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Cordless Drill Battery
Cordless Drills Features (continued)
Cordless Drill Battery.If you expect to use your drill for relatively long work sessions, you need a battery that lasts. The length of time a cordless drill battery runs before needing a recharge is measured in ampere hours (Ah).
Even so, the best insurance against running out of power at a crucial moment is having a back-up battery (but remember to keep it fully charged). Among the cordless drills that we researched, the Ryobi HJP002K 12V and P815 18V, Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 12V, and Bosch Pocket Driver PS21-2A 12V come with two batteries. The Craftsman 17310 C3, PowerGlide 19.2V, and Skil 2240-01 12V come with just one battery; the Skil 2240-02 12V is the same as the 2240-01 but features two batteries and costs about $10 more.
Many 12V, 18V, and 19.2V cordless drills come packaged as a kit; that is, with at least one battery and a charger. (All of the models we researched qualify as kits.) The charger is often specific to a battery technology (e.g., lithium-ion or NiCAD), but the Craftsman 17310 C3 and Ryobi P815 come with dual-chemistry chargers that power-up either type of battery, which can then be used in your cordless drill. If you have a compatible battery and a charger lying around, you can save money by buying a "bare tool;" that is, one without a battery or charger. The Ryobi P202 18V (starting at $59, Amazon), for example, is the same drill that comes in the pricier Ryobi P815 "kit." By contrast, if you need a replacement battery or charger for the PowerGlide 19.2V, you're out of luck. We read several reviews by disgruntled owners who note on Ace Hardware that this model is sold only as a complete kit.
The new lithium-ion batteries deployed in increasing numbers of cheap drills, including our favorites, have many advantages over the older NiCAD and NiMH batteries. For one, lithium-ion batteries hold their charge longer while in use and in between chargings. Charge time is significantly faster -- usually less than an hour compared to several hours with the older battery technologies, although there certainly are exceptions. (Specs for the 18V Hitachi DS18VF3, for example, boast a 35-minute charge time for its NiCAD battery.) Lithium-ion batteries also deliver consistent power until the juice runs dry, whereas power from NiMH batteries diminishes as the battery wears down and tends to flag in cold weather. Moreover, the new-technology batteries can be removed from the charger before they're fully juiced up, but experts caution that if you repeatedly take NiCAD batteries off the charger before the process is complete, the battery may never fully recharge. Lithium-ion batteries are also lighter than the older battery types, making for a more ergonomic power tool. On the other hand, cordless drills that rely on NiCAD or NiMH batteries are often cheaper; the NiCAD-powered Ryobi P850 18V starts at $79, for example, compared to the triple-digit price tag for the 19.2V Craftsman 17310 C3 and 18V Ryobi P815.
Aside from a few reports about disappointing performance, drill reviews by experts and users agree that the new lithium-ion batteries meet all the necessary requirements: consistent power, long run time, and rapid recharge. Indeed, drill reviews give top marks to the batteries in our top picks. Concerning the 12V Ryobi HJP002K, users posting reviews on Home Depot say the battery holds its charge through a variety of jobs, be it driving hundreds of screws or trimming out electrical fixtures on a remodeling project. One user reports that the Ryobi HJP002K just keeps on going, and others note that even when it finally quits, the battery recharges in less than 45 minutes. The Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 garners similar praise on the Lowe's site, where one user notes that you'll tire out well before the 12V cordless drill battery wears out. A quick recharge for the single cordless drill battery accompanying the Craftsman 17310 C3 is most welcome, say drill reviews on Sears, as is the dual-chemistry charger. Many users comment on the Craftsman 17310 C3 's decent battery life, although one user gripes that the cordless drill battery pooped out after tightening screws on eight chairs and another says 30 minutes of intense drilling did it in. The other 18V cordless drill on our list, the Ryobi 815P, also holds its charge well and boasts a quick recharge, so you're never short of power, according to drill reviews on Home Depot.
The older NiCAD batteries, found on the Skil 2240-01 12V and the PowerGlide 19.2V don't fare as well in users' estimation. For one thing, it takes at least three hours to fully recharge the batteries, so you could be twiddling your thumbs for quite a while if you don't have a charged-up extra. Users' drill reviews for the Skil 2240-01 on Amazon say you get about a week of low-level use from one charge but caution that you need to drain the battery completely and then recharge completely for maximum utility. The PowerGlide really falls down on the job, according to reviews on Ace Hardware. Users report that the battery doesn't hold its charge and may completely die within months, and that the charger often malfunctions and in at least one case, leaked white foam.
Don't Bother Cheap Drills
This is another cheap cordless drill with the old NiCAD technology and a 3/8" chuck that isn't much of a bargain. Users like the variable speed but complain about weak motors and report problems with chargers and batteries going bad; users grouse that you can't buy these items separately.
Bosch PS21-2A Review
SKIL 2240-01 Review
PowerGlide 2186955 Review
Porter-Cable PCL120DDC-2 Review
Ryobi 18V P815 Review
Ryobi HJP002K Review
Craftsman 17310 Review
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