Battery-Powered Tools: The Charging Challenge
Battery-powered tools are great for tackling jobs where corded options simply won’t cut it. Cordless tools shine when you’re away from home and don’t have access to electricity, fore example, when you’re building a cabin, shed or porch, or working on a car at a race track or on an off-road trail. However, it’s important to keep your battery-powered tools topped off at all times. Here are some tips to ensure you don’t end up in a bind.
Use a Portable Battery Pack
You might not be able to string 10 miles of extension cord behind you but you can definitely pack some electricity in your trunk before you leave home. Using a portable battery pack allows you to plug in your charger in remote areas, essentially doubling or tripling the size of your battery life.
Buy Multiple Batteries
When purchasing battery-powered tools, you may have been advised to stick with a single manufacturer if you’re considering expanding your collection. There’s a simple reason for this: One company’s battery pack often works across multiple devices, which means when you buy additional batteries to take with you, you can use them in more than one tool. Having extra batteries on hand — already charged — is a great way to be prepared for pulling extra duty.
Don’t Let Them Sit
Most modern battery chargers will trickle power into a pack to keep it topped up without the danger of overcharging it. This means you should leave your batteries charging at all times because the alternative is a dead battery that may start to lose capacity if it leaks down to zero too many times. Many tool companies recommend charging a battery once it hits the 70 percent point, in terms of discharge, and not to stop a charge midway through — let it hit 100 percent before unplugging.
Store Them Right
Extreme conditions don’t do your battery-powered tools any favors and that means things like dust and extreme temperatures are enemies of proper operation. The last two are particularly relevant when discussing battery packs, as they can become damaged if they overheat or lose their charging capacity when constantly exposed to the cold. Don’t leave batteries sitting in the trunk or back seat of your vehicle. It’s always better to store them somewhere safe, like your temperature-controlled workshop.
If you’re away from an outlet, use these tips to make sure your tools are fully charged and remain that way for the duration of your project.
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Photos courtesy of DeWalt.
Benjamin Hunting View All
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.
If you are away from an outlet most of the time, get a Mobile Charger for the battery system you use. The (DEW DC9319) for that 18V XRP impact wrench above, if you have the 12V Max /20V Max system get (DEW DCB119). Then you can go all day.
Be sure to plug into the Accessory Power socket (not the Lighter Socket) and leave the engine running while charging – best to charge while driving to the track.