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Old 11-29-12, 09:47 PM   #1
greif
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Default Cordless lithium tools

asking anyone who has had lithium cordless tools for a few years or more, how is the life span of them? do you get many years worth out of them? I am thinking about buying some 18v milwaukees but a few people have told me the life span is short only a year or 2.
I've had my Milwaukee 14.4 nicad for ten years of hard use and finally the batteries are starting to die
With all the sales now wondering weather I should go for it or is battery lifespan too short?

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Old 11-30-12, 07:36 AM   #2
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So far I've had good life out of my cordless lithium tools. I have a Makita drill and impact driver that I've had for 2-3 years and a Ryobi cordless weed wacker that I've had for 3 years now too. None of them seem to have suffered any diminished capacity thus far. I don't use them a TON, but I do use them. I'm also careful to maintain them and not drain them until the battery is totally dead too.
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Old 11-30-12, 01:19 PM   #3
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Likewise. So far so good with a Craftsman lithium battery for a combo set of which I normally use a drill and circular saw. Previously I used two nicad batteries with the set which survived some extensive boat restoration project. They both finally died, after being resuscitated a few times with high-current jolts to each cell from a 12V battery. Replaced about 3 years ago with the smaller lithium battery sears sells. Haven't seen as intensive of use, but so far I'm impressed. More charge, no under current/voltage issues, and it hasn't diminished noticeably yet like the nicad did. That said, I also try to make sure the battery isn't ever drained fully and probably only seen the equivalent of 100-200 full cycles in that period.

From what I understand lithium cells lifetime is determined by the number of cycles the cell has undergone, not how it is stored or memory effects. Thus they need to be used differently than nicads. I also suspect there are cell quality differences (QA binning at least) but don't have enough experience to fully comment on that. I know from electronics work and using some 1.5KWH lithium batteries for AUV work that swapping lithium cells isn't hard as long as a similar form factor can be found, but prices seem to vary depending on source. And keeping the inside of the cell dry is important...and the resulting fire is hard to put out
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Old 11-30-12, 09:35 PM   #4
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I can say now after a couple years that not only have my Li-Ion batteries lasted MUCH longer than my Ni-Cad counterparts, they charge faster, are smaller and lighter. I personally like the Milwaukee drills better for a number of reasons. Makita is a far second. The once great DeWalt seems to have floundered as of late. If you are interested in my reasons just ask. If you are just interested in something for regular stuff most will probably work for you including Ryobi. But the lower end versions might not be as robust in the long run. I have killed a number of 12v Ryobi batteries and drills. I like 12v drills for some tasks as they don't go bananas with speed when doing things like electrical work.
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Old 12-01-12, 01:48 AM   #5
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I have a makita drill that I've had for 5 years and two Makita impact drivers at work that we've had for 4 years each, they all get used hard, my drill I've had repaired a few times due to extreme use, using it with a hole saw, in an attic that was over 130F and around dust, sometimes all of those together, so I've melted the plastic in the motor a few times but the batteries hold up great! they do not stand being discharged 100% dead, so when the motor slows to a crawl STOP!!! do not nudge it along to finish the screw or you will kill the battery, that is the ONLY time I've killed a battery.
Before this I owed two DeWalt cordless drills, one is dead, bearings are wore out, batteries are shot, motor runs hot, the other has batteries that are shot.. I've had the packs rebuilt and those last a year, new packs last two, I use my tools hard!
At work I even make an adapter so I could put lithium batteries on the NiCad driver, best idea ever!
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Old 12-01-12, 06:54 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Ryland View Post
At work I even make an adapter so I could put lithium batteries on the NiCad driver, best idea ever!
How does this work?
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Old 12-01-12, 10:07 AM   #7
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I would like to get some 18v because my nicads are finally dieing but we have a lot of them at work and the batteries only last a year or 2 no matter how many charges so the scares me as I do not want to have to keep buying batteries ... a cheap skate.... I already ordered the Milwaukee with the big sales but now this week many coworkers told me about the problems... I am a designer and programmer so don't use them since I'm not running machines anymore. They all complained about their own drills at home too.
So do I send the Milwaukee back? Love my old Milwaukee 14.4 but would love a 1/4 impact driver which can no longer get in nicad based.

What about rigid, a few coworkers have them and are happy since they have a lifetime service agreement which is a lot of paperwork to get but replaces hardware or batteries if they die

What to do........ I have this problem when there is too many chooses on a menu to... what to get?

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Old 12-01-12, 04:13 PM   #8
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I have come to the conclusion to rebuild my battery packs.
My Ryobi 14.4v drill batteries are giving up the ghost.
The plan is to rebuild them with 18650 lithium cells if i can find some cheap..if not more Ni-cads.
If i end up going with Ni-cads again I'll install another 4 volts for a total of 18v, giving the drill a nice boost.
Right now the battery charger charges the 14.4v batteries to 17 volts.
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Old 12-01-12, 04:51 PM   #9
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Ni-cads do well laying dead for months even years at a time, Lithium not so much. Lithium does not like to sit fully charged, it wears the battery out if you let it self discharge from full, you should half discharge them before you store them.
Lithium are highly voltage sensitive, do not overcharge them by even 1 volt, a 1 volt over charge would damage and kill them. Always use the approved charger..
Never drain lithium batteries, you can double or triple their recharge cycle count by not draining, mind you, you may burn threw the cycles slightly faster.

Last edited by ecomodded; 12-02-12 at 01:07 AM.. Reason: add more
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Old 12-02-12, 01:22 AM   #10
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To fit a lithium battery on to an old NiCad tool I took a sheet of 1/4" thick plastic sheet (nylon I think) and a chunk of plastic cutting board, I mimiced the lithium tool mounting by making little tracks out of strips of the cutting board and screwing it to the 1/4" thick plastic, that 1/4" plastic also got a grove cut in it that the latch from the battery snaps in to to keep the battery in place, contacts are made out of flat copper sheet, the lithium batteries slide on the tracks and make contact with the copper, clicking in to place just like they were on the stock tool, that whole plate then gets glued to the bottom of the old tool and wired in.
Old tool was 14.4v new battery is 18v, works perfect for over a year!

All of the cuts to make the track were done with a table saw and a utility knife, everything was screwed together using small counter sunk wood screws.

I've done this for DeWalt lithium tool batteries as well for my electric bike and I have 6 of these mounts that I am no longer using that fit the 36v DeWalt batteries if anyone is interested in them, I pulled the battery packs apart to make a single large pack for my lawn mower.

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