second thoughts on battery rebuilds
A long while back I was pondering rebuilding a cordless drill battery pack to revive the powerless, yet otherwise entirely functional, tool. I took one pack in to The Source to inquire about their price to rebuild the battery, to which they replied $80 for a single 12V battery pack. That is equivalent to purchasing a new one, and I know that there is plenty of profit built in to that figure. So I figured I’d give rebuilding the battery a crack at it myself. To that end, I’ve even acquired another drill with dead batteries for twice the fun.
Tonight, however, it dawned on me that I am once again just being more sustainable; even if I rebuild the battery packs myself instead of purchasing entirely new batteries (or an entirely new drill for that matter), I’m still going to be using batteries which will eventually die. Yes, I’m reducing the amount of garbage I’m producing, but could I do better? I think I can.
Why are drills cordless? Or any power tool for that matter? Convenience. It’s simply easier to bring a tool places where it doesn’t need a cord – at least, until the battery runs low. What are the trade-offs? Instead of hoisting just a drill plus its cord, you get to hoist the drill plus its battery, arguably much heavier than what a cord would burden you with. You get a limited amount of run time, depending on how charged the battery is, and at what stage it is in its charge life cycle. Are these tradeoffs worthwhile? If you consider the battery a consumable – which is what it is, as it has a finite life – and compare that to a corded drill, the benefits become more dubious. So now I’m wondering if I really do want to rebuild my battery packs. I think I may cord my drills instead.
Instead of having a battery, I picture tethering these formerly-cordless tools to a power cord and an AC/DC converter. You can plug in to household current, the converter will supply you with your needed 12V (or 14.4V, or 18V, or whatever your tool needs), and as long as you have a long enough extension cord to reach a plug, you’ve got a tool that will work as long as you can. I think the idea has merit.
At this point the only big question is the AC/DC converter; how do I find one with the correct input and output voltages? How do I integrate it with the drill? Could I even put it in the spot where the batteries would have gone, or does it need to be separate? This is what I will be researching next.
As much as rebuilding a battery pack is a good idea (over replacing the battery pack or the entire tool), I think a better solution will come. Stay tuned.
If anyone has any information about AC/DC converters in the 120VAC to 12-18VDC range, please contact me.