Well, we know everything about cordless tools and all the benefits that we get by using them. Let`s just repeat them one more time; cordless tools are convenient, portable, and ready to work when you are, and all of this is possible thanks to the batteries.
The life of your battery depends on how you store it! So, if you want to use your batteries for years then you also must know how to store cordless drill batteries!
Cordless drills, as all other cordless tools are using batteries and most of the options that you have on the market come with one or even two batteries and chargers.
Well, we can’t guarantee that your batteries won’t die at some point, but we can help you to keep your batteries in full use for at least one year. By keeping and storing your batteries properly, you are saving your money and time!
Rechargeable Tool Battery Dos
Most of the drills that you can find on the market are using three types of batteries: Lithium-ion and Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) are mostly used batteries and nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH) batteries. But the way of saving battery life is very similar for all types.
So, what you have to do in order to save and use your battery for a longer period of time:
- Keep Battery Charged
Lithium-ion batteries are common for cordless drills, but you can also buy a drill with Ni-Cad battery. It is important to keep your batteries charged when they come to 30 %. Lithium-ion batteries don’t need to be to fully discharge because they don’t suffer from the memory effect. Partial discharges are good for Li-ion batteries. You should charge the batteries whenever you get the chance and it is preferable to do it before they fall below 20% charge. Ni-Cad batteries are familiar like batteries that suffer from memory effect, but even this type of batteries need to be fully discharged only once in 20-30 days.
- Use battery regularly
When you choose a cordless tool, you should have in mind that batteries like to be used. Battery life decreases if you don’t use your tool. Be sure to recharge batteries every time before you use them!
- Charge Battery Completely
Make sure to fully charge your batteries, at least 8 hours of charging before use! Most chargers have an indicator to let you know when the battery is fully charged.
- Keep Battery Cool and Dry
Make sure to store batteries in a cool and dry area. It’s not necessary, to store batteries in the fridge.
- Store Battery Properly
The best thing is to store batteries in the original carrying case, or in a cushioned bag. Be sure to use the plastic cap which came with the battery to keep it from short-circuiting and protect the terminals from breakage or moisture.
- Have a Backup Battery Handy
We always advise to have a second battery available and charged for your cordless tool, so you can switch out in mid-job.
- Protect the Battery
Be careful with cordless tool batteries because they won’t work if damaged or cracked.
Rechargeable Tool Battery Don’ts
I am sure that you don’t want to buy new batteries over and over again! And, you know what, you don’t have to. Just make sure that you don’t do the following things and we assure you that your batteries will live longer:
- Don’t Run Battery All the Way Down
If a rechargeable battery runs all the way down it can permanently damage the poles and shorten battery life. Make sure that you recharge the battery as soon as your tool starts to slow down. Never deep drain unless you have a Ni-Cad battery that’s showing decreased capacity due to the memory effect.
- Don’t Leave Battery on Charger
Make sure to remove the battery from the charger after charging is complete. If you overcharge your batteries you can damage them and shorten their life. This is very important to take care of because not all chargers shut off automatically when the batteries are fully charged. Some producers (like DeWalt) have chargers that allow batteries to stay on the charger without any harm. But make sure to check this for sure!
- Don’t Overheat Battery
Heat can damage rechargeable batteries and can even cause them to explode. If the battery gets hot to the touch, let it cool down before recharging or using it. Don’t store rechargeable batteries in a hot car, attic, or overheated storage area.
- Don’t Get Battery Wet
It is very important to keep your batteries away from water and moisture.
Different kinds, different needs
Well, as we already mentioned you can find tools with three different battery types: Lithium-ion (Li-ion), Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) are mostly used batteries and Nickel-metal hydride (Ni-MH).
Lithium-ion (Li-ion) is a rechargeable battery type and the most expensive type for cordless power tools. They are very small and lightweight and the energy density is twice that of Ni-Cad batteries. They don’t require much maintenance because they aren’t affected by the memory effect.
Some Li-ion batteries can be stored for 500 days without needing to be charged on the following use. On the other hand, they are quite fragile and require a protection circuit that monitors voltage and temperature to prevent damage to the battery. They also age quickly, their performance being noticeably reduced after only a year.
Nickel-cadmium (Ni-Cad) rechargeable batteries are very durable and ideal if you need to use your batteries for regular, intensive work and every day. They respond well to being repeatedly charged and then used up.
Leaving them in chargers and only occasionally using them shortens their service life. They can be recharged over 1,000 times before their performance level starts failing. They can be recharged and used at lower temperatures than the other chemistries, with fewer negative effects on the battery.
Ni-Cad batteries self-discharge (gradually lose charge even when they’re not being used) during storage but not as quickly as Ni-MH batteries. Of the three types, Ni-Cad batteries have the lowest energy density which means that to produce the same power as a Ni-MH or Li-ion battery they have to be bigger and heavier.
They also need to be regularly drained of charge and then charged again to prevent ‘memory effect’ which stops the battery working properly.
Disposal of Ni-Cad batteries is also an issue as they contain toxic materials that damage the environment. The best option is to recycle them.
Nickel metal hydride batteries
Nickel metal hydride (Ni-MH) rechargeable batteries’ biggest advantage over Ni-Cad batteries is that they offer up to 40% higher energy density. This means they can be smaller and lighter but still provide the same amount of power. However, they are not as durable.
They are best used for lighter work as high temperatures and heavy use can decrease the service life of the battery from 300-500 charge/discharge cycles to only 200-300. Although Ni-MH batteries need to be completely discharged once in a while, they are not as susceptible to memory effect as Ni-Cad batteries. They need a longer charge time than Ni-Cad batteries because they heat up easily, which can damage them.
They also have a self-discharge rate that is 50% higher than Ni-Cad batteries. Ni-MH batteries contain only mild toxins so they are safer for the environment. Ni-MH batteries are about 20% more expensive than Ni-Cad batteries but are often deemed worth it for their higher energy density.
Best Practices for Long Battery Life
Get this now: You should not ever let your battery drain completely. Make sure to charge it as soon as you notice that your tool is working slowly. DO NOT tape the trigger to run down the battery.
We advise you to remove your battery from the charger when it is fully charged unless producer instruction says that it is completely safe to leave your battery on the charger without damaging it.
We have already mentioned that Ni-Cad batteries have the memory effect. The memory effect is created from repetitive light use in the exact same application. For memory effect, the battery must be drained at the same small rate every time and at the same level. This very rarely happens in woodworking too because those tools are rarely discharged to the same level on every usage. And the rate of discharge is not consistent. It varies constantly with user handling, the intensity of the job and the material it is being used upon. For this reason, power tool batteries rarely have the occurrence of memory effect. Li-ion batteries don’t have the memory effect.
Be sure to charge and store your batteries in a dry and cool place. Too high or too low temperature may affect the charging procedure and even damage your batteries.
When the time to replace your batteries comes, make sure to recycle old ones. Have in mind that Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries aren’t environmentally friendly.
Charging – How?
If you are not sure what is the right way to charge your batteries, follow these instructions and you can be sure that you are doing it right:
- Discharge the battery under normal use. Once you feel a loss of power remove the battery from the tool. DO NOT tape the trigger ON.
- Wait at least 2 hours until the battery is at room temperature and then put it on the charger.
- Place the battery in the charger overnight to allow for a full charge on each individual cell (A minimum of 8 hours at room temperature).
This is a standard procedure that will help you to prevent your batteries from damage and will make battery life longer.
How to Charge Li-ion Batteries?
If you have a drill with Li-ion batteries, be sure to follow the rules for charging and the way of charging this type of batteries. It is important to know that you must not completely discharge Li-ion batteries. Charge them as soon as you notice that it shows the signs of weakening in power and slowing in speed.
Don’t charge batteries in very hot or cold conditions. This will damage your battery. Don’t keep batteries in the fridge! You can hear that people are storing their batteries in the fridge, but we advise you not to do that if you want your batteries to live longer.
Don’t leave the battery in the charger after they are fully charged, unless the producer gives this instruction. We recommend removing them from chargers. If everything works OK, there would be no problem, but if the charger gets a faulty circuit and slowly overcharges the battery, it can heat up, boil, and explode. Li-ion batteries stay active for longer if they are actively used.
For Li-ion batteries, it is important to know that they don’t like to be 100% charged. By charging your Li-ion batteries to only 80-90% of its fully charged, you will increase its life 2-3 times. If stored fully charged, their capacity (amperage) will permanently reduce quicker than if stored in a low charge condition.
Yes, this might sound strange and you are now wondering why…
Well, because the life of the battery is determined in so-called cycles. Full charge and discharge is one cycle. Half capacity charge and discharge is half cycle… So, if it is predicted that Li-ion battery life is 500 cycles, and it will not hold the charge after this, by following the above advice you can extend the battery life to 1000 or even 1500 cycles.
Some tools have a built-in battery meter which shows how much the battery is charged. It won’t give you the exact percentage but it is helpful. If your tool doesn’t have this feature, just stop using your tool when it slows down.
How to Charge Nickel-Based Batteries (Ni-Cad and Ni-MH)?
We have already mentioned that Ni-Cad batteries suffer from memory effect; Ni-MH batteries don’t have this problem as much as Ni-Cad does, so you don’t have to discharge them completely like Ni-Cad.
What is important to know and follow for the correct way of charging Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries?
Charge the battery when you notice that the tool is slowing down. Don’t drain the battery. It is recommended to discharge Ni-Cad batteries completely, at least once in 20-30 days if you want them to live longer.
You can leave the battery in the charger after it is fully charged, but only if the producer allows it. Storing those on the charger will slowly degrade them due to heat from the charger, and the potential for overcharging. Ni-Cad batteries will keep their charge easily for 3 months unless you really need to have a fully charged battery every time you pull out the drill, there is no problem leaving them 3 months between charges. Even at 3 months, you will still have plenty of power to do most ‘little’ jobs. With a 30 minute charge time, the second battery would be ready before the first run down. Charging too frequently will reduce the life of the battery.
Repeated full discharges are OK (till the point where the tool starts slowing down.) They don’t harm the battery. To deep discharge and recondition the battery, take it out at this point and put aside for a day or two.
Some chargers have a reconditioning or deep discharge mode, also known as a “maintenance cycle”. Some cordless tools have an option to run the batteries through a maintenance mode.
It is recommended to discharge Ni-Cad and Ni-MH batteries before storage.
How to store cordless drill battery when not using it?
This is important to know; for battery life, it is better when you are using it, at least once in 15 days, but if that won’t be a case than you must know how to store your cordless drill battery when you are not using it:
- If your battery came with a plastic protection container, it will be the best way to store your battery in that box. Always keep your batteries in a cool and dry place. Don’t put batteries in the fridge!
- If you are using Li-ion batteries, be sure that they are not fully charged before storage. For Nickel batteries, it is recommended to discharge them before storage.
- Ni-Cad batteries lose charge quickly. They will lose 20-30% in 24 hours, 10% the day after that and 1% for every day after that. If you decide to use your Nickel batteries after a long time, be prepared to charge them for a longer period of time before you use them.
On the other hand, Li-ion batteries retain their charge for longer, especially if they are kept in a cool place.
Well, we can say that we have learned how to store cordless drill battery properly, and how to make sure to increase the battery life.