What’s your take on 3rd party Li-ion battery packs for your cordless tools? Someone asked this not too long ago, but I can’t find the email in my inbox (sorry!).
Power tool battery packs are expensive. It’s often an inevitability that, if you want a replacement or spare battery pack, it’ll cost you. As with laptops, digital cameras, and other electronic devices, 3rd party batteries are available.
But should you buy them? Would you buy one? Have you bought one?
I wouldn’t. I also wouldn’t buy 3rd party branded battery for my cameras, despite the many reviews.
If you search for [power tool brand] 18V replacement battery, or 12V, or 20V Max, you’ll find plenty of generic battery packs from brands you’ve never heard of.
My hesitation is born from the understanding of what often goes into a Li-ion battery pack.
First, there are often premium battery cells. Compact 18V-size battery packs have 5 cells, higher capacity battery packs have 10 cells. Power tool brands often use the highest-rated 18650 Li-ion battery cells on the market, and they don’t come cheap.
Second, brands spend a lot of time and effort in designing their battery pack cases with a major goals in mind – protecting cells and increasing longevity. This could be from the elements, over-current conditions, over-depletion, or heat.
One brand even has an explosion-proof testing room where they push battery cells and packs to their absolute limits.
Even if a 3rd party replacement battery company uses the same premium cells with the same rating, what kind of protection do they build into their battery packs?
With all the recent news of hoverboards (you know, those self-balancing 2-wheel Segway-like scooter toys) catching fire during charging from unidentified causes, I am even more reluctant to ever consider 3rd party battery brands.
Maybe I’ve been brainwashed from one too many media events, but power tool brands design and manufacture battery packs for high performance, with no shortcuts. Can the same be said about replacement battery companies, or are they designing (I use that word loosely) and manufacturing replacement batteries to be as cheap and appealing to your budget as possible?
I would not entertain the idea of pairing my power tools with off-brand replacement batteries. But that’s just me.
What’s your take on off-brand replacement battery packs?