Life expectancy of cordless drill?
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  1. #1
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    Awhile back I asked what cordless drill you would buy. The top billing went to the Dewalt. I wanted to buy a Festool, but could not bring myself to outlay the 400 bucks.
    I already had a 18 volt Dewalt model DW987 at work and ended up buying an 18 v DC920 for home. I notice right away that the new one packed a LOT more torque and power compared to my old one. I have also noticed that the one I use in the plant goes through batteries rather quickly. We get them rebuilt @ Battery Patrol and even the rebuilds don't seem to last very long(on a charge). A co-worker just ordered a several batteries and we got to talking and he had noticed the same things I have been noticing. These things don't have the same moxie they did several years ago. I brought my new one in today and there is definitely a noticeable difference. The old one struggles with step bits (electrical panels) and the new one blazes right through.

    My old drill is about six years old.Is it time to send it in for some love? Has anyone else noticed this loss of power with theirs?

    Luke

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    How expensive would it be to replace the motor. Most the motors I've seen in drills are puny little Dc brush motors. I don't think stuff like Makita is even ball bearing motors. Armatures and brushes wear. They are a LOT smaller in the little battery jobs than in the old "industrial" 120V jobs.

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    how bout this

    my dad and brother decided to build a 30x40 ft steel building that came with the property i bought, laying flat in the weeds

    dad bought two harbor freight 12 volt drills and extra batteries,, and got tired of changing batteries so he soldered on an extention cord to each and alligator clips to clip to the pickup

    they shot about a million screws and now a few year later he complained that his drill was getting a little loose in the nose,

    took it apart and found the plastic case worn out at the arbor brg,, epoxy fix and it is still running

    not bad for 12.95 each

    those damn chinese!

    bob g

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    Great story,Bob. Fortunately I get to work inside and use my corded drills when needed. The cordless is nice when I need to be a bit more "portable".

    I'm trying to convince the boss that it may be time to get these rebuilt (new chucks needed after 6 years), or maybe even replaced. We certainly don't baby these things in a factory and they do get hot.

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    After two to three years of regular use, the brushes will be pretty worn. I've noticed the same on many brands of drills. Batteries also only last a couple hundred charges.

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    I built QC equipment for Dewalt. Both Maryland and NC plants. Guess were they are made now?

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    My hot rodded 7.2v Makita driver drill has lasted 17 years of punishment. I've ran it on 9.6v batteries for at least the last 14 years or so. I just use a Velcro strap to hold the battery in. I put a keyless Jacobs chuck on it back before cordless drills even knew what a
    keyless chuck was I just wish it had a clutch.

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    I've had fantastically good luck with
    Hitachi cordless drills- dunno why,
    but the batteries last forever (cycles)
    and the drills just keep turning.

    Toby

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    I noticed the same thing when I swapped out my Dewalt 18v drill a while back. The old one had a plastic 2-speed gearbox that was getting real sloppy, while the new one had a (seemingly) heavy-duty metal gearbox with 3 position selector. Huge difference in torque too. Not sure about battery life though - seems about the same to me.

    By the way I regularly abuse these drills by pushing large hole saws through 1" to 2" fiberglass. Sometimes one hole will take two or three fully charged battery packs... frankly I'm surprised they don't burst into flames!

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    I'm another satisfied user of a cheap HF cordless drill -- an 18 volt one in my case. Bought it on sale 1/2 off and later some batteries for it -- also 1/2 off.

    Learned with a much more expensive Craftsman cordless that batteries can be murdered by leaving them in the charger for storage.

    So now I put the battery in the charger, use a cheap (love that word -- cheap) timer to turn the charger off after five hours, and they seem to last and last.

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    I have two 14.4V Ryobi drills from Home Depot. Seventy nine bucks gets you a drill, two batteries, charger and flashlight.

    I took the older one to work where I and several other machinists use it constantly for deburring, tapping, and chamfering holes. The batteries (second pair) are getting weak but the drill is still sound after six years, 3000 sq ft of metal roofing, and at least 100 lbs of deck screws.

    I agree that batteries last much longer if you don't leave them in the charger.

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    The real problem with NiCad cordless tools is the battery/charger system (DeWalt & most other older designs use the NiCad system). The chargers for those batteries are limited in their ability to analzye the discharged pack, equalize the charge to the individual cells, and recharge the pack to near new capacity.

    The newest battery technology, used most successfully by Milwaukee, is Lithium-Ion (LiIon). Individual cells weigh 1/3 as much as NiCad, per watt hour output, and take only 1/3 as much space. The same size and weight in a LiIon pack will produce more than double the run time of a NiCad pack.

    LiIon packs also use sophisticated chargers that allow cell balancing for greatest capacity. Many include a chip attached to the bottom on the pack to monitor individual cells:



    IMO, the top cordless drill today is the Milwaukee V28. My prior 18v DeWalts don't hold a candle to the V28. Incredible run time, even with hole saws, step drills, etc.

    For a good article on LiIon batteries, click here & scroll down.

    --------------
    Barry Milton

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    What are you guys talking about? I have & routinely use cordless drills and drivers dating back to the 19th century and they still work fine.

    smt

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    Good one Thomas! I offered a guy an "egg beater" just the other day when he was asking for a cordless.

    Thanks for the response guys. My real question though- is it worth it to have them rebuilt after a hard life and signs of wear, or should they just be replaced? These drills belong to the company so I'm not out one way or another. I just happened to notice that a new one packed more power and seemed to get more done than the old one.

    Interesting stuff about the LiIons, Barry.

    Luke

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    Thanks Luke, thought you'd like that.

    My real question though- is it worth it to have them rebuilt...
    If it's a current generation LiIon drill, yes. The increased power & runtime make this worthwhile.

    If it's a NiCad powered drill, probably not, the exception being the Milwaukee 18v that also can use the new V18 LiIon. It surprises me that no other company offers the LiIon upgrade to their existing 18v line of drills.

    ----------------
    Barry Milton

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    My experience is limited to Hitachi, a cheap Black & Decker, and a $13.00 Walmart unit just to keep behind the seat of the truck.

    The $13 dollor unit is actually not that bad. Has a good set of balls for light duty work.

    The B&D was so-so.

    The Hitachi 12V continues to perform and do things it should not be able to do. It has survived alot of abuse and drops. I have not owned a DeWalt or Makita but I would recommend my Hitachi.
    FWIW
    Curt

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    I have a 14.4v Hitachi and it's the only Chinese-made tool I've knowingly bought that I can recommend. In fact I'm quite impressed with it. I don't care for the asthetics (looks like one of those fussily-detailed basketball shoes) but as far as ergonomics, impression of quality, and performance goes, it's great.

    I have not owned it long enough to give feedback on the OP's question.

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    I got a B&D 18 Volt a couple of months ago from Wal-Mart for $70 and it has a lot more torque than the Dewalt 12 Volt I use at work. So far it has turned every drill and screw I have asked it to. I do want to find out what kind of batteries it has so I can avoid the NiCad problems if need be.

    I also have a couple of cordless drills for many years: the 1/4" since I was a teenager in the 50s and the half inch a decade or so less. And they are still working great with the original power source.

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    I noticed the same thing when I swapped out my Dewalt 18v drill a while back. The old one had a plastic 2-speed gearbox that was getting real sloppy, while the new one had a (seemingly) heavy-duty metal gearbox with 3 position selector. Huge difference in torque too.
    Interesting. That sheds some light on something I was told a year ago about DeWalt drills. I work for a military maintenance shop and I am one of the purchasing techs for the shop. About a year ago we bought around six new cordless DeWalts for the shop. While shopping around, a supplier quoted a price that was a little higher than everyone else. I think it was a different model number too. When questioned, he said DeWalt has two different lines. There is the "home use" line with plastic gearboxes and the "industrial" line with metal gearboxes. He quoted a price on one of the indurstrial line drills. At the time, I had no idea if *I* was getting a line and I don't even remember which drill we ended up buying, but that is one story that I was told.
    Mike

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    What are you guys talking about? I have & routinely use cordless drills and drivers dating back to the 19th century and they still work fine.
    LMAO. I think I have one of those hand operated drills in the tool room at work. The next time I get a mechanic asking for a cordless drill, I'll whip that out.
    Mike


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