Two readers emailed in asking about whether their LXT tools will be compatible with the new battery, and via comments Fred asked about charger compatibility.
Monte provided a link to Makita UK which says that the new battery will be compatible with over 100 power tools, and they also show the “star” and “yellow connector” part of the base plate that indicates positive tool compatibility. According to this information, if your LXT tool doesn’t have these markings or indicators, it won’t be compatible.
The 4.0Ah 18V Li-ion battery (BL1840) will work with your 18V machine if it has a star on the connector plate, has a yellow connector plate with a star, or has a yellow connector plate only.
Dave wrote in saying that his charger works perfectly fine with a BL1840 sourced in England.
Larson pointed out in comments that the Makita 4.0Ah battery looks to lack a battery fuel gauge. This wouldn’t be as missed a feature if more of Makita’s 18V tools had built-in fuel gauges.
Since only limited information is available at this time, perhaps the new battery pack will feature a fuel gauge. Makita USA has said that more details about the battery pack will be announced closer to its Summer 2014 launch.
Thanks to everyone for their questions, comments, and insight!
We reached out to Makita, asking if they could clarify about tool-battery compatibility. Even though the new battery won’t be available in the USA for at least half a year, we know that power tool users will sometimes plan purchasing decisions based on pending releases.
With other brands, such as Bosch, Dewalt, and Milwaukee, newer battery packs are absolutely compatible with all of their previous same-line tools. We are hoping that this will be the case with Makita’s 18V LXT tools and their upcoming BL1840 battery. Veto reported via a comment that his Makita sales rep informed him that very few 18V LXT will not be compatible with the new battery pack. A great majority of Makita LXT tools WILL be compatible with it.
“Would you be able to clarify about BL1840 compatibility? Are there any LXT tools that won’t be compatible? Is there a year cut-off where earlier tools are not compatible?”
Makita US’s reply:
The Makita 4.0Ah Lithium-Ion battery will be available in summer 2014, and more information will be provided as we near the release date. But we can say that the new battery will give users a “bigger gas tank” (meaning more run time), but it won’t take an hour-and-a-half to reach a full charge. The BL1840 will reach a full charge in about 40 minutes.
What we think:
A “bigger gas tank” will mean nothing to users if the new battery won’t work with users’ tools. My feeling is that all newer Makita 18V LXT will work with the new battery pack, and maybe all but a few older models. It is also possible that there’s a cut-off production month or year where previous tools might not be compatible.
We are disappointed by Makita USA’s official response and have no recourse but to wait a few months until the new battery pack launches.
For Makita users wondering if they can upgrade to the new higher capacity batteries next summer, all we can tell you right now is to check your tools and hope that the Makita USA product compatibility indicators are similar to Makita UK’s. If you find an LXT tool that’s not compatible, we’d love to hear about it!