The Hidden Savings In Sticking With One Power Tool Brand

Building up a collection of power tools can take time, and buying tools as you need them is a perfectly acceptable way to do things. However, sometimes people like to grab a bargain when they spot one, and sales of tools occur year round. 

However, even if you spot tools on deep discount, you should think before buying them. If it doesn't match what you already have, you could be paying a lot more in the long run. The chances are you already have a cordless tool from a major brand like Milwaukee, Makita, Ryobi, or DeWalt. It may be that you picked that tool because you prefer its design or function over other brands, or maybe you just bought it on impulse.

However, if you're bulking out your collection, you should really stick to the same brand. This line of thinking centers around the price of a key component that pretty much all cordless tools need. Batteries cost a lot, and if your power tool collection comes from a wide range of manufacturers, you're going to end up paying out a lot of money unnecessarily.

Batteries can break the bank

While a tool from your preferred brand may be more expensive than a bargain you've spotted, you'll likely still be saving significant money if you just stick with the manufacturer you've already purchased from.

A power tool battery is designed to deliver as much juice as the tool needs to perform at its best, and contain enough charge to keep up that performance for a reasonable amount of time. How long exactly depends on the capacity of the battery itself, and the tool it's being used in.

Branded batteries are also very expensive, and can set you back over $100. It's often fairly cheap to purchase a tool on its own without an included battery, with an 18v drill from a top brand tending to run between $60 and $100. But purchasing a power pack to go with it can really break the bank. 

Off-brand power packs are available online at what looks like a tempting price, but there's no guarantee they will deliver the amount of power your tool needs to function properly, hold a reasonable amount of charge, or last very long.

The good news is, a brand's batteries usually work with its entire tool line. So if you have one cordless tool from Milwaukee, Makita, DeWalt, Ryobi, and others, then your next cordless tool purchase should really be from the same brand. That way, you can have one or two expensive battery packs and use them to power your entire tool set.

There are exceptions you need to be aware of

While as a general rule, DeWalt batteries will work with DeWalt tools, and Ryobi batteries will work with Ryobi tools, you do still need to look beyond the brand before your next purchase. As the goal is to operate an entire range of power tools on one or two batteries, you need to ensure compatibility before you make a decision.

The obvious thing to look out for is voltage. If your current tools are 12v, 18v, or 20v, your new tools should have a matching voltage. Beyond that, there may also be a generational issue. For example, Makita offers a range of batteries, including its LXT, XGT, and CXT ranges. Ideally, all of your tools will use the same battery type, but if you have older tools, then it's not the end of the world. There are official adapters you can get which let you use newer battery types in older tools.

Other adapters are also on sale, so you could in theory make a DeWalt power pack work with a Ryobi tool — however, these are third party devices. Beyond that, using a battery not designed specifically for the tool may void its warranty. A cheap adapter also adds a point of failure to the mix: If you use a battery with a lower power rating than the tool drawing from it, you could have issues ranging from the tool underperforming to a catastrophic failure. So play it safe, pick a brand you like, and stick to it.