In the last five years we’ve seen some drastic improvements in power tools. They have gone from being heavy, large and bulky, to ergonomically designed and lightweight tools that are easy to use. But that’s not all …
Latest advances in battery technology offers power tool users Lithium-Ion as a power source that has significant advantages.
To date, batteries in portable consumer devices such as a laptop, camcorder, cellular phone, etc., are typically made using either Nickel Cadmium (NiCad) or Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH). Each has its own unique characteristics but the main difference being that NiMH battery offers better charging performance than NiCad, at up to twice that of NiCad. NiCad batteries also tend to suffer from what is called the “memory effect”, while NiMH batteries are less prone to develop this problem and thus require less maintenance and conditioning. NiMH batteries are also environmentally friendlier than NiCad batteries since they do not contain heavy metals – of great concern when considering eco-friendly alternatives.
Note: “Memory Effect” means that if a battery is repeatedly and only partially discharged before recharging, the battery forgets that it can further discharge. Over a period of time, a battery continually handled in this way will no longer charge. The best way to prevent this situation is to fully charge and discharge your battery on a regular basis according to the manufacturer’s recommended instructions. (see more below)
Lithium-Ion (Li-Ion) battery technology is fast becoming the new standard for portable power in consumer devices, and particularly for power tools. Li-Ion batteries produce the same energy as NiMH battery but weigh less, allowing power tools to be even more user-friendly. Furthermore, and most importantly, Li-Ion batteries do not suffer from the “memory effect” at all, which allows them to be charged whenever required. They are also environmentally friendly because Li-Ion batteries don’t contain toxic materials such as Cadmium or Mercury.
Extending the life of NiCad batteries
There are several steps you can take to help you get maximum performance and increase the life of a NiCad battery:
Minimising memory effect
Keep the battery healthy by fully charging and then fully discharging it at least once every two to three weeks. Exceptions to the rule are Li-Ion batteries which do not suffer from the memory effect.
Keep batteries clean
It’s a good idea to clean dirty battery contacts with a cotton swab and alcohol. This helps maintain a good connection between the battery and the power tool.
Do not leave the battery dormant for long periods of time. If a battery has not been used for a long period of time, perform the new battery conditioning procedure as recommended by the manufacturer. If you don’t plan on using the battery regularly, always remove the battery from the power tool and store it in a clean, dry, cool place away from heat and metal objects. All batteries self-discharge during storage; remember to recharge the batteries before use.