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Power Tool Batteries - what's the difference?

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  • Nov 11th, 2017 10:17 pm
[OP]
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Jan 10, 2007
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Abbotsford

Power Tool Batteries - what's the difference?

I think I understand 20V/18V - it's the same thing basically, marketed different

https://www.protoolreviews.com/news/20v ... wer/17024/

but if I was to look in the DeWalt or Ryobi ecosystem - are there different types/quality of the battery/motors within their 20v/18v lines? i.e. - if Ryobi has two impact drills that are 18V, features aside, are they always going to have the same power?
24 replies
Deal Expert
Aug 2, 2004
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East Gwillimbury
The motors make a huge difference. The power is always the same. 18 volts is 18 volts. It doesn’t provide more power in one vs the other.

However a more hungry motor will require more power, so it will appear as if the battery doesn’t lasts as long.
[OP]
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Jan 10, 2007
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Abbotsford
thanks,

is there an easy stat (like HP in a car) to give at least a cursory comparison of motors? Is there a baseline you'd want as a weekender verse overkill if not a pro?
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Feb 11, 2007
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oakjefferson wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 2:19 pm
thanks,

is there an easy stat (like HP in a car) to give at least a cursory comparison of motors? Is there a baseline you'd want as a weekender verse overkill if not a pro?
Yes, there's RPM and Torque ratings.
You should really just go by your needs (basic usage or heavy usage) and the overall ratings for each company. Ryobi is fine for most low usage DIY. If you're a heavy user you may want to go to a Milwaukee/Dewalt/Makita system.
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Feb 9, 2006
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Brampton
Once you're in to 20V territory you're basically looking at Lithium cells vs the 18V which signify NiCD but they're actually the same Voltage. (at least in the confusing DeWalt world).

Either way you should be looking at Li-Ion based tools.

When it comes to drill motors Brushless will be more efficient than brushed. Most of the low end stuff will be Brushed.
Milwaukee and Dewalt are good for Prosumers/weekend warriors that actually will do some solid DIY like build their own decks or basement. They use heavier duty brush motors.
HD's Rigid isn't bad value in this regard. Tho You'll see a lot of Older Dewalt 18V stuff get cleared for much less then rigid, the tools themselves are higher quality the issue is the clearance tools will be the NiCad sets. They can be adapted to Li-ion which makes them incredible value. Yes this means you can use the 18V dewalts with the 20V batteries.
The problem is the Li-ion adaptor is like $100.

Don't let people fool you either, the NiCads themselves aren't terrible. I use them in my DeWalts still, it's been 6 years and they are still very solid. The charger actually has a refresh mode that does good job keeping the Nicads strong. You just need to remember to do it every once in a while and rotate the batteries.

Dewalt does list their Torque ratings of their drills and tools on their site.

If you're looking for something professional grade I'd look at Makita.
[OP]
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Jan 10, 2007
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tebore wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 3:01 pm
Once you're in to 20V territory you're basically looking at Lithium cells vs the 18V which signify NiCD but they're actually the same Voltage. (at least in the confusing DeWalt world).

Either way you should be looking at Li-Ion based tools.

When it comes to drill motors Brushless will be more efficient than brushed. Most of the low end stuff will be Brushed.
Milwaukee and Dewalt are good for Prosumers/weekend warriors that actually will do some solid DIY like build their own decks or basement. They use heavier duty brush motors.
HD's Rigid isn't bad value in this regard. Tho You'll see a lot of Older Dewalt 18V stuff get cleared for much less then rigid, the tools themselves are higher quality the issue is the clearance tools will be the NiCad sets. They can be adapted to Li-ion which makes them incredible value. Yes this means you can use the 18V dewalts with the 20V batteries.
The problem is the Li-ion adaptor is like $100.

Don't let people fool you either, the NiCads themselves aren't terrible. I use them in my DeWalts still, it's been 6 years and they are still very solid. The charger actually has a refresh mode that does good job keeping the Nicads strong. You just need to remember to do it every once in a while and rotate the batteries.

Dewalt does list their Torque ratings of their drills and tools on their site.

If you're looking for something professional grade I'd look at Makita.
this was fantastic, thanks
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Jan 25, 2007
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tebore wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 3:01 pm
the tools themselves are higher quality the issue is the clearance tools will be the NiCad sets.
I dont agree at all. I know engineers from both companies and this is on a case by case basis for what price point they are trying to hit.

The main indicator of BATTERY performance is the milliAmphour rating mAh of the battery (like size of a gas tank in a car). So sometimes you see stuff like "4amp" and its a 4000 mAh rated battery. Meaning a drill will last longer, and stuff like a saw will last much longer. All companies list that or the watt hour (WH) on their batteries including vacuums, laptop batteries etc.

I have seen all tools manufacturers put together Christmas or Fathers Day deals with lower amp ratings to hit a price point as well. This is my primary issue with most Ryobi sets is that you get a junky battery so you buy the tool and end up having to spend more money on a better battery where if you generally buy Ridgid you get a better battery in the first place, even though you paid a little more money. But overall you are ahead.
Gbill2004: Thanks but I'll just smell the couch before/if I buy it.

jonnyb: I go in there like PICASSO and toss the glue everywhere, I don't care what house I'm on.
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Dec 12, 2006
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Seeing as RIGID is being mentioned on a decent battery tool, you need to add to equation if you register tools and devices you get lifetime battery replacements......no other brand offers this. And pretty good limited lifetime warranty if you take care of your tools.


In general, vast majority of time anything over 20V is just giving more operating time.

As for power you need to look as mentioned at torque and amperage of tools....but then again you need to have tool and hand and see weight balancing if suits or feels good in your hands. As a high torque tool may have more power but feels unbalanced in your hands and you are triggering on/off all the time. Versus a lower torque tool that you can feel and use with one pull to end. But as well the lower torque will mean the tool may not tighten to the desired tighteness.

Yes the battery tool market is flooded by many models by same brand and near same price points. Difference maybe a few .01 amps or larger battery or trying to put together a special but combo pack ( as mentioned above ).
[OP]
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Jan 10, 2007
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Abbotsford
so if 18V or 20V are acceptable, what would you say would be a good amp # baseline?
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
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Richmond
Milwaukee for example has 3 different lines of 18v tools with different motors:

1. Their brushed-motor tools are the cheapest.

2, Their Fuel brushless motors have more power and a potentially-longer lifespan.

3. Their latest non-Fuel brushless motors are optimized for longer battery life instead of more power.
Sr. Member
Mar 27, 2009
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The 20v li-ion dewalt is the same actual voltage as the 18v li-ion milwaukees. Its just marketing in this case.

If you go dewalt or milwaukee you will be good. Rigid is okay. Ryobi is home quality and i wouldnt trust one at a jobsite. Makita is probably a bit lower or equal to rigid quality. Makita used to be good in the 90s

I work in the trades and have probably burned out half a dozen or more drills in my career. Ive used 12 v 14.4v 18v 20v and 28v drills. Ive honestly reverted to using my 12v milwaukee drill and impacter 90% of the time.

My opinion for a hardcore DIY home gamer, if you can afford it Buy M18 milwaukee or the 20v dewalt with hammer mode. Certainly in li-ion. I would pick rigid as a #3 option if the price tag of the others is too much.

Edit: just wanted to add. I wouldnt get too excited over the brushed/brushless versions. The brushless versions in quality brands are certainly better. But for the home gamer the benefits will likely not outweigh the price difference.
Last edited by zibzer on Nov 10th, 2017 9:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Jr. Member
Nov 30, 2015
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GTA, ON
oakjefferson wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 7:42 pm
so if 18V or 20V are acceptable, what would you say would be a good amp # baseline?
I have M18 Milwaukee tools for home use with both 2 amp and 3 amp batteries. For my regular drill and impact driver, I use the smaller battery 99% of the time and never run out of power for the short time I use them. I have used the larger battery but it adds more weight and as mentioned in post #8 above it affects the balance of the tool in your hand. The small battery recharges pretty fast too.

The larger batteries are used on the M18 circular saw and also on a Fuel hammer drill attached to an ice auger for fishing. They work well on high torque needs.

So the answer is it depends on your planned use of the tools.
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Mar 27, 2009
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oakjefferson wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 2:19 pm
thanks,

is there an easy stat (like HP in a car) to give at least a cursory comparison of motors? Is there a baseline you'd want as a weekender verse overkill if not a pro?
You can look at rpm and torque levels to compare power. But this doesnt take quality into consideration.
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Jan 25, 2007
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Paris
oakjefferson wrote:
Nov 10th, 2017 7:42 pm
so if 18V or 20V are acceptable, what would you say would be a good amp # baseline?
2 amps for drills. 4 amps for recip saw, circ saws, if you plan to use the hammer drill. There is a power:weight ratio so you don't need a honking battery when doing light drilling. When I pull out my Milwaukee nut buster at 1440 torque I need a big battery and a safety suit.
Gbill2004: Thanks but I'll just smell the couch before/if I buy it.

jonnyb: I go in there like PICASSO and toss the glue everywhere, I don't care what house I'm on.
Deal Addict
Feb 29, 2012
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Richmond
Anyway, it's not like these batteries are some sort of secret proprietary technology for each manufacturer. They all just buy standard off-the-shelf Lithium-Ion cells (usually 18650 size) and package them in a proprietary shell so that you have to buy batteries from them for their tools.

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