Tools that are powered by batteries have come far over the past few years. There was a time when power tools had to use electricity by being plugged into a wall. Then nickel-cadmium (NiCad) batteries came along and helped many people cut the ties that bound them to one place. After some time, lithium-ion batteries took the place of the first cordless drill battery. With these changes have come improved performance and power for every cordless tool.
The quick answer to how long do cordless drill batteries last is it depends. The brand of drill, the type and size of the battery will all impact the battery life. It also includes how often you use the drill and how you care for it. You can take steps to improve the conditions to increase the length of your cordless drill battery life.
Different Battery Types
Nickel Cadmium (NiCD) Battery
This is the oldest type of battery used in cordless tools, but they are still used in many cordless tool options, including a drill. These batteries are affordable and have a good charging cycle. This nickel cadmium battery type can handle about 1,000 charges. This is the equivalent to about three years. These batteries have to be in specific shapes and tools must be designed around the shape of the battery.
NiCD battery is tough and can handle impacts well. They can also perform in low and high temperatures. The NiCD has a better flow of electric current. They must be above 70 percentage charge level. They do charge quickly. NiCD batteries have a long shelf lifespan, especially when stored in a discharged state. If you do this, you need to prime the battery before you use it. These batteries come in a large range of options and sizes.
These batteries make your cordless tool feel heavy. They do not have a high capacity. You must let the battery cool down before you recharge it. These batteries can be harmful to the environment if not disposed of properly. They require a deep discharge once a month to continue to perform well. If you do not do a deep discharge, it could impact the memory of the battery.
Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) Battery
The NiMH batteries are more expensive than the NiCD, but less expensive than a Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) battery. They do boasts some features that the NiCD does not have. They are better for the environment and have a much large capacity. The NiCD battery should last from 2 years to 5 years, all dependent on how you care for the battery.
They weigh and cost less than the other two battery options. When stored and charged properly, you can extend their cycle life. This battery has a quick charge time. It only requires a moderate amount of maintenance.
They are incredibly sensitive to poor charging and storage. The NiMH battery is sensitive to extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. It is most sensitive to hot temperatures. It can not be left unused, or it will suffer damage. If this battery is left in a deep discharge, it will damage the battery. They must be kept at 70 percent charge capacity or above. This battery requires a deep discharge once every three months, or the memory can be impacted.
Lithium Ion (Li-Ion) Battery
This rechargeable battery is the newest of all the battery options. Some consider this to be the best option. This is the most expensive battery of all the options. They do have a shorter life cycle, of only around 300 to 500 charges, which works out to about 2 to 3 years.
The technology contained in this drill battery continues to improve and improvements are expected. This battery can take any form and no longer is a tool designed around the battery shape. These batteries are not harmful to the environment. Dewalt is well known for their lithium ion battery and backs them with a 2 to 3 year warranty.
The Li-Ion battery has a higher capacity. They charge quickly. This is the lightest battery of the three types available. Li-Ion batteries have a higher density. While they are not a fan of heat, they are less bothered by changes in temperature than the NiMH. This battery does not require any type of maintenance to keep their memory intact. The Li-Ion drill battery has an incredibly fast charge and re-charge cycle, much faster than the others.
The Li-Ion battery does not tolerate heat well. The internal components deteriorate as well as change to the electro-chemical internal process when exposed to heat. This battery has a shorter life space. The age and use of the battery decrease the lifespan faster. This battery does need to be stored in an area that is not too hot.
Brushless Motors vs. Brushed
A brushless motor for a cordless drill has been available for about 10 years. A brushless cordless drill has a circuit board and sensor to spin the shaft of the drill. A brushed motor uses brushes and magnets to spin the shaft.
Brushless Motor Benefits
A brushless motor is much more energy efficient. Since there is no rubbing of the brushes, there is no loss of energy from friction. This allows the drills to run 50 percent longer when fully charged. This also gives the drill more power because there are no limits put on the drill. The lack of friction also means less heat and wear and tear on the battery and the drill motor. These drills also run about 50 percent cooler than a brushed motor drill.
A brushless motor drill is lighter. It does not require vents in the casing to keep it cool. As a result of being completely closed, the inside mechanism is protected better from debris and dirt. A brushless motor drill is better able to adjust its power, speed, and torque to match the required task. It only uses just enough power to get the job done.