Are Cordless Drill batteries interchangeable? The Do’s and Don’ts

cordless drill batteries stacked on top of one another

Using a cordless drill is a very convenient way to get all of your DIY tasks done. These drills allow you to move freely from one place to another without having any cords getting in the way. However, cordless drills come with their own sets of issues. One major issue is that the battery might run out while you are in the middle of a project, which can be inconvenient since you would now have to wait for it to charge.

Now, if you were smart and planned ahead you might have a spare battery that you can use. If not then you might have to get a bit creative. One thing that some people try to do is to use a battery from a different drill, one that might have been lying around and would potentially have some charge in it. There is no consensus about whether or not this would work, with some people saying it works for them whereas others say it never works. Both sides are correct to an extent. It’s all a matter of doing it properly.

How to Replace the Battery of a Cordless Drill

First and foremost, you need to make sure that the battery that you are replacing the original with isn’t from a different brand. We will tell you why batteries from different brands aren’t interchangeable later on in this article, but for now just remember that the battery won’t work if it’s not from the same brand. It will probably not provide any power to the drill, or it might show an error on the display. Avoid yourself the hassle of trying in the first place by matching the battery to the brand of the drill.

Now, one thing that a lot of people wonder is whether or not voltage ratings matter.

By this they mean, can you use a 18V battery in a 20V drill? Well, for the most part the answer is yes at least in this example.

You can use batteries that have a lower voltage rating than your drill, but not a higher one. Trying to use a battery with a higher voltage rating could overheat your drill. Also, the charger for a 20V battery would most certainly damage an 18V battery.

One downside to using an 18V battery in a 20V drill, or something similar to this matchup, is that the battery will take a much longer time to charge. Hence, you might want to plan in advance by charging the battery fully well before you might need it. While this is certainly a downside, it’s much better than using a charger with a higher voltage on a battery with a lower voltage. This can lead to some pretty dangerous situations, so you should avoid doing this entirely just to be on the safe side. Things ranging from fires to shocks can occur if you don’t follow this advice.

You should make sure that the battery is fully charged before you use it. Batteries that have been lying around often die unexpectedly. Remember that battery brand and charger brand matters too. These two things have to match otherwise they won’t be compatible with each other. Also, make sure that there is no sign of damage on the battery.

If a battery has been left outside long enough it might corrode or develop leaks. Trying to use it if this is the case could once again be very dangerous so you should be careful and check the battery thoroughly.

Another thing to be kept in mind is the kind of battery. For example, if your cordless drill uses a lithium ion battery, using a nickel cadmium battery just won’t work. There are many different types of batteries out there, and each battery type has its own pros and cons. However, one thing that’s for sure is that they’re never interchangeable since they work in such different ways.

You might be wondering at this point what the best kind of battery is. To clear up any misconceptions that you might have, we’ll be talking about that below.

Different Types of Drill Batteries

Below we have covered 3 of the best types of batteries to use for your cordless drills.

1. Nickel Cadmium

This is a common, if not old school, option. Nickel cadmium batteries are great due to their long lasting nature, along with the fact that they are naturally so durable. They’re pretty affordable to boot which would make them the perfect choice if not for the several downsides that come with them.

For example, they’re pretty heavy which makes them difficult to use in cordless drills which are supposed to be portable. Add in the fact that they’re terrible for the environment and you can see why manufacturers have started to move away from these kinds of batteries.

2. Nickel Metal Hydride

This type of battery started to gain in popularity due to its environmentally friendly nature. They’re also relatively affordable, though marginally more expensive than nickel cadmium batteries. However, it’s quite difficult to use these batteries if it’s too hot or cold. They require a very specific ambient temperature in order to work properly. You also need to discharge them fully before using them so preparing in advance by charging them once the battery starts running low just isn’t possible. You’d have to wait for the battery to die before you can start charging it again which can often be inconvenient.

3. Lithium Ion

This type of battery has become the gold standard in the cordless drill industry. They’re lightweight, compact and extremely effective, and they’re good for the environment as well which can be a really nice bonus. They’re also easy to maintain, especially since you can leave them for ages without them going bad.

The only downside to these batteries is that they’re a little on the expensive side and they’re similarly sensitive to temperature changes. These disadvantages are minimal when you compare them to the advantages, though. There is a reason why li-ion batteries are so popular today.

Why Some Batteries Aren’t Interchangeable

By this point, you probably already know that brands don’t make their batteries interchangeable. There is a very important reason for this: profit.

Brands want to try and earn as much money as possible, and the only way they can do this is by making themselves the only option for people that own their tools and want a replacement battery. Driving sales through exclusivity modifications is a big part of how these brands earn as much money as they do. It also allows them to create a bit of a product ecosystem that would consistently drive up revenue by some pretty large margins.

It’s not just boosted sales that prove to be profitable for brands either. This policy can also make it easier for brands to void warranties. If anyone tries to use a different brand’s battery, the warranty would summarily be avoided.

This might not be the most ethical way to do business but it’s something that every brand does so there’s no escaping it. Try to avoid using batteries from different brands as it might not work and even if it does, it would just end up voiding your warranty.

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