How to charge a cordless drill battery without the charger?
A cordless drill is of no use with a juiceless battery. Therefore, every manufacturer provides a dedicated charger for the batteries, often inside the package.
In a worst-case scenario, the battery charger can die for various reasons. This blog post will discuss how to charge a cordless drill battery or any battery without its official charger.
You can charge a battery without a charger using a car battery if both are rated at 12V. Using a variable DC voltage source is also a very reliable way to charge any rechargeable battery. You can also use a laptop charger for an 18V or 20V drill battery or AA cells attached in series or another drill battery or a balance lipo charger. You can also use a 12V solar panel to charge a battery without a charger.
The science behind charging a cordless battery is the same as charging a Li-ion battery with a charger. The science behind charging a Li-ion battery is the same as charging any rechargeable (this is important) battery.
How to charge any battery without a charger?
The basic science of charging any rechargeable battery is to provide the rated voltage of the battery at both terminals by connecting the positive terminal of the voltage source with the positive terminal of the battery you are charging and the negative terminal of the voltage source with the negative terminal of the battery you are charging.
To understand it better, check the image below. A rechargeable battery is connected with a variable voltage source by connecting the positive terminal of the voltage source with the battery’s positive terminal and the negative terminal of the voltage source with the battery’s negative terminal.
In the first setup on the left, the voltage source is 0V, so the battery is not charging yet. However, once the voltage source is switched on to 12.0V, it’s charging. I have applied 12V because the battery we are charging is also rated at 12V.
Once the voltage goes up to 12 V, it starts charging. In reality, it is not that simple. The charging starts as soon as the potential difference rises.
This means that if a 12 V battery got discharged and went down to 6V, as soon as you connect a voltage source above 6, it will start charging. The charging rate is also directly proportional to the voltage difference.
Quick Tip: Get yourself this inexpensive voltage meter by Amazon Basics to properly check your battery voltages while you charge and discharge it. (An expensive one by FLUKE for serious sht)
If your battery has discharged to 6V and you have connected it with a 12V voltage source, it will start to charge quickly, and as it approaches 12V, the charging speed will drop significantly.
This same technique is also used in Fast Charging. A higher voltage is applied than the rated voltage of the rechargeable battery at the beginning of the charge cycle. Then, it is carefully reduced to the battery’s rated voltage when the battery approaches full charge.
These variable voltage sources are pretty expensive, but you can get this option from Amazon at a reasonable price. This is another very cheap alternative, but the quality is not outstanding.
Caution: Fast charging needs a proper BMS (Battery Management System) to avoid any mishap or explosion. All batteries are not designed to stand fast charging as a lot of heat is produced when you fast charge a battery.
Charging Li-ion battery without charger
Okay, so now we have discussed how to charge any battery, let’s move on to Li-Ion batteries. A single lithium-ion Cell is rated at 3.7 V.
The charging cut-off voltage is 4.2 V, and the discharging cut-off voltage is 3.0 Volt. This means, at the end of the charging cycle, the cell voltage should not be more than 4.2 V, and at the end of the discharging cycle, the cell voltage should not be less than 3.0 V.
Since Li-ion batteries power most cordless drills, how come they have 12-18V batteries? The answer is simple; they comprise multiple Li-ion cells stacked in parallel and series, as shown in the image. Cells in parallel only affect the amp-hour of the battery and affect how long the battery will last.
Standard Un-Balance Charge
Now, let’s discuss balance and unbalanced charging. You will have seen multiple pins on a high-end cordless drill battery. These multiple pins are connections to each cell stack to balance charge it. As shown in the image above, every cell is individually accessible to charge.
Learn more about battery internals at this link.
In a standard charge, all we have to do is apply the battery’s rated voltage at both main terminals and wait for the battery to charge. Just make sure to provide the battery’s rated voltage at both terminals by connecting the positive terminal of the voltage source with the positive terminal of the battery you are charging and the negative terminal of the voltage source with the negative terminal of the battery you are charging.
To avoid any damage to the battery, it is recommended to charge at 12V rather than 12.6V. Although it’s safe to charge Li-ion batteries to 12.6v, I will not recommend taking the risk.
Balance charging takes a different approach than a standard unbalanced charge. You will need special off-the-shelf balance chargers mainly used by RC plan enthusiasts. They are cheap but have great features, and you can control multiple battery parameters.
These chargers can also charge NiCad, Nimh, Lifo, and other rechargeable batteries.
The chargers provided by the drill manufacturers charge each cell and balance its voltage to be the same 4.1-4.2V when fully charged.
You will not be able to balance charge your Li-Ion yourself if you don’t have a balance charger.
The process involved charging each cell to the rated voltage and keeping all cells at the same level of charge. See the below image to understand how it works.
There are many off-the-shelf balance chargers you can buy on Amazon, but the SKYRC B6 is my favorite as it comes with a lot of connectors and cables which will help you charge any rechargeable batteries you have.
The Hacks: How to charge a cordless drill battery without the charger
Now, let’s move on to the most exciting part: how to charge any rechargeable battery without the official charger at home when you don’t have a balance charger or variable voltage source.
We normally do not have a variable voltage source lying around. These voltage sources are expensive and hard to find. So, we need to find a hack to charge our dead battery.
Assumption: I assume that you will probably charge an old battery that comes with your outdated drill, and you no longer want to invest in a new charger, or the charger is not available in the market.
I recommend buying a proper charger for newer batteries to extend the battery life. Replacement chargers are readily available on Amazon. (Check this link, add your drill brand name and voltage to the search query)
So, let’s come to the point. As discussed earlier, all you need is the same amount of voltage as the battery.
Following are a few ways you can get that desired voltage:
- Your Car battery – A perfect 12V voltage Source
- Laptop Charger – 12V to 18-19V Voltage Source
- Simple AA Cells – Any amount of voltage can be built up
- Cheap Voltage Regulators/Converters
- Another Drill Battery
- Solar panel
Charge a cordless drill battery with the car battery
DO IT AT YOUR OWN RISK: Risk Involved – Shorting car battery terminals, overcharging a low-rated voltage battery to 12V, and exploding it.
A car battery is one of the best ways to charge your 12V cordless drill battery. You don’t need to charge your car battery as that will be automatically charged by your car alternator when you drive. Incases your car battery is dying, and you need a replacement, this is the one I always use with my cars. They come with a 36-month warranty.
All you need to do is, connect the drill battery terminals with the car battery terminals. As stated earlier, connect the positive terminal of the car battery with the positive terminal of the battery you are charging and the negative terminal of the car battery with the negative terminal of the battery you are charging.
If you have the same car battery being used for other things like UPS etc., at home, you can use that as well. Make sure the battery you are going to charge has a rated voltage of 12V your car battery is also rated at 12V.
Charging a Cordless Drill Battery with a Laptop Charger
Most laptop chargers are rated for 18-20V, which is very suitable for charging an 18V battery. The process is simple. Understand the type of connector your laptop charger has.
After that, get a hold of a compatible female connector (Get these connectors). Solder the female connector with the internal battery connections (Positive with positive and negative with negative). Make a cut-hole for the female connector to sit in, and voila, you can charge your battery without the official charger.
If you don’t want to get bothered with the connector type, get an off-the-shelf two-pin connector set like this one, and make connections in a way positive aligns with positive and negative with negative.
An Apple MacBook chargers (The old Megsafe ones) are rated at 14/16/18/20V. You can easily charge an 18V battery with the 18-20 volt chargers. Do check the output voltage ratings on the back of the charger.
Again, the process is simple, connect the positive terminal of the laptop charger with the positive terminal of the battery you are charging and the negative terminal of the laptop charger with the negative terminal of the battery you are charging.
It is a little complicated to take the connection from the pins of a Magsafe charger, and almost impossible to get hold of the female pin socket for it, so you will have to cut down the Magsafe connector.
Note that the center’s wire will be the positive terminal, and the outer mesh will be negative. Caution: This will irreversibly damage your MagSafe charger.
Charging battery with off the shelf 1.5V AA Cells
This is an expensive and inefficient way, but it can be life-saving. In an extreme case, when you can’t find any voltage source, you can get hold of simple off-the-shelf 1.5V AA Cells and connect them in series to make up the desired voltage (A voltage equivalent to the battery you are going to charge).
9 Cells in series for a total of 13.5V to charge 12V battery and 13 cells in series for a total of 19.5V to charge 18V battery. They may not fully charge your battery as these cells have a minimal capacity.
You can also get hold of rechargeable AA cells, and they mostly come with a charger, but that will be expensive. Still, worth sharing.
Charging battery with Cheap Voltage adapters
The process is the same as in laptop chargers, but cheap voltage regulators are available at electronic shops and online. Get these 12V and 18V adapters from Amazon, and they will work great. I found this one to be pretty convincing. It is cheap and comes with many connectors to connect with the battery.
You may find these already lying around at your home, which may have come with electronic devices like Bluetooth speakers, min fans, or toys. Do a thorough search.
Charging battery with another drill battery
Charging a rechargeable battery with another fully charged battery is also a great hack. For example, if you have another drill battery with a working charger, you can use that drill battery to charge your battery.
Again, science is the same. Make sure the other battery is of the same voltage and fully charged. Now connect the terminals in the same polarity. Positive with positive and negative with negative. You will have to use jump wires for the connections. It will not be a solid solution but can work in an emergency.
You can also buy universal drill battery charges from Amazon. Check the options here.
Charging battery with solar panel
Solar Panels are a great source of DC Voltage Source. However, there is one problem. The Output voltage is not constant and varies due to the change in sun direction and temperature.
A 12V rated solar panel has an output voltage of 17 volts, which is regulated down to 13-15 volts to charge a 12V battery.
Just make sure the panel is designed for a 12V battery system, and then you can connect it directly with your battery without an MTTB controller. Make sure your battery does not become too hot to avoid any incident. I will personally recommend this 12V panel.
Caution: These are all hacks, and you shall perform them with extra care and precaution.
How to charge a car battery without a charger
So charging a car battery without a charger also needs the same technique as charging a cordless drill battery, however, you will need a powerful charger or will need to charge the car battery for a quite long to charge it.
The best way to charge a car battery without a charger is by using a high-power (Watts) 12V voltage source. Connect the positive terminal of the voltage source with the car battery’s positive terminal and the negative terminal of the voltage source with the car battery’s negative terminal and turn on the power source by plugging it in a power outlet. You will have to wait a couple of hours before it’s fully charged.
You can use this 12V power source from Amazon.
How to charge Ryobi 40v battery without charger
The basic science is again the same for charging a high voltage battery without a charger. To charge a 40V battery, you will need a voltage source of 40V. You can get this voltage source in different ways.
One way is to connect 3 12V batteries (The actual voltage of a 40V battery is 36 Volt – but it jumps to 40 when fully charged) in series and charge your 40V battery with it.
However, it’s a risky method. I will recommend getting this variable voltage source from Amazon which can go up to 60V.
Again, the process is simple, connect the positive terminal of the variable voltage source with the positive terminal of the 40v Ryobi battery and the negative terminal of the variable voltage source with the negative terminal of the 40V Ryobi battery. Now adjust the output voltage of your variable source to 40V and your battery will start charging.
Make sure to keep a multimeter with yourself to keep monitoring the voltage of your battery.
How to charge Milwaukee m18 battery without charger
The Milwaukee m18 batteries are rated at 18V and you can charge them using a laptop charger rated at 18V or get yourself an inexpensive variable voltage source that can provide a terminal voltage of 18V.
Then connect the positive terminal of the variable voltage source with the positive terminal of the Milwaukee m18 battery and the negative terminal of the variable voltage source with the negative terminal of the Milwaukee m18battery. Now adjust the output voltage of your variable source to 18V and your battery will start charging.
You can also charge a craftsman v20 volt cordless drill battery using the same technique.
You can get this inexpensive variable voltage source for this project.
Can you charge an 18v battery with a 12v charger?
No, you can not charge an 18V battery with a 12V charger. If you plug in an 18V battery inside a 12V charger, it will indicate that your battery is fully charged as a 12V charger only brings up the voltage to 12V from a lower voltage.
DeWALT 20v solar charger
It’s been a little while since I’ve had a shiny new tool battery to tear down! This one showed up in the mail for some analysis and evaluation. so analyze and evaluate it I shall!
As of the time of posting, you can get 2 for 150 (shipped) on eBay. which almost certainly beats your local hardware store by a lot. But, only if they’re good.
This is a notable pack in that it’s (supposedly) using 20700 format cells. the first non-18650 based tool pack I’ve had the opportunity to rip into.
What’s inside? Is it any good? Read on to find out!
DeWALT 20V Max 6.0Ah Tool Pack
I’ve looked at the DeWALT 20V Max packs before. Back in 2016, I tore apart a 3.0Ah pack I had laying around. that particular one had a bad cell group (dead short in a cell. that must have been exciting when it failed), so it was quite unusable and I couldn’t really get much data on it.
This new pack is supposed to be twice the capacity at 6.0Ah. or, as the front cover helpfully explains, “50% Capacity vs DCB204 4.0Ah Battery.” Math!
Since this is a brand new and working pack, I’m not going to completely destroy it. I do like my tool packs for my tools. But, I’m going to pull it apart enough to find out what makes it tick, compare it to the other pack I ripped apart, and do an awful lot of testing to find out if it’s any good!
Specifications Size (vs 3.0Ah Tool Pack)
To give you an idea of how this pack compares to the more common 3.0Ah pack, I’ve compared the new pack to the 3Ah ones I have laying around and previously tore down.
Weight (6.0Ah): 30.1oz (854g) (37% heavier)
Dimensions (3.0Ah): 4.5” x 3” x 2.5”
Dimensions (6.0Ah): 5.25” x 3.25” x 3” (51% more volume)
It’s half a pound heavier and marginally larger in all dimensions for twice the capacity. You can consider this a case of “Battery technology advancing.”
The new pack sounds bigger than it is. it’s really only a small increase in size and weight over the old pack.
If you’re doing a lot of overhead work, the extra half pound might matter to you. but otherwise? This is a very nice improvement.
Warnings and Cautions
Oooh! The back of the packaging comes with a handy list of “Things I’m about to do with a battery pack”. though I may not do all of them immediately. At least not intentionally.
The top part of the warnings is not terribly fun to read. There’s a 3 year warranty (which is pretty solid for a tool pack, especially if you use it regularly), a warning that I should read this list of warnings that seems to be the instruction manual (which I have, and will proceed to ignore), and a label in the top right stating that this is a lithium ion battery and that if the package is damaged, you shouldn’t transport it. Obvious, but this is required labeling on lithium batteries.
The lower part of the warnings is the fun part. let’s see what “suggestions” I’m about to ignore.
I don’t plan to immerse the pack in water or other liquids, even if that does sound fun (I suppose I should find out if it floats).
I don’t intend to incinerate the pack, even if it is severely damaged or completely worn out (I’ll try not to severely damage the pack). You should recycle the packs, because vapers need “9000mAh UltraStarFireXTREEM” batteries from some source or another. I bet these will be recycled as “15000mAH” cells. Though I will say, they’re not kidding about toxic fumes. lithium battery fires are a good thing to be well upwind of.
If you’ve managed to get cylindrical lithium battery contents onto your skin, or liquid into your eye, you’re having a really, really bad day. Or, perhaps, you’re trying to build a DIY Powerwall in the normal, incredibly hazardous, likely-to-cause fires method. I do try to keep the contents of my lithium cells inside the cell at all costs. I usually even succeed!
Seriously? ”Contents of opened battery cells may cause respiratory irritation”? Yeah! That stuff is not for human consumption. McGruff the Crime Dog says, “Don’t sniff lithium batteries.”
Now that I’ve gone through the “Do not destroy this battery and stand around staring it it while it squirts in your face, which you may find irritating” part of the warnings, I come to the parts I fully intend to ignore.
“Charge the battery packs only in DeWALT chargers.” Well, probably. You could charge it with any other balancing charger that handles a 5S pack, but the DeWALT one is convenient.
“Do not probe pack with conductive objects.” Like the probes of a voltmeter? Well, um… Oh! How about alternative contacts for discharge testing?
“Never attempt to open the battery pack for any reason.” Definitely doing that.
“Do not store or carry battery so that metal object can contact exposed battery terminals.” This battery, very reasonably, has no exposed battery terminals. But, the terminals are live at all times. so I wouldn’t want to carry this pack in a box full of paperclips, metallic tinsel, or other metal objects that could make contact with the terminals.
What we have here is 854g of brand new DeWALT Tool Battery, built in late 2016, if the date code is encoded reasonably.
It has the same terminals and latching mechanism as all the 20V Max packs. which does make sense, given that they all need to fit in the same tools.
The underside comes with the usual warnings and information.
Zooming in on the actual data label in English, it’s a 20V (Max) battery pack, 6.0Ah, “Type 2” (whatever that means), and claims 120Wh nameplate capacity. Well, not quite, but that math works with their admittedly creative naming for this series of packs (personally, I’d call it an 18.5V pack, but that’s not a substantial improvement over the old 18V NiCd or NiMH packs. you can buy straight through adapters).
Interestingly, 120Wh exceeds (by 20%) the 100Wh absolute capacity limit on the mailing method in which this pack arrived at my office. Bad seller! I’m not surprised, but as one who deals with the proper dangerous goods/hazmat shipping for battery packs on a regular basis, I really don’t like to see batteries shipped around in violation of shipping laws. That leads to more shipping laws, which just annoys me even more.
This is a DeWALT 20V Max pack. the terminals are the exact same as on the previous pack I pulled apart.
These packs are pretty simple. There are 8 terminals. B, TH, ID, C1, C2, C3, C4, and B-.
B and B- should be obvious. these are the main charge and discharge terminals. They’re on the ends, are double height (both the upper and lower row are the B/B- terminals), and are of a different material than the center terminals (copper versus brass, I’d guess). Probe these, you see the full pack voltage at all times. helpful, if you wish to use these packs for other purposes! You’ll see how things are wired up internally below, but it’s up to the equipment to perform a low voltage cutoff. This pack can’t do it.
TH is for thermal monitoring. On the DeWALT 20V Max packs, at least, this is a 10kΩ/25C NTC thermistor wired between B and TH. Note that it’s going to the positive terminal! If you measure the voltage between TH and B-, you’ll see something somewhat less than pack voltage, because your voltmeter and the thermistor have made a voltage divider.
ID is for pack identification. On this pack, it’s almost exactly 800Ω to B- (ground). I assume this is a resistive based pack identification method. My 3.0Ah packs read exactly the same.
C1, C2, C3, and C4 are direct access to the voltage of each cell group. so, as shipped, 3.5V per cell. The charger uses these terminals for balance charging, and if you happened to want to charge one of these without a DeWALT charger, you could simply configure your charger for a 5S balance charge, hook up the proper terminals, and have fun. If you do this, be aware that C1 is the first cell group up from B-. the terminal ordering feels a bit backwards.
As delivered, the pack has 1 of three charge LEDs lit, 17.5V across the pack, and almost exactly 3.5V per cell charge.
This is a bit lower than what I’m used to (normally 3.6V per cell), but based on the datasheet, this corresponds roughly to a 30% state of charge (required for some newer shipping regulations). By my reading of the datasheet, this is closer to a 35-40% state of charge, but… hey. Close counts, right? If the shipping companies won’t specify exactly how they intend you to define 30% SoC, you can define your own method. It’s not like they’re out there with a voltmeter.
If you can’t tell, I’m depressingly familiar with lithium battery shipping regulations. At least all the local UPS guys know me as “the battery guy” now and don’t have to call the depot about the fact that “This guy is shipping hazmat… is that OK?”
The ideal place to store lithium cells for shipping is about 60%. this is well below the “stressed at full charge” state of charge, but leaves plenty of capacity for in-transit self discharge or a small battery management system draw.
It’s fine, but you’ll need to charge the pack before use.
Well, here’s another one of the suggestions I’m completely ignoring.
Current generation DeWALT packs are held together by Torx T10 Security Screws. they have a pin in the center to prevent you from using a normal Torx bit. Of course, being a well equipped techno-weenie in a solar powered office, I have an entire kit of security bits, because I don’t believe in keeping me out of things.
With the “Please don’t remove me” screws removed, the pack comes apart easily enough. There’s no glue or anything else involved. the pieces just slide free.
And inside is just a scaled up version of the 18650 based pack I tore down previously!
Comparing them side by side, you can see this. the older 18650 based pack and this 20700 based pack are pretty much identical except for size (and the fact that I dismantled the older pack a good bit further).
Just like the previous pack, the cells are spot welded on the ends with some nickel strip (presumably 0.30 mm. it’s hard to measure without ripping things apart, but that’s what the previous pack had, and this feels the same to me).
The H interconnects are placed a bit more precisely than the interconnects on the older pack I tore apart. If I had to guess, I’d wager that this pack was machine assembled. The spot welding points are marked by small divots in the strip, and the slits are pretty standard on thicker nickel interconnects. By having the slit in the center, the spot welding current is forced to go into the battery terminal (not through the whole battery. just across the terminal), and this makes for easier and more consistent welds with the thicker strips.
The Cells: Panasonic/Sanyo NCR20700A
Measurement of the cells indicates that they are, indeed, 20mm in diameter (you can’t see the entire diameter on the ends as the ends are a bit curved).
They are also almost exactly 70mm in length (the case is slightly less, and the cells stick out perhaps 1mm on each end).
Unfortunately for identification purposes, the markings on the cells are hidden under the case. and, for this pack, I don’t really feel like ripping the whole case apart. But it doesn’t matter, because there’s only one cell that fits this description!
This is a 20700 format cell, with a red wrapper, rated at 3100mAh, and rated for a whopping 30A. Impressive!
The previous pack I pulled apart had a pair of 15A rated cells, for a total pack rating of 30A. This has a pair of 30A rated cells, for a total pack rating of 60A, but the interconnect strips and wires are the same as in the smaller pack, so I can’t say I’d consider this more than about a 30A pack. Though I might try and see what happens.
Looking at the discharge curves for the cell (from the previously linked PDF), Panasonic considers the cell fully drained at 2.5V. which is absurdly low for a lithium cell (and works out to 12.5V across this pack). You really, really don’t want to do that to your cells or the cycle life goes to “suck” in a hurry.
The cycle life on these cells, if cycled repeatedly from 4.2V to 2.5V, is (by modern standards) quite poor. under 200 cycles to 80% (2400mAh) according to charts in the datasheet.
In reality, they should last a good bit longer for most users. The DeWALT charger (at least the one I have) doesn’t charge past 20.5V for the full pack. this works out to 4.10V per cell instead of 4.20V. And, if you’re not being an idiot, you won’t run your packs down to low voltage cutoff regularly (I would consider 15V, which is still one LED lit, as a sane cutoff point for these cells). You should feel the reduction in power by then anyway. just swap them out when they’re down to 1 LED and you’ll be perfectly fine. All you do by draining the pack deeply is hurt cycle life.
Lithium batteries are most stressed when totally full (4.2V per cell, though higher for some newer chemistries), or fully empty (2.5V per cell or below). Running the cells from end to end like the cycle life test will kill them fairly quickly. Not fully charging them, and not running them totally empty (as is the case with the DeWALT charger and, ideally, users) is a lot easier on the cells and should keep them alive a lot longer. DeWALT offers a 3 year warranty on these packs, and I’d expect them to easily last 3 years. Even if the capacity drops with time, the packs will still be totally usable.
For longer term storage, somewhere in the “2 LED” range would be ideal. Letting them sit fully charged is better than letting them sit empty, but still worse than using them a bit before letting them sit.
I couldn’t find any internal resistance numbers for these cells, so I measured them myself. I built a custom harness for my ZB206 battery tester (this is my go-to tester for single cell testing, but the cells are too long for my normal test fixture), and measured pairs of cells (because I’m not ripping the pack apart that far).
Each bank of 2 cells had a DC internal resistance (on my tester) of 9mΩ, which works out (via math) to a per cell DCIR of 18mΩ. That’s impressively low, but is well within what I’d expect for a “power cell” (as opposed to a higher capacity “energy cell” like the NCR20700B). You saw it here first!
Internals and Interface Board
These packs contain an interface board that serves to connect the cells to the outside world. The board has the ID resistor and thermistor as well, but it is by no means a battery management system. it doesn’t appear to do any balancing, and is quite simple. There’s also no low voltage cutoff or overcurrent cutoff. the tool is required to handle all that.
This means that if you want to use these packs in another project, it’s really easy! Just shove some terminals in and don’t be stupid about your low voltage cutoff (15V is a good idea).
With the cover off, it’s easy to see how the pack is wired up. The positive terminal from the cells (lower right) is wired directly to the B terminal, which is a double height terminal. The same goes for B-. There’s no way for this controller board to cut current even if it wanted to.
The exposed balance wires (coming from the center of each “H” interconnect) go into the board and are routed to the C1-C4 terminals in the center (since these don’t handle nearly as much current, they don’t have to be double height).
Finally, the circuit board handles the ID and TH pins as described above.
It’s worth noting that the thermistor is showing the board temperature, not the cell temperatures. I don’t know what the high temperature cutoff is, but if you are using this pack for your own projects, be aware that the cells will be a good bit hotter than the thermistor indicates.
The other side is just more of the same.
On the left, the “state of charge board” has three LEDs and some basic voltage sensing logic on it to light the proper number of LEDs. Nothing fancy, but it gets the job done.
Unlike the 3.0Ah pack I tore apart, the cell group wires are soldered to the PCB. they’re not arranged as a plug. This means I can’t pull the PCB off to observe the underside without starting to dismantle the pack with a soldering iron. which I don’t care to do. But there’s not much under there.
An obvious question to ask about any battery cell or pack might be, “Does it meet the rated capacity numbers?” There are so many lies out of China with “9000mAh StarFireXTREEM 18650” cells that are maybe 800-1100mAh that it’s worth testing.
I do have high hopes for this pack. DeWALT puts proper OEM cells in, as do all the reputable tool pack makers, so I expect it to get within a reasonable distance of the rated capacity.
I’m reasonably certain that “this” is also one of those things the manual told me not to do. I’ve jammed some conductive spade terminals directly into the pack and am discharging it through my FDY10-H battery tester (which I will review at some point. I love this little gizmo for bulk testing).
With the pack fully charged to 20.5V (4.1V/cell), I set the tester up for a 2.0A draw and ran the pack down to 15V. At the buzzer, the tester read 5.49Ah and the pack had one LED left. I then ran it down to 13.5V, and found myself with 0 LEDs, and 5.79Ah out the terminals. I have no doubt that if I’d run it down to the 12.5V mark, that extra 0.2Ah would have popped out. so this is absolutely a 6Ah pack! You won’t see a true 6Ah in operation, but that’s true of pretty much every battery out there. they’re rated in ideal, low draw conditions.
This is a tool pack, though. They get beat on. Repeating the test at 10A (the max this tester will handle), I extracted 5.65Ah when running to a 15V cutoff. That this is higher than above is actually reasonable. the cells were warmer during this discharge, so will put out a bit more voltage. And, again, if I’d run it lower (which I don’t like to do), I’m sure I could have pulled a full 6Ah out.
I’m absolutely comfortable calling this a 6Ah pack. it meets specifications just fine. The cells are rated a bit more if you fully charge them to 4.2V/cell, but at 4.1V/cell, it looks like this is pretty much exactly a 6Ah pack.
Final Thoughts Conclusions
I have nothing but good things to say about this battery. DeWALT has put out yet another solid tool battery based around some impressive cells. It’s not that much heavier or larger than the older 3.0Ah pack. but it has twice the capacity!
And, like with other tool batteries, if you want some fancy new Sanyo NCR20700A cells, the best way to get them is to rip apart tool packs. I literally can’t buy the 10 standalone cells for what I can buy this pack for. The best price I’m finding (at the time of posting) is two full packs for 150. so 7.50/cell. with some nice bonus plastic too. The individual cells are around 10/ea.
As such, I won’t rebuild these. You can buy a replacement cheaper than I can buy the cells.
If you’re looking to use a tool pack for other purposes, this would be a good one. Keep it under 30A or so, set your (external) low voltage cutoff to 15V, and have fun!
What’s Left to Test?
I’ve covered pretty much everything I can think of in this review. but there is one question that remains unanswered. This is a question that, I’m sure, is on absolutely everyone’s mind when they think about tool battery packs.
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DeWALT DCB101 12V-20V MAX Volt, Charger Type, 12V. 20V Max Li-Ion Batteries For Use With Battery Charger
DeWALT DCB101 12V-20V MAX Volt, Charger Type, 12V. 20V Max Li-Ion Batteries For Use With Battery Charger is no longer available for purchase.
For additional information, please contact one of our customer service representatives at 1-800-221-0270.
|12V. 20V Max Li-Ion Batteries
|1 Hr. or less
Many metalworking products do contain metals that are included in the latest Prop 65 warning. Exposure to the elements can be harmful. May cause cancer and reproductive harm.
- Charges all DeWALT 12V. 20V MAX Li-Ion batteries.
- Charges the batteries in 1 hour or less, thus minimizing downtime.
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DeWALT Portable Power Station Battery Inverter Review
With the ability to handle the inrush load of a table saw, DeWALT’s popular Portable Power Station is the only battery inverter we’ve used that can make your entire jobsite cordless. Its biggest limitation compared to other models is the total capacity it can hold at one time.
DeWALT Portable Power Station Produces Big Surge Power
The DeWALT Portable Power Station battery inverter and charger tosses its watts right in with several others we’re reviewed recently. It’s a very different animal than other battery-powered inverters with very real benefits on the jobsite.
- Offers more surge watts than its competitors
- Can run a table saw – something no other comparable inverter can do right now
- Charges four batteries simultaneously
- Small footprint
- Excellent price
- Modified sine wave output isn’t optimal for all applications
- Fewer total amp hours than the competition
- 2-amp charge rate is a bit slow
DeWALT Portable Power Station Performance
The DeWALT Portable Power Station is quite popular and we wanted to know why. It didn’t take us long to find out.
We’ve reviewed the Kohler enCUBE, Goal Zero Yeti 3000X, and EGO Nexus Power Station and each one handles more powerful tools than the previous. EGO tops the group by running a 15-amp worm drive.
But DeWALT’s DCB1800 will run a table saw. And that’s impressive. The secret lies in its 3,600 surge watt capacity. Even the Ego Nexus Power Station, the most capable of the competition, fails the table saw test with only 3,000 surge watts. Although it has more continuous wattage at 2,000 compared to the DCB1800’s 1,800, DeWALT can handle higher inrush current.
If you’re keeping score, that means that the DeWALT Portable Power Station’s surge wattage is 100% higher than its continuous (1,800 to 3,600W). That helps it power nearly anything you can plug into a 120V outlet. Gas and diesel generators don’t come anywhere near that ratio and even other battery inverters are more conservative.
Riding the DeWALT DCB1800 Sine Wave
If it strikes you as quirky that the DCB1800 produces a modified sine wave instead of a pure one, you’re not alone. Modified sine waves can cause AC motors to run hotter and less efficiently. Some experts recommend not running any appliances or sensitive medical equipment on them. Even if you do, they won’t run as efficiently as they do on an AC outlet.
There’s some debate over whether a modified sine wave will damage laptops, tablets, and phones. Most people stay away from it. For this inverter’s purpose in life, however, there’s no reason to shy away from running jobsite tools when you don’t have an AC power source.
The good news is that modified sine inverters are less expensive.
Empowering Your Corded Tools
You must use four batteries to power the inverter. Any combination of DeWALT 20V Max and/or DeWALT FlexVolt batteries will do. Just keep in mind that once the smallest battery dies, you’re done. The EGO Nexus Power Station runs on anywhere from 1 – 4 batteries while both Kohler and Yeti have internal batteries.
The DeWALT Portable Power Station is also a charger that accepts up to four batteries. It takes two hours to charge 4 Ah batteries. That’s a fairly slow 2 amps but it charges all 4 ports simultaneously. Consider this as an inverter that also charges as a bonus and it’s less disappointing. If charging quickly is a priority, DeWALT has a 4-port Rapid charger.
Goal Zero Yeti 3000X is the king of capacity with 3,080 watt-hours available. The Kohler enCUBE offers 1,200 and the EGO Nexus maxes out at 1,680. Those numbers make the DeWALT Portable Power Station look a little puny at 864 max watt-hours with four 12 Ah FlexVolt packs.
There’s a difference between a prepper that needs an emergency power source and a Pro on the jobsite, though. Do you need 1,500 or 2,000 or 3,000 watt-hours to make this an effective jobsite tool?
Probably not. Keep in mind that the FlexVolt Miter Saw uses two batteries and runs for quite some time. If you’re heavily invested in DeWALT’s 20V Max or FlexVolt lines, you might already have a spare set of batteries as a backup.
DeWALT Portable Power Station Additional Field Notes
Single 120V Outlet
Unlike models designed to compete against small gas inverter generators, there’s only one 120V outlet on the DeWALT Portable Power Station.
Size and Weight
At just 18 pounds bare, DeWALT is by far the easiest to tote around. Even with the batteries, it’s still well under the weight of EGO, Goal Zero, and Yeti.
The overall profile is smaller as well and DeWALT puts handles in places that make this a reasonable option to haul in and out of your truck frequently. DeWALT’s even made it Tough System compatible similar to their MusicCharger.
DeWALT Portable Power Station Pricing
The DeWALT Portable Power Station will set you back 529 for the bare unit.
Here’s what the higher-capacity competition looks like:
- Kohler enCUBE: 1000 without solar panels
- Goal Zero Yeti 3000X: 3,499 without solar panels
- EGO Nexus Power Station: 1499 with four 5Ah batteries
The Bottom Line
With the ability to handle the inrush load of a table saw, DeWALT’s popular Portable Power Station is the only battery inverter we’ve used that can make your entire jobsite cordless.
It offers fewer total watt-hours than some of its competitors, but then again, DeWALT didn’t make this for preppers who want to maximize them. Charge time is also a bit slow and DeWALT makes a dedicated charger that works faster if that’s what you need.
Its modified sine wave output defines it as an excellent jobsite option but you’re better off with a pure sine wave inverter for charging electronics.
DeWALT Portable Power Station Specifications
- Item Numbers:
- DeWALT DCB1800B (Bare)
- DeWALT DCB1800M3T1 (Kitted with three 4Ah 20V Max batteries and one 6Ah FlexVolt battery)
- DCB1800B (Bare): 529