Shown above is an aftermarket/3rd party Makita-compatible 18V Li-ion battery pack, advertised as fitting all Makita 18V tools and chargers.
There are also counterfeit batteries designed to look like Makita batteries, as cautioned on Makita Japan’s website, but that’s different.
While 3rd party “replacement batteries” are usually described as being compatible with toolmakers’ genuine batteries, they are often much less expensive and it is hard to imagine that there aren’t some quality compromises.
When last discussing this subject with another brand (not Makita/Makita USA), I was told that 3rd party battery packs are not built to the same quality or safety standards. In their tests, the 3rd party batteries were failing – sometimes dramatically – under conditions the brand’s batteries are designed to endure.
Tool brands’ batteries aren’t guaranteed to be perfect, but aside from outlier defects, you can usually expect consistent and predictable performance.
Maybe “replacement” batteries have risen in quality and safety features, but given the price points and the fact that many new and unknown brands pop up in online marketplaces all the time, I’m doubtful of this. These batteries seem to be designed to be cheap.
The situation is similar in other industries as well, such as with cameras batteries. Knockoff batteries sometimes deliver on-par performance, other times they lead to unpredictable issues. Results seem to vary depending on the supplier.
For instance, a Canon camera battery (LP-E6NH) is priced at $79. A reasonably well-known aftermarket brand’s replacement battery is priced at $59. On Amazon, an unknown brand has a 4-pack of “replacement for Canon” batteries for $28, which comes to $7 each. That’s 1/11th the price of a single Canon battery. Why?
Will it matter? Maybe, maybe not, I’d guess it depends on what the battery is powering.
With Makita XGT, the brand shared details on how their 40V Max and 80V Max XGT tools will interact with the 3rd party batteries that will inevitably hit the market at some point.
If you use a knockoff/3rd party battery, the XGT charger will not fully charge that battery.
Basically, Makita’s XGT charger will stop charging knockoff batteries at a specific percentage.
In a tool, you will not get maximum performance from a 3rd party or replacement battery.
Makita has said that XGT tools will detect fake batteries and limit the tool’s power accordingly.
This is a deterrent to prevent the use of knock-off batteries, although they did not clarify beyond this.
Does Makita want to sell you more batteries? Which brand doesn’t?
If you ask me, I would think it’s more about tool expectations and safety. Is this something other brands might do? Is this something that some other brands are doing already?
I think this is a good way to go. On one hand, aftermarket battery use is discouraged but if you’re going to use cheap 3rd party batteries, they won’t stop you.
The way I see it, not fully charging a 3rd party battery or limiting tool performance comes down to creating a safety margin. Batteries are stressed during charging, and they’re stressed during high-demand use. If the safety limits are unknown, capping the charge capacity or power output seems like a good way to go.
If this sets a trend, would it be a good thing? I think so. Is it already a trend and one we’re simply not aware of?
I don’t use 3rd party cordless power tool batteries, and I don’t encourage their use. Maybe this is really just about not losing battery sales to 3rd party replacement battery makers, but I don’t think so.
Do you remember the hoverboard incidents from a few years ago where cheap Li-ion batteries with insufficient safety features were exploding and causing fires? XGT tools and chargers and how they work with 3rd party batteries seems like a way for Makita to cover their and your interests in case you do use knockoff batteries.
Speaking as someone who doesn’t use 3rd party power tool batteries and hasn’t found a recommendable brand of such products, I wouldn’t mind if brands capped the charging capacity or tool performance of 3rd party “replacement” batteries.
This could set a good trend – if done for the right reasons, such as user safety.
If you do use aftermarket cordless power tool batteries, how would you feel if your brand(s) did this? Might they already be doing this? Would you notice?
Aftermarket 18V battery imagery is shown above, but to our knowledge this is only a feature/function unique to Makita’s XGT system. There has not been any indication as to whether similar functionality was built into Makita’s 18V system or any other brand’s system.