Jon wrote in with a great question, asking about whether there’s a battery pack adapter that could allow for Milwaukee, Ridgid, and Ryobi cross-brand compatibility.
This is a question that’s more often asked about Stanley Black & Decker brands, such as Dewalt, Porter Cable, and Black & Decker. TTI is the parent company for Milwaukee Tool, and they also operate Ridgid and Ryobi power tools in North America.
Here’s a refresher: Our guide to tool brands and corporate affiliations.
I’ve been wondering if there is an adapter that allows TTI branded products (Ryobi/Ridgid/Milwaukee) to share batteries? I am assuming that the li-ion batteries that TTI uses in its branded power tools either have identical guts or guts similar enough to allow them to work across the various product lines, no?
I would love to use my Ridgid batteries to breathe new life into my Ryobi circular saw and grass trimmer. Thanks!
Here’s the short answer: Nope!
This is a question I’ve thought about a couple of times now, so here’s the long answer:
Although Milwaukee, Ridgid, and Ryobi – at least the latter brands’ North American power tool interests – are all under the TTI corporate umbrella, the tools and their respective battery technologies are completely different.
They’re designed differently, and to different specs. I don’t think the cells are even alike. I haven’t taken apart Ryobi or Ridgid battery packs, but I don’t think they’re even built with the same cells. Actually, I don’t think even all of Ryobi’s battery packs are built alike, since they have starter-level and more premium 4.0Ah battery packs. In that case, the batteries are all 18V One+ compatibility, but you might see different performance.
Ryobi came out with a cordless fan, and then Ridgid, and also Milwaukee. At Milwaukee’s recent press event, I asked a product manager as to whether any technology or design was shared across brands. They said they don’t have any official communication with their parallels at the other brands, except for maybe at the personal level.
It might be different for Ridgid and Ryobi, in terms of communication and partnership, but that doesn’t change the fact that the product technologies are going to be different.
Stanley Black & Decker’s brands share similarly styled battery pack form factors, but you still won’t see cross-brand compatibility there.
Chicago Pneumatic came out with a new line of 18V cordless power tools, and although the batteries are based on Ridgid’s form factor, I asked and found out that the components and specs are different.
Modern power tools and their Li-ion battery packs are smart devices with a lot of sophistication.
Consider two Canon cameras – a point and shoot camera, and a dSLR. They’re both Canon cameras, but the battery needs and designs are different. Even two Canon dSLRs or two point and shoot cameras will have different battery sizes. The same is true for other brands. I have several Panasonic cameras, none of which can use the same battery, despite being similar in size or shape.
While we might all wish for battery adapters, or better – universal battery adapters, it’s not going to happen. Consider things from the other side of the fence. As much as we might moan and groan about having to buy and maintain multiple battery pack platforms, that’s probably better than unpredictable tool performance.
If I had to rank the three brands, I would consider Ryobi to be the affordable brand, Ridgid to be the mid-level brand, and Milwaukee to be the higher performance brand.
Rigging a higher-level battery to work with a lower-level tool might work without ill effects, ignoring for a moment whether there are any “handshake” compatibility issues. But what about going the other way around?
A Ryobi battery pack is not going to be as capable of powering a Milwaukee M18 power tool – certainly not the heavier duty tools with greater power draw. There’s nothing wrong with that, as they’re designed specifically to power Ryobi power tools.
I’ve seen a couple of adapters and couplers on Kickstarter and elsewhere, but nothing that I’d be optimistic about.
In January I posted about a question that came to mind – what if brands adopted Bosch’s wireless charging standard? I think that would be the closest we’d get to a universal charging system.
But as for battery adapters – not going to happen, at least I don’t think so. Brands pour a lot of energy into their battery pack designs, and are not going to willingly allow for mixing. Because when – and not if – users are disappointed after coupling one brand’s battery packs with other brand’s tools, who will they blame? The power tool brand? The battery brand? Probably both.