Before you say anything, yes, shown above is a crystal-bedazzled Bosch IXO screwdriver from a few years back. Like many other cordless screwdrivers, it has a built-in rechargeable that is NOT user replaceable.
Earlier this week, we examined reasons FOR cordless power tools with built-in batteries. Here, let’s talk about why these tools aren’t very consumer-friendly.
1. Batteries are Consumable Components
Batteries, even Li-ion rechargeable cells, are consumable components.
With most tools and other types of products, consumable components are designed to be replaced.
Thus, you should be able to replace the battery in all power tools if they become defective or wear out over time or with use.
This might take you back to high school or college-level math, but consider the chain rule (or hypothetical syllogism in logic):
Batteries are consumable components.
Consumable components should be replaceable.
Therefore, batteries should be replaceable.
2. Throw-Away Culture
Buy, use, throw-away, repeat.
This cycle has been increasingly prevalent in today’s day and age, but it’s still somewhat new.
Historically, durable goods were made to the last and from quality materials. While not quite planned obsolescence, tools with built-in batteries are destined for the landfill (or electronics recycling center), it’s only a matter of when.
With power tools that have replaceable batteries, if a battery or charger fails, you can replace it much more easily than if the battery is built into the tool or if the charger is proprietary.
3. Successful Proofs of Concept
You can still buy Ryobi Tek4 cordless power tool batteries, even though the product lineup has been discontinued and off the market for several years now.
Ryobi and Home Depot have continued to support the now-obsolete tool system, and will likely continue doing so, ensuring that the tools remain useful.
If they can do it, why not other brands?
Another good example is Milwaukee’s RedLithium USB line of cordless power tools and accessories. You can charge the batteries in-tool, or in an external charger. If or when it comes time to buy and install a fresh battery, you can do that easily. However, that was a goal that Milwaukee Tool set out with.
Milwaukee’s product teams designed the RedLithium USB power system alongside an initial roadmap of tool and accessory launches, and are now expanding that system.
4. Any Other Reasons?
To be clear, I’m of the mindset that tools with built-in batteries are designed and engineered in such a manner that is the maximum benefit of the desired user base.
Read More Here
There are absolutely benefits to user-replaceable batteries, but the question is whether tools with built-in batteries would be better off engineered with replaceable ones. I feel that in most cases the answer will be no.
Are there any other reasons against built-in batteries that I’m not seeing?
Sometimes it Might Not Matter
Consider the SpeedHex FlipOut cordless screwdriver, which was a Lowe’s holiday season emphasis 6 years ago.
The FlipOut has a built-in 8V Max Li-ion battery, likely 2x 18650 cells.
Every so often, someone leaves a comment on the original post, asking for help in sourcing replacement batteries or a charger.
Let’s say that the tool was instead engineered with a replaceable battery pack. That wouldn’t have been much better – you can’t buy the tool anymore today, and so there’s little chance that replaceable batteries would be any easier to come by. Thus, it would have cost more without any long-term benefits.
As well-designed tool with a built-in battery should be expected to last quite a few years.
I recently purchased new Bosch cordless screwdrivers from Europe – the new “Go” and new IXO. The Go is more for editorial exploration, and the IXO is as well, but I’m also curious to see how well my kids work with it.
There are cordless screwdrivers with replaceable battery packs, but they are larger, heavier, more powerful, and quite a bit more expensive.
Personally, I hope that brands don’t move to built-in Li-ion or Li-Polymer batteries just because they can.
Aside from flashlights, I have a single product that takes 18650 cells, and it’s not the easiest to take the product apart to access the battery for charging. Eventually, I will be replacing that battery and am thankful that I can.
It would be nice if brands designed their 4V Max-class cordless power tools to work with a user-replaceable 18650 cell, but there is too much risk of users selecting the wrong type or class of battery, and going with proprietary or branded cells require more commitment than brands can commit to a tool or two every couple of years.
I loved my Dremel Stylus, and would absolutely buy another one, built-in battery and all. I also owned a Dremel cordless screwdriver with similar form factor. I wish that both tools had user-replaceable batteries, but I think Dremel made the right call with the designs.
With these tools, their ergonomics likely wouldn’t have been possible without the batteries being built into the tools.
What Would You Do?
I’m sorry, I really intended this post to be completely one-sided against tools with built-in batteries, but I couldn’t find much to say in defense of this position.
Here is another question. For all of you that feel so strongly against the Ryobi 4V screwdriver I posted about the other day, and other tools like it, imagine you are the product manager for a tool brand that wants to launch a new 4V cordless screwdriver. Put your preferences aside. What would you do? How would you engineer this tool differently?
With maybe 9 out of 10 cordless screwdrivers featuring built-in batteries, and the other being parts of 1- or maybe 2-tool systems that are rarely if ever expanded, what decisions would you really make?
Would a separate battery system really benefit your target audience’s needs? Or would a built-in battery be the best path?
Much worse than non replaceable batteries is batteries that are non standard. Using normal LI-ION cells means that usually if you need to you can break it open and solder in new cells.
But if it’s a custom cell and it’s bot a popular product like an iPhone – you make simply be doomed
They are just so cheap that the batteries by and large don’t last, and therefore the tool doesn’t, either. I want my stuff to LAST.
Amen Dave. I would rather pay extra for something that will last (usually). I have never understood the guys that buy something cheap, use it until it breaks, and go out and get another one. For a long time, IMO, Harbor Freight was like that and may still be in some regards. They are doing much better.
It depends on what is expected application is in the first place. Any tool this isn’t a consumable should be bought with the expectation to last.
We still need cheap tools for ones that will be destroyed quickly, single use applications, etc.
One of the issues with these small tools is the motor. They usually have a small self contained motor, the brushes can’t be replaced when they wear out: and the motors aren’t usually an available part. Given this, the 18650 batteries will last about the same time as the motor. Stuff all point replacing a battery when the motor gives out soon after.
I have the Tek 4, have the screwdriver & electric scissors. I even even bought a few spare Tek 4 since they were pretty cheap at Direct Tools outlet (sold by maker of Ryobi & Ridgid). I wish there were more Tek 4 tools available although there are a few on ebay you can still find.
I am not a big fan of the built in batteries although i admit i have a few. I can see how they are cheaper. Having a rotary cutter would be good. I have the Skil but would love to have removable batteries a la Tek 4.
Your standard Dewalt/Milwaukee/Makita/etc. swapable battery pack is, to my mind, a “built-in battery”. None of us can really, easily, confidently replace the cells when they wear out, or if a cell malfunctions.
Which really bugs me as most of us use tools to fix problems. And we can’t fix our tools?
I don’t mind internal batteries if I can get replacements and replace the cells, inside a thing or inside a pack. I dislike the marketing idea that, if the battery pack changes, we’ll just change our whole investment in the tools that go with them.
Swapping everything out might be okay for the guys that use them heavily, but not all who buy such stuff use the bejeebers out of them and would replace them anyway.
Go to a pawn shop to see all the battery powered tools that have no batteries. Ridiculous waste.
Yeah agree it’s all similar equation on a smaller scale, and… if using the bejeebers out of one of these toy tools, one should probably invest in the more durable tool it’s based on.
I think you can replace cells – it’s just nobody really bothers to do so as once you’ve bought quality cells you’re close to the cost of the pack itself.
I do know people rebuild electric bicycle packs.
Cells have a limited life. If a swappable pack dies, you recycle it and replace it with another pack. The tool itself continues to be useful.
If a tool with a built-in battery dies, the battery AND tool are no longer useful and both must be recycled.
If you are asking for user-rebuildable packs, you will probably get something that is more bulky, less durable and more expensive. Are those trade-offs worth it? That depends on the user.
Replacing cells is fairly straightforward IF you are savvy with electronics. DIYs are all over YouTube. Or you can pay someone else to do it – there are plenty of “aftermarket” packs on Amazon. Buyer beware.
I just swapped a cell in my Wahl beard trimmer that lasted 6 years. Just took it apart and unsoldered the battery and soldered in a new one. Works perfectly fine.
Also have recycled 3 battery packs of Ryobi. One given to me for free. I bought 18650s in bulk and good quality and went through and replaced them all with my battery welder and nickel strips. Now they all have either longer mah or more amps depending on which pack I use and need. The cost per cell makes the price seem like it’s better to just buy a new battery pack but I saved ove half and i know what cells are istraps.
You don’t have to dispose of these tools but if you don’t know how or want to invest in components to swap out then yeah I get it. I’ve also made my own cell phone battery banks and fixed a few. Also fried a couple doing experiments.
Anything is repairable it’s just a matter of time, inclination, and cost.
I have M-12 tools (and batteries, by the way, as I scribe the purchase date on the batteries) from 2010. They get heavy use. The bare tool is probably $75 and on up. They all still work well.
What’s a little rechargeable driver cost, $18-25 bucks? And that includes the built-in battery and a painfully slow charger. It should be obvious that such a tool and/or its battery isn’t going to last. It’s just too cheap to be any good at all.
This is definitely a case of “spend a little and get close to nothing”.
The manufacturers and sellers saw you coming….
Save your pennies. The tool will be so weak that you can do as much or more by hand anyway. When you have enough saved up to buy something decent, pull the trigger. And enjoy the purchase for decades.
Mike (the other one)
I do not own a powered screwdriver, and have no intention of getting one.
I’d like to see a 4v screwdriver that you just drop in a 18650 battery. Just like a flashlight. It would have a built-in USB-C recharge port and reverse polarity protection. Of course there would be a light and it would be very compact. $30-$50 depending on quality.
Dying for Milwaukee’s USB platform to have a screwdriver. I have the old M4 and its a great thing to have. Stu mentions the USB platform and that they are expanding it…. but all they have is freaking lights after 3+ years. How hard is it to take the M4 screwdriver and update it for the USB???? The same M4 screwdriver was a Nicad version before that, almost the same tool has been in Milwaukee production for over 20 years. Its nonsense its not in the USB platform with other things that arent lights…. yet they just keep pumping out more lights, its over 10 now I think, its not a tool platform its a light platform….
This is the answer. If cheap Chinese flashlights can do it, why can’t a cheap Chinese screwdriver?
I still have my Stylus.love that thing.
After the second B&D hand vac that died entirely because of batteries (last one was Li-ion), we got the Ryobi Evercharge vac and haven’t looked back. Unless there’s an IP rating or design requirement that mandates a sealed unit or nonstandard battery, I’ll never buy another anything that’s battery powered without getting the user-replaceable/external battery option. Even if the product isn’t the best in class, the not-dead battery wins.
I would also say that when the battery is part of a system of tools, the batteries appear to be of better quality and last longer.
Really like my last B&D vac also which was li-ion, after 3 years it was dead, replaced it with a Dyson V7 which I thought would be better because it was a $300 vac vs a $100 one, nope battery dead in 18 months…. Gee wonder why I have 5 M18/12 vacuums and plan to buy 2 more….
Elmer J. Fudd
That Dyson v7 has a two year warranty. They sent us a new battery without issue. : ^) Hope your still within the two years!
+1, I like the idea of 4v tools with 18650 or 21700 drop ins & usb-c charging. Probably never happen but nice to consider. Have a 10 year old craftsman 4v driver that no longer held a charge…easily swapped out the old 18650 for new 21700 and works better than new. Same process for most norelco shavers that stop holding a charge (diff battery size). Basic soldering.
I don’t buy ANYTHING with a built-in non-replaceable battery anymore, whether it’s a cordless screwdriver, flashlight, laptop computer, whatever.
This has been a good decision because now everything I own can have the battery replaced, whether that means standard AA/AAA cells or having to take apart a Li-ion pack and replace the individual cells if I need to for some obsolete product.
I’ve just dealt with way too many cordless screwdrivers that never get recharged and are dead as a doornail every time you want to try to give a gimmick tool a chance just to turn a screw for a few seconds. That and, leaky internal batteries that make a mess of the tool so you don’t even want to bother cleaning it up and trying to find a battery to replace it with.
I can see cases where things like the Ryobi 4V screwdriver might make some sense, with a low cost and hopefully decent product life for what it is, but I’ve just decided I’m better off with a bunch of manual screwdrivers and using drills and impact drivers when I want a powered screwdriver.
Given the low cost and light weight, maybe a screwdriver or drill with a built-in battery makes sense to someone who only needs it to drill tiny holes and drive small screws for picture hanging, but they also likely don’t consider they could spend just a little more money and have a drill/driver that would do so much more and last so much longer.
I’ve got a Metabo hammer drill that’s got at least a 3m cord on it. That thing’s gonna last forever.
The more cordless stuff I use, the more I like corded.
A laptop internal battery is generally easy to replace and the benefit is a much lighter and compact package.
As far as tools go I only own one small B&D l-ion drill with built in battery, it still performs like new after four years of light use. The rest of my tools are Rigid 18v which are great for your average handy homeowner.
Phones are nearly impossible to find with external batteries unless you want to use something 4 or 5 years old with huge security holes in the OS.
I’m like most consumers, given the option I will choose user replaceable battery every time.
Skye A Cohen
Oh my goodness Bosch.. there are so many things wrong that.. poor Bosch..
Bosch seems lost.
In North America? Yeah… Despite Bosch being a GOOD NAME DANGIT!!! Bosch USA seems to think no one can figure out how to use Bosch tools in the same environment as DeWALT, Milwaukee, Makita, and Ryobi (of all things, Ryobi seems to cover such a wide swath of the market discreetly that it overshadows things. Which is weird, because… It’s Ryobi… It might as well be Canadian Tire’s Mastercraft Brand… It’s built by one of the bigger companies, so you know the quality is there, it’s just not as expensive because it’s a House Brand.)
Bosch USA makes some very odd choices, and hands tools over to sibling brand Dremel when it isn’t sure if it’ll market well… which is counter-productive, because Dremel is a Niche Craftsman brand, not a Homeowner or Contractor brand… Yet Bosch USA seems to pass off some of its Homeowner and Contractor oriented designs to Dremel, of all brands. It isn’t a sensible move. Bosch does not get the reputation it deserves in North America because of Bosch USA’s strange decisions.
They had a reputation of High End. My Father considers them in his mind for any new high end tools, but I don’t know anyone who is owns any Bosch tools besides us, really.
“Are there any other reasons against built-in batteries that I’m not seeing?”
Well Stuart, you definitely set up a question on a subject I am passionate about, so here comes my effortpoast on the merits of replaceable batteries.
1. Instant recharge:
Manufacturers have gotten a lot better at making quickly charged batteries, with recharge times as low as 15 minutes for some applications. That’s great, but 15 or even 5 minutes can be a lot of downtime for some situations. What’s more, you will run into serious obstacles if you try to better that time, especially for higher capacity packs. That said, there’s a way to get most cordless tools running again in 5 seconds or so. It’s safe, easy and reliable – replace the battery pack. Nearly instant recharge and all that was needed was to just have another pack. In addition, as cell costs decrease, having surplus packs gets easier and cheaper all the time.
2. Tailor the capacity:
Replaceable battery packs come in many sizes for a given brand/voltage system. This variety allows you do change your pack size to fit the job and/or your personal tastes. Some people want max capacity and are willing to put up with the extra weight of a 3 row pack. Some want tools to be as light as possible and prefer compact 1 row packs. Others go with options in the middle.
3. Tool-only savings:
You may have 5 different tools, on hand, but you’re going to be using one or maybe 2 at any given time. Why then, do the others need to have batteries in them when they’re not in use? A key advantage of replaceable batteries is that the ones you currently own can be used to power the next tool (in the system) you want to acquire. This means you can get just the tool and save on the battery cost by plugging in the one(s) you already own.
4. Fostering a battery system:
Replaceable battery packs are systems, that encourage both manufacturers and consumers to continuously invest in them. This promotes both sales growth and innovation.
5. The hobbyist’s pal:
Replaceable power tool batteries have been a boon to hobbyist ideas of many kinds, being readily re-tasked to power e-bikes, robots, small appliances and a host of other non-tool applications. There’s a thriving cottage industry of 3d printed adapters for almost every major cordless tool system.
6. Ready for the future:
Battery chemistry, capacity, features and form factors have been continuously evolving over the past two decades. Replaceable battery systems allow users of older tools within a system to aquire all that new tech by simply upgrading the battery rather than replacing the whole tool.
Stuart? Can we get an “Amen” button for when we absolutely adore a post? or is that a headache waiting to happen?
Going on to the 4v question, if I had to launch a 4v system, I’d launch the first 18650 – based tool line. Given how popular the 18650 flashlight has become, I think there is now a large enough mass of 18650 owners to make it a success. Admittedly, a non-proprietary system will invite copycats, but I think there’s a lot of money to be made for the first mover in this market.
The 18650 may not ever move beyond a niche market, but sometimes niche markets can be very lucrative.
I’m on board with built-in batteries on some products. I’m not going to run out and buy a bunch – I just think they serve a niche. The Ryobi screwdriver is a perfect example. Buy a flexiclick if you want a more fully featured tool with replaceable batteries – you just can’t do it for $40.
I said it in the other thread, I’ll say it here. I’m only Half-and-Half. I want tool brands that already cover the Homeowner market to fully support their built-in batteries by supporting Right-to-Repair laws, giving all the information a User needs to replace the battery with the CORRECT one, when it does die. Or, if there ARE more powerful ones in the same compatibility range, those can do the trick as well.
Where I have a problem is “The Bandwagon”… Tool companies that have never been for Homeowners or DIYers… Tool Brands who have never tried something so high-maintenance, and short lived… Tool Brands that have so many high-end tools that supporting Right-to-Repair would be ridiculous for them… They, as companies, should just stay in their own lanes, and NOT develop these throw-away designs. If they want to reach out to these people to expand their install base? Deny them. They have established lines, they have established ecosystems that work for them. Someone needs to remind them to develop more within their established sphere of influence, and stop trying to reach out to disappoint new groups. The SBD family comes to mind here. Did they release the ENTIRE lineup of ALL the 20 Volt Max tools they could have out of the gate? No. They released the 12 Volt Max system beside it. Both were incomplete. When instruments came into play, did they take the time to get the Radar Scanner to work properly before release? Nope. Got shut down, eventually replaced with the equally-unreliable Wall Scanner… Then they both disappeared, and where did the rest of the potential 12 Volt Max line go? We were, what? 6 years in before the 12 Volt line got a new BATTERY? Meanwhile, on the 20 Volt lineup, they introduced the XR platform of eXtended Runtime tools and Batteries… and never finished the 20 Volt Max line… Just… Overreach after Overreach… Desperate for MORE market share, but totally ignorant of how to actually gain it… like FILLING OUT THE LINEUP… FINALLY we’re nearly a decade into the Max series of tools, and NOW they’re getting everything filled out. Drywall sanding, Pipe Threading, Cement Pencil Vibrators, the FlexVOLT class Mixer/Drill (which scares the crap out of me as a Drill. If you’re in need of THAT amount of power to drill, and your Premium Drill, SDS Max Rotary Hammer, AND Magnetic Drill are ALL incapable of doing the job… What would make you think a Drill THAT size would do any better, and how much is your health insurance worth??) and of course, let’s not forget the Hybrid FlexVOLT lines, with the Corded/Cordless Miter Saw, TSTAK and Tough System Radio/Charger, Dust Collectors, and Vacuums, Jobsite Table Saws, Air Compressor (HOPEFULLY not the last, only the first, and smallest, of THAT line of products!) they all came out RECENTLY in the total lifespan of the 20 Volt Max line.
SBD, despite me being a user of their products, is not good at giving the Customer what they actually need… so… Why would we be okay, on the board of directors or not, with them suggesting YET ANOTHER place for them to go off and try to get quick cash, without fulfilling their plans for the CURRENT customers? No no… They’re a Construction Tools company. They’re not done providing what THEIR ESTABLISHED CUSTOMERS need to see, let alone some new, cheap lineup of enclosed battery tools.
Black and Decker? Sure. They’re KNOWN for their throw away tools… Go ahead, let THAT family member suffer all the consumer rage. There’s other brands that can do better under the same SBD umbrella.
Propriety and Exclusivity hurt the Consumer. it’s one thing to have Brand-Specific batteries, it’s a whole other animal to bring out a tool you can only buy ONE place, ONE time, and once it dies it’s just… Dead… No more tool for you. Even with built-in batteries, we need the option to repair and replace damaged parts, company say so or not. Otherwise it’s a risk to Landfills, the Planet, our SANITY, and to our Rights as INDIVIDUALS to make a choice about what we use, and how we use it.
As small and compact as the Bosch 12v tools are, the platform could easily make some ultra compact home user tools. So could other brands, so we can at least buy new batteries and recycle the old.
In my opinion, there is zero excuse for the weak built-in battery disposable tools, kitchen gadgets, small appliances, etc.
I have a 20yr Black and Decker battery powered screwdriver. I still use it from time to time. How & why? Standard AA batteries.
The same system of standard batteries we have had in radios, walk mans, disc mans, etc could easily be done with newer more capable cells. But that would not satisfy the need for buying everything anew every 2-3-4 years when the battery no longer holds a useful charge.
They make these non-replacement battery tools for older people( like myself). Instead of popping in a fresh battery & keep working. We can stop, plug in the tool for a recharge. While it’s charging we can make some coffee & take a break. More time to think about the current project, perhaps avoiding some mistakes from rushing things.
It’s my thinking that these type of tools are geared toward the homeowner. Someone who uses it sparingly, versus a contractor who puts some miles on it. Not that contractors don’t use them at all, I’m sure there are some out there. The lifespan just isn’t there for a contractor.
Let me quote a certain tool reviewer from eleven years ago that pretty much sums up why the Tek4 system died:
“To be perfectly honest, I can’t think of a good reason to choose Ryobi’s stud finder, digital multimeter or MP3 player over models by Zircon, Extech or Fluke, or any major consumer electronics brand, respectively. It’s hard to imagine that Ryobi’s first generation models will trump those by seasoned market leaders.”
When introduced, the Tek4 line was composed of “tools” that were all Tek4 variants of items consumers and professionals were familiar for years with just replacing the dang batteries. You know with those common AAA, AA, C, and D cells that they sell at a bargain by the cash registers, the ones that everyone knows how to use. And Stuart, you were right, people continued to want to buy the quality name brand tools they trusted to last and get the job done. No matter how much I love the Ryobi tools I have, that name doesn’t have the same quality cachet that Fluke, Bosch, Kodak, or other pro-tool brands have to last a long life and always get the job done when asked.
Now somewhere above someone mentioned that Milwaukee needs to make a cordless screwdriver with a RedLithium replaceable battery. Yeah, sure sounds great on paper until you realize that Milwaukee would never manage to sell it to the target audience at a Milwaukee price. Milwaukee is a professional tool brand, they sell tools to tradesmen, people who make their money off their tools: carpenters, auto techs, contractors, plumbers, electricians, etc etc. Those people want and pay good money for a quality tool that doesn’t quit on them. Milwaukee has essentially two cordless screwdrivers for tradesmen, they’re both in the m12 line-up, the 2401-20 cordless screwdriver and the 2505-2 installation driver with the four socketed tool heads: so Milwaukee has little need to make a 4v version that their prime customers will never buy and the real target audience will balk at the Milwaukee price of.
A Tek4 or Red Lithium powered cordless screwdriver in the form factor like Ryobi, Worx, Black and Decker, and others make? Those are really made for homeowners and hobbyists. They want a tool they can pick up, maybe charge for an hour and do the simple task they set aside for themselves. And if their tool craps out? Well, there’s always a screwdriver in the toolbox that will work just as well. Somewhere out in my garage I’ve got an old Skil super twist cordless screwdriver that my father bought in the early 90’s. As soon as the internal battery died it went into the back bottom of a toolbox and sat. Eventually he cowboyed up and had Batteries Plus rebuild it. And then the battery died again, and back to the toolbox it went again. He wasn’t going to pay the effective cost of the tool a third time, his manual screwdrivers work just fine.
Aside from those proprietary battery form factors, you could just as easily throw some bare 18650, 21500 cells, or a handful of our favorite AAA, AA, C, or D cells. Hell for an old Braun beard trimmer that the internal battery crapped out in (if I remember it was a NiMH not a NiCd), I taped a AA onto the bare wires and kept that bitch working for years, just replaced the battery when it died, battery dangling out in the open breeze.
What I haven’t seen answered is the underlying problem. Why are we okay with proprietary batteries for each tool platform? Why do we bemoan that while the Tek4 batteries are still made the tools aren’t? Why not make tools for the battery? Think about it. One battery for all the handheld gadgets and stocking stuffers is precisely what we want. Maybe not what the tool company wants. But we even see some movement there, like with Metabo and Bosch respectively deciding to create multi-brand unified battery alliances. Graco cordless paint sprayers using Dewalt batteries. Make some other guy do all the work of making a quality battery and license/use his.
While it would be an initial pain in to replace all the batteries, imagine if SBD decided tomorrow that all their sub-brands would use the same battery terminal setup, just reskin the same batteries for each line? A Dewalt battery working from the get go in Porter Cable, Craftsman, Dewalt, Bostich, Graco, etc and vice a versa. “Oh no we aren’t getting as much of their money, they could buy the “cheaper” batteries! Yeah, but we’re still getting their money.” Or go crazy and just sell those tools as using Dewalt 20volt Max/XR batteries and sell one battery line. Could do the same with 12v, 40v, or 60v power needs.
But still. The third real enemy of Tek4 and RedLithium is other than flashlights and cordless screwdrivers what tools do you see making to use these batteries that a)aren’t made by a more famous and trusted company (as in the case of meters, lights, and lasers) and b)don’t already use the most common and convenient battery platforms available AAA, AA, C, D, and 9 volt (whether alkaline or rechargeable)?
Skye A Cohen
There have been a couple comments about making a platform for 18650 batteries. I like the idea of it but there is a lot more potential for both fire hazard and tools not working properly when you have more than one cell in a tool. There are also potential issues with fittment of batteries, if you collect flashlights you might know, sometimes you need a protected battery, sometimes not. You can always use a protected cell required or not but oftentimes they won’t fit inside a battery chamber that wasn’t intended for protected cells as the protection comes from adding a bit of length.
Also there certainly have been cases of fires etc from 18650 cells, I think it’s from improper handling usually(maybe always) like a cell banging around in a drawer or a pocket and getting shorted or something but I’m not sure they’re really safe enough for a company to avoid lawsuits selling them as the power source.. in other words all of the consumer tools that use 18650s have a lot of circuitry built into them and built into their proprietary charging to keep them safe, they aren’t just selling the raw cells..
Having said all of that I would love a cool 18650 platform of light duty tools
I would echo all of this.
4v tools based on 18650 cells would be neat, but it’s not as simple as using AA’s. Any major company trying to do this would probably need to come out with their own brand of batteries too – and that leads down a slippery slope.
E.g. Milwaukee REDlithium USB is basically that, but with the proprietary shell that everyone loves to bag on. I’m guessing that choice was in part so that consumers wouldn’t use cheap mystery cells, burn down their house or just be angry with a low-performing tool.
It’s not like it couldn’t be done – there are lots of flashlights doing this right now and vapes also use these batteries. I’m guessing another component of the decision to use propriety batteries is that way you lock your consumer into a particular brand and create another revenue stream. If you’re a power tool company, why give that up unless there’s a robust competitor that doesn’t have this restriction?
What if, along the lines of a three cell cylindrical pack like Bosch, Milwaukee, … (12v) it was a flat 2 cell pack of whatever voltage?
Mfr could put protected cells and what not in it, that they feel it needs to be safe.
The home owner can buy an extra or replacement battery if/when needed.
The engineer in me says it’s all a cost benefit calc done by the maker against expected marking cost of device.
For some of the items they know it’s not meant to last – and it’s a test trial to see how marketable the feature is. Feature, total device, etc.
For others it’s other marketing hype – take that other tool you highly depend on your mobile. most new ones have sealed, nearly irreplaceable batteries. Why. well oh it’s for IP68 test ____ or it’s for ___ it’s waterproof sort of. etc etc.
no it’s because we know most people won’t mess with it and it’s far far easier and slimmer to engineer the box to use glue. Thanks. But hey I like my waterproof mobile.
There is really no reason today not to have a replaceable battery set -lipo, nimh, or whatever the flavor. Other than wanting to save cost and it’s expected to be tossed.
That Bosch device you show is just like your iphone or pixel or samsung – you can replace it if you just wanted too. it would take work, hell you might even end up using a different battery tech but it’s possilble. will you – doubtful at 35 dollars new.
For some things I suppose that’s ok but from a sustainability standpoint I really don’ t like it.
I don’t mind built in batteries for small and/or occasional use tools as long as they don’t use proprietary charging connectors. Ever since micro-USB connections became common place (and cheap) it should have been the end of proprietary charging connections. AA or AAA batteries for some tools are perfect too as long as the power requirement and form factor are balanced.
With the ability of USB C to charge at higher rates we may be able to see a higher quality of tool with built in battery in the next few years when USB C becomes more universal.
Speedhex flipout, replacement battery & licensed new variation available at Menards
Don’t like them, won’t buy them.
Or anything else with a built-in battery. (OK, I fess up that my toothbrush has a built-in)
I wish all the majors used swappable 18650 batteries in screwdrivers, electric razors, stud finders, etc etc. Because they’re higher voltage, (3.8v) and don’t lose contact like 1.5v AA batteries.
Built in batteries are good if packaging constraints ie size are a concern. Just look at phones, tablets, laptops etc.
But in general, with power tools, swappable batteries are way better. Added benefit: using adapters to use other tool ecosystems with your battery platform of choice.
One excetion to the rule is that Bosch screwdriver. I keep the skil version (sadly not bedazzled) of that Bosch screw driver in my specialty “this fastener is going to be a bi+c# to get out” drawer. With a hex to 1/4” drive adapter it can get into some surprisingly tight spots. Not much torque at all but I just squeze the trigger and twist at the same time. Im sure its hell on the internals. But it refuses to dies. Holds a charge forever. If it dies I think it was like $13 so Im just going to toss it and buy another. I would love to buy an 18650 version but I doubt you can get that same tiny form factor. Pro’s and cons to everything.
I will give kudo’s to DeWalt. I believe they were the only ones to offer a factory adapter to a previous battery platform. I am still using a few 18v tools dating back to the 90’s.
I still have my black and decker versapak it is, by far, the best tool I have ever owned. The battery is replaceable and long life. It was made to swap to other devices.
I’m not sure why they discontinued this product line. It was great.