Is it a conspiracy? Are power tool brands trying to squeeze us for maximum profits? Are they just plain evil?
I could probably ask some of them about why every brand has their own proprietary battery format, and I’m sure I’d get some official and reasonable-sounding answers. But let’s brainstorm about this a little bit.
Some brands design their tools differently. One brand’s protection circuitry might be in the battery pack, another’s might be in the tool. Basic battery protection, to my knowledge, will always be in the battery pack.
Why would any brand change their entire design structure over, so that you could use another brand’s tools or batteries with theirs? They wouldn’t.
But let’s say you could. What would happen if you combined a Milwaukee battery pack with a Dewalt power tool? Or a Makita battery with a Metabo power tool? Or a Ryobi battery pack with a Bosch power tool, pretending that a stem pack could fit a slide-style tool interface?
You won’t see cross-brand compatibility because brands like to ensure predictable performance. If you could use one brand of battery and another brand of power tool, who would you complain to if the tool performance wasn’t what you expected?
You’ll see proprietary battery packs all over the place. I have Panasonic cameras that take different battery packs. My old Canon Rebel dSLR camera takes one type of battery pack, my newer cameras take another.
I can’t even access the batteries in my tablet, laptop, or cell phone.
It’s not reasonable to expect things to be different with power tools.
In fact, if the power tool industry was like the electronics industry, there should be many different battery form factors to choose from.
Okay, what about Stanley Black & Decker and all of their brands?
Again, it’s about predictable performance. The technology and cells that go into a Black & Decker battery pack are going to be much different than those that go into a Dewalt battery pack.
While a Dewalt 20V Max battery pack should be perfectly capable of powering Black & Decker and Porter Cable 20V Max tools, barring any special electronics-related or handshake reasons, can a Black & Decker battery pack power a Dewalt power tool?
Maybe, but it probably won’t deliver the same level of power, or perform under the same conditions, or endure the same types of shock and handling abuse that a lot of professional tools see on a daily basis.
If you could buy non-Dewalt battery packs for your Dewalt tools at half the price, or less, wouldn’t you? And that’s why Stanley Black & Decker probably won’t ever make their various brands of tools work well together.
Dewalt and Mac Tools’ compatibility is an exception to this, and they were designed that way.
I don’t care about defending tool brands, I merely try to understand them.
In a recent comment to the post about how Porter Cable 20V Max tools and batteries aren’t compatible with their 18V ones, Daniel says:
The only thing proprietary batteries do is make life frustrating for us the customer.
I respectfully disagree. Yes, replacement and additional battery packs are expensive. Having to maintain multiple brands and form factors of battery packs is a hassle.
But consider this – what reasons do brands have to standardize their battery packs?
The additional bare tool purchases would be offset by lower battery pack sales. Returns would be higher, customer support requests would be higher, and users might be unhappy and blame the tool brand if they experience poor performance due to a battery-tool mismatch of capabilities and needs.
I still think that Bosch’s wireless charger is our best bet as a universal power tool battery charging system. Yes, you would still multiple brands of battery packs for your multiple brands of tools, but at least then you would be able to use fewer chargers.
Am I wrong about this? Please think about the question and share your theories!