Ask a Pro

Cordless drill battery options


Photo by Mark Hunter


Any comments on cordless drill battery options? I am attempting to compare an 18-volt Li-ion with a NiCad. Any comments or suggestions would be appreciated.
--Michael Lanigan

Generally speaking, NiCad batteries are older technology and offer very little that can’t be topped by the technology found in the new lithium-ion batteries.

For one thing, Li-ion batteries are very light, about half the weight and size of their NiCad cousins. This allows manufacturers to put big power into small packages, keeping the higher voltage tools a useable size and weight. Secondly, Li-ion batteries self discharge at a very low rate. While NiCad batteries will go dead by themselves in a relatively short time, the lithium batteries will hold their charge for up to several months.

Finally, most lithium batteries deliver a very linear power. What this means is that unlike NiCad-powered tools that gradually lose power as the battery weakens, Li-ion tools will run at a constant voltage until the tool senses the voltage drop and cut the power. This prevents damage which can be caused by over-draining batteries.

Don’t get me wrong, NiCad tools have been around forever, and can represent a good value, but as tool technology advances, I am seeing fewer and fewer NiCad options available, as most brands switch to the new technologies.

Ryan Shervill

Ryan Shervill is a field editor and contributor to Outdoor Canada, as well as an avid hunter and shooter. He is also Canadian Home Workshop’s online Ask a Pro and contributing editor.


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Lora Kee

Feb. 13, 2012

10:48 am


Good catch! If I had to guess, it's not a reverse bit, but a reversed photo. Sometimes we flip things around to make the photo fit better, though we try to not change the function of the item in the photo.


Canadian Home Workshop


Feb. 11, 2012

4:35 pm

no comment to make about the batteries,but i did notice in the photo of the cordless drill on page 63 of the March issue that the drill has a " reverse twist "bit in the chuck, ( the drill has to run in reverse to drill the hole) it's been a while since i have seen or used one of them

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