BATTERIES 101 – HOW TO MAKE YOUR POWER TOOL BATTERIES WORK BETTER AND LAST LONGER

in News

We declared the winner of the great cordless VS corded power tool debate in our previous post.  Quick and dirty summary? Cordless power tools rule. And until some mad scientist finds a way of using nuclear fusion to power them, batteries are part of the deal. So here’s the low down on how to make your power tool batteries not only work better, but last longer.

BATTERY DO'S

1) Keep it cool

Unlike Marilyn Monroe in her 1959 blockbuster, Some Like It Hot, batteries definitely DO NOT! In fact, heat is the number one enemy of power tools. Fortunately it’s also the one thing you have most control over.

  • Temperatures up to 40 degrees Celsius are a very comfortable space for batteries. If you’re working with your power tool outside on a hot day, best not let it sit in the blazing sun for half an hour while you take a break. But even more important is what you do when it’s not in use. If your shed or garage gets very hot, rather store it inside. Of course a boiling attic or your car boot is a definite no-go.
  • Batteries get warm when charging. Pop the battery off the charger as soon as it’s charged as overcharging can damage it. Also allow it to cool down for a few minutes before putting it back to work. (You don’t want annoying down time because of charging, so a second battery that you can immediately swap it out for is a great way to go.)

The reverse also applies – batteries get warm during use, so allow them to cool down a bit before you pop them back on a charger. It really makes a difference in extending the life of a battery.

Cold is also an enemy of batteries, but we’re talking serious sub-zero stuff here. Unless you live in the coldest place in SA (apparently Sutherland in the Karoo has that honour) and the biggest cold front in the history of mankind hits, you really have nothing to worry about.

Bosch 6.0ah Battery GBA 18v-li-6.0ah
Bosch 6.0ah Battery GBA 18v-li-6.0ah
R 1,650.00 R 1,999.00

2) Keep it dry

Power and water is like petrol and fire, best not to let them mix. Battery housing is designed to draw moisture away from the cells, but once the damage is done, it’s done. Avoid working near or in very wet areas; don’t knock that cup of sweet tea over your power tool and if it does get wet, remove the battery, wipe it with a soft cloth and leave it to dry. Maybe you’ll be lucky. Also ensure you store batteries (and in fact any power tool) in a dry place. Our top tip for making sure you never have moisture damage? Lining your storage shelves and bins with some cheap silica gel packs.

Bosch GBA 18V 6.0ah Battery X 2 + GAL 1880 CV Charger X 1

Bosch GBA 18V 6.0ah Battery X 2 + GAL 1880 CV Charger X 1 
R 5,405.00 R 6,500.00  

3) Charge it

Older school Ni-cad batteries, still found in some cheaper power tool models, have a reputation for building up battery memory. In this case deep discharging is the way to go to try and rectify it. Fortunately the modern Lithium-Ion batteries you’ll find in any mid-level to premium power tools are more sophisticated. They won’t develop battery memory. In fact, it’s best NOT to let them run lower than 20-30% before you recharge. Popping them in the charger for short periods for a quick top-up is also perfectly all right.

As for storage? There’s a reason that manufacturers ship batteries half charged – it’s their happy place. If you know you’re storing your batteries for more than a couple of days, go ahead and get them to a half-charged state.

Makita Battery 18V Li-Ion 5.0Ah (BL1850B)

Makita Battery 18V Li-Ion 5.0Ah (BL1850B) 
R 2,300.00 R 2,750.00

4) Treat it like a baby

Batteries will break if bashed about. Lying in the bed of your truck knocking against other tools is not the way to go. Storing them with loads of other objects that can rub against their points and damage them is not the thing to do either. Rather wrap them up snugly in the original packaging or a soft cloth. If you have many batteries, consider investing in a special battery box.

Makita Battery 18V Li-Ion 5.0Ah (BL1850B)

Makita RC Charger 18V Li-ion Fast Charger (DC18RC
R 1,215.00 R 1,925.00

5) Read the fine print

Do read the instructions that come with your model. Focus especially on what the various LED lights on your battery mean. Most folks know green means good. It’s the red lights you want to pay attention to because they provide a lot of information about not just the battery, but the power tool too.

Ryobi Battery 18V Li-Ion 4.0Ah (XB-4000)

Ryobi Battery 18V Li-ion 4.0Ah ( XB-4000) 
R 1,335.00 R 1,650.00

Need more expert advice? Pop on over to Toolcityonline, but not before you’ve checked out our GREAT DEALS on Bosch, Ryobi and Makita batteries and chargers.

Ryobi Battery 18V Li-Ion 3.0Ah (XB-3000)

Ryobi Battery 18V Li-Ion 3.0Ah (XB-3000) 
R 1,235.00 R 1,450.00

Ryobi Smart Charger 18V Li-Ion 4.0A (XPP-9000)

Ryobi Smart Charger 18V Li-Ion 4.0A (XPP-9000) 
R 555.00 R 785.00