In response to our recent post about the new Dewalt 20V Max compact 4.0Ah cordless power tool battery, Boggsy mentioned wishing it has a USB charging port for both trickle-charging the battery or charging electronic devices.
Why make a new battery without a USB-C out/in… In a pinch, you could trickle charge it with your phone/laptop/tablet charger. Or, plug your dying phone into your impact driver to make a business call. Lol. Technology.
That actually sounds like a good idea, in theory, for power tool batteries to be rechargeable via USB.
In practice, it would be a huge headache for engineers and a costly upgrade for end users.
Black & Decker has made cordless power tool batteries with built-in USB device charging ports before.
And so has Skil – here’s our review of their 12V brushless drill/driver.
One-way charging certainly adds to the price of battery packs. There’s more circuitry required in the battery pack, and the port is one more thing to protect.
USB charging is done at ~5V, and so step-down voltage regulation is required.
As for charging the battery via USB, that’s even trickier.
The battery pack would be larger. Charging times would be longer. Internally, the battery would have greater complexity. The port would have to be protected against the elements and jobsite bumps, tool vibrations, and what-not.
All this would lead to a more expensive battery.
For DIYer cordless power tools? Sure. How many cordless power tools and batteries does the average DIYer have? How many batteries might a pro use? How many pros buy separate batteries compared to how many batteries they get bundled in kits?
Let’s say that Dewalt did decide to come out with a battery pack that could be “trickle charged” via USB and charge electronic devices. I suppose USB could allow for one port to be used for two-way charging, and that likely further increases the complexity.
To be honest, I don’t know, my USB port pack has a micro USB for charging it and a USB A for charging devices. Looking at current-generation portable chargers from leading brands, they still have separate inputs and outputs.
But let’s continue and consider a hypothetical Dewalt cordless power tool battery that can be charged from a standard USB charger.
There are quite a few different “fast charging” standards out there, and so fast charging times would likely require that Dewalt bundle their own charger with the battery. That’s going to add further to the cost.
Let’s say that you use an off-the-shelf USB charger that can deliver a 2.1A charging rate. At 5V that’s what, 10.5 watts? This 20V Max 4.0Ah battery is rated at 80 watt-hours. The charging time would be more than 7-1/2 hours – at the least- which is quite slow.
And remember, you have to step up then 5V to >20V to be able to charge the 20V Max battery. That will usually mean added heat and efficiency losses.
Now, are users going to pay for all this stuff to be incorporated into a single battery pack?
This is Dewalt’s DCB090 USB power source, priced at $40 via Amazon. I have one (a review sample) and like it, but it’ll slowly drain a connected battery even if it’s not being used to charge something. If Dewalt were to come out with a USB charger for their 20V Max cordless power tool batteries, it would be in this type of slide-on accessory.
With such an accessory, you could potentially have an input and an output. Something like this is possible and much more likely than having the tech built right into a new 20V Max battery.
Although it’s pricey, Dewalt does make a 12V DC charger that can be plugged into car’s ports. At the time of this posting, it’s ~$104 via Amazon.
Maybe it’s something Dewalt and other cordless power tool brands have considered. There are economic of practical reasons why such a charging adapter doesn’t exist yet.
Milwaukee has an M12 USB charger and device power port, but I don’t think I’ve seen an M18 version yet.
Hmm, you know what would be nice? Having an adapter for each brand and being able to recharge any brand’s cordless power tool battery via the same USB cable. But for everyday use, standalone chargers will likely continue to be easier, faster, and more functional.
Would you pay more for an 18V or 20V Max cordless power tool battery with built-in USB charging capabilities? What about a two-way USB charging adapter accessory? How much would you be willing to pay for it?