There are two things you probably already know about lithium-ion battery packs: 1) they are superior to Ni-Cd and NiMH battery packs in many areas, and 2) they can be very expensive. Despite the advantages of Li-ion technology, many price-conscious DIYers still go with Ni-Cd powered tools.
Craftsman has developed new no-frills lithium-ion battery packs in order to drop upgrade costs as much as possible. These new compact and high-capacity C3 19.2V batteries offer the performance and advantages Li-ion is known for, but without the high price.
New Craftsman C3 Li-ion Products
- 1/2″ drill/driver kit with 340 in-lbs max torque (product link), $90
- drill/driver and impact driver combo kit (product link), $140
- compact Li-ion battery pack (product link), $50
- compact Li-ion battery pack plus charger (product link), $80
- two compact Li-ion battery packs (combo) (product link), $90
- high-capacity Li-ion battery pack (product link), $80
How Do They Compare?
In terms of technical specs, the new drill/driver kit is on par with the previous Li-ion drill/driver kit. Price-wise, we’re talking about $90 vs. $120. There’s also a new 2-battery kit for $130. $10 extra for a second Li-ion battery pack sounds like a good deal to us.
The previous drill and impact driver kit is priced at $250 and includes two battery packs, one compact and one high-capacity. The new combo kit comes with a single compact battery for $140, but add in a separate high-capacity battery pack and the total is just $220.
Just talking about batteries, the new compact Li-ion pack is $10 cheaper than the last-gen model, and we believe it offers greater charge capacity and thus runtime as well. The only older-style high-capacity Li-ion battery pack we can find is on clearance and bundled with a charger with an original MSRP of $120, compared to the new pack’s $80 price point.
I had the pleasure of chatting about the new products with Craftsman’s Director of Power Tools Product Management. From the brief discussion I learned that Craftsman wants to bring the benefits of Li-ion battery packs to all users. In order to lower costs, these new value-priced packs don’t have any bells and whistles, such as fuel gauges and advanced protection circuitry. Users that want Li-ion performance with all the bells and whistles will also have the option to step up to XCP battery packs (more on that later).
Right now there are two C3 tool kits – a drill/driver kit and drill plus impact driver combo kit – that come with the new lithium-ion battery packs. It is reasonable to assume that Craftsman may slowly upgrade their most popular C3 kits in a similar manner.
It is doubtful that Craftsman will discontinue their Ni-Cd products anytime soon, or even entirely, but one thing is certain – Craftsman wants to put Li-ion-powered cordless tools in the hands of more DIYers. Personally, I think it’s a smart move that many DIYers will appreciate. C3 owners can upgrade to Li-ion for cheap and prospective customers are likely to be tempted by the promise of Li-ion at lower prices.
Note About Chargers for C3 Ni-Cd Owners
The new drill/driver and drill plus impact driver kits include multi-chemistry chargers. If you’re a Craftsman C3 owner and only have Ni-Cd battery packs, you will need either this $45 Li-ion charger or this $80 charger + battery kit in order to charge C3 Li-ion batteries. Presumably Craftsman will eventually sell multi-chemistry chargers separately. Maybe we’ll see a C3 QuickBoost charger as well.