Just in case you're not sure what type of cordless drill batteries are needed for longer run times and are lighter in weight, this article will explain the advantages and disadvantages of NiCad (nickel cadium), NiMH (nickel metal hydride) and Li-Ion (lithium ion) batteries. Battery is one of the most important factors to consider when buying any portable devices and tools. Without a good battery to last the long hours of dedicated work, it limits the benefits of portability.
Advantages of NiCad Battery
It has longer recharge cycle life of up to 1000 cycles, slighter longer than NiMH batteries. NiCad batteries are the first battery introduced into a cordless drill. It is more robust to temperature that means it can run well regardless of weather conditions. NICad batteries have long shelf life and the lowest cost per charging cycle.
It has its disadvantages. NiCad has memory effects. It can easily lose it ability to maintain full charge. One way to prevent it is to discharge it completely and recharge again. It is also not environmental friendly (toxic metals).
Advantages of NiMH Battery
NiMH batteries have higher energy density and therefore run longer than NiCad batteries. Lighter than NiCad batteries and carry less heavy metals seems to be more advantageous between both batteries.
However, it is more sensitive to temperature and may not work below zero degrees or above forty degrees centigrade. If you live in tropical countries, you may have no problems using it but the shorter recharge life cycle than NiCad batteries will most probably force you to stay away from NiMH batteries.
Advantages of Li-Ion Battery
That is the choice if you have been using it in cordless drills. Li-Ion battery is the latest amongst the three types. The advantages far outweigh its disadvantages and many cordless drill manufactures started to use Li-Ion battery in newer models. Two factors certainly affect consumer's buying decision - longer run times per charge and its weight. Li-Ion batteries have the most run times compared with the rest and it weighs much lighter amongst the three types of batteries. It does not have memory effect and not require to fully discharge to prolong battery life. In fact, it is recommended to partial charge and discharge more often to maintain if not prolongs its shelf life.
For power users who need to drill all day long certainly need more run times per charge to reduce changing battery too often. Lighter weight also means less stress on the wrist.
However, the disadvantages of shorter shelf life and higher price might be the major drawback for conservative users. If you are a power user and use it almost on a daily basis, two to three years of consistent use is enough to retire the battery. The convenience that Li-Ion batteries provide is already worth the initial price.
In conclusion, the recommendation is to choose Li-Ion battery for cordless drills. Li-Ion batteries have long been used in cell phones and it is only later that cordless drill manufacturers started to catch up. In my opinion, latest technology always provides better advantages than disadvantages for consumers. If you have not already use Li-Ion battery operated cordless drill, it is time to make a change.