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Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

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  • Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

    I keep hearing all sorts of complaints about the performance of lithium ion batteries in cordless tools on this forum, and my own experience is no better. I have not yet purchased the Ridgid 18 volt Lions but I did get a Ryobi set a couple of years ago with their full size Lions. Unlike the Lithium ion batteries I use in my tactical flashlights, the tool batteries don't charge well unless they are fully depleated. When the weather gets freezing cold outside they batteries don't charge right at all, I must bring them in the house and allow them to warm up.

    My question to the Fourm is, was lithium ion the right way to go because it promised no memory, full power right until it was out of juice and all the other traits that made it seem a better choice than nicads? I think in reality when applied to cordless tools, perhaps "hybrid NiMH" batteries would have been better. They don't have memory problems, hold a charge a long time when not in use, and don't have the same cold temperature issues. ??????

  • #2
    Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

    I wonder if the users style of use doesn't come into play here? For the homeowner and hobbyist Lions may well be the best solution as their tools may tend to sit on the shelf for longer periods of time. For the professional user, I would say both types have their positive and negative aspects. If Lions need to be warmed up as you say in colder weather to recharge then conversely NiMH need to be cooled down in hotter weather in order to recharge them. As a homeowner/hobbyist, speaking strictly from my point of view, either type would fill my needs.
    Teach your kids about taxes..........eat 30 percent of their ice cream.

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    • #3
      Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

      I never had a good experience with Ryobi nicads, however my Ridgid nicads have lasted for years! Now they are run down and need replacement, but after all the bad reviews on this forum I would probably stick with the nicads if given a choice. I think the Ridgid dual nicad charger with built in fan helped to cool things down when charging, probably added to the battey life.

      I wonder if the industry will stick with the lithiums or phase them out in favor of some other chemistry?

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      • #4
        Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

        not sure what next but one thing for sure is nicads are being phased out

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        • #5
          Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

          i get about 4yrs out of my 18v Dewalt nicd s ,i get 2 new ones every 2 yrs or so to replace the oldest ones .i use them a lot .
          Charlie

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          • #6
            Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

            With all the problems I have heard of with the Lithiums, I decided to jump on an 18v DeWalt nicad set that was discounted $100 (Have a couple 12v already so charger will do both). With DeWalt jumping on the Lithium bandwagon, I fear the NiCads will soon be history.

            Hawk: when I was in Lowe's, they had a 2 pack of the 18v nicad DeWalt XRP batts for $99. Being a single one is now listed at $97, you may want to check around your neighborhood.

            Go

            PS: The set also included a flashlight. Figuring the light lists at $39.95, and the 18v batt lists at $97, I now have the most expensive cheap plastic flashlight I will ever own!!
            Last edited by Gofor; 01-08-2011, 08:20 PM.
            Practicing at practical wood working

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            • #7
              Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

              Originally posted by Frankiarmz View Post
              ... perhaps "hybrid NiMH" batteries would have been better. They don't have memory problems, hold a charge a long time when not in use, and don't have the same cold temperature issues. ??????
              Milwaukee tinkered with NiMH technology a few years ago. It didn't make it to market for very good reasons.

              And it's never been a secret that LI batteries suck butt in cold weather. In fact, it's common knowledge... and should be taken into consideration before a purchase. Just sayin'.
              "HONK if you've never seen a gun fired from a moving Harley"

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              • #8
                Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                I used to be a seriously heavy cordless tool user - and I love my Li-Ion tools. Just like the actual tools though, junk brands have poor performing batteries. Stick with the higher end brands, and I think you'll be quite pleased with Li-Ion. My coworkers and I have had great luck with DeWalt, Milwaukee, Makita and Bosch Li-Ions. Ridgid and Ryobi have less than stellar performance and durability in my experience, Li-Ion or otherwise.

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                • #9
                  Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                  Originally posted by Doctordeere View Post
                  Milwaukee tinkered with NiMH technology a few years ago. It didn't make it to market for very good reasons.

                  And it's never been a secret that LI batteries suck butt in cold weather. In fact, it's common knowledge... and should be taken into consideration before a purchase. Just sayin'.
                  Panasonic had/has a 15.6? NIMH drill that I had a chance to handle. Expensive, but it seemed to perform well. Not sure how the application would work for high demand tools, such as saws, cut off tools, grinders?

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                  • #10
                    Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                    That was Milwaukee's conclusion... NiMH couldn't survive the current draw requirements. Toasts the cells internally.
                    "HONK if you've never seen a gun fired from a moving Harley"

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                    • #11
                      Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                      I can only speak for my own experiences, but I've found the following to be true:

                      I've used NiCads for a few decades, especially in my radio and camera equipment. Don't leave them on the charger longer than necessary to charge them, and don't charge them until they won't run your equipment anymore. You never want to leave them laying around uncharged!

                      With those simple rules, I have gotten almost a decade out of my AA-size NiCads. My Ni-Cad Ridgid tools consist of one 9.4-Volt, 2 14.4-Volt, and two 18-Volt. They are all used only on occasion (home owner, doing a bit of restoration/remodeling). The 9.4-Volt is used most often. That and the 14.4-Volt batteries are now almost six years old and still working flawlessly. The 18-Volt batteries are almost five years old and used rarely, but drive my 6-1/2-inch Circular Saw enough to easily be the tool of choice for slicing up a couple of 3/4-inch 4 x 8 panels. I'm happy with the NiCads, as for doing tough work, they take a load.

                      I've replaced most of my NiCad AA batteries with NiMh. They hold a charge in storage, much longer than NiCads. I don't have to be concerned with completely draining them before charging. But, I should mention that I use a "smart-charger" which occasionally reconditions them. As they have gotten older though (now approaching six years), they hold a charge less... and over a period of two to three weeks will loose about 75% of their charge in storage. There's no tapering off, like Ni-Cads... they work well right up to the point where the radio or light will simply shut off.

                      My Li-Ion batteries are primarily in my laptop, camera, and of course my compact 12-Volt Ridgid drill/driver and the JobMax. My 12-Volt Drill/Driver came with two Li-Ions... problem with that was that they seem to last forever. I can go months and they still hold their charge... to the point where I feel I really ought to just run them just for the exercise.

                      They don't like cold weather though and they sure won't take a load! I make sure that when we travel between houses, that I bring them inside overnight, so as not to subject them to the fridgid winter temperatures.

                      When put under load (like driving a lot of screws, one after the other), the drill will simply shut down. I think the safety circuit is detecting a heat build-up and therefore terminates the discharge.... Li-Ion batteries do not take heavy demand and have been know to burst into flame.

                      With my laptop, I've notice that after a two, three, or more years, the storage capacity drops considerably. When new, my laptop Li-Ion would give me 3-1/2 hours of operation... after three years, it gives me a little more than an hour.

                      I have four Ryobi Tek4 tools which have 4-Volt Li-Ion batteries. I like them, and the batteries are only about $11 a piece. Of course they are low power operations, like the little LED utility light, the inspection scope, and an MP3 player (sort of dumb, but hey it was free). But, I can't seem to ever run the light down. I'll literally use it for hours and hours over three or four weeks and the darn thing just keeps on shining. I stick it on the charger and it indicates that it is only 1/3 discharged. Same with the inspection scope. I purchase it back in July, used it on and off for most of three days, did a recharge (it didn't need much) and put it away. I pulled it out two days ago, just to check and the battery indicator showed it was full.

                      My little Nikon 950 digital camera is now about eight years old (maybe even nine!... it came with a Li-Ion battery and I'm still using it with satisfaction. It doesn't hold a charge as long, but freshly-charged I can get about 30 or so flash pictures and probably triple that without flash.

                      For slow-drain stuff, like LED lights, radio's etc. I think Li-Ion batteries are perfect. For tools that might put a big load on them quickly, I am not so sure that's the best application and for there, NiCads appear to be much better.

                      I hope this is helpful,

                      CWS

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                      • #12
                        Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                        What I do not understand is why Ridgid batteries discharge to 0, in room temp. in 2-3 months. Even the new ones , 18v Li compact. as I have said I have Bosch, Hitachi, Milwaukee, that do not do this. The Hitachi even in the cold last over 6 months. There is something wrong with the cells they are using. As a test , All 6, 4/24v and 2/18v discharged in my house in less than 3 months, while all my others , even in the garage stayed charged. The NiCd Ridgid's are not problem.. In fact 1 18v pack was showing defective after 2 uses, and it was not used till dead as that can kill the batt. I had to use an older charger, w/o the Li sticker to get it to start to charge , then finished it in the Li chg.
                        Wow, how things have changed with their tools. I have come to think these are no better, or maybe worse than Ryobi with a premium price tag. Just used my Ryobi 18v impact for some light car repairs because both my 18v Li were dead. That is a very good tool for $39 bare, made by the same company. That NiCd was not charged for 6 months and was usable.
                        Home Depot and there influence in the change to "their pumpkin orange color "tools have gone past midnight and turned back to something not what I expected.
                        It is absurd to have Li cell discharge that fast. No other tool or multiple Li packs in many devices I own does this. My Fenix Flashlights w. CR123A's[rechargeable type] holds a charge for a year and they are the same type of Li cells that should be in these packs. Those cells are 4 years old and still fully charge and hold their charge. They must be using the worst quality cells in the packs. What other explanation is there?
                        Can not wait to see what they do to the Unisaw now that TTI owns Delta! Glad I have mine already.
                        Last edited by Andrew M.; 01-22-2011, 03:23 PM.

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                        • #13
                          Re: Was Lithium Ion the Right Choice?

                          Originally posted by Andrew M. View Post
                          What I do not understand is why Ridgid batteries discharge to 0, in room temp. in 2-3 months... It is absurd to have Li cell discharge that fast...
                          It's actually quite simple. There's a circuit board inside the battery (18v, not the little 12v) that monitors and limits charge and discharge current and temp. That little circuit board is in an 'always on' state, thus always consuming a small amount of juice. 2-3 months = flat battery.

                          NiCads do not have that. A NiCad pack is just cells and a case.

                          BTW... Milwaukee V18 and certain early batches of the V28 Lion batteries will do the same thing, for the same reason. Their M18 and the later V28 will not.
                          "HONK if you've never seen a gun fired from a moving Harley"

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