When it comes to power tools, there’s nothing more convenient than batteries. They offer flexibility in the worksite, the ability to operate in electrical dead-zones, and the added advantage of portability. Batteries and the way they revolutionized the power-tool gamut was a breaking point in the way the industry operated. Cordless tools have become the go-to staple in most construction sites and because over the years they’ve become more affordable, they’ve also transitioned into the household.
The cordless power tool
The first official cordless power tool came to us by way of Black & Decker in 1961. It was a cutting-edge – for that period – a drill that was powered by a rechargeable nickel-cadmium (NiCad) battery. It was, nonetheless, a bulky, expensive affair, and B&D saw a lot of media attention and a boom in the PR, but little sales.
The breaking point for the lightweight wonders we now hold in our hands came two years later in 1963. The Marin Marietta corporation, impressed by B&D’s design contacted the company — They needed someone to help them fill out a contract. Someone willing to design new innovative cordless power tools. The contract in question? Space exploration. B&D started to work hand in hand with NASA and managed to create a series of lighter tools — most of which could be used in zero gravity and on the moon.
The tool company started developing hundreds of tools for NASA. Their first baby, the zero impact wrench for the Gemini project became national news.
Batteries and cordless tools
The innovation of battery-powered tools was a bittersweet pill to the industry. On one hand, they allowed portability and were extremely convenient. On the other hand, the first models lacked the punch needed for heavy construction work, they were also dependent on runtime and needed faster chargers.
The market wasn’t sold and until the innovation could adjust to the needs of construction crews, cordless tools were considered a joke compared to their tailed counterparts. That all changed in the last couple of years.
Today’s batteries are stronger, more resilient, and better prepared to meet the challenges of a worksite.
Tips on storing and maintaining your battery
Most of the drills and power tools we find in the market right now use three types of batteries: Lithium-ion and Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. They are different but the way of saving battery life is very similar in all three.
Keep batteries charged
It’s critical to keep your batteries charged when they start to fall below the 30% threshold while in use. Batteries should only be fully charged every 20 or 30 or so days.
Store your batteries without charge
If you’re going to store your batteries for a long time you should do so without any charge — particularly for Nickel batteries.
Another important thing to note, if you have a removable battery, it’s better to take the battery out of the power tool or charger before storing it for an extended period.
Use batteries regularly
Batteries like to be used. Be sure to recharge your batteries and take them out for a spin. The chemical reactions in those cells need constant use to work properly.
Keep batteries cool and dry
It’s not necessary to store your batteries in the friend — today’s housing makes that old practice a bit redundant. Nonetheless, you should keep your batteries in a cool environment to preserve the chemicals in those cells in tip-top shape — they are extremely sensitive to heat.
Original case or specialty bag
Store your batteries properly — whether in an original case or a speedily bought cushioned bag. Most batteries come with a special plastic cap when bought, try to always keep this precious item and to always store your battery with it. Why? Those plastic caps prevent the battery from short-circuiting and also protect the terminals/electrodes from breakage or moisture.
Innovative special battery mounts are designed to keep your batteries protected, organized, and on hand. Mounts on walls have easy release press buttons and can be held at any angle. There is a wide range of brands that offer the power tool enthusiast added protection and better battery health over time.
The importance of battery life in cordless tools.
Now, the main issue with these wonders is battery life. Batteries eventually run out of juice. A battery is nothing more than a housed circuit. A casing in which a circuit resides along with three separate sections called cells— think of it as a Tupperware container with an electrical conduit running through 3 divides. On each side of the container, you have positive and negative electrodes.
Anyway, without getting too scientific, those 3 cells are filled with different chemicals. When we charge a battery, those compounds react and charge. Over time, the strength of this charge diminishes because the chemicals themselves start to die out. The more we charge a battery, the more pressure we are putting on these substances and the less battery life they can give us.
That’s why it is important to maintain your power tool’s battery life, to understand not only how it works, but what you can’t do to maximize its health, and to have on-hand cordless power tool storage options.