A small box containing Milwaukee M18 batteries and an HD starter kit (thank you Home Depot!) arrived today. After getting over having received a 2-pack of XC3.0 batteries when I thought the packing slip said CP3.0, the new battery we posted about this week, I realized that the on-package advertising made for a good follow-up to recent conversations.
On the package, it says: M18 Everything Fits. Then, there’s a chart showing that as you go from CP to XC to HD battery packs, you get increased power.
On the back, there’s a chart, showing a selection of Milwaukee M18 cordless power tools along a line that spans from light demand to heavy demand.
The XC battery is placed in the middle, presumably to indicate that it’s best suited for the middle of the range.
The compact battery packs are suited for the lighter demand and more compact tools.
The XC battery packs are suited for all of the mid-sized tools, and can be used with the lighter demand tools. They can potentially be used with the higher demand tools.
The HD batteries are matched to the heaviest duty tools.
Some are quick to point out that you shouldn’t use the smallest batteries on the largest tools, and that’s true. There are higher demand tools, such as the chain saw (see Ben’s comment here), where the compact battery simply can’t provide enough power for proper operation. It’s uncertain how the new High Output compact battery might change things.
XC battery packs are fairly capable at powering most of Milwaukee’s M18 cordless power tools.
For the heaviest duty tools that were designed with the HD battery in mind, an XC battery won’t provide the same performance, but lighter use of such tools is possible.
Take the Milwaukee M18 Fuel portable table saw, for instance. I was able to cut plywood and 2×4 materials with power provided by an XC5.0 battery. While an HD12.0 battery would have been the best choice, an XC5.0 battery still powered the saw through light cuts. It worked.
Update: Following is a video demo from NPS18, showing performance with an HD12.0 battery and then an XC5.0 battery.
For a light demand tool, you can really use any of the battery packs. For most tools, you should see good performance from an XC battery. But, in a pinch, maybe you can use a compact battery if that’s all you have charged and ready, but it depends on the tool. For the heavy demand tools, you should use an HD9.0 or HD12.0 high demand battery. But, for lighter use of those tools, XC batteries have been shown to work.
Think of it this way. Let’s say there’s a small brad nail that needs to be driven into a 2×4. One of my kids could hammer it in. A finish nail? Maybe they can do it, but it’ll be slower than if I were to do it. A couple of nails? They’ll get tired quick. A framing nail? Better give me the hammer.
“M18 Everything Fits” holds well for most of the M18 lineup, until you get to the heavy duty corded and gas-replacement tools released in recent years.
You have to match the battery to the tool and the task. When in doubt about which battery a tool should be paired with, look to see what battery or class of batteries it’s kitted with.
Frankly, “my compact battery won’t power my heavy duty tool” isn’t a complaint I’ve heard about yet. I’ve heard “can I use an XC battery in that tool until I can get an HD battery,” and the answer is usually “it’ll work for most tools, just not as well as an HD battery.”
If a tool is kitted with an HD battery, that’s a clear indicator that an HD battery is needed for it to perform optimally.