Home Improvement Expert Danny Lipford

How to Care for Rechargeable Cordless Tool Batteries


Cordless rechargeable drill with battery and charger

Rechargeable cordless tools are convenient, portable, and ready to work at a moment’s notice. Cordless tool batteries last for several years; and with proper care and storage, you can extend battery life and your investment.

Here are some dos and don’ts to help you get the most out of the batteries on cordless tools.

Rechargeable Tool Battery Dos

    Cordless rechargeable tool battery charger

    Charge and store batteries correctly.

  • Do Keep Battery Charged: Recharge cordless tool batteries as soon as you notice a decrease in power. Most batteries last longest if recharged when they reach 70% capacity. Even NiCd batteries (the ones with the so-called “memory effect”) only need to be completely discharged every month or so to retain their charge memory.
  • Do Use Battery Regularly: Battery life decreases with lack of use, so keep those tools in action! If you only very rarely use a tool, you may want to consider a plug-in version, or plan to recharge the cordless tool battery before starting a project.
  • Do Charge Battery Completely: Be sure to leave the cordless tool battery plugged in until it’s completely charged. Most chargers have an indicator to let you know when the battery is fully charged.
  • Do Keep Battery Cool and Dry: Cordless tool batteries will last longer if stored in a dry, climate controlled dry area. It’s not necessary, however, to store batteries in the freezer.
  • Cordless rechargeable battery powered drill chuck with torque settings

    Adjust torque setting on drills.

  • Do Store Battery Properly: Store your cordless tool battery in the original carrying case, or in a cushioned bag. Be sure to use the plastic cap that came with your battery to keep it from short circuiting and to protect the terminals from breakage or moisture.
  • Do Have a Backup Battery Handy: It’s a good idea to have a second battery available and charged for your cordless tool, so you can switch out in mid-job.
  • Do Protect the Battery: Be gentle with cordless tool batteries – they won’t work if damaged or cracked.
  • Do Adjust Cordless Tool Settings: Be sure to use the right tool setting for the job. For example, higher torque settings can run down a cordless drill battery faster, so you’ll get more battery life if you use the setting that’s needed.

Rechargeable cordless drills and string trimmer

Rechargeable Tool Battery Don’ts

  • Don’t Run Battery All the Way Down: Deep draining (letting a rechargeable battery run all the way down), can permanently damage the poles and shorten battery life. Instead, recharge the battery as soon as your tool starts to slow down. Never deep drain unless you have a NiCd battery that’s showing decreased capacity due to the memory effect.
  • Cordless rechargeable string timmer

    Keep battery from overheating.

  • Don’t Leave Battery on Charger: Unless your tool instructions specifically say to store the battery on the charger, be sure to remove it after charging is complete. Overcharging can damage a battery and shorten its life, and not all chargers shut off automatically.
  • Don’t Overheat Battery: Heat is deadly to rechargeable batteries and can even cause them to explode. If the battery gets hot to the touch, let it cool down before recharging or using. Don’t store rechargeable batteries in a hot car, attic, or overheated storage area.
  • Don’t Get Battery Wet: Don’t expose your cordless (or corded) tools or batteries to water. Immediately wipe away any moisture on the tool or battery.

Further Information

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14 Comments on “How to Care for Rechargeable Cordless Tool Batteries”

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  1. Dan Okrasinski (a.k.a. DanO) Says:
    July 15th, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Your web site instructions say to unplug rechargeable batteries when they are fully charged. However my charger (Ryobi) says that the charger will shut off and not continue to charge when the indicator light says “charged” Can we keep them in the charger or remove them when charged.

  2. analyzes Says:
    February 3rd, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    “Not necessary to store the batteries in the freezer” – do you know NOTHING about batteries? If you try that – you will only be replacing the battery. FROM EXPERIENCE. I had 3 Makita batteries that after reading a “knowledgeable” website instructed placing them in the freezer. $300 bux later I had new batteries. They would not even take a charge again after spending the night in a freezer. I would REMOVE that comment so you would not mislead anyone into thinking its a wise thing to do – before someone wastes their money from reading something online.

  3. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    February 3rd, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Hi Analyzes,
    You must have misunderstood our article, it said it is “NOT necessary to store rechargeable batteries in the freezer.”

  4. barry m Says:
    June 10th, 2014 at 9:52 am

    You say that the NiCD batteries have a “memory effect”. My understanding (several other articles) is that is NOT the case.

    Are you certain?

  5. cheryl Says:
    July 3rd, 2014 at 3:39 pm

    I just want to thank you for the info. I did not know if I was suppose to remove the batteries when fully charged or leave them in. I have a tool that requires the small battery to remain in the tool, which is also the recharger. I saw that because I like to READ instructions. (Women are like that…) Thanks for the info, and I now know to remove my battery from the charger when flashing blue..and also not to completely drain the battery! Guilty of that! I also have something to share with my husband…that I now know.. (ha)
    I would rather have my good tools , that my husband has bought me through the years.. than a diamond ring. WHAT GOOD ARE THEY> ha…(One of a kind but feminine..)

  6. john la berge Says:
    July 6th, 2014 at 10:48 am

    ever wonder why the makers of cordless powertool bateries ave changed from a in the pistol handle type shape to a it slides in a track on the bottom of the pistol handle?
    could it be makers like bosch or other brands which if one wants to do some digging on their source might find them called by many names perhaps – china electric tool manufacturing co. have found that after a few years use the systems used in the older battery shapes might like mine has done eventually crack and be held in place internally a result being the VERY EXPENSIVE spare battery cannot be put into the handle’s magazine?

  7. Boss Hog Says:
    October 15th, 2014 at 9:11 am

    When I am not using my cordless tools, should I remove the battery or keep them in the tool?


  8. anthony milionta Says:
    November 14th, 2014 at 11:11 am

    does a new lithium battery come with absulutely no power? Mine has and will not take a charge.

  9. Artorius Says:
    December 8th, 2014 at 11:59 pm

    No, a NEW lithium ion battery should not come with NO power, in a state where it will not take a charge. Lithium batteries that have been OVERLY discharged, usually while under a heavy current load will trip the battery’s protection circuit or if left discharged for an extended period, it creates a situation where the chemistry of the battery has changed due to inactivety. The battery can most likely be revived. However, lithium batteries will explode if not properly “brought back to life” or even charged incorrectly. Don’t mess with it. Return the battery for a replacement.

  10. Bob Says:
    December 13th, 2014 at 7:05 am

    Should you remove the battery from the drill when not in use?

  11. Debbie M Says:
    December 25th, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Hi – I also would like to know if you should remove the battery from drill when not in use?

  12. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    December 25th, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    I’ve had a Ryobi cordless drill with a lithium-ion battery for several years now. I keep the battery in it when it’s not in use and haven’t had any problems with it running down. I read several cordless drill manuals, and they didn’t mention taking it out when not in use. On drills with a non-removable battery you can’t take the battery out. My take is you can take it out if you like, but it doesn’t seem to hurt to leave it in. Hope that helps!

  13. Joan Y. Says:
    January 30th, 2015 at 2:40 pm

    I have a DeWalt drill that has the battery in the handle. However, the strength is minimal in my 80 year old hands to squeeze the releases on the side. Do you have any tips for removing the battery, i.e. a tool that will do this easily?

  14. Official Comment:

    Ben Erickson Says:
    January 31st, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Hi Joan,
    You might could find a clamp, such as a “C” clamp or wooden handscrew, that would fit around the drill and press on the release clips. Just don’t tighten it up too tight, since it might damage the drill battery.

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