Cordless Drills

Years ago, we had a few conversations about the life of a cordless drill/driver combo. At the time, I waxed poetic about my 18V lithium Makita set, and it’s served me well…until recently.

The drill still works fine, but the batteries are giving up the ghost. Battery life isn’t what it used to be, and half the times the charger blinks “bad battery” and won’t charge. It takes multiple attempts to get it to take a charge at all.

I just checked Amazon to remind myself how old these are, and was a little shocked to see that I bought them in October 2008. Yes, 15+ years ago. Definitely got my money’s worth out of these.

Since replacement batteries are $$, now I’m shopping for a new set. Yeah, I could buy some cheap chinese knock offs and probably get a few more years out of these. But since I started shopping, now I’m interested in the newer models with brushless motors. They even have some where the drill has a hammer drill function.


Ridgid is a good brand for homeowners. Not heavy duty but work well, priced nice(on sale a lot) and have a good warranty.

I’ve used them for years at home, but use Milwaukee for my work.


Back when all tools had cords Makita was my brand of choice, so when my wife bought me my first cordless drill of course it was Makita. More out of caution than need I bought a pair of brand X batteries for it about five years ago. It all still works.

When I wanted other cordless tools things were completely changed. Now there were systems that shared batteries and chargers. I knew I wanted go with a single system. After a bunch of research, and some soul-searching, I succumbed to my obsession with buying the Good Stuff and went with Milwaukee 18V. Overkill for me, but I can afford it. I started with a drill/driver pair. The impact driver doesn’t have a three-jaw chuck, just taking the 1/4" hex bits. I shopped with an eye toward compiling a good set of batteries of varying power as I added a few other compatible devices. I’ve got chargers for both the basement and garage shops (with one to spare!).

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Watch for sales on new sets, back in the early days the DeWalt NiMH batteries would die in me when I was off on the road a while, eventually I had to give in, change over to the new brushless 20V LiIon setup, there are also adapters to use the 20V batteries on older 18V tools, so only a few had to be replaced completely… So meantime, there’s a flip top box of the old tools in the shed, not sure what to do with them, their chargers… Donate, maybe…

Other brands, similar tales, some Royobi still survive, but the old 9V Marita’s are long gone, recycle binned… New brushless in all brands are a lot stronger…


Are the batteries interchangeable? Battery prices are high suggesting they are low volume for retailers. So most replace the tool and get battery with it for better price. But some have multiple batteries so one can charge while the other is being used.

If batteries are interchangeable life is easier.

That’s where the various brands have us locked in, no crossovers that I know of for competitors…

I tried 3rd party batteries for my 18V NiMH DeWalts, they just didn’t last, hold up…

Go for the real ones…Find sales…

I have a mind boggling number of Ryobi products acquired over many years from a local Home Depot which took their display models and remaindered them in the back of the store; my best deal was a strapped pack of 2 drills, 2 batteries, 2 chargers for $50 - but there have been others, as well. Yes, I knew a guy in the hardware dept who would tip me when it was about to happen.

That little story aside, there have been times when Ryobi didn’t have tools adequate to the job; their first 18v circular saw was 5 or 6 inches and could barely make it thru 1/2” plywood. DeWalt had a full serve 7” so I bought that along with a battery and charger. *(Ryobi now has an acceptable 7” as well.)

But it’s true that the battery is the “lock in” middleware which binds you more or less to one brand.

However I found this, which allows me to use the DeWalt battery in my Ryobi tools, useful as I get to “exercise” the battery once in a while if I haven’t been using the saw in a while. Unfortunately I haven’t found one that lets me go the other way: using my many Ryobi tools in DeWalt or other tools.

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I am going Dewalt as they have already moved to the 20v battery.

I am a little concerned though. I researched and researched before I bought my tracksaw and my 10 inch sliding compound miter saw. The only brand that had better reviews than the Makitas that I bought was Festool and Mafell.

I bought the corded Makita track saw, but think I might been better to spring for the cordless. Had I, I would have seriously considered the Makita drills and 1/4 inch impact.

As it is, I went with a decent Dewalt 3/8 drive hammer drill to replace my Makita corded 3/8 hammer drill. It finally died 10 years after being under salt water for a few days. I am getting old and cranky, if the job is too heavy for the Makita hammer drill, its too much for me anyway.

I noticed that most of the contractors here use Dewalt. My old Porter Cable 1/4 inch impact is dying fast, My intention is to replace it with a low clearance Dewalt impact.

I also went with a 18 gauge brad nailer, mostly for trim, but it is good for furniture and tacking things in place for gluing up. It has not miss fired yet.



Good catch… I only have the Ryobi 8" pole saw, but came across a 1/2" Impact at the flea market for $10, no charger, then the small Ryobi leaf blower, but also found batteries, chargers at the flea market cheap… Some of my early DeWalts were all flea market finds, guys would buy the tools for a small job, sell them cheap… had several chargers, some are recalled, if the date was right, DWalt would replace them… So a lot of the older saws, drivers… But a lot less use these days… BIL went Milwaukee, so he’s all Li, but newly retired, so more use…

At work we had Hilti’s, many corded, but a 12V drill/driver, I ended up with it when I retired, but now it’s batteries are dead, won’t charge, tried to open, replace the cells, that didn’t work out, so it went in the recycle bin… But for a 12V, it was really strong, handy… But also pricey…

A source for Ryobi tools, and in fact where I bought the 8" pole saw, and their Garage Door Opener (GDO), is at Direct Tools, they run specials, so an option:

I got tired of their promotions, but they were good at the time, the GDO is still working fine… But they lost a legal battle with Chamberlain, so they aren’t being sold at Home Depot any more… FIL has a lot of Ryobi tools, air compressors and so on…

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I’ve had Ryobi tools for about 15+ years, IIRC. I have about 10 tools in total.
But the High school robotics team I mentor has also had Ryobi for about the same time.
About a dozen drills, impact drivers and a few others along with 4 individual chargers and a 6-pack charger with about 20 batteries.
Each battery is marked with the year and a number and no one really- pays attention.
The students seriously abuse these tools/batteries for a few months every year…motors go bad, chuck jaws fail, but they generally hold up well.
When a battery goes dead they grab another and are supposed to start the dead one charging.

Due to what seemed like a lot of kids not following the rules, this past weekend another adult and I tested every battery and found 6 dead and 2 very weak when fully charged…so they were trying to charge them, usually. I dropped off the 8 bad ones at HD yesterday.
All but one of them was 2014 or earlier. Some NiCad, some Li-ion.



One of these is currently sitting in my Amazon cart, and the 20v, 4Ah batteries is a big reason why…

$299 for a hammer drill and impact driver, 2 battries, charger, and a bag. If I can reasonably expect to get the same 15 years as my last one, it’s a no brainer.


There has been a transition from 18-v to 20-v. Do you think 20-v is the last of it or will they continue to change the voltage? 40-volt next?

Changing voltage is another way to force new batteries and equipment making life more complicated. What was the software that made all the first PCs run the best software. How about a device like that for batteries?

Ryobi has an entire line of 40v tools (so do others.)

I have several: a chainsaw, mulcher/vac, blower, pole saw, inverter, and so on.

You can also get Ryobi 18v batteries in configurations from 2amp hour to 9 (which get ridiculously large, but are still useful for running fans and a few other stationary gizmos where you need “time” rather than “power.”

InParadise has a post hereabouts regarding her (very good) experience with, um, Greenworks (I think) cordless tools customer service. There are lots of choices now, just remember it’s the battery that locks them all together - so look to the entire tool line before you buy the first one. You don’t really want to be buying batteries in every possible configuration if you can help it.

(I already have Ryobi 18v, DeWalt 20v, and Ryobi 40v, and now Ryobi has a line of small 4v tools like tile cutters, power screwdrivers, etc. Where will it end?)

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Insignificant, I think.

For the few devices that need it, yes. Think when replacing small gas engines. For typical cordless tools, it seems like overkill. Perhaps in some years, but, I think, not soon.

I started to buy that package, but I wanted the hammer drill with a little more power and the impact wrench with the low clearance head, both are not available in the package.


Powuse sells adapters that they say allows you use batteries in tools from different brands. Each tool/battery brand pair needs it’s own adapter and it looks like each adapter is around $30. They have a youtube video showing them in action.

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Pardon my interruption,

@qazulight - If my son is looking for a job with FEMA, has your son got any kind of insights or advice to him? He’s done a great number of the EMI courses already, but it seems difficult to find many chances to actually get in front of a person…

(I apologize for the interruption on the cordless power tools here!)

He’s graduating with a degree in EM this spring, we’re in Chicagoland, which is why this comment you made two years ago has stuck in my head.

Rob Tichy

b.skycaptainnov2018 at gmail is a working email I use for putting on the web.

I emailed you. Email me back and we can start a conversation.



No worries - FEMA needs some cordless drills too… :joy:

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I find that the cordless nail gun by Ryobi is a little bit weak with the 18V battery? It’d probably be fine with the shorter nails, but the longer ones really require the battery to be “very charged” and there’s a funny loss of driving force if you “prime” the trigger and then wait/adjust (change angle) too long then the loss of driving force is almost certain.

Rather annoying, but it did get me through the project I did; it’d be useless for a tradesman…

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