Dewalt VS. Craftsman.... Battery life and care

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Forum topic by Sanderguy777 posted 06-11-2015 08:23 AM 2853 views 1 time favorited 34 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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176 posts in 1229 days

06-11-2015 08:23 AM

Topic tags/keywords: drill impact driver right angle drill question drill-driver

I have owned both a Craftsman basic drill and RA drill kit, and a Dewalt basic drill and a separate Dewalt impact driver. When I got the Craftsman, I heard that the Ni-Cad batteries would develop a “memory” if I charged them before they were totally discharged. Hence, I would literally clamp the drill “on” and let the battery drain and then plug it in. I had two batteries die in a year and I think it was because of me discharging them that way. ( Sears replaced both batteries without question though.)

One of my friends, who is a Dewalt fanatic, upon finding out that my parents and I were going to the mission field, gave us a basic drill kit and a separate impact driver for a present. ( By fanatic, I mean like, 30 + tools!! 5 or so impact drivers, 10 drills, and other cool stuff. )

I have been using the Dewalt tools here in the Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific for about a year and a couple months without issue. (I haven’t discharged them because I had more faith in the Dewalt name and heard that their batteries lasted longer)

Any way, my question is, I want to get new batteries for both kits, will the Craftsman Ni-Cad batteries develop memories if I just charge them when they start getting low. (That’s what I do with the Dewalts and it seems to work.)


-- Marc Spagnuolo (standing in front of clamp wall): I think I need a few more . Me (owner of at least 8 clamps):.....?

34 replies so far

View altendky's profile


169 posts in 2237 days

#1 posted 06-11-2015 11:17 AM

The DeWalt are also Ni-Cad? Regardless, there are many potential issues with batteries but I would generally expect that if you treat them nicely they will likely do alright. Don’t always discharge them to exactly the same level, do regularly discharge them below where you notice the output dropping, don’t beat them to death and then keep trying to wring a little more out of them. Also, this is one of the reasons for lithium batteries. They or more chemically durable.

Note that I have no direct experience with the Craftsman batteries you ask about so I am speaking generically.

If you are willing to pay to avoid worrying about these issues then get lithium batteries instead. Not perfect but there are various reasons people happily pay more for them. Also, if you look into it, the actual cells in the battery might be the same size between brands in which case you could rebuild your Craftsman with DeWalt-sold cells. All depends how far you want to go.

View timbertailor's profile


1594 posts in 1451 days

#2 posted 06-11-2015 12:27 PM

I have had DeWalt cordless drills, still do. They are collecting dust. Batteries died. Thought I would just go out and replace them. Wrong. The batteries are more expensive than the drill was when I bought it.


I went out and bought TWO very inexpensive drills so that I would have two chargers and four batteries. They costed a lot less than the DeWalt cordless batteries by themselves, I have more of them, and the two chargers keep my four batteries cycling so that I am never without a charged battery.

There are also places on line like eBay or Amazon that actually sells the individual battery cells that make up a battery pack that are replacements. You have to do a little of your own soldering, but it is an inexpensive alternative. You can also pay to have them rebuilt.

Good luck and I hope this information helps.

P.S. It might be worthwhile to buy a timer that shuts off the charger(s) after two or three hours.
Overchargning can be just as damaging. My new drills specifically warn against it.

-- Brad, Texas,

View JayT's profile


5679 posts in 2238 days

#3 posted 06-11-2015 12:35 PM

Something was changed in DeWalt’s Ni-Cad batteries years ago that basically eliminated the memory effect. It was a real issue when cordless tools first started going mainstream. I don’t know for sure on the Craftsman, but would guess that they are using a similar battery technology now and you won’t have any issues. The individual cells inside the battery pack are designed and manufactured by only a very few companies and all the power tool brands buy from those companies, so new technology is quickly shared.

Brad is correct that the biggest killer is overcharging—the heat generated really shortens battery life.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2397 days

#4 posted 06-11-2015 12:38 PM

I haven’t owned the craftsman, but I bet clamping them on when you’re done with them had something to do with the decreased battery life. I have an 18V Dewalt XRP Impact & Drill/Driver combo with a battery for each. I’ve owned them for about 4 years, and while I may only use them once every week or two, they’ve never let me down. When not in use, I usually have one battery on a tool and the other one sitting on the charger. Sometimes it will sit there for weeks. I think I’m just barely starting to noticed decreased life. I used the hammer drill to drill 20 3/8” holes, 3.5” deep, in concrete a couple weeks ago. I did have to swap out batteries halfway through. I don’t think that’s that bad, the concrete demands a lot of work from the tool.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View johnstoneb's profile


2942 posts in 2200 days

#5 posted 06-11-2015 01:26 PM

NiCad batteries need to be fully discharged before charging. According to my local Interstate Battery store leaving a NiCad battery on the charger for extended periods of time kills the battery faster than not discharging completely. My experience with them confirms this. After getting my first batteries rebuilt after they went bad in less than a year. I fully discharge them with a tailight bulb wired across the terminals and leave them on the charger no more than 6 or so hours. Those 2 batteries are now about 5 years old since the rebuild and still going strong. These are 18v NiCads.

-- Bruce, Boise, ID

View dhazelton's profile


2771 posts in 2324 days

#6 posted 06-11-2015 01:59 PM

In refernce to buying two cheap drill sets instead of batteries for the DeWalt – I’ve had Craftsman and B&D Firestorm and now have DeWalt. The Craftsman was a decent drill (made by Ryobi at the time) but I would not waste money on new batteries for any of the cheaper drills. The DeWalt is just a better drill. Working with good tools as opposed to ‘good enough’ tools is a night and day experience. And it will show in the finished product.

View JayT's profile


5679 posts in 2238 days

#7 posted 06-11-2015 02:49 PM

From the DeWalt website

No. Just the opposite. You should stop using a battery as soon as you feel a substantial decrease in power from the tool. Completely running down a battery may damage it. Do not tape the trigger to run down the battery.

Memory is one of many conditions which causes a loss of run-time. Memory is created from repetitive light use in the exact same application (i.e. Cordless Phones, Video Cameras, Electric Shavers, etc.) Our products rarely see light use or the exact same loads, due to variability from the user, the accessory size, as well as the material. The same variability which causes different run-times prevents our cells from developing memory. Power tools are considered high-drain applications. Memory typically develops in lower-drain rate applications, such as cordless phones, laptops, etc…, because the rate at which the battery is draining is continuously the same. Power tools draw higher currents and have sporadic drain rates minimizing the opportunity for the battery to develop a memory.

No. The DEWALT chargers have a maintenance mode which allows batteries to remain in the charger, maintaining a fully charged pack until the user is ready to work. If DEWALT NiCd batteries are stored outside of the charger, they will discharge naturally, 15-20% the first 24 hours, 7-10% the next day, and about 1% every day there after. NiCd batteries lose the bulk of the capacity when outside of the charger in the first 3 days. In fact, it is better for the battery to leave it in the charger to be sure it goes through Equalization and Maintenance Modes.One of the benefits of DEWALT XRP™ Lithium Ion batteries is that they have limited self discharge. Storing DEWALT Lithium Ion batteries outside of the charger will not result in loss of charge.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Sanderguy777's profile


176 posts in 1229 days

#8 posted 06-11-2015 08:57 PM

THANK YOU JAY!!!!!! I am sure glad I didn’t clamp my Dewalt!! I think I will get new batteries for the Dewalt and the Craftsman. Do the XRP and other Dewalt batteries work in all the same voltage drills?

-- Marc Spagnuolo (standing in front of clamp wall): I think I need a few more . Me (owner of at least 8 clamps):.....?

View JayT's profile


5679 posts in 2238 days

#9 posted 06-11-2015 09:02 PM

Yes, XRP is just the designation for the extended run time batteries with more capacity. With DeWalt, as long as the voltage and attachment (stick style vs slide pack) is the same, then they are compatible.

-- In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock. Thomas Jefferson

View Sanderguy777's profile


176 posts in 1229 days

#10 posted 06-11-2015 09:21 PM

I love Dewalt. My friend that gave me the tools has a wall of shelves. One of the shelves that is 20 ft. long has chargers every foot, each with it’s own battery just sitting there in it all the time. So I didn’t think that there was a problem with having them on the charger all the time.

When I first looked at drills I thought that Dewalt did the one battery thing but I couldn’t remember.

-- Marc Spagnuolo (standing in front of clamp wall): I think I need a few more . Me (owner of at least 8 clamps):.....?

View Sanderguy777's profile


176 posts in 1229 days

#11 posted 06-11-2015 09:23 PM

Thank you all for your help and if you’ll excuse me, I want to go buy some drills!

Since I have the impact driver and the 1/2” drill, what would you recommend for the next thing? I am looking at the Circ. saw, would that be a good next step? Thanks again.

-- Marc Spagnuolo (standing in front of clamp wall): I think I need a few more . Me (owner of at least 8 clamps):.....?

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#12 posted 06-11-2015 11:52 PM

I have not seen a Ni Cad saw that was very useful, but the lithiun ion versions are great..
I own a Milwaukee saw and it will rip about 40 feet of 3/4” plywood on a charge.
If you do get a lithium based tool, the batteries behave differently than Ni-Cads.
Lithium ion batteries like to be charged often. the shallower the discharge, the longer the battery will live.
For example, if you use 70% of the battery’s capacity every time before you charge it, it might be able to be recharged 400 times.. But if you only use 20% of it’s capacity before recharging, it might last 4000 cycles.
I’ve had the above mentioned circular saw about 3 years, and a Milwaukee 1/2” drill and 1/4” impact tool for 5 years and all are still running just as good as when I bought them. I love these tools.

View Steve Peterson's profile

Steve Peterson

377 posts in 3109 days

#13 posted 06-12-2015 12:16 AM

Jay gave some good advice regarding Dewalt batteries. I have several Craftsman cordless tools and at one time had 7 NiCad battery packs. The Craftsman chargers are not the same quality as the Dewalts. Craftsman chargers will overcharge and slowly destroy the batteries if left on the charger for long periods of time. You can tell because the batteries are always really warm when sitting in the charger even after the normal charge cycle is complete.

I have switched to Bosch drills with Li-ion batteries and am much happier. All Li-ion chargers must be smart chargers because Li-ion batteries have special requirements. Li-ion chargers will not over-charge and it is completely safe to leave batteries on their chargers.

I have also upgraded to a Li-ion version of the 19.2V Craftsman with a smart charger. The Li-ion Craftsman batteries are a huge improvement over the NiCads. Don’t fall for the $49 sale with a battery, drill, and charger. They don’t show a picture of the charger on the box because it is really crummy and the drill is really low quality also. Get one with a real charger.

-- Steve

View Sanderguy777's profile


176 posts in 1229 days

#14 posted 06-12-2015 03:31 AM

I saw that drill Steve. I was thinking about it just for the battery and drill in addition to the drill/impact driver kit. Is it that bad?

I was thinking about this ( )charger. Is this what comes with the Li-ion tools? Also, if I used this, would it charge the NiCd batteries I already have and then stop at the right time?

I am thinking about the plain, old, cheap, Li-ion compact batteries. Are they a super improvement? The power chart seems to say no. Unless you just want the Li-ion statis. Are these the ones you think are really good or are yours XCP?

I think I’ll just get a cheap kit to get more tools and a couple batteries. Then, before I come back for four years, I can maybe get another set or just batteries.

OK, now the big question. I have the RA drill and regular drill, are they worth the say $150 I’m gonna invest to get batteries and new tools or should I get a Dewalt and forget the Craftsman? I am going to go the same thing with the Dewalt so I wonder if I should just spend the money I save on either Dewalt or something else like a drill press or band saw.

By the way, if you guys want Dewalt stuff Grizzly has it on sale.

-- Marc Spagnuolo (standing in front of clamp wall): I think I need a few more . Me (owner of at least 8 clamps):.....?

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 2998 days

#15 posted 06-12-2015 09:07 AM

There is no comparison between a Li ion and a Ni Cad.
In the same space and weight a Li ion battery CAN have 4 or 5 times the capacity of a typ Ni Cad.
The key word in that last sentence was CAN.
It’s possible to make a Li ion battery small enough and crappy enough to match the storage and power profile of a Ni Cad. That’s what Harbor Freight will do if they ever come out with Li ion tools.

The real key to Li ion batteries is the charging and battery management system. These batteries require smart chargers. The battery temperature must be controlled by the charger or the battery can self destruct. The discharge rate must also be controled to keep the battery voltage above a minimum level or the battery will self destruct. Bottom line is these batteries have huge power capacity but you don’t want to go cheap.

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