Cordless Drill Batteries

In our cordless drill review series let's have a look at the cordless drill batteries, one of the most important single components of a battery drill.

This cordless drill batteries section is part of a multi-part article series on cordless drills. The initial main review of the best cordless drill can be found here.

When it comes to decide which is the right cordless drill for your needs, the main question starts on deciding " How many Volts a Cordless Drill Battery should have? "

Different Drill Batteries in 1.2 V Steps

Cordless drill battery packs are based on single 1.2Volt battery cells. These cells connected in a row are what makes the different sizes for rechargeable batteries for drills. Small cordless screwdrivers start from 2.4 V to 7.2 V in steps (2.4V , 3.6V , 4.8 V, 6 V , 7.2Volt). The foremost basic - or - main cordless drill segment was used 9.6 Volt battery packs, quickly moving upwards to the 10.8 V sizes.

Exactly the Same Voltage (Power) - but Different Amp Hour ( Ah )
Picture shows 2 similar Makita lithium battery packs (18 Volt) for cordless drills and other cordless power tools.

On cordless drills with much more power and torque, batteries with 14.4 V and mostly 18Volt are used nowadays. Above these levels some manufacturers such as DeWalt, Makita or Bosch offer 24 V , 28.8 V and even 36 Volt batteries, mostly used in cordless hammer drills.

Amps and Voltage the Key Indicators on Power Tool Batteries

Whenever you compare different cordless drill replacement batteries you want to compare the two main indicators:

  • Amps - Ampere per hours - Ah - gives you an indication on how long the battery will provide the power
  • Volt - V - Indicates how much power the power tool battery will deliver

Amps per Hour or Ah - or What kind of batteries for cordless drill will last longer ?

Battery pack to the left comes with 1.5 Ah , while the one shown on the right provides 3.0 Ah. Same voltage means similar power, but more Ah will provide the power for a much longer time at the expense of and increase in battery size and weight.

Lithium Battery Drills - Currently the most advanced Drill Batteries

Examine closely the type of battery included with the power tool you look at. Currently, there are still three different types of cordless drill batteries on the market:

  • Ni-Cd - (Nickel-Cadmium)
  • Ni-MH - (Nickel-Metal Hydride)
  • Li-Ion - (Lithium Ion)
Nickel - Cadmium
Nickel-Metal Hydride
Lithium Ion
Rechargeable Nickel-Cadmium Ni-Cd batteries have been around for the longest time. These types of replacement batteries could be called somewhat "First Generation". Low in capacity (Ah), get warm during charging and come with a significant "memory effect" for non-empty recharging. Somewhat seen as the second generation in cordless drill batteries, nickel-metal hydride Ni-MH batteries are already a significant improvement over Ni-CD akku packs.
Rechargeable Ni-MH battery packs offer:

  • More capacity of up to 2-times more
  • Service Life increase of up to 50%

compared to Nickel-Cadmium batteries.

The latest generation in battery technology is lithium ion. These batteries as a general rule of thumb come with:

  • More charging cycles - up to 5 times
  • Improved run time of up to 2 times
  • During Recharging - absolutely no "memory effect"

This is the type of drill battery you want your cordless drill come with if you are a professional woodworker!

What Type of Cordless Drill Batteries Should I look for?

As with all cordless drill parts you want to find the right kind of battery for you. Considering you are a professional woodworker, cabinet maker, framer or any type of professional in the trade you what to go for Lithium Ion batteries. Not only do they provide the most lasting power (higher Ah) they also come with lots less weight. And less weight is what separates an excellent from a mediocre cordless drill.

Should I upgrade existing cordless drills to Lithium Ion battery packs?

All types of power tool batteries have a limited lifespan. Some last one to two years, some last longer, but loose capacity over time. When it comes to buy new replacement batteries for your cordless drills you might want to consider buying the more advanced Li-Ion packs. However, check the following before upgrading your drill batteries:

  • Do the new Li-Ion batteries fit my old cordless drill model ?
  • Will I need a new charger - for lithium ion batteries ?
  • How much expensive are li-ion batteries compared to Ni-Cd or Ni-MH types?

Those are the areas you want to check with your cordless drill dealer before you decide on upgrading and replacing any old cordless drill battery.

After looking in detail on the various types of cordless drill batteries available, lets have now a closer look into cordless battery charger types and how those can become an expensive accessory.
Back to part 5 of
<< Battery Drills
Cordless Drill Batteries
Read on with part 7
Cordless Drill Battery Charger >>
Battery pack to the left comes with 1.5 Ah , while the one shown on the right provides 3.0 Ah. Same voltage means similar power, but more Ah will provide the power for a much longer time at the expense of and increase in battery size and weight.
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