Monday, March 8, 2010

Toolsmartz - Column #6 -Cordless battery life

Part 2 of the Taylor-Tot story will need to wait for a bit, we’ve got a question from Mark that needs answering…and it’s a goody. “Tom: Why do the batteries for cordless devices fail and what can be done to extend their life?” Mark, today’s cordless tool batteries are way beyond the technology of what they used to be, but they still get the most cordless tool complaints.

I’ll tell you what I know. Basically, batteries are devices that convert chemical energy into electrical energy. When the chemical reaction is depleted the battery is "dead". To my knowledge nothing can be done to "extend" the battery life. Eventually, batteries will just get ‘used up’. There are steps which help slow the chemical reaction, but nothing will take a battery that was designed for 1000 charge cycles to 1500 charge cycles.

The best method for slowing that chemical reaction is to avoid deep discharges. Use the battery in the tool until it will no longer do the job you’re attempting, and then charge it. Also, make sure your charger is a ‘smart charger’. Most chargers of the name brands have this feature. It reduces the charger output level as the battery’s charge comes back up. Some of the lower cost brands may not have that and when a charger keeps slamming a full charge into the battery – the heat it creates really shortens the battery life. Batteries hate heat.

Naturally, dropping a battery may crack the case or damage internal components, so you want to avoid that. I personally have an older 19.2v Porter-Cable drill and I have 3 batteries for it. Two of them work just fine and have for over 5 years. The third one just barely holds a charge for a really short time and probably should be recycled. My point being that if one takes good care of their batteries, it is possible to get some good life out of them, but when they are dead…there’s no way to revive them and it’s time to buy a fresh battery.

Keep them cool and they will help keep you from ‘losing your cool’.
I hope that info helps you, Mark. Thanks for writing!

Hopefully, we’ll have another answer for our readers next week, but if not, tune in for Part 2 of the Taylor-Tot story that we missed.
Send your questions or comments to: and we’ll see what we can do to help you.
Any views or opinions presented in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of this newspaper. Neither the author, nor this newspaper, accepts any liability for the content of this article, or for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided.

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