Five things you need to know before selecting any power tool
If you’re looking for a new power tool, there are a few terms you need to know that may influence which one you buy. Here’s a look at five of the most common things you’ll hear when you’re shopping for power tools.
Corded or cordless?
The main difference here is power versus convenience. Corded tools are more powerful but need to have a nearby source of electricity. You can use a cordless tool anywhere but they may find the heavier duty jobs a struggle.
Tools that benefit from the power of being corded are the hard working ones like circular saws, sanders and angle grinders. Smaller tools such as drills and impact drivers are easier to use if they are cordless as the power cord can get in the way. Battery technology in cordless tools is getting better all the time and is now being used in tools that were traditionally operated by other means, for example chainsaws and lawnmowers.
What are brushless power tools?
Brushless tools use a different type of motor that unlike conventional motors doesn’t require brushes. The current, drawn from the battery in a brushless tool, varies according to how hard the tool has to work, while the motor in a brushed tool goes full speed no matter what it’s doing. This means a fully charged battery in a brushless tool will last longer so you can get more done between charges. The motor in a brushless tool also has less moving parts meaning less wear and tear, so the tool lasts longer.
Lithium-ion powered tools
All new cordless tools are powered by Lithium-ion (also Li-ion) batteries, which use lithium to store the charge in the battery. They have a number of advantages compared to earlier batteries:
Less weight – Lithium-ion batteries are lighter so carrying and using the tool is a lot easier
No memory – Lithium-ion batteries can be charged at any time. You don’t have to wait for the battery to be fully drained first, like you did with older batteries
More power – newer Lithium-ion batteries run with a higher voltage meaning higher draining devices can use batteries instead of mains power
What does amp-hour mean?
Amp-hour is the term used to rate how much charge a battery can hold. It is commonly seen as “ah” or “Ah” on the battery with a number before it. The higher the number, the longer the battery will last before it needs to be charged. The trade-off is that batteries with high amp-hours are larger – and therefore heavier – than those with low ones.
What's a skin?
A “skin” is the term for a cordless tool without a battery. The range of tools that one type of battery will fit is huge and getting bigger all the time. Once you’ve bought a tool that comes with a battery and charger, you can just buy the “skin” of your next tool and the same battery will fit it. This enables you to expand your tool box without paying for batteries you don’t need.