Have you been dealing with dying power tool batteries? Maybe it seems like every time you use the drill, you find the battery hardly lasts any time at all. Don’t worry – in this article, you’ll learn about some possible causes, and how to make a power tool battery last longer.
The first way to make a tool battery last longer is to ensure that it is being properly charged. If it isn’t being charged, it won’t work. The second thing to remember is that all batteries have an expected lifespan, and sometimes you won’t be able to make the battery last longer without replacing the entire thing.
Let’s talk in more depth about what makes batteries last a long time, and how you can troubleshoot a failing battery.
What makes Batteries Die?
Before we can begin working on making batteries last longer, we need to ensure we are caring for the battery properly. Let’s talk about what makes batteries die, then we’ll discuss how to make batteries live (or, at least, last longer).
Note: if you’re looking for a gimmick or trick to make your batteries last longer, then you’ll be disappointed here. This article is about common sense reasons batteries lose their charge, and practical ways to achieve more battery life.
Here’s what makes power tool batteries lose their charge:
- Bad charger
- Bad battery
- Cold weather
Below, we’ll go into more detail.
Bad Chargers and Low Powered Batteries
Bad chargers aren’t something you would normally think about. However, it can happen. There are times when small connections in the wiring can become disconnected, or something within the charger can break. This is more likely for people who know that they’ve recently dropped their charger or that it was exposed to liquid.
While bad chargers are one of the less common reasons for a failing power tool battery, it’s worth considering. Before you go tossing batteries, you should at least double-check that the charger is still working, and try a new charger if you can.
Think about how often phone chargers go bad – it happens. It could be that an animal chews through the cord, or that there is something off about the connections within the unit.
Now let’s talk about some sad battery facts.
Bad Battery: Some Batteries Go Bad
Some people will spend days scrolling the internet, trying to find ways to magically revive a battery that’s fifteen years old. Here’s the truth – sometimes, batteries have served their time and need to be replaced. You can’t keep a battery going forever.
While there’s nothing wrong with trying to safely repair a battery if you can, it’s also important to realize that not all batteries can be easily repaired. If you’re looking for a way to magically extend the life of an old battery, you’ll be disappointed.
If you’re the type of person who likes to tinker with things, of course, do what you like. Just know that some batteries are beyond healing and will either need to be replaced completely or have the cells within them battery replaced (a relatively major repair).
Cold Weather Can Stunt Batteries
If you’re always scratching your head when your power tool batteries are dead in the spring, think about where you stored them over the winter. The simple fact is that most batteries don’t like the cold weather – particularly, they don’t like being stored in cold environments. How does this happen?
Well, someone who lives in a fairly temperate climate may decide to store their batteries in the garage. If the area never becomes that cold, this is understandable. However, here’s the issue: If batteries are exposed to freezing temperatures even once, it can have detrimental effects on their life and use.
So, keep a close eye on where you’re storing your batteries. If you want to extend your power tools’ battery life, then think about storing the batteries in a temperature-controlled environment. Also, avoid ever exposing your batteries to freezing temperatures.
Now let’s talk about the other end of the spectrum: batteries that overheat.
Overheating Can Cause Batteries to Fail
While batteries can freeze and fail, they can also overheat. This can be related to how they are stored, but it’s often more related to how the batter is used. What does this mean?
Two main things.
First, if you’re pushing a battery too hard, it can overheat and fail. This would most likely happen if you had a battery that was being continuously used, around the clock, with many recharges and then discharges. This type of high use will make a battery die faster, and will ultimately cause the battery to fail sooner.
The second way you can fry a battery is by pushing it too far. Essentially, if the battery is always going at top speed and still not getting the job done, then you may see the overall performance drop. The best way to counteract this is to buy a bigger battery – that simple.
Now, let’s talk about some ways to get more battery life from your power tools.
How to Get More Battery Life and make Power Tool Battery Last Longer
Be careful when playing around with batteries! Certainly, know that by attempting to do anything outside the owner’s manual, you are doing these things at your own risk.
There are many different batteries out there – some will be easier to work with, and some won’t. Ultimately. You should be very careful about taking apart a battery if you don’t know exactly what you’re doing.
It would be much safer to send the battery back to the manufacturer for repairs than to try to fidget with it yourself. With that said, let’s talk about a few ways to get more battery life, and be less reliant on your battery.
How to get more battery life:
- Upgrade to new power tools (or battery)
- Have a corded backup (drill and circular saw)
Upgrade to New Power Tools for Longer Battery Life
With new power tools that have brushless motors and more efficient mechanisms. You’ll see that they last longer and do more while using less battery life. Also, many new power tools have larger more efficient batteries. If you’re holding on to fifteen-year-old batteries, then you’re just asking for more trouble.
Yes, batteries are expensive, but they are worth the investment if it means you’ll be able to get more work done with fewer delays.
You can upgrade in two ways. First, you can buy a bigger battery. A bigger battery will give you more charge, but also realize that a bigger battery will be heftier to carry around.
The second way you can upgrade is to get a new battery type. Lithium-ion batteries represent the latest in power tool battery technology. If you’ve never used lithium-ion batteries, you should really think about giving them a try. They are almost like using a gas-powered engine. The battery runs with real power, and when it stops it stops – there is no annoying winding down like there is with older batters.
Of course, for the biggest benefit, buy yourself and bigger battery and a better battery!
Now let’s go over one more thing.
Have a Corded Backup
Batteries are great – but sometimes, you need the consistent power of the cord. If you can, have a corded backup tool, in case something happens to your battery-powered tools. Yes, this isn’t really a trick to get more out of your battery, but it is a way to become less dependent on batteries.
Also, corded power tools are usually cheaper and lighter than battery-powered tools. Yes, you have to worry about the cord, but sometimes this is a welcome trade-off.
Note: Some people have talked about jumpstarting batteries – they do this by connecting an old battery to a new one. The results are mixed, but this is a possibility for those who have the training and would like to research how to do it properly. Just keep this in mind – it doesn’t always work.
Final Thoughts: How to Extend Battery Life
There are many sites that report magical ways to reuse an old battery. While some of these tricks have more or less relevance, it’s important to think about how long you’ve been using the battery, and what type of battery it is. You don’t want to waste a bunch of time on a battery that needs to be replaced.
To extend battery life, first eliminate anything that could be detrimental to the battery’s charge. Check that the charger is functioning properly. Also, ensure you’re not storing the batteries in a cold or overheated environment. Also, become aware of any particular charging protocols for your battery – the only way to know is to check your owner’s manual.
The best way to extend battery life is to upgrade to a bigger and better battery – also having a corded power tool backup comes in handy. There are some legitimate methods to jumpstart a dormant battery that won’t charge, but these methods have mixed results.