expensive dewalt and milwaukee and makita etc. The advantage of my tools is the battery connection is identical only the plastic tabs and cases of the battery packs differ I've modded most of the batteries to be cross compatible with the chargers and a lot of the tools. The weak point of these batteries is capacity and runtime but you can get 4A porter cable batteries that do a lot better under loads than the 1.3A to 2A batteries. I've used a porter cable impact a lot at work and a porter cable reciprocating saw also. One thing that is sort of disappointing is the flashlights for the series which the best one is hard to find as it typically comes only in a set while the other lights are smd LEDs or 5mm LED based with not a lot of throw or output in lumens. The only light that looks interesting is a 90 dollar area light for porter cable I think about 1000 lumens or so that is 20v or corded.
I previously had 9v dewalt and 12v generic nicad drills and these 20v lithium ion drills blow them all away big time.
I recommend you first look into all the accessories of a series of sets of power tools before investing as some sets have things others don't like band saws and high output hammer drills and flashlights and area lighting and saws. For really heavy usage brushless drills and impacts will give you better service
 

idleprocess

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A lot of Milwaukee, DeWalt, Makita love. I'll buck the trend.

I've had an expanding set of Ryobi ONE+ tools for about 10 years and have found them to be more than sufficient for the home gamer. Outside of the terrible pack-in 1.2Ah batteries and one failing ~1.5Ah Lithium+ battery the 4Ah batteries have yet to let me down. The tools have worked for dozens of projects including a 120ft² shed build exclusively using piloted screws that I'm wrapping up. I have managed to nearly kill the ~10 year old 6.5" circular saw through abuse and neglect (mostly neglect - it got rained on at least once). Otherwise, the kit drill of ~10 years ago, a lower-end 1/4" impact driver, a 90 degree drill, a leaf blower (best described as a hard-surface air sweeper), and a HID spotlight have not given me problems.

Battery lifespan on the 40V outdoor system is another matter (Of 3 the 2.6Ah batteries I got with tools, 1 is dead, 1 is all but dead, and 1 is marginal after ~4 years), but those packs work extremely hard under almost continuous load unlike the handheld power tools.

I wouldn't recommend Ryobi ONE+ for anything significantly more serious than my usage. If you're a professional on a job site or a far more serious hobbyist than me you might find some of the better makes to be worth your money. I would, however, not suggest buying handheld cordless power tools as if they're going to last more than a lifetime - odds are these various "systems" will be abandoned at some point once something newer and better-er comes along and you're faced with the prospect of rebuilding proprietary battery packs and trying to work around various DRM trickery and other inconveniences. Your granddad's set of indestructible mid-century Craftsman tools these aren't - those days are gone and don't look to be coming back in this era of shareholder value.

A curious testament to the durability of Ryobi ONE+ tools is that the Dallas Makerspace has them in their workshop where they see far higher levels of use than mine and each tool seems to last for roughly two years. Makerspace members are not terribly ginger with those tools - they're dropped, overworked, run over by cars, tortured and hold up better than the disdain one sees for Ryobi suggests they should. They've surely murdered some of those tools, but there was malice and intent behind every such crime against tools unlike the few times we experimented with tools we didn't think that even Harbor Freight could screw up which were good for the traditional job-and-a-half.

There are many tricks to maximizing lithium-ion cordless tool battery lifespan in my experience:
  • Pay the premium for larger batteries (look for twofer specials and other sales). Longer runtime is the obvious benefit. They can also deliver more power to demanding tasks (I know that some of Ryobi's nailers demand the 4Ah batteries or better). But the real bonus is longevity - lower C rates means less stress on the chemistry, more capacity means fewer cycles, and both contribute to a longer working life. An added bonus of most larger batteries across manufacturers is that they're typically series-parallel unlike the smaller ones that are arranged in series - this means current through each series is nominally half for a 2P design (most large standalone batteries), a third for a 3P design (such as the ONE+ 9Ah monster).
  • Don't leave batteries in tools long term. Modern cordless tools almost always have some sort of standby drain - be it from the unfortunate DRM (limits tools to use authorized batteries and batteries to only accept authorized tools/chargers) that's in a number of systems as well as realtime communication between tool and battery to monitor and manage performance.
  • Don't leave batteries in chargers long term. Once it's charged, take it out. Similar to leaving batteries in tools for long periods, this tends to drain the battery.
  • Store batteries at partial charge. If there's a fuel gauge, it should be around half. If you have a DMM, ~3.6V per cell is ideal (i.e. the 5S ONE+ should be at its nominal 3.6V x 5 = 18V). If you have neither, store it after finishing as job without charging. This does mean that you might have to plan ahead before your next job, but unlike NiCd, Li-Ion batteries generally charge quickly.

I persistently failed to do the latter three for the first few years, killing the batteries I mentioned in the first paragraph. I believe they can be rebuilt (Ryobi's DRM doesn't seem to brick itself on 0 volts unlike some other makes) but that's surgery I'm not sure I want to perform; if I do, I'll be looking at at least 2Ah cells so maybe they'll live longer lives.
 

simm

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I use 20v DeWalt tools on a daily basis for residential window installation. They work great.
 

ven

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I use 20v DeWalt tools on a daily basis for residential window installation. They work great.

I do wonder why in the UK(maybe other parts to) are marketed at 18v, yet USA side 20v. Same other than the V writing on the label, mine measure 20.6+ when charged. UK seem to market nominal V

I use my 1/4 impact the most, maybe 3 or 4 days a week. The 1/2 once a week, odd times twice. I have had a common issue across the 2x 1/4 drives and 1/2 which did not show straight away. Took some figuring out as well to fault find. This was after returning a driver and buying a 3rd battery. Long story short, during impacting the driver would loose power(cut out so LED light off which gives a clue). It was not all the time, so intermittent issue. Fix was to slightly bend the battery contacts on the driver out which holds battery more secure. Not talking much, not had issue since on all batteries and impacts, no matter how hard i try/use. I cant be the only one, but could find nothing on it at all.........

So a while in now and very happy and would say dependable/reliable since the "tweak" . The impact action must have been breaking contact for a split second, here and there.
 

kaichu dento

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Up until recently I was in the ultra-compact category with first Milwaukee, followed by Bosch for the last couple of years. Great tools for those not needing lots of power but I finally gave in and got a pair of 20V Porter Cable brushless tools and am finally back into 'plugged in' range of power again. Lot longer runtime and torque too.
 

orbital

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+

Lithium power combined w/ brushless motors are a great investment.


I have some Milwaukee & Hitachi brushless tools
 

NoNotAgain

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I do wonder why in the UK(maybe other parts to) are marketed at 18v, yet USA side 20v. Same other than the V writing on the label, mine measure 20.6+ when charged. UK seem to market nominal V.

It’s all about marketing. By claiming 20V, DeWalt sounds like it’s more powerful than other makers 18V line.
Most honest companies use the nominal voltage, Black&Decker Dewalt, Porter Cable, all owned by Stanley Tools, uses charged voltage.

They’re not the only one doing this. Bosch has had 10.8 V a driver, both straight as well as an adjustable head version (0-90 degree). I own both. Same basic battery size as the Milwaukee 12 V battery pack.

Went looking for another pair of batteries only to find the 10.8 V batteries were no longer available. Further digging yielded that Bosch now uses charged voltage for advertising purposes, so the tools have been rebranded as 12 volt tools.

The difference in marketing between the UK and the USA probably has to do with tougher laws in the UK.

On another note. My old Makita 12 volt drills that were NiCad power, I changed them over to NiMH cells. They’ve got 2X the capacity of the NiCad version. The Chinese replacement battery packs are junk.
 

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