What are the Different Types of Cordless Power Tools?

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  • Written By: Eric Tallberg
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 December 2019
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Almost any electrically powered tool is available either with a power cord or in a cordless, battery powered model. Cordless power tools in the typical tool box might include a drill and/or drill/drivers, table saw, and reciprocating saw.

Small, lightweight, usually handheld, cordless power tools do not need an external power source. Therein lies the practicality of such devices; they can be used anywhere. Such hand-held power tools include a circular saw or trim saw, planer, and jigsaw.

The most common battery used in today’s cordless power tools is the 18 volt (18v) Lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery. Li-ion batteries are square, black, relatively powerful, quickly rechargeable, long-lasting and slow to discharge when not in use. Li-ion batteries, however, are somewhat volatile and easily damaged from being too deeply discharged. Tools that ordinarily use a Li-ion battery would be a portable band saw, a rotary sander, chain saw, nail gun, caulking gun, router, rotary sander, or belt sander.


One of the first cordless power tools to be developed was the electric screwdriver which, at its introduction, was powered by the common, non-rechargeable, alkaline flashlight battery. Then, with the development of the nickel-cadmium (NiCd) rechargeable battery in the mid-1950s, batteries for cordless power tools could be recharged after use instead of being thrown away as is the case with ordinary alkaline batteries. Though less volatile, and impervious to over-discharge, NiCd batteries are incapable of storing the same level of electricity as a Li-ion battery. Thus, a NiCd battery might power an electric screwdriver, hand-held grinder, or staple gun.

While cordless power tools are occasionally called wireless power tools, the term “wireless” is more commonly and appropriately applied to communications technology. Because of the electrical demands of the moving parts common to every power tool, its wiring is most often thicker and heavier than the wiring used for wireless communications, and “cord” is the more common term. Thus, rummaging in the toolbox once more, we may find such cordless power tools as hand-held vacuums, pruning shears. and concrete vibrators.

Two main disadvantages of cordless power tools are their limited torque and relatively short period of peak power. The usefulness of any cordless power tool is only as good as the battery that powers it, and all batteries have their limits. Occasionally, inconvenient re-charging of batteries complicated by comparatively rapid loss of power necessitates the use of a tool with a power cord. When planning a job, it’s always a good idea to know the limitations of the tools to be used.


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Post 3

@talentryto- I have a cordless power drill, and I am very happy with the way it works. When it has a full charge, I can use it without any problems for hours. When it is time to charge it, the power starts to decline, but charging doesn't take too long.

When you begin to shop for a cordless drill, you should carefully check out the features that each one has to offer. Since cordless drills come in different price ranges, some are better than others. Some also hold charges longer than less expensive models, so you will have to decide which cordless drill model will fit your needs and budget the best.

Post 2

I have an electrically-operated drill, and it is a hassle to use it. The cord is either in the way, or not long enough to reach what I'm trying to drill. I have been considering a cordless drill, but I'm wondering how well it will work. Do cordless power tools have the same power as the electrical kind?

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